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High end summing mixer setup for mixing vs. 10k range console (Audient Zen, etc.) Consoles
Old 11th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

High end summing mixer setup for mixing vs. 10k range console (Audient Zen, etc.)

I have been mixing with my Neve 8816/8804 setup for awhile now. I have a lot of outboard gear and I have every channel of the 16 (sometimes 18) going through outboard comps, eqs, etc. I am happy with the overall sound quality of my mixes, but I find the 8816 and other summing mixers to be limited in their functionality.

For example, I often have trouble with my effects bus because I use itb effects, so these plugins are working off of the tracks in my DAW and not the post analog gear/fader mix on the 8816, so levels, sound, etc. are an issue. To fix this problem I have been toying with the idea of sending the direct outs from my summing mixer back into the daw to trigger the effects plugins. This method would of course require for ad/da.

It would also be helpful to have more busses, stereo groups, etc. on my outboard mixer to incorporate the outboard gear I have on more than one track at a time. Additionally, fader automation and more tracks would be really nice.

For all the reasons above, I am now thinking of selling the Neve mixer and buying an Audient Zen. I have also looked at the Allen Heath GS R24. The SSL Matrix is out of my price range I think.

Has anyone out there tried both summing mixer setups and one or more of the consoles above? Will I be "downgrading" as far as the quality of summing, stereo width/depth, overall sound, etc? If there won't be a "downgrade" in sound I think I'll make the switch, if there is though I will be hesitant to. I have spent a lot of time trying to build a setup that can compete with the sound of pro studio mixes (on SSL/Neve boards, etc) and I don't want to move down, only up.

Advice anyone?
Old 11th September 2011
  #2
MPZ
Gear Maniac
 

I've no experience with any of the newer 10k range mixers, but given that you want to "move up," perhaps you should look into a Tonelux system- they're fully modular, so you can start with a summing setup and expand over time into... well, as far as you want to take it.

Just a thought.
Old 11th September 2011
  #3
Gear Head
 

Hmm..ok, thanks for the suggestion, I will look into it. I've definitely seen tonelux praised on here many times, and briefly looked into the modular system, but have yet to look closely at it.

Anyone else out there have experience with some high end summing mixers and the Audient Zen, Allen Heath GS R24, or others and can shed light on how they compare sound quality/mojo wise?
Old 11th September 2011
  #4
Gear Head
 

No Audient Zen users out there who have also used/owned summing mixers at one time?
Old 12th September 2011
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I can heartily recommend the Zen. It sounds great, quite clean. It is extraordinarily flexible and perfect for interfacing with outboard. it has a stereo bus compressor that sounds pretty good.

The moving fader thing is a bit of an odd setup and is not something that I would use myself but it's there if you want it.

but a console that is well built and can be used for tracking and summing with I computer system. I think the Zen is pretty good.
Old 13th September 2011
  #6
Gear Head
 

Great, thanks for the reply. So you think that the bus comp on the Zen is just ok? And why dont you like the automatiin setup?

I am coming closer to making the Zen purchase. However, I did come across the Allen Heath GSr24m and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with both the Zen and the gsr24m and can shed some light on the quality comparison between the two? Or anyone know of another console in this price range with some form of automation that stands up to the Zen.

I'm also still looking for any 8816 users who have also used Zen and can compare those two. Or a comparison between Zen and another high end summing unit.
Old 13th September 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 
TornadoTed's Avatar
I had a 8816 but found it too limiting for the reasons you mentioned. I moved to an old Soundcraft Sapphyre but that was way too much console for my work flow. I settled for a Speck Lilo after much research and so far I am really happy with it. It has plenty of routing options and is an ideal middle ground between a summing mixer and a LFAC. I looked at the Zen but was put off by it only having 16 channels, having surface mount components and not being modular. Of course the last 2 reasons may not be an issue for many years and may not bother you.
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
Gear Head
 

Hmm, interesting. Thanks for the reply. So, have you found any major differences in sound between the Speck and the 8816? Do you miss the recall? I looked at the speck, but I figured that if I'm going to make the jump, it would be nice to have fader automation. Maybe I should take a look at the Speck again though. Also, it is my understanding that the Zen has more than just 16 channels. I was told that I can use the cue pan and level controls to control the alternate input on each channel. From my understanding that would allow me to have 32 channels, although only 16 would have faders. Can anyone verify this? Oh, and TornadoTed, can you explain to me why it not being modular and having surface mount components is a turn off to you? Cheers
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

The Zen requires 2 MIDI In ports and 2 MIDI out ports.

The Zen does its automation through MIDI HUI control. To use it with a DAW you have to connect it up using a MIDI interface. Then create 16 MIDI automation tracks in the DAW. this allows you to read and write fader movements and cuts. on the zen. You can also use it for transport control.

I have not used it myself purely for the reason that I am used to writing information in Pro Tools. It might be something I will look at in the future.

The cue inputs are very useful. It does mean that you can have up to 32 inputs at mix down. It would also be good for adding more effects busses when mixing.

I like the bus compressor on the Zen I have not used it on final mixes because I have done most of my mixes elsewhere. But it is great when doing roughs as it gives an idea of where things are going.
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Fezzle
Guest
This could be an awesome solution mate! probably sounds juicier than the Zen too

Products
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
Gear Head
 
idolsound's Avatar
 

matrix

I'm in the same boat as you and have decided to go with Matrix. I've had the Equinox, a studer console and a control 24 as well as all INB. All at different times. I have not used the Matrix or the Audient and like you, i'm on the fence on both. If I did a lot of tracking of full bands i might go with the Audient (onboard EQ and pres) but as I mostly mix and over dub the Matrix seems perfect for recalls, summing, monitoring and routing. Also, SSL is a good name if you are looking to attract more clients. The matrix is a tad out of my range like yourself but i'v decided to wiat a few months and get one second hand. $16-1700K. SOunds like you have a lot of outboard to help color your sound as you wish and both the SSL and Audient will work well with that. You really have to take a look at work flow and let that help guide you.
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 
TornadoTed's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crippledsound View Post
Hmm, interesting. Thanks for the reply. So, have you found any major differences in sound between the Speck and the 8816? Do you miss the recall? I looked at the speck, but I figured that if I'm going to make the jump, it would be nice to have fader automation. Maybe I should take a look at the Speck again though. Also, it is my understanding that the Zen has more than just 16 channels. I was told that I can use the cue pan and level controls to control the alternate input on each channel. From my understanding that would allow me to have 32 channels, although only 16 would have faders. Can anyone verify this? Oh, and TornadoTed, can you explain to me why it not being modular and having surface mount components is a turn off to you? Cheers
I'm struggling to remember the sound of the 8816 as I've had the Sappyre for 3 years in between. I remember thinking that the Sapphyre was cleaner than the 8816 most likely because of the output transformers. The modularity thing is important for me as I didn't like the idea of sending the whole desk back when one channel goes down. My tech and I can easily deal with through hole parts but surface mount stuff is a lot more difficult. I'm not knocking the Zen it looks like a great console but it just wasn't for me, I would have loved those extra busses over the Lilo mind.
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
airmate's Avatar
 

I was facing a similar dilemma, and the Zen was in my short list as well.

However, I have ordered a Speck LiLo a couple of weeks ago for a number of reasons - these are some of them:

- I like the sound of the LiLo better
- The LiLos built quality is better (I did not like the plastic pots on the Zen)
- 24 channels is a must for me, and there will be no 24 channel Zen
- I like the idea of simplicity. For instance, I have much better outboard comps than the buss comp in the Zen. So why should I pay for that?

The fader automation is a great thing, though. A LiLo with Zen's motor faders would be superb...
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