My mixing board/no mixing board dilema.
Old 26th February 2008
  #1
Gear Head
 
notbillcosby's Avatar
 

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My mixing board/no mixing board dilema.

I've had a home studio set up for years. Finally, a couple buddies and I have started renting a space in town for all of our gear to live that's way larger than my old place, so I can actually get some bands in and not be all cramped up in my little room. Yes!

The only problem is my mixing board, an older Soundcraft Spirit Studio 16. It did fine at home, but now that I've gotten it in the studio, I'm starting to notice some problems with it. For one, it's always had some noisy pots/buttons all over the board. For this reason, I don't ever mix on the board, I just track through it and mix in the box after the fact. Not a huge deal, just sorta limits my options. Also, for whatever reason, bus 5 has effectively stopped working. Routing anything to buss 5 results in a completely lifeless bus 5 VU meter and zero signal going out of the board. I've noticed an odd problem when recording vocals with a condenser mic and a pair of headphones on my head... It'll randomly switch from sounding like the gain is at 10 and i can hear every little noise in the room, to sounding like i turned the gain down to 6. I konw this isn't a problem with the microphone, and i think it's potentially only a couple of channels, but i haven't gotten this problem to happen predictably enough for me to try to troubleshoot at all. And last but not least, the control room outs are pretty noisy. I don't get any noise in my recordings- the recordings all sound great! Just when i turn up that little knob and try to listen to anything back through my monitors, i get enough hum that i'm distracted from mixing. I have cheap monitors, and they definitely hiss some on their own, just from being powered up, but they start humming noticably when i turn on the board, and then again when i turn up the control room volume. (also, the hum turns into a rattle when i plug the outputs of my firepod into the tape returns on the board, but i'm sure that's a seperate ground loop problem involving some other part of my computer.)

When I got this board maybe 2 years ago, it was hard to find one on ebay for $700. Now they're showing up on ebay and craigslist for $350 without much trouble. I don't want to just buy another one for fear that i'd wind up with another 20 year old board with some significant problems. I don't know that I want to have it repaired, because I imagine having a 16 channel console gone through and made to sound new again would cost potentially more than the board is worth... Unless anyone has some suggestions of what I could do myslef. I could see the buss problem being just a loose connection that potentially happened during the move, but all the noisy pots and humming control room outs might be a different story.

There's a couple other options: I COULD get a new Toft ATB16 that i've been drooling over since before they came out. It would be the answer to all of my problems, have all the little features that the crusty old Soundcraft is missing, sound spectacular, and probably last me for years and years to come. I'd have a warranty and a company to stand behind the product if anything weird were to start happening, and have a board that more than suits my needs and would leave nowhere for me to upgrade to unless i stepped up to something significantly larger, with motorized faders, or something else to that effect. I can get one for right around $3k with my discount from work. I can afford it, but I'm not entirely sure that I want to commit 3 grand to a board right now. I'm still setting up this studio, still running into costs, and don't know that i want to tie up that much in one piece of gear.

I also have a few people at work pointing out that I don't really need a board anymore. I'm recording onto the computer and do most of my mixing in the box, if i just got something like a motorized control surface I could run mics straight into my firepods and have a nice control surface to do all my mixing with. While this is surprisingly practical, it sounds like less fun to me. It would also be about 2 grand cheaper, and then I could spend some extra money on nice preamps or other stuff like that... but if i got the Toft board, i think i'd have pretty nice preamps as-is.

Agh. I don't know what to do. Obviously, after reading back what I just typed out, i WANT to get the ATB but i'm not sure that it's the best idea for me right now. Should I suck it up and have the soundcraft gone over? Any idea how much something like this would set me back? Is there another board I should be considering instead of the ATB, or should I just go the two-firepod route and get a control surface?

There's too many options, they all make a fair bit of sense in their own ways, and I don't know what to do. Help me make up my mind.
Old 27th February 2008
  #2
Gear nut
 

You might buy another Soundcraft and use yours for parts. Significant savings and maybe enough parts for one good board.
Old 27th February 2008
  #3
Gear Head
 
notbillcosby's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabby View Post
You might buy another Soundcraft and use yours for parts. Significant savings and maybe enough parts for one good board.
Not a bad idea... I need to find someone in my area who can service boards. You know anyone in Iowa?
Old 27th February 2008
  #4
Gear maniac
 

well if you dont have a desk your going to have to spend a bit on some monitoring gear...central control / big knob or whatever.
+ you'll get a grip of pres to work with.....

Im sort of having this dillemma myself, the dangerous d-box is looking TEMPTING!
Old 27th February 2008
  #5
Gear interested
 

Maybe you ought to have the board gone through and cleaned and also have an electrician look at the power in the new place to see if that's the hum problem you are experiencing. You didn't mention if you had the ground hum before you moved. Save the money you're itching to spend on the Toft, you might end up needin' the jack somewhere else.
Old 27th February 2008
  #6
Lives for gear
 
uncle duncan's Avatar
 

I've been using a Yamaha 01V96 digital mixer the last couple of years. It's a hybrid system - using ITB automation but mixing OTB via adat lightpipe, so there's no analog conversion, and then back ITB via lightpipe for the master. (There are inserts for analog processors, if so desired.) The 01V96 has 12 mic pres, with inserts that can be routed to an interface for recording. I don't use them, but they're decent. The board has 4 affect processors, dynamics, gate, eq and phase switch on every channel and all 8 busses . It really takes the load off the DAW, freeing it up for the boutique plugins we like to use to finesse our mixes, although these days, processing power in a DAW shouldn't be an issue.
To me, spending a grand on a controller makes less sense than spending 2 grand on an actual mixer, (that has a controller bank) but we all have our own way of working. My mixer allows me to set up 4 independent headphone mixes at zero latency when tracking with a HD24, which seems like a sensible alternative to spending thousands to accomplish the same thing in PTHD, but, around here, PTHD is not a requirement for getting work, so YMMV.
Old 27th February 2008
  #7
Gear Head
 
notbillcosby's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by oneammonday View Post
Maybe you ought to have the board gone through and cleaned and also have an electrician look at the power in the new place to see if that's the hum problem you are experiencing. You didn't mention if you had the ground hum before you moved. Save the money you're itching to spend on the Toft, you might end up needin' the jack somewhere else.
Ground loops can be worked around with power conditioners and such as far as I know... is there a cheap way to fix it in the entire building? Granted, i'm renting this place and they might not want me doing a bunch of crap to the wiring. I definitely had some noise with the outputs back at the home studio, but i'm really noticing it more for whatever reason lately.
Old 27th February 2008
  #8
Gear nut
 
truthnlife13's Avatar
 

my vote goes too

getting a board. The TOFT would be sweet for sure. I mix ITB and have found that the combo of an analog board + a dedicated control surface has worked best, but if I could only have on or the other it would be the board
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