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Why are hybrid consoles(at any budget) not more common?
Old 13th May 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
Why are hybrid consoles(at any budget) not more common?

IMO and really just something I am wondering...

I see more companies starting to offer small consoles (API, Trident, Audient) but why not completely make it the center of your studio, by offering all the connectivity you need to not only track but also mix and sum?
To me this would replace interface as the new hub for a studio(Whatever size).

i.e.
16 ch Console -> 16 ch A/D converters -> DAW -> Work ITB -> Map tracks to console faders and knobs for DAW automation mixing - > 16 ch D/A converters -> Consoles summing/bus compression/Etc -> Print back to DAW(2-track or multi-ch) or whatever(Tape, Etc)
A flexible console like this combined with the options of say the RME TotalMix(what I use) software would make for a lot of possibilities and skip a lot of cables for routing.
Thoughts?


P.S. It is entirely possible I am missing something so drop knowledge gently please. Thanks!
Old 13th May 2019
  #2
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I'm on the verge of purchasing a Tascam Model 24. It loosely does what you describe, including internal, computerless multitrack recording.

Another one on the market is the Zoom L20 or L12. Those are slightly less appealing to me for whatever reason. They don't have as many digital returns for one thing. Also they are made out of plastic.

I do think this is the "way of the future" considering how popular these new products seem to be.

It's a little bit different to a digital console somehow. More of an old school work flow. Less screens, menus, software, etc.

Other ones that don't record per se, but include ADC and DAC are the Midas Venice series (discontinued) and the Soundcraft MTK22 (more affordable).

I guess there is the Mackie Onyx as well.

Perhaps the big names (Rupert Neve, SSL, API, etc) will start to follow in this direction.

Maybe a big reason they wouldn't, is that high end gear in general is built for one purpose, rather than the swiss army knife kind of thing.

To me, the Tascam Model 24 offers a complete alternative to my semi-high-end completely discrete (one unit per function) home studio, and that is the appeal for me. I'll take it out to be a mobile production machine like the old Portastudios. But with modern digital sound quality.
Old 13th May 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
Yes! The Tascam is good example of what I am taking about with one exception. Why not give it Automated Faders for DAW automation and mixing?
Otherwise, it is very close to being the new wave, IMO.
Old 13th May 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Digital mixers with multichannel recording are not that uncommon. You need to dig a bit to find them but companies like Presonus makes some that are fully integrated into the recording software.

Where Digital differs from Older analog systems is in the minds of the people using the gear, not with what's available. It seems most young engineers have an implanted vision of a pro studio needing to have a console the size of a bus in order to be able to record anything worthwhile and haven't got the education to understand that hasn't been needed for recording pro quality music in long time now. In fact you don't find those oversized over priced pieces of hardware because they simply aren't needed.

All you need to record top quality is preamps and converters. Most multichannel interfaces have expandable multi channel rack preamps. you can expand by 8 channels each up to the maximum the interface allows. 3 rack preamps of 8 each gives you 24 channels you can record with simultaneously plus whatever line level ins it has. Most have SPIDF connections to allow direct connections with your best external mic preamps. What else would you want/need.
If the main interface has multiple sends, you can connect all your analog effects and loop your tracks through them using a virtual mixer the same way as you used to using old analog gear, except you got way less hardware and wiring to mess with.


Of course if you want If you mix in analog it means taking the tracks out of the digital environment, converting them back to analog and then back to digital. Seems like a waste of time to me. Once you track digital you can simply use an external controller if you want to maintain the hands on. It maintains the best fidelity and fewest losses.
Old 13th May 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
Digital mixers with multichannel recording are not that uncommon. You need to dig a bit to find them but companies like Presonus makes some that are fully integrated into the recording software.

Where Digital differs from Older analog systems is in the minds of the people using the gear, not with what's available. It seems most young engineers have an implanted vision of a pro studio needing to have a console the size of a bus in order to be able to record anything worthwhile and haven't got the education to understand that hasn't been needed for recording pro quality music in long time now. In fact you don't find those oversized over priced pieces of hardware because they simply aren't needed.

All you need to record top quality is preamps and converters. Most multichannel interfaces have expandable multi channel rack preamps. you can expand by 8 channels each up to the maximum the interface allows. 3 rack preamps of 8 each gives you 24 channels you can record with simultaneously plus whatever line level ins it has. Most have SPIDF connections to allow direct connections with your best external mic preamps. What else would you want/need.
If the main interface has multiple sends, you can connect all your analog effects and loop your tracks through them using a virtual mixer the same way as you used to using old analog gear, except you got way less hardware and wiring to mess with.


Of course if you want If you mix in analog it means taking the tracks out of the digital environment, converting them back to analog and then back to digital. Seems like a waste of time to me. Once you track digital you can simply use an external controller if you want to maintain the hands on. It maintains the best fidelity and fewest losses.
Thank you for the feedback. This is not exactly what I am aiming for.
For me, it is not about channel count or recording directly on the console(Like the Tascam). I am more looking for the tactile and sonic advantages of an analog console paired directly with the flexibility of a modern interface and accompanying software + ITB DAW functionality and plugins. This stems from my current setup that is exactly what you describe above (...top quality preamps and converters...connect all your analog effects and loop your tracks through them using a virtual mixer...).

The best example, off the top of my head is the Presonus StudioLive line. I would just love to see something like those from Trident, API, maybe a Warm Audio console partnered with RME, Focusrite, MOTU, whomever.

I know there are ways to get this with multiple pieces of gear, but why not one simple-er solution for the small scale studio when there are companies that make all these pieces separately. And I ask "Why not?" purely for discussion about what can be done, not gear manufacturer economics.
Old 13th May 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I had an allen Heath Gsr24m that was pretty much this. Discontinued now. Neve genesis black does what you want pretty much
Old 13th May 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenedrum View Post
Thank you for the feedback. This is not exactly what I am aiming for.
For me, it is not about channel count or recording directly on the console(Like the Tascam). I am more looking for the tactile and sonic advantages of an analog console paired directly with the flexibility of a modern interface and accompanying software + ITB DAW functionality and plugins. This stems from my current setup that is exactly what you describe above (...top quality preamps and converters...connect all your analog effects and loop your tracks through them using a virtual mixer...).

The best example, off the top of my head is the Presonus StudioLive line. I would just love to see something like those from Trident, API, maybe a Warm Audio console partnered with RME, Focusrite, MOTU, whomever.

I know there are ways to get this with multiple pieces of gear, but why not one simple-er solution for the small scale studio when there are companies that make all these pieces separately. And I ask "Why not?" purely for discussion about what can be done, not gear manufacturer economics.
Totally exists, it’s just expensive to do at a professional level. API the box, ssl matrix/aws, Neve genesis, even ssl duality does this to some extent.

Generally professionals won’t want converters etc built into their consoles, since it’s not that flexible, but at the lower end Mackie, Allan and Heath offer products like this.

The studio live is a digital console - lots of cheap digital consoles that can be the hub of a studio.

Finally there’s products like ssl nucleus, or even the silver bullet that can be the centrepiece of s digital based studio.
Old 13th May 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoggin View Post
I had an allen Heath Gsr24m that was pretty much this. Discontinued now. Neve genesis black does what you want pretty much
Yes! Thank you! That is the best match so far.
Old 14th May 2019
  #9
Here for the gear
 

To kind of echo what psycho_monkey said, I think you don’t see that approach much because manufacturers, at least mid- to high-end ones, tend to take the Ron Swanson approach - that is, don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing. A piece of gear that “does it all” is gonna have to cut a lot of corners to be affordable for the low- to mid-level market, whereas if you go the no-expenses-spared route to appeal to the pro market, they’re gonna want more modularity, since they probably have converters, pres, etc that they already like.

I think the stuff that Wes Audio is doing is an interesting approach - high quality outboard analog with an open-source interface for digital control and automation from the DAW. I haven’t seen anyone else experiment with their NG500 system yet, though.
Old 14th May 2019
  #10
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Big_Bang's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoggin View Post
I had an allen Heath Gsr24m that was pretty much this. Discontinued now. Neve genesis black does what you want pretty much
I still dont understand the lack of options in this market segment. Even the Tascam US-2400 which was also discontinued and not updated (why ooh why) is still pretty hot items on flea markets.

I honestly dont get how there was a pretty nice surge of budget low quality 8 channel interfaces (think digi 002, Tascam 1884, Presonus studio lives, etc) - and also motorized controlers like Faderports, Behringer, Mackie MCU, etc … But nothing significantly priced up in specs and quality, say 3 - 6k range.

I almost bought the A&H GSR24m, but decided to wait a bit longer for something slightly better to pop out… and here I am still
Old 14th May 2019
  #11
Here for the gear
I get that it is a unique and small margin of the recording market, but as we continue moving towards more small studios and fewer large recording/production facilities, I think this will change. How many albums produced and well received began or were entirely produced in "project Studios?"

My personal goal is to produce music without compromise or caveat either sonically or creatively. I never want an artist at any level to feel we produced something that is "as good as can be expected for a small studio." Each equipment or instrument purchase is to that end. Like many of us, I continually hunt for the best mics, pres, converters, etc within my given budget to achieve this. And of course, it always begins with crafting the best songs we can.

This discussion began for me as I noticed the Warm Audio/Black Lion/etc brands aiming to provide better sounding equipment for this growing market segment. Even Trident with the Series 78 consoles reveals and awareness of this market. Maybe this Hybrid console/interface we are discussing will also follow.
Old 14th May 2019
  #12
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
The cat is out of the bag and the independent producer/musician is the target market for so many brands now.

It's been fascinating to watch the music gear market develop over the past 10 years or so. Almost a complete transformation has taken place.

Low end companies are getting much better (some of them) and most high end brands have some sort of accessible product available.

I like your attitude of having no excuses. I strive for that same level of quality in my own work, as much as I can manage. Selecting the right gear is certainly a part of that.
Old 14th May 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenedrum View Post
IMO and really just something I am wondering...

I see more companies starting to offer small consoles (API, Trident, Audient) but why not completely make it the center of your studio, by offering all the connectivity you need to not only track but also mix and sum?
To me this would replace interface as the new hub for a studio(Whatever size).

i.e.
16 ch Console -> 16 ch A/D converters -> DAW -> Work ITB -> Map tracks to console faders and knobs for DAW automation mixing - > 16 ch D/A converters -> Consoles summing/bus compression/Etc -> Print back to DAW(2-track or multi-ch) or whatever(Tape, Etc)
A flexible console like this combined with the options of say the RME TotalMix(what I use) software would make for a lot of possibilities and skip a lot of cables for routing.
Thoughts?


P.S. It is entirely possible I am missing something so drop knowledge gently please. Thanks!
Here’s why I wouldn’t go that route ever... first, as mentioned, in an all in one solution one part is gonna be half-assed to a certain degree... but, more importantly to me, if the thing craps out you’re totally shut down.. this would terrify me. That’s why I like my RME setup with external conversion... if one of the adda takes a crap, that sucks, but, it doesn’t shut me down (I even have spares lol)... if the rme dies (not likely) I can have a new card here tomorrow.

Layered into all of this are my external outboard pres and comps, etc... I don’t really miss having s giant console to work with, but, it doesn’t fit my workflow now... but if I did need a bunch of faders, I’d probably just pick up whatever motorized fader solution that’s stable... the old faderport is what I’ve been using and it works like a champ!
Old 14th May 2019
  #14
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenedrum View Post
IMO and really just something I am wondering...

I see more companies starting to offer small consoles (API, Trident, Audient) but why not completely make it the center of your studio, by offering all the connectivity you need to not only track but also mix and sum?
To me this would replace interface as the new hub for a studio(Whatever size).

i.e.
16 ch Console -> 16 ch A/D converters -> DAW -> Work ITB -> Map tracks to console faders and knobs for DAW automation mixing - > 16 ch D/A converters -> Consoles summing/bus compression/Etc -> Print back to DAW(2-track or multi-ch) or whatever(Tape, Etc)
A flexible console like this combined with the options of say the RME TotalMix(what I use) software would make for a lot of possibilities and skip a lot of cables for routing.
Thoughts?


P.S. It is entirely possible I am missing something so drop knowledge gently please. Thanks!
Pretty sure the studio live does all of that including flying faders... but, I think it would replace the rme in a windows setup... in a Mac universe I guess they could coexist?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenedrum View Post
I get that it is a unique and small margin of the recording market, but as we continue moving towards more small studios and fewer large recording/production facilities, I think this will change. How many albums produced and well received began or were entirely produced in "project Studios?"

My personal goal is to produce music without compromise or caveat either sonically or creatively. I never want an artist at any level to feel we produced something that is "as good as can be expected for a small studio." Each equipment or instrument purchase is to that end. Like many of us, I continually hunt for the best mics, pres, converters, etc within my given budget to achieve this. And of course, it always begins with crafting the best songs we can.

This discussion began for me as I noticed the Warm Audio/Black Lion/etc brands aiming to provide better sounding equipment for this growing market segment. Even Trident with the Series 78 consoles reveals and awareness of this market. Maybe this Hybrid console/interface we are discussing will also follow.
A small "do everything" hybrid box is a total compromise. It's very hard to make that sort of thing perfect for everyone; that's why we have modular setups.

I've spent the week tracking on an SSL AWS948. It's great - the DAW integration is helpful (so much that when it momentarily stopped working I felt lost!) and the analogue side is very flexible too. But it's not cheap.

The all in one is simply a budget option, and budget options don't need consoles. As I mentioned, the Mackie/A+H market is about where this is at - but going forward, most people in this market will want digital (hence the success of the Behringer/midas consoles). Cheap analogue isn't generally worth it (and I hated the feel of the A+H Z series - I used it once under duress!).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Gear Nut
Hi All,

So as MD of Cranborne Audio, where we took on a very ambitious analogue/digital hybrid product with very high-end A-D/D-A and high-performance analogue paths - our 500R8 and 500ADAT. We originally announced/showed these at NAMM 2018 (Jan 2018) here we are in May 2019 and we are only now at the point where we are ready to sign-off production on these bad boys... So what's taken so long? To do hybrid stuff RIGHT, it is REALLY, REALLY hard.

Digital and analogue signals simply don't like one another, but analogue stuff gets especially upset by digital emissions. So to have low-noise and low-distortion in your analogue paths you need very careful system planning (signal flow, ground planes, etc) but you also need a very comprehensive mechanical design that can shield problematic emissions, etc. We're very happy with what we've been able to achieve (and you guys will able to hear for yourselves soon...) but it is really difficult from an electronics and mechanics perspective.

And we haven't even touched on latency, drivers, or software at all... It's not for the feint at heart!

Cheers all!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karpmentalise View Post
Hi All,

So as MD of Cranborne Audio, where we took on a very ambitious analogue/digital hybrid product with very high-end A-D/D-A and high-performance analogue paths - our 500R8 and 500ADAT. We originally announced/showed these at NAMM 2018 (Jan 2018) here we are in May 2019 and we are only now at the point where we are ready to sign-off production on these bad boys... So what's taken so long? To do hybrid stuff RIGHT, it is REALLY, REALLY hard.

Digital and analogue signals simply don't like one another, but analogue stuff gets especially upset by digital emissions. So to have low-noise and low-distortion in your analogue paths you need very careful system planning (signal flow, ground planes, etc) but you also need a very comprehensive mechanical design that can shield problematic emissions, etc. We're very happy with what we've been able to achieve (and you guys will able to hear for yourselves soon...) but it is really difficult from an electronics and mechanics perspective.

And we haven't even touched on latency, drivers, or software at all... It's not for the feint at heart!

Cheers all!
FWIW, I’ve been following the development of the 500R8 and 500ADAT since you announced it, and I feel like those units are going to be the best implementation of a hybrid analog/digital workflow yet. But yeah, getting it right is hard.

It’s less mixing related, but you should also check out some of the stuff Peter Kirn has been writing about on Create Digital Music - several groups/companies are experimenting with software that runs on dedicated hardware, i.e. your favorite softsynth/plugin/whatever in a box with physical knobs and buttons, but still all digital. I’m stoked to see what comes of it.
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