SoundCraft Ghost vs. ??

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Gear' started by Undergarage, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    I am looking for a new mixer and was leaning towards the Soundcraft Ghost 32LE with meter bridge. I was just wondering what the general opinion of that board is and if there is anything else out there in that same price range that is better that I should be seriously looking at. I mostly just record bands now but maybe some 5.1 later.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster

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    It depends on what you want to use the board for ... Most will agree that if you need a way to monitor inputs and mix phones for talent, almost any small mixer with at least 4 aux sends will do. In this scenario the Ghost would be very nice.

    If you wish to use it as pre amps for your mics as well, the opinions will part there depending on how important the individual feels mic pres are. Some of this can be tied to what you are trying to do, make demos or "real records". I think there is almost nothing that is more important when recording to DAW than mics and preamps. Period. I would not use the pres in the Ghost if I could help it. Not that they suck, but there's better. I would save the money that would be spent on the Ghost and substitute a smaller mixer like the Mackie SR24 for monitor chores and use the rest of the budget as a start on a mic pre collection. IMO, 16 good pres are enough .... although I have become such an addict for them, I could still be persuaded to buy a few more for variety's sake.

    Soundcraft makes some very nice gear for the home / demo studio market they are shooting at ... but you will rarely see a mixer like that in use for the preamps in a room that is making "real records" all the time. I can see the Ghost as a summing board for a DAW or a very nice monitor system, much better than any Mackie ... but keep in mind you will most likely be buying a lot of expensive mic pre too if your really going to get serious.
     
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    What pricerange are we talking? Is it a used board?LE's can be had for around 2 grand these days used. It is NOT an MCI, Neve,API, Harrison,SSL,or other large format console. It does have discreet channel cards.Not a 'motherboard'...it does not bleed from channel to channel like some of the boards do.It has a pedigree as Soundcraft DOES make large format consoles with very very nice mic-pres and such. One two channel mic-pre of the quality that Kurt is recommendingcan start @ $1500....Thats almost as much as a used LE...The preamps in the Soundcraft, when used within their gainstaging limits, are clean and clear and CAN be driven a bit hard and they do 'rough up a bit' without loosing any clarity.The EQ section is quite good and very musical.Its NOT a George Massenburg EQ but then its not $4500 either. If you record to a DAW, the Ghost is way way better as a monitor/router/occasional EQ/use of pres for large recording sessions than ANY other mixer in its price range. They are easy to use...dependable...they sound a LOT better than the picture has been painted here...

    How do I know this? I own one and I make records on it ..And I'm certainly not alone. The image of thousands of studio's having something other than a Ghost and only tracking with high-end boutique preamps and outboard is a bit skewed. Do a search on some of the larger studios with multiple rooms and theres probably a Studio D or E or something that has one in it. Those of us who have had an opportunity to use high-end gear would love to have it all the time.Its certainly much easier to achieve a high quality sound with it. But for a lot of us, its just not a budget we have to work with and thats okay. Ya cant go wrong with the Ghost. It will allow you to learn technique and the sound is pure enough you'll be able to tell when its good or its bad..As a center point in a small setup it allows for future expansion into the high-end or into a complete ProTools/Nuendo/cubebase ect ect...
     
  4. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Kurt,
    Thanks for the reply. I plan on using the Ghost for doing final mix down as well as use some of the pre-amps for now. I would eventually like to up-grade to higer end pre-amps, but I am currently using a Mackie 32X4 and am not impressed with the pre-amps and really the over all sound of the board when mixing. It definatly leaves its mark on a mix. I don't really want to mix inside the box, I just prefer having external eq, pan and faders, not to mention all the other monitoring features. Right now I also have a Pre-Sonus M-80, (which I thought was O.K.) untill I started reading everything on this forum and found out that it apparently sucks.

    What I have done so far is demo's, indie releases as well as some audio for TV commercials. I don't really envision (at this point anyway) doing any records for major labels, so I don't really think I need to spend 100K+ on an SSL or something like that. I would like to be on the high end as far as home studios are concerned. Use the Ghost preamps for now, with the intention of upgrading down the road.

    Another board that I have been told about, but never heard myself is a Allen Heath GS 3000 (I think that is the right number). Any thought there? I know they don't make it any more, but maybe ebay.

    The other thing is, I think I am going to be able to get into the Ghost really well. It's going to be a used trade in and I think I can get it in the $3000 range, maybe better, so that is what is really appealing to me right now. But if it doesn't happen I will still be looking.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster

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    Steve,
    It sounds as if the Ghost is right up your alley and perfect for the application you envision. The preamps are fine but do not approach that of a really serious mic pre ... even at the $10,000+ price these things listed for, your still looking at what, $416 per channel ?... That's pre amp, eq section , aux sends and output stage all for less than the the cost of one channel of a quality pre amp in most cases... and you are not even counting the aux returns, control room sends, buss and master sections, connectors, frame, sheet metal / plastic, the substancial power supply ... It's a bit much to even expect maximum performance from something like that. It's designed to a price point and as such represents compromises.

    I don't disparage the Ghost and I hope my post wasn't as harsh as Dave seemed to think it was ... I like Soundcraft gear for what it is ... and although there are other consoles in the mega buck range that I prefer, in the price range the Ghost resides in, it is certainly as good as it gets. Better than any Mackie for sure! It is not good enough though for me to jump up and down and proclaim it as the best thing since the Eskimo Pie ... 'cause that wouldn't be the truth. I never cared for the EQ in the Soundcrafts I have used ... I mean it sounds ok ... but just like all the Mackies, I just can't get surgical enough with it. The EQ bell / curves are to wide at times for my taste.

    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss mixing "in the box". That's the whole idea of DAWs .. to eliminate the need and cost of large mixers and a load of outboard gear. With really good front end, you should be able to get superior results in the box than you would on any small console ...even the Ghost. For example, Avid Ghost user Davedog, took his last album to a PT room for mixing "in the box".

    If you do opt for mixing in the box, the $3000 you are going to spend on the Ghost can go to some really nice mics and pre amps .. which will be an investment that will hold value at resale, better than an older small format mixer... In that situation, the SR32 you already have, will be great for monitoring and headphone / talent cue mixs.

    If you want a console that is going to sound worse than mixing "in the box", a low cost table top mixer is the way to go .. If you want a console that's going to sound better than mixing on a DAW you're going to have to get into a SSL, Neve, Trident, MCI / Sony, or one of the other large format consoles that we speak of so often. With that comes associated costs for purchase and maintenance ... it's a downward spiral ... there's an old saying in the studio business, "Buy a Neve and go out of business" .. This is true unless you have the deepest of pockets and very good business acumen ..

    IMO, probably the most cost effective, new, small format console available currently is is the Sony DMX R-100. The older Trident 65 is another table top mixer that sounds pretty good to me but can become maintenance pig if it hasn't been well cared for .. so beware... Other than those two, I would stay "in the box".
     
  6. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Davedog...if you would do it over again would you consider not getting the Ghost and just upgrading to very high quality preamps as Kurt suggests? I may be able to start mixing in the box if it will really improve the sound. I have been using Sonar for a while and never really had the results I wanted when I mixed in the box. I am now using Sonar 3 which has EQ on each channel. That would certainly make it much easier instead of inserting EQ on each channel. Plus using Waves for dynamics and maybe some of the EQ's.

    I could get away with having 14 channels of preamps, so for now I could still use the PreSonus M-80 for drums and and get six other really high end preamps for guitars, bass and vox or what ever else I would be recording.

    I just want to make great sounding recordings. So if this is a better option, maybe I will take a look at that. I will look around the forum to see what preamps everyone suggests and try some out. I sell guitars for a living and have a pretty good relationship with many dealers so they usually let me borrow stuff.

    Kurt, do you think the M80 is good enough for doing drums, at least for now. My mic set up is SM81's for over heads, AKG D112 for bass, SM57 for snare, EV's for tom mics and I use 2 of the cheap Marshall's for some room Mics. I want to upgrade those, but funds are limited. For acoustic guitar I use a AT4050 and an Octava RE20(Ithink that is the right number). Guitar amps I usually use SM57 and on overdubs may add the AT4050. Bass I usually run direct and vocals I use the AT4050 again. It works for now. Obviously they are not the best mics in the world, but they work untill I can get more money.

    Thanks again for all your help.

    Steve
     
  7. Aziel

    Aziel Guest

    Kurt it´s right, stay in the box and buy some serious outboard gear...with 3000$ you can buy a very good pre...i think gonna improve your sound more than anything...with a good pre and a nice mic position sometimes you dont need any EQ... :wink:
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster

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    Steve,
    I don't speak for Dave but in his situation the question you asked him is pretty much moot ..

    Dave runs a stand alone 24 track Alesis HD24 hard disc recorder, along with an old ADAT machine I lent to him ... and he needs a mixer because there's no way to mix or monitor in the Alesis HD24 and the ADAT machine. In that scenario, I also would be using the Ghost. It is probably the best thing available at that price ... but I would still be only monitoring through it and using great pres on the inputs .. I personally would not record or mix critcal projects through the Ghost if I could help it. As much as Dave says he likes the Ghost, he still chose to mix "in the box" on Pro Tools .. On critical projects, in his place, I would be doing exactly the same thing.

    Is the M80 good enough for drums ... ??? IMO, no.

    I see a lot of people commenting that drums are not a primary concern when recording. This line of thought comes from guitar players IMO, you know, the ones who always want you to turn the guitars up sooooo loud that you can't hear the drums or bass?

    To me the most important elements in rock music is drums and bass. If the drums and bass are well recorded and performed, you can get away with almost anything after that. Drums need to have dimension and clarity while sounding huge. For this, really good mic pres go a long way. I would be using the good pres on the kick and snare as well as hi hat and overheads first, then on the toms if at all possible. Room mics and the bass will sound better through good pres as well. Use the lesser pres for digital source inputs like keyboards and also scratch vocals and guitars. Parts that can be replaced later.

    The JLM TMP8 is a great eight channel drum mic pre in my experience. At around $2200 (about the same as the M80) for eight channels (less than $300 per channel) with soft limiters to prevent clipping in the DAW, they are the most cost effective quality mic pre solution on a per channel basis I have found so far. The TMP8 is transformer balance on the inputs and electronically balanced on the outputs. It is an OP AMP design, much like the API's and the Focusrite Red Range pre .. and they have stellar performance characteristics.
     
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    Since the question raised by the poster to me is now 'moot' theres no need to answer it now is there........

    But I will anyway.. If I had to do it all over again, I would still buy the Ghost since I HATE 'mixing in the box'....The place our album was mixed at was in fact a ProTools room with some decent front end but mostly because of the LARGE amount of plugs, CPU power and the fact that they have a large control surface...ie no 'mixing in the box' or at least no mixing with the mouse which I cant stand.AND...most of the tracks were done on my modest little home studio in analog.My recorder is simply 'storage'...Using the control surface in this project allowed me to save and easily tweek any mix that I did and watch it happen!!.The moving fader thing has always been one of my favorites ever since I worked some with an API console back in the 70's.. I STILL mixed the old way on the first pass...ie hands on in real time. The reason I was able to do so was the many many mixes I did at home with my crappy semi-pro gear. Whether or not it translates to under $500 per channel or not, there were a lot of those mixes that I would have printed and several that we did print simply because they had reached their potential before we ever set foot into the ProTools room.Gear is gear and yes there are varying levels of quality in it as there is in everything made . A car that runs well will still get you where you need to go no matter how much it cost or whether or not its of high quality. It will not do things its not designed to do and to ask it to do so will more than likely break it or put you in jeopardy. I know that the imagery here is incomplete but you get what I'm saying.
    As for the other part of your question, yes I would stay with the DAW based recording set-up you have now and improve upon it as you go.As for the MP80 PreSonus unit...did you know that the chipsets are socketted in ALL PreSonus gear and for not that much money you can upgrade them to get a better sounding rig? I'm not saying it'll be all you'll ever need, but for now its an option while you purchase something outstanding.There several mic pres out now that I would buy if I had the Jack...The Chandler stuff is unreasonably cool sounding..The Focusright Red is ALWAYS great...the JLM that Kurt talks a lot about is an outstanding pre for not much cash.For me personally, I've decided that all preamps I purchase in the future will be Red in color....this would include,The Focusright Red, The True Systems Analog P2, The D.W.Fearn pre, the Langevin Dual Channel and stuff like that.. As for value, this is the biggest reason I personally have not bought any pres...An M80 for me would not be a step forward as the pre amps in my Ghost sound as good if not a little better...(maybe I got a good one, or maybe I just get lucky with the right button! .. or maybe...) like I said, I push the crap out of mine and they hold up...I push the voltage to the power supply and they get real creamy ....whatever...I have no problem pluggin into em and laying down a track.But then I do know mic placement and sound control so maybe its just me.

    Anyway....Your mic setup sounds usable so stay your course...You dont really need a console it sounds like....you need a router/monitor/EQ/subbus.....good luck to you!
     
  10. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Kurt & Davedog,

    Thanks for all the input, now I really don't know what to do *grin*. I have to say more than anything else I really enjoy the banter between you guys (I think it is in good spirit).

    Kurt..I agree that drums are very important in rock music and I didn't mean to dismiss them by using the M80, it's just that I have 8 channels there and the kit hogs a lot of the inputs. I don't really agree with you that the pres on the M80 and the Mackie are the same. At least with my board the M80's pres are clearly better. Way more head room and much quieter. I start out recording the kit with the M80 and then use it for over dubs. I would agree that there are definatly better things out there. Like Davedog I think the Chandler stuff is amazing. I heard a 58 thru a Chandler and I could not believe it was a 58. My meaning for now is to use the M80 for most of the drum mics. I agree that maybe using something better on snare, bass and over heads would be better.

    Davedog..I don't understand about the chipset. I have never been inside the M80. What would I need to do to up grade it? I guess the reason I feel so good about it is I got into it really good. $300 bucks at a G.C., no one there knew what it was and they had it green tagged. I know that is no reason to be attached to something, but I do think it sounds good and if there is a way to make it better I would love to know. I was not sure your meaning at the end of the post. If you were me you would focus on getting better front end and maybe forgo the Ghost? Yesterday I spent a couple of hours mixing in the box just to see if I could get used to it. While I really don't like mixing with a mouse, I could do it if it meant the mixes would be better. Even when I mix with a board, my goal is to not use too much eq ( I agree that mic placement wins everytime). Since I have been focusing on mic placement, mixing in the box was easier than I had anticipated and the full automation is great. And I do have to admit by taking the Mackie out of the mixing made the music sound clearly better.

    I guess I am leaning towards not getting the Ghost and concetrating on getting six really nice pre-amps and using the M80 for the other eight channels for now.

    Steve
     
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    Steve....That was the gist of my final take for you....Probably would be a serious step-up in sonic quality to stick with the DAW and go to a set of great pres...One thing to consider would be to get several 'colors'...A Chandler with a Focusrite and then also something like a stereo pair of racked API 512/312's would give you a wider sonic pallette than just another multi-channel box like the M80. As for the chip-sets in the PreSonus, they are in a socket and not permanently attached to the motherboard directly, so they can be changed to a different make,style,characteristics,set without a lot of soldering and mucking around..An audio pro would still be a good choice for the replacement but a set of the Burr-Brown chips (not sure what number...google for this info) will increase the headroom and performance of that particular unit...and if yer in it at the price you mentioned than it would really be a value to you to investigate this...I am a firm believer that a lot of gear goes undervalued becuase of name recognition, a lot of reputation, and much too much hearsay through the ability of the net to spread these things. If a particular piece is working for you at the level you are currently at,then this piece is not one you'll soon want to change.Its much better to keep the central elements you know will give you something usable and build from there...Methinks that after you get a few channels of high-end that the PreSonus may,at that time , become expendable for something better...ie JLM,Focusrite,etc ...Youe ears will grow as does your selection of gear and judging by your responses I think this is what will happen for you. Good luck...
     
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster

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    Good deal on the M80 .... (it usually "streets for around $1800) If PreSonus had offered the review unit to me for $300, I would have jumped on it in a heartbeat ... instead they wanted quite a bit more and it just wasn't worth that much to me ... If I were in your position, I would never sell it, rather I would just keep it in the rack and smile everytime I saw it.

    I feel pretty much the same about the M80 as I do the Ghost (and all gear at that level), it's fine for the price point it meets but there is a lot of stuff I would prefer. I agree that it does not sound exactly like a Mackie, and that's not what I was eluding to ... rather that all stuff at that price point leaves a lot to be desired ... the main thing I notice with better pre amps is a sense of "dimension", a front to rear component (even in mono) that less expensive gear just doesn't exhibit. The sonic quality is the last thing I consider when deciding if a piece of gear is up to snuff or not ... it's gotta have that big dimensional quality ... there's a lot of gear out there that has good tone, but still sounds "flat and lifeless". In that respect, the M80, Mackie and all the other inexpensive mic pres I usually tie to the "whipping post", are pretty much "sameo - sameo" to my ear ...

    To me, coming from a place where huge consoles, tape machines and only the very best outboard gear and mics were the norm and the associated costs of keeping all that stuff in top condition was a consideration, the one time investment in a selection of great mic pres eq's and compressors, seems like small price to pay for what essentially amounts to a lifetime investment in tools for our craft. The DAW revolution has drastically changed the landscape of pro audio recording.

    Dave is right .... once you have a chance to work a lot with only really great mic pres like real Neves like the 1072's and 1081's (not the after market 1272), APIs, older Tridents and the boutique pres like the GRMP2NV, Sebatron and the JLM TMP8, you will come to recognize these qualities pre amps can exhibit and like fine wine, once you have had a taste, you will never want to go back to Red Mountain Vin Rose' ... good luck from me as well.
     
  13. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Davedog & Kurt,

    I have been looking around at different preamps. I probably know the answer to this, but I was wondering your thoughts on the Focusrite ISA 428. I have not heard them yet, but I have a friend that has offered to let me take his for a test spin. I was thinking about doing it next week, but if you think they are going to be in the same class as what I already have, I may just skip it. I am sure you have probably discussed them on this forum, so don't feel the need to go into to much detail if you don't want to. I have looked around some, but I couldn't find anything.

    Also, I was wondering about the API 512c's and are the Brent Averill copies the same? Is there a reason to go with his mounting racks over the API ones? Do the 312's fit in the same sockets? Both may be tougher for me to find in Kansas City to check out with out ordering.

    I think I am in for the Chandler TG-2 for sure. And I am going to check out the Focusrite Red 8, the Langvin Dual Mic Pre and probalby the Great River mp2nv as well as the API's. I was hoping they will all be at the NAMM show this month and I could talk to the companies themselves. Are you guys going to be at the show?

    Cheers....Steve
     
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    The ISA 428 is a nice unit...give it whirl and if ya like ...er ya like it...

    The last part of your list is way good.All outstanding pieces. My thinking is when you hook up the Chandler you're gonna want a whole rack of em....Seriously.A couple of them with a Focurite Red and your M80 and yer good to go. Then its gonna be monitors to hear what you've been missing. As this is so subjective, I'll put in my recommendation...Genelecs.....but thats just me.
     
  15. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Right now I have the Event 20/20 BIAS, which I thought were alright. After finding this forum and a couple others I have been really evaluating my whole set up. So, I'm sure I will probably taking a look at those next. My checkbook is not very happy.
     
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    Trust me when I say this......theres no end to this insane search for quality sound....no end at all....... :-?
     
  17. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Davedog,

    Ok, I ordered the Chandler TG-2 yesterday and I am really stoked. It is probably going to be a little while before I get the other four channels of higher end preamps, but I think I can make do for the time being. Here is a question for you, when I record the kit would you put the two Chandler preamps on the over heads or the bass and snare? My thinking is the over-heads, because I usually start with those and try and build everything around them. Maybe that isn't the way others do it, but I have had the best luck doing that. The rest of the kit I will use the M80 for now, so I don't know how radically different the two preamps will sound.

    Thanks.
     
  18. mwolfe

    mwolfe Guest

    i have been following this interesting conversation. you guys seem to know alot about your gear and recording in general.

    in the long run all the public is going to hear is a 44k digital cd most likely not played on a high-end system. is all that expensive gear really going to make that much of a difference?!
    yes, it will sound great on your console but then as it goes through the chain to the mastering and final product it wll lose some of its shine.

    i have listening to a variety of peoples recordings on this site with equipment that is really home studio grade and to my ears they sound really good.

    it seems like deep down we all want to have the sound and feeling of the music of the 60's and 70's when all the great rock bands were creating that wonderful music.

    we have given up the analog experience for the digital listening experience. we ask ourselves why are we not hearing what we really want to hear. the answer is that 0's and 1's will never give the listening experience that analog once gave us.

    however for convient sake and cost digital seems the way to go. we cannot afford a Trident or SSL board. Neumann U67's(?) etc.
    why not just try to record our music in a resonably priced digtial system using tube equipment as much as we can afford - running it through a tube pre-amp to analog tape for the final mix then sadly master all this glory to 44k.

    btw for my listening pleasure i use:

    conrad johnson pre-amp/amps,b&w 805 matirx's(which i use to monitor my mixes as well - they still show them being used at abbey road studios),rega p3 TT and playing as much vinyl as i can find. kurt yes i have alot of the beatles paraphone lp's and they do sound the best!

    the end all is to make our recording as musical as possible rather analytical perfect.

    anyway you guys are great and i really enjoy following your back and forth conversations!
    keep it up!

    michael
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2014
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Moderator

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    Thanx Michael...Its always nice to hear from true audiofiles....And yes, your thesis on the state of the ART has spawned many many heated discussions about the ramifications of recording on high-end gear only to have it mastered onto a system that is woefully inadequate to reproduce the sounds that human ears can hear and to do so in such a manner regarding frequency response as to satisfy our built-in pleasure center surrounding this hearing.
    I am no expert on the realities of digital reproduction.This is something better addressed in the mastering forum here at RO...There are,by my limited understanding, many factors of physics involved with the reduction of a signal recorded in higher definition and then reduced to the industry standard for CD replication.These bits of information go somewhere but I'm not the one to properly address that.We do have experts here that can do so...Thanx again for your support of this site.Glad to entertain... And you're right...absolutely the best use of gear is bring out the musicality in the songs and make it involve those listening in an emotional way....how you get there is of little importance after these truths.

    Steve...Great!!! You will be a very happy camper with this item at your disposal. IMHO use it on the kik and snare...It will create a much better rudimentary pallette for your other drum sounds to sit with. But then, in having gear, its all about hooking it up and dinking with it till ya puke....Try it as I suggested and see if you dont have a genuine huge basic drum beat to tuck everything else into!.........peece
     
  20. Undergarage

    Undergarage Guest

    Davedog & Kurt

    Hey I just wanted to thank you guys for leading me down the path I chose. I have been recording with the Chandler TG-2 for the last couple of weeks. I have used it on nearly every thing...Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Male vocs, Bass guitar, Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Drum overheads. The word that comes to mind is Whoa!

    I had used an Amek pre a couple of years ago and didn't really know how to use it properly, so I was a little skeptical(even though now I listen to what I recorded and I can tell there is something different going on there) However, this is totally a different story. The best way to describe it is silky. I don't know if that is what you guys hear, but that is the best word I can think of. That along with a different depth in the recordings. I am monitoring thru Event 20/20 BAS's and I can really hear the difference. I still think my PreSonus M80 is better then the Mackie pre's, but nothing compared to the Chandler.

    In some ways it was better not knowing, but now that I know I am looking for my next one.

    Thanks again,
    Steve