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Toft ATB Inquiry - Headroom - Mods
Old 8th April 2009
  #1
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Toft ATB Inquiry - Headroom - Mods

Hey gang,

I'm investigating the Toft ATB24. Possibly getting one a bit down the road this year. I've heard great things about the EQs and it seems like the V2 boards are a bit more durable.

My real question is about the headroom of the board. I've heard it isn't the best. I'm fully aware that for this price, you get an amazing set of features and a very flexible board.

What could be done, mod-wise to increase the headroom of the board? Have any of you done such work to your ATBs? How'd it go? How much did you have to spend? Was there a large improvement?
I've also heard of people modding the master section.


Looks like a great desk, just investigating what it would take to improve the headroom and step it up another notch.

Thanks for your time slutz!!

-E
Old 8th April 2009
  #2
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Dave Peck's Avatar
 

A few folks (me included) have done a simple mod by replacing all of the 072 op amps in the master section ( and in my case, also in four of the eight subgroups) with ultra-fast & accurate Linear Tech LT1355 op amps. It's a pin-for-pin compatable DIP IC so you just pull the 072's out of the sockets & replace them with the LT's. No soldering required. It's not a headroom mod, but it does improve the clarity & transient response in the summing circuits. Check out the specs for the IC at the Linear Tech web site for info. Total cost was about a couple of hundred bucks. Less if you only do the master section.
Old 8th April 2009
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELI-173 View Post
My real question is about the headroom of the board. I've heard it isn't the best.
That's interesting, because when I heard and used the board I didn't notice a problem with its headroom character.
Old 8th April 2009
  #4
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Hey Dave,

Thanks for the info, man! That's the sort of thing I was talking about. Not only for headroom, but general hot-rodding.

Adam,

That might very well be the case! I've been reading a lot of people's comments on the board etc, obviously that's just 'their mileage' but I thought I'd put the feelers out.

Obviously it's a great desk, otherwise I wouldn't be considering buying one!

I know that Firlotte modded the master section of dirty halo's board, any other notes would be cool

-E
Old 8th April 2009
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELI-173 View Post
I've been reading a lot of people's comments on the board etc, obviously that's just 'their mileage' but I thought I'd put the feelers out.
Sounds like they are driving to fast to me.
Old 8th April 2009
  #6
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heyman's Avatar
I will take Adam Brass's comments further. As someone who has used the board (stock, pilot program) for over 2 years now, As long as you dont push the board too hard, it does a great job.

Anyone "pushing" the board too hard will get some harshness that isnt considered pleasing, at least not to me.. This is not an old board that sounds sweeter the harder you push it.

Watch your levels and you will be fine..
Old 8th April 2009
  #7
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Heyman,

Thanks for the comment. I'm wondering if there is something that could be done so that you could drive the board a bit (not that this is my thing) and have it be more pleasing. I think it's great that they made the board easy to modify and repair.

good to know you can work at normal levels and get great results
Old 8th April 2009
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELI-173 View Post
Heyman,

Thanks for the comment. I'm wondering if there is something that could be done so that you could drive the board a bit (not that this is my thing) and have it be more pleasing. I think it's great that they made the board easy to modify and repair.

good to know you can work at normal levels and get great results
I would suggest doing that with your outboard equipment using limiters. I would also suggest that this console is already a very good sounding desk. If you have to mod it before you even hear it, its probably not the right product for your studio, however that's just my staunch opinion. It would seem to me, that any mods would void the warranty, which I think is a BAD IDEA [unless I'm wrong]. I think there is no reason to "drive" this console. Its not that kind of product.
Old 8th April 2009
  #9
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Hey Adam,

I would obviously use it first and check it out before I modded it. It seems that more than a few people have been even more pleased with the desk after modding the master section, so why ignore that, especially at such a low additional cost?

I'm just a curious guy when it comes to gear, and love investigating these things, that doesn't mean that it's the wrong product for me. I've got a great setup now, been collecting gear for ages, but was thinking about moving from a summing/hybrid setup back to a desk setup.

In terms of driving the board, I wasn't asking about that because I want to pummel the inputs, but was curious about how it handles hotter levels when and if that happens while working.

I did the same types of research with cars when I was into that when I was younger. I enjoy that sort of thing!

Thanks for all of the info people!
Old 8th April 2009
  #10
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lucey's Avatar
Keep the master out of the red leds and you're fine. If you push the channels they have a FET/76-ish sound for a second and then they crap out totally. A fine line.

The master section and headphone outs are all dirty, but if it's too much or cool is up to you. Try it first, don't assume you need mods. I may have started the mod craze on my private music using the pilot board, but I was mixing from 2" 16 and you're probably not.
Old 8th April 2009
  #11
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Hey Lucey,

Hope you've been well.

Thanks for the info on the desk. I would love to be working with 2" 16! It's been a while. Using Myteks over here.
Old 8th April 2009
  #12
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BradM's Avatar
Or an Audio Upgrades modded Soundcraft Delta is another option for a modded used console. Someone was selling a 16 channel Delta 200 in the classifieds for $600. Mod pricing is per channel. Contact Jim Williams at Audio Upgrades for more info. If you want something audiophile grade and ridiculously transparent then this may be a good option for you.

Brad
Old 8th April 2009
  #13
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lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELI-173 View Post
Hey Lucey,

Hope you've been well.

Thanks for the info on the desk. I would love to be working with 2" 16! It's been a while. Using Myteks over here.
I am well, thanks, except taxes are due. My dad has recovered as well, thanks. If you want to hear my own brand of 2" 16 rock music I've posted the files in this thread. Hope you like low end.
Old 9th April 2009
  #14
Gear Head
 

If you want to get a feel for the sound of the Toft, check out Once Upon a Time in the West by a band called Hard-Fi. I believe it was tracked and mixed on the ATB.

I had the opportunity to test out the Toft in my studio and the eqs are very smooth. I was told that the eq circuit is identical to the 80B. Best of luck!
Old 9th April 2009
  #15
Lives for gear
People have been modding consoles since the dawn of...well...consoles. Given the reasonable price of the Toft I think its logical to assume that the parts are fairly run of the mill.

All in all I think its a great idea to investigate the upgade potential before buying.
Old 9th April 2009
  #16
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lucey's Avatar
It's full of TL072s, they're cheap and dirty sounding 30 cent parts from 30 years ago. The whole point of the IC sockets was to allow chip rolling. It was planned into the price point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Radio View Post
I was told that the eq circuit is identical to the 80B
.... without the transformers
Old 9th April 2009
  #17
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Brian,

Isn't the only transformer on an 80b the one one the mic amp? And it feeds a 5534. I don't think that there are any other transformers on the board at all....let alone ones that are involved with a TLO72. I THINK that's right.

Kirt Shearer

Last edited by kbshearer; 9th April 2009 at 04:53 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 9th April 2009
  #18
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Hey there, sorry it took a bit to get back to you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ELI-173 View Post
Hey gang,

I'm investigating the Toft ATB24. Possibly getting one a bit down the road this year. I've heard great things about the EQs and it seems like the V2 boards are a bit more durable.

My real question is about the headroom of the board. I've heard it isn't the best. I'm fully aware that for this price, you get an amazing set of features and a very flexible board.

What could be done, mod-wise to increase the headroom of the board? Have any of you done such work to your ATBs? How'd it go? How much did you have to spend? Was there a large improvement?
I've also heard of people modding the master section.


Looks like a great desk, just investigating what it would take to improve the headroom and step it up another notch.

Thanks for your time slutz!!

-E
Hey there E,

Sorry to take a bit to get back to you, busy busy, but my apologies all the same.

Soooo... Yes, I modded my Toft ATB 24 2-buss. basically, I just wanted to see if I could give the center section a bit more headroom and a bit more punch. I happened to like the sound of the Inward Connections gear, but any tech that you like could do their own mods too. The way the Toft is built is like a big console, since nothing is surface mounted, it allows you to do mods.

I simply had Inward add the same center section blocks and transformer they use on their summing mixer and new Tree Audio console, which helped a lot.

That said, I think the Toft 2-buss is perfectly fine, but I just thought it would be nice to see if I could add a bit of an original sound to it. In my opinion, our mod did open up the sound some and give it more weight... if you do the same, let me know how you mod yours... and best of luck! thumbsup

Regards,

Andrews
Old 9th April 2009
  #19
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lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbshearer View Post
Brian,

Isn't the only transformer on an 80b the one one the mic amp? And it feeds a 5534. I don't think that there are any other transformers on the board at all...
When I worked on an 80b it had a weight and muscular thickness that the ATB doesn't have. In retrospect I 'assumed' that to be line transformers if Toft says the circuits are the same, but maybe I'm wrong?
Old 9th April 2009
  #20
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subspace's Avatar
Just to be academic, the Series 80 only has transformers on the mic inputs and they feed a TL071-based pre. There are no TL072s in a Series 80, but that's splitting hairs. The early ones did have discrete transistor output drivers, which were changed to NE5534s in later production. If you're going to play with chips, I'd look at what's driving the outputs first, as TL07x are much better catchers than pitchers...
Old 14th April 2009
  #21
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delasoul's Avatar
 

my toft mod

hey hey, i jus had jim williams upgrade a channel on mine. im guna take it back to him so he can do the master section too. and probly another channel (so i can have stereo hehe), but that channel has since become clearer and more transient! the highs are higher and the lows... are somehow clearer..i freakin love it!

he did all kinds of stuff to that one channel... replaced the caps with bigger ones, replaced all the opamps... a bunch of stuff he did i didnt catch cuz he talks quick and im just a simple minded engineer.

i suppose its like buying a car, stock. it works perfectly and runs great (sounds great), and i think you wont find anything better in this price range, and if you really want it to shine, then modify the chuck norris out of it!
Old 14th April 2009
  #22
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Kris's Avatar
Nice. Jim has stated that if someone brought him in an ATB he would run an analysis on it and publish the specs. You should remind him and let him do so before he mods the master section.
Old 14th April 2009
  #23
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BradM's Avatar
Jim,

Are those AP results before or after you did the mod? Also I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how the modded ATB compares to the modded Delta 200, which I know you are a fan of.

thanks,
Brad
Old 14th April 2009
  #24
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ELI-173's Avatar
 

Hey Jim,

Thanks for the info. Very informative. Curious to what you see in the master section as well.
Old 15th April 2009
  #25
All tests except where noted were done on stock channels. The intention was to determine what it was before I messed around with it.

What was interesting to me was first the noise floor on the master. I didn't do an unweighted signal to noise test as the time was too short. I did notice the noise floor remained constant whether channels were assigned or not, whether the faders were up or not. The noise did go away when the master fader was attenuated. This I don't notice in other designs including the 80B. My similar sized Delta 200 24 channel console is silent in comparison.

The other item was the stereo crosstalk. -58 db as a straight line is unusual. Most consoles show better crosstalk at lower frequencies, falling off at higher frequencies like 10k hz. -60 db crosstalk at 10k hz is common, but most with that spec will show better than -70 db at 1k hz. That requires further study to determine the cause but one is I suspect the pan pot design. This console uses a single pan pot with the wiper as ground and the left/right buss feeds at the other pins. Most consoles use a dual pan pot with each one wired as an attenuator for better channel cut off. My Delta uses that type of pot in the feedback loop of an opamp pan buffer. It gets -90 db at 10k hz crosstalk.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 15th April 2009
  #26
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BradM's Avatar
You know, I was looking at the published specs for the ATB in the online manual and they don't agree with what you measured at all. Toft paints a much better picture of the ATB's performance in their published specs. How does that happen?

Did you take measurements post-mod?

Brad
Old 15th April 2009
  #27
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buschfsu's Avatar
love to hear the master section mods
Old 15th April 2009
  #28
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BradM's Avatar
This is all very enlightening. Jim, in your honest opinion have you come across any new production console that has performance you would feel meets your criteria for professional use? Is there anything new out there you have used that is designed to high standards...in any price range?

I think I'll stick with the Soundcraft Delta.

Brad
Old 15th April 2009
  #29
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Kris's Avatar
Thanks Jim. I wish I was in your neck of the woods. I'd love to look over your shoulder sometime!
Old 15th April 2009
  #30
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buschfsu's Avatar
jim i was reading jensens paper on op amp stabilization http://www.jensen-transformers.com/an/an001.pdf

made me think of a few things after reading your posts.

one he says that .1uf monolithic ceramics were usually very effective for power supply decoupling and the other thing was that some of the TI opamps have current limiting resistors built into them.

do either of these apply to my atb?
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