Help with console choice

Discussion in 'Consoles / Control Surfaces' started by Marching Ant, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001

    We are looking at a buying a console for our main studio. It will be running with an HD3 rig as the tape machine. Pro Tools will also be used for thr effects plugins as we do not have the budget right now to purchase outboard effects processors. Also, I immagine that we will also be using pro tools automation a little as well, because all of us here are used to mixing on Pro Tools

    Our main reason for buying the console is because we are mainly an educational facility. We need to be able to teach our students how to use an analog console and give them some practical signal flow experience. Also, we want them to learn automation on an analog console.

    Right now, our top 2 choices are:

    Otari Status 18R with eagle automation and pixmix module
    Sony MCI 3036 with VCA automation

    i have found both for about 12,000US in used condition (which is our budget for the console)

    Our main concerns our:

    preamp quality. we know we won't be getting neve quality pres, but at the same time, we'd like to have something better than what you'd get from a mackie mixer. One of the appeals of the MCI console is the ability to upgrade the pres and other modules (ex. john handy modules) We arent aware of anything that is available in that respect for the Otari. anyone know of anything available?

    Ease of use. we don't want to be trying to teach signal flow on a complex console. We need something that is fairly easy for a beginner to catch on to.

    Durability. This console will be used ALOT, and will be mostly be used by novices. It needs to be able to take some abuse. We also don't want to be servicing it all the time.

    is there anyone with experience on either console?

    Also, i was able to find alot of information on the MCI console, but next to nothin on the Otari, and the Otari website doesn't seem to have any info on it, so if you know where i might be able to get some info on it, it would be greatly appreciated

    Also, we are open to any other recommendations for consoles within our criteria and price rance (we need at least 32 mic pres)

  2. heyman

    heyman Guest

    I know this is a little bit off track, but take a look at the Speck LILO Mixer.

    It is essentially 32 channel line Mixer and has no pre's built in. I think one can be had for around 8000.00 US dollars. They have got tons of routing options, Sounds great and is built like a tank.

    It is basically the best of Analog and digital.. It will perfectly complement your Pro tools rig.. Just go out and get some decent outboard pre's for it and you are all set.

    Hope that helps...

  3. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Thank you for the advice, but that isn't really what we're looking for.

    Need something with VCA or similar automation and works functionally similar to consoles you'd find in other studios.

    It is really important to us that our students get a good basic knowledge of signal flow and using a console, so they may go into any studio and be able to figure out how to opperate it.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    The Sony will ultimately give you more flexability and the large amount of parts still available for it would be a plus.They are extremely easy to learn signal routing and gain staging on...and they sound great.I could've bought one last summer for a shade over 10K and just didnt have the room...Low hours and 8 channels of Hardy goodies..I know that the MCI's had heat problems,or at least they generated a lot of heat and kinda ate their components up in doing so...It seems to me that when Sony took over the design and building, they somewhat negated this problem.This is only my understanding of it to this point.Kurt would have more info as he owned a MCI 636.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Yeah .... I don't know squat about the 3036's other than they are much more modular than the 400, 500 and 600 series consoles MCI made. In the MXP series of consoles, Sony set them up so that a wide range of modules could be used in them including those from API. I had a JH 636 but it's a different animal. Daves right about the heat from the MCI's .... I never needed a heater in the CR during the winter...

    When Sony took the design to the next level with the MXP3036 model, I think they dropped the MCI moniker and just started calling them Sony's.

    Wes Dooley, the same guy who makes the ribbon mics, is a big 3036 fan and dealer... a quick email to him at; may prompt a response that will be more informative.

    check this out

    You can also check with Blevins Audio http://www.
  6. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Thanks for the replies Dave and Kurt. I have worked on a 636. I thought it was a fairly decent console. the the pres were fairly good. nothing special, but not bad either.

    Are you guys aware of anything like the hardy and API modules for the Otari.

    Right now we like the look of both consoles on paper. The flying fader automation on the otari would be nice, and it seems to have a few more features, but the Sony seems to be more upgradeable. arrrg....decisions decisions!

    Still trying to figure out which one would be more durable.
  7. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    "Flying faders"? How old are you guys? Then again, how old are your students?

    My question is - Will your students be "running into" these consoles in any studio? I don't! Wouldn't they be more likely to "run into" a digital console or a digital DAW controller? Seems that for 12 grand you could get a decent one???

    Yes, I see your "specs", but I don't think this is the future(Or now) of studio recording - more like the ever-more-distant past...... Sounds like you're attempting to teach "typing" on a Brother Word Processor, instead of a modern PC or Mac(Or a Royal typewriter, if learning to type is what's desired.)?

    If they really need analog experience(No doubt part of the schools "history class"), wouldn't it make more sense to get a Mackie or Sound Craft or A&H, for a few grand(New) and let 'em have it it? Screw the preamp quality and just buy another one when half the channels don't work anymore. Automation? Kids today need exercise(With their fingers "flying"), not mechanical automation. Use the leftover money to buy lots of green Joe Meeks boxes, to impress the potential students and confuse the current ones.

    Don't get me wrong, all these things can surely be neat-o, John Hardy modules, flying faders and all, - for an old engineer who grew up with them, enjoys the challenge of constant maintenance and repair and designing complex interfaces with today's technology and doesn't want to change, dammit! But, for someone just getting into this, who's expecting to make a living when they get out of school?

    And(Yes, I'm almost through.), Otari and Sony MCI? Otari was barely ever above "semi-pro" quality and Sony/MCI, was just an acquisition they used for a few years to make a quick splash/buck with someone else's inventions. Neither are - today - something to aspire to, only things to "clean-up" with Windex ad paper towels, and go looking for that old engineer to buy them and store them in HIS basement.

  8. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    yes, i said "flying faders", and im 23. and our students range in age from 18 to 35ish

    YES, they WILL be "running into" these consoles in some studios
    They may not be running into the exact console that we are teaching them on, but we also aren't just teaching them how to just use the console, we are teaching them how to read a signal flow diagram and figure out how to use any console by looking at the diagram. That way all they need to do basic work on any console (even a digital one) is the signal flow diagram, and some time.

    We already have a digital console and a DAW controller in other control rooms. We have dedicated classes for Digital audio and its software. We need to cover the analog world, which is still VERY MUCH a part of major studios.

    Notice that we aren't spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Neve or SSL, because, altho that may be the majority of the types of consoles that our students will run into in major studios, it is not necessary to have to teach on.

    From our survey of studios in canada, there are still alot of studios using an analog desk, and alot of them have an automation package, with varying degrees of use. So, altho it is outdated, it is still used and therefore important to teach. We need to equip our students with the knowledge to be able to be comfortable with walking into any studio in the world, and being able to at least figure out how to work things
  9. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Ok, Ok... Seriously, I had no idea there were any of these things still out there - other than the "super" consoles in the "super" studios and the "ancient" consoles in someone's basement... Certainly 12 grand(For a school) isn't too much to spend or anything, it just sounded "crazy" on first reading.

    I really do have "wonderment" about maintaining such a thing? Parts, etc. and even the knowledge to know what goes where, but if you guys are up to it, enjoy!

    As good teachers, I'm sure you will keep a nice heavy ruler nearby to "smack the paddy's" of those who aren't properly reverent with such a piece... The only way Otari, Tascam, Teac, etc., equipment worked well and lasted a long time was when it was used, pretty much exclusively, by the owner! A person who would offer/tolerate no heavy-handed abuse of this, otherwise, quite "pro" and useful gear as it was all rather "delicately built", so as to include all the neat features and still be affordable.).

  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    The Sony 3036 was no re-hashed MCI. Anymore than their multi-tracks were. I owned and used MCI's and the 3036 ate them alive. There were enough of them out there to warrant both API and Avalon to offer upgraded modules for them. The basic mainframe had extensive routing, switching, and control capabilities.
    As far as the Otari is concerned, they bought out Sound Workshop ( a competitor to the early Tascams), and then used the designers to build beautiful consoles (like The President) for broadcast and post production. I have never seen an Otari product that was "semi-pro"(i.e., Tascam, Fostex,etc). The MTR100A could run rings around my old Ampex MM1100 16-track. Don't confuse what you've seen in a radio CR with the big stuff they made. Their gear was good enough for Skywalker Ranch...
    But both of these manufacturers offer little, if any, technical support or repair parts. Something as little as a switch or lamp can be a real pain to replace. If you want to get a reasonable analog console that is serviceable, look at the Souncraft Ghost or maybe an AMEK Angela. I think that the Ghost is still being made and the AMEK stuff is still being supported. The Ghost is available with a decent automated fader/muting system, and their mic pre's are highly touted. Check 'em out.
  11. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Thanks fo the suggestion Moonbaby. Im going to check both of the consoles you recommended out right now.

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