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Adding Analog Console to Room
Old 7th June 2002
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Adding Analog Console to Room

I am considering moving my D8B out of the studio and replacing it with an analog console. I have an HD3 system so people can mix in the box or route out to an analog desk if they want. The two consoles that I have a line on are a Neotek Elan or a DDA DMR232. What are you feelings on this decision and what do you think of those consoles for a lower to mid level room?

Thanks so much.
Old 7th June 2002
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Knox's Avatar
 

Joe . . . I have a DDA DMR12 here (also have another for sale if interested, but that is not why I am responding) . . . . I have been amazed at this console for the money. Don't know the model you are looking at so can only speak for DDA quality on my desk. I know 3 other studios that have them and we all swear by them.
Old 7th June 2002
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

The DDA is a DMR232 40 channel unit. I have the space for it (just barely). The Neotek is an Elan.
Old 7th June 2002
  #4
Lives for gear
 

The Neoteks are great desks. Try to find a Series 3 or an Elite, though. It shouldn't be a lot more money, but is a lot more quality.
Old 7th June 2002
  #5
I dislike the vast footprint of some of the DDA range and am also not so keen on the look or action of the EQ on em either. I find them a touch... 'drab'. I can see for some the 'uncolored' sound and uncluttered fader area is an attrative quality...

Neotec... if you do indie rock bands, it will impress the Albini devotees, as he uses one..
Old 8th June 2002
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Word up.......

Neotecs are another seriously underated console IMHO.

Neotecs are fantastic boards for the $$. The ELAN from memory has very nice parametric EQ (ont he mid bands) with a nice and airy top end and is also 24 bus.

They are relatively transparent sounding but this will give you a large amount of headroom if you start mixing out of HD..... which is where the money for alishad really is.. IMHO

Very nice and round sounding mic-pres (IC) the console is totally transformerless as well if that makes a difference?.

Ditto what Rob said.. ELites are the top of the tree and sound far better and more musical than SSL's and have more features and you can route them up their own ass as well so they have the chops in the sonics and flexibility stakes over the 1,2,3 and Elan series. The Elite has fully parametric 4 band EQ as well as shelving from memory?.... not too sure was ages ago since i have used one.

Call Chris @ matinsound and he will look after you. They will even manufacture new modules for you also but at a cost!

Also check out an old rock dog console .......MCI 428B more fatter sounding and more 'neve/API' liek sounding becuse of the fat transformers and inductors in the EQ. Another undervalued console!

let us know because the ELans and any neotec are a prize console regardless....

And Yes.... Steve Albini is a major Neotec advocate

Listen tothe latest breeders album for netec sonics..... it was done totally on Steve's Elite @ his studio electrical recording.

PEACE
Wiggy
PEACE
Wiggyokk
Old 8th June 2002
  #7
Lives for gear
 

From what I've heard (i spent months researching consoles before i bought mine) the series 3 and elite are better consoles then the elan. You can pick up series 3 neoteks for fairly cheap... between 5 and 7k. I ended up choosing between a series 3 and a trident 70... and decided on the trident, since having a transformer based board seemed really cool.

DDA seems to be way more common in europe, and I couldnt find a whole lot of info on them. Ok my computer is messing up realy bad again.
Old 8th June 2002
  #8
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I don't know that much about DDA but what I've heard was pretty good. I'd probably get the Neotek. It's got a better brand name. Do you have outside engineers coming into the studio or not?
Old 8th June 2002
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Yes, we have some outside engineers coming into the studio. What we are trying to offer is the ability to mix in the box with HD who want to do that or the choice of going out analog to console an using our outboard. We have the D8B console right now hooked into the HD system, but I believe that sonically with some practice and the power of the HD system that we could our mixes sounding as good or better than the D8B especially with the Sony EQ coming for HD. But, I still want a console in the studio, hence, the thoughts of bringing in an analog desk.

The DDA is priced about $2000 lower than the Neotek and has automation. Plus the DDA is a 40 input 32 buss console. Both consoles are local and priced under $10K

It is a tough decision about whether or not I want to bring in an analog console or not so all the responses are great help.

-Joe Kasko
Old 8th June 2002
  #10
Most outside engineers will appreciate a desk.. Automation can be important as is an easy to understand patchbay. Have you bugeted for instal and wireing too?



You know what Knox's DDA with the giant blank pannel area might be good as you could use that part for PT screens and the keyboard & mouse..
Old 9th June 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
They're both under $10k and the DDA is $2k less than the Neotek? I think you meant the DCM232, and I don't think it's appropriate for a low level room at all. You'd have to start at least referring to yourselves as a mid to upper level room with one of those in house.
Is it the 40 module frame filled up, or the 56 module frame with some open space? A 40 module frame with 32 input modules went for $110k in 1990 with VCA fader automation coming standard. The in-line module uses a short throw fader on the monitor path, plus four mono and three stereo sends. The 4 band EQ has adjustable Q on the mids and is splittable. The built-in computer stores the fader automation and snapshots of the switches' settings on 3.5" disks. It reads and writes SMPTE, so slaving to ProTools shouldn't be a problem.
The Elan was a budget version of the Elite. I think it went for around $30k, the 32 input Elite went for $56k. It used a rotary pot on the monitor path, and swept mids on the 4 band EQ, no Q control. Automated mutes were available on the Elite, I'm not sure about the Elan. Appearance wise, it looks closer to an A + H Saber or other project room oriented boards than the larger DDA.
I think the DDA is in a different league than the Elan. Fader based automation is an important feature if you're adding this board for engineers to mix on. Using the DAW's automation when you want to insert analog dynamics processing between the D/As and the console doesn't work. I'd make sure the DDA is in good condition because of the low price, especially the central CPU's functionality. If it's well maintained, I'd go for it. HTH
Old 9th June 2002
  #12
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

(nice post, subspace)

I have not used a Neotek and my DDA experience is limited to this:

My former personal studio had a DDA DMR12 (40 channels) with a PT MixPlus, Apogees, good mics, and a buttload of great outboard gear. That room went commercial and during the year before I moved on to a bigger space it was booked 40% tracking / 60% mixing, billing about $10k avg. revenues per month. No engineer ever booked that room to mix in PT; they all spread the individual PT outputs out on the DDA and mixed on it with extensive use of outboard gear.

FWIW I believe a DDA DMR12, new, was in the $30-$40k range back in 1991.

What I like about the DDA DMR12: simple but flexible routing/multing, good aux return section, nice action on the cut switches (one sweep of the hand could cut all the channels), reliability.

What I didn't like: the EQ was not great on the DMR12 (semi-parametric in the two mid-bands and fixed baxendalls at 12k and 50), and there are only 12 subgroups.



Based on what subspace wrote, that DDA sounds like a massive improvement over my DMR12 and the better choice than the Elan.

You should ideally do a mix on each desk to see if they are clean and working well and get a feel for their respective strengths and weaknesses.

In any case, if you have a lot of outside engineers coming in to work at your studio, an analog desk (with lots of outboard) seems like a must to me.

Jon
Old 9th June 2002
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Joe,

Good to see you here. I'm also thinking about replacing the d8b with PT|HD or Nuendo/Apogee Native Tools.

FYI, if you want to see a nice Neotek Elite in action, there's one at Star Trax, 4750 W. 137th Street, Crestwood IL. Not too far from where you're at. I mixed a record on that console in the early 90's (from an Otari MTR90 MkIII 2" analog 24 tk.) and it was one of the best things I've worked on sonic-wise. Since it was non-automated, there was a lot of hands on deck, grease pencil tic marks at fader positions, etc. during the mix.

I'm not sure why someone would want to mix on an analog console using PT|HD as a glorified tape deck. Total recall of everything & mixing via Pro Control or Control 24 is a real time-saver and QC aid in multiple sessions with multiple clients. With an analog console outboard, you'll be doing a lot of that grease-pencil, template filling-out and manual re-setting stuff, even if you had an Uptown moving fader system installed.

If sonics or analog FX insertability were the issue at mixdown, I'd at least check out a solution like the Dangerous 2-bus instead of going the full console route. However, if there were a 2" machine in future consideration, the Elite would be a wonderful complement.

my .02.

RP
Old 9th June 2002
  #14
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by rpowell
With an analog console outboard, you'll be doing a lot of that grease-pencil, template filling-out and manual re-setting stuff, even if you had an Uptown moving fader system installed.
That is what a good assistant is for.
Old 9th June 2002
  #15
Here we have an interesting dilemma

Will outside engineers (today & in the future) require a full blown hardware console?

Overdubbing these days to PT/DAW requires little more than a stereo input mic pre / compressor combo..

I can tell you that engineer chums that book my private studio, enjoy the 16 fader Pro Control / Dangerous 2 Bus / outboard classics combo... BUT.. I have already an established good rapport with them and have eased them into that way of working.. They don't by any means do ALL their work at my place...only stuff that would 'suit'.

I think client / friend engineers, can get hip with pretty much any situation..

I think freelancers previously unknown, are just that, unknown and require more 'standard' layouts...

So Joe, the potential clients... what category do they fall in?
Old 9th June 2002
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Since the studio is fairly new and gaining on reputation it is hard to speculate on what future clients will want. Our game plan for the room is to have outside engineers and producers book the room so that I don't have to be involved with every sesssion. The first step in the plan was to install a Pro Tools HD system to attract more business and the above type of client I mentioned. In the short time we have had the system, I feel that it is paying off nicely and is something that has helped the studio take a step up.

I am always trying to think about what would be a good investment in the room and at the price of these consoles, it might make sense to potentially open the room up to other engineers who prefer an analog desk, but do I want to get into a large console and deal with everything associated with that? We would eventually like to add a 2" machine to cover all the bases and allow people to come in and track drums and rhythm tracks in our room and then transfer to Pro Tools and let them do their overdubs at home and then come back to us to mix. So a desk would be part of that equation. That is a decision off for the future though.

We also produce some of our own material here, so I am always interested in what sounds best sonically plus what will attract more business. I have a background in live sound and still continue to mix a fair amount of live gigs, and still at times struggle in the studio when using our digital boards. I have not had the opportunity yet to mix a studio on a good analog console and I am greatly intriqued by how different sonically it might be and if I would be able to achieve a solid mix in a shorter period of time.

The bottom line is that this is a tough decision. Granted I am not talking about dumping $30-40K on a desk for the room, but at the price these are going for, it something to consider. Is it the right thing for us at the moment? I don't know, but every bit of information helps at the moment and I truly appreciate everyones opinion.

I find it very hard to speculate where things are going to go. Is Pro Tools mixing go to improve? Are the next crops of digital desks going to be a big step up sonically or are analog machines and desk going to be more in demand in the future? No one knows for sure and that what makes it really tough to be a studio owner these days.

BTW, the desk is a DDA DCM232 with the in-line short faders. 40-channel frame.

To subspace: Have you worked on this DDA model? If so, what did you think of it sonically? I have a Q series for live sound and the thing sounds incredible for live stuff. Very big sounding with tons of headroom.

To Rick Powell: re Pro Tools HD. Even though the system cost a decent chunk of change, I find it to sound excellent. I have been extemely please with the sound of the 192 convertors. I am still not sold on mixing entirely in the box so I am still using it in conjunction with the D8B. Also, I have not lost a single minute of session time due to a Pro Tools crash and that is truly important.

I have to say that I am really liking this new site. It is great to see Jules and the rest of the crew available without a nominal fee.
Old 9th June 2002
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by jon


That is what a good assistant is for.
I knew that was coming the moment I pressed "submit reply".
smokin

The reality is, outside of the major markets and big budgets (where I have a little experience), the emphasis seems to be on how to record things most efficiently and keep the overhead as low as possible, while still delivering a quality product. For better or for worse, this is what is driving the market for "one-box" solutions as much as anything.

And in an industry where less than 5% of all projects break even or make money, there seems to be opportunity for those who can do "more with less, for less" in the major market/big budget arena too. From purely an economic standpoint, of course.

RP
Old 9th June 2002
  #18
You may need to hire a keen local kid to babysit sessions (assist)
Old 10th June 2002
  #19
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by jkasko

I find it very hard to speculate where things are going to go. Is Pro Tools mixing go to improve? Are the next crops of digital desks going to be a big step up sonically or are analog machines and desk going to be more in demand in the future? No one knows for sure and that what makes it really tough to be a studio owner these days.

BTW, the desk is a DDA DCM232 with the in-line short faders. 40-channel frame.

To subspace: Have you worked on this DDA model? If so, what did you think of it sonically? I have a Q series for live sound and the thing sounds incredible for live stuff. Very big sounding with tons of headroom.
Joe,
I haven't worked on one. I looked at a lot of board's recently in the process of upgrading my own room and gathered the info on the DCM232. I remembered it catching my eye on a Mix cover years ago, actually I thought it was an SSL because of the color scheme and central computer. It was in your area, River North Studios, which may be gone now, I don't know.
Neoteks outnumbered DDAs in your area like ten to one, for obvious reasons. I think the opposite could be said for England. I heard from pleanty of people who loved the sonics of the Elite, much fewer who had worked on the DDA. Those who did had positive opinions of the sound, EQ, etc. Perhaps because of this lack of market penetration, their premier automated board looks like a steal to me now. The Neotek does have some indie rock/ 2" engineer appeal, but from your room's description, I got the impression you'd appeal more to the PT/ automated console set.
The current upper tier mixing rooms seem to have gravitated to PT feeding an analog SSL. I'd lean towards something along those lines if you're looking to bring in work from outside engineers. I can't tell you if an analog console will be considered archaic in ten years. I guarantee a Mackie D8B and PT HD will be. HTH
Old 10th June 2002
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by subspace


.
The current upper tier mixing rooms seem to have gravitated to PT feeding an analog SSL. I'd lean towards something along those lines if you're looking to bring in work from outside engineers. I can't tell you if an analog console will be considered archaic in ten years. I guarantee a Mackie D8B and PT HD will be. HTH
Coincidentally, an SSL E console has been offered to one of my friends for $5000 US. No report on the condition; the unit is also located in the UK and price does not include shipping. Although SSL's are not considered "archaic" by most - yet - I guarantee you never found prices on used SSL's as low as they are today.

As far as PT|HD and d8b being considered "archaic" in 10 years...quite possible. But it ultimately comes down to how useful a piece of equipment is at the time you use it. Witness Jules and other's finding PT Mix "useful" and productive, in the face of the ostensibly "improved" PT|HD. I suspect the digital audio cycle of obsolescence will slow down considerably in the next 10 years as the technology matures.

RP
Old 10th June 2002
  #21
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
When I was looking at consoles about two years ago I got a D8B in my studio for a week to demo. After a few days I called the dealer and told them to come pick it up. I had a few problems with it. I didn't like the layout or the sonics of it that much. The big kicker for me was that patching in external outboard gear like compressors and EQ's was really tough if not impossible. I have quite a few high-end and vintage pieces here and I'm not about to give those up for some lame-ass on-board compression and EQ.

After looking at analog consoles I ended up with a 24x16x16 Trident 65 with patchbays and cabling. Part of the reason I bought it was the name brand which matters to some people. Also, it sounded good and it was local to me so I didn't have to worry about shipping or freight.

If your going to have freelance engineers coming in they're going to have to feel comfortable on the gear right away. Most people are also going to bring a few things that they like. I don't think I've ever had an engineer book my room and not bring at least a few preamps or compressors with them. Maybe once or twice, but then they usually bring a DAW rig, track right into that and monitor on the console.
Old 10th June 2002
  #22
Gear Head
 
dstagl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Most people are also going to bring a few things that they like. I don't think I've ever had an engineer book my room and not bring at least a few preamps or compressors with them. Maybe once or twice, but then they usually bring a DAW rig, track right into that and monitor on the console.
I dunno about that. Joe has a kick ass place with great gear in the rack of dreams--no LA2A's or 1176's, though, yet....

I'm doing a project there now, and I wish I had found the place a year ago because it would have saved me a lot of time and money. Adding an analog console would be nice, but the studio is very comfortable right now, and I'm finally starting to figure out the D8B.

Something analog to send Pro Tools through would be cool, though, because I have seen the light regarding the inadequacies of the Pro Tools mixbus--but I'm still a PT freak.

Whatever you do Joe, I would "babysit" for you.

Dave
Old 11th June 2002
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Dave,

Thanks for the kudos!!!!!!!!!!

-Joe
Old 11th June 2002
  #24
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by dstagl

I dunno about that. Joe has a kick ass place with great gear in the rack of dreams--no LA2A's or 1176's, though, yet....

I'm doing a project there now, and I wish I had found the place a year ago because it would have saved me a lot of time and money. Adding an analog console would be nice, but the studio is very comfortable right now, and I'm finally starting to figure out the D8B
Doesn't that kind of sum it up? You're just now getting used to the D8B, after how long? There are somethings I would never buy unless it was for a personal studio. When you own a commercial facilty with freelancers coming in all the time you need to balance what you want vs. what they want and it's a very fine line.
Old 11th June 2002
  #25
Gear Head
 
dstagl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs


Doesn't that kind of sum it up? You're just now getting used to the D8B, after how long?
Well, I've only been working there a few weeks now sporadically and for the most part Joe has been behind the console so I haven't had a chance to really sit down and learn the console. Plus sometimes there's something nice about having someone else do that kind of thing.

But, Joe, you brought up a good point last night that I didn't really think about at the time. If you want to do anything at 96k or higher, you can't interface digitally with the D8B.

Dave
Old 11th June 2002
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

That is a big consideration. If I go 96K at some point, the D8B is out of the equation. At that point, it is either mixing inside Pro Tools HD or going out to an analog desk or upgrading to a 96K compatible digital mixer. With everything digital, you are constally chasing the technology curve which can really suck.

The DDA is becoming a serious consideration. I talked to the dealer and I would have time to evaluate the console and return it if it didn't work out for me. The only hassle is reconfiguring the studio. I am thinking the deal might be too good to pass up, but I am still not 100% yet.

This site rocks!!!!!!
Old 12th June 2002
  #27
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by jkasko
That is a big consideration. If I go 96K at some point, the D8B is out of the equation. At that point, it is either mixing inside Pro Tools HD or going out to an analog desk or upgrading to a 96K compatible digital mixer. With everything digital, you are constally chasing the technology curve which can really suck.
Well, it is called the bleeding edge for a reason.
Old 13th June 2002
  #28
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 

The Neotek Elan has been one of my favorite consoles ever since the 1st time I engineered on one. The routing is a little funky, but it sounds damn good. I still find myself thinking at least once a week "I should get ahold of one of them just for the damn eq's I used to rock"...
Old 13th June 2002
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Ditto Elan....

Ditto EQ... very nice and sweet. The DDA EQ is kinda pedestrian compared IMHO.?T

They absolutely cane the DDA for the $$ and sonics as well.

I think you would be well served to just get the Elan and get on with life. With an HD Rig and Elan thats a serious combo for good tones.. I would not hesitate @ all to mix and record through one of them and i am a Neve Slut!!!!. Neotecs are great boards for the $$$

BTW there is aseries 2 for sale on ebay right now under he mixers catagory. Chek it out and talk to the dude!



The crew @ martinsound have stax of spares for Elans, and what they dont have they can make for you. also proaduio design has stax of spares as well. DDA is no longer around and i am not sure of the supply situation. Also Mike Stoica @ sytek audio used to work/design for them he can help you out if not remake things for them as well... so u will be well covered which is vital for a commercial studio like what you are looking at!

PEACE
Wiggy
heh
Old 13th June 2002
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

The Elan has been sold on me so that leaves the DDA or I look for something else.
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