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Al Smart summing/console?
Old 1st February 2003
  #1
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Al Smart summing/console?

Al...

i was wondering if you had thought about designing your own analog console/summing box for DAW users?

Of course it would have an optional C1 or C2 inside!!!

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 1st February 2003
  #2
Sounds like a great idea.
However, like the Daking, it would probably end up prohibitively expensive for most.
Old 6th February 2003
  #3
Smart Research
 

sorry...dont despair wiggy......I'm on holiday at the moment, franticly posting, but check the "If I had a box that.." thread for a moment and I'll post on this tomorrow,


Al.
Old 13th February 2003
  #4
Smart Research
 

I printed the "can I get a Box that does this…" thread on the 8th, so have all your suggestions up to near when it was deleted. There's some great ideas in this !

I'd love to continue with mixer ideas if anyone's up for it.... I'm kind of interested in either end of the spectrum: HUGE, as we've many ideas for a large console though impractical for Smart Research to look at building currently; and then, say, 8-16 inputs within 1-2u spaces, as per this thread. This kind of restricts eq and other functionality, but, other potential aspects of this area seem really neglected. Though there are many offerings, they mostly seem as cheap solutions for people that can't afford bigger cheap solutions. Very few options I've seen get you impeccable audio results with other stuff you might only find on big consoles. If you get into mid range though, theres quite a lot more choice, and you can put together API's and such like.

So, suppose you had a 1/2u box to play with, aimed at being totally transparent, with 8 or 10 universal stereo/mono inputs.......that you might use in your rack between your stuff and a big console, or in a hotel room ?

Al.
Old 13th February 2003
  #5
Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb

So, suppose you had a 1/2u box to play with, aimed at being totally transparent, with 8 or 10 universal stereo/mono inputs.......that you might use in your rack between your stuff and a big console, or in a hotel room ?

Al.
My 2p is:
It might as well be different to the 1u racks Api are putting out.
I'm not personally partial to 'totally transparent'.tutt
Modular would be killer!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe even Api 500 compatible.
I would definitely jump on board if I could buy a 19" rack or console frame with maybe two units (for stereo recording) and add to it over time as finances permit.
Maybe I'm being selfish, but I perceive there to be a huge market for small boards. Whereas large pro boards are sitting in dealers warehouses a plenty, 16ch or less consoles are flying out the doors.
Although the Daking modules are extremely good value for money IMO, the 16ch console is over my budget and considerably more expensive than a vintage Trident 16ch would be for example.
I'm sure others will have opposing views...........
yuktyy
Old 13th February 2003
  #6
Registered User
 
malice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso

Modular would be killer!!!!!!!!!!
yep, that is the main option to me.
I lurked at the Speck Ultramix for thoses reasons. Some kind of line mixer with nice signal path that could have aux sends and busses, to patch every outboard gear, eqs, com, reverb units.
But make such a mixer with modular options would be cool: like optional pres, optional EQs etc ...

picture this : a Core system consisting in

1) a module with like 16 to 24 line ins, with 8 stereo returns for effects,4 to 8 sends and a 8 bus routing, master section with all inserts, solo, mute, 2 monitoring busses, tape return etc ... It could be using rotating faders, I don't care ...

2) another module similar, without the master and monitoring section that you could link with the first one to add channels without adding unusable master section (solo, monitoring selector, master faders, busses etc ...)

3) optional 8 eq module

4) optional 8 eq pres

So you can build your rack console suiting your budget or your needs

and of course, with a udge headroom and the building quality of a big desk.

I'm I dreaming or what ???

oh, and next month would be perfect for me, please

malice
Old 13th February 2003
  #7
If you design desks that can be lashed together, dont make the edges ROUND! Have removable edging...so it can join up well!

(unlike the mackie DAW controller) - yuk!

Old 14th February 2003
  #8
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Jules... indeed thats a good idea..

I think that is one reason why Baby V Neves continue to be popular cos u can find an extra 12 channel bucket and just 'pop' it on... with a bit of teching! and these buckets are reasonably common amongst broadcast crew so it a cheaper and more flexible way oif making ya desk bigger.... now if only they did that for 80 sereis!!!!!

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 16th February 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
Don't forget about the non-DAW users who want a really nice board to mix on but can't afford the $50K or even 20K. If someone would make a 8 to 24 channels (you could always use your existing board for drums), with a really nice summing buss with some really good op amps or even transformers, at least 3 aux sends (vox reverb, vox delay modulation, and drum reverb) and a pan pot on each channel. No mic pre's, no eq's (could use outboard). This would keep the price down to a point where most people could buy them but would be a vast improvement over the Ghost etc. lines.
Old 16th February 2003
  #10
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Purple Audio will be coming out with an awesome summing mixer in a modular rack frame!

The prototype is a couple of weeks away...
Old 17th February 2003
  #11
Quote:
Originally posted by Remoteness
Purple Audio will be coming out with an awesome summing mixer in a modular rack frame!

The prototype is a couple of weeks away...

Hey Steve,

One thing about it...it won't be cheap.

I spoke to the guys about building one about 2 years ago and just the prototype alone was expensive(almost 3 times what the D2B costs).
Old 17th February 2003
  #12
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Yes indeed.

Don't want to speak out of school, but the master section is about $3500.00 alone...

You got to pay the price, to get it right!
Old 17th February 2003
  #13
Quote:
Originally posted by Remoteness


You got to pay the price, to get it right!
No argument here.

But for those on a budget, again I will recommend the SBM-2 summing mixer by Inwards Connection(www.boutiqueaudio.com).

I know it hasn't gotten much play here on the forum, but it impressed me so much(much more than the D2B) when I tried it, that I am saving my pennies to order one. It sounds much bigger than the D2B.

Steve Firlotte did a great job on this one.
Old 17th February 2003
  #14
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
TTF,

It looks like a groovy little box...
Old 17th February 2003
  #15
Smart Research
 

Hmmm, the modular aspect keeps recurring; seems more interest in larger capabilities; and more 'flavoured' than purist solutions (tubes and transformers ?).....and loads of other gear to research !...

Al.
Old 17th February 2003
  #16
Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb
Hmmm, the modular aspect keeps recurring; seems more interest in larger capabilities; and more 'flavoured' than purist solutions (tubes and transformers ?
'Flavoured' yes.
There seems to be plenty of tube choices available however. What about discrete?
Old 17th February 2003
  #17
Quote:
Originally posted by Remoteness
TTF,

It looks like a groovy little box...
Steve,

Its Class A through out(no IC's like the D2B) and it sounds like it.

Big and warm like a Class A unit.

It has that "big console" sound.


With the panpots in the front you can do your panning and avoid those issues that some people have with panning in PT.
Old 18th February 2003
  #18
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subspace's Avatar
There are quite a few boxes around now that give you 8-16 inputs with or without volume and pan for summing DAW mixes, don't know if you'd want to build a "me too" product.
In the large format market, you're competing with an increasing amount of used desks at decreasing prices. Tough to compete with the perceived value of these 10-20 year old desks, even if they will end up costing more maintenance-wise, the "buy-in" price is alluring to people.
The middle ground has remained empty despite many proposed designs from various "boutique" manufacturers. That says a lot about the difference between the perception of a middle market and the reality of it's existance. There are still major Neve/ SSL rooms making money, and plenty of records are being made on computers in bedrooms, but is there any money in building for a middle studio market? Selling clients on the idea that mixing on a big SSL isn't that hard, especially after they've heard a few of their buddies' PT LE mixes, but will they be sold on mixing on a compact Smart Research console?
Obviously, if you can keep the price low enough to appeal to more home recordists, selling them on the idea of a big desk sound in a small package wouldn't be that hard, especially with Smart Research's reputation already established for building a better version of the most popular mixing console's 2-bus compressor. The trick would be to incorporate enough features to broaden the mixer's appeal beyond the simpler summing boxes, without driving the price out of reach of home recordists. Tough trick at that.
I'd say forget modularity unless buyers are prepared to spend $500/ channel. That's $4k for 8 channels, so kiss the home recording market goodbye.
So a one-piece front panel lets you keep all the channels on one PCB. Forget mic pres or EQ, they'd actually be considered a drawback to people who see them as a duplicated expense on top of their outboard. Functionally, this lets you start the mixer at the insert return point of most desks and saves a lot of circuitry/ cost. So each channel would have just a line input and a direct out. How many channels? Well, there's no getting away from 19" racks if you're relying on outboard pres/ EQs, and the smallest channel spacing I'd be comfortable with is 1.5". That spells 11 channels in a 16.5" wide chassis, which could be conveniently aligned with API's 10 spc. rack for intuitive channel flow when stacked. I'd stay with 8 input channels as that corresponds nicely with about every converter/ interface on the market as well as offers a good modular building block for a multiple unit mixing system. The other three spaces I'd allocate to 2 stereo groups and a stereo master. One feature a lot of the compact summers are missing is sub-groups. These would need an insert point for processing, which could also be used as just a stereo return instead of a subgroup. So 8x4x2 or 12x2 would be the base unit configuration, expandable to 18x8x2, 26x2, or 22x4x2, etc. depending on how you set-up the second unit. The stereo master on the second unit would be configured as a stereo return.
So that just leaves what controls are needed. I'd say 4 stereo sub-group assign switches, half of which wouldn't be active with just one unit, plus a stereo master assign. A pan pot for bus selection and a rotary level control. 100mm faders would be great, but I'd prefer them to be on an outboard fader pack that would plug into fader patch points via a multi-pin connector. Quality faders would drive the cost through the roof and there's no reason to keep them in the same frame, as they're chassis mounted passive components that don't need to be directly coupled to the PCB.
So that's two knobs and five swiches per channel so far, plus we need a big mute button and a solo switch. That leaves just the aux sends, where I think four would be the minimum, with pre/ post switches for each. These could be concentric pairs to keep it to a four knob total footprint, plus it would be cool if adding the fader pack turned the rotary fader into a fifth post fader send.
The stereo subgroup sections would require a pair of rotary faders, pan pots, stereo bus assignment switches, and solo switches. The stereo master would require a ganged rotary master fader, ganged rotary control room/ solo fader with 2 track input selection, and two concentric aux send masters with solo switches. That would make 11 rows of 4 knobs each, plus 11 switches for each input channel, 2 for each submaster, and 5 on the master section. 4RU should accomodate that, with a rear-panel talkback input for an external mic/ switch/ level accessory.
Opamps for most functionality would be required to keep it reasonably priced, probably just an input buffer and line amp for each channel, plus a summing amp, return buffer, and line amp for each bus. The master section would use 6 more summing amps for the sends and stereo solo bus, plus the control room line amp. Obviously, the sound of the mixer would hinge on the quality of these 12 summing amps, but if it could hang with the 9098i and 9000j sound-wise, being based on similar components wouldn't hurt it's pedigree much. If it could do that while staying in the $3k range, I think it could still have mass appeal.
The passive fader pack would be the same size, but run around $100/ fader or half the price of the base unit total. Similarly, an aux send expansion unit that taps the direct outs for double the post fader sends could be built in a 2RU package for half the base unit price. The idea would be that you can start with the $3k base unit to go with your Digi 001 + 8 channel premium converter set-up, then expand to 18x8x2 for another $3k, add two fader packs for another $3k, double the sends, etc. Making each part of the system affordable enough to be slowly accumulated makes a huge difference to the mass market, but only if it's fully functional, if on a smaller scale, from the first purchase. The API 4 bus, 4 send modules look great, but $10k for 4 channel modules before you even buy a master section? The old MTA Intermix system looked cool, but you had to buy all the different 16 channel modules to get basic mixer functionality. Modular systems are great, but they cost.
What do you think? Can it be built for that kind of money? Would anybody here consider getting one if they were?
I've got a name for it too. The TMC console. (Too Many Cooks...)
Old 18th February 2003
  #19
Quote:
Originally posted by subspace
Selling clients on the idea that mixing on a big SSL isn't that hard, especially after they've heard a few of their buddies' PT LE mixes, but will they be sold on mixing on a compact Smart Research console?
The clients that mix on an SSL/Neve by this point can't be sold. Mixing for them on an SSL/Neve is as much prestige as it is sound.

The mixers that mix on these by now are not interesting in changing in mid stream. It works for them, it keeps them in the flow and they can continue to be current. This is important when trying to attract a major label mix project. It as much politicking as it is ability.

I think these new kinda products are made for the middle guy, the industry "Maverick", the in betweener who can't really afford to move up, but thinks he is "too good" for the bottomn feeders.heh

The problem now exists that just like the middle class is becoming "non existant" so is this middle guy. The lines between the middle and bottomn have become blurred. In the old days it was possible to live in the middle, with the hopes of some day stepping up. I think this seperation is growing everyday. Maybe this is a good thing. Who knows?

I think whatever the product or design, it should be something unique and original. Why make something new that will fill the forums and discussion groups on comparisons on how X compares with a 9000J/9098I or Neve something?

Just what we need more debates on which small format analog summing buss is better.heh
Old 18th February 2003
  #20
Super post SubSpace
What a lot of thought and effort you put into it.
I'm not sure how much of it I agree with, but you set out your argument with authority.
In answer to your question. If Smart made an 8 channel mixer (roughly specced as you suggest) for $3,000, I would be highly tempted.
yuktyy
Old 19th February 2003
  #21
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davemc's Avatar
 

The problems about faders in summing boxes is we loose our total recall.
The other problem with these summing boxes are they are post DAW automation. So any fader moves you do will be pre compression on the summing box.
Also they come in one flavor only for each box.

What I always wanted is a combination of a colored/or non colored summing box and daw fader pack.
The automated faders could run as midi faders so you could save the movements in MIDI.
As the box would be midi compatible then it could be used by all DAW's and get around being HUI compatible etc. Then you could get a small control surface for the Daw and a summing box for summing.

What I would like to see is 8 channels modular boxes each with a insert, pan, 4 stereo sends. (if these could be midi controllable great).
Each of these 8 channel boxes could be fitted with different transformers, or one class a and one not. So you could get different flavors.
A master section controller, with levels of aux sends, alt speaker sends, volume control etc to add on the 8 channel modules.
Old 19th February 2003
  #22
I'm with you 100% Dave
Old 19th February 2003
  #23
I think if Al presented a small footprint "SSL esque" line in desk with a built in 2 buss compressor option, it could rock da house!
Old 19th February 2003
  #24
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
I think if Al presented a small footprint "SSL esque" line in desk with a built in 2 buss compressor option, it could rock da house!
I'm with you 200% Jules.

It all comes down to price though.
I don't think that would be possible under $5,000.
Old 19th February 2003
  #25
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subspace's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by davemc
The problems about faders in summing boxes is we loose our total recall.
The other problem with these summing boxes are they are post DAW automation. So any fader moves you do will be pre compression on the summing box.
Indeed, threshold dependent processing needs to be pre-fader, which is why there's a fader on the mixer. If you don't need one, leaving it full-up will allow 100% recalls. I work this way on my board quite often where mixes will be stretched over a period of time with revisions. The problem with leaving it out is then the mixer is only useful as a DAW summer, not a monitor mixer/ multiple mic summer/ and all the other things an analog board is still used for. The fewer the applications, the smaller the market, the higher the price.

Quote:
Originally posted by davemc
Also they come in one flavor only for each box.

What I always wanted is a combination of a colored/or non colored summing box and daw fader pack.
The automated faders could run as midi faders so you could save the movements in MIDI.
As the box would be midi compatible then it could be used by all DAW's and get around being HUI compatible etc. Then you could get a small control surface for the Daw and a summing box for summing.

What I would like to see is 8 channels modular boxes each with a insert, pan, 4 stereo sends. (if these could be midi controllable great).
Each of these 8 channel boxes could be fitted with different transformers, or one class a and one not. So you could get different flavors.
A master section controller, with levels of aux sends, alt speaker sends, volume control etc to add on the 8 channel modules.
That sounds cool. I personally couldn't afford anything based on flying analog faders (those start around $500 each as I recall), but if there's a demand for a high-end flying analog midi recallable fader system, it would be impressive to see in action.
I'd buy a 16 channel VCA pack instead of faders, if it could be controlled via a standard sequencer/ automated control surface. This can be done with several dis-continued VCA packs, but a new system from a top notch VCA designer (hint, hint) that included virtual dynamics would be a very cool addition to this sort of system. In this way, you could gain flying faders in the analog realm while exploiting a mass market control surface for the expensive mechanicals. What would I destroy with 16 channels of crush mode - the mind boggles...

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
I think if Al presented a small footprint "SSL esque" line in desk with a built in 2 buss compressor option, it could rock da house!
I wasn't suggesting Smart build a 9098i or 9000j sound-alike, simply that a quality summing box can be built using similar IC components, it needn't be all class A discrete as long as it sounds cool. But we're in luck, the 2 bus compressor option is already available!

I'll shut up now, next thing you know I'll be posting photo shop paste-ups of some imaginary product, and we don't want that.
We'll spoil the stew yet!
Old 19th February 2003
  #26
Subspace,
Good points from you and Dave Mc. Surely some of these options can be made as extra priced items. Thus if you just want a summing mixer you can pay less. You could add a fader pack as Dave suggests and there could be VCA options.
Old 19th February 2003
  #27
Gear addict
 
CrazyBeast's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by davemc
What I always wanted is a combination of a colored/or non colored summing box and daw fader pack....
I may have some interesting notes on this soon!

I have a box here that my friend built with some design ideas/tips from Dan Kennedy of Great River. It's a passive design that sums 8 or 16 signals and outputs a mic level signal, which you then feed into your preamp of choice for makeup gain! Very simple design and controls.

My plan is to run some tests - Digi bounce, sum through my Studer board (which is how I do everything currently), and then run the same mix through this box and each of my preamps (API, Telefunken, Great River) and see what comes of it.

I finally have some server space so I should be able to post some files - but I probably don't have enough space for 24 bit. Actually, it's only 100 megs so I'm not even sure about 16 bit now that I think of it. Hmm.
Old 20th February 2003
  #28
Smart Research
 

jeez, slow down ! I'm just considering one post when 5 more head off to somewhere else interesting.

Lot's that I'd agree with: the importance of gauging demand for the mid sized console, plus really adding new ideas to it. I'd been thinking I had some good new ideas for smaller or very large format consoles.....interesting that many posts seem to reach through modularity to the mid sized console capabilities....and lots of these potential ideas are great.

Thinking about stew ingredients...

Al.
Old 20th February 2003
  #29
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davemc's Avatar
 

We could always just use a cheap older console with VCA automation. Although the footprint for some of these are large, a older Amek, Soundtracs or something might do.

Its a hard thing, total recall is just expected. Although low costing products of high standard are as well..
Old 21st February 2003
  #30
Registered User
 
malice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Dailydb
jeez, slow down ! I'm just considering one post when 5 more head off to somewhere else interesting.

Lot's that I'd agree with: the importance of gauging demand for the mid sized console, plus really adding new ideas to it. I'd been thinking I had some good new ideas for smaller or very large format consoles.....interesting that many posts seem to reach through modularity to the mid sized console capabilities....and lots of these potential ideas are great.

Thinking about stew ingredients...

Al.
Great ideas so far indeed, and it seems that there is a demand for the same features and that doesn't surprise me. Alan, if you decide at the end of this thread to design the desk of our dreams, how long would it take to put it in our studios ???
Keep on the brainstorming guys

malice
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