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Time to get a new board... But which one?
Old 17th May 2006
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Time to get a new board... But which one?

Alright, so here's the situation.

I'm currently using a Mackie 16x8 8-Bus board, running into a Delta 1010 box, and then recording with Audition 2.0. The board was given to a friend and I on an indefinitely long loan from the local public radio station, where his dad works. Thing is, as soon as my buddy gets enough space of his own, he has claimed the board, so it will be leaving me. The board I used before this was an Alesis Studio 32, which was basicaly the same set of features crammed into a smaller space. It was an alright board, but it had issues with weird internal crackling from time to time... but that's another story. So basically, I'd like a replacement for the Mackie that's larger and more professional than just my Alesis.

This is obviously just a home studio setup, but I have recorded several other bands (with pleasing results ) and will continue to do so. I'd like to have something around the size of my current Mackie, not only because it helps make things less cramped than the Alesis, but it'll be more likely to impress the kids into paying me for recording them. I know that *I* would feel a little better dropping a few hundred bucks to have some guy record my band in his house if he had some impressive looking gear. Hey, on some level, you all know I'm right.

16 channels is alright. I can get by with it, especially since I can only record 8 tracks at once with the Delta. 16 channels with some sort of automation woudl be fantastic, so I could recall settings later on. I'm just assuming you can do that with an automated board; i've never actually had one though and honestly know very little about how they work. If I had 24 channels that'd be even cooler, and wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't automated. I record a lot of my own stuff, and that way I'd be able to leave all my drum settings on channels 1-8 and still have a lot of room left over to deal with anything else I'd need to. With my current 16 tracks, I usually have to wipe at least a few of my drum tracks' settings to clear up some room for the band i'm recording at the time.

And, like pretty much everyone who's recording onto the comptuer, i want something that's going to sound warm and round, and help cancel out some of the digital qualities that recording on the computer presents. Nice Pres and EQs are always a plus in any situation, so I probably don't even need to be mentioning this.

Lastly, I have a grand-ish to spend on a board, maybe more if needed. So, what am I looking for? Do I want to get a Mackie 24x8, the big brother to the one I use now, or do I want a Soundcraft board or something? I'm pretty pleased with the results I get from the Mack right now, but if I got another board just like it, I'd always be wondering if something better was out there.
Old 18th May 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 

look around for a used soundcraft
Old 18th May 2006
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
HiString's Avatar
 

The Soundcraft Spirit Studio came as 16, 24 and 32 channels is was similar to the Mackie 8 buss consoles. That said, the S/craft has the reputation of having more "usable" pres and EQ. I've never had a complaint about the sound from mine. However, as these are only available s/hand, you would want to be "careful" if buying one as any console of this age may have minor problems with switch contacts, etc.

Next step up is probably the S/craft Ghost.

Alternatively, there is the new Toft console on the horizon which appears to have caused some ripples of excitement...........do a search here or check it out at PMI Audio's site.

Allen and Heath had some consoles which may also be of interest but I don't personally have experience with them or remember exact model numbers.

Old 18th May 2006
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiString
The Soundcraft Spirit Studio came as 16, 24 and 32 channels is was similar to the Mackie 8 buss consoles. That said, the S/craft has the reputation of having more "usable" pres and EQ. I've never had a complaint about the sound from mine. However, as these are only available s/hand, you would want to be "careful" if buying one as any console of this age may have minor problems with switch contacts, etc.

Next step up is probably the S/craft Ghost.

Alternatively, there is the new Toft console on the horizon which appears to have caused some ripples of excitement...........do a search here or check it out at PMI Audio's site.

Allen and Heath had some consoles which may also be of interest but I don't personally have experience with them or remember exact model numbers.


When was the last time the Spirit Studio was made? Do they have a reputation for getting funky with age? Are they designed in a way that it wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to have one cleaned if I wound up with one that made noises I wasn't fond of?

That Toft board looks neat. I've never even heard their name before, I'll definitely do some reading on that board. I've had enough problems with older boards (2 Alesis Studio 32s that i've gotten now...) that it might be worth it to look at something a little newer.
Old 18th May 2006
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
HiString's Avatar
 

I'm not sure when S/craft discontinued the 8 buss Studio series but I'd guess at least four years ago. Probably best to email S/craft and ask.

Virtually ANY console will be susceptable to problems as it ages so guessing whether one will have or develop problems is a crap shoot. From my experiences with the S/craft I'll say this..........mine doesn't have any "excessive" noise unless you turn the gains close to max, it has had the occasional glitch, primarily from dirty switch or potentiometer contacts. Parts are relatively easy to get and not too expensive and even though to get inside, you have to stand it on it's back or turn it over, ALL PCBs are separate for each channel so it's possible to drop a faulty board out and keep running.

If I was to upgrade my console with something of similar style I'd look at the S/craft Ghost or more probably the Toft. Do a Google on Malcom Toft and you'll get an understanding of it's heritage, his reputation comes from designing some highly regarded large consoles in the past. If you go this route you will have the backup support from PMI Audio who's reputation for customer support is without peer.

Sorry I can't be more specific. What I will suggest is to buy the best console you can afford.

Old 19th May 2006
  #6
Lives for gear
 

older soundcrafts tend work better the more they get used, alot of the funny things that can happen seem to go away after a few hours of solid use.

the plugs have often seen a lot of wear, usualy its not a problem accept if the inserts have been used alot. the inserts on chans that have been used for kick snare, bass etc can have switching problems, but the big Midas console have the same problem you simply make up some insert plugs that have the send wired to the return.
re caping the cleaning conenctors on the PSU can make a significant improvment for little outlay, cleaning up the phantom suply can improve the performance of all consenser mics.

all up a few things to consider but not much work at all and you can have a nice sounding console.
Old 19th May 2006
  #7
Gear Nut
 

for what it's worth, i would check out eBay. i know we all have mixed opinions of eBay, myself included, but boards and large products are unique in that a lot of sellers don't want to ship them anywhere. i live in Birmingham, and some guy in Atlanta was selling a 1991 Studiomaster 24 channel 4-bus, and because he didn't want to ship it, i practically stole it from him for $280.

the best part is that i was able to check it out before i paid him. you can't beat that with a stick.

and it sures looks impressive to the kids here in town!

Time to get a new board... But which one?-010-console_small.jpg

nick
Old 19th May 2006
  #8
Lives for gear
 
nathanvacha's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by notbillcosby
....Are they designed in a way that it wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to have one cleaned if I wound up with one that made noises I wasn't fond of? ....

Well, several of the older soundcraft boards are modular, and I think the ones that aren't modules in a frame are easy enough to remove individual channels and upgrade/fix/modify them. If you know what you're doing or have a tech that you trust, it shouldn't give you a problem. I think.heh
Old 19th May 2006
  #9
Lives for gear
 
nathanvacha's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by notbillcosby
....Are they designed in a way that it wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to have one cleaned if I wound up with one that made noises I wasn't fond of? ....

Well, several of the older soundcraft boards are modular, and I think the ones that aren't modules in a frame are easy enough to remove individual channels and upgrade/fix/modify them. If you know what you're doing or have a tech that you trust, it shouldn't give you a problem. I think.heh
Old 20th May 2006
  #10
Gear Addict
 
UPRYZ's Avatar
A&H GL2400

http://www.allen-heath.com/US/Displa...t.asp?pview=57

Yeah, they refer to it as a live mixing console but check out the features - very suitable for your recording needs. And I can tell you from first hand experience the pres and eq are excellent and the construction quality is far better than mackie, soundcraft, ... really anything in the price range ($2k).

Dan Fox
Old 20th May 2006
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Man, the more I read about this Toft board and how excited everyone is about it, I'm starting to lean towards that. I hardly ever get anything new... A warranty on a piece of gear is like a whole new thing to me
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