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Studiomaster Boards....thick meaty tone Mixers (Analog)
Old 18th December 2013
  #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2N1305 View Post
Studiomaster definitely wasn't high-end... No "Phil Collins-endorsed" ad is going to make me believe that a TL-0xx filled board is high-end... (not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with them, just, they're not high-end at all!)
I never considered mine high-end either. Studiomaster had just switched over to Tl-071s on the vu model I bought new in 1982. (at least 71 is what I have written down on my old notes scrawled into the manual from those days. Someone else mentioned they were 72s. Probably doesn't matter much.

The biggest downside, other than any deficiencies you may find in overall sound, are all those little silver switches and also the rotary click-stop knobs at the right side. Those began to give out early on mine.
Old 18th December 2013
  #92
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From what I recall Studiomaster marketed a lot of gear, including mixing desks such as the Series5 (which I bought in 1991) to the semi-pro market but they were very well respected in some circles. I remember hearing about some hifi test whereby someone ran some music through a number of desks and a Studiomaster was the preferred choice amongst audiofiles. Also, the EQ was well respected and is to this day. The irony is that back in the day I tried to get the cleanest signals from it; finding the cleanest signal path back and forth to tape etc … But now I regard it as a ‘dirty’ sounding desk .. it can sound very aggressive but not in a fatiguing way, not ‘thin’ but often quite ‘big’ sounding if you siphon the signal off from the inserts direct to daw.. the master-bus is a bit ‘murky’ at both frequency extremes to my ears … it rounds them both off … some people may even like that … I heard that people used to modify components to make them sound cleaner.. I knew of two very well equipped studios which preferred a moded Studiomaster to more upmarket brands. Because they’re a lot of desk for little resale value, I’m not sure that I’d ever get rid of mine. …. And all that is about the reputedly lower quality, thin script, ‘Ross’ version I believe … according to this thread at least.
Old 19th December 2013
  #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post
From what I recall Studiomaster marketed a lot of gear, including mixing desks such as the Series5 (which I bought in 1991) to the semi-pro market but they were very well respected in some circles. I remember hearing about some hifi test whereby someone ran some music through a number of desks and a Studiomaster was the preferred choice amongst audiofiles.
Hmm, interesting. But that's audiophiles, not recording people. Not that they don't have a good ear for sound, but do they consider fidelity the same way people in the music recording industry do? I don't know...


Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post
Also, the EQ was well respected and is to this day. The irony is that back in the day I tried to get the cleanest signals from it; finding the cleanest signal path back and forth to tape etc … But now I regard it as a ‘dirty’ sounding desk .. it can sound very aggressive but not in a fatiguing way,..
maybe because of the typical oscillation-cancelling capacitors in the opamp feedback loop? I've almost never seen a "non-compensated" opamp amplifier circuit without at least a a few dozen picofarads across the feedback resistor.

I own a similar-quality desk: an Allen&Heath System 8 mark III, which to my uneducated ears sounds very good. A lot more exciting than my Zoom R16...
The system 8 has TL-072 everywhere, and coupling caps, too. It's all around a much bulkier desk, weight is around 120lbs, while the Ross 16-8-16 is somewhere around 70-80lbs maybe? I will know this winter when I repair my friend's 16-8-16. It has a bunch of intermittent channels and I can't get the send/returns to work properly, as well as the meters no longer work, but that may be a blown voltage regulator circuit, which I saw when we had it open.
Old 19th December 2013
  #94
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[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2N1305 View Post
Hmm, interesting. But that's audiophiles, not recording people. Not that they don't have a good ear for sound, but do they consider fidelity the same way people in the music recording industry do? I don't know...
er.... i think they do !! . . . some of them . . :¬)
Quote:
maybe because of the typical oscillation-cancelling capacitors in the opamp feedback loop? I've almost never seen a "non-compensated" opamp amplifier circuit without at least a a few dozen picofarads across the feedback resistor.
This is another language to me … I’m not technical at all …. I guess you’re saying they have poor quality or designed circuitry ?? … and that’s what produces the distortion which some people find useful/pleasing . . . ? . . :¬)
Old 19th December 2013
  #95
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JonMiller's Avatar
I have a 32 channel Studio Master.

It's great for things that I don't want to be "too clean"

Drums, sometimes Guitars and vocals
Old 20th December 2013
  #96
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2N1305's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pqlia View Post

This is another language to me … I’m not technical at all …. I guess you’re saying they have poor quality or designed circuitry ?? … and that’s what produces the distortion which some people find useful/pleasing . . . ? . . :¬)
Well, it's a largely educated guess (that they have compensation/stabilization caps on the feedback loop) but this is usually of no concern to people who care about sound. I am usually biased towards how a product is designed, rather than how it sounds, which I know is bad.

The circuitry isn't necessarilly "poor", it's just designed the way so many other circuits of this type are designed. (run-of-the-mill, proven designs which get ever-so-cheaper with shortcuts in various parts and component quality). You'll be hard-pressed to find a nice baxandall eq or inductor-based eq circuit, or discrete transistor outputs on any of these products. (see next post, or rant, rather!)

Be that as it may, I am usually much more concerned about the overall build quality of a product, and in the case of the newer Ross-designed mixers such as the 16-8-16, the build was designed for ease-of-manufacturability, I would tend to say. IT's loaded with cheap crimped connectors, either single or ganged cable harnesses, making for inevitable intermittent contacts, which is the case of my friend's board. And cheap pushbutton switches and board-mount 1/4 inch jacks and XLR connectors. I personally like to have connectors mounted on the chassis.

Sorry for the long story. In no way am I saying that Studiomaster is not good, I'd actually take any of those over a Mackie or anything new, for that matter.
Old 20th December 2013
  #97
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As an example of how things get "cheapened" for cost-cutting, I will take my system 8 board, which I own.

I love the sound of this board, I really do, especially through the headphones. Like most people on this forum like the Studiomaster sound. I can't even begin to explain how it sounds to me, it just sounds good. You can imagine my surprise when today, I saw that the schematic portion which showed the headphone amplifier using an opamp driving a pair of complementary transistors. No biasing diodes, not even a resistive divider network to bias the transistors! Yet it sounds great!? How could a circuit which generates loads of crossover distortion (I know some of you don't understand, just follow me through here : )) sound even acceptable? They eliminated a few important (not necessary but darn close if you ask any audio designer) components to save, what, a few shillings? (it's British board). Maybe not, maybe it was lack board space, but two resistors, and two diodes? maybe even a variable resistor added to that if you wanna get fancy?

What I'm saying is that there corners cut in almost eveywhere, every type of product. I read somehwhere here on gearslutz about a manufacturing issue where the idea of accountants telling the deisngers to remove such and such components in order to be able to sell the product, or else it would simply be to expensive to build. And the comment of the designers crying over it.

I guess what I'm really getting at is that sometimes a product that is crappy (take any famous inexpensive name) and look inside or look at the schematic for repeat parts. It's not necessarily the way it was meant to be, the final product is often the result of cost-cutting measures. Which I am certain are highly objected by the concerned design teams...

If I recall correctly, the System 8 16 channel board cost around 7000$ in 1988.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #98
I used to mix on a Mixdown Classic in the late 90's with this variant:



Had a great warm tone especially overdriving the pres.

Just purchased a smaller Diamond version tonight that looks just like the pic above (same colour scheme etc..).

Curious as how the older 70's ones compared, but I got some great sounds out of the 90's era one I had. Definitely dirty and smeary though if you hit it with even moderate levels.

At the time I was always trying to get it to sound cleaner, even doing a mixdown completely inside my Akai S5000.

But now listening back to those mixes they have a vibe no sat plugins can match.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #99
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ramjac's Avatar
 

So who or what is Ross?
Old 13th March 2014
  #100
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I wonder if I lucked out on mine.....despite the crackly pots, I get none of the "noise" that I hear a lot about in these Studiomaster forums. I was doing some pre-production the other day and just taking some sound samples of an acoustic guitar and voice through some different mics. Did some tests through my Neve 1073LB, my Lindell 6x-500 pre, and then I thought....what the hey, I'll try another sample through the studio master. (which generally just sits there since I bought it and gave it a good cleaning). After I plugged in the mic and winced as I raised the gain. snap! crackle! pop!.....I set the level and started tracking. On playback there were parts of the studio master pre's that I felt were more flattering to to my setup than the Neve and the Lindell. The noise floor was not even a concern, and the eq really allowed me to add some breath to my voice.

Its pretty sweet because I basically bought 16 preamps and 16 eqs for $500.

I opened it up and everything looks original.

I'm going to pull out just one channel, and order new pots, caps, and put the opamps into sockets. If the mouser bill is friendly enough, I might tackle 4 channels a year until I have the pots replaced.
Old 13th March 2014
  #101
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pqlia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by spurratic View Post
On playback there were parts of the studio master pre's that I felt were more flattering to to my setup than the Neve and the Lindell.
Now let us sit back and watch the YouTube prices escalate !! :¬)

For me the StudioMaster (Series 5) pre is a very curious thing – it doesn’t seem to boast 'ruler flat accuracy' but in a mix context it can be the right type of sound that’s required, I’ve found.

I also find its sound hard to describe in objective terms.. it would be great if some 'techhead' could measure/analyse its response to give us StudioMaster fans a more informed understanding of what's happening to sound inside that big metal box.
Old 19th March 2014
  #102
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kingofspain's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2N1305 View Post
I am usually biased towards how a product is designed, rather than how it sounds, which I know is bad.

The circuitry isn't necessarilly "poor", it's just designed the way so many other circuits of this type are designed. (run-of-the-mill, proven designs which get ever-so-cheaper with shortcuts in various parts and component quality). You'll be hard-pressed to find a nice baxandall eq or inductor-based eq circuit, or discrete transistor outputs on any of these products. (see next post, or rant, rather!)

Be that as it may, I am usually much more concerned about the overall build quality of a product, and in the case of the newer Ross-designed mixers such as the 16-8-16, the build was designed for ease-of-manufacturability, I would tend to say. IT's loaded with cheap crimped connectors, either single or ganged cable harnesses, making for inevitable intermittent contacts, which is the case of my friend's board. And cheap pushbutton switches and board-mount 1/4 inch jacks and XLR connectors. I personally like to have connectors mounted on the chassis.
I've just been comparing schematics for the Series 5 - which I currently own - and the series 2, which I'm taking delivery of tomorrow. At first glance, the series 2 seems the more complicated of the two, so I'm hoping more parts = better sound

I've used a few Studiomaster desks over the years (proline 8-4-8R, Mixdown Gold, Series 5 etc.), they've all had the feel of a product that's built to a budget, but I've found them all strangely appealing.

Any one any experience with the Series 2 - specifically the 16-8-2:

http://www.dancetech.com/aa_dt_new/h...II_16x16x2.jpg

On paper it's a better desk - 4 band EQ (Hi/Lo shelf and semi-parametric Lo/Hi-mid), phase/mute on each track etc. Things you'd take for granted on a more expensive desk, but don't get on a lot of the cheaper stuff.

On a tangent - 2N1305, if you're still listening, why do cheaper desks exclusively use capacitors in filter circuits?
I've been reading up recently (Morgan Jones: Valve Amplifiers), and it would seem inductors do the same job, yet I've never seen one outside of my condenser mics...
Old 26th March 2014
  #103
Happened to be watching this just now and noticed one of these old Studiomasters in the beginning. Can't tell if that's a Pre-Ross one or not though.

Old 11th May 2014
  #104
That's hilarious..
Didn't really catch the studiomaster tho... I have a 12-2c with large pot nobs, solid nobs, solid faders, fantastic for tracking drums. Was surprised, as I picked it up cheaply because it was local, and I needed some analogue pres, very impressed at the eq, I'll try swapping a few op amps, to see what difference, if any, they will make. I'm lucky as the pots are clean, and the noise floor low. Am thinking about picking up another, a series 5, but this looks like the rubber pot tops, it may be a different (worse) beast, not sure, as it's a courier fee, and risk.. But still fairly cheap.. I'll post a pic up, if can figure how to do it easily..
Old 11th May 2014
  #105
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pqlia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Skeens View Post
Happened to be watching this just now and noticed one of these old Studiomasters in the beginning. Can't tell if that's a Pre-Ross one or not though.

This video is so amusing !!

I think i may make a similar one called 'what was the first 'bad' studiomaster board and how will you know if you have one'

:¬) :¬)

I 'think' my series 5 is supposed to be a 'bad' one ... but in all honesty i'm completely confused on the issue ... :¬)
Old 12th May 2014
  #106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gem69 View Post
That's hilarious..
Didn't really catch the studiomaster tho...
Check 0:05 and look to the right bottom corner.
Old 18th December 2015
  #107
I received a Studiomaster Diamond Club 16-2 yesterday. Did some comparisons with my Tascam M-320 (‘80s mixer). I ran an old funk break, an 4x4 techno drum loop and some bass sequences from an analogue monosynth into the mixers to ascertain their individual flavour, especially with focus on saturation/overdrive. Some interesting findings:

*The Tascam has TONS more headroom than the Studiomaster, I can barely get it to clip! The Tascam manual says it can handle input voltages of up to 19.5V…isn’t that insanely loud? Anway, sounds super nice on 808 kicks to beef them up without sounding distorted. Slightly annoying that the VU meters make a clicking noise every time they hit their end stop. I tend to monitor at very low levels due to ear damage.

*Low headroom is nice if you want a wide spectrum of saturation/overdrive/distortion tones. The Studiomaster goes from soft (should I say lo-fi, it muffles the high end a lot compared to the Tascam) when clean, through saturation to overdrive to full-on fuzz. To illustrate, that techno kick went from sounding like a soft 808, to a seriously beefy soft 808, then an aggressive 909 and finally close to a gabber kick. When I drove the funk break hard, cutting mids quite severely and pushing the bass up a lot whilst dialing some high end back in (as it got choked by the added bass and saturation) – I got pretty chunky results, reminded me of late ‘90s/early noughties breaks/big beat. Chemical Brothers anyone?

*No matter how hard I drove the Studiomaster, I could not get levels higher than about -10 dBFS into my DAW. I wonder if this limiting is occurring due to clipping of the master buss or if the mixer actually has an additional built-in limiter? I guess that would make some sense, bearing in mind this is a PA mixer. I used the RCA outs, by the way, so the output is -10dBu. The Tascam is calibrated so peaks hit a few dBs below full scale when the master meter reads 0 dBVU, and I believe the balanced outs give a +4dBu signal (is balanced = +4 and unbalanced = -10, or are there exceptions to this?). I had hoped to overdrive the master output on the Tascam as I have read it supposedly sounds good, but that seems impossible to achieve unless I run it into some kind of level reducing pad before reaching my converters.

*Both mixers sounded great when clipping the analogue bass synth. Tascam is fairly well-behaved as it only just manages to overdrive when the channel gain and the Murmux output (which is super loud) are maxed out, but the Studiomaster is mega rude. I noticed the best results from the Studiomaster were achieved when I pushed the master section to the max and clipped the channel less, rather than doing all the clipping in the individual channel and avoiding additional clipping from the master section (master faders set low). Got some really yummy tones, well worth the £50 it cost me.

Have not tried mixing/summing on the Studiomaster yet, but I do not expect that to be its forte. Would actually have preferred the 8- or 12-channel version as it’s very big for a “distortion pedal”, but I will make room for it somehow. It is actually fairly stable standing upright, and is not that heavy, so I could even mount it on the wall…
Old 18th December 2015
  #108
What era was your Diamond, old 90's one?

Btw the VU noise is normal, my API2500 does the same, I usually just keep it in GR mode as I/O modes are always creaking due to slamming it.
Old 19th December 2015
  #109
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RCA=-10

RCA outputs almost universally signify a -10 output (hi-fi level). To get +4, you should be looking for an XLR or a TRS.
Old 8th January 2016
  #110
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atomicostudios's Avatar
 

Eqs are great
Old 26th February 2016
  #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gem69 View Post
That's hilarious..
Didn't really catch the studiomaster tho... I have a 12-2c with large pot nobs, solid nobs, solid faders, fantastic for tracking drums. Was surprised, as I picked it up cheaply because it was local, and I needed some analogue pres, very impressed at the eq, I'll try swapping a few op amps, to see what difference, if any, they will make. I'm lucky as the pots are clean, and the noise floor low. Am thinking about picking up another, a series 5, but this looks like the rubber pot tops, it may be a different (worse) beast, not sure, as it's a courier fee, and risk.. But still fairly cheap.. I'll post a pic up, if can figure how to do it easily..
maybe someone some manual, shematics for 12-2c
how old are these boards?

Last edited by frkatonac; 26th February 2016 at 01:23 AM.. Reason: s
Old 26th February 2016
  #112
Mine said 1983 inside, I think. I'm just in the process of changing the capacitors, apparently a better tone can be had from swapping the values of a particular cap, which were used to save money at the time. Very solidly made tho. Neutrik connectors, and good faders and pots. Looking forward to hearing the difference after putting it back together.
Old 8th March 2016
  #113
njv
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWAN808 View Post
ah thanks...Im starting to have second thoughts now as its not exactly unanimous in complements...but I will keep an eye for the old version...
Hey Swan, a little late to see your post about this console. I can tell you that there is a version of the studio master that kicks ass (And its not the just the VU one, which might be awesome too just never tried one) like the one on the video you posted. However there is a newer version that looks very much the same as the older one and that one sucks. I think it was a re-issue or something I made the mistake and brought a brand new re-issue which looks just like the old one, but didn't have the same sound at all.

In the mid 90s I got a studio master desk that was used on many huge dance records from the early 90s. Ram records "Valley of the shadows" was recorded on it and I recorded a ton of dance music with it too. Listening back to those mixes, even when my experience was very limited back in those days, those mixes sonically kick ass to my modern digital crap and now I have 20+ years of experience (work that out). I've struggled ever since to find a tone like it. However it was noisy and crackled like a witch, but if I could get another just like that and have it serviced I would jump on it. It has vibe for days. Made writing music a pleasure, simple and realistic.

One thing I find with a lot of digital vs analogue talk is everyone says they can't hear the difference or that the public on their ear buds won't hear it, which is partly true, they won't hear tones that much. However the thing people are missing or don't understand is the public are not writing the music. When machines give off vibe they make you create differently, they bring out better song writing... which the public will hear!
Old 8th March 2016
  #114
njv
Gear Addict
This looks like the one I use to have and has that super thick tone if needed.
Attached Thumbnails
Studiomaster Boards....thick meaty tone-00c0c_kspm6c2v8h9_600x450.jpg  
Old 17th August 2017
  #115
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by recall View Post
Avoid that one. I had one and it was nothing but trouble. I bought it cheaply on the off chance it was good, but nit wasn't in fact it was the opposite of the "thick, meaty tone" I mention at the start of this thread.

You better off with one of the "Diamond" series. Seriously. They are PA boards but the 3 band eq is cool.

+1 to this nugget of advice. The Diamond Series from the early 1990s sound excellent. I've used one a lot as sort of a "full-featured patchbay" to sum and blend multiple hardware synths.

The EQ is simple and musical, the signal-to-noise ratio (mine is super quiet) rivals much more expensive boards, and I'd describe the overall tonal flavor as "clear, but British," if that makes sense? Sort of SSL-esque. It's subtle, but the Diamond Series boards do have a pleasing colorfulness to them.

I've never really tried mics through it (it has Phantom on every channel), though I'm sure mics would sound fine also.
For line level stuff, it's awesome, in my experience. Zero complaints.

- Skylyter -
Old 3rd October 2017
  #116
Just picked up an "8into4" with the big knobs...

https://www.finn.no/105442089

Looking forward to comparing it with my diamond club 16-2.
Old 15th October 2017
  #117
loving the 8 into 4 on my synths and vocals, the EQs alone are definitely worth the £50 I paid...a lot more too I would say. Big and smooth, quite a lot of tonal shaping options with the 16 dB boost/cut and high gain preamps. My club diamond 16-2 sounds more shrill and edgy, I suspect it will have to go although it does have a more thrashy flavour of preamp overdrive which can be useful.

weird thing though - my 8into4 is purple! Seems like a custom paint job (fades to black by the edges). All the web pics I've seen of it are with a black faceplate.
Old 10th December 2017
  #118
Gear Head
So I just got a package through the door containing an old Studiomaster Club 12 (little rotary 4 mono 4 stereo mixer), I got it off ebay just as a patchbay + EQ + sends machine really, plus it has no faders and a smaller footprint was a big factor.

It needs a bit of a clean and the pots are quite stiff, I'm thinking I'll take them all off and give it a once over.

Will report back on the sound of the thing =)
Old 5th January 2018
  #119
Here for the gear
I'm really late to the party here but I own a sessionmix 16-2 gold and really like it. I have recorded two albums through it and drums for a further album and they all came out really nicely.
It definitely adds its own flavour to everything and is somewhat 'lo-fi'. I wouldn't go boosting the EQ's too far but for rock and roll it works really well and rounds off the sound nicely.
If you are after something crisp and super clean then it is a no go but I like having the option there.

My only other experience with studiomaster other then a brief look at the digilive is an EP i recorded, under quite strange circumstances actually. The live room was the back of an old horsebox and the control room was two car boots reversed together. One containing a mixdown 16-8-16 (if i remember correctly) and the other containing the mac we were recording into. Anyway the results from this were really pleasing, very 'lo-fi' in this case but that was what the client (who mixed it) was after.

They are super affordable desks so if you get the chance, try it, you wont lose out on much and can easily sell them on but you might just love it.
Old 27th January 2018
  #120
Gear Head
ok so update, I have finally sorted my setup out and hooked up the aforementioned studiomaster RC12.

it's... noisy, obviously (that's what brusfri is for lol) but sounds amazing! very nice eqs imo. and takes up no room which is useful in my little space.

using it basically as a mono router / summing box for all my synths and toys, working really well so far. love it!
Attached Thumbnails
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