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Old 14th July 2007
Studio planning: how many inputs are too many inputs?

I've been running back and forth between the elegance of the minimal and the allure of overkill. I'd like to see what you folks think about my wiring scenarios. There are two "large scale" scenarios I'm concerned about: 16-piece jazz combo (think Pink Martini with guests) and a 35-piece chamber orchestra (with multiple solo instruments). I believe that other recording scenarios (rock band, gospel choir, 8-part a capella singers, etc) will all fit easily within the complexity of those two defined scenarios.

The "minimal" scenario is 24 recording inputs total, with inputs distributed as follows:

Live room (1350 sq ft): Channels 1-24 (same 24 inputs avail at either end of room)
Booth A (288 sq ft): Channels 1-16 (overlapping live room 1-16)
Booth B (200 sq ft): Channels 17-24 (overlapping live room 17-24)
ISO 1 (133 sq ft): Channels 1-8 (overlapping live room 1-8)
ISO 2 (133 sq ft): Channels 9-16 (overlapping live room 9-16)
Control Room (475 sq ft): Channels 1a-24a

In this scenario there will be a small patch bay providing Live room inputs normalled to the recording inputs and the control room inputs available via patchbay to be inserted where appropriate. There will of course be other patch points (efx, aux, alt preamps), but let's ignore those for this question.

The "overkill" scenario is 48 recording inputs total, with all inputs coming to a patchbay in the control room. The patchbay is normalled so that the Live room inputs flow to the recording inputs, but unlike the "minimal" scenario, the booth inputs are not tied to the live room so they can be managed separately.

Live Room: Channels 1-24 at one end, Channels 25-48 at other end
Booth A: Channels 1a-24a
Booth B: Channels 1b-16b
ISO 1: Channels 1c-8c
ISO 2: Channels 1d-8d
Control Room: Channels 1e-24e

Would you rather walk into a studio that enforced 24-channel simplicity, one that offered full 48-channel flexibility (but where you'd need to manually patch every time you needed a booth), or some combination/compromise between the two, such as this:

Live Room: Channels 1-24 at one end, Channels 1a-24a at other end (patch to 1-24 or 25-48)
Booth A: Channels 25-40
Booth B: Channels 41-48
ISO 1: Channels 1b-8b
ISO 2: Channels 1c-8c
Control Room: Channels 1d-24d

I guess the question comes down to: how often (if ever) have you used more than 24 inputs for a single room?