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studio upgrade
Old 2nd December 2002
  #1
Gear Addict
 
Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

studio upgrade

Hi

I'm in charge of upgrading the studio i'm currently working at. I've already started with the electrical work and the acoustics (the backbone of all the upgrades), but at the same time i know the equipment needs some upgrading as well.

We are currently running Adat XT's (which i loathe) with a mackie 24x8(which i loathe as well, but not as much as the adats).

I noticed in the recent email issure from sweetwater that the mackie sdr 24/96 has dropped to 1299. So this brings up several questions.

Will this unit be an obvious increase in sound quality from the adats?

i've seen several reports that the converters are of lower quality then the hdr and the mdr, is this going to be a major concern?

If i use an external clock, will the differences between mackie's 3 units be moot? Also is the clock a worthwhile improvement to the sdr's clock?

if i do several takes of something on virtual tracks and want to comp them together via a daw, and then insert them back into the sdr at the same time points, would this be possible? (sorry about the run-on sentence)

Any heads up on if mackie is going to produce something in the next month or two that would make this seem like a bad purchase?

Any other issues that you can think of?

Thanks a ton and hope everyone had a great holiday
Marsh
Old 2nd December 2002
  #2
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I spent some time with an HDR about a year ago, I borrowed a demo from my dealer and gave it a spin for a week. Up to that point I had been using Adat XT's with three years of faithful service and no major problems, I guess I was lucky. Yeah, I had a few chewed tapes but always when I was putting them in or taking them out and since I always wind to head or tail it was never a problem. I digress...

The converters in the HDR sounded better then the Adat converters. Not OMG what the **** have I been missing better but still better. They weren't the weak link in the studio or that project. I'm pretty sure that they use the same converters in all the hard disc units and the D8B but I could be wrong. Using the Apogee clock card in the D8B made a pretty noticeable difference when I've spent time on that piece of ****, I'd assume that using an external clock with the recorders would also yeild an improvement. FWIW, I didn't mind the recorder and wouldn't toss it out of the room. The D8B I avoid at all costs.

Anyway, at the time I wrote up my thoughts on the thing and posted it to rec.audio.pro. Here's the link and the thread that followed. Get a big cup of coffee or some popcorn cause it's a bit long.

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=e...725c2e8&rnum=1

I heard that they took care of most of the issues I had, though I still don't know if you can get the big remote with all the **** I wanted and I think backup might still be an issue for some people. In the end I got a rebuilt MCI JH-24-24 2" deck. Cost wasn't an issue for me and I needed something that was reliable and would allow me to take on outside projects, aka being compatible with the rest of the world. Plus, about half the people who called to book time asked if I had 2".
Old 2nd December 2002
  #3
Jax
Lives for gear
 

$1299 is a good price for almost any 24/96 recorder. Infact, it's a good price for a box you can use as digital interface to better converters, and since it records too, you'd be swimming in gravy.

IOW, if it's feasible, buy the mackie and fit it with 24 chs. of digital i/o. If they do this on optional cards, get some converters you really like and connect their digital i/o to the mackie's. You could put together a killer sounding rig this way.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #4
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hollywood_steve's Avatar
 

upgrade

Sorry to go way off topic, but have youconsiderded a Radar Project model? 24trk with great A/D converters for $150/mth, $0 down. A big step up from the Mackies for a very reasonable price.


steve
Old 4th December 2002
  #5
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Personally I'd rather have a Radar but how many months of payments do you have to make at $150 a month. When I bought my car $253.67 over 5 years didn't seem like a lot, but now that I have 9 months to go I can't ****in' wait. Still, $1300 for a 24/96 24 track recorder is great. I remember getting my first pair of Adat XT's years ago. I paid $2500 for two low hour (34 and 97 IIRC) decks with a BRC and Monster Cable Elcos and I got a pretty slammin' deal. Hell, maybe I should get an SDR so I can stop using my Adat's on low budget gigs and so I can avoid the lock-up times when I do need to go with a digital multi-track.
Old 4th December 2002
  #6
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Just put some nice converters in front of that puppy and you're set. ****, I might do this myself eventually.
Old 5th December 2002
  #7
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

I think thi is what i'm going to do

in about 6-12 months i will purchase a word clock
and later on add external 8 ch converter



Between all of this, i will upgrade my board.

I would be nice to find something with just line in's and faders to a master section with inserts on every channel... Something simple but really high quality.

Eqing will mostly be done in the computer(i don't do much eqing at all) and compression will be done with outside boxes. I'm already starting to look for mic pre's and my mic collection is starting to grow again. So yes, i am paying attention to my front end.

I just purchased the new AEA r84 large ribbon mic and will be recieveing it in the next 2 weeks. I'll post a review of it once i get a chance to try it out.

Also i'm on the waiting list for stephen paul's new microphone, and after speaking with him, i can't wait to hear it.

Marsh
Old 5th December 2002
  #8
Jax
Lives for gear
 

If Stephen Paul decides to stay in this world, it's likely that he will finally get the recognition he deserves. He's going off the deep end lately, however. And I don't blame him.

You might skip getting a wc device for the mackie and just go for some converters that utilize a solid clock already. There are at least a few: Benchmark, Mytek, Prism. If it's a matter of when you can afford an 8 channel box, then trying to improve the mackie's clock externally would be a good idea except that when you get new converters, their clocks might easily outshine the external wc you bought, which would then become a wasted investment.
Old 6th December 2002
  #9
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

Thats a wonderful point... I will definitely xnay the wordclock out of the equasion.


The myteks are what i personally want, and when i have my own studio is probably what i would get....


I would do things totally differently if it was my own studio, but, its not my money.


First things first, i would really work on the electricity and the acoustics. The studio that i'm at needs major bass trapping, (which i may end up building at some point) and something better then the standard floating ceiling. Also i would replace the carpet with hardwood floors.

IS there a way i can make the floating ceiling an assett? are their better drop in panels i can use?

I would probably go balanced power everything, with two seperate legs for the tracking and control rooms.


Equipment wise, i would probably get a good 12 channel whirlwind snake (he has all of these custom panels in the walls... Half of them do not work, the other half buzz or hum.)
The whirlwind snake would go to a couple of outboard preamps, to some type of recorder. the recorder is connected to a computer for editing, and the recorder is connected to a line level only 24 channel console with inserts for comps/eqs/what nots

Monitoring, i would probably go with more of a mastering level speaker (B&W, upper Paradigms, Revel ect) and a good 4 channel amp for bi amping.


Mics would be
a pair of schoeps or dpa (omni and cardiod)
a pair of ribbons (aea or royer)
a pair of good dynamics (any suggestions other then a RE20 or 421?)

2 or 3 good large diagphragms (new stephen paul mic, a soundelux, maybe an old neumann if i can find it)


I honestly don't think i would need any more then that.


I've personally have been buying where it counts--- the front end


i have the schoeps, just purchased the ribbons, have a re20 and a 421, a pair of ksm32s. I just purchased a pair of ward beck pre's from dave thomas. Right now i'm personally looking for a "clean" pre and some good compressors. More then likely i'll get a RNC, but i want to beleive that there is others out there too. And a good pair of eq's.

BUt i'm on my way. I just hope i can make the same impresson on the owner of the studio i'm at now.


Marsh
Old 6th December 2002
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
[B]Thats a wonderful point... I will definitely xnay the wordclock out of the equasion.

The myteks are what i personally want, and when i have my own studio is probably what i would get....

** I'd still invest in acoustics, mics and pres before converters. It's made a bigger difference in my recordings.

Also i would replace the carpet with hardwood floors.

** Maybe you can build a small hardwood floor out of plywood and stuff. A pair of 4x8 sheets are plenty big enough for a drum set and will make you way happier if you want that sound. Or maybe so a small parquet floor in one section which is what my old room had. It was half carpet and half wood. ****, I miss that little room.

IS there a way i can make the floating ceiling an assett? are their better drop in panels i can use?

** If the ceiling doesn't have anything above it try putting rolls of insulation across the top. That should help to keep rattles down a little but will also make the room tighter.


I would probably go balanced power everything, with two seperate legs for the tracking and control rooms.

** Get at least two 20 amp lines in the control room. Wait until one day when you install the big console or something that wants a lot of juice. Or the freelance engineer who brings in a whole rack or five of gear that needs 10 amps on it's own.

a pair of good dynamics (any suggestions other then a RE20 or 421?)

** Sennheiser 441. Those are great mics, wish I had a pair.

i have the schoeps, just purchased the ribbons, have a re20 and a 421, a pair of ksm32s. I just purchased a pair of ward beck pre's from dave thomas. Right now i'm personally looking for a "clean" pre and some good compressors. More then likely i'll get a RNC, but i want to beleive that there is others out there too. And a good pair of eq's.

** In that case I'd look into either API or OSA stuff. API makes great preamps, compressors and EQ's. The OSA pres are good and they have an EQ and compressor in the works. I haven't tried those yet so they may suck, but, it does all fit into an API rack. Once you get past the cost of the rack the modules aren't that expensive for the quality.
Old 6th December 2002
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

I would definitely love to get some api channels. Although, the new buzz audio rack looks nice, and if a bunch of people get onboard it should be a winner. Plus they are talking about having the api channels retrofitted to the new rack.


These are very good times

Now if only someone wanted to buy the adats from me.


You all have been great.
I need to email you about the channelstrips Jay.

Marsh
Old 6th December 2002
  #12
Lives for gear
 
subspace's Avatar
Re: studio upgrade

Quote:
Originally posted by Marshall Simmon


We are currently running Adat XT's (which i loathe) with a mackie 24x8(which i loathe as well, but not as much as the adats).

I noticed in the recent email issure from sweetwater that the mackie sdr 24/96 has dropped to 1299. So this brings up several questions.

Will this unit be an obvious increase in sound quality from the adats?

i've seen several reports that the converters are of lower quality then the hdr and the mdr, is this going to be a major concern?

If i use an external clock, will the differences between mackie's 3 units be moot? Also is the clock a worthwhile improvement to the sdr's clock?

I'm guessing it will be somewhat of an improvement since you're going from low end 16 bit to low end 24 bit, but jumping from Alesis to Mackie is still a jump sideways. At the same time, the price difference to move up to their better sounding converters would be better spent on good outboard units. You've already figured out that spending money to improve Mackie's converters is better spent on replacing them.

Quote:
Originally posted by Marshall Simmon


if i do several takes of something on virtual tracks and want to comp them together via a daw, and then insert them back into the sdr at the same time points, would this be possible? (sorry about the run-on sentence)

Any heads up on if mackie is going to produce something in the next month or two that would make this seem like a bad purchase?

Any other issues that you can think of?

Looking at it as strictly a digital i/o stand-alone HDR, it does seem to be a steal at $1299. Every track can be mapped to the various analog/digital i/os, so using outboard converters in conjunction the built-ins is easy. This can't be done with the Alesis HD24. Tracking with a dedicated recorder like this is really painless compared to a DAW rig for me. The input monitoring is all taken care of during punches and you've got dedicated controls for everything. It's a good replacement for adats as it's intuitive and has adat sync built-in for transferring old projects over.
Integrating it with a DAW can be done several ways. I use a 2408, so I can just connect the SDR's adat sync out to the PCI-324 card's adat sync in to keep them sample locked while flying 24 track's back and forth over lightpipe. You can also sync it via SMPTE and MTC. The other method uses the SDR's USB port to access it like a hard drive from your DAW. It can write files in Broadcast Wave File format with time stamping, so that when the SDR's drive mounts on your DAW's desktop, you simply drag the files into your session and use a "move to original time stamp" command. ProTools, Digital Performer, and Cubase SX all import and export this format, not sure of who else does. Then, exporting the files again as BWFs with timestamping allows you to use the "place" command on the SDR to re-import them. This may be a time consuming process, as I think they have to be recorded back in one file at a time, not sure about that though.
The software allowing all this is only about a month old, so consider it a work in progress. If the SDR is killed at the end of the month you may have to live with bugs for eternity. Then again, if Mackie closes it's doors at the end of the month, that goes for all of their products.
I'm kind of thinking out loud here as I'm considering the blow-out unit as well. One thing staying my hand is putting fan noise and hard drive chatter back in my control room. My present DAW is in the machine room with the MOTU interfaces in the control room connected via firewire. To connect the lightpipes and see the meters, the SDR would have to be in the room with me, but it's so quiet in here now I don't want to give that up.
Out of curiosity, what DAW/interface would you be using in conjunction with this set-up?
Old 7th December 2002
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
[B]I would definitely love to get some api channels. Although, the new buzz audio rack looks nice, and if a bunch of people get onboard it should be a winner. Plus they are talking about having the api channels retrofitted to the new rack.

** Do you want your gear now or do you want it later? It might take a long time for that rack to actually be a real product. Look at how long the RNP took and that was just one company.

These are very good times

Now if only someone wanted to buy the adats from me.

** You could always keep them for backup if the HDR goes down. Hey, **** happens and no studio should be without a spare. My JH-24 crashed on Monday and I ended up doing that gig on Adats. I wasn't happy but the band didn't care, they wanted wav files anyway so it was a bit easier to transfer. Still, without a backup multi-track I would've been screwed. I thought about selling them when I got my JH but they're worth so little that it made more sense to hold onto them. Plus, I had years of clients old tapes and if they ever come back it'll be real easy to play them.

I need to email you about the channelstrips Jay.

** Yeah I know. But I got a big fat check today so I have money again. I'll try calling you over the weekend.
Old 7th December 2002
  #14
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

Thank you for the wonderful post subspace.

I didn't realize that the mackie could map the channels to different tracks. This is a great thing. I would only need to purchase 1 8ch ad to get the improvement instead of 3.
I would still have to get 24 da's for output to the board, but i can always put that off a bit longer. I'd personally rather use the usb output then having to go through lightpipe. It seems safer, and less prone to jitter. But it would really suck if the usb wasn't stable, or the same goes for the bwf implementation

Right now i'm using a athlon pc with sequioa (love the 4point editing) and wavelab. Although tonight i had a problem where it was crashing every couple of minutes. I really need to reformatt the whole thing and start over, but there are two other engineers that i have to make time for.


Jay-- it would seem smarter to me if buzz and the rest would create their new cards based on the api format. If the power supply was a problem, they could always offer a different one to use with it.
Have you heard the malcom toft line of outboard gear? It seems like a pretty damn resonable price for what if offers.
What other gear---1k-1.5k range, would you reccommend. I'm seriously contemplating the earthworks or the millennia for my clean channels.

I've heard quite a bit of people talking about the telefunken mic pre's as well... although i've never heard them. Being in the middle of nowhere gives me very little chance of listning to stuff before i purchase, so i have to rely on the opinions of respected engineers to narrow my decisions.


i appreciate the help you guys
Marsh
Old 7th December 2002
  #15
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
[B]
Jay-- it would seem smarter to me if buzz and the rest would create their new cards based on the api format. If the power supply was a problem, they could always offer a different one to use with it.

*** Ohhh, but it's not that easy. Pin outs, card connectors, physical space etc. all need to be standard. I'd love to drop an API summing section and some 1064's into my Trident frame but it just ain't gonna happen. That's gonna take some time before you see GR or API stuff to fit in the Buzz rack.

Have you heard the malcom toft line of outboard gear? It seems like a pretty damn resonable price for what if offers.
What other gear---1k-1.5k range, would you reccommend. I'm seriously contemplating the earthworks or the millennia for my clean channels.

*** I've never heard it but I've heard good thing about it. Maybe a pair of Grace 101's would be good. About $1100 for a pair. Or a Sytek. I think Joe from Perfect Sound is selling his for under $1000 and that's a four banger. The Earthworks is, interesting. I dunno. I'd probably get the Great River or OSA stuff first.

I've heard quite a bit of people talking about the telefunken mic pre's as well... although i've never heard them. Being in the middle of nowhere gives me very little chance of listning to stuff before i purchase, so i have to rely on the opinions of respected engineers to narrow my decisions.

*** Kinda to very cool depending on condition and application. Not clean by any stretch and not a plug & play thing. You'll need to rack them, get a power supply, I/O etc. and then they might still need some work. If you want to go that route there's all kinds of interesting old stuff out there. RCA, Gates, Ampex (not really a preamp per say), Western Electric etc. But you'll need to tinker with it to get it running and keep 'em running. Personally, I like my **** to work.
Old 7th December 2002
  #16
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
I'd personally rather use the usb output then having to go through lightpipe. It seems safer, and less prone to jitter. But it would really suck if the usb wasn't stable, or the same goes for the bwf implementation
If I have learned this correctly (from Bob Katz, Dave Collins, and Bob Ohlsson, and Michal Jurewicz [Mytek]) the quality of the PLL used in the master clock device has much more effect on jitter than any type of digital cabling used, including optical. Both usb and optical cabling are less than ideal if you are running clock over them, but either is fine for carrying audio signals (digitally of course). For instance, if optical cabling was inferior for audio signals, Bob Katz wouldn't run the digital output of his Sony CD player that way. Glass optical is preferable to plastic optical, however.

With all that taken into consideration, the most stable clock is derivied from the wc i/o of a conveter. Or, if the converter's wc design is inferior to that of an external device, make the external device the wc master for the converter. By degree of most stable to least, the list of choices looks like this:

1) wordclock (has the lowest jitter)

2) AES EBU BLACK (no audio on the cable)

3) SPDIF black (no audio on the cable)

4) #2 or 3 above with signal on them.

Meanwhile the sonic differences between converters using optical cable to carry audio vs. AES/EBU was not something I could reliably pick out in a blind test. Whatever effect jitter might have had to sonic fidelity through either type of cable was inaubile to me using Mytek converters. The Myteks were (and still are) clocked internally with one AD acting as the clock master to the other, connected via the wc i/o. YMMV.

Hopefully Bob O. or Brad B. will be willing to check my homework if they happen to read this.
Old 7th December 2002
  #17
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subspace's Avatar
Actually, Marshall was referring to using USB for transferring data files, not real-time digital audio streams. Pulling the files into the DAW as a data transfer negate would any problems with jitter that you might have with a real-time digital audio stream. Actually, I've never had a problem with real-time digital to digital transfers regardless, as jitter should only be a problem during conversion.
Old 7th December 2002
  #18
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

THis is a great thread.


You guys have helped a ton.

They syteks are on the clean side of things?
How do they rate with something like the millennia pres (defacto standard for classical pre's)

I figured i'd get a pair of each main category of sound
coloured but discreet class a (neve, api)
coloured tube (????)
and clean (sytek, millennia, earthworks, avalon)

and those 6 channels plus combinations with different mics should get me what i need for tonal variations in my own personal setup

How do you all feel about channelstrips in a box.. i was thinking about one for a vocal channel. It would be convienent, but would i really be sacrificing tonality variations for that conviennce?


You all have aleviated my digital fears. I shall go fourth and be merry
Marsh
Old 8th December 2002
  #19
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
[B]

They syteks are on the clean side of things?
How do they rate with something like the millennia pres (defacto standard for classical pre's)

** Not as clean. Think shards of glass vs. refined glass or sand.

I figured i'd get a pair of each main category of sound
coloured but discreet class a (neve, api)
coloured tube (????)

** Tube Tech, UA 2-610 would be first on my list. On a budget the VMP-2 is good.


and clean (sytek, millennia, earthworks, avalon)

*** I wouldn't call the Avalon clean. At least not the 737.


How do you all feel about channelstrips in a box.. i was thinking about one for a vocal channel. It would be convienent, but would i really be sacrificing tonality variations for that conviennce?

*** I'd rather have seperate boxes because it's more versatile. Ask me how many times I use my Meek VC6 while mixing...
Old 8th December 2002
  #20
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 

Avalon stuff is usually VERY clean. The 737 is the black sheep of the family so to speak. (Still useful mind you.) I quite like the M5 and 2022 pre's... a lot more than the Millenia HV3's.
Old 8th December 2002
  #21
Gear Addict
 
Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

what do you feel is the main difference between the millennia and the higher end avalons?


I've also heard a john hardy pre.... which wasn't very exciting at all, but maybe its magic is in the mix more then the individual track.


The only channelbox that really has peaked my interest is the Millennia origin. So many options in one box.

Also, is the 737 stereo or mono... i've read conflicting reports.

I may have my hands on a peavey vmp2 soon!
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Old 8th December 2002
  #22
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groundcontrol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
what do you feel is the main difference between the millennia and the higher end avalons?


I've also heard a john hardy pre.... which wasn't very exciting at all, but maybe its magic is in the mix more then the individual track.


The only channelbox that really has peaked my interest is the Millennia origin. So many options in one box.

Also, is the 737 stereo or mono... i've read conflicting reports.

I may have my hands on a peavey vmp2 soon!
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
It's hard to describe exactly in words but the Avalon, to me, has more size and more depth to its tone. (Fletcher might say "more balls"!) For my taste its more musical. The bottom is solid but with a certain roundness to it and the top, while extended and not hyped, seems less clinical than the HV3. (A bit like the way a Schoeps CMC, while accurate, might sound a bit more magical than an Earthworks or DPA... Although I like DPA's in certain occasions.)

The Millenia Origin definitely seems like an interesting box (I've used the NSEQ and liked it but would not spend my $$ on it... read: I WANT A MASSIVO!!!grggt ) but if I was to pay for 2 different mic pres, eqs and comps (which is what you're doing essentially) I'd like to be able to use all of them all the time.

Finally, the 737 is indeed a mono unit, unlike the 747, as a quick check on the Avalon website would have revealed...
Old 8th December 2002
  #23
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

i know i know i could have checked the avalon website, but i just enjoy conversing with such knoweldgable audio engineers.
I do what it takes to keep you guys sharing info

I really do appreciate it
Marshall
Old 8th December 2002
  #24
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by subspace
Actually, Marshall was referring to using USB for transferring data files, not real-time digital audio streams.
I don't get the impression that he actually said that.
How do you plan to use either optical or usb, Marhsall? It's not clear from your previous post:

"I would still have to get 24 da's for output to the board, but i can always put that off a bit longer. I'd personally rather use the usb output then having to go through lightpipe. It seems safer, and less prone to jitter. But it would really suck if the usb wasn't stable, or the same goes for the bwf implementation"

If you use external converters, as you know you will have to choose a format for carrying digital audio into the Mackie. bwf does imply a data file transfer, however.
Old 9th December 2002
  #25
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Marshall Simmons's Avatar
 

i was refering to the usb as a non realtime data transfer of the audio.... basically moving the files from one hard disk to another. I now understanda about the lightpipe not being prone to jitter because there is no conversion involved.


The a/d's and the d/a were talking about coming in from external pre's and going out to the console specifically. With this setup i would like to beable to mix via a console instead of on the computer... more importantly the option to do so. I'm just transfering into the computer to do comping and maybe some basic processing. At some point i may try mixing totally in the computer tho, and i can still use the sdr to record and transfer everything into the daw via usb. THe most important thing is it wouldn't require a soundcard with alot of inputs and outputs as lightpipe in and out would

Marshall
Old 9th December 2002
  #26
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Marshall Simmon
I've also heard a john hardy pre.... which wasn't very exciting at all, but maybe its magic is in the mix more then the individual track.
At some point I will own a few Hardy M1's. Some things don't seem cool at first but grow on you over time. The Hardy stuff might be like that for you. I can't think of many people that don't like those preamps and used ones hardly ever surface. Usually when I do see them the words "gotta pay bills" or "getting divorced and need cash" are in there.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #27
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How'd the upgrade go?
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