Finalist 2021

Blackmagic Fairlight Desktop Console

Blackmagic Design

A complete audio mixing surface that enhances the post-production workflows of Hollywood cinema, streaming television and live broadcasts.

Developed in parallel with Da Vinci Resolve 17, the Fairlight Desktop Console is a complete audio mixing surface that enhances the post-production workflows of Hollywood cinema, streaming television and live broadcasts. Costing just $4650, it offers precise, intuitive mixing of complex audio productions with a clear, familiar control layout.

Design Brief

In the wake of COVID-19 and the worldwide shift to socially distanced businesses, there emerged an urgent need for miniaturised, professional audio post-production tools suitable for both the studio and the home.

Traditional consoles, although powerful, are typically large and overly complex, designed primarily as permanent fixtures in large-scale facilities.

Software-only audio engineering is inherently slower because it is limited by the speed of mouse-click operations. Demanding on-going scrutiny they are prone to distract the focus of audio engineers from the composition itself.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Offering efficient control over channel parameters, EQ, dynamics and plug-ins, the Fairlight Desktop Console features twelve custom motorised faders, refined optimal resistance, allowing subtle track adjustments that can be monitored in real time on high resolution LCDs above each channel.

Encoder knobs are completely silent, vital in sensitive audio studios. The bespoke search dial with adaptive electronic clutch provides fast, responsive navigation of complex timelines, while illuminated buttons are rated to over a million operations.

The precision CNC machined aluminium work surface can be installed completely flat into a desk, with a soft- touch hand rest for on-going comfort during long mixing sessions.

Design Excellence

A refined, professional presence to inspire trust in the most demanding client, the rational design of the Fairlight Desktop Console is pared back to its essential elements, minimising distractions while optimising the clarity and usability of the control surface, despite the array of features available.

Angled at 5°, the main control surface offers a natural working posture, putting critical controls at the user's fingertips for responsive, intuitive access. This is further enhanced by an inset base that allows completely flat in-desk installation, for integrated semi-permanent installation in both home and commercial studios.

Twelve independent, belt-driven motorised faders allow precise adjustment of volume levels and other parameters, which can be easily monitored via bright LCD status displays above each channel. Each strip can be assigned to an individual track, or multiple tracks in a project.

Multifunction knobs can be used for panning or assigned to control other features, while backlit channel strip control buttons offer quick muting or isolation of tracks and the ability to activate automated functions and plug-in controls.

The bespoke search dial with adaptive electronic clutch enables fast yet intuitive navigation of clips and timelines, which is imperative when working to deadlines on complex projects with hundreds of audio clips.

The Fairlight Desktop Console uses the same high quality faders as full-size modular consoles. Sculpted faders are smooth and provide perfect resistance for subtle adjustments, ensuring users enjoy the same professional level of control despite the highly portable form factor. Precision engineered encoder knobs ensure a long life of silent operation, with console buttons rated to a million presses.

CNC machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, the control surface provides structural integrity and a highly accurate datum for accurate positioning of controls. This simultaneously enhances usability and perceived quality, while delivering the tactile durability professional broadcasters demand.

Design Innovation

When working on large, complex projects with tight deadlines time is critical. The Fairlight Desktop Console allows users to work faster with transport buttons and a high quality jog shuttle wheel. Precision CNC machined from aluminium, the wheel features multiple bearings and an integrated electronic clutch that adapts to the active search mode. The wheel’s large diameter and bespoke, comfortable grip ensure quick, precise movement through a timeline and efficient navigation of clips.

The Fairlight Desktop Console is a complete audio mixing control surface for mixing multiple tracks at once, automating parameters and plug in settings, controlling channel functions, recording, monitoring, and navigating projects. Ideal for new users, smaller studios, commercials, online and independent work, it features:

Motorized Faders
Twelve belt-driven 100mm motorized faders offer precision volume control for adjusting levels. The bank control buttons switch between fader sets to control different channels.

Channel Strip Controls
Each fader channel strip has its own dedicated solo and mute buttons for quick isolation or muting of tracks. Multi-function select buttons load track parameters, and activate automation and plug in controls.

Channel Status Displays
High resolution LCD screens located above each fader strip displays track name, number and color, along with panning status, channel level meters and automation state.

Multifunction Pan Knob
The multifunction pan knob with rotary encoder is used for panning or assigned to control other Fairlight parameters without introducing signal noise.

Plug and Play
With plug and play functionality straight out of the box, the Fairlight Desktop Console instantly provides professional editors with a more efficient way of working.

A replaceable soft-touch hand rest ensures on-going comfort, reducing fatigue during long post-production sessions.

Design Impact

Designed in collaboration with the world's leading audio engineers, the impact of the ultra-compact Fairlight Desktop Console, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, cannot be overstated. Consolidating a complex array of audio mixing and editing tools into a clear, logical control surface that is familiar to experienced artists and approachable to novices, it has enabled mainstream broadcasters to react quickly to the crisis.

Highly portable and effortlessly set-up with out-of-the-box plug n’ play functionality, it has facilitated the quick establishment of home studios to allow presenters to continue producing professional content indistinguishable from regular programming.

Embedded within DaVinci Resolve, Hollywood's premier editing, colour-correction, visual effects and audio post-production software, it connects sound engineers with Blackmagic Design's suite of video post-production tools.

This ethos of multi-disciplinary integration and a growing eco-system of hardware and software products that supports it, continues to drive new sales from customers who would not typically understand the benefits of technology outside their area of expertise. This in turn leads to an increasingly diverse user-base that uses Blackmagic products in innovative and often unexpected ways.

Sold in 87 countries worldwide, the Fairlight Desktop Console has exceeded all sales forecasts, further entrenching Blackmagic Design as a leader in professional editing, color correction and audio post-production.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Made from durable aluminium and engineered to exacting standards, the Fairlight Desktop Console is built for an exceptionally long working life, eliminating short-term waste.

Made from just two main sub-assemblies, its durable aluminium body is quickly and easily disassembled for servicing and eventual recycling.

Waste is further reduced with a hard wearing reusable packaging insert that acts as a protective case for safe transportation in a bag or road case.

Lightweight, compact and fully portable, it can be shipped more efficiently than most audio post-production panels.

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