Thanks guys. I know we here all have our own experiences. Frankly, I came here to get a diversity of opinion. I thank all of you for that!
It is for a venue outside in on the island of Eleuthera in someone's residence. It is not a club per say, although the size is a small club venue. They throw a few concerts a year, and wanted something small enough and versatile enough to adapt to any situation. I wanted brand names of quality gear, good bang for buck. You guys were very helpful.
I also need it to be portable, as their are many places to play (bars, clubs).
I already looked into the Midas VF24 and the JBL SRX series. The music is mostly rock (5 piece band) but can also vary. We are shooting a band film and want to also record (if possible) the shows through Pro Tools.
I was originally looking at Mackie (used in the past), but I know they always have issues. I also know their are better boards out there...hence Midas.
If you guys can think of anything else, or any other good products, i will be more than happy to do the research.
Thank all of you guys again.
First, I'd like to say that I don't intend to be confrontational towards anybody here in any way. However I do have fairly strong views on this, as live club sound is something that I've done for a good part of my career in a wide variety of venues and conditions, on systems ranging from a Shure Vocalmaster to the big Midas/Meyer system at The Fillmore and bills ranging from a single act in an evening to 14 punk bands in 10 hours. I also spent a fair amount of time working a day job as a service tech and also have done a lot of maintenance of various club systems. As a result I have some fairly definite ideas about workflow and reliability. Sometimes on the internet people internet vigorous disagreement as a some sort of personal attack and I assure that is not my intention.
With that out of the way, allow me to continue.
I think that I read the tone of the initial post correctly in terms of the general requirements - an all around small system with excellent ease of use, reasonable coverage, and good portability. For that reason I think that my initial suggestion of the Midas Venice and powered JBL speakers is correct.
First, the Midas Venice is an easy to use, versatile mixer with very good sound quality that anybody who has done any real amount of mixing will be able to deal with with virtually zero time to familiarize one's self with the interface. I know because I own one. I've mixed on a vast number of club systems and the Venice is by far the best small board I've ever used, which why I own one, it's not the other way around. The only thing that I wish about it is that I'd known when I bought it that just a couple of months after my purchase Midas was going to introduce the Venice F series which has a full firewire analog to digital interface incorporated, sending all the inputs and the aux, group, and master outputs to a computer for recording via Firewire. Se the recording option is covered on the new consoles. They also now have a USB version but if I'm reading the specs right the Firewire has better connectivity. There is no need to go to a digital console to get direct interfacing with a computer. One thing to be aware of on the Venice is that, like many companies these days, Midas has the last 4 channels configured as stereo channels and considers each stereo channel as two channels, so my Venice 32 is really a 28 channel console, a Venice 24 is really 20, and a Venice 16 is really 12, something to bear in mind. (However, unlike some companies, the Midas stereo channel ARE useable as mon mic channels - some companies do not provide a mic input on stereo channels.) This actually annoys me to no end, but it's a pretty common convention these days, so whatcha gonna do?
Second, The JBL speakers are both excellent sounding and quite compact (especially the PRX), more so than similar speakers from other companies. The SRX series uses JBL's new differential drive technology, previously only available in their big concert systems, which puts them head and shoulders above anything else on the market in this class. I'm also very impressed with the build quality. I do not own SRXs but I do own a pair of JRX400s, which is the passive version of the 12"+horn configuration and they are much better than any compact small venue speakers JBL has produced since the Cabaret series in the 1980s.The SRX series also incorporates Crown amplification The SRX also has on board DSP with ZHiQnet networking control
If the SRX series is a bit much, the PRX is a step down while still retaining the general overall quality of the SRX, with the differential drive transducer, in a more easily portable configuration. with the common pole-mount configuration popular with smaller systems.
I've used (and serviced) the powered club systems from QSC and Mackie, as well as the JBL Eons (about which the less said the better) and I have formed opinions about those. First, stay away from Mackie., Second the QSCs aren't bad but they don't stack up well against the new JBLs and some of the clubs around here that use them have experience a certain number of reliability problems. Not nearly as bad as the Mackies or JBL Eons (which are embarrassing), but I've seen a few blown drivers and a couple of blown amp modules - and if the amp goes QSC wants to sell you a whole replacement module. Still, if the JBL SRX and JRX were not available, QSC would be my second choice although frankly I was not overly impressed with their build quality.. I also have some experience with some of the small powered speakers Yamaha is currently making and , although I don't think they're really bad I'm also not impressed.
In my opinion the sound quality of the new JBL stuff is much, much better than that of the equivalent QSC
As far as the digital console, large venue thing goes, yes, I get that. There are a lot of things to recommend digital consoles for the majority of large venue applications these days.
However it often seems to me that guys who do primarily large scale gigs don't quite understand that what's appropriate for such venues and events isn't necessarily appropriate for smaller gigs. The circumstances aren't the same and the needed feature sets aren't the same. For example, while it might be important to be able to mix from your Ipad while walking the room in a large venue, that pretty unimportant in a 250-500 seater. While it might be a real worksaver to have all the processing you could want on every channel and every buss doing large scale shows, on smaller shows not only do you not need it, it actually gets in the way if you have to navigate a nested menu interface to get to basic functions. And if you're doing an act that you've never heard before, let alone rehearsed with, being able to access key features (or effects, for that matter) immediately without dealing with a menu system can be crucial. A point that also sometimes escapes large event guys is that your digital console that's rock solid when powered by your distro that's designed for your touring system (or for the installation at your large concert hall or theater) might not be so reliable if it has to run off of the dirty, glitchy power encountered and all too many smaller venues. If you're doing bar gigs your power is not going to be clean or reliable most of the time. Your voltage is going to sag and spike when the coolers turn on and off. There's going to be noise riding on your power line. You're not going to have a dedicated circuit for the sound system.