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New Studio and TAC consoles Consoles
Old 17th May 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
New Studio and TAC consoles

Hey gang,

Long time lurker here, never posted before, but I've recently gotten the opportunity to open my own studio. Things are still in the preliminary stage so nothing is set in stone yet, but with a little luck we'll be doing so in the next few months. It will be a video production studio during the day, recording studio at night (when the neighboring businesses close so we can make noise). Should be fun!

Anyways, I've been working ITB for the last several years, though I trained on API and Tascam boards back in college (yes, very wide spread between quality levels); I've also had limited experience using Allen & Heath and Mackie live boards. Currently I'm running an Apogee Element 46 for just doing stuff at home. However, i'd like to make a serious upgrade and dip my toes back into the analog world for this new studio. A producer I interned with recommended I look into a TAC Matchless mixer as they're good value for the money. However, was reading an article (https://www.proaudioeurope.com/info/...ixing-consoles) that trash talks TAC/AMEK a bit for their unreliability these days made me a bit concerned.

Matchless consoles seem to be hard to find but I've seen several TAC Scorpions for sale on Reverb, and they have the same EQ and Preamps (I think, finding the history of these has been challenging). Has anyone had any experience with these desks? Since I'll need an A/D converter/interface (was looking at antelope audio orion??), I can't drop as much money as I'd like on an analog desk, trying to keep the total price for desk and A/D under $5k. Apart from the TACs i've seen, i've seen some old Soundcraft and Tascam mixers pop up in my budget.

An alternative route is to abandon the idea of full analog and get a Presonus or Allen and Heath digital board, and maybe save up to go analog later. I only have 5 microphones to my name, and though I have the hook up on a lot of cables and SM57s (I work for a dealer), more money for odds and ends around the studio is always good. I would like to have at least 24 channels (32 is optimal), but if I get a high quality board with good sounding preamps I can go as low as 12 without complaint. Yes, I know what I'm doing is a huge leap.

TLDR: $4K to spend on a mixing desk but also need A/D interface. Anyone have any experience with TAC Scorpions?
Old 17th May 2018
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I used to help maintain an AMEK Mozart. Overall, it wasn't unreliable in the sense of completely failing and stopping work. It seemed like it always had something wrong with two or 3 channels at any particular time, though -- mostly related to socketed ICs needing reseating (often manifested as crackling noise), failed electrolytic coupling caps, and dirty switch contacts (with the socketed ICs and the switches being somewhat more common problems than the caps). We did routine cleanings of all switches and pots once per year, and cleaned or replaced switches as needed. I don't personally think AMEK/TAC would be any more or any less reliable than another console of a similar age. For your budget, you could probably get something more modern and more trouble-free. But, if you like vintage, then... I wouldn't say it's a *bad* choice.
Old 17th May 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Hi
The Matchless is a relatively simple desk compared to the Mozart mentioned, a Scorpion is even simpler IIRC. As a result they run a lot cooler (prolonging life of capacitors, pots and switches). Pots and switches suffer in 'hot' desks because the heat drags dirty air through which results in dirt on contacts.
Apart from the pots, all components are 'industry standard' of the time and just about everything can still be found nowadays.
The only tricky parts might be the chips in the lightmeters which were custom made for AMEK/TAC (if that particular desk uses then I can't remember).
With any desk it is worthwhile having the power supply cleaned out and probably recapped then any further problems will be individual channels which is far less serious.
AMEK/TAC made about 25 different desks over the years so it is difficult to say they were all the same.
Some were a lot more similar to other manufacturers offerings than other AMEK desks.
Matt S
Old 18th May 2018
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Wow, thanks for the speedy replies!

For either of you, was the upkeep of a desk that age pretty high? How difficult/expensive is recapping? I haven't had the opportunity to do any soldering myself, but I have a friend and tech who is willing to help me restore (and as a bonus, teach me a little so i can fix minor problems) in exchange for some time recording his band.

I don't mind going a little more modern, depending. I really enjoyed working with vintage gear, but I'm really just wanting an analog desk that has good pre-amps because I think that will give me an edge where I'm at. Lots of people here do ITB recording as there's two colleges with recording programs nearby. So, the ability to do a full band at once is my top priority, and analog (vintage if possible) sound is a close second. If you have any suggestions of other desks I'll check them out

Also, Matt, I heard that the chips in the meters are one of the problems that cannot be fixed so that must have been some in house stuff as you mentioned.
Old 18th May 2018
  #5
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Thread Starter
btw, not that it matters but i just discovered i have posted before from way back in recording school, i guess I just haven't logged in or posted in ages lols
Old 18th May 2018
  #6
Lives for gear
 

i had some terrible experience with tac desks (when mixing live) and very good experience with amek angela, amek media 51 (in the studio) and amek recall (both live and in the studio), but i don't recall from which area the tac desks were... - have an experienced tech with you to check the desk before you buy it.
Old 18th May 2018
  #7
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i had some terrible experience with tac desks (when mixing live) and very good experience with amek angela, amek media 51 (in the studio) and amek recall (both live and in the studio), but i don't recall from which area the tac desks were... - have an experienced tech with you to check the desk before you buy it.
The live desks, were they mobile, or installed in live sound locations? I'll bear that in mind, it makes buying on Reverb a heck of a lot more risky
Old 18th May 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veritas521 View Post
The live desks, were they mobile, or installed in live sound locations? I'll bear that in mind, it makes buying on Reverb a heck of a lot more risky
both, but mostly got moved around (so maybe this led to their malfunction?)

(have an eye on the recall: it's a great desk! i got to work on several that travelled for long periods of time and did not get badly affected. or maybe they were serviced better? dunno... - i keep on using some amek/neve gear to this day and would not wanna miss it!)
Old 18th May 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Hi.
AMEK and TAC were essentially the same, just pitched at different 'price points' in the market. The modules were often assembled by the same young ladies using the same parts.
If you had a 'blown' bargraph chip, there are findable but not at a usual electronics retailer.
Recapping itself is not a particularly technical job but being able to desolder and solder carefully and neatly without breaking any copper traces is essential as 'fault finding' becomes technical at that point and can take a while to do. You should consider doing this for any desk over 20 or more years old.
The biggest issue is when you have a lot of pots (and switches) that are dirty. You MUST spend an hour or two 'playing' with any proposed purchase, putting some music through each channel and adjust pots and press switches listening for any 'crunchiness'. A recap will get the desk back to 'factory' condition and once done it will happily work for another 15 years or more. Dirty pots and switches will drive you nuts and are a LOT more effort and cost to change. These comments apply to ANY desk not just AMEK/TAC.
I was commissioning AMEK desks from the factory for many years.
I would be interested to know what 'problems' Deedeeyeah had with TAC desks.
Happy hunting.
Matt S
Old 18th May 2018
  #10
Gear Head
 

Scorpion

I had a TAC Scorpion for a while, can't remember if it was a II or not. Paid $2k for it in the year 2k.

At the time I thought it sounded OK - better than anything new I could have bought for the same price. I liked the EQ, and the mic pres sounded good to me. But there were two main issues that eventually drove me to dump it.

The busses were pretty much useless except as a means to route individual signals. When I ran a drum submix through a pair of them the sound just kind of collapsed in an unpleasant lofi way, like it's little circuits were struggling to keep up. So I only used the direct outs.

But the direct outs, and tape returns (I had a Tascam ATR-60) are wired in a funny way. They use TRS jacks, but are not balanced - they're dual level. The tip and sleeve carried two different levels of signal: +0 (not +4) and -12 (not -10). I guess this was supposed to be a convenience so you could connect it to any given tape deck. But in my case the ATR-60 made that even weirder because it wanted you to manually short its hot and cold pins together if you were connecting to an unbalanced mixer. I had to make custom cables for it - that was fun!

I sold to a friend who still loves to take pictures next to it because it looks like a big console.

How's that for a recommendation...?

Cheers,
Pete
Old 18th May 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
I would be interested to know what 'problems' Deedeeyeah had with TAC desks.
since i was mostly using them live, i didn't get the time to troubleshoot any of the desks - and there are a few thousand gigs between now and the time i used them! if remember right, i had broken power supplies (not as many as with soundcraft desks though), phantom power being too weak with several power hungry mics connected, faulty busses and some sort of crackling i could not isolate, overshooting eqs and the usual crappy (pan?) pots. don't remember routing/patching...

don't get me wrong: i was trying to love the desks but they let me down a little bit too often plus ramsa and yamaha were just more reliable (btw: got a 40 channel pm3500 here - anyone?) no doubt tac can be fun if brought up to specs. but will this fit into the op's budget?


p.s. i posted a pic of my v-shaped amek angela in another thread a few months ago - eventually swapped it for an mci jh500: now that desk needs lots of maintenance (and is mucho more difficult to service, some parts being mostly unavailable: anyone has a quad fader? and no, ssl's won't do and i don't wanna gang replacement stereo faders with a vca...)

p.p.s. 'AMEK and TAC were essentially the same' - is that so and can you tell from doing tech work or were you told so? - as a modern equivalent, many folks talk about soundcraft vi and studer vista desks essentially being the same, 'just pitched at different price points' but even though vi's are based on the same technology (and code possibly written by the same folks), they are nowhere near close to the vista's!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 18th May 2018 at 09:22 AM.. Reason: p.p.s. added
Old 18th May 2018
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

As far as working on the AMEK/TAC stuff: as folks have already mentioned, apart from the pots and LED VU meter drivers, there's not much in those that isn't just standard components (last I'd checked, the switches could even be bought cheaply from Digi-Key and Mouser). Recapping isn't bad, though we didn't do "wholesale" recapping of equipment (mixer or anything else), because the studio owner didn't want to deal with that much downtime; rather "we" (i.e., I) simply repaired things as they broke down. Personally, I advocate a moderate approach: on vintage gear, recap the power supplies and replace any caps where a failure could destroy unobtainable parts and don't worry too much about replacing every single other capacitor. Other people have different opinions on this. Switches are not much fun to replace, and that wouldn't be where I'd learn to replace components -- but your tech friend shouldn't have any big problem there.

I second Matt's advice: check everything you possibly can before you buy. Even if the seller seems honest, people really do sometimes forget about problems with gear if they've gotten used to working around them.

If an AMEK/TAC came my way, in good condition at a fair price, I would buy it. Just like with car maintenance, if you learn to do at least some of the basic stuff yourself, you can keep older models going even when less "handy" people would have written them off. I'd certainly rather work on an AMEK than any of the modern non-modular stuff, where disassembly and reassembly involves removing and reinstalling approximately 2,900,483 knobs.
Old 18th May 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Hi @deedeeyeah. Phantom should be OK, the supply gives 48 Volts and used the 'standard' 6K8 resistors so that is a mystery. The other items should have been fixable easily enough by a decent tech, there is nothing much that sounds 'AMEK specific' in terms of problem.
The AMEK factory was in Salford, near Manchester England. The TAC factory was in Nottingham. There was a place that only assembled boards on the South coast of England. If you look at the directors list for TAC and AMEK the same names appeared on both. There was of course some change over the years and they started as separate companies. There are a couple of websites which would fill in the actual history with much more detail. Typically the same 'circuit blocks' (like a mic amp stage or a balanced output stage) would be used by both and of course there were many variants of mic amps over the years.
At the time I was there Einsteins and BIGs were built at both factories. Some other models were as well, it depended who was busiest at the time.
There were about a dozen 'types' of power supply and around 20? models of desk and they changed designs for the sub circuits over the years.
Pots were sourced from Radiohm, OMEG, Sfernice, Clarostat, Preh, Ruwido and Alps (+others?) depending on the different desk designs and time period they were built. They are not interchangeable by the way!
Matt S
Old 18th May 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 

thx for sharing some insight - i'm sure your comments will help others to base their decision on whether to buy a used amek/tac on somewhat safer ground.

speaking of the amek big consoles: i couldn't afford one at the time, so got a tascam m3700; would have preferred the amek though! - and now i'm gonna send some elektrons through my amek cib: (one of) the best channel strips ever :-)
Old 21st May 2018
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete J View Post
I had a TAC Scorpion for a while, can't remember if it was a II or not. Paid $2k for it in the year 2k.

At the time I thought it sounded OK - better than anything new I could have bought for the same price. I liked the EQ, and the mic pres sounded good to me. But there were two main issues that eventually drove me to dump it.

The busses were pretty much useless except as a means to route individual signals. When I ran a drum submix through a pair of them the sound just kind of collapsed in an unpleasant lofi way, like it's little circuits were struggling to keep up. So I only used the direct outs.

But the direct outs, and tape returns (I had a Tascam ATR-60) are wired in a funny way. They use TRS jacks, but are not balanced - they're dual level. The tip and sleeve carried two different levels of signal: +0 (not +4) and -12 (not -10). I guess this was supposed to be a convenience so you could connect it to any given tape deck. But in my case the ATR-60 made that even weirder because it wanted you to manually short its hot and cold pins together if you were connecting to an unbalanced mixer. I had to make custom cables for it - that was fun!
Has anyone else had this experience with Scorpions or any other TAC/AMEK? I'd be bummed to not be able to use the busses. I won't be using tape, I'll be going back into the computer post fader for a tape mix, so I don't know if the unbalanced outs will be a huge problem or not, I've never dealt with that before. Will that cause some issues?

There is a TAC scorpion listed in "Very good" gondition for $1100, does this seem like a good deal? I'm also open to suggestions if anyone has any other thoughts on a good first mixer.

The bummer is the listed one is 8 hours drive away from me
Old 21st May 2018
  #16
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Thread Starter
oh, and the listed desk is 32x8x8, so I wouldnt have to worry about size
Old 22nd May 2018
  #17
ccg
Gear Maniac
 

I had a TAC Scopion for a few years around 2003-2007 or something like that. It was an ok desk. The EQ worked, the pres worked, not super exciting. My light bar died in some spots. My power supply died, but that was a pretty easy fix.

Should you buy it? I don't know. Some Soundcraft mixers may sound better.

I can tell you NOT to buy a Tascam. I worked with a buddy who had one of these before I got the Scorp. It was a battle and it didn't sound good.
Old 22nd May 2018
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Hi
When considering any gear that is 25 + years old you have to have some regard to maintenance.
Would you buy a car with 500,000 miles on the clock without at least looking over it?
Matt S
Old 23rd May 2018
  #19
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccg View Post
Should you buy it? I don't know. Some Soundcraft mixers may sound better.
were there any particular models you'd recommend? I've seen lots of soundcraft stuff for sale, most of them are live boards though. How do they sound compared to other brands?
Old 23rd May 2018
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
When considering any gear that is 25 + years old you have to have some regard to maintenance.
Would you buy a car with 500,000 miles on the clock without at least looking over it?
Matt S
Absolutely, anything I consider I'm taking my tech friend with me to look at and give me a thumbs up first. I want good analog tone, but with minimal headaches. If i had the money, i'd probably splurge on something more modern such as Toft just because I'd hope it would last a while before it developed a problem.
Old 23rd May 2018
  #21
ccg
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veritas521 View Post
were there any particular models you'd recommend? I've seen lots of soundcraft stuff for sale, most of them are live boards though. How do they sound compared to other brands?
Perhaps a Ghost. I have no idea what these are selling for these days.

Others here can give you more info on Soundcraft than I can. I've never owned one.
Old 23rd May 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 

I have a TAC Magnum. It's the last console TAC built. For my ears it's fine. I use it mostly for tracking although sometimes I'll mix through it. Analog sounds different (not better or worse just another choice to enjoy) and it suits certain styles.

I can't tell you what to get but I can tell you why i got mine (a while ago).

1: When tracking it's great to be able to configure all your headphone mixes and monitoring with all faders and knobs at your fingertips.

2: I don't own 24 mike preamps and teh board came with 26. Yeah some would say not the best but great records have been made with far less. They can be upgraded (look below for link) if you wish.

3: Yeah it looks cool! But seriously having a mixer for tracking sessions makes things flow along quite effortlessly.

More reasons but they are all personal and not entirely practical.

Yes the meters sometimes flake out. Mine are still all intact. But if you calibrate the levels between the mixer and DA converters your DAW meters should suffice.

Ok weaknesses other than meters. Power Supply! That is the weakest part of the TAC series. But not insurmountable so if you find a board that looks in great condition but the power supply does not (or just doesn't work) it can also be either repaired/overhauled or just replaced. More money though right?

Check out Audio Maintenance Limited - Support Zone for all things AMEK and TAC.
There is also a firm in CA that repairs and also sells full built power supplies for the AMEK and TAC range. Google them.

If you could get a better impression or hear one in person enough to judge for yourself that would be best. There are cleaner mixers and also worse ones. Check out D&R for clean with lot's of headroom if you like that. My Magnum has plenty of headroom for me.

That last thing I'll say is you should have some confidence in maintenance or have someone handy that does. The good thing is that they are modular so if 1 channel goes bad you take it out but your board keeps on working (if you have enough strips you just move them around to fit the configuration you want). The circuitry in these mixers is not overly complicated. My console has some small issues that I have not taken care of but they are minor and the same ones that were there when I got my board 15 years ago.

Ask me more questions if you need more info as I find it hard to recommend anything without knowing your particular needs.

Cheers

Jim
Old 23rd May 2018
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Hi
Realistically you must audition the pots on any desk you may wish to buy. All pots are designed to 'self clean' but of course this means they have to be physically rotated quite regularly. I would expect a desk with decent pots for them to 'clean' and give crackle free performance when rotated say 20 times or thereabouts. Ant that are not at least near clean should be flagged for possible replacement, or cleaning if the deal is a really good one.switches, again if they self clean you get an idea of how they might be and can decide. Caps MIGHT need replacing but that is not as tricky or expensive than wholesale pot or switch replacement and if it is recapped with decent, 105 centigrade types can be ignored for another 20 years plus.
Matt S
Old 4th June 2018
  #24
Here for the gear
 

I had a Scorpion 1 a while back, and although at first I liked the console I kind of grew tired of it's microphone preamp, and actually more of the topology of the line-level input... your signal from your DAW, Tape or other recording device would have to pass through the same preamps but padded down... that's called a Bottleneckpreamp...

So the DIY enthousiast in me was very keen to replace that mic preamp with something more sophisticated and line-level based... So I designed a daughter PCB that could be easely fitted to the main channel-strip PCB replacing the bottleneck with an API2520 based differential line-level receiver...!!

So that's an option unless you need the desk for the pre-amps...

For the quick and dirty, check this post over at: DIff.Rev00x.OST

Or for the full explicatory: Another Tac Scorpion Overhaul
Old 7th June 2018
  #25
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliani View Post
I had a Scorpion 1 a while back, and although at first I liked the console I kind of grew tired of it's microphone preamp, and actually more of the topology of the line-level input... your signal from your DAW, Tape or other recording device would have to pass through the same preamps but padded down... that's called a Bottleneckpreamp...

So the DIY enthousiast in me was very keen to replace that mic preamp with something more sophisticated and line-level based... So I designed a daughter PCB that could be easely fitted to the main channel-strip PCB replacing the bottleneck with an API2520 based differential line-level receiver...!!

So that's an option unless you need the desk for the pre-amps...
I do kind of need the pre-amps, this would be my first desk so I don't have any other pre's apart from a four channel apogee interface (which sounds great, but it's only good for small projects). Did you also have any problems with the unbalanced outs?

recently, I've also been looking at an AMEK Big, which I understand would be a trade up in a few different ways, (balanced outs, more channels, automation), any one have any experience with those?
Old 7th June 2018
  #26
The Langley Big is a better desk. All of these desks used TL072's and 74's. Old jfets. Not my favorite chip, but they worked for later Tridents...if you like that sound. It can be a thick sound if the circuit is done right. Keep in mind I am not looking at the schematics for the TAC, but I have seen them before.
Suffice it to say, the TACs do NOT sound like a Trident.

The Langley uses more 5534'S I think? A better sounding opamp IMHO.

These desks are old. You need to get a desoldering unit, and recap them. Be prepared going in. Like Matt is wisely advising you. Faders, switches, and pots too. Some you can clean, some are just done.

The bottom end will be phase shifty and smeary. Or it will be bass light. Worse case, and rare, caps can dead short. Recap the PSU too.

To save money, these manufacturers often used small value caps to begin with. Put 10-15 years on them, cooking inside a chassis 24 /7, and they will get even smaller in value :0) Sometimes they measure ok, but the esr goes up. Or they just don't sound right anymore. You must recap, and if it were I, go higher value caps in places, and definitely higher voltage and temp rating.
You will be glad you did, as the console will sound better than it did new.

I'd look at the Ghost too, or (don't laugh) a Mackie. Or D&R, or DDA. Or even an Alesis X2 before a TAC. They're ok, but they are dirty, dirty sounding desks. If you like dirt, well ok then. Cool once in a while, but if you need to clean it up, you just can't. We used to have a dealer here in DC that sold TAC / AMEK.
When Mackie came around, EVERYBODY sold their TAC's.

Night and day difference. Still don't get why Mackie is so slagged and other boards get cult status with some people.

If you use outboard pres, the Mackie and Ghost can work amazingly well for mixing. Amazingly the Ghost also uses TL072's, but they did a good job with the circuit, and it sounds cleaner than it should. Hell, come to think of it, I'd take the predecessor to the Ghost (Spirit) over a TAC in the sound dept. The build was cheap though Like really cheap connectors etc.. That said, they sound better to my ears.

I learned the hard way.

I made a LOT of money with a Mackie 32*8. I sold it, because people looked at it sideways in the late 1990's. I went through 7 consoles. Maybe more. Some American, 5 British models.

Kept a couple small SoundWorkshops and got another Mackie. Recapped all of them. Modded some of them myself, some with the help of some really smart techs. Go figure on the Mackie coming back home.

I don't use it's pres, but I insert stuff all over the thing and mix through it sometimes. If you mind your levels, hardly notice it's there. Very clean and quiet board for what it is.

If you want cleaner on a budget, just mix ITB.

The fact is that very few IC based boards without at least a transistor output driver stage sound good pushed hard. These lower end desks may give you color, but usually not something you had in your head. You need discrete transistors and transformers for that.

So, being that most people cannot afford a huge discrete transformer coupled desk, they use outboard that meets that criteria, and use the low to mid priced consoles to submix, monitor, and mix. Watching the levels, and running them as cleanly as they can.

My 2 cents.
Good luck.

PS:
I also kept a completely hotrodded DDA, but it's in our new studio. Using it for mostly monitoring while tracking. Must've put 500 hrs into that thing and as much as I paid for it.
Old 7th June 2018
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veritas521 View Post
I do kind of need the pre-amps, this would be my first desk so I don't have any other pre's apart from a four channel apogee interface (which sounds great, but it's only good for small projects). Did you also have any problems with the unbalanced outs?

recently, I've also been looking at an AMEK Big, which I understand would be a trade up in a few different ways, (balanced outs, more channels, automation), any one have any experience with those?
To deal with the unbalanced outputs there were output transformers fitted in the desk when I aquired it, but I ended up replacing tje entire summing bus en master fader booster with a Capi gear 2-aca-bo!! That was a great modification, it’s an API2520 based summing bus like they were used in the API consoles.

I fitted a few channels with the preamp upgrades by Graham Langley, but ended up developing a That1510 preamp too!!
Old 11th June 2018
  #28
I have experience with a TAC Scorpion II in my recording and mixing studio; and I love it.

I was first impressed by the TAC brand when I used to work at a recording studio that, among many other consoles, used a TAC Matchless in one of the recording rooms. The EQ was very musical and impressive-sounding to my ears, as well as the total construction, "look", and routing capabilities. I remember when I first researched the prices of these consoles and was shocked as to why they were so cheap.

With that said, I purchased a my church-used Scorpion II (24x16x4 with integrated TT patchbay which is a definite plus) for around 2K in 2014. While it isn't a Matchless, it was the closest thing I could find in my area as the Matchless' are pretty hard to come by and this console was very well taken care of. These consoles are extremely well-built, solid in construction, and for the most part, do the trick sonically. On a side-note, I've never had any issues with the console being finicky or breaking down (although mine was well-taken-care-of before me); that is other than some scratchy pots after a week of non-use that quickly can be worked clean in a minute or two.

The trouble is with the Scorpion, as someone else mentioned in a previous reply, is that when mixing your signal will come from your converters through your padded mic preamp; not the nicest solution to mixing Imo but surprisingly it doesn't sound incredibly bad; it just sounds ok. As someone else mentioned, it is a bit "dirtier" sound overall, not distorted or anything, but as I describe "dirty" I tend to think less high end EQ emphasis that makes for a rounder sound but with less detail than you probably would want out of a good mix.

With that being said, I immediately started researching what I could do to upgrade my console to make it sound tighter, brighter, and just overall kick-ass (if at all possible). I came across many many posts here on gearslutz describing the things that could be done to improve the sonic characteristics of the Scorpion (look up Jim Williams, he has a ton of experience with modding TAC and AMEK consoles and where I got most of my recommendations from); mostly through the incorporation of the Langley channel kits offered by Audio Maintenance Limited in the UK. I ordered the kits for every channel; which can be ordered with either the preamp/line input combination that is already on the console, or a line-amp only kit to bypass the use of the preamp pad (but which eliminates the channel entirely of recording purposes) for about $110 (if I remember correctly). They even come with new caps so you can recap the entire channel strip. I installed a combination of both kits, changed my IC chips entirely through recommendations I found on gearslutz, and recapped the entire console since it had never had a recap. The combination of those upgrades were the best $2500 (and 50 hours of soldering lol) that I have ever spent in the audio-world.

I'm sure I'll receive some resistance on this statement, but after the upgrades I would gladly choose my ScorpionII over any SSL4000 sonically-speaking for mixing and recording (I've worked on many SSL's as well as most other consoles you can name). The Langley preamps (BOTH preamp/line and line combinations) are worth their weight in gold for opening up the dimension of the sound-source with intense clarity and punch, and the chip upgrades made the EQ shine even more. The console is no longer "dirty" sounding, it is as clean and clear as I believe any 90's mixer can be, while still retaining a great punchy attitude that works well with all types of music you may record or mix through it. I own a few nice, and some other very nice vintage preamps and EQ's and I believe that the Langley preamps are the most well-balanced pre's I have in my arsenal which comes in extremely handy when recording drums.

I say "GO!" on getting yourself a Scorpion especially if you are willing to buy and do the soldering for the upgrades. You won't be sorry; especially for a total console setup that will cost you less than or right around 5K that sounds this good. I haven't heard anything else in all my years that sound as good as this for the price I paid and invested. If you don't do the upgrades, a Scorpion will treat you well as long as you do the same. Power supplies are commonly the issue at fault, but can be bought used or new (as another person stated). Also, there is a plethora of used channel strips out there for sale that are inexpensive. A non-modified Scorpion won't blow anybody's mind for recording or mixing, but it offers good routing options and a better-than-average 4 band EQ that you can make a decent mix out of. If you don't want to do a recap, IC chip changeout (which is very very easy and doesn't require soldering skills), or buy the Langley channel kits; I would suggest at the very least to recap and change out the IC chips on the master section of the console. That in itself will dramatically decrease the "dirty" sound of the console and provide more precise bass response and clarity.

Hope this helped and happy trails with your decision!
Old 19th July 2018
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwitchesAndDials View Post
I say "GO!" on getting yourself a Scorpion especially if you are willing to buy and do the soldering for the upgrades.
I don't have a ton of experience modding, though I wouldn't be opposed to learning. However after careful consideration, I purchased an Amek Big 44 two days ago. Thanks a ton for your advice though, if I had more experience with fixing up electronics I might have snagged a Scorpion as a project console.

I got a decent price on the Big, only $400 more than the cheapest scorpion I found; I chose it both because it was bigger and only sightly more expensive than the nearest scorpion to me. It needs a little TLC, but doesn't need any heavy modding and includes Supertrue automation.

Thanks everybody for your advice and assistance, I'll post pictures once I get the board fully installed!
Old 19th July 2018
  #30
I have a TAC Bullet 10-4-2 That I got for next to nothing because it had lots of noise on the outputs. Ive since recapped and rechipped most of it and its sounding much quieter. I was planning on using it as a side car mixer or for remote recording since my main console is a Harrison 2824 and impossible to move without a crew of people.

I really like the preamps and the EQ is really versatile. If you can score one cheap and dont mind doing a little work to it yourself you can have a really cool console in my opinion.
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