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A&H Zed R16 Firewire Mixer Audio Interfaces
Old 11th June 2008
  #1
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A&H Zed R16 Firewire Mixer

Just saw it announced on Harmony-central:

ZED SERIES :: ALLEN & HEATH

Looks like the best feature set for my needs....if I remember correctly even the flagship Onyx doesn't offer that many FW channels to the computer. This one has 16(ch)+2(master) analog to FW, and additional 16 ADAT inputs switchable for a total 26 simultaneous streams in (and 26 outs) If I understand the initial specs listed on the website correctly heh

It supposedly uses the JetPll thingy by TC for its jitter reduction....so I suspect the "audio interface" part of the mixer has external involvements outside A&H heh

And I like the MIDI knobs, faders and transport section built in, maybe it could be mapped to plugin EQs etc so we can do away with the mouse and keyboard for such things

And it could supposedly be used as a live mixer as well

Last questions linger, what is the price...and is it made in china? (just kidding )
Old 11th June 2008
  #2
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erm....nope, on further reading I think it can only handle 16 discrete FW streams to and from computer....selectable from a combination of analog and adat channels....ah well
Old 11th June 2008
  #3
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Any hints to the price yet?

Looks similar the the N12, but with more features?

not bad
Old 12th June 2008
  #4
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i believe the reason for this I/O limitation is that the firewire out ports are routed into the 16 channel strips so you can do analog mixes and summing straight out of your DAW... After looking at the pictures I can't seem to find any individual audio outs for those 16 channels, and indeed, looking at the block diagram reveals that the firewire out is fed into the channel strips (switchable).

You could then use the inserts I suppose if you wanted to get that audio back out, however you couldn't do 16 channel bi-directional as you need a free channel strip to get that audio back into your DAW, which would take switching the channel strip input mode...
Old 13th June 2008
  #5
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Looks like it is 16 + 2. Per the block diagram there are 16 channels each way plus a master mix, each switchable between analog and digital.

They also call it an 18 x18 device so this seems to fit...
Old 13th June 2008
  #6
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if it's anything like the n12, you won't be able to route the audio out. The inserts were only for incoming audio.
Old 13th June 2008
  #7
I had my hands on one today at a trade show here in the UK.

Nice heavy build / solid feel, its small but so heavy it wont be skidding around if you lean hard on it etc...

Definitely worth a look..

Its A&H's first recording desk for 10 years..

It has mappable midi control (for plug ins) - I asked about Hui protocol to control Pro Tools and the guy was unsure, but the faders moved some DAW software (Sonar?) with what seemed to be a nice smooth action..

Very handy size / "footprint" IMHO..

worth investigating.. IMHO

Old 14th June 2008
  #8
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Boy, I've been studying the n12 for months until I got some cash together to buy one. Now this makes me wonder....


But am I correct that this is an analog board? unlike the n12. I wonder how those two compare? I was turned off by the Onyx when I found you'd still have to mix ITB and you couldn't record the FX from the board.

I'm really novice with studio equipment. Could anyone comment on the sound of A&H preamps. I understand no one has heard this unit yet.
Old 15th June 2008
  #9
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I expect at least 2000€/$ for this unit...
But it seems really nice. And yes it's an analog mixer.
Am I right that only the black fader are motorized and can control the and be controlled by the Sequencer?
Old 15th June 2008
  #10
In the spec I didn't notice anything at all mention motorized faders, which sort of makes me nervous. Is it just me, or does any board / controller that promises control over your DAW and is not motorized, doesn't make a whole lot of sense? How are you supposed to change the focus of a fader and then expect it to synch with you DAW / instruments if its not motorized? It's ultimately what turned me off on the Korg Zeros, Presonus StudioLive, all the keyboard controllers that have faders... It seems that its just the Mackies and Euphonix that have relatively inexpensive motorized control surfaces, unless you count the odd Tascam unit here or there.

If the ZED has motorized faders, I'm in - it will be a unique product that should be much cheaper than its nearest competition, the SSL Matrix (in so much as they both can could effectively control your DAW). Its a little bit bigger than I need, 8 strips would have been nice, but I can still stuff it in a case and can travel with it. If it doesn't, well then I can only add it to my list of yet another manufacturer that was scared to make an expensive product that actually performs the job that it originally set out to do.
Old 15th June 2008
  #11
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it can't be 2000€!!! It's made in China Jules, did you ask them the estimated street price?

There isn't any motorised faders, nor is it designed to be a control surface/mixer hybrid I think. They just said you could switch any fader into a MIDI controller. It sends out MIDI messages that's all.

Though I wish it could get the additional 8 or 16 ADAT streams into the computer concurrently as the 18 from the analog channels themselves. That would make this desk killer! Then I could mix and match more expensive preamp/A-D converter combos for future expansion/upgrade. Right now it has everything I want except 24 discrete streams in capability.

I can't really understand why they built the 16 ADAT outs too? Route the FW streams from computer into ADAT out to a digital mixer? Route the onboard pres to a...digital mixer? Record to 2 ADAT/harddisk recorders? They should have just spent the money to build a FW interface that can handle more streams into the computer imo
Old 15th June 2008
  #12
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Quote:
I can't really understand why they built the 16 ADAT outs too?
i would assume to give folks a choice. By using the FW aren't u trapped into using the Allen & heath drivers? thats what killed the FW mackie onyx. their drivers sucked.
Old 15th June 2008
  #13
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I hope it has motorized faders too. But if it doesn't, the fact that each of the faders can utilize midi control is still pretty powerful. Compared to something like the n12, where you basically have to mix everything live to two tracks, here you are still mixing live, but can go back and edit things much easier and use automation within your DAW. At least that's what I think. Please correct me if I'm wrong. This thing seems pretty damn flexible and has a lot of I/O for a serious home studio.

It would be nice if a representative of A&H could jump on here and answer some questions.
Old 16th June 2008
  #14
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Questions:

What is the driver situation?

Are there any DAW templates to simplify routing setup?

Can you rout plugins to the AUX pots and can you record and monitor those live?

Why does the block diagram use the term "digital master"?

What can be said about the converters? I was surprised to see on the block diagram two different locations for converters, one on a channel and one by the "digital master."

Are the faders motorized?

Where does the digital signal kick in?

Is the EQ analog or digital?

What is the support situation? I see no link for customer service or support on the A&H ZED site.
Old 16th June 2008
  #15
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I called Allen & Heath's USA reps today asking about the R16 firewire mixer and could not get a release date, pricing etc as of yet.

I don't know how it sounds, but the workflow of MANY home studios is hit right on the head with this product. Features wise aside from the fact that it does not appear to have moving faders (there is no mention of this anywhere and you figure it would...) it really does have a lot going for it.

The EQ is analog from what I can tell (and having 2 fully parametric mid bands is good stuff), the signal flow is easily learned by following the original poster's product splash page link. You won't see support on it because it's a while before release. The rep I spoke to did say there was some kind of recent announcement made in the UK about it but could not elaborate.

I would hope that A&H would take this same concept further, with moving faders etc and please put the I/O jacks on the rear, make it 24 to 32 channels and release it targeted for pro studios...! There just isn't anything reasonably priced in that range (there isn't anything like this mixer at all in existence features wise from what I know, not this kind of mix of analog and digital). I would also much prefer stand alone conversion with either ADAT or AES (AES preferred) and forget all this firewire stuff. Let people configure their own connection to their setup and it will be more flexible for more people's needs. Or seriously, they could forget conversion all together and just make it an analog board with fader / pan / mute / transport control via MIDI and I'd still think there'd be tons of interest in it.

Actually, they could end up with a "Control24" type of desk but with EQ etc, and can be used with any DAW if they do it right.

If anybody from A&H is reading this post, chime in!

War

PS: The site claims 100mm faders but I swear, they look like 60mm to me based on the pics.
Old 16th June 2008
  #16
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Seems a nice offering for the home studio market.

Indeed also seem 60mm faders to me...

The EQ looks interesting, very few budget boards have fully parametric mids. Weird the shelfs are very basic otoh...
Old 16th June 2008
  #17
I like your idea about the AES I/O... in fact, it could be sold as a modular system... the main board just has a couple of AES and analog on DB-25 connectors, then as an option, you can sell an I/O box that does all the digital conversion, firewire bridge, EXPRESSCARD link, PCI-e link, etc... and offers analog port breakouts to XLR. This box could be bolted with connectors facing up, to the back, or even down, sort of like Mackie's flexible rack mount connector option on their medium sized mixers.

Some people would be fine using the main rack raw, while others could choose to add the converter / breakout box of their choice if they wanted.

Someone from Allen and Heath can contact me and send me a consultation check - I will be happy to take either a lump sum payment or scheduled pay terms. I'll even come down to Cornwall or wherever it is the factory is located to do some QC as long as it is not in the winter.
Old 16th June 2008
  #18
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I like the FW. It's probably not the pros choice, but I think they are targeting the person buying their first or second major piece of studio gear and that person probably wants the convenience of not installing a card.

More questions:

Why just a midi out? Why no midi in?

Can one use virtual instruments and run those to the board?


I thought it was due for release in July 2008, which is just around the corner.
Old 16th June 2008
  #19
F5D
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IMO those don't look like 100mm faders.

edit. Seems like some others also noticed the same. I would also prefer the connections in the back panel.
Old 17th June 2008
  #20
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Does anyone from A&H browse this board?
Old 18th June 2008
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirthought View Post
Does anyone from A&H browse this board?
They do now
Old 18th June 2008
  #22
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Fantastic! How about some info on this puppy?
Old 19th June 2008
  #23
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Hi all,

I am speaking on behalf of A&H, and thought I’d come in and clear up some confusion around the ZED-R16. I was at the show at LIMS last week – good to meet you Jules.


Saudade -
“This one has 16(ch)+2(master) analog to FW, and additional 16 ADAT inputs switchable for a total 26 simultaneous streams in (and 26 outs) If I understand the initial specs listed on the website correctly”

First of all, let me draw attention to the software options on the ZED-R16 (straight from the upcoming user guide);

The number of digital channels and range of sample rate options are dependent on the configuration of ZED-R. There is a table of the I/O options available on the ZED-R16 in the User Guide, page 24.

http://www.allen-heath.com/zed/dl/AP7236_iss_1.pdf

The ADAT ins & outs go to the FireWire streaming controller device. They can then be selected by your application running on the computer connected to ZED-R16 via FireWire as inputs and outputs and sourced from or routed to using the application. In other words, when in FireWire mode (switch on the back) you have available 18 FireWire inputs & outputs which are hardware routed by the streaming controller, plus 8 ADAT ins & outs which can be routed to & from using the software application on the computer. Slightly differently, when in ADAT mode (switch on the back) the ADAT ins & outs are hardware routed to the channels 1 to 16. The FireWire channels are then disabled.

Whilst we are on this topic, the ZED has an entirely analogue channel signal path, apart from the necessary ADCs and DACs and MIDI to make this a recording mixer.


mothermix -
“I expect at least 2000€/$ for this unit...
But it seems really nice. And yes it's an analog mixer.
Am I right that only the black fader are motorized and can control the and be controlled by the Sequencer?”

The ZED-R16 does not have motorised faders – the black knobbed faders are part of the MIDI machine control section of the mixer, for controlling the sequencer. To include motorised faders would have added around £1000 to the price, which would have changed its market quite significantly. (Here in the UK, the RRP is £1819 inc. VAT. )

However, a fader pickup algorithm is written into the software to make the hardware and software integration as seamless as possible – no ‘stair-step’ jumps when you switch the audio away from the faders and they become MIDI controllers.


sirthought –
“…Could anyone comment on the sound of A&H preamps. I understand no one has heard this unit yet.”

The preamps are a design very similar to the large GL2800 and GL3800 live touring mixers. Of course, studio preamps have to be very quiet, and have great transparency. The preamps on the ZED-R16 are the quietest preamps we have ever designed, and have an even spread of gain throughout the pot travel.

Most mixer pre-amps use low noise transistors with a cross coupled gain control and feedback to one phase of the input signal from a differential amplifier following the transistor stage. This works fairly well giving good noise performance, but can suffer from high harmonic distortion, especially at mid to high gain. Designers try to mitigate this by using pairs of transistors to reduce loading and improve performance.

With ZED-R16, a symmetrical ultra linear circuit is used for the pre-amp, resulting in super-low distortion while maintaining low noise (-128.5dBu EIN), high CMRR, and quite frankly the most transparent and beautiful sounding pre-amp known to man – probably!)


“I hope it has motorized faders too. But if it doesn't, the fact that each of the faders can utilize midi control is still pretty powerful. Compared to something like the n12, where you basically have to mix everything live to two tracks, here you are still mixing live…”

Exactly! You can leave the DAW and mix in real time, with the faders passing audio back into the DAW. This way you can use the EQ on mix-down, insert points, and all of the creature comforts of re-entering the mixer like in the old days of tape returns (!). Or, you could record MIDI automation data into the sequencer with the faders.


sirthought -
“What is the driver situation?”

We supply customised drivers for Windows & Mac computers which are based on the standard device drivers from TC Applied Technologies. The advantage of using these is that they are based on driver software that has been tried and tested with other products in the industry using the same device.


“Why just a midi out? Why no midi in?
“Can one use virtual instruments and run those to the board?”

The ZED-R has no state indicators on the front panel which would be changed via MIDI into the device. Virtual instruments. The ZED-R16 could control virtual instrument parameters, but sending MIDI as a musical performance to a plug in instrument would be a little limited!


“Are there any DAW templates to simplify routing setup?”

A Sonar template exists; it would be easy to map other software to the ZED-R. Apart from the MIDI faders and sequencer transport, most users would want to configure the other machine controls themselves I would imagine. Given the wide choice of plug-ins and different sequencer layouts, this is down to individual taste.


“Why does the block diagram use the term "digital master"?”

Digital master L-R = 2 x ADCs (channels 17 and 18) derived from the L and R post fade. The block diagram shows the routing options.


“Where does the digital signal kick in?”

It depends what the routing buttons are set to, either pre-insert or post-EQ. Either way it is post gain.


“Is the EQ analog or digital?”

Analogue EQ section – 2 shelving EQs (HF and LF) and 2 fully parametric mid-bands.


“What is the support situation? I see no link for customer service or support on the A&H ZED site.”

The support is just the same as our other equipment, and that includes all ZED mixers. (http://www.allen-heath.com/uk/TechnicalSupport.asp)


tsvisser -
“…I'll even come down to Cornwall or wherever it is the factory is located to do some QC as long as it is not in the winter.”

Apparently it’s summer, but it's raining today, here in 'sunny Cornwall'... L
We’ll be happy to show you around our factory here if you’d like to come down!
Old 19th June 2008
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienHealth View Post
Hi all,

http://www.allen-heath.com/zed/dl/AP7236_iss_1.pdf

The ADAT ins & outs go to the FireWire streaming controller device. They can then be selected by your application running on the computer connected to ZED-R16 via FireWire as inputs and outputs and sourced from or routed to using the application. In other words, when in FireWire mode (switch on the back) you have available 18 FireWire inputs & outputs which are hardware routed by the streaming controller, plus 8 ADAT ins & outs which can be routed to & from using the software application on the computer. Slightly differently, when in ADAT mode (switch on the back) the ADAT ins & outs are hardware routed to the channels 1 to 16. The FireWire channels are then disabled.
ok....so it really is capable of recording 26 discrete streams into the computer in FW mode......albeit at 48khz max. Is the digital interface card made to be upgradable/updatable? heh You know, more options, higher sample rates, e.g. 8+2 ins from mixer plus 16 ADAT ins, all at 96khz? Or 24 ins and 8 outs only for FW mode at 96khz? heh

Great product I must say....though the price point is a bit steep for me But I'm sure it is very attractive to other users in the project studio market for something along the lines of Onyx, N12, StudioLive etc, vastly different feature sets but all similar DAW-mixer-tactile ctrl hybrid concepts. I guess the next step up in the price point will be TOFT ATB, but it is much less streamlined to the DAW workflow.

Thanks AlienHealth! (cool nick btw)
Old 19th June 2008
  #25
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I am sorry if I missed this info but how much is this one gonna cost, roughly?



BTW welcome to GS AlienHealth! You guys have made some very cool and original gear, good to have you on this board. thumbsup
Old 19th June 2008
  #26
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommylicious View Post
I am sorry if I missed this info but how much is this one gonna cost, roughly?



BTW welcome to GS AlienHealth! You guys have made some very cool and original gear, good to have you on this board. thumbsup
UK Pricing for the unit is £1548.45 exc. VAT and £1819.42 inc. VAT.

If anyone is after more information they can speak to Tom (AlienHealth) as he clearly knows the product very well ;-)

But if you're already convinced and you wanna buy one, or get more info on your nearest dealer, you can either PM me, or call me on 01326 370104.

James

p.s. Been asked to add a sig as per the rules of the forum, so here goes.....
Old 19th June 2008
  #27
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That's cool okenobi, and welcome to you too ofcourse...

Right now I'm looking at some options in setting up one of the Zed mixers as a sub and sidemixer for synths, and also use it for sends and headphone mixes etc. The adat option on this one looks like a cool feature to expand some i/o at the same time in this scenario. Have to take a look at total latency though.
Old 19th June 2008
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saudade View Post
Is the digital interface card made to be upgradable/updatable?

It isn't designed to be removable like the Mackie Onyx card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommylicious View Post
Have to take a look at total latency though.

Straight from the head designer, these are the latency figures we have currently measured:-

48kHz S/R Buffer size = 128 bytes, latency = 4.5mS each way.
48kHz S/R Buffer size = 256 bytes, latency = 7mS each way.
96kHz S/R Buffer size = 256 bytes, latency = 4mS each way.
96kHz S/R Buffer size = 512 bytes, latency = 7mS each way.

Cheers.

Tom Oakes.
Old 19th June 2008
  #29
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Hi AlienHealth,

Thanks for posting, especially the user manual.

U.S. price and release date?

If I wanted to use outboard pres and not got through the ADAT, will pluging them into the insert still engage the ZED's preamp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienHealth View Post
You can leave the DAW and mix in real time, with the faders passing audio back into the DAW. This way you can use the EQ on mix-down, insert points, and all of the creature comforts of re-entering the mixer like in the old days of tape returns (!). Or, you could record MIDI automation data into the sequencer with the faders.
I'm guessing when recording in MIDI automation the faders would write the levels for each channel, but can you also write things like pans and changes to EQ, or is that pretty much set it and forget it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienHealth View Post
We supply customized drivers for Windows & Mac computers which are based on the standard device drivers from TC Applied Technologies. The advantage of using these is that they are based on driver software that has been tried and tested with other products in the industry using the same device.
So, is this the same driver used with Presonus equipment? Oy Veh. They use the JET PLL. (I know a lot of others use JET PLL, but is it that same driver?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienHealth View Post
“Why just a midi out? Why no midi in?
“Can one use virtual instruments and run those to the board?”

The ZED-R has no state indicators on the front panel which would be changed via MIDI into the device. Virtual instruments. The ZED-R16 could control virtual instrument parameters, but sending MIDI as a musical performance to a plug in instrument would be a little limited!
Huh? This goes over my head. State indicators? I want to plug a MIDI keyboard into the ZED R16 board, pull a virtual instrument from the PC, and record that to a DAW. That sounds impossible w/o a MIDI in.


It seems like a very intriguing board. As someone else pointed out, this sort of is falling in line with Mackie Onyx to the Yamaha n12 to the Presonus StudioLive to this. Trying to sort out the differences is a bit challenging, but it sounds like it's headed in the right direction.
Thanks so much for your assistance!
Old 20th June 2008
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirthought View Post
It seems like a very intriguing board. As someone else pointed out, this sort of is falling in line with Mackie Onyx to the Yamaha n12 to the Presonus StudioLive to this. Trying to sort out the differences is a bit challenging, but it sounds like it's headed in the right direction.
Thanks so much for your assistance!
Exactly... add the Korg Zero 8 to that class of product, although it is marketed for the DJ market. It is definitely a changing of the guard, where analog boards are integrating DAW controls both control and audio streams, but...

I would like to see some manufacturer with the balls to come out with a full 100mm motorized solution rather than just keeping up with the competition. If I'm using a big board like this to route analog and switch back to DAW control, I really want motorized faders so that it can keep updated with my current focus. I'd rather have an 8x4x2 mixing paradigm, so that I could control strips in the DAW in banks of 8 or preassigned presets, if it helps keep costs under control.

Ok, so as long as I'm describing my dream controller... here it is...

10RU 8x4x2 master module with connection pod that can be rotated down for rackmount, or straight back / straight up for standalone use.

10RU 16 channel fader expansion, for those that don't want to switch between banks.

PCI-e x1 via internal card or EXPRESSCARD would be the preferred method of connection.

Hot hot hot

A&H product definitely looks the best out of any of its contemporaries. This is THE one to watch for sure. However, given my reservations I list above, I'm still more tempted to go with a Euphonix Artist controller combined with generic I/O ITB type solution. Rack mounting is obviously important to me, as everything would be put into cases for transportation. For fixed installations, it would probably just drop into an Argosy rack module.
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