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The Multi-Thousand Dollar Question: New Console

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Sheehan-J, May 9, 2008.

  1. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    Hey everyone,

    This is a hard post for me to write and I’m not sure why. I see a lack of information in a lot of these “help me with my next [thing]” threads and I feel compelled to spill my entire life story for background information. I’ll try to keep it informative but short and sweet.

    The Problem:

    My Mackie board is on its way out, as Ch.5 is very noisy and inconsistent (useless), buttons here and there are intermittent, crackly, and some don’t work at all. This leaves me with 7 recordable inputs currently. I think it’s obvious so far that my mixer and preamps are holding up the show.

    I’ve got decent mics to work with (D112, four 57’s, KSM27, SP C4’s, and several assorted ‘crappy’ mics that still sound pretty good). Needless to say, my mic locker isn’t world-class, but I like my collection and it gets the job done.

    What I Do and What I Need:

    I am in a band myself, but I also record bands from around my area looking for a good demo in exchange for tracking and mixing experience. My funk band and I do most of our writing live as a group and I like to capture our jam sessions to hold on to some of the creative bits we manage to squeeze out of our instruments. We also track parts individually for well-produced versions, but the 'on the fly' aspect makes a cool way to get the live feel in our demos. At the same time, I need to amplify certain instruments (Sax, violin, vocals) to be heard in the room as we play. This is the reason I am looking for a newer better mixer/console as opposed to just rack mount preamps and A/D/A converters… to have the preamps and the routing options in one convenient package (not to mention on a horizontal surface) is a necessity to me.

    This is the thing though, I don’t want to skimp on this console purchase and end up regretting not having better pres, or some certain feature in a few years… I’m looking for 16 to 24 quality pres with direct outs on every channel so I can expand and upgrade my converters and the rest of my signal chain at some point as well. A good EQ is always a plus, too, not to mention the other standard aspects of a good mid-level console. If only money would allow, I’d upgrade both converters and console at once but… this brings me to budget.


    I’ve settled myself on a $3-5k price cap for this console. I’m obviously not a huge commercial studio, but I intend to keep playing and producing music for my entire life. With that said, if I know it’s got the functions and sound I’m looking for, I can stretch my boundaries a bit. With enough time to save my nickels and enough hours on the job, I can get any console I want, right? :p

    I fully expect this console to eclipse the other aspects of my chain and that’s ok. It gives me something to grow into.


    I have examined some possible candidates (A&H, Soundcraft, and Midas mostly) and have found that the A&H GL2400, and Midas Venice look like good boards. My only concerns are that they are geared towards being live desks and I’m not sure how good they’ll sound in a studio or how they’ll hold up sonically as my equipment improves long term. Like I said before I don't want to be stuck regretting something.

    Along the way somewhere, I found myself madly lusting after the Toft Audio ATB-16 or 24. With a $4k or $5k price tag respectively, they’re at the top of my price range, but they sure seem to fit the bill nicely. With the very nice pres, Trident 80 series Eqs I’ve heard so much about, the inline monitoring capabilities, several buses and the optional meterbridge that I hope is coming soon… ooh. It's clear that the A&H and Midas boards don't stack up to the Toft, so should I just man up and go with the Toft board? It's supposed to have a Fireiwre connectivity option soon too, so that could take care of my converters as well.

    Thank You very much for your infinite expertise ROers!

  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Why not something like a Mackie Onyx 2480...or maybe a used 32-8. The 32-8 has a good reputation and was/is used by many. I don't know if they would eclipse the sound of your current rig, but I don't know how much of an eclipse you can get for $5,000.

    I think that I would like the Toft could probably deliver a noticable change in the sound (probably better but possibly worse...depending on the listener) but i've never heard one.
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Toft ATB or A&H GL2400 actually stack up just fine against the ATB.

    I've used all 3 and they each bring different things to the table.

    The A&H brings good pre's and a serviceable EQ to the table. I have found that the 2-bus does run out of gas in the low end dept.

    The Venice IS a Midas... if you poo poo a Midas for live industry standards, then you have no idea what you are saying, and likely less in what you are doing.

    The ATB's are good pre's and an excellent EQ. I just wouldn't look for the meter bridge anytime soon.

    To me it's a coin toss, but I'd probably go with the ATB, the Midas and A&H in that order.
  4. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    Thank you for the replies!

    Pr0gr4m- I have considered another Mackie, but I seem to be hunting for a different sound. I've had the chance to use a 24-8 and It was just not quite what I am looking for.

    MadMax- I want to clear it up, I wasn't intending to poo poo Midas in any capacity whatsoever. I was simply unsure how this particular model stacked up compared to the ATB. The part about me not knowing what I'm saying or doing.. well that part is probably true! :p

    Thanks for your opinions though, its really good to hear from someone who has used all three and can compare/contrast. As for the ATB meterbridge, I read over on another forum that it was basically done and should start shipping soon, so take 'soon' with a grain of salt I guess.

    What were your impressions of the midas sonically as compared to the other two?
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I see that you're in the 'area'.....Northwest.

    There are many conflicting reviews of the Toft. Some of its issues deal with build quality. I dont know personally. I havent heard one but have closely looked at one....felt it up....flipped its switches. That doesnt tell a person anything.

    I have mixed on a Midas in a live venue. Lots of headroom. Very good sounding, at least live, but after a couple of sets ...whats sound anyway???

    A&H designate their boards with the letters in the model. GL is structured towards live sound and has a matrix mix in place on some models...GS is the studio version and has more outputs geared to patching and routing.

    I'm not sure the innards are much different.

    They sound very clean and the build quality is good.

    I have a Soundcraft Ghost. Its about eleven years old now and since I dont want the jinx I cant tell you how well its worked all these years. I have had it about half its life.

    I dont know if its 'better' than anything else you've listed. It works for me and I get a very good and detailed sound from it. I like it particularly when I drive it a bit hard. It doesnt cloud up like some mid-range gear does, and it actually sounds warmer. Whatever warmer is.......

    I think in your price range you need to seriously look to a used console. You will find pristine condition pieces that will give you much better sound than those you have listed. Theres a lot of boards floating around out there and theres more than you can imagine in this area just waiting for someone to upgrade to them and love em like they deserve.

    A detailed and patient search might get you a used AMEK or a large frame Soundcraft, certainly an AMR or even a Yamaha PM2000. I like the pres in the 1000 but it has no direct outs and most have been hammered. Even the hammered ones still work!
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    The issue with the Toft was evidently regarding Lot#2... some pretty spotty parts and semiconductors here and there.

    Alan Hyatt (and co) evidently took a pretty good rash of grief over it, too. But I heard through the grapevine that they've made good on all the problems.

    I also take it you've been over at The Womb? (the Meterbridge)

    If you are willing to look at used consoles and the potential issues... DD's on target... I might add the DMX R100 to the list as well.

    My comment of poo poo-ing the Midas wasn't directed at you... There's been a lot of folks who've said it isn't a real Midas, cause it isn't big and massive and HEAVY. But it sounds and feels like Midas in every aspect that I've found.
  7. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

  8. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    wow thanks for all the input guys I really really appreciate it.

    DaveDog- I noticed earlier you were in the PNW also. Do you know of a good place to look for used consoles in the area? That's definitely a good way to go and it sounds like just what I need, but I need to do a bit more research on Amek's and other discontinued gear and then track some of 'em down in the area. I scan craigslist from time to time, but nothing really substantial ever comes up... not too surprising though..

    Being that the area is such a music oriented place with so many studios and artists and all that, I'm sure there's just a wealth of used gear out there that could use a good new home. I'm more than happy to take that route but in the case that something does need repairs- I'd need a good pro audio place to take care of it for me. I feel like Carlson Pro Audio would do me right... any experience with them? I know they're a huge pro audio and live sound presence in the NW and what I've heard about them so far is good.

    That's also nice to hear about positive experiences with the Midas board from you guys considering it's a little bit cheaper than the ATB. As for the Ghost, I checked those out too in my search, but it's just a bit out of my reach as far as budget goes (at least as it stands now). If I could find a used one, I wouldn't pass it by without taking a serious look.

    Max- Yep, I've ventured into the world of The Womb. Kinda intimidating, but it seems to me like there's a ton of knowledge there that I could benefit from. I take it you're a member on The Womb as well as RO? I've been lurking around and reading a lot there so far. As for poo pooing the midas, I didn't think it was necessarily directed at me, I just wanted to clarify in case I was misunderstood or something. no big deal. :)

    I'll plan on adding all of the consoles you guys mentioned to my research list and see if I can track down a few to check out and hopefuly listen to.

    Again, very, very much appreciated. I owe a lot to guys like you on forums like these for helping me out and setting me straight. :cool:

  9. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    Quick ponderance for you guys as I'm researching and considering different consoles..

    I've wandered across the Trident 8T series... I understand that Oram and Toft were colleagues in the past and are now competitors. I've listened to some sound samples on the Gear Slutz forums A/Bing the two, and they sound fairly similar.

    For reference, this is the thread on the page with mix bus samples linked:(Dead Link Removed)

    I'm torn, though, between the slightly emphasized mid-low end of the Trident vs the clarity of the Toft. I think the Trident has the ability to easily become muddy with too much low end build up between different instruments. I feel like if you wanted it you could EQ it on the way in with the Toft instead of just having it with the Trident.

  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    To me, it's not about the sound of either console... it would be about the other aspects of ownership.

    Service, support, parts, reliability, etc... the rest of the picture.

    They are both pretty darn close in what they are and offer sonically.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    To expand a bit on Max's post....the 'other' factor in the difference in sound of a couple of similar consoles would be the operator.

    Work flow is another factor in choosing something you're going to be pouring over like a mad scientist for hours on end.....the worst thing is to find the layout to be something you simply cant get used to....

    I dont think I've ever seen a Trident 8T.....must have been one of the 'consumer' level consoles from the early 90's....

    Right before the digital evolution, a lot of the big console makers were either going out of business or designing a consumer level console to compete with the Tascams, Fostex, and others' offerings that were becoming the go-to boards for HOME RECORDISTS on a budget. The scarifice for these units was always something either sonically, build quality, or asthetics. Most were sonics. Mix-Wizards, Ghosts, ALL the A&H GS series, Peavey/AMR, Hill Audio, small format Soundtracs, many others.

    They all sound very similar, and choosing one othese mid-range consoles, especially used, means knowing the history of these companies and having a sense of their parts availability, reliabilty issues, a service record on any unit you get interested in.....research.........

    In choosing a large-format console, the same research applies as well as having access to a reliable repair tech.

    At least with a large format console, the strips are all individual and can be serviced without a down time for the rest of the board.

    If you had 10K to spend, you could find a very good condition ,recapped, inservice console that will sell time as well as make everything sound better.

    The step from the Mackie to this is breathtaking.
  12. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    Thanks Dave and Max, I understand what you both mean about other factors and it's something I've considered a bit. As far as my work flow is concerned, I don't think I've had enough real console time to get used to one, so adapting won't hopefully be a problem.

    The Trident 8T is apparently Oram's response to Toft's ATB, from what I've read so far. It seems to be almost identical to the Toft +/- a few things.

    I can only imagine what it would be like to transition to a $10k console from my old Mackie. That purchase will have to wait a while though.
  13. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Actually I think TOFT and ORAM released ATB and 8T at the same time. Kinda of a little feud going on there. Both trying to be trident on their own.

    The ATB has the ADC's built in, where as the 8T is essentially the same as a MACKIE 8 bus format. But the eq is better.
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    From the ad campaign side... Malcom's board hit the market a few months before the Oram... (from the FWIW dept)

    When did ATB get the ADC's done?!? In the last 72 hours?

    AFAIK, they're still twisting in the wind from 3 different vendors who failed to complete the converters. I know bubba's still waiting on his AND the meterbridge.
  15. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    wow- I thought he had those already done, so they are the same board after all!

    Funny the wars going between those two. Same thing that broke them up the first time I guess.
  16. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    Interesting find...

    Any opinions on the Studiomaster 24-4-2 console (EDIT: It's a Studiomaster 16 with 2 4 channel add-ons)? I found one for a very attractice price (likely some issues since it's a console from the 80s). What I know is that it's a british company and has been used by the likes of Phil Collins and others (big whoop, I know, but that has to mean a little something, huh?)


    I read a review of some interesting/troubling 'zipper' type sounds from the pop of each row in the led ladders turning on and off as the meters bounce up and down. Can someone confirm this or was it an isolated case?

    Thanks for your input!
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is one console which I would NEVER recommend to anyone. You'll run out of headroom way before you get signals up to the level you'll want to get any warmth.

    The routing on them is quite good, the pres arent any better than Mackies and the sliders get noisy real quick.
  18. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    That's exactly what I needed to know. I had a feeling it was too cheap to be any good.

    Much appreciated Dave, I'm sure I'll be back with more questions soon.
  19. Sheehan-J

    Sheehan-J Guest

    I've been put on the trail of an old Soundcraft console that supposedly came out of a broadcast studio. It's old and discontinued, but I'm told it's in great shape except for the small bit of duct tape on the meterbridge. Right now it's at a local studio being checked out to see that everything operates as it should. The guy that brought it to my attention said there wasn't even dust on it, the faders are smooth as glass, its got a built in patch bay and that it's wide and heavy (wide and heavy has to be good, right?). With that said, I don't know what model it is and I can't make it out to be any that are listed on Soundcraft's website. I need to do some research on it, but I need your help to find it first! Here are a few photos he snapped.

    Any clues as to the model of the console and the year it was made would be great.




  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think its a 1624. DOB around the early 80's. Very fine console and if its as low milage as you seem to think and all the switches check out as well as the caps and such, this would be the upgrade you're looking for. Make absolutely sure there are ZERO issues with the power supplies. These go boom and so it takes out most everything else. If this board is inexpensive it would behoove you to have a specialty shop build an upgraded power supply. That way you are assured many years of fun and frolic.

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