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Soundcraft Ghost vs Toft ATB - Measurements
Old 18th May 2009
  #1
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Soundcraft Ghost vs Toft ATB - Measurements

Reading the Toft ATB updates thread and seeing Jim Williams measurements i got curious and measured my Soundcraft Ghost. I will post some indepth measurements in various configurations but first let's see what Jim Williams wrote about the Toft ATB:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
For those interested, here are some specs I measured with the Audio Precision on a 16 channel model as Toft has/will not provide them;

Frequency response -1db at 20 hz, -3 db at 55k hz, line input to master outs.
Stereo crosstalk = -58 db, 20 ~20k hz.

Stereo noise = -85 dbu, 500 to 20k hz. 60 hz = -71 dbu. Noise does not change with channels assigned or not, it's set in the master fader.

Phase shift = =38 degrees at 20hz, non linear in nature. -26 degrees at 20k hz.

THD+noise = .1% at 0 dbu, .02% at =20 dbu at 1k hz.

THD vs frequency = .2% at 20 hz, .01% at 1k hz, .04% at 20k hz at +15 dbu levels.

CCIF IMD = .002% at +15 dbu.
Then "TAVD" also joined in with a RMAA measurement of his ATB, i hope it's ok when i repost that here, if not please PM me:














So let's move over to the Soundcraft Ghost. Mine is approx 10 years old, completely stock and i use the CPS275 power supply.


I measured via my Echo Audio Layla 24 96, just for comparison here is a loopback result of that device:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.03
Noise level, dB (A) -110.7
Dynamic range, dB (A) 110.8
THD, %0.0012
THD + Noise, dB (A)94.4
IMD + Noise, %0.0021
Stereo crosstalk, dB -109.6
IMD at 10 kHz, %0.0027

You can read the full results with the graphs here: RightMark Audio Analyzer test : loopback


Graphs show Noise Levels, THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS) and Intermodulation distortion







I tested the Ghost in 5 configurations:

1. 2 channels directly routed to the mix bus using tape returns (centered at 0dB). Levels from the Layla were +4 so i went into clipping on the channels and mix bus. (levels came in at +15 on the ghost channels and mixbus)

Results:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.06 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -104.6 Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A) 104.6 Excellent
THD, % 0.0028 Excellent
THD + Noise, dB (A) -87.9 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.0047 Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB -81.5 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0074 Excellent

Detail: RightMark Audio Analyzer test : 2 channels -> 2bus



As you can see overall measurements are allright, besides the high THD and IMD from clipping the channels and mixbus. I'll come back to this later.




Next measurement was sending the channels to the groups 1 & 2, then to the mix bus. Everything else stayed the same:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.07 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -104.6 Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A) 104.7 Excellent
THD, % 0.0038 Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A) -85.7 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.0060 Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB -80.5 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0082 Very good

Results are similar with everything getting a bit "worse".

http://www.aniston-park.com/2ch_grps_2bus.htm










Then i properly gain staged the setup. I switched the D/A and A/D levels to -10 on the Layla. This results in the channels and master on the Ghost being at around +3. I still had to run a little hot so i could get acceptabel levels into RMAA. Another problem was that switching the Echo Audio Layla to -10 also makes it's loopback results worse (its just digital volume attentuation in the driver).


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.06 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -92.3 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 92.3 Very good
THD, % 0.0028 Excellent
THD + Noise, dB (A) -84.3 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.0084 Very good
Stereo crosstalk, dB -81.2 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0080 Excellent

RightMark Audio Analyzer test : channels - 2bus



The thing to lookout for is the THD and IMD graphs. MUCH lower as before but still not the prettiest in the world. Lowering the gain again on the channels and mixbus more would improve that even further. This is the way to use that board if you want a clean sound. Stay below "0", especially on the channel inputs.




Then i changed from using the tape returns to the line inputs, which use the mic-pre with only bypassing the decoupling caps (good!).
Levels were still on -10 to avoid clipping.

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.09 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -92.0 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 92.1 Very good
THD, % 0.0074 Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A) -79.5 Average
IMD + Noise, % 0.013 Very good
Stereo crosstalk, dB -86.4 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.015 Very good

RightMark Audio Analyzer test : 2bus - mic pre

These results can be DIRECTLY compared to the gain staged results above. The only difference was using the line in's vs the tape returns. Everything else stayed the same. Levels are slightly different but that doesnt matter (-1.1 vs -1.5).
As you can see the tape returns are alot clearer and measure better than these mic-pre's. THDs grow alot.



And just for fun, i lowered the signal from the Layla and recovered that with the mic pre (-30 dBu sensitivity):

RightMark Audio Analyzer test : 2bus micpre 30db






So what can we tell from these measurements? Lot's of distortion is going on if you dont properly gain stage an analog console (big news huh?). In my own comparisons i slightly prefer using the line inputs, i mainly mix rock of all kinds so a bit of dirt and grind is welcomed. For a clean pop, r&b or jazz mix i'd switch to the tape returns. The most interesting thing is probably that the mic-pre's have less k4 and k6 compared to the tape returns and the IMDs look different.


Otherwise it's obvious that the Ghost measures alot better as the Toft ATB does. But what does that really mean? Not much actually besides that It'll probably sound clearer. I'd love to try out an ATB but for $$ reasons this won't be possible. If a unit has high THD this doesnt mean it will sound like crap. There are "good" sounding colorations/distortions in many classic devices, thats their signature and made them famous. In general i like the idea of engineering something for "sound" and not for good measurements. The ATBs stereo crosstalk really looks dubious however :D


I don't claim that these are scientific results, just my own amateurish measurements.
Why is this in "high-end"? The ATB threads are here too, so thats why

If somebody with a Toft ATB could post full RMAA graphs, that'd be great.
Even better if someone with a modded ghost could jump in! :D
Old 18th May 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I appreciate your effort. There's no denying that one treats a sine wave much better than the other. heh Still, the Toft preamps and eq subjectively smoke the Soundcraft, imho, of course. That raises another question, by what criteria do you judge your gear. I never really cared for the Soundcraft preamps, although when I listen back to old recordings made on one, they hold up perfectly fine. I have a feeling if you cleaned up the ATB too much, it would lose the whole Trident vibe.thumbsup
Old 19th May 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAVD View Post
That raises another question, by what criteria do you judge your gear.
Good question. Yesterday after taking these measurements i sent some mixes through the ghost with very conservative gainstaging using the tape returns for most clarity. I really like the outcome, very clean, wide and deep mixes. I think i will switch to using it exclusively in this way for mixdown. As i won't be using the pre-amps nor the EQ the Ghost can play out it's skills I prefer to use EQ ITB for easy recalls.
But also i'm really curious to try out an ATB. However seeing it's measurements AND reading all the reviews and impressions about it i think it will be a bit limited in what genres it can do. E.g. ultra clean modern hifi-ish urban music ("Low") or recordings were accuracy is important (jazz, audiophile pop etc) will probably be very difficult/impossible to achieve. That is a bit of a downside to me.
Old 19th May 2009
  #4
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Ok this morning i made some more measurements. I wanted to find out what contributes to the thd and imd to find out the sweetspot for this board for best clarity and lowest distortions.

Quickly i noticed that clipping the input channels (tape returns), even slightly, was the major factor for high distortions. The mixbus can run a bit hot without things getting much worse, but also take note that keeping the mixbuss far below 0 trashes the signal too. I measured keeping the mixbus at -6, all other things being equal, and it was not pretty.

The Ghosts mixbuss has it's sweetspot at pretty much exactly "0" on the meterbridge, stay as close to it as possible.


In the pics below i kept the channels and mixbuss slightly below "0". Looks nice :D








From these measurements i think it's ok to assume that the Soundcraft Ghost is a great console for mixdown if you properly gainstage, alot better than the Toft ATB unless heavy coloring is your thing.
Also it's clear that you should avoid the mic-pre's at all cost, it's THD and IMD measurements look funky. I wonder if any of the posted modifications can help with that.
Old 20th May 2009
  #5
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This is great stuff. I really wish more people would share this kind of information on the internet. I find it extremely enlightening and in this case very illustrative of why proper gain staging is so important. Thanks so much for taking the time to do all this.

Brad
Old 20th May 2009
  #6
F5D
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Thank you very much for the measurement report! I am currently saving for a mixing desk and have been trying to decide between the toft and the ghost. Seems like I might end up with a ghost.
Old 22nd May 2009
  #7
CAL
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Great thread. I wish more like this would be posted on other boards. I think the Ghost, for some reason, gets a bad rep. Plus, the EQ's and Mic pres can be easily improved with an IC and Cap upgrade.
Old 22nd May 2009
  #8
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I'd love to see someone do this with all the major desk like an API, Neve and SSL. I think it would be eye opening. I think the sonics we love about each desk would be explained through distortion and technical info.
Old 22nd May 2009
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAL View Post
Great thread. I wish more like this would be posted on other boards. I think the Ghost, for some reason, gets a bad rep. Plus, the EQ's and Mic pres can be easily improved with an IC and Cap upgrade.
Probably because the preamps are the first thing to get judged and usually on their own, not as part of a bigger picture. If a preamp isn't up to par, or even just a little bland, your impression of the console is immediately skewed.
Old 22nd May 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
Thanks for posting Chris....you obviously spent quite a bit of time on this.
Thanks for sharing your result efforts.... great job!
One of these days I am going to send my trusty Ghost to Creation Audio Labs for a tweakin, taking it on faith that it will sound better regardless of what the signwaves or other technical graphs that I really don't understand say lol .
Old 15th June 2009
  #11
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Hey guys, thanks for the comments. I finally decided to upgrade this ghost desk and i will include measurements and pics of the upgrades step by step. This will be very interesting the coming weeks/months :D
Old 10th December 2013
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Have any of you nice folks ever used a soundcraft 500 series and could you speak to the qualities of the preamps and eqs? compared to the goast?
Old 16th December 2013
  #13
Gear Head
 

The 500 is a simpler "less is more" signal path... the mic pre's are basic, there are noisy resistor packs in the older ones, and the EQ is less flexible, but it cleans up nice with new resistors, caps and IC chips; and is a good accurate, clean signal path. I'd rather have an upgraded Ghost, but the upgrades to the 500 would probably cost half as much if you are on a budget, probably a good way to go for summing, but the pre's and EQ's will leave you wanting to patch in something outboard...
Old 13th May 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by gransonik View Post
Hey guys, thanks for the comments. I finally decided to upgrade this ghost desk and i will include measurements and pics of the upgrades step by step. This will be very interesting the coming weeks/months :D
Man, just got to the bottom of the thread, excited to see the results and you left us all hanging here in 2019! Did you by chance ever upgrade your ghost?
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