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What's your opinion on Carvin mixers?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by detlef, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    Hello all

    Perhaps people in the US are more familiar with this brand.
    What's your opinion on Carvin mixers? In particular the C 3240 Concert series.
    It's a 32 ch, 4 group, direct outs, 6 aux, phantom power, pretty much everything I need, except phase switch.

    Any thought on construction,sonic qualities?
    Would you use it for recording?

    Thanks
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I haven't used them for real, but the one in the Carvin showroom I fooled with a couple of years ago had problems.
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There's a name I haven't heard in years.

    Not traditionally known as a "studio standard" mixer.

    I know they made a lot of live consoles.

    You mentioned recording...and that it has "everything you need"... what are you wanting to track to? How much does it cost? Is this a new model? Does it have a warranty?

    here's some info I found:

    I have absolutely no idea of its noise, mic pre quality or I/O options (example: tape returns, in-line features, inserts, jack formats, etc., which it likely doesn't have if it's a mixer designed for sound reinforcement) or... if it's used, can you even still get parts or servicing for older models?

    Unless you talk with someone who has actually used one for recording application, well, I guess I'm suggesting you do a bit more research before you pull the trigger on buying a console you want to use for recording that was designed primarily for sound reinforcement.

    Theoretically, you can use "any" mixer for recording - or live, for that matter. They all work essentially the same way in that they take multiple audio sources, mix them together and send them to an output(s).

    So for that matter, in theory, you could use a Radio Shack DJ mixer if you really wanted to, LOL... It's all a question of how well it will do the job, how it will sound, and how hard or easy it is to route signals to your destination and back again.... and... getting it serviced if it augers in and heads south of the suck line. ;)

    fwiw
    -d.
     
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I would say Carvin's mixers and speakers are akin to Peavey in that they are built to be reasonably durable and a good dollar-value. That particular board is intended for live use and probably a bit noisier and darker sounding than a typical recording console - but if it's in good condition, it's probably well within reasonable live bar-band standards. 3-band EQ with fixed frequencies would be a no-go for me these days, but Lord knows I started recording on worse (ages ago - with realistic expectations).
     
  5. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    I would use it for recording secondary tracks (already have some outboard pres), and routing effects.
    I'd go straight to the soundcard imputs through direct outs or sub outs. I don't really need tape returns.
    I would route the main soundcard's outputs only to the mixer, just to have real faders as a main, wich is nice to me.
    I mix all ITB. This is how I use to work, but my previous mixer has blown, not worth repairing.

    I know this is not a real recording console, but 32 channels for 500 eur seems a good price.
    Perhaps even too much channels for my needs.
    My main concern is that something blown easily, sice warranty has expired.
    And of course it doesn't have to sound bad (cheap, muddy, dark, thin)

    Perhaps is just a fetish but I have learned that working with real faders and knobs is MUCH better than clickin a mouse all the times.
     
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think you should keep looking.

    Do you really feel you need 32 channels? I understand what you say when you mention that "32 channels for $500 euro..." but if you're not going to use all those channels, or, even half that number, it doesn't make much sense to me when we're talking about a console that is limited in its features for recording.

    A quick cursory search on ebay turned up several decent recording consoles in your price range; (give or take ) Mackie, Alesis, Ramsa, even and A&H:

    (Dead Link Removed)

    I do understand the tactile preference, many people still like to reach up and tweak an actual pot as opposed to clicking a mouse ... I just think you can do better in terms of quality, and what you're getting for the money you want to spend. And, having a console that is actually designed for recording as opposed to one that is designed primarily for PA would probably serve you better in the end.

    And, if the tactile experience is all you are really after and you already have decent OB pre's, you might want to consider a DAW controller:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mackie-Control-Universal-DAW-Control-Surface-MCU-Controller-/281060559345?pt=US_Computer_Recording_Interfaces&hash=item417083c9f1

    IMHO of course.

    -d.
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    anything in the "affordable" catagory is going to be a compromise. the op doesn't mention what kind of mixer they are looking to replace. i would recommend they look to something in the same range unless they are willing to do a serious upgrade. mackies, allen heath soundcrafts among others will do. i personally have had some bad results when using a particular Carvin 8 bus mixer when i was recording a 45 (remember them?) back in the 80's ... once the record had been pressed (too late!) i discovered some phase issues that the "CRAPVIN" had introduced. after that i never trusted the things again ... i would run from this one as fast as possible .... run!
     
  8. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    I keep reading not so enthusiastic opinion on Carvin's boards.
    I don't blame Carvin's folks. These mixers do what they are designed for: sound reinforcement for small and medium venues.
    I'll look 4 something else, perhaps a 24 channel.

    On the dirty cheap side, another option avaible could be an old Dynamix 24 8 board. I have read nice things about it, mainly because
    of the transformers. Problems are:
    1. Power supply blowned and must be repaired, at what cost I don't know yet.
    2.The console is far away, must be shipped and I have to trust the seller's words on it's functionality.

    I can imagine such an old board could be a bit noisy. For sure it's large and heavy to today 24 ch standards.
     
  9. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I've really only heard bad things about Carvin boards, and that one in the Hollywood showroom had problems despite never having been used for a real gig. They make some awesome basses, okay bass amps, some decent PA amps and cabinets and some okay guitars, but the mixers don't have a great reputation. I never see them "in the wild" in spite of living in the same part of the world so I suspect they don't sell too many and/or they don't hold up.
     
  10. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    I finally redirect myself toward this. It's an Italian Montarbo desk, and came for dirty cheap, with 3 months warranty.
    I reckon this brand is pretty much unknown outside of Italy, anyway I've fooled around with it for a while, all channells works, not a single crackle.
    Ok it's no Neve nor SSL, nice looking tough!

    View attachment 4798
     
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I guess I'm still a little confused as to why you want something like this, unless it's simply a fetish for wanting a big console, or to try to impress clients who don't know any better.

    Your comment:

    Seems a bit tell-tale in that it kinda leads one to believe that the visual impression matters more than the actual purpose... ?

    I mean, yeah, it's nice to be able to physically tweak things, as I mentioned before, I understand the tactile preference that many people have when it comes to recording, but just because a console is big, or just because it has a zillion inputs, doesn't mean that it will do you any good... and in fact, it could actually be a detriment if the console has lackluster or poor preamps, or noisy electronics, or any of the other myriad of problems that a low grade console can have...

    IMHO of course.

    -d.
     
  12. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    I don't need it for recording pourposes, not as a primary source anyway. I would use it as explained earlier.
    Yes I have an attraction to vintage gear. I try to understand how it works, I'm always in a learning process.
     
  13. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Even if you only listen through the desk it will affect how you mix. If it's dull sounding you'll tend to compensate by mixing too bright.
     
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yes. Vintage gear can be nice - if it's the right vintage gear. But we're not talking about an 1176 or an LA2 here.

    Just because a piece of gear is old, doesn't mean it's considered to be "vintage", at least not in the way that most people consider that term to mean. Sometimes old gear is just old gear. If age alone is the determining factor in whether a piece is vintage or not, then I suppose by that definition, a 1977 Sunn mixing console could be considered "vintage", too. But that doesn't mean that it isn't just junk.

    I have no idea how that Italian console you mentioned performs, truthfully I've never even heard of it before.

    You mentioned that you would use this console to record "secondary" tracks, and not "primary" tracks. I must confess that I have no earthly idea what a "secondary" or "primary" track even is.

    I've been doing this professionally for about 32 years now... to me, tracks are tracks. They either end up in the mix or they don't. And if they do end up in the mix, then every track is "primary".

    ...And they will only ever sound as good as the weakest link in your gain stage.

    You seem to know what you want, although I must confess that I'm not sure I understand your reasoning, other than the fact that you just want a console... and that's fine. But if that's the case you should get a console that will be a positive addition to your gain stage, and not one that might give you problems.

    You've been given advice by professionals here because you sought that advice. What you do with that advice is up to you.

    In my own humble opinion, I can think of a lot of other things I would buy for $500 before I purchased a used desk that might end up being a detriment, sonically and financially.

    fwiw
    -d.
     
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The last board someone brought me that looked like that (and sounded like that too), I poured diesel on it and lit a torch.
     
  16. detlef

    detlef Active Member

    Thanks for the head ups, anyway I didn't spent 500 for it, I got it for nearly nothing, so I will use it for a while. In the meantime I'll save some money to buy a real recording console.
     
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I have a slightly different take about the junk you are looking at. As long as it functions, you may consider something. Do not purchase anything that is nonfunctional. I don't care if they say it's only a power supply problem that's garbage, BS. So something else within the mixer took out the power supply. And least technical experts will tell you it's just the power supply. Well it's likely not just the power supply.

    Yeah secondary track recording, I too have done such things when you don't have the complete and proper tools/equipment, for what you might be doing? So I might put bass drum, snare drum, drum overhead microphones through 4 API 312/512/3124 preamps. Lead singer, bass guitar, lead guitar, rhythm guitar into the other API 3124. And then I'll take tom toms, electronic keyboards, ancillary percussion, backup vocals, from a cheap mixer like a Mackie or Barringer. And that will sound just fine, provided that you don't have any miswired microphone cables. That you understand it has a balanced or unbalanced output and that it is in phase with the signals coming from those premium API's and that your game trim levels have been properly adjusted. And I take stuff like that way, quite frequently.

    In my control room I have a 36 input vintage Neve and currently 16 out of 20 API preamps. But at times, that hasn't been enough. So I also have this extra old, a 1970s, just like my other stuff, Yamaha PM 700 12 x 2 x 1 mixer I can use to combine groups of other input sources, up to 12, out 3 buses to the Neve or direct to a machine set of channels and/or digital audio interface. And on other occasions, I have also needed to rent a 24 input Sound Craft in addition to that Yamaha, API's and also bus that 24 input board into two additional inputs of those 36, on the Neve as a sub mixer/mixers. And that also is not unusual to do. A Sound Craft & Yamaha ain't no Neve nor API but they do have enough sonic integrity that they are still quite useful.

    So if you're good engineer, with a good set of ears and you know how to tweak your level trims/gain staging properly, you can make recordings on just about anything. A previous console I had in the late 1980s used the worlds cheapest microphone preamps which was a single 5534 IC chip. And I made some lovely and fabulous recordings using 3 1/2 dollar microphone preamps LOL. That's the bottom of the bottom of microphone preamps. Still totally usable in my book if ya know what you're doing. And if you don't? You will be ensured of horrible sound. The worst beginner disappointment you could possibly have will set in. And you'll blame your equipment which is always the mark of a beginner that doesn't know what they're doing. Complaining about noise and overload. And when it's really only your fault because without a handle understanding what's going on inside (because you have researched it first) you'll be able to glean the maximum value and sonic capabilities of the device.

    I have made some rather fabulous recordings and really run down and broken 30-year-old Mr. Peavey PA boards into a stereo digital recorder while also feeding a PA system. And I can still walk away with a good sounding recording. Will it be technically excellent? Not as technically excellent as my other premium devices can deliver but most of the sound of the mix is reliant upon my talents and not the stupid mixer. It's not going to give me what I would get out of my premium stuff and I know that already. I know its head room is limited. I know it's noise floors higher. I know it can distort quicker and also has lousy sounding EQ. So ya don't use the EQ at least not much and to be avoided when and where possible. And for instance, I'll avoid the mid-band EQ's on most TA-SCAM mixers, like the plague. I might tilt the bass down? I might tilt the high frequency shelf up or down but that's about all. Because any more than that and it will sound like amateur hour. And because a good sounding EQ must be designed to be a good sounding EQ and not just any other EQ not worth using. You like crappy sound? Use crappy equalizers and you'll have no problem getting crap. And without them, you only have one ever integrity the microphone preamp has to offer. Lessening your level of crap sound. Because then it's just based upon your microphone selection, placement, gain trim and your overall mix balance relying upon your talents that you're supposed to have.

    Now the ONLY reasons I had that compromised mixer is because I purchased it for very specific operational features in which it had that others didn't. So I did not purchase it for its sonic integrity whatsoever. I purchased it because it was lightweight and portable enough to schlep around. It was also designed for my 16 track, MCI, JH-10-16 track 2 inch recorder I had in my home studio in the later mid-1980s. This console could track 16 simultaneous tracks to the multitrack machine, adequate for rhythm track, tracking of an entire band. And it also allowed for 32 simultaneous mix down channels and where the last 16 of those channels also had limited hi/Lo EQ's, effects and cue sends in a split console like configuration. Along with eight subgroup outputs, stereo outputs and 16 direct outputs. All wired through multiple patchbays in the control room. And it could easily be unplugged and used on location. And while it didn't sound like my API preamps it passed quite usable sound that I could use as a skilled engineer. And that was the SoundTracs 16/8/16. And where half of the output LED meters also had failed. Requiring me to simply observe the input metering on the multitrack recorder or stereo recorder. And where those recorders were calibrated for +4 average reference input levels, of which I never exceeded its maximum capable output of +18 as compared to the 24/30/32 DB output capabilities from the API's. Which as you can see it is a substantial loss of output headroom capability. So you cannot overbloated outputs worth a damn before they start sounding crunchy and horrible. And where you might increase the input sensitivity of the recording device, so as to operate the console/mixer at a slightly lower gain staging for maximum headroom with a correspondingly increase equivalency of low-level noise of the electronics. Because I want the headroom more than I care about the noise floor. And where I can deal with the noise floor more than I could deal with output clip distortion. Another sound mark of a beginner is most frequently distortion. So if you're good with the understanding of the internal gain staging of the mixer along with its slightly more limited capabilities, makes for better engineering overall that can still sound fully professional in the right hands.

    One of the reason why Carvin was more affordable than their competition was because they were not in the retail stores. They sold via mail order only. They didn't spend a lot of money like the other manufacturers have on advertising and marketing. So they could deliver a quality product at a lower cost than their competition. And while some people have indicated problems, how would you feel if your $250,000 Neve virtually melted down because they used underrated voltage capacitors that nearly destroyed your console! But nobody's telling ya not to purchase a Neve, even though they made one of the worst blunders and professional audio history with that most horrible debacle. So really why were they trying to cut costs on a console that went for over $250,000? They're supposed to be known for their incredible quality. They dropped the ball on that one. And many people paid dearly including themselves for that technical blunder and incompetence, on their part under ownership with Siemens Corp.. You know? The company that makes all that medical test equipment designed to troubleshoot and save your life. And they installed the wrong value capacitors? You want to trust your life with that decision making on behalf of their management? I mean I hate their competitor GE since I had to work for that company at NBC-TV. Thankfully, not too many of their jet engines fall off of airplanes or blow up regularly. Making me think even their medical test equipment might slightly also be more reliable? I don't think Siemens makes any jet engines? And now knowing that, who would you want to place your health diagnoses in? So if you're going to worry about your audio, shouldn't you worry more about your health? And how would you like to be diagnosed? With Siemens medical test equipment or with GE medical test equipment? And have you investigated the difference in their design concepts and construction techniques? Oh? You don't bother to look into that electronic medical test equipment? Then you need not worry about what mixer you purchase. As long as it works. You wouldn't want to be hooked up to a medical electro-cardiogram with bad capacitors providing false readings would you? Then they would tell you you would need bypass surgery may be due to leaky capacitors of underrated values due to failure? They might still work but they won't be of proper value which will influence the test results. So take your voltmeter with you and check all the capacitors first in those CT/MRI/PET scanners before they stick you in one. Can't do that? They won't let you? Then you can tell them based on previous construction blunders you know they've made, you want to make sure that they will properly diagnose you. And they still won't let you test all of the capacitors especially since there are literally thousands of them. But you put your faith in it anyhow. Why? Because you don't have a choice.

    So for your own personal use, purchase any mixer you want that works. And that has the features you believe you'll need. Because you can't do your work properly if you're equipment choice has not been properly thought out to begin with. And where I also don't have any problem if a cheap Mackie or Behringer just happens to be the PA mixer in place at the nightclub and I'm also going to patch my 24 track hard disk recorder into, I won't even be blaming that equipment for its inadequacies. Because it's only inadequate if I can't use it to deliver a professional product. Which is in fact good enough, to deliver. Just not my first choices and in the end, I really don't give a damn as long as it's functional. And so, if you are confident in your own knowledge, skills, experience and abilities, it should pose no problem. It won't be great but it doesn't have to be great for rock 'n roll. An opera with a Symphony Orchestra, I might have to think twice about?

    So a lot of this is what you make it. We all have our professional preferences no doubt. And a high level of passion goes with that as you have already read. I have no less passion and where my capabilities, skills and experience far out pass most others. I also found it helpful to have spent a good deal of my career in live broadcast. We're your passion for the best equipment is exceeded by your passion to deliver a professional product, immediately. And you get no choice of the equipment placed before you. So you better have the skills ready and necessary to do a professional job with anything otherwise you will surely crash and burn guaranteed. You won't get the ultimate in sonic excellence unless your technique and skills are not up to snuff. First and foremost. And that's the only way you're going to get professional sound out of less than professional equipment. And if you're not up to that point, you'll be delivering entry level beginner garbage. And just about anything older than five years old is hardly worth your while or money.

    Just because you're Italian doesn't mean you have to be a stupid Italian. I mean you guys know how to do Giuseppe Verdi quite well LOL.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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