The DiGiCo S21 made a big impact when it came on the market but the new S31 offers a much larger control surface including an upgrade from 2 to 3 touchscreens, and 10 additional faders.
Both consoles feature 24 mic/line inputs and 12 analogue outputs so unlike other digital console series (remember Yamaha LS9s), the analogue I/O options are the same on both consoles in the S series. This means that many users will not need to invest in an additional stage box.
If you do choose to invest in an additional stagebox, two DMI ports can allow up to 48 flexi inputs.
Both consoles offer 46 busses: 16 x flexi-busses Mono/Stereo (the equivalent of 32 DSP busses), Stereo Master (2), Solo busses (2 stereo, 4 total), and 10 x 8 Matrix (8)
The S31 uses the same mix engine as the S21 so that main difference is the amount of console available from a hardware perspective.
It really depends on what your priorities are. If you are looking for the most compact package or are on a tighter budget, the S21 might be for you. If you want more control available on each layer, the S31 might be a better choice.
Another consideration is that many venues including churches and live music venues still haven't transitioned from analogue to digital mixing consoles yet and there's a potential significant learning curve in these situations.
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