The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Looking for advice on getting into a proper large-format analog console
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Looking for advice on getting into a proper large-format analog console

Hey Slutz!

Wasn't sure if this should go in High-End or Low-End so I'm sticking it here.

I'm looking for advice on getting a real, proper old-school console and am having trouble navigating the many, many, MANY options out there. I've spent weeks reading a ton of old threads along similar lines and there's a million opinions out there for a million different needs. I'm really just looking for a list of consoles that fit what I'm looking for, and anyone's experiences and thoughts on them.

I've been working hybrid with a control surface and a good amount of analog outboard for several years now, and while that's great, I'm extremely keen on getting to know the craft of mixing better and learning more about how it was done in years past. Couple that with the fact that there's a severe lack of studios in my area that run proper consoles and work on tape, I'm interested in getting a real desk, a 24-track 2" machine and a 2-track master machine and offering end-to-end analog for my clients once I'm familiar enough with it. I'll still be doing plenty of work digitally and understand that I'll be making my own life harder, but that's what I want - to get better as an engineer and challenge myself. The best engineers I know can live in both worlds easily, and it seems like guys who started old-school and transitioned to digital are just generally better at making records, haha. So that's how I want to learn to work.

In any case - here's what I'm looking for in a console.

Under $10k would be great, not much more than $15k
In-line layout
Dedicated channel outs/monitor returns
Inserts for patching outboard
Meter bridge
32 - 48 channels, 8 busses
Solid pres/EQs
Something with vibe/character that can be pushed and played (yes, I know I'm not going to get an 8038 for that kind of money, but I don't want things to sound like crap lol)
Doesn't need constant repairs/recapping
Channel dynamics and switchable inserts would be great but not a requirement

I've looked into many of the obvious choices, chief among them a Toft ATB32. That's currently my frontrunner as it checks basically all of those boxes. But I have heard everything from "sounds and feels like a $100k console" to "lifeless, horrid pile of garbage" in terms of people's opinions of them.
Soundcraft Ghost - same story. The new Trident 68 also looks great, but only 24 channels, which just isn't enough for me to do bigger DAW mixes on. Plus the "all-new EQ and preamp design" concerns me a bit - again, I want character, and I can't find any info whatsoever on how they sound. In a perfect world I would get the new Trident 78 in 32-channel flavor, but it's a fair bit more expensive than I can swallow having never worked on an analog board before.

Used desks I've considered -
Yamaha PM2000, apparently sounds amazing thx to all the transformers, and cheap, but no direct outs/returns and layout is generally wonky.
Neve V3 - there's one on Reverb right now for $17k, 60 channels, way bigger than I need but seems to check all of the other boxes except busses.
AMEK Big 44 - don't need the automation, don't understand the group/buss situation.

Beyond those, I see Neotek, MCI/Sony, Otari, Studer, Oram, Soundtracs, D&R, and a dozen other makes come up for sale in that price range. But I'm a youngin' and wasn't around to read up on the hundreds of different models and configurations that have been made. I also have no idea what any of them sound like, if they would work well in a hybrid setup, etc.

So please, anyone - thoughts? Are some of these good options? What should I avoid? I'd appreciate some insight. Thanks!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

what you're looking for imo simply doesn't exist:

within your budget, you either get run down/big name large studio desk, a low-to-middle class studio desks in reasonable shape but with limited options/vibe/quality, a used large scale live desk, without being an inline design though - and you need to plan/budget on maintenance; tape/machines being another topic...

oh, and analog ain't 'better' - just different!

(owner of five studios here, one being left fully analog - and this mostly out of nostalgia; it stopped making money a long time ago and only costs money these days)
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
a low-to-middle class studio desks in reasonable shape but with limited options/vibe/quality
I appreciate the input, and I totally get that. I think I'd be in your middle category here. I understand I'm not going to get an amazing console without spending the big bucks. But if I can get something that at least sounds decent, with the options I need, I'll be happy to learn with it and grow my business in other ways so that one day, I can afford something serious.

Is there anything in that middle ground that you'd recommend?
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

well... - yes, but imo things depend so much on personal needs and preferences that i find it hard to recommend a specific desk.

[since i'm mostly working with larger ensembles (these days), for me desks with a multitude of auxes is absolutely mandatory; also, some productions i'm involved in move between tracking/mixing in a studio but also go on tour so it wouldn't be feasible to use a analog desk!]

i'd turn to used large scale live desks such as the amek recall, midas heritage (or old xl3/xl4), any dda or the soundcraft vienna, yamaha pm4000/5000 series or maybe even a ramsa sx-1 - in this order!
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

AMEK Recall is on the list, as is the Big 44. Thanks for the recommendations. I've generally been turned off from live desks since most of the ones I've looked at aren't laid out for mixing with in-line channels. But I'll look into the AMEK stuff more seriously.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

for tracking, you can use inserts to got to/from tape - for mixing, you'd use line inputs (or modify the desk) so no big deal imo...

anyway, if you get into recall territory, you can easily skip the big! (had an angela for ca. 5 years - lovely desks!)
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
You never know what you might find because some people are practically giving away great consoles. With the money you have to spend, I would probably getting a newer cleaner console and then buy a few pieces of outboard with a lot of mojo you can push for character.

Before I went console-less I had a couple D&R consoles that I loved. Great sound and fairly low maintenance.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
badmark's Avatar


Old 1 week ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by badmark View Post

Yeah, look at me, throwing away my money because I want to learn to be a better engineer! It's a terrible decision, I know. What a waste of my own time trying to learn more and approach the craft from a new angle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
You never know what you might find because some people are practically giving away great consoles. With the money you have to spend, I would probably getting a newer cleaner console and then buy a few pieces of outboard with a lot of mojo you can push for character.

Before I went console-less I had a couple D&R consoles that I loved. Great sound and fairly low maintenance.

Yea, that's what I'm hoping for. I hear many great things about D&R boards but can't find a ton of info. Are there any particular models that have the features that I need? Are they cleaner sounding overall? Appreciate the advice, thanks.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbassguy View Post
Yea, that's what I'm hoping for. I hear many great things about D&R boards but can't find a ton of info. Are there any particular models that have the features that I need? Are they cleaner sounding overall? Appreciate the advice, thanks.
Yes, D&Rs are on the cleaner side, but still have very nice sounding EQ and pre-amps. I had a D&R Triton and absolutely loved it. Great sound and very flexible routing.

The band news is that they are not very common in the US, the good news is that when they do, they are pretty cheap.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
Well would ya look at that!

I know nothing about D&R consoles but this seems like a good price...

Lots of detailed info about this model..

I don't know this seller.

I love looking at consoles .I picked up a 32 ch Toa RX7 modular console transformer ins and outs for $800 shipping included..

Deals are out there!!

https://reverb.com/item/2270944-d-r-...-8-bus-40-fram
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Very cool, thanks for the info guys. D&R looks like a very interesting option, especially the OrionX consoles.

How do you like your TOA? Seems very intriguing, and looks like it has some of the features I'm looking for. How does it sound? Does it have inserts and tape sends/returns?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
The link that I shared is a D&R just to be clear...

My Toa is a rare one to find..I found it by accident on ebay for so cheap that I bought it on the spot..It's 8 buss with direct outs on each ch. with a send and receive n each ch. It's from Japan just like the Yamaha pm2000 and is very similar in design with big op amp blocks and transformers..I have never found another Toa like this since I bought mine and not even any modules...pretty rare console..I'd would say it was $25,000 or more new in the 70's/80's..
Attached Thumbnails
Looking for advice on getting into a proper large-format analog console-20181126_113722.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
Here is a cool small footprint console with transformers to check out, Quantum Audio labs. I had one that I restored and sold and it sounded big and warm and clear.. I upgraded the output transformers to Cinemag cm-3301pc replacing the Reichanbach and it extended the top and bottom and sounded more clear..


I shared this link because the video has a comparison of a few consoles playing back the same song with a neotek and Calrec..

https://reverb.com/item/31294653-qua...odded-upgrades
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Here for the gear
 

A used Audient asp8024 may fit the bill if one comes up, I got a great deal mine (don't ask me to much about it though, I haven't got my studio space to set it up in yet so it's just sat in the corner of our bedroom :'( ) I wouldn't worry so much about the channel count as you can sum through the mixer lots of the smaller parts to busses, plus on the 8024 on mixdown you can use the top and bottom sets of faders to have up to 48 channels to mix
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbassguy View Post
I'm interested in getting a real desk, a 24-track 2" machine and a 2-track master machine and offering end-to-end analog for my clients once I'm familiar enough with it. I'll still be doing plenty of work digitally and understand that I'll be making my own life harder, but that's what I want - to get better as an engineer and challenge myself. The best engineers I know can live in both worlds easily, and it seems like guys who started old-school and transitioned to digital are just generally better at making records, haha. So that's how I want to learn to work.
great post and intentions.

you will go a long way.

Buddha
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Indeed - thanks for the iput and kind words, everyone, much appreciated. Axis, that board looks awesome! Very cool.

My main interest in having that many channels is so that I can have EQs on everything - for my digital clients I get a fair number of mixes with 50+ channels and I'll probably end up pushing the input limits on a lot of desks as it is.

Though that being said - I've been looking more into the Trident 68 today. Besides being 24 channels it ticks every other box, and looks quite sexy doing it. Only problem is that it's brand new and all I can find are a SOS review that says very little about the sound of it, and a random PDF review which is quite positive. Hoping that more info comes out on it soon, as it's a frontrunner for me as well now too.

I'm also wishing there were more D&R desks in the States - they look amazing too. And for tape machines, I constantly see screaming deals on JH24s, Otaris, etc. They may not be Studers but something to learn on. If I can get a desk and two machines for under 20k, I'll be elated. Between all these deals and all of the killer clone outboard gear coming out... you can have one hell of a studio these days for not much money, comparatively. Exciting times.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 
badmark's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbassguy View Post
Yeah, look at me, throwing away my money because I want to learn to be a better engineer! It's a terrible decision, I know. What a waste of my own time trying to learn more and approach the craft from a new angle.
.
Sure, nothing wrong with that, hence the

Rather than the consoles, it was actually the ongoing costs of maintaining 2 tape machines (and procuring good tape for them) that would worry me.

Add from this thread - Reel To Reel Deck Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by percussion boy View Post
edit: I would ask the what-to-buy question on the recording forums here, and at Tape Op’s forum too.

In the past, the pecking order in terms of price was: TEAC (cheapest); Otari (mid-priced—what a radio station or a local studio might buy); Studer (the professional standard). Good albums have been made using any of the 3 brands, but you do get what you pay for re sound quality.

———-
Further thoughts re the OP: It’s important if you have any big plans for buying a multitrack reel-to-reel to understand what it will need up front.

That means learning to align the machine and keep the heads clean and demagnetized, and being aware you may want to get old heads re-lapped. You will need tape—notice the prices and how much recording time a reel gives you. A given recorder will only take one width of tape (for a four track, 1/4”-1/2”-1”), and wider tape costs more; it adds up.

You should think about who’s going to fix the thing if you can’t.

If someone just wants a cheap old quarter inch stereo machine to add “color,” then maybe none of this applies. Just ride the thing ‘til it drops. But if you really want to do reel to reel multitracking as a core part of your process, then be aware that those machines want things. It’s not a one-time investment like a synth and you should plan to give the machine some care, like a plant or a pet.

Not saying don’t do it—You might try it and fall in love with the sound. I would probably still own an 8 track Otari if the Quantegy tape factory in the U.S. hadn’t gone out of business.

fwiw

Last edited by badmark; 1 week ago at 01:51 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Ha - thanks badmark - hope my response didn't come off as too snarky.

Yes, it's definitely a consideration, and one that I've thought about. Fortunately, while there aren't a ton of end-to-end analog studios in my area (Denver), there is a good community of a handful of guys who really know their stuff when it comes to maintenance, and I know several of them well. Tape costs are always a thing as well, though I'm hoping to get away with having clients help to cover that cost down the road, and being able to re-use tapes in conjunction with a DAW for mixing down on less critical projects. But I do know that it's a case of diminishing returns a lot of the time. I'm more interested in offering it as a service to clients who are dedicated to the sound and the experience, and also growing my own personal experience and understanding of recording as a craft. I've worked in DAWs since I was 13, and after 20 years I feel like I'm cheating. Between the endless capabilities of what software can do now, and the literal tens of thousands of VSTs, there's no fun in it anymore, no challenge. I have 6 different versions of a Fairchild comp that I can load on every single track in a hundred-channel session. I have every conceivable synthesizer, keyboard, and session drummer known to man, all two clicks away. It's great for efficiency but it feels so totally impersonal and contrived for me anymore. I want to fall in love with tracking and mixing again. I want to have no idea what I'm doing, and dig myself out from there. Sorry for the overly poetic mini-rant, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot, lol. In any case, I appreciate the input very much.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
Very cool you are in Denver, I am on the western slope Montrose area.. If I see anything cool come up in Co I will shoot it your way..

I found something so cheap and you could drive to pick it up yourself and have something to play with until you find something perhaps more to your liking. lots of ch's and routing..


https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...2923602886090/

Last edited by axisdreamer; 1 week ago at 04:32 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Unless you have a space problem and need a small footprint I would not limit yourself to inline desks. The older style split desks with a "jukebox function" worked pretty good with tape workflow. You can start by downloading the manuals of different desks and understanding it's signal flow options and gain stages. That will tell you a lot about the desk to start with.

The Otaris on your list are basically a dual channel per input strip and not inline. Check out the AMR (Audio Media Research) 1600 and 2400 desks (16 buss and 24 buss). I like their sonics and features for the under $2500 range (which would leave a bit more in your pocket for all the other things you will need). Some of the used D&R's went for under $3k but I think that is a thing of the past now. A lot of it is going to be what deals pop up near you, within a days drive. Remember it doesn't cost much to rent a Dodge Grand Caravan where it's seats fold into the floor and gives you an enclosed 4'x8' space to haul a desk.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Consider parts availability when buying. D&R uses entirely off the shelf parts and except for the Eproms in my Cinemix, everything is fixable/ replaceable (cloned my Eproms). I believe the AMR has a dual pot that can’t be had any more.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
If you have an entire day you could drive to pick
this up as well..I never had a soundcraft but this seems to have lots of routing and clean sound and 32 ch's...


https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...9736881452426/
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 
BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbassguy View Post
And for tape machines, I constantly see screaming deals on JH24s, Otaris, etc. They may not be Studers but something to learn on. If I can get a desk and two machines for under 20k, I'll be elated.
i worked tape all through the 80s and half the 90s. Studers into Neves.

i have owned many machines, and my suggestion is to get a Studer, and more specifically a Studer A800 or later. A800mk-3s are excellent machines, just lovely. great transports.

today i have a Studer A800mk-1. that is the earlier Transformer input/output model. transformers were dropped in later models. also transports like a dream. the Trannies add another level to the sonics. just lovely.

if you can find an A800-mk1 then just do it.

my particular machine came with a spare set of 16 track heads, with only 350 hours on them, and the original 24 track heads with less than 8000 hours. thats low for a Studer. i have worked on machines with 16k plus head hours and things still sounded good. low hours are obviously better.

i had to import the machine from Japan to NZ, but all up was around 15k.

15K is not a lot of money.

Buddha
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Neve V3 is NOT:

- Something with vibe/character that can be pushed and played

- Doesn't need constant repairs/recapping

Plus some parts are unobtanium.

Avoid that option!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump