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Best Midrange Hybrid Setup???
Old 19th February 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Best Midrange Hybrid Setup???

Okay, so I've been reading the hype about analogue processing and hybrid mixing, and I'm ready to take the plunge into a good quality hybrid setup. Right now I'm working with a budget of about $5k, but if I wait till later this year, I'll have around $10k total budget. I currently mix ITB using Logic 9, Liquid Saffire 56, 3 Euphonix Artist Series controllers, and some quality plugs. I've been working with regional artists and bands for the past year, along with my own personal productions. Up till now more of a hobbist or part-time business opportunity at best, although I'm able to get paid a small amout for my effort. Now I'd like to up the ante to a more professional set up (and potential real business). The guys I work with are pleased and say my mixes sound really good, but I can't help but feel that they are missing some depth and clarity I hear in the big time studio mixes. Maybe this is a partly mixing problem, but I'm still convinced that adding analogue to my setup will help in this area.

So currently I'm looking at 3 potential setups, but am open to other suggestions. I understand that these are all completely different approaches, which is why i'm having such a hard time choosing.

1- Allen & Heath GS-R24. Been researching this alot lately and it definately seems like a perfect solution for what I'm looking for. 24 channels of great pres, solid conversion, and very nice/transparent sounding eq. Plus I wouldn't miss the hands on tweakability of the daw control or recall that I'm used to. Probably the best and most elegant option for integrating a 24 channel analogue board into a computer setup. The main downer being price. $10k USD for the motorized option not including the firewire card. But the bussing options and the 2 tube channels may put me over the top. Plus the slut factor is at 11. I may just be biting the bullet and holding out until I can afford this, hopefully by 2012.

2- Allen & Heath R16 X 2. I researched this and found that 2 R16's can be daisy-chained for a 32 channel set up. A+H said that the 2nd unit will show up as additional channels in the daw through the same firewire connection. From what I can tell though, the R16 lacks bussing/routing and also the daw control aspect is lacking a bit. Still though, couldn't you just use a daw controller (like the Euphonix Artist) in addition to these boards for a complete setup? That'd give you similar functionality as the R24 at less than half the cost? So you'd just have to work around the buss issue which probably isn't a deal breaker as you can easily set up stems and routing inside the daw. That'd leave about $5-$6k left over for some serious outboard processors (500 series?) to mix with. I also have carpentry skills so I could build a custom desk to house everything together. Seriously considering this option, but concerned I'm missing something that may leave me regretting it down the line. Sends or routing possibly?

3- Toft ATB24 + Quality Converters. I'll admit I don't know much about the Toft boards other than reputation on here by many. It appears that the eq may be superior to the A+H boards, while the pres may be a slight step down? You could get something like the SSL Alphalink to cover the conversion and have a nice analogue mixing setup. However, I'm thinking that this setup may be lacking on the daw side with the computer being used more as a tape recorder than anything else. Also, would it be a chore to work with plugins and have any daw recall functionality? I'm sure there are ways to set it up where the daw and board play well together, but it still seems like one's giving up too much on the daw side when compared to the A+H solutions. Given that the cost of this setup is similar to the GS-R24, would it make more sense to just go with the A+H?

Thanks for any insight and thoughts from the experts around here.
Old 19th February 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

First of all buying used will save you a ton, many decent used mixers are going for less than 10 cents on the dollar. You don't talk about what you are using for a front end but that is where getting some 3D starts. It also sounds like you need to do some networking in your area and find others who are hybrid and study/listen to their setups. This will accomplish many things including figuring any future purchases. It never hurts to wait to buy something until you have a clear direction in mind. If you think analog/hybrid mixing is hype at this point in time you need to do some serious listening to hear the differences yourself and then decide if that different sound is something you want to pursue.
Old 19th February 2011
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Don't forget about all of the conversion you're going to need to make it worth it to go OTB! You'll need to get at least half-way decent conversion, which could eat your budget before you even get to a console. You might consider adding a few quality pieces of outboard gear first, or going with something like the Folcrum summing mixer.

On the other hand, you might be able to get an SSL converter good for 24 channels, and a Toft ATB with the rest of the money.

Good luck!
Old 19th February 2011
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Okay thanks guys, so that's got me thinking more. So I'm guessing that the Toft board can be had for much less since it's been around longer and has a more established secondary market. Probably can't find a used GS-R24 for another year or so, although I've seen a few used R16's on the classifieds here for $1,500.

So do you think the conversion in the A+H boards may be lacking after a few runs in/out? Would that make a used Toft + SSL Conversion a better option? I suppose you'd end up printing each conversion in order to add plugins availabilty from the daw? I just can't get my head around how the workflow would be for the Toft solution. Seems like the A+H is more custom tailored as you just press a button by the fader and you're done.

Or am I way off base with the board option and would be better off buying a rack of nice 500 series eq/comp's for $6-$7k? I've thought about this too but seems like it just leads to an analogue summing box, and at that point, why wouldn't you just go for an inexpensive board?

Feels like I'm running in circles. Maybe should just go check out the competion as you suggested...
Old 19th February 2011
  #5
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Jimbo's Avatar
If you want to go the board route, then the Alesis HD24XR is the conversion unit for you. $1600 and your done. Sounds great too.

I use two Metric Halo 2882 boxes, along with outboard (although I've sold a lot of it recently). If you get the DSP license you get great reverb too.

I neither miss, nor want an analog mixer. Digital mixing is now.
Old 19th February 2011
  #6
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cavern's Avatar
 

There is one snag though hooking up two R-16's. I ckecked it out.
Its ok if you need lots of pre's and your mixing in the box but...
The app. recognizes 32 channels and you can mix down to 32 analog channels but the two boards don't sum to one set of master faders on the zed's.
So you would have to mix the two summed masters back to 2 new stereo channels the app and then assign those to one stereo track on one of the two boards.
As far as summing analog, you would have to take the master output from both boards and send them to another mixer or 4 channels back to one of the zeds and sum them there. Not ideal.
Old 19th February 2011
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cavern View Post
There is one snag though hooking up two R-16's. I ckecked it out.
Its ok if you need lots of pre's and your mixing in the box but...
The app. recognizes 32 channels and you can mix down to 32 analog channels but the two boards don't sum to one set of master faders on the zed's.
So you would have to mix the two summed masters back to 2 new stereo channels the app and then assign those to one stereo track on one of the two boards.
As far as summing analog, you would have to take the master output from both boards and send them to another mixer or 4 channels back to one of the zeds and sum them there. Not ideal.
Wow, okay, I didn't know that. Seems like a bit of a headache. Maybe still worth the workaround for the price/features but definately something to think about. Thanks for the heads up.
Old 19th February 2011
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
If you want to go the board route, then the Alesis HD24XR is the conversion unit for you. $1600 and your done. Sounds great too.

I use two Metric Halo 2882 boxes, along with outboard (although I've sold a lot of it recently). If you get the DSP license you get great reverb too.

I neither miss, nor want an analog mixer. Digital mixing is now.
Great tip on the Alesis, I'd definately go that route if I go the Toft route. So did you find the 2 MH's to be adequate for the analogue sound to replace your outboard?
Old 20th February 2011
  #9
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audioconnoisseur View Post
Great tip on the Alesis, I'd definately go that route if I go the Toft route. So did you find the 2 MH's to be adequate for the analogue sound to replace your outboard?
It wasn't really a replacement. I took a break from recording for a number of years. When I came back I went digital with the MH units. I needed simplicity and portability for location work.

I'm not looking for "the analogue sound"....just a good sound. I do use the Character emulations frequently, though.
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