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Low maintenance $15-$30K consoles.
Old 4th July 2005
  #1
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Bones's Avatar
 

Low maintenance $15-$30K consoles.

OK ... ignoring the urge to question the budget, requirements, or my sanity for that matter, is it possible to get a few comments on choosing a nice analogue console that has proven reliable, or should I say, more reliable than others?

I am currently looking at a Soundtracs Jade-S which is included in a package deal and I have been told for example that an onboard battery for the computerised automation system (or something like that) can leak onto the PC board and be a nightmare.

I do realise that anything can go wrong and that there will always be costs involved, but my question stems from being a potential first time buyer and the assumption that there may be a few "fairly common" issues with certain consoles and the relative costs of maintenance/repairs etc.

Let's assume $15-30K and emphasis on mixing (reasonable outboard available) although will also be tracking via console.

Any tips, previous nightmares, "avoids", etc??
Old 4th July 2005
  #2
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This might be far out or then again right at it.., don't know. Have you looked at the Audient ASP8024 ? I don't know how many channels you need but at least a 24 channel version would fit that budget. Haven't used one myself but I've heard it's a pretty nice console. And low maintenance since it's NEW. This would be one of the few new consoles out there that should keep anyone dreaming of a big console happy yet to a reasonable price. Check it out, I don't remember the website adress but a google search will get you there.

For 30k you might find a Euphonix CS2000 in pretty good shape. I know people either love or hate them and that's another discussion but I know that they are unusually reliable. This since it's digitally controlled analog and thereby there can never be scratchy pots and switches. I like them a lot and would love to have one myself. Please don't start bitching about them, I know there are different opinions. the question is about maintenance and these are among the best when it comes to reliability. My opinion.

I'd say the Neve VR is among the worst. Maintenance monster. Total nightmare. If you think you've found a bargain Neve VR, think again. Some of the older Ameks (classic etc..) can have a lot of issues aswell.

The question you're asking is very important, hope you get more answers from someone who is more of a tech than I am. For me (as a potential big console buyer myself) that's perhaps the most important issue.

Have no experience with the Jade.
Old 4th July 2005
  #3
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audioez's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction
how many channels you need...
Let's start there...

As a owner of a large console, or any console that costs more than your automobile, here are some things to consider:

•You should have some tech experience in regards to studio equipment, or just have a deep wallet to pay a tech, either one works, but we know the right answer here.

•What are your requirements? ie channels #, split v inline, aux/cues, and then some...Patchbay???
Old 4th July 2005
  #4
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Hello and thanks for responses so far.

I am busy checking the Audient out on Google as I type.

Channel requirements (as well as most other focusing details) are difficult to settle on as I am primarily an artist, but will be doing some outside work.

A common track count on my material recorded at pro studios in my career has generally been under 24 and never above 32, so in terms of tape returns, I guess that 32 would be a minimum.

I have never been in a position to gain preference for inline or split consoles, but I would imagine that an inline (like the Jade-S) would take up less space.

I do have an old Soundtracs Topaz that I would probably use as a submixer for all my midi gear and samplers etc and the package deal includes a considerable quantity of outboard and processors :

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/36452-studio-sale-i-want-can-u-rate.html

The package also comes with a decent standalone ADC patchbay (and being an absolute Gear-"Hore" at heart), I will be adding to the racks as time goes by.

My main concern is reliability vs typical repair costs (I know it must be about as impossible as a mechanic getting a call saying "my car is jerking ... what is wrong with it" .... but due to the fairly considerable amount of money I am about to hand over, I found myself "suddenly" thinking over the weekend ... "what am I going to do IF and WHEN this 250lb monstrosity develops a few quirks.

I have always tried to fix things myself (I am NOT a qualified techie though) and that is where and why I am posting this question as I am sure that consoles in this price range are a little more complicated (and expensive??) to sort out compared to say my old Topaz, which I have stripped a couple of times and managed to "stumble" across the faults (dry joints, bad ribbon terminations etc).

Further to the point, I am not in the sort of ongoing financial position to float maintenance costs as such ... this will be a pocket emptying invetsment, which is why I am hoping to avoid any costly mistakes.

Thanks again.
Old 4th July 2005
  #5
Pass on the Jade.
Old 4th July 2005
  #6
Soundtracs = The Tascam of England.

Enough said.

-60 db stereo crosstalk with increasing thd with levels due to ground plane capacitive leakage. Unless you like that kind of dirt with your music.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 4th July 2005
  #7
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You should hear a Mackie large format SR onyx console. I'm not talking about the small little guys, they have big guys now too. Yeah go ahead and laugh but its clean, the eq is nice, the low end is deep, the pres are great, its got tons of punch, you can push it hard, you won't need a tech, its cheap (5300 for 48 channel 8 busses), it looks pretty cool (I'm making a meterbridge for mine), and you can make world class mixes on it.

The downside is the faders feel only so so, not wonderful, the knobs are kinda Mackie style cheap. Not modular. Sure its completely not what you were asking for in your much bigger budget... But for me, I don't think its a good idea getting a console in the 15k range because what you get isn't all that good and usually needs work and a steady tech and it won't sound much better then the Midas in front of me (5,000 bucks as well) or that Mackie I was talking about. If you're going to go big, get an SSL 4000 or even a 900 or a 16 channel Neve sidecar or API... you'll hear the difference there. I mixed a song for some dude in Rhode Island last year and I think it was a Jade, and it was only so so.

Some of the best deals for consoles are not in old recording consoles, but new SR boards like the Midas Verona as well... Just a different perspective.. Not what you were looking for but oh well.

Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Old 4th July 2005
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Take a look at Neotek Elite and Elan. They're built well and sound great. You can get them new too. They are owned by Sytek.
Old 4th July 2005
  #9
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eightyeightkeys's Avatar
Just another option check out the guys at Teletech.
www.teletech.ca
I've dealt with them for years and years. Patrick is a top notch tech and can tell you what's what in their used console dept. There's a Neotek Elan (and a bunch of others) on their site going for about 12k CDN.
Old 4th July 2005
  #10
Gear Addict
 
peeceebee's Avatar
 

Keep away from Harrison-
(unless you like spendin' your time rebuilding consoles...)
Old 5th July 2005
  #11
w2w
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Second on the Neotek,they are now making a scaled down Elan starting around 12 to 15K.Something to think about,brand new,better than most mass produced stuff in the same price range.I might be biased being a Neotek owner,but you just might be too if you owned one!!
Old 5th July 2005
  #12
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xaos's Avatar
 

Tactle Technology m4000. I'm on my second and have not encountered a problem. Thrill?
Old 5th July 2005
  #13
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Mike O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeceebee
Keep away from Harrison-
(unless you like spendin' your time rebuilding consoles...)
Care to provide a little more insight/experience? Much appreciated, if available.
Old 5th July 2005
  #14
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaos
Tactle Technology m4000. I'm on my second and have not encountered a problem.
for 500 jim williams does a killer master/monitor mod thumbsup
Old 5th July 2005
  #15
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Just a note: Since your in England, the Audient might also factor in a little better as they are based in England, so any potential maintenance issues should be a snap to fix.

Also for tracking they have class-A Mic pre's.

Audient seems to be more popular in Europe than here in the U.S., maybe due to location/shipping costs.

There might even be one in London for you to check out personally (I'd be surprised if there wasn't).

Just some thoughts.

Fleaman
Old 5th July 2005
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Bones's Avatar
 

Thanks for all the responses and tips.

I have checked out the Audient and it looks VERY NICE INDEED.

The Neotek range must be a candidate (read a lot about them here), but I think for my purposes they will require some further investigation from me as I couldn't find a brochure or detailed breakdown to take a look at, whereas the Audient has a nice pdf brochure online.

One thing is for certain ... the Jade-S is gonna be a no-go with me ... thanx for advice here!!!!!!!

During some pre-posting research (I am a newcomer to posting here ... but been leeching for AGES) I did see "Thrill" mentioning that he refers to the Jade as a "vanilla" console and although I am HIGHLY in-experienced with this calibre of console, I did read a review from Hugh Robjohns in the March 2000 SOS where he mentioned (in a completely positive way) that the Audient is very transparent and neutral sounding with little or no character.

Although there will be different strokes for different folks on this issue, is that not something to consider at that price, in a similar way to the Jade's "vanilla" or mediocre references??

I am sure that some people look for color/flavor and others look for features etc, but put it this way ... anyone out there actually used one of these Audients before??
(I will be searching the GS archives after posting this, so turn off those flamers if this has been covered before).

Hmmm ... I can see this becoming the stereo-typical rundown of consoles to choose from etc and I really didn't mean it to go this way, as my main concern was maintenance, but I am starting to consider the issue of "rather spend less on something that has a nice sound, or save up for the tried and tested BIG-BOY consoles" .... perhaps I should swing my focuses on a Trident or something similar and treat the wife to a nice holiday with the change??

Nah ... forget that ... 2 x La2a's and some acoustic treatment rather!!

Thanks again for assistance.

Cheers
Old 5th July 2005
  #17
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I've used the Audient before.

My time was limited and I was unfamiliar with the material being played through it, but what was coming off the 2" and through the console sounded very clean to me. But, this is what I call a colored 'clean', meaning, it was smooth and full, not harsh like a mackie. In this case I would prefer the color (?) of the Audient over a Mackie ANYDAY.

Be careful with that abused term 'Colored'. 'Clean' and 'Neutral' can mean downright 'Warm' when comparing to a Mackie 8-bus.

If you really want good vintage 'Color', then the only way to get it with a console would be with a very expensive and usually high maintenance console like an API, some Neve's, maybe a Daking (Maintenance unknown for this one), etc.

The 'Color' you will get with a low to mid-line console like a Soundtracs is not the color you want. Well, it's not the color I would want. Unless you like your audio to have a filtered quality to it. Unless I can swing an API (for example), I would rather get a clean/smooth console for a reasonable buck and have some colored tools in the rack. To some, this actually gives you more flexibility with color as your console will not be imprinting its color over all your tracks.
BTW, API is rather clean/smooth/punchy compared to say a Neve 80 series (even though you could apply those same terms to a Neve too).

Confused yet?

Neotek is also along the lines of a clean console....clean and smooth, not harsh. Some call this neutral.

Neutral is not bad when you consider many of the alternatives

Keep in Mind that Neotek is based here in the States and they are a very small company these days, so you will either have to fly over here to check it out, and/or have it shipped to London if you decide to purchase one.



Fleaman
Old 5th July 2005
  #18
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Just to make myself clear, I was referring to Mackies new Onyx console which was designed from the ground up from inputs, to eqs, to summing, and it sounds world class. The older Mackie stuff like the recording 8 buss console sounds like garbage to me, sterile and thin. Neotek Elites have never done anything to make me rave about them, nor has any mid line console. The Trident 80 stuff is kinda cool but not quite as TIGHT as some of the new technology boards. Obviously out of your price range but all the new SSL K stuff is super, including the 900. Punchy open and big, I almost cried when I had to leave that thing. They had to tempt me off it with strippers and booze.

Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Old 5th July 2005
  #19
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Yes, I was talking about the 8-buss Mackie. Haven't dealt with the new Onyx.

BTW, I've found that even the smaller 1604 Mackie was better than the 8-buss Mackies.

Fleaman
Old 5th July 2005
  #20
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crypticglobe's Avatar
Another vote for the Neotek here. Great console for your price range. Great EQ's, very clean. The channels actually go on ebay all the time for a pretty little penny. Summing is great.... just a great console.
Old 5th July 2005
  #21
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Adebar's Avatar
The BC3 from ADT could fit your needs. It is modular and you cn order like you need it. For 30000 € you can have a 24 channel version.
http://www.adt-audio.com/UsProducts/...3MainPage.html
Old 6th July 2005
  #22
rll
Gear Maniac
 

Ditto on the Neotek, plus Mike Stoica has been a hell of a nice guy and goes the distance everytime.

rll
Old 6th July 2005
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

You should check out the TL Audio VTC consoles. They also have a new M4 tube console that looks great. I think the VTC starts at around 25-30k. I have 2 M3's, they aren't the most flexible mixers but they sound excellent.
http://www.tlaudio.co.uk/tlaudio/docs/products/m4.shtml
http://www.tlaudio.co.uk/tlaudio/doc...tc_users.shtml
Old 6th July 2005
  #24
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Sony MXP-3000.....worth a look.

http://www.wesdooley.com/aea/Sony_MXP3000.html


Randy Blevins has some listed:

http://www.blevinsaudioexchange.com/consoles.html

Cheers,

Kris
Old 6th July 2005
  #25
Watch out for Sony MPX-3000. No support, the "hybrid" modules based on the lowly 5532 opamps are not available so if you blow one you're SOL.
Consider consoles which have some parts support, not discontinued console makers like Sony.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 6th July 2005
  #26
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Quote:
No support, the "hybrid" modules based on the lowly 5532 opamps are not available so if you blow one you're SOL.
About these "hybrid" modules, what are they, 5532's, maybe a couple of discrete transistors out front? If schematics exist I would think it'd be pretty easy to get some PCBs made up and stuffed (www.expresspcb.com). What sort of footprint are these? Are they potted modules?

The 5532 isn't a bad opamp....it's just a common one, and is good for line level applications at moderate impedances. Its far better IMO than the TL072. Was the XMP 'hybrid' amp a marketing thing?

Cheers,

Kris
Old 6th July 2005
  #27
These are thick film sip modules which are dipped in black epoxy. A couple of transistors in front of the lowly 5532 opamp. I've never been able to get any details out of Sony on these as a couple of surfboards would be a great way to sub these. It's that 'ol beatles song and dance;
"Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey".

Maybe Randy B. has some internal info on these.

Yes, the 5532 is a great opamp, if it's still 1975. The 8088 processor was great on those 'ol 8 bit computers too. Try to do anything on those today.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 6th July 2005
  #28
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Wow, pretty lame of Sony to abbandon support, and not provide information to users regarding how to build up their own replacement parts. Kinda leaves them in a situation like Sontec users...try and get a replacement opamp for one of those.

Yeah, there's lots more op-amps with better specs than the 553X series (I like the OPA627, and OPA213X, and Linear makes some cool opamps too), but there doesn't seem to be many(any?) console manufacturers using them in their designs.

Thanks for your input Jim!

Cheers,

Kris
Old 6th July 2005
  #29
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Remember, the original poster wanted a Low maintenance console, i.e., reliable and/or easy to fix...probably still with factory support.

Fleaman
Old 6th July 2005
  #30
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studjo's Avatar
 

I know I'm late to the party but I bought my little D&R 5years ago second hand (built in 97 as far as I know). Maintenance costs around: 1000$ (I'm a hack tech - someone with a clue would get those mic pres working almost without money). D&R is still building desks today. They're all on the clean side (not Mackie clean). Check em out - those things are really good and very underrated IMNSHO.

The Neotek is a nice desk too.

Jo
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