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Soundcraft 1600 - Opinions? Possible Mods?
Old 12th July 2005
  #1
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recky's Avatar
 

Soundcraft 1600 - Opinions? Possible Mods?

Hi,

I'm planning to set up a new private/artist's studio for myself and the odd outside project that comes along. It will mainly be used for recording overdubs and vocals, as well as for mixing. Sort of like a semi-high-end studio with selected gear that suits my personal needs, as opposed to loads of esoteric stuff that covers all bases and impresses the clients.

For years I've been working in-the-box. In the new studio, I want take some of my signal processing out of the box, demoting my Mac/Logic Audio/UAD-1 combo to tape machine, automation, reverb machine and comp or EQ on lesser signals, while outputting all signals individually into a mixing desk. Following that, I want to use the mixing desk in a conventional manner, i.e. effects routing, inserting dynamics and EQing (on some signals).

I would never consider a desk such as a Mackie 8-bus for this purpose - if this were my only option, I'd stay ITB. Now, a good friend and colleague has offered me his old Soundcraft 1600 for next to nothing, which, back in the day, wasn't exactly high-end, but not completely shabby, either. I know some commercial tracks that were mixed on 1600s and they sound pretty good to my ears. I have a feeling that the console might give me better mixes than what I get ITB now, and I'm not completely unhappy as it is. I just don't like summing and processing critical signals ITB.

Has anyone worked on a Soundcraft 1600? Are the EQs usable? What about the preamps? (I already have some selected quality outboard gear, e.g. 1176, UA 610, D.A.V. Electronics, and will be gettings lots more compressors and a couple of top-notch EQs).

Are there any mods that may improve the sound of the console, or is it hardly worth the expense?

What's your esteemed opinion on the Soundcraft 1600, Gearslutz?

Cheers,

Recky
Old 12th July 2005
  #2
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by recky
Has anyone worked on a Soundcraft 1600? Are the EQs usable? What about the preamps?
Yes
Yes
They're fine.

It's been so long since I've used one that I'm not sure how valuable my comments will be, but for what it's worth, the mic pres & EQs on a Soundcraft 1600 sounded excellent, conspicuously better than anything else in their price range...in 1985. Which means their competition was the TAC Scorpion or a short-loaded TAC Matchless, the Allen+Heath pig w/ the built-in microprocessor, the Yamaha piece of **** w/ the faux rosewood end cheeks, a Soundtracks something-or-other, whatever Tascam's predecessor to the 3500 was (M-520 maybe? Yuk!), the Wheatstone 3224, Hill Audio's split console, and not a whole lot else. What's that line about "in the land of the blind, the deaf man is king"? Soundcraft was king 20 years ago.

I've used similar vintage Soundcraft consoles more recently (though not a 1600) and I'm still happy with the quality of their mic preamps & EQs. I think I'm more impressed with their routing capabilities. (I always had a fondness for the logical, intuitive layout of Soundcraft's split consoles.) Of all the 20 year old consoles that originally sold for <$20k, I can't think of one I'd rather have now than a Soundcraft. It's certainly the only one that I would expect to still be working.

That being said, if "next to nothing" is more than $2,000 you might want to keep looking. 1600's don't seem to hold their value; kinda archaic, & a bit too small to have the clout of a "big console" (though their shallow depth makes them really easy to get around on).
Old 13th July 2005
  #3
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I have a good mod for the 1600. Take a metal plate and solder it over the power switch while the power is off. This way, the console will not be able to turn on.

Even the high end Soundcraft stuff is only OKAY... I wouldn't touch one from 1985.. You're asking for problems. I'd go with either Midas Venice which sound as good as consoles costing like 100,000 bucks, or the new Mackie ONYX series which also sound pretty expensive but don't cost it.

Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Old 13th July 2005
  #4
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Ruudman's Avatar
 

I have a 2400 and like it thumbsup
It was OKAY enough for Dylans studio and for recording Tom Petty...

Sun Studio used to have one if I remember correctly.

ruudman
Old 13th July 2005
  #5
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There are releases by famous artists who use the old Mackie 8 buss but that doesn't mean they are great. If you have a Soundcraft and you like it, great. Everytime I use one, especially their older ones, I find myself wanting more. And compared to something like the Midas stuff, which is all top notch.... well there really isn't a comparison. The new Onyx stuff is really well done as well.. Mackie should have used a different company name so it wasn't associated with the old Mackie stuff which was crap imo.

Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Old 13th July 2005
  #6
Gear Head
 

So you really think the Onyx sound good??
I havent heard them yet.
Old 13th July 2005
  #7
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recky's Avatar
 

Soundcraft - a European thing???

Thanks for your replies so far - on a forum such as this one has to expect conflicting advice :-)
But that's great, as long as it's well-founded.

I can't help thinking (also from previous experience) that Soundcraft used to have a much better reputation in Europe than in the States in the pre-globalisation world. I recall seeing loads of Soundcraft consoles in medium-level pro studios in Germany and Britain during the 80s and into the 90s. As a kid I thought these were the dog's bollocks, never having heard of the likes of SSL, Neve, Trident or API. I guess in the States there were other brands that were closer to heart - or more affordable due to import duty issues or such like.

Am I totally mistaken here?

Recky
Old 13th July 2005
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bang
There are releases by famous artists who use the old Mackie 8 buss but that doesn't mean they are great. If you have a Soundcraft and you like it, great. ..Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Just to show that they've been useable, and that MMV: I like my 2400 better than
a Venice (the times I've used it)

All is good

ruudman
Old 13th July 2005
  #9
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7161's Avatar
 

i used one alot on one deal where the company owned an eastlake studio with a 1600, but how to 'compare'... i dont think you can cos so much else contributes to what comes out of the monitors - i suppose they have a sort of 'presense', hard to describe, a titeness or whatever to the sound, great build quality, mackies and ghosts' seem like weedy little flimsy toys in comparison
Old 13th July 2005
  #10
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

I think Jim Williams is the resident Soundcraft expert. He knows which ones are good and does a lot of mods on them.

http://www.audioupgrades.com/

Old 22nd July 2005
  #11
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T. Morgan's Avatar
 

I have a 1600 and love it. I wanted to get some eq's and work out of the box so I asked a great engineer what he recomended. Without hesitation he recommended the 1600. He mixed some of big name songs on one...still uses a Soundcraft but needed automation so has a 2020 or something like that.
The pre's are really good too, the board can add a nice distortion as well....
Old 31st July 2005
  #12
Gear Head
 

I've read that story of that Tom Petty recording with the 1600, but it was a 1600 with other opamps. Don't know which ones you'll need for that.

I've got a 1600 as well. I'm not that very fond with the micpre's, but that's also a matter of taste, I guess. The EQ's are fine, but it took a while for me to discover how I'd get the best results out of the eq's. Previously I'd pfl the channel, and set the eq. Now I just pfl and look for the right frequencies, and add/cut afterwards. The High shelf is not worth listening with a PFL. Just boost the thing !!! Don't expect an EQ that's precise and surgical, it's more like a musical eq.

I'm using the 1600 for the summing as well. Cubase SX3, with a couple of UAD/1 cards. Still using the 1600's eq's, along with the eqplugins like the pultec pro.

At the current moment I'm rebuilding my 1600. I want to have fully parametric mids, at least on a couple of channels. But I'm not so sure how to do this. A friend of mine knows a lot about electronics, so he might help me on that one. I'm also building a VCA automation for it, along with moving faders on most channels, to control my DAW as well as analog automation.

I'm just doing that because I don't have the budget to buy another one.

Oh, another thing : It might be necessary to recap the console.
Old 31st July 2005
  #13
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allbaldo's Avatar
 

I've worked on numerous Soundcraft consoles and been happy with the results. As was mentioned earlier, they have excellent routing, and are easy to work on. I would rather sum with it than track with it, but I think it would work fine for what you describe.
Old 31st July 2005
  #14
Gear Head
 

I want to track in the nearby future with my recently bought telefunken/tab/siemens modules. In the past I used Focusrite channelstrips for guitar, bassguitar, and vocaltracking. But for recording drums, I had to use the 1600.
Old 1st August 2005
  #15
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We had a 32 input 1600 that we used to record Quicksilver Messenger Service. It worked really well.

The weakest part is the wiring harness. If you beef that up, you can make a substantial improvement in noise and crosstalk.
Old 1st August 2005
  #16
Gear Head
 

Do you mean that I've got to get rid of the current flatcables, replace them with better wires ? (with more space between for instance the busswires, powerlines, etc. ?)

Or should the desk itself have a better shielding ?
Old 1st August 2005
  #17
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Re: shielding

Every channel of my 2400 is connected to a copper plate placed at the bottom of the console.

ruudman
Old 14th August 2005
  #18
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What is the current price for a second hand Soundcraft electronics 1600? I'm looking to buy one so please help!!!
Old 15th August 2005
  #19
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I still have my 1600 1624 as it was called because it had the extra 8 monitor returns...It's semi retired it spend a few years at Levon Helms house when we running his home studio for him... It was a great board and still sounds quite good... mine has quite a pedegree we used it to record all 3 Band albums from the 90's on it I tracked James Taylor a couple of time including one Billboard Hit with his Brother ..also Keith Richards with Scotty Moore and Rick Danko and Levon Helm it's featured in the rhino video of the Band discussing the Brown album..others I can remember include..Taj Mahal, Orleans, Michael Franks,Rory Block, Bela Fleck, Dave Brubeck, Los Lobos and on and on....most recently Mercury Rev... when Stan Lynch came in for a session he loved it A lot of Tom Petty's stuff was done on thier 1600...I also was told George Harrison had one for a while as well...it's not the greatest console but when I go back and hear those albums it hold it's own...
I have thought about selling it... it resides in our video/midi room...but doesnt see a lot of use in these DAW days.....
good luck

SP
Old 31st January 2013
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I have a 24 -8-2 soundcraft 1600 producers model with patch bay.
Im 52 and have owned studios for 30 years. Ok midas and the rest are great consoles but we all dont have megabudgets.
My console is quiet
Its routing is great
It has 24 tape returns to go with my 24 track.
Im the 3rd owner and it came out of a big radio station
So if its good enough for broadcast its good enough for me.
So many opinions
Not enough experiance leads to shouting the top brands.
You dont need a midas or ssl
And the person that recomended the midas venice.
Are you on drugs ?
There made in china for gods sake
They sound **** and breakdown everyday
I had one on tour , it sucked big balls !
Give me oldschbritish eq anyday.
Old 31st January 2013
  #21
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scott petito View Post
I still have my 1600 1624 as it was called because it had the extra 8 monitor returns...I
Just curious as to exactly what you have. There is a Soundcraft 1624 that was released before the 1600 series. It was the predecessor to the 2400. Any photos?
Thanks,
Rick
Edit....just saw the post that I'm referring to is many years old!
Old 31st January 2013
  #22
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recky's Avatar
 

It may be an old thread, but it keeps coming up! I started it years ago, and I still have my 1600 with patchbay. I have just set up my new all-analogue studio and looked at mixing desk alternatives, but I will definitely hold on to mine. It sounds good (I use external German broadcast preamps) and the routing is absolutely perfect for my purposes.

I would be interested in hearing more about this shielding thing. Copper plate???

Cheers,
Recky
Old 31st January 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazgti View Post
So if its good enough for broadcast its good enough for me.
So many opinions
Not enough experiance leads to shouting the top brands.
You dont need a midas or ssl
And the person that recomended the midas venice.
Are you on drugs ?
There made in china for gods sake
They sound **** and breakdown everyday
I had one on tour , it sucked big balls !
Give me oldschbritish eq anyday.
So, I'm not the only one who thinks this about build quality on the Midas Venice console?
Old 23rd March 2013
  #24
Here for the gear
 
listentommy's Avatar
 

I NEVER post on these, but for what it's worth... I use Richard Dodd's old 1600 everyday in my studio (yes the Wildflower's one, although I'd need to confirm from Richard just how the 1600 actually played a role in that record). Good pres, EQ is usable and I would mix/sum a 'gritty' rock tune in it. We use it solely for extra pres/EQ. I couldn't see it being a studio's sole console, if ya need channels for a good price, it's cool. However, I also don't pay the power bill and I'd recommend leaving it on 24/7 so take that into account for budgeting. If anyone has any extra (not stripped) cards, I'd be interested.
Old 23rd March 2013
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
We had a 32 input 1600 that we used to record Quicksilver Messenger Service. It worked really well.
Thank you for recording these guys!

I cut my teeth in theatre on a 40ch K2 and have forever loved Soundcrafts EQs.
Old 25th March 2013
  #26
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The channel inserts are unbalanced which is not normally a problem but some gear with balanced outputs don't play nice. The mic pre is nothing special (it's the first-generation transformerless design) and gets kinda nasty at high gains - lots of distortion and not a nice distortion. I don't mind the EQ's of the 2400 and I'd guess the 1600 would be similar but if you go through the console and purge any ceramic capacitors from the EQ's that helps the sound - mine had film in the channel side but ceramic in the return side so I fixed that up. TLE2072 op-amps instead of the original TL072's help but you'll need to solder in a .1uF from pin 4 to 8 on each chip. By now the caps are going to be bad, 220uF, 35V Panasonic FC's sound nice (that was Jim Williams' suggestion). Other op-amps can sound nice in there but there are a few places where there is no bias current return except through a pot wiper so you have to use a JFET amp there. Some Analog Devices and Linear Tech parts can work well but the TLE2072 is less fussy about PC board grounding and since the PC boards are probably single-sided the ground and power bus on the card are a bit spotty. If you have a highish-speed 'scope (60 MHz+) you could dry diddling around with some of the 'cool' opamps but watch for oscillation and 'ringing' with a square wave input. And watch the power consumption. One thing that is a problem on these older boards are silver-plated switches that don't work well any more. Sometimes you can clean them but sometimes they need replacing and that can get very expensive. I usually use the gold switches now (from Digikey), when a channel 'dies' I replace the critical switches. To do my whole board would be about $5000 worth of switches.... ugh.
Old 21st April 2013
  #27
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wow, this thread still breaths!
I really like my 1600. BTW: I have some working spare cards I can sell ( it never breaks!).
I also wait for Jim to drop here and tell us about possible mods. Regarding OpAmps I ended replacing a lot of N5532 that were supposed an improvement many years ago and the console sounds a lot better with the TL72s. I did replaced the master channel opamp with an esoteric one and like it better.
Old 31st May 2013
  #28
sfw
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sfw's Avatar
I got one of these (1624) a few months back and am about to cable it in.

I'm looking for some basic knowledge on the studio, control room, phones, and two track jacks. I assume these are all unbalanced pin 3 hot?

I've rewired all the mic input XLR's back to pin 2 hot but I thought I would just correct these with cable.

Thanks in advance.
Old 17th June 2013
  #29
Seems that there are some people out who uses the 1600. I have one since a few years but have some troubles. It had a short in the mastersection and needs repair. All in all it is not reliably anymore. Is it easy to replace opamps and should I recap the console? I don't want to put much money and work into it but I would like to keep it for live based rock recordings (with a tape maschine). Or should I get rid of it? But I would need another affordable older console maybe a soundtracs or DDA. Any advice? Would be great if there is somebody who knows the board well who I can ask some specific questions.
Old 17th June 2013
  #30
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I've got one, I'm selling it actually.

I recapped it fully, cleaned all the switches and fixed all the problems.

The weak points are the switches (replacing then is the only proper fix) and the patchbay, the sockets are weak and normalling can be iffy.

It sounded much better after recapping. I increased values etc too.

I did an op amp upgrade on the master section, tried a few different ones, but it didn't make a massive difference.

I liked the sound of the desk, got some cool mixes out if it...... I haven't looked back since getting the calrec but it did cost 20 times more.

If you need any advice just ask.

Sent from my HTC One X+
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