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Tascam M-3500 and M-3700 mixers
Old 30th July 2002
  #1
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XHipHop's Avatar
Tascam M-3500 and M-3700 mixers

Hey everyone, this is my first post and i thought it'd be perfect in this forum. I'm about to move into a new house with a much bigger control room than i had before (the new one is something like 20' X 15' but it's not rectangular..there's a few shapes).

Anyway, I'm a digi 001 guy and this room is going to look sooooo empty with the gear i currently have. I'm about to sell my Spirit 328 Digital Mixer so i'd like to get some sort of anologue mixer in the studio that would:

a.) look impressive to clients.
b.) allow me to do some external summing and use some outboard gear.

I've read VERY little about these Tascam boards but they look really cool, are very affordable, and are upgradeable (http://home.earthlink.net/~ralaudio/upgrades.html).

SO, has anyone used them? I could probably get the M3500 (no automation) for about $1500 (maybe a little less). I'm still looking for prices on teh the M-3700.

When i did a google search i found them on an old sweetwater.com advertisement for $9999 and up. So obviously these boards cost a pretty penny back in the day.

Also, in bass player magazine i found an article that said James Hattfield from Metallica had a M-3500 in his personal studio.

Ok, so what's the word???

Thanks for any help,
Bob
Old 30th July 2002
  #2
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
It's been a while since I've used an M3500. The difference between the 35 and 37 is that the 3700 has automation. The major shortcoming of those desks is that they are unbalanced and -10 only. There is no balanced +4 signal anywhere on them. I was thinking of buying one about two years ago and came really close to doing it.

I heard stories about bad grounding problems, noisy summing amps and things like that which are all fixable with upgrades. However, the deciding factor for me was that some people said it wasn't a huge step up from the Mackie 8-buss I was using at the time. I decided to take a loan of a few grand and buy a Trident 65 from a friend. But, I know several people with stock or modded 3500's that like them a lot. Try and spend some time on one before you decide on it.

If you were going to look at other consoles what kind of budget do you have? Keep in mind you'll need cabling, patchbays, maybe a tech for a day or two to fix any problems and other things that you haven't thought of yet.
Old 30th July 2002
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
audiogeek1's Avatar
 

The M3500 and 3700 are really good consoles in their respective price ranges. I owned an M3500 for 6 years and had no problems with it except that I could not find the LA3500 which is the +4 option for either desk. The other alternative was going with the LA80/81 +4/-10 switchers that tascam has on their site but they are a little expensive for 8 channels 1 direction. As far as the sound of the console goes I think it sounds really good, it is definitely not a NEVE or API but it looks and sounds great. The main faders are also some of the nicest feeling faders with a great taper to them. It is definitely a good buy from someone who has taken care of the board and some even come with the +4 option.

Hope that helps,
Mike
Old 31st July 2002
  #4
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davemc's Avatar
 

I had a M3500, changed the op amps to burr brown 2604? and the desk sounded better for the couple of hundred to DIY. The summing is a bit noisey, only went direct out to daw so never really looked at it, it seems very sensitive to grounding, only -10.

I prefered it stock to a mackie(it looks and feels more real) , but if you are doing a lot of work that will show the noise floor, it will show it.

On the good side, it looks cool, the faders are real nice, the eq is usable, get the one with the full meter bridge. Audio upgrades does some changes.

Although there are a lot of MCI or tridents going a lot cheaper then when I was looking 6-7 years ago.. so check around.
Old 31st July 2002
  #5
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XHipHop's Avatar
thanks for the info everyone. i don't know anything about MCI desks...where could i look for some info?

Also, does anyone have any experience with a Tac Matchless desk?

thanks again!
Old 31st July 2002
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by XHipHop
thanks for the info everyone. i don't know anything about MCI desks...where could i look for some info?

Also, does anyone have any experience with a Tac Matchless desk?

thanks again!
I just this evening "retired" a TAC Magnum console. It's a nice piece that I only "retired" because movers rendered it unusable. It's got nice EQ, great routing and good "curb appeal." It's 7 1/2 feet long and impresses people. It's pretty easy to get a sound on. I believe the Matchless was the predecessor to the Magnum, but I could be wrong. The very first project I did with it I only used the board’s preamps, and it turned out nicely.
Old 31st July 2002
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Diginerd's Avatar
 

Heyas,

I had an M-3700 for 4 years or so. For the price you can buy them at the moment they are a great budget desk. You say you are a 001 guy so I doubt that the -10 issue will be a problem for you.

It's not the most silent thing there is (but mods help a lot) and the Low end of the EQ is a bit of a pain... Fixed High, Fixed Low (100Hz I think) and two sweepable mids. Audo Upgrades changes the ranges and slopes on the EQ and makes it much better.

One MAJOR point to note is that on the M-3700 there is a significant tonal change when you switch the VCA in and out of circuit. The mix becomes much darker with alll the VCAs in. I just used multi outs from ALISHAD and did my levels in there. I left the automation alone. Audio upgrades also can fix the VCA issue.

The only thing is that by the time you get them to upgrade the whole desk then you may as well of got something better anyway. IMHO it dfegad on the mackie 8 bus. Not as clean, not as quiet, but much more organic and warm. It also, to quote an old friend "Gives good client!" It looks the business (unless you have a fetish for spending the price of a large ranch on a console!)

I had a European one (living in the UK), which comes with the full meter bridge, and the tape returns were on 1/4" jacks. The manual mentions a USA & Canada model which has RCA connectors for the tape returns.

I sold my M-3700 3 months ago for £1400 sterling, which is about fair (slightly on the cheap side).

For that price you can't go wrong, just make sure you have someone help you lift it as it's built like a tank!
Old 31st July 2002
  #8
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Welcome to GS... tis the best forum by far.... bar mixermans commentary on working witha stellar producer.. what a pisser!

OK lets get serious...

Tell us a budget and ill let s the dogs out to sniff ya out the best deal.

I know of heaps of serious console that can be had for little money just because they dont have a Neve or APi name or heritage associated with them...

how many channels are r u seriosuly looking for?

How much power drain can u afford physically and financially!

there are some really nice sidecars around which have great Eq and could be just what u ordered depenisg ont he amount of channels..

Keep us posted and we'll sniff u out something to get some headroom into ya 001!!!!

PEACE
wiggy
Old 31st July 2002
  #9
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sonic dogg's Avatar
Welcome to the forum....as has been stated, tascam products are quite usable...i spent a lot of hours on several of their consoles and have never been dissappointed...the 3500 is a very good board for thr money and they are client friendly...when i up-graded recently i almost bought one..there was a mention of the noise floor...the more channels you use the higher the floor...with the burr-brown upgrade to the pres this will not be an issue..with the +10 and the 001 ..not an issue for you...I took the plunge on my upgrade and went with soundcraft ghost..i got 32 channels and basic automation for around $4k...the pres on the soundcraft are IMHO, about the same amount of upgrade to the tascam as the tascam is to the mackie and they look good too!plus everything is balanced and so extremely patchable and flexible....it all depends on yer budget...good luck and welcome
Old 31st July 2002
  #10
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XHipHop's Avatar
I'm just about to get rid of my Spirit 328 digital board so i'm familiar with the Ghost preamps (these are the same). I'm probably going to get one of the small Spirit M series mixers so i have a few channels of those preamps around just in case i miss them.

But i really need something that is 24 or 32 channels to get me by in the meantime. Maybe i could pick up a used ghost w/o automation... hmm.

I have about $1000-$4000 to spend at the moment but i could wait a little while and go up to the $10,000 mark in the fall if the right thing comes along.

I'm basically planning on using the mixer to sum up my analogue signals and so that i have no latency when using some of my outboard gear.

Also, impressing clients with something cool looking will be a MAJOR plus if i can pull it off on this budget.
Jay, your trident looks sexy!!!
Old 31st July 2002
  #11
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XHipHop's Avatar
ps. i'll be honest, the more searching i do on neotek stuff, the more i want to sell my car and get one.

ohhhhh noooooo....i'm becoming a gear slut!!!
Old 1st August 2002
  #12
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

:eek:
ohhhhh noooooo....i'm becoming a gear slut!!!

.......Welcome to the club....

When is Dr Jules oging to start prescribing gearslut methadone???????

cos im at the top of the Que and waiting..... nah is better to be a gear slut than a reformed one..???

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 1st August 2002
  #13
Gear Nut
 
Diginerd's Avatar
 

Hi,

My Name's Rob, and I'm a GearSlut. I haven't bought gear for 3 days now...
Old 1st August 2002
  #14
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davemc's Avatar
 

My name is Dave.
I have already brought a PCM91 and a 96 way patchbay this week.
I am currently bidding on a pre on ebay and I am trying a U99 tomorrow. Please help me......
Old 1st August 2002
  #15
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sonic dogg's Avatar
....g..e..a..r....s...l....u......t.....z.........
ok...so i didnt buy anything...i built cables and a couple of my songwriting team brought over 2 sde-1000 digital delays..so i got to rack em.....get a little shiver each time something goes in the rack...................g....e...a...r...s...l...u..t...z.......'ats whut i yam!
Old 1st August 2002
  #16
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sonic dogg's Avatar
oh yeah...BTW...Xhiphop, if you really want to impress the clients..theres a harrison mr4 on ebay...really really BIG....and i thought i saw a sony dmx100 on there too......peace
Old 1st August 2002
  #17
Gear Addict
 

If you can live w/o the board for a while, you might wait until you can afford something you are less likely to outgrow, say a Trident, Neotek, MCI, Quad Eight, D&R, et al. Also bear in mind that you'll get a better deal on boards with 16 returns, since we live in a 24+ track world these days. Coming off a DAW, 16 can often be plenty if you don't mind doing a bit of internal summing.

Spend the money you have in other ways that will improve your work. Maybe acoustics, better monitoring, headphone distributution, patchbay, your lounge facilities. This stuff doesn't always look as pro as a huge board, but can make a big difference.

Also, keep an eye out for how the Digi002 might effect your market. Specs are meaningless w/o the chops to back them up, but consider if someone advertising 32 tracks of 24/96 could draw business away from your 24 tracks of 24/48.

Bear
Old 1st August 2002
  #18
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by XHipHop

I have about $1000-$4000 to spend at the moment but i could wait a little while and go up to the $10,000 mark in the fall if the right thing comes along.
Send me an email. [email protected]. I know of a console that might fit your plans and budget. Since I'm moving and my gear is in storage right now I actually considered it but can't spare the bread right now. Where are you located?
Old 1st August 2002
  #19
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

Hey Bear...

Which 16 track 'upper end' boards are you suggesting....I've been following this pretty closely, and am quasi-shopping for a used board (monitoring from within DAW is a challenge...at best). Rarely (if ever) do we go more than 16 tracks, and Samplitude's internal mixer is easy to work with but a bit limited, so internal summing has always been in the cards.

Ken (and XHipHop by proxy I assume...)
Old 1st August 2002
  #20
Gear Addict
 

It seems that pretty much anything w/ 16 returns sells for a good deal less proportionately than the 24 return itterations. MCI, Trident, and Neotek, this always seems the case. Though I think some of the Trident models only have 16 returns, no ifs ands or buts. Also, you might keep an ear to the ground to see if studios in your area are going from 16 to 24 track decks, as they might be doing a board upgrade as well, and sell the oldie at a good price. Also, split configurations are almost always going cheaper than comparable inline configs, because in most cases space is at a premium. If someone gave me a big API, Neve, what have you, I would start crying not from joy but from self pity for not having the space to install it.

Word is part of why Quad Eight didn't survive is the transition to twenty four track decks. They had been *the* top rung American console manufacturer, but 24 tracks came out and API hit the market at the same time with the 560 eq. I think those who lived through it say Quad Eight had a better signal path (I'm guessing in terms of purity), but API had the whiz-bang eq. I think Quad Eight had to redesign their architecture for the eight extra tracks as well.

Interesting side note, Deane Jensen had been at Quad Eight, and with his company the transformers and his 990 opamp design were intially touted as sonic upgrades for API consoles.

Bear
Old 2nd August 2002
  #21
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sonic dogg's Avatar
Hey Ya....So I'm hangin out at my local pro audio store and they tell me...gee, ya know we've got a ghost in the back...and sure nuff they do....really nice shape...24 channel...and for you DAW recordists, its an LE...no automation...so for all who are interested ...X...whoever...give a shout out...the price is real good and they're a pro store and know how to ship.....peace
Old 2nd August 2002
  #22
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Knox's Avatar
 

I have a DDA (pic in Gearslutz classified thread) for sale that I will give a good deal on. Very impressive size for clients, great board. If you need info . . . email me
[email protected]
Old 5th August 2002
  #23
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

try Randy Belvins @ blevinsaudioexchange.com...

he has a ncie old Ward beck console that would be beter than most other around and they have very good preamps/Eq for $2500.. check it
Old 5th August 2002
  #24
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XHipHop's Avatar
ok, i've thrown the tascam idea out the window. while i'm sure it's not the worst board in the world, i will probably be better off holding onto that money and putting it towards something that will create some "draw".

it's just that the tacam would really impress some of my younger, more naive clients "whoa, that mixer looks really cool."

since i'm moving next week, i'm going to sit down and look at how quick i think i can generate money to move up to the next level.

i'm located currently in central NJ but i'm going to be living full time in the pocono PA area (right off rt. 80). i've had a small project studio in that area for a year and now i'm going to be moving it into a house i just bought.

if anyone wants to forward me any of their ideas or hot gear deals, my email address is [email protected]

thanks again for all the help and for giving me the advice to hold on a bit.

bob
Old 5th August 2002
  #25
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sonic dogg's Avatar
yer welcome bob...and jeeez if you can get that ward-beck ya ought to do it...they sound like the candian version of neves...seriously.....and theyre usually big and bulky with large impressive vu's that light up and all...i did hear about a trident 24 for sale here in oregon... a pro studio that went to an SSL...spare parts and all... check..www.thelmas.com.....good luk
Old 5th August 2002
  #26
Lives for gear
 
XHipHop's Avatar
i was browsing the message boards at recordingconsoles.net and i read that some of the switches on ward beck consoles start going really fast. it's on my list, but not one of the top 5 candidates.

on the other hand, that trident looks awesome!!!! i'm going to call later this evening and find out what i can about it. if that falls in my price range, i'll be so excited. thanks for that heads up!
Old 5th September 2010
  #27
Gear Head
 

hello

does anyone have a power cable for the m3500 from the power supply to the console ? or how to make it .
Old 6th September 2010
  #28
I have an m3500 with full meterbridge. It serves its purpose well by looking good while I use my neve summing mixer. Makes the place look more like a studio which is all I need from it really. It is hooked up tho as a submixer into the neve. I have used it for summing before I got the neve and while it is significantly better then itb the neve summing mixer still is way better sounding than the tascam.

I did recently pic up a 24 ch soundtracs solo midi for $500 tho which sounds great actually.The tascam looks the part so it will stick around. I think of the tascam as like a credibility thing at least lookswise. Like its ok I'm mixing your album with a 2spc rack cause I got this big honkin thing over there lol. Am I wrong?
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