Buyer's Guide: Avid S6 Control Surface

Avid S6 Buyer's Guide graphic

The Avid S6 is the world's first customizable work surface with a modular design that not only allows the user to configure it exactly as needed, but also to expand and grow as their needs change. The key is in the modules, and there are plenty to choose from.

There are two configurations of the S6, the M10 and the M40, both are built around the EUCON Ethernet protocol. This allows the S6 to control multiple DAWs such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, Logic and more. Up to eight different DAWs can be controlled from the same surface without moving from your monitors.

Key Features

  • Choose a pre-configured M10 or a custom-configured M40
  • Completely customizable and easily expandable
  • Run 8 workstations from 1 destination
  • EUCON protocol for Pro Tools, et al.
  • A tilting touchscreen and professional metering
  • OLED displays, with information for days – loads of visual feedback
  • Channel info, automation modes, 10-character names for your tracks
  • Ease of ergonomics – simplified switching while staying in the sweet spot
  • Effective economics – just buy within budget, and expand with demand
Avid S6 control surface

The Main Controls Of The Avid S6

Avid's S6 has two main controls that help you work within the control surface, the Master Touch Module and the Master Automation Module. Continue below to discover how these two modules will make your workflow more efficient and keep sessions running smoothly.

Master Touch Module

Avid S6 Master Touch Module (MTM)

It all starts from the heart, and the heart of any console is the center section. For the S6, this is called the Master Touch Module or MTM. The MTM, required for all S6 models, centers around a 12.1" touchscreen that provides a host of functions.

With the screen you can view up to 72 tracks (with meters and colors) simultaneously, scroll through the track matrix, highlight and zoom in on a track for expanded info in “Attention” mode, swipe through banks of eight channels at a time, mute, solo or record-arm a track, edit numerous track parameters - the list goes on.

With eight assignable encoders, two soft key sections, dedicated buttons for navigation and the built-in XMON talkback system, the MTM provides the Control in your control surface. Control like you've never had before, all of which is literally at your fingertips.

Master Automation Module

Avid S6 Master Automation Module (MTM)

The other master control is the MAM, or Master Automation Module. As you might guess from the name, this module runs the automation functions of the control surface. While this is an optional module, you probably won't want to live without it once you realize how much easier it will make automating any task.

Starting from the multi-function, smooth as silk jog-wheel, the MAM gives you another pair of soft key sections, a transport section, OLED focus channel fader & OLED timecode display, numeric keypad, and of course, automation control. Combined with the MTM, the center section of the S6 not only can handle virtually every task you set for it, but it does it with intuitive and ergonomic controls that won't have you diving deep into menus and submenus to find what you're looking for.

Handling Signal Flow With The Avid S6

If the Master Touch Module is the heart of the system, then the Channel Modules are the veins and the arteries that keep your signal flowing, and just as important, keep you in control of that flow. Metering? Check. Processing? Check. Faders and Knobs? Double-check. Three of them feature OLED displays, which are ideal for rooms with low-light conditions. The blacker background and brighter contrast for easy visibility. Since they're easier to see, let's take a look at them:

FADERS

Avid S6 Fader Module

Each Fader Module sports 11 switches per channel and a bank of eight 100mm long-throw motorized faders. These “gliders” feature brushless motors for smooth control of even the tiniest fader moves. Parallel to the faders are 32-segment tri-color LED meters that also show gain reduction. Other LEDs indicate various dedicated functions such as Mute and Solo. A set of eight OLED displays show track names, menu options and automation mode. The coolest of all are the eight hot keys that run the bottom of the module. These keys are color-coded to match the track color in Pro Tools!

PROCESS

Avid S6 Process Module

The Process Module and Knob Module come with every Fader Module and they work in tandem. Use the Process Module to assign functions to the Knob Module. This can be anything from dynamics, EQ, panning, bus assignment, sends, input gain, etc. You can control up to nine encoder values (on the M40). The Process Module also has eight of its own assignable knobs (top-lit & color-coded) each with an OLED display for labels, etc. These knobs supplement the 22 function-select switches, which are also color-coded for simple visual reference.

KNOBS

Avid S6 Knob Module

Each Knob Module has four multi-color top-lit encoders per channel, for a total of 32 LED illuminated tactile interfaces. Takings its orders from the Process Module, the Knob Module can alter the dynamics, effects, the EQ and numerous assignable parameters. The accompanying 32-segment OLED display for each knob provides you instant visual cues about function, values and position of the knobs. If that's not enough, there are 11 color LED function switches per channel, so controlling all aspects of your tracking and mixing has never been easier. And with the M40 surface, you can even stack the Knob Modules and have up to nine knobs per channel.

DISPLAY

Avid S6 Display Module

For those with the M40 Master Touch Module, another option for even more visual feedback and control is the Display Module. Far more than just a meter, this module features a high-res TFT display that can run all your graphics demands via EUCON Ethernet from its onboard computer, relieving your DAW of crunching all those numbers.

Besides channel names, routing configuration, groups, automation, DAW selection and clip names, the Display Module can also support all Pro Tools metering modes with very high-resolution metering. And best of all, it can do this while simultaneously scrolling waveforms vertically, to help keep you in charge of dense mixes and high track counts. And in a pinch, preset displays give you key visual info at the touch of a button.


ACCESSORIES

Along with all the bells, whistles and colored lights of the various modules, the S6 also has less glamorous options that help to complete the fit, finish and functionality of your control surface. Empty chassis buckets can be covered with blank panels, a producer's desk can be added for keyboard and DAW display, a VESA arm is available for adjustable DAW display, and of course speaker stands to place your monitors right where they belong.

Avid even provides sliding script and keyboard trays that can run the length of the console to place your tools right where you need them. For larger chassis sizes, a leg assembly is available to turn your desktop power station into a free-standing console. It's all in the name of flexibility, enhancing the ergonomics and furthering your creativity.


M10 vs M40

Most of the differences between the two S6 configurations relate to processing power and networking ability. The mid-size M10 is the successor to the ICON D-Command, while the mid- to large-size M40 is the follow-up to the ICON D-Control and Euphonix System 5 MC.

S6 M10
S6 M40

24 faders max
64 faders max

9 modules max
41 modules max

5 channel knobs
5 or 9 channel knobs

No display module
Display module option

Control 2 DAWs max
Control 8 DAWs max

8, 16 & 24-fader setups
Fully configurable setup

The Power Of The Avid S6

In the S6, Avid has designed the most flexible, most powerful DAW control surface ever. You can even hook up your iPad to it and run it from the sound booth. Whatever way you decide to go, Avid puts the power in your hands, quite literally. Years of experimentation and consultation with ergonomics experts have resulted in a tool that makes your mixes quicker and your sessions shorter, all with a surface that's easy on the eyes.

Chris Bolitho
Vintage King’s team of Audio Consultants are experts in all things Avid S6. If you’re interested in learning more about the Avid S6 M10 or Avid S6 M40 control surface, how an S6 can fit into your current workflow or trading in your current control surface towards an S6, contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.

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