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Transformer based mixer - Electronically balanced mixers Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 4 days ago
  #1
Transformer based mixer - Electronically balanced mixers

I have only ever used mixers and micpreamps with electronically balanced inputs during quite a long period as a recordist, but never transformer based. Now I'm considering purchasing a small Audio Developments mixer with transformer inputs, and outputs.

I record almost 100% classical music, and I'm wondering if any location engineers out there are using transformer based mixers for classical, and how you feel about them. Do you feel you are missing out on anything by not using electronically balanced inputs, or are you indeed gaining something by using transformers?

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 4 days ago at 04:20 PM.. Reason: Inserting question mark ?
Old 4 days ago
  #2
I use a Cooper cs106+1 and have also used SoundDevices 442 mixers in the field. I’ve never been disappointed, and actually have been extremely pleased with the sound. I’d say the cliché applies: a bit more rounded (warmer?) than my Grace and the preamps in my Nagra. But still very resolving. I love my cooper.
Old 4 days ago
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
I use a Cooper cs106+1 and have also used SoundDevices 442 mixers in the field. I’ve never been disappointed, and actually have been extremely pleased with the sound. I’d say the cliché applies: a bit more rounded (warmer?) than my Grace and the preamps in my Nagra. But still very resolving. I love my cooper.
So the Cooper and Sound Devices mixers are tranformer based, I wasn't aware of that. Forgive my ignorance?

That being the case, I think you have just about given me the definitive answer. They are both widely praised, particularly the Cooper mixers.

Perhaps I was overthinking it!

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 4 days ago at 04:24 PM..
Old 4 days ago
  #4
Yeah. The Cooper & 442 are transformer balanced.
Old 4 days ago
  #5
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Plush's Avatar
I have used both types of mixers. Nothing wrong with transformer based consoles if the design is good. I use Neve.

RE: Audio Developments--mixer is ok, but mic preamps do veil the sound and the fairly low quality transformers used in the AD mixers do you no favors, I can tell you. I started out using Audio Developments and soon my ear sought more detail.

They can offer a good sound, just not anywhere near the best sound.
Old 4 days ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I have used both types of mixers. Nothing wrong with transformer based consoles if the design is good. I use Neve.

RE: Audio Developments--mixer is ok, but mic preamps do veil the sound and the fairly low quality transformers used in the AD mixers do you no favors, I can tell you. I started out using Audio Developments and soon my ear sought more detail.

They can offer a good sound, just not anywhere near the best sound.
Hi Plush,

I think you have the AD145, I've been reading, with great interest, your comments on the mixer in various threads. I know that changes were made to the mic preamps on subsequent mixers, the AD245 & AD146, both have the same improved mic amplifier.

There's a little bit of blurb from a manual for the later AD245 here, which also applies to both the AD245 (& AD146):-

"Radical change and PICO have proved to be uneasy bedfellows: never a matinée idol and denied its dulce et decorum death, AD145 has now been repackaged in the140 series metalwork - thereby reducing its size and weight. Facilities remain largely unchanged: internally, the microphone amplifier has been replaced with the one designed for AD146, and externally the mono return is now in stereo form. Now designated AD245, shall we have PICO - like the poor- always with us?"

I've been looking at an AD245 at a very good price, and I'm wondering what the improvements to the mic preamps are. I may have a word with AD and ask what the position is on the mic preamps now with regard to the micpre, and see what improvements they were seeking when they made the changes, it could well be they were addressing the detail aspect you mention, and improving noise figures.

I feel a bit awkward about asking AD, as I probably should have approached them about a mixer first, the owner is a gentleman, but this particular AD245 has become available, and at a sensible price.

Life can be difficult at times, and always limited by fiscal considerations!!

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 3 days ago at 03:30 PM.. Reason: Spelling
Old 4 days ago
  #7
Lives for gear
AD mixer gain is all in the first stage
You can end up mixing with them not the pots!
Xformers can be useful on some occasions compared to floating electronic balanced devices
AD was primarily for dialog and not as flexible as Sono , Cooper or SQN imho
They are very robust for field work, especially with PPMs
Old 4 days ago
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
AD mixer gain is all in the first stage
You can end up mixing with them not the pots!
Xformers can be useful on some occasions compared to floating electronic balanced devices
AD was primarily for dialog and not as flexible as Sono , Cooper or SQN imho
They are very robust for field work, especially with PPMs
Hi Rolo

The prices for the Sonosax mixers are a bit on the high side, and I would need an 8 channel too. There is also the consideration that some of the conductive plastic pots are no longer available on the SX-S8, which could give cause for concern.

The AD245 stopped being made four years ago but has the same mic amps as the AD146.
Plush spoke of feeling the lack of detail eventually with the AD145, but liking the sound of the mixer.

The AD145 is quite an early mixer now, 70s I think, and the new mic pre design must be an improvement, or it wouldn't have been designed!

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 11 hours ago at 07:28 PM.. Reason: missing word
Old 4 days ago
  #9
The AD245 & AD146 input transformers are custom made by OEP to a design by Audio Developments.

Just added for interest info.

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 15 hours ago at 02:58 PM..
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Some of the older Studer consoles had Transformers on the input..
Old 4 days ago
  #11
On the Audio Developments AD066 (ll), which is an M&S matrix mic preamp, the transformers are Sowter 5993 on the inputs and transtronic Beclaire zf8313 on the outputs.

Just added here for interest.

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 3 days ago at 10:44 AM.. Reason: smelling mystook
Old 4 days ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 

My AD145 was all Belclaire trafos. The mixer had a nice sound and was very serviceable and modifiable, and I took it all over the world recording many sorts of music, often in places with no AC power. I have heard that AD mixers improved a lot since those days, my AD145 could have used a lot of improvement in headroom, crosstalk and noise. There was a kind of vogue for updating and hot-rodding older AD mixers a few years back, but I was never convinced the results justified the work and the modding of a mixer to a state where it was one-of-a-kind, re service. These days, many of the Sonosax and Cooper mixers of that period are still working and very well regarded if they have been well maintained, while the AD145 (and other AD mixers of that time) are not considered in the same class. Most Sound Devices products do not have transformers, including all the later digital boxes. Only the 442, the 552, the 302 and the original MixPre had Lundahl trafos. I have owned a great many SD products, and while I like and use later ones like 633 on dialog recording, I feel like that series does not give me a sound I like much for acoustic instrument recording, compared to the older trafo-equipped devices. 442s and 552s are around pretty cheap these days, and they are very versatile very rugged devices that sound great and can run easily on DC. The 552 will even record a 2-mix onboard. The other way to do this of course is to record on whatever you want and get trafo-equipped mic pres to put in front of that recorder.

Last edited by philper; 4 days ago at 03:40 AM..
Old 3 days ago
  #13
Acousta P100 = Haufe Transformers
Old 3 days ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
My AD145 was all Belclaire trafos. The mixer had a nice sound and was very serviceable and modifiable, and I took it all over the world recording many sorts of music, often in places with no AC power.
Hi Phil,

That's interesting. I've seen photos of the AD145 with the custom transformer made for some of Audio Developments' later mixers too. I guess it depends on the age of the AD145 as to which transformer was in use at the time. The mixer was in production for a long period.
Old 3 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton View Post
Hi Phil,

That's interesting. I've seen photos of the AD145 with the custom transformer made for some of Audio Developments' later mixers too. I guess it depends on the age of the AD145 as to which transformer was in use at the time. The mixer was in production for a long period.
The mixer was so easy to work on, modular and with lots of space inside that they were frequently modded.
Old 3 days ago
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
The mixer was so easy to work on, modular and with lots of space inside that they were frequently modded.
I've been offered an New 8 channel AD245 for £850 ($1,087.70) which I thought was a good price, particularly being new. I'm a little troubled by Plush's thoughts though on the AD145 he had, but I'm also thinking that it was an older mixer - and he did like it initially. The later (2005) AD245 has a new mic preamp which is also in the AD146 and is the current design used in their more expensive mixers too. They must have come to the decision that a new amp was needed. From what I'm reading, there is a difference between the earlier mixers and the present day ones. Even then, some folk like the older mixer too. It would be nice to compare with my larger (as in very heavy) DDA S Series, more to hear the differences with regard to transformer & electronic balancing, than to judge one better than the other. I'm hovering, bothering and dithering! (Sounds like a firm of lawyers).

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 20 hours ago at 10:31 AM.. Reason: spelling (initially)
Old 3 days ago
  #17
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Plush's Avatar
I bet you could make a very good recording with the AD245. I'm not familiar with the changes, but in any case, the company is a good one and makes a good product.

If it is fairly compact then it will save the back and lighten the tote. That is a big consideration in its favor.
Old 2 days ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I bet you could make a very good recording with the AD245. I'm not familiar with the changes, but in any case, the company is a good one and makes a good product.

If it is fairly compact then it will save the back and lighten the tote. That is a big consideration in its favor.
Thanks Plush. Part of my uncertainty comes from only having recorded using electronic balancing, not having experienced transformers, and this mixer in particular - so buying blind so to speak. But on the last recording that I did, which was for violin and piano, I was confronted with two staircases, one of them a spiral staircase up which the equipment had to be carried. I'm a one man band, and I'm 72, although I do not feel 72, but at one time setting up 16 mics to record groups of 30 players (brass bands+percussion) took me much less time than setting up for this violin and piano recording..........plus staircases!

Audio Developments are about a 20 minute drive from where I live, and Tom Cryan, who runs the company is a real gentleman and so helpful and interested in what he's doing. You know, the sort of chap who is pleasant and helpful even though he isn't selling anything to you? I've known the mixers from a distance for years now, but never used one. I can see that carrying one of these in would be much easier than the DDA in a number of circumstances.

The DDA I have is a mixer which used to be installed at the Henry Wood Hall, and was jointly owned by Antony Howell and Tony Faulkner, and when I bought it from Antony Howell, it made an appreciable difference to my recordings from what I had been using previously. Now it is used with DAV, Audient & Amek/Neve 9098 RCMA mic pres and used to sum straight to stereo. I would hope that the Audio Developments fits in nicely with this setup, and eases the carrying of equipment on some jobs, which I'm assuming will not get easier from here on in!!

Last edited by Geoff Poulton; 13 hours ago at 04:51 PM.. Reason: Inserting ?
Old 2 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton View Post
Thanks Plush. Part of my uncertainty comes from only having recorded using electronic balancing, not having experienced transformers, and this mixer in particular - so buying blind so to speak. But on the last recording that I did, which was for violin and piano, I was confronted with two staircases, one of them a spiral staircase up which the equipment had to be carried. I'm a one man band, and although I'm 72 (I do not feel 72), at one time setting up 16 mics to record groups of 30 players (brass bands+percussion) took me much less time than setting up for this violin and piano recording..........plus staircases!

Audio Developments are about a 20 minute drive from where I live, and Tom Cryer, who runs the company is a real gentleman and so helpful and interested in what he's doing. You know, the sort of chap who is pleasant and helpful even though he isn't selling anything to you. I've known the mixers from a distance for years now, but never used one. I can see that carrying one of these in would be much easier than the DDA in a number of circumstances.

The DDA is a mixer which used to be installed at the Henry Wood Hall, and was jointly owned by Antony Howell and Tony Faulkner, and when I bought it from Antony Howell, it made an appreciable difference to my recordings from what I had been using previously. Now it is used with DAV, Audient & Amek/Neve 9098 mic pres and used to sum straight to stereo. I would hope that the Audio Developments fits in nicely with this setup, and ease the carrying of equipment on some jobs, which I'm assuming will not get easier from here on in!!
i'm not familiar with audio development's gear - my comment is aiming at the size/weight of gear for mobile recording that doesn't break your bone:

before using digital gear, i have been using the ati (now jdk) 8mx2 for years with very good results - not cheap but of very good quality imo; maybe worth checking out...

http://www.jdkaudio.com/jdk8mx2.html

and regarding transformers: i think they are part of the beauty (unless one is after very detailed sound) and add something nice to most sources! effect can mostly easily be heard in the lf range.

(i haven't ever been counting how many jensen, lundahl, studer etc. transformers i got in my gear: must be hundrets already in my mci jh500!)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 days ago at 02:45 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 2 days ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i'm not familiar with audio development's gear - my comment is aiming at the size/weight of gear for mobile recording that doesn't break your bone:
Hi Deedeeyeah,

There are a couple of photos here of the AD245 I've been looking at. The company site for Audio Developments is www.audio.co.uk - that's a great web address.

I've had a look at your suggestion too, it looks interesting and very portable. I'll take a closer look later, and see what the prices are.

Audio Development mixers were certainly at the front of the queue (line) when looks were given out! They are used a lot in the UK but are not as often discussed in the U.S., the company is not one that pushes itself forward overlymuch. It pretty much covers broadcast, film and TV in the UK.

It's a bit like carrying a briefcase in, and the (external) psu is about the size of a paperback book (batteries too), whereas the DDA is like moving an oak bed on location and the power supplies are like shifting a pot belly stove!! Still, on the flat with wheels it doesn't feel quite like that, but anywhere with stairs is certainly another matter - you certainly know you're alive when you've done, even if it's only pain that creates that awareness!
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Old 2 days ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 

AD mixers are really nicely made--they inspire confidence. The AD folks were always very helpful to me even about somewhat goofy ideas for mods. A LOT of time has passed since the design of the AD145, and AD is still in business, so I'd guess they've done a good deal of upgrading to their circuits. If the OP really lives that close to the factory then I'd get down there for a test-drive. I think the diffs between electrono-balanced and trafo-balanced may only reveal themselves to you with some concerted, attentive listening, so getting one you can take home and live with a little is important.
Old 2 days ago
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
Unit looks brand new.

Seize it today!
Old 2 days ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Unit looks brand new.

Seize it today!
I think I'll have a smash at it Plush. It is brand new, and I think considerably less money than it has a right to be!

The AD255, which is the same mixer but with direct outs, is $6,732.00 in the USA, and this brand new one (the AD245) I'm looking at is $1,087.70 - I think it's possible to add direct outs, but as I always record direct to stereo it wouldn't really be needed. My DDA doesn't have direct outs and I've just always done it that way.

I'll do it, there'll be an email in the post tonight, right after I've posted this!!

Thanks everyone for your help and thoughts. Now I can't wait to collect it.
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