The surf may be up at Huntington Beach, but just inland not far away in Costa Mesa, California, there’s a measure of business to be done at the OC Fair & Event Center, where a boardroom short on real estate recently took charge of its ever-expanding audio needs with the help of a compact SQ-5 digital mixer from Allen & Heath.

“How small of a room is it?” Ryan Steidinger of Pacific Coast Entertainment (PCE) asks rhetorically. “Well, it’s so small and busy that sometimes the audio head-end winds up shoved into a closet and we have to mix from the back of the room on a tablet.”

As the owner of PCE, an AV equipment supplier that provides gear for events at the 150-acre venue ranging from meetings and parties to festivals, trade shows, concerts, and the month-long Orange County Fair itself each summer, Steidinger worked with Jason Jacobsen, the facility’s technology supervisor, to breathe new life into the boardroom audio rig. Designed using Shure MX Series gooseneck mics and a Q-SYS signal distribution and control network from QSC, the system gained the addition of Allen & Heath’s SQ-5 based upon its diminutive stature, flexibility, and performance.

“The board meetings kept getting bigger and bigger,” Steidinger relates. “More and more people were attending and making more comments, and better audio was needed for that, as well as for what was being seen and heard on the web. And, as the meetings scaled-up, so did the requirements of the assistive listening system. Combine all of that with the shrinking nature of the small space that was available, and you get a good idea of the challenges we faced. The size, power, features, and remote access capabilities of the SQ-5 made it a natural choice.”

At the heart of the 48-channel, 36-bus digital SQ-5 mixer lies Allen & Heath’s XCVI 96kHz engine, which delivers high-resolution audio with an ultra-low latency of <0.7 ms. Equipped in this installation with a 64x64 96kHz Dante network card, the console relies upon Allen & Heath’s free SQ MixPad app to facilitate wireless control of the main mixing functions.

“That app alone has saved us many times,” Steidinger says without reservation. “Now, when our gear gets relegated to the closet, it’s comforting to know we don’t have to go in there with it.”