(here is)How to mod the Soundtracs Topaz Project 8 from -10 to +4 operation.
I wanted to post some pictures for this mod after unsuccessfully looking for pictures/info to do it myself. I found little to no photo resources available for this common procedure done to the console and the manual is a little vague on exactly what and how to do the mods yourself. There are a few outlets and authorities on the topic and I will list/link to them at the bottom of this post. This is by no means an in depth tutorial and I will gladly answer any questions. I do not consider myself particularly skilled with an iron or even that knowledgeable with electronics. I say this because I think anyone could do this mod if they have a few essential tools.
Phillips screw driver
Rosin core 60/40 solder
Soldering braid/solder sucker
Meter to check for continuity and output levels
If you need to know whether your board already has the mod done or not, you can simply plug in a 1.23V signal directly into the TAPE IN 1/4" jacks on the back. Hit the "FLIP" button on the console, bring up the fader, route it to an output and if you see all the meters pinned/peaking, your board is still running at -10. I think it safe to assume if the inputs were not modded, neither are the outputs...
First off, the manual lists all the info needed with a simple diagram to assist in performing the mod. Below are the pages directly from the Topaz Manual.
Here is what all that looks like in the real world.
Following the instructions, you'll need to flip the console over and face the rear towards you. I stacked two large pillows and a blanket on a table to do this. Leaving a bit of room in front of the console leaves room for the rear panel to lay down flush with the board once it is detached from the console.
Once you have it flipped and set up, looking at it upside down from the front, there are 5 screw across the (newly inverted) topside and 6 on the bottom of the rear panel. There are also 2 screws on the face of it, just next to the Main R output on one side, and the CH. 1 input on the other.
Once all the screws are out , you can leverage the top of the rear panel and pull it down to lay out. The green grounding cables that run on the mid-right hand side can become a little taught when you pull the panel out. Otherwise, you should be able to move it around a bit without fear. Some people take out the ribbon connectors, but as you see in the photo, I didnt move the panel far so they stayed connected throughout the process.
Looking at the PCB from this perspective you'll be able to see POINTS A and both B solder pads.
The Point A pad is the Tape Output. This is currently shorted and we will want to open it. You can see a tiny bridge going from one half of the pad to the other. The Point B pads (there are two per channel) are the Tape Inputs. These are open and we want to short them out.
If you have a meter, you can check the continuity on the pads and verify they are all in fact shorted/open respectively.
To open up the POINT A pads, you'll need to use a solder braid to soak up the little bit of solder on each side of the pad. There is not much, but after it's removed, you'll see the small metal piece underneath laying on top of the PCB. To cut the connection, simply apply the iron to the bridge and the metal piece will soften and possibly start to rise off the board. I took an exacto knife and scraped the bridge-tab towards one side. This exposes a little RAW PCB underneath, but it also quite easily opens the connection.
To bridge the POINT B pads, simply take as little solder as possible and apply onto one side of the pad, moving towards the other side as you add. It does not take much and the solder will naturally want to conform to the shape of the pads. This was quite easy to do and took about 7 minutes to bridge all 24 sets of pads.
I should note, Steve M "The Soundtracs Guy", suggests putting a small piece of wire across the the two pads and soldering it on for the best results.
Here is another shot of both POINT A and B pads all finished.
After doing the channel strips, go ahead and bridge the 2 Track inputs as well.
It takes about 15-30 minutes to do the actual work and I would give it a medium-low difficulty range as far as soldering goes. If you have any questions, you can ask them here, or there are a few resources available that can help with the Soundtracs consoles in particular.
The soundtracs yahoo group has a lot of info and discussions about the Soundtracs boards. A lot of questions have been answered there regarding the products.
So i took the back/front off, and unclipped the power supply, and you can then see the whole pcb, mines a 24 track and it comes in 3x strips plus master. I havent got a camera at the moment sadly, and my phones just produces a blurry mess, so not photos im sorry.
But its basically the same as above, two short clips to be cut/removed, and two pads to solder/bridge.
I wasnt sure if id lilfted a pad or two at one point, its quite hard to tell, and obviously once the solder is down you cant see it.
Putting it on a table as a great idea, i followed the manual saying put it on the carpet, which killed my knees!
bit disapointed to learnt that aux 2 is always fed from the monitor path, not from the main path? so you can only have up to three fx at once (im trying to use the desk as a dub style fx board). i know you can flick 3/5 and 4/6, but still.. :( discussing with tech support (tim at soundtracs uk)
having a short break then to do the +4/-10 mod. although not 100% sure about this.
i like to overdrive channels for distortion, so if if i do the +4 mod, will that mean my (digital) recorder see a very loud signal, and hence distort (horribly?). Ie if im running all the channels hot, or warm (!) would i be better leaving at -10? thinking about it i might leave this for now, until im sure, its relatively easy to take the back panel off later. Done the aux sends which was my main plan.
Wuhu! Just did this mod as my first ever soldering project:D
Tested signals by sending sinewaves from ProTools... All channels operational
Aaand now to get my cloud up in the ceiling and my rack connected!
I asked this question in the other Topaz thread, but asking here might get an answer too.
Is it possible to mod the channels so that when the Flip button is engaged, the Monitor path is sent to the Tape Out? As it is now, the Channel path signal is always sent to the Tape Out, regardless of the Flip button position, unless Bus is engaged.
I am trying to track into DAW using just the Preamp (and Monitor path if needed), then using direct monitoring in my RME card send it back to the Channel path for detailed EQ, Aux, and Fader mix. I like to record and mix new channels simultaneously. This would be great for the way I work.