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Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise Consoles
Old 13th December 2002
  #1
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atticus's Avatar
Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise

I've been curious about this for a long time. I seems to me that having these gigantic consoles in our "control" rooms is a huge contradiction. My question is, why? Obviously the convenience factor of having a ton of controls is one reason but there are seemingly so many reasons not to have one. I have been corresponding with a well known studio designer and I asked him about it. Hre is a quote from his e-mail:

"Hi David,

Great question! Yes, the consoles have a significant impact on the sound in the room; some effects are good, but, most are bad. Consoles can act like unwanted bass traps or, on occasion, add useful mid bass diffusion. They sometimes buzz and rattle. The reflect sound off their work surface, meter bridge, and front panels that is always unwelcome and sometimes disastrous. They generate tremendous amounts of heat that
requires more conditioned air (noise) to be introduced in the room as well as generating image-smearing heat currents that are usually directly interfering with the path between the monitor speakers and the critical listening position.

Other than that, I just love consoles! :-)"

I'm not going to name drop, but the author of this quote is very good at what he does and very well known. Adding to the acoustical detriments caused by large consoles we can also factor in the enormous expense that they cause, both in initial price and maitenance. I'm not denying their "cool" factor, but are huge consoles really the answer, or should we be approaching control room design from more of a mastering studio viewpoint, using smaller consoles such as the Manley or Millennia and relying on more outboard for any necessary processing. Thoughts??
Old 13th December 2002
  #2
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big - ass boards

I'm not denying their "cool" factor, but are huge consoles really the answer, or should we be approaching control room design from more of a mastering studio viewpoint, using smaller consoles such as the Manley or Millennia and relying on more outboard for any necessary processing. Thoughts??
***

I'm one of the handful of guys who would not feel limited by having no more than 16 input channels, but even I can't see myself with only a Manley style mixer. There are just too many missing features, and I'm not talking about 12 Aux sends or other wacky stuff. (I don't think that I've EVER used three Aux sends at one time.....not counting headphone sends)

Its true that there are now some cool devices like the Coleman Audio talkback unit and others than provide the types of features missing from the Manley style mixers, but even those boxes don't provide all of the missing features. In addition to the monitoring, and talkback type of features, how about having a few busses? I'd be somewhat lost without at least four summing busses other than the stereo bus. (I work "live to 2 track" a lot and prefer to buss everything down to a handful of stereo busses; the drums, the guitars, the vocals, etc.)

Finally, the rack mount sized mixers never have enough I/O for my needs. The more experience that I have with multi pin connectors, the less I like them. My dream desk would have XLR connectors for everything, no 1/4" type plugs at all.

I agree that 12 ft consoles are probably unnecessary for anyone except film sound mixing, but I would never buy anything but a split format desk and they do require some real estate. Even a little 16x8x2 split desk will require a minimum of 4 to 5 feet. And that scale gives you enough room for man-sized controls. Save the kid-sized knobs for toy mixers intended for the under 8 crowd. One and one half inch channel strip width is about as small as I'm willing to go (API 500 series) Anything smaller than that is only fit for the wee people.

steve
[email protected]
Old 13th December 2002
  #3
Re: Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise

Quote:
Originally posted by atticus
I've been curious about this for a long time. I seems to me that having these gigantic consoles in our "control" rooms is a huge contradiction. My question is, why? Obviously the convenience factor of having a ton of controls is one reason but there are seemingly so many reasons not to have one. I have been corresponding with a well known studio designer and I asked him about it. Hre is a quote from his e-mail:

"Hi David,

Great question! Yes, the consoles have a significant impact on the sound in the room; some effects are good, but, most are bad. Consoles can act like unwanted bass traps or, on occasion, add useful mid bass diffusion. They sometimes buzz and rattle. The reflect sound off their work surface, meter bridge, and front panels that is always unwelcome and sometimes disastrous. They generate tremendous amounts of heat that
requires more conditioned air (noise) to be introduced in the room as well as generating image-smearing heat currents that are usually directly interfering with the path between the monitor speakers and the critical listening position.

Other than that, I just love consoles! :-)"

I'm not going to name drop, but the author of this quote is very good at what he does and very well known. Adding to the acoustical detriments caused by large consoles we can also factor in the enormous expense that they cause, both in initial price and maitenance. I'm not denying their "cool" factor, but are huge consoles really the answer, or should we be approaching control room design from more of a mastering studio viewpoint, using smaller consoles such as the Manley or Millennia and relying on more outboard for any necessary processing. Thoughts??

I've mixed on both on and off for the last few years, where the whole DAW thing has grabbed a foot hold. My preference for work purposes is to stay in the middle of the console as much as possible(i hate studios that have gear racked to the side...argh!!!)

But I have to admit psychologially, nothing in the studio gives a better rush, than to have a great mix blasting through the bigs and with all of the lights flashing on the console(Ferrari envy?).

Also, the clients feel more involved when they can sit behind the console with you(Cock pit envy?).

Some clients I work with will only work on a big console. They are of the old school mentality. They are just not as secure having their work on a little tiny mixer/controller. But hey those guys have the money to spend. And it keeps me in the loop with the bigger studios.

In conlusion, yeah sonically the smaller/transparent solution is better. But emotionally/psychologically...nah!!! Bigger is better!!!

Hey maybe that's why they keep sending us all of this Penis enlargement junkmail!!


heh
Old 13th December 2002
  #4
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subspace's Avatar
That's kind of a funny quote to follow that question with...
The "solution" has been around for a long time, controls in layers. Whether it's on a little digital board, scrollable DAW screen, or Euphonix analog desk, it relies on the same concept, the audio is handled remotely. However, some people have found the solution to be worse than the problem. If you can work just as efficiently on a Digi002 with an iBook as on an SSL, bully for you. Of course, you might want to add a rack of Benchmark converters and some select outboard to the iBook set-up, and keep that stuff near the sweet spot for tweeking. You could always lay the outboard rack horizontal next to the 002/iBook so that it's in an easy sightline and adjustment reach, without requiring you to move or block the sound path from the monitors. Hey, wait a minute, this is starting to look vaguely familiar...
Steve, my 16x8x14x2 Trident comes in at a scant 38" across., not bad for a split.
Old 13th December 2002
  #5
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atticus's Avatar
Re: Re: Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
In conlusion, yeah sonically the smaller/transparent solution is better. But emotionally/psychologically...nah!!! Bigger is better!!!

Hey maybe that's why they keep sending us all of this Penis enlargement junkmail!!


heh
Yeah, pretty soon everyone will be getting spammed from SSL with things like "Studies show that your female clients want something more in a console. "heh
Old 13th December 2002
  #6
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hollywood_steve's Avatar
 

big ones

subspace wrote:
Steve, my 16x8x14x2 Trident comes in at a scant 38" across., not bad for a split.
****

Really? which model? I have the lowliest Trident, the little VFM and its a full four ft wide for 16x8x2. What Trident could possibly be smaller than that??? A Fleximix?

Thinking about it, some of the later Tridents, like the 65, used half width modules for the group/monitor channels. The VFM, being an older model, still used full width modules. Is that why your board is smaller?

Steve
[email protected]
Old 13th December 2002
  #7
Re: Re: Re: Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise

Quote:
Originally posted by atticus
Yeah, pretty soon everyone will be getting spammed from SSL with things like "Studies show that your female clients want something more in a console. "heh

Hey you got the SPAm already?


Wow, I guess like a lot of things it starts in NYC and works its way outward.heh
Old 14th December 2002
  #8
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Knox's Avatar
 

Re: Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise

Quote:
Originally posted by atticus
I've been curious about this for a long time. I seems to me that having these gigantic consoles in our "control" rooms is a huge contradiction. My question is, why?
We get them (large desks) because we have little teeney penises and it gives us the illusion that we don't. It's all penis envy. I have a physically HUGE . . . . console . . . . . . for that reason alone.



Old 14th December 2002
  #9
Moderator emeritus
 

The main reason that I like large consoles (I have a 48 input D&R Cinemix) is that I know where everything is - even after 12 hours of mixing, I can find the mid EQ on the alto stack without having to move through a menu or open up a new page.

Yesterday, I spent 12 hours mixing through the console, today, I spent 12 hours mixing in a DAW. Give me a console anyday!

Besides, without 8 or 9 feet of console, where do you put all the paperwork - charts, lyrics, tracksheets, etc.?
Old 14th December 2002
  #10
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subspace's Avatar
Re: big ones

Quote:
Originally posted by hollywood_steve
subspace wrote:
Steve, my 16x8x14x2 Trident comes in at a scant 38" across., not bad for a split.
****

Really? which model? I have the lowliest Trident, the little VFM and its a full four ft wide for 16x8x2. What Trident could possibly be smaller than that??? A Fleximix?

Thinking about it, some of the later Tridents, like the 65, used half width modules for the group/monitor channels. The VFM, being an older model, still used full width modules. Is that why your board is smaller?

Steve
[email protected]
No, it's a Trimix system in a 24 module frame, circa 1981. 16 input modules, 7 dual group/monitor modules, and an aux module. I was actually able to install it in the control room by myself, though not without putting my back through some peril. The modules are full size 80B affairs, and it's got a nice 5" high meterbridge with 11 VUs in it. It's a nice format if you want to work on a split without committing to installing the titanic in your room.
Attached Thumbnails
Aircraft Carrier Sized Consoles - Acoustics, Economics, and Noise-trimix.jpg  
Old 14th December 2002
  #11
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Neve Sucks!'s Avatar
 

Re: Re: big ones

Quote:
Originally posted by subspace
No, it's a Trimix system in a 24 module frame, circa 1981.
Ohhh. that´s a nice one, have´nt seen those before....
If your´re ever consider to throw it away, please throw it aaaaall the way to Sweden......heh heh
Old 14th December 2002
  #12
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big'uns

Very cool!,, but Yes, that is exactly what I meant by "half-width" group modules. Notice how they are half the size of the channel input strips? That's why my little VFM is larger than your "real" console; the VFM's group modules are the same size as the input channels. Still......I'll trade ya?

Steve
Old 15th December 2002
  #13
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

A lot of the top people like to do overdubs in the context of having a full mix up. A big console allows you to do this and to make almost any change in what you or the performers hear or want to do instantly without looking and without breaking the rhythm of the session. You can't really work that way with DAWs and small consoles with "soft" controls.

That said, I'm amazed that somebody hasn't come up with a new reasonably-priced split console design specifically intended for tracking in this way.
Old 15th December 2002
  #14
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ericswan's Avatar
 

consoles

I'm with Bob Ohl; someone should come up with a new split recording console that doesn't cost more than Triton submarine but has reasonable quality and features.

I personally hate digital controllers, step programing, layers of screens and pages etc. It is much easier and more time efficient to have a big console with input channels and monitoring channels allowing me to instantly alter the mix to the clients whims as well as my own without changing any input structure.

If I got my Christmas wish it would be to have Dave Hill from Cranesong build me a 32 input class A split console with 24 tracks of monitors, patchable onboard compression and a built in HEDD!!(I know he's too busy, though!)
Old 15th December 2002
  #15
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Nice idea Eric but I doubt that would be very affordable... unfortunately!!!
Old 15th December 2002
  #16
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subspace's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Olhsson
A lot of the top people like to do overdubs in the context of having a full mix up. A big console allows you to do this and to make almost any change in what you or the performers hear or want to do instantly without looking and without breaking the rhythm of the session. You can't really work that way with DAWs and small consoles with "soft" controls.

That said, I'm amazed that somebody hasn't come up with a new reasonably-priced split console design specifically intended for tracking in this way.
But what would you use the input side for? You're not suggesting someone should actually record audio through the preamps built into a console are you?!! For shame, that kind of crazy talk will get you banished from Gearslutz in the bat of an eye. Well, at least you didn't say it in the High End forum...
Even I'm not crazy enough to admit to doing 90% of my tracking through the console's input modules... oh, damn, did I say that out loud?
With the amount of talk about outboard pres and using console's strictly for monitoring, it's not that surprising that separate monitor sections are becoming extinct.
Out of curiosity, when was the last time you all worked on a recording console in the traditional fashion? You know, plug 16 mics into the input modules, assign each channel to an output group normalled to the multi-track inputs, and monitor the multi-track outputs on a dedicated monitor section. One thing I like about working this way is being able to switch from monitoring the multi-track outputs to monitoring the output busses directly with the same mix. It's very easy to listen to the impact of a digital multi-track's converters this way, though I realize that kind of bussing is verbotten these days.
Old 15th December 2002
  #17
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nice big'uns

I'm with Bob Ohl; someone should come up with a new split recording console that doesn't cost more than Triton submarine but has reasonable quality and features.
********
(not to nit-pick, but when I worked for General Dynamics in Groton, back in '83, they were called Trident subs, just like the console, not Tritons.)

Tri-Tech Audio has had the answer for a couple of years, the only problem being that so few people took notice that there have already been rumours about the companies future.

The short story is that they are a bunch of ex-Trident guys building a modern, but high quality version of the 80 Series, for something like $25 to $35K (for a normal size board, maybe 32ch)

Unlike some of their competion, (Audient comes to mind), Tri Tech didn't do away with expensive but necessary features like modular construction. (I can't believe that API, the kings of modular consoles, chose a non-modular board as their mid-priced line for distribution, Trid Tech would have been a much better choice......)

http://www.tritechaudio.com/tri%20te...20profile.html

I didn't see them at AES this year, but they were at the 2000 LA show and the board looked to be very nicely constructed, just like a brand new Trident 80

(someone with big pockets should surf over to their website and purchase a few consoles)

steve
[email protected]
Old 15th December 2002
  #18
I track often at a Neve V studio.

I have my pre amp pile & monitors that I bring + use a few of the studios compressors.. We use the Neve for only:

1) It's normalisation to the headphone netwwork
2) Perhaps a hi hat mic pre...
3) The volume knob, cause it's set to 2 track return where I have my mix out D/A from PT patched.

We are just using the space really, I bring the gear that gets used myself...
Old 15th December 2002
  #19
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ericswan's Avatar
 

Consoles

My apologies to hollywood_steve about misnaming the submarine. It was late, I'd been drinking beers and I am not completely up to date on weapon systems!

I've been curious about the TriTech stuff but never seen one or knew anyone who had one or certainly where it might get maintenance.

We've been looking for another console and even though we have a bunch of nice outboard pres, I would still like to have one where I would feel good about using the on board preamps for lots of stuff. I want a good clean preamp, some nice musical eq, 8 busses and some mute groups and boatloads of headroom. I don't use lots of automation and haven't really met a VCA that I like the sound of. And I want it for around $20K-30K! Not too demanding, are we...

And thanks mdbeh for the kind words. Trust was recorded at my place, I was the lowly assistant on that session and we had lots of fun. Would just like to mention that all the reverb on that record is from the natural acoustics of the building.
Old 16th December 2002
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Neve Sucks!'s Avatar
 

Re: consoles

Quote:
Originally posted by ericswan

If I got my Christmas wish it would be to have Dave Hill from Cranesong build me a 32 input class A split console with 24 tracks of monitors, patchable onboard compression and a built in HEDD!!(I know he's too busy, though!)
Add the IBIS and TRAKKER on every channel and I´m in.....rollz rollz

ps. Tell santa that I´ve been a very, very good boy this year...
Old 16th December 2002
  #21
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I almost never use a monitor mix. My idea of the ideal split console is one with full mixdown capability and some additional inputs for the microphones. I wouldn't have a monitor mix at all!
Old 16th December 2002
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Do you just give them all the same rough mix to monitor off of, Bob? I have more auxes than I need, so if it ever comes up, a "more me" mix is rearely a hassle to me.

As for the acoustic impact of a console, for least effect I believe the surface should be convex and on arc where the center point of the circle is probably back past the monitorins. The practical ergonomics not relating to the acoustics make this damn unlikely to occur, and espescially not cheap.

Bear
Old 16th December 2002
  #23
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Gone Fission
Do you just give them all the same rough mix to monitor off of, Bob?
Bear
Over here, I listen to the same mix I give the guys - i.e. the two buss mix (It keeps me on top of what they're hearing). I've got the capability of doing two different mixes into the tracking spaces, but have never needed to.
Old 17th December 2002
  #24
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I think everybody hearing exactly the same thing is often really important. I like to buss the control room mix to the cans with the ability to add additional of anything that's needed. Altering the headphone mix can become a serious production tool when it's used to nudge people in the right direction.
Old 17th December 2002
  #25
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Exactly! I could not have said this in a better way.
Old 17th December 2002
  #26
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Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I can't imagine not working on a console and doing all my tracking into a DAW. I need to see everything layed out in front of me, if it's not like that I get confused and it slows me down. I hardly ever use the mic pres on the console, usually just for toms, the back of amps, talkback and things like that so I'd be happy with just 8 pres on a 32 channel desk, but I'd want to have the option to add more if I need them. Let's face it, how many people use over 16 mics while cutting basics? Not too many. Well, there was a guy who used 19 tracks of drums at my place once but that's kind of rare.

I have a Furman headphone mixer setup, I'd rather let people control their own mix then deal with trying to make 3-6 people happy with two cue sends. Though, sometimes I do miss having the control to nudge people like Bob said. Usually while doing overdubs I'll give them a stereo mix and pull back on some of that control.
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