*HELP* PRESERVING AND UPGRADING A MONITOR SYSTEM - AVID 003, SCARLETT 18i20 2nd GEN

Brxdsky

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Dear Recording.org Community,

I'd like to get the input of someone who has used Scarlett Mix Control on a 2nd Gen. Scarlett 18i20 to create monitor paths with the various analog outputs.

I am currently seeking help from experts about audio interfaces and monitors. I work at a music studio that specializes in Hip Hop music.
The studio's current signal flow for recording and monitoring: Mic > Scarlett 18i20 input > hard drive > system/pro tools output > monitor 1&2 of the Scarlett > Mackie 32x8 mixing desk Master I/O > specific channels labeled monitor L/R > amps > monitors.
Essentially the computer output goes through the Scarlett's outputs to the mixing desk's Master I/O then using the 8 busses going to two channels for each pair of passive speakers using the console's direct outputs. The mixing desk is only being used to tune the speakers using channel EQ and its channel direct outputs send signal to the amps post-fader. Additionally, the first channel is reserved for the input of an 1/8" auxiliary cable so that people are able to connect their phones or computers as needed. Everything is in MONO. The studio has operated using this system for years by a miracle, and issues with haven't arisen until recently. Every engineer before me has been self-taught and didn't really know how to deal with these issues. I on the other hand go to school for audio engineering and have been handed the mess.

I have found this system to be largely unreliable, and it's something I inherited as the new engineer. To sort this mess, I seek to pitch the owner of the studio to replace the Mackie 32x8 mixing desk (that's only being used to have fader control over the various speakers) with a Digidesign/Avid 003 Factory Console. The owner doesn't see a need to replace the console as it has historical value: it was used to record the Wu Tang Clan's debut album Enter The 36 Chambers. The console is about 30 years old, hasn't been maintained well, and has a metering bridge that doesn't work. I've tried to work with the console, attempting to use unused channels for their preamps and highpass filter EQ to produce better recordings. I also attempted to use some analog compressors that have been collecting dust since the 90s by using the console's aux sends to a compressor whose output goes to a preamp in the Scarlett. The first few times I was highly successful and impressed a few people. A recent recurring issue for this system was feedback coming out of the monitors, usually a pair at a time or even all of them. This has presented some challenges for the studio as they were feedbacking heavily while some prominent rappers were having a session. Thinking that the issue could be wires touching and/or too much power being drawn from a surge protector, I sorted out the mess of amp outputs and power cables that had been clumped on the floor for years. After reconnecting and organizing everything with colored tape and zipties (so none of the wires can get tangled), the system worked. Every monitor got a clean signal. Yet every time I come in to work at this studio, the same problems occur. I end up spending 20-30 minutes every time I come to record, turning trim knobs and moving faders on the console to get everything to work cleanly. Headaches man. I think it makes me look really amateur when an artist comes in to record when it takes me 20-30 minutes to get them to have their own headphone mix and get recording input. One thing that COMPLETELY PUZZLES me is that when connecting a mic to one of the console preamps and using the channel's direct out to the Scarlett preamps, the mic is ALWAYS ON despite the phantom power on the channel AND the Scarlett being inactive. Honestly it terrifies me to try and think where the phantom power is coming from. Always worried I might damage the mic. Recently I did a session, and a high pitched buzzing around 12kHz was printed into the vocal track. That was the last straw for me, there's either something wrong with the board itself, the power supply, or even just the preamps. This console has defeated me, and I've spent dozens of hours troubleshooting, fixing, and looking like a fool.

The speakers being used in the studio are a combination of passive and active. There is a pair of active Yamaha HS8s, which are the only speakers that are reliable for mixing. The rest are various pairs of passive speakers: tuned to high/mid/low using the console's channel EQ. These are abused by rappers to play their music as loud as possible. In total there are 7 pairs of speakers (including the Yamahas).

Here is the NEW system I am proposing:
Hang the Mackie up on the wall. Buy a 003 console. Connect the Yamahas to the main stereo monitor outputs of the console.
Here is where I am most curious: I have read and watched videos of configuring Scarlett 18i20's I/O using Scarlett Mix Control. I plan to use two 1/4" TRS cables for the Alternate Monitor path of the 003 to send the Pro Tools/Computer output into the first two inputs of the Scarlett. Essentially I would set the input of the first two pre amps to play out of the monitor and 8 outputs of the Scarlett, mapping them as STEREO outputs.
Avid 003 Alt CR > Scarlett Input 1&2 > Scarlett Monitor + Outputs 1-8. IS THIS POSSIBLE?
Additionally I would use a cable that connects 1/8" male splitting to two 1/4" males going into the 003's AUX Input so others are able to connect their phones or computers to use the various passive speakers going through the Scarlett. I could not see a method for using the Yamahas simultaneous to the rest of the speakers.

This way the system of passive speakers are preserved through the Alternate Monitor path of the 003 going to the Scarlett, I am able to use the Yamahas as main monitors by default, others are able to access the passive speakers through the AUX input of the 003 in conjunction with the Alternate Monitor path, and everything would be in STEREO. All of this relies on the Scarlett's ability to be used to send those two inputs to the output section into the passive speakers. Any feedback, insight, or advice is greatly appreciated. I don't want to convince the owner to buy a 003 and have it not work with the Scarlett and look like a bozo. Peace.
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Location
Quebec, Canada
As I see it, you would not even need a mixer.. Unless it was a very musically sounding board, like a neve or SSL or Audient.. but that Mackie isn't going to sound better than the inboard preamps of the Scarlett.
Also replacing the Mackie by an outdated 003 isn't going to cut with me.
If you have to invest, you should think about a very good preamp channel strip for the vocal. (A UA LA-610 or Focusrite ISA430 or A millennia STT1) something that will give you at least one better sounding signal path.
Keep it simple, a few mics, a nice channel strip to line in of the 18I20 then the outputs of the 18i20 going to different amps and monitors..
Feedbacks are created because a signal grabbed by a mic is out of a speaker or headphones and picked up up by the mic again.. You should have a signal path that goes to headphones to record the performer in a room were no speaker is running. If you are in the same room, both of you should have headphones and every speakers should be shutdown..

For the Outputs I answered to your other thread ;)
 

Brxdsky

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
As I see it, you would not even need a mixer.. Unless it was a very musically sounding board, like a neve or SSL or Audient.. but that Mackie isn't going to sound better than the inboard preamps of the Scarlett.
Also replacing the Mackie by an outdated 003 isn't going to cut with me.
If you have to invest, you should think about a very good preamp channel strip for the vocal. (A UA LA-610 or Focusrite ISA430 or A millennia STT1) something that will give you at least one better sounding signal path.
Keep it simple, a few mics, a nice channel strip to line in of the 18I20 then the outputs of the 18i20 going to different amps and monitors..
Feedbacks are created because a signal grabbed by a mic is out of a speaker or headphones and picked up up by the mic again.. You should have a signal path that goes to headphones to record the performer in a room were no speaker is running. If you are in the same room, both of you should have headphones and every speakers should be shutdown..

For the Outputs I answered to your other thread ;)
Thank you for your feedback!

I pitched my ideas today and the owner said we needed a large mixing desk if we're going to replace the Mackie. I proposed that we cop a Control 24 to use as a mixing desk/surface controller, then a 003R+ as an interface. The 003R I know will work with our Mac Mini since the Mac is old enough to still have firewire inputs. I know, the Control 24 is also outdated, but we seriously just need a large control surface that is going to work with Pro Tools 12. Using a program called V-Control Pro it is possible to combine the Control 24 with newer version of Pro Tools. I would use then use the main outputs of the 003 rack to connect to monitoring section of the Control 24 using a DB-25 cable, and rig the alt monitor to the Scarlett to be used for the multiple speakers. The rack's headphones outputs could be used to give the engineer a headphone mix, and the artist in the booth. I totally hear what you're saying about getting a quality preamp for the vocal mic! I put a bid down on a Control 24 in my state, and it comes with its own Argosy desk with room for rack equipment! The Control 24's pre-amps I've read aren't great, and I probably wouldn't want to use them. The 003 rack preamps are what I've seen described as "decent" and "characterless", but I'm okay with that I'm thinking in the future we could purchase rack preamps (like the Warm Audio WA12 MKII). Appreciate you bro. Peace.
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Location
Quebec, Canada
If you want advice, you should ask before doing any moves..
I check the Control 24 some in good shape run used for around 3k
At that price you can find brand new digital mixers including interface fonctions.. Under warranty and far more interesting in every aspect...
For exemple this one : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SL32S--presonus-studiolive-32s-32-channel-digital-mixer
WA12 isn't at all what I'm suggesting, it's an ok preamp. What I suggest is a channel strip, at minimum a preamp with a compressor combo. Even better if you have the preamp, the compressor and some eq settings in the same box..
When your rap artist will start to shout an ruin the take because it overloaded the preamp, you'll regret not having a compressor on the way in..
Gear with digidesign written on it aren't the end of all.. Protool will work with any interfaces that has asio drivers..
Replacing old things with different old things ain't going to spin for long.. those selling are doing it for a reason..
Of course this is just my humble opinion.
 

paulears

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
When do you need the large mixer, or any large mixer? I've got lots of large mixers in my hire inventory, and I don't need any of them in my studio. My multi input interface very rarely sees more than a few inputs. If I wanted to record lots of tracks, I could, but I don't. In the previous studio setup I had all my synths, modules and other sources connected via a patchbay. One day I realised I used VSTis so much that there was no point reconnecting them in the move. Even if you buy the 003, what will you use it for? Motorised faders I guess for mix down. I just changed my mix down workflow - I could drive the channels from the faders of one of the mixers, but I don't. I currently have available 5 mixers with channel counts over 24, and they're all easily available and doing nothing in Covid lockdown - but there's no real advantage that would make me put in the physical effort to move things around and mess with all the cabling.
 

Brxdsky

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
When do you need the large mixer, or any large mixer? I've got lots of large mixers in my hire inventory, and I don't need any of them in my studio. My multi input interface very rarely sees more than a few inputs. If I wanted to record lots of tracks, I could, but I don't. In the previous studio setup I had all my synths, modules and other sources connected via a patchbay. One day I realised I used VSTis so much that there was no point reconnecting them in the move. Even if you buy the 003, what will you use it for? Motorised faders I guess for mix down. I just changed my mix down workflow - I could drive the channels from the faders of one of the mixers, but I don't. I currently have available 5 mixers with channel counts over 24, and they're all easily available and doing nothing in Covid lockdown - but there's no real advantage that would make me put in the physical effort to move things around and mess with all the cabling.

I need a new mixing desk within the next couple weeks. The amount of tracks being recorded isn’t going to be more than 8 at a time but I really just need something that will communicate with Pro Tools. I saw the Control 24 as an advantage because of the way it performs DAW functions and loads plugins onto its rotary encoders go give the feel of analog mixing while remaining ITB. It would only really be used as a surface controller, talkback, and the monitoring section. I changed my mind about buying the 003 console, and see more benefit in the rack. The 003R would be my audio interface. I don’t really see a point in using the pre-amps in the Control 24 because I’d need to buy additional DB-25 to TRS cables for sub-par pre-amps. It would also be used so that I can control the output of Pro Tools either to my main monitors or a series of amps using the alternate control monitor path and the Scarlett 18i20 to route each pair of speakers in stereo, an improvement from how my predecessors at this studio had everything wired in mono. Also using the Aux In on the 003R so anyone can come in and get playback out of the monitors using their phone or computer. The studio doesn’t really have that much analog gear and I don’t really see a need for anything that has a patch bay. I usually only use a pair of dbx 160s. I could do insert sends to these using the I/O on the 003R. I want to hold off on buying additional analog gear until the studio actually starts making money again, which it can’t until we replace the Mackie. Does this sound foolish to you? I just won a bid for $2800 on a Control 24 that comes with a desk, are there better ways to fulfill the needs I’m looking for?
 

Brxdsky

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
If you want advice, you should ask before doing any moves..
I check the Control 24 some in good shape run used for around 3k
At that price you can find brand new digital mixers including interface fonctions.. Under warranty and far more interesting in every aspect...
For exemple this one : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SL32S--presonus-studiolive-32s-32-channel-digital-mixer
WA12 isn't at all what I'm suggesting, it's an ok preamp. What I suggest is a channel strip, at minimum a preamp with a compressor combo. Even better if you have the preamp, the compressor and some eq settings in the same box..
When your rap artist will start to shout an ruin the take because it overloaded the preamp, you'll regret not having a compressor on the way in..
Gear with digidesign written on it aren't the end of all.. Protool will work with any interfaces that has asio drivers..
Replacing old things with different old things ain't going to spin for long.. those selling are doing it for a reason..
Of course this is just my humble opinion.
I completely understand what you mean about the channel strip now. I just mentioned the WA12 as an example of an analog preamp since I’ve been looking at 500 series and scratching my head as to how I would go about getting the unit’s output from XLR to TRS to use on the dbx 160s the studio has collecting dust. I totally understand the need for using compression while recording, and this is how I previously had the studio configured but due to the unreliability of the Mackie I had to stop. I was using an open channel on the Mackie for it’s pre-amp so I could throw in a highpass filter, then using an aux sending the signal to a compressor then into the Scarlett. Simultaneously, the direct output of the channel went directly to the Scarlett so that I could record in Pro Tools both an uncompressed and compressed signal. If I purchase a new console now, I want to wait until the studio makes some money before asking the owner to invest more into analog gear. I just won a bid for the Control 24 with a desk & rack mounts for $2800. Feel free to tell me if you think this is a mistake.
 

paulears

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
Have you thought about buying an X-32, or the upmarket Midas M-32, which has nicer preamps (although I doubt many people hear the difference) 32 in and 32 out via USB, moving faders and they can do anything you throw at them - the Church market love them to death.
 

Brxdsky

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Location
Massachusetts
Have you thought about buying an X-32, or the upmarket Midas M-32, which has nicer preamps (although I doubt many people hear the difference) 32 in and 32 out via USB, moving faders and they can do anything you throw at them - the Church market love them to death.
Those do look promising. Would choosing one of those consoles instead sacrifice the real time digital VU metering that the Control 24 has?
 

paulears

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
Well - the metering is digital data - so if it's in the data stream??? the metering facilities on these is able to display the digital levels going into the mixer from the analogue inputs, but can also show levels going from the computer back to the desk - so in your DAW, it's down to the routing. There are so many ways to route things on these mixers - any in to virtually any out. You can also use a tablet or pad to display these things too. It's possible to programme some of the mixer user definable buttons to control the DAW if you're clever enough. I'm not sure I am!
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Location
Quebec, Canada
I really just need something that will communicate with Pro Tools.
Anything works with protools, big studios have ssl, neve and whatever other brand of mixers..

how I would go about getting the unit’s output from XLR to TRS to use on the dbx 160s the studio has collecting dust.
Sell it to me, I'm looking for one.. ;)

I just won a bid for the Control 24 with a desk & rack mounts for $2800. Feel free to tell me if you think this is a mistake.
Yes I feel it's a mistake because its design is what? 20 years old and the mixer itself doesn't offer anything special sonicly.. You know some mojo of a neve or ssl or something similar.. The preamps and converters of a midas x32 or presonus digital mixers aren't that much special either but at least you would have start with brand new and reliable equipment..
20years on flying faders can be hard.. I hope everything has been maintained properly. I wish you enjoy it regardless of my opinion.
In you position I would have kept the mackie unplugged and put a cover on it. Then Use the money for a couple of good mics and a channel strip.. the Scarlett is well enough to drive your recording until you can upgrade for more highend gear...

I wish you well, keep us posted on how the control 24 works for you

Marco
 

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
The c24 is a very old unit. The only possible reason id consider it is if i was running an older pthd system. Thete are 2 versions, the original and the mk2. The mk2 doesn't have focusrite pre amps.

There are way better alternatives now.

I know someone who bought a c24 in 2015 and some of the faders didn't work and it was not very relaible. And since digidesign doesn't exist anymore avid will not support it afaik.

The digi003 was a home studio based unit when it came out and of average quality. Conversion of that quality is now found in 99$ scarletts. Again legacy compatibility is the only reason to consider this unit, unless its free or near free.

For 3k you can get 3x or maybe even 4x (used) avid artist series controllers. Which connect via ethernet and have higher resolution faders than the midi based c24.

A clarett and some avid controllers are a way, way better option im the same price range. For free you can use the eucon app on an ipad and have macro commands.

Your asking for trouble with the old digi gear at this point.
 
Top