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$5,000+ analog mixer preamps vs. $2,000+ outboard? Consoles
Old 15th March 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 

$5,000+ analog mixer preamps vs. $2,000+ outboard?

hey everyone,

lemme give you all a little background, first;

i am a relatively new addict to recording but i've been playing drums for over 12 years and I am a mechanical engineer by day. Basically, I feel like I have a good ear for music and I have an appreciation for a well-thought out design.

my dilemma is this:

i like the idea of being 'out of the box' although i am currently using Reaper software and their supplied plugins (mainly compressors) to supplement my lack of good gear.

long story short i am wondering whether purchasing a good quality mixer like a Toft ATB32 would be the correct idea because right now I'm using an Allen and heath zed428 which has compromised "recording" features in order to make it a better "live" mixer. i feel as though i'm currently just trying to adapt my style around this mixer and im starting to think about buying numerous outboard preamps thinking that their quality will be much greater than what i'm using... the fact is, i don't mind the quality of the allen and heath mixer at all! what the toft would give me is inline monitoring and more bussing capabilities...

how does a mixer preamp like those on the toft atb32 compare to a 'low hi-end' preamp like an avalon or langevin? am i going to be wasting 7,000 dollars for the toft ?
Old 15th March 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I have heard great things about the toft...specifically in regards to drums.
Old 15th March 2010
  #3
Gear Head
 

and i realize this post is kind of all of the place... my apologies

i just feel like if i got the toft i could track with it, record to my dual alesis hd-24's, then submix with it. and do any post-processing in reaper...

without something like that, i would track with the allen and heath/additional outboard preamps, record on the hd-24's, but then not have enough channels/busses to easily submix with a board. this means i will be doing more in reaper, which i am not exactly thrilled about.

if i was gonna do more in the computer, i would've bought a tascam dm-4800 to begin with... ya know?
Old 15th March 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
stagefright13's Avatar
 

If you are a drummer just get enough API pres to cover your kit and a bunch of 1176's. And track that right into your DAW. Even 57's sound great thru them. A kick mic and 2 overheads... Then as they say in Brooklyn Faagetaboudit.

But seriously A console is very nice to have. But if you count how many pres are in a typical console and divide by the cost of a console... Something won't add up. An API lunchbox pre is like $600+ each? Evidently there is a severe difference in sound quality.

But that is not to say the work flow on a console isn't pure bliss. And Bliss adds up to better songs. And less time pushing buttons. More time making music. Something only you can decide.

John
Old 15th March 2010
  #5
Gear Head
 

yeh i mean that's my main point...

i could buy an allen and heath zed436 for $2,200. i am happy with the preamp quality on these boards. however, work flow would be "better" with the extra channels, but a little awkward seeing as though any kind of submixing would be with two separate 4-busses. doable, but less than ideal i would think.

then with the toft atb32, you're paying $7,700. are the preamps really that much better? i get VU meters, 8 busses, aux returns, and inline monitoring. so, basically i'm paying for the ease of workflow.


i see a business opportunity here... haha, where is the large format mixer that is made strictly for mixing, without expensive EQ or preamps? is that behringer? lol

i'm starting to convince myself i should just buy a zed-436. i will have more than enough channels (keep in mind that my drumset is 10+ channels after stereo electronic kit components) and mucho dinero leftover to spend on outboard stuff... or patchbays to make workflow better...
Old 15th March 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 
stagefright13's Avatar
 

So you need 10 channels after the midi stuff? That seems like perfect for a real kit. If ya go the API lunchbox route you won't get any EQ's wich are pricey at best.

I'm not familiar with the consoles you mentioned. I won't quote on something I haven't used.

But having 8 busses out on a console works perfectly in the digital world. Most good converters have 8 I/O or 16.

LOL the best cheap console would not be Beringer it would be the Mackie 8 buss.

Hopefully someone else with more experience in those suggested consoles will chime in. Like I said I can't give an opinion. But if you are comfortable with the sound of a particular one then ...

Remember if it sounds good it IS!

But that is A lot more money you could get a 2-1176 wich is a drum 2 buss dream for the price difference.

John
Old 15th March 2010
  #7
Well if you want to mix OTB and just edit with a computer the Toft would be perfect for you and your budget.

The preamps are pretty good, the board sounds great plus like you said you get the mixing flexibility you want with the 8 busses and aux sends. Plus you get EQ on each channel.

As you go along and afford it you could pick up some outboard preamps..maybe api 3124 or lunchbox for drums. Easy to buy used modules around here.

Do you really need 32 tracks? Get the 24 and just pair it with one Alesis HD24, use the saved money to start your outboard collection.

I use ATB24 with no computer, just nice outboard and have a blast recording and mixing with it. Great board for the money...IMO

I believe I saw a couple modded ATB,s for sale recently.

PM me if you want to hear some tracks with the ATB24.

best of luck
Old 15th March 2010
  #8
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Croaker View Post
Well if you want to mix OTB and just edit with a computer the Toft would be perfect for you and your budget.

The preamps are pretty good, the board sounds great plus like you said you get the mixing flexibility you want with the 8 busses and aux sends. Plus you get EQ on each channel.

As you go along and afford it you could pick up some outboard preamps..maybe api 3124 or lunchbox for drums. Easy to buy used modules around here.

Do you really need 32 tracks? Get the 24 and just pair it with one Alesis HD24, use the saved money to start your outboard collection.

I use ATB24 with no computer, just nice outboard and have a blast recording and mixing with it. Great board for the money...IMO

I believe I saw a couple modded ATB,s for sale recently.

PM me if you want to hear some tracks with the ATB24.

best of luck
+1

(Only thing I'd change is "for the money." Yes, there are better boards, but this is a damn fine one, regardless of money. And Croaker makes other great points too... you've found your console! )


-Andrews
Old 15th March 2010
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
+1

(Only thing I'd change is "for the money." Yes, there are better boards, but this is a damn fine one, regardless of money. And Croaker makes other great points too... you've found your console! )


-Andrews
Yes it is a great board period. I just said for the money because you and I and other TOFT owners went through many threads with the endless comparisons against boards costing 3 to 10 times as much.

Toft ATB 24 with Meter bridge

Use the extra money for a nice compressor or some preamps.
Old 15th March 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Marogru's Avatar
On your place I wound take 2 api 3124 for the main section and the "rest" on some budget pres.

Can't go worng with api for drums, these are my favorites, I even did some "out" pads for them to drive them more, not clipping the soundcard. GO API and some monitoring system. Thats my 0.02.
Old 15th March 2010
  #11
Gear Addict
 
RMJAZZ's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drone007 View Post
yeh i mean that's my main point...

i could buy an allen and heath zed436 for $2,200. i am happy with the preamp quality on these boards. however, work flow would be "better" with the extra channels, but a little awkward seeing as though any kind of submixing would be with two separate 4-busses. doable, but less than ideal i would think.

then with the toft atb32, you're paying $7,700. are the preamps really that much better? i get VU meters, 8 busses, aux returns, and inline monitoring. so, basically i'm paying for the ease of workflow.


i see a business opportunity here... haha, where is the large format mixer that is made strictly for mixing, without expensive EQ or preamps? is that behringer? lol

i'm starting to convince myself i should just buy a zed-436. i will have more than enough channels (keep in mind that my drumset is 10+ channels after stereo electronic kit components) and mucho dinero leftover to spend on outboard stuff... or patchbays to make workflow better...


If you are happy with the pre's on any Allen and Heath board you haven't listened to API or the Toft at all......with that said, grab the Toft for it's versatile use. It has a great master section (which you wold spend $500+ on alone..), you get all those eq's and the pre's are usable. I would look at the Toft as one step towards creating that "not sounding like you record in a closet" sound.

THE ALLEN and HEATH is crap.....seriously.

If you really want to do it right..ie "like the expensive drummers do".......go for the API 3124's that have been recommended, that's what most guys are using to record drums these days (at least on the sessions I have been in). If you start getting a ton of work-add a pair of 1073 clones in the future. I use the Chandler LTD1 for snare and kick. The Vintech stuff works well too.

You can get into a really nice Toft on gearslutz right now for a lot less that the new price. Just check things out really well ahead of time....ask questions. My advice would be to go the Toft route.......

And then, as always-don't forget about putting $$$$ into acoustics. make sure it is done right, and you will improve your sound immensely! You don't have to spend thousands, just don't buy Auralex! LOL
Old 15th March 2010
  #12
Gear Head
 

wow, up to 10 replies overnight! haha

ok, i literally had trouble falling asleep last night because i was thinking of what to do...

1 kick
2 snare
3 tom1
4 tom2
5 floor
6 hi hat
7 ride
8 ovr 1
9 ovr 2
10 electronic 1
11 electronic 2
12 sampler 1
13 sampler 2
14 kurzweil pc3x L
15 kurzweil pc3x R
16 bass direct
18 guitar 1 amp
19 guitar 2 amp
20 main vox
21 back vox 1
22 back vox 2

that's the setup right now for the country band i'm tracking currently. the setup is for live practice recordings (i'm in the band and at this point we are only at the writing stage)

so let's say i had some patchbays set up... do you think the toft atb 24 (like mentioned in a post above) would suffice? i could track onto my first hd24, spit those tracks back into the atb24, run compression or effects on them and submix/overdub onto the second hd24? will this flow work or is the atb24 in-line monitoring not made for that approach?

EDIT: also I know that I can re-patch at any time, it's just that I have that need for lots of channels during practices.
Old 15th March 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
 

There are alot of good used analog mixers out there for under 7k. The pres in a lot of these desks are going to be the weak link in most cases although alot of good records were done solely using only a desk's pres. Where an analog mixer shines with today's setup is with latency free monitering at the tracking stage and its flexible routing/integration of outboard at the mix stage. Maybe a good used analog desk and separate outboard pres is something to look into for that budget.
Old 15th March 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 

used mackie 32.8 on ebay for 1600+$160 S&H?

plus cost for some refurbishment possibly?

if the allen and heath preamps im using right now are "crap" anyway, this shouldn't be much of a dropoff, correct? plus most (if not all) of the functionality of the toft...
Old 15th March 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

toft got very good eqs and ok/good preamps + it´s new, so you have no maintanance issues as like getting an old board
toft has a sonic imprint to the general sound, which is great in this price class and will cure many itb problems
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