Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2011, 02:41:42 AM »

So far, the most attractive idea for me would be hunting down a non-working console and attempting to restore it.

If I decide to do this are there any specific consoles you guys would recommend that I keep an eye out for?

Anybody have some suggestions for this??


Gareth Connor

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2011, 03:29:38 AM »
I can only comment on British desks - this is where my direct knowledge is strongest. Other folk will need to chip in on the USA and European types.
Broadcast consoles come in fairly low channel-counts - 8 is about the smallest. If, as is suggested at the end of your first post, money is no object, then a Neve or Calrec would get you a good starting point that is not too large (in scale) or daunting. Make sure you get the tech manuals. Broadcast desks are (reiterating Ruffrecords point) highly customised.
AMEK consoles are well-thought-out and easy to work on.
Soundcraft, Soundtracs & DDA are less flexible to modding. They are mainly recording or PA type desks. OK to work on.

To be highly specific, a Soundcraft 200B would be a very good starting point.

If you set your sights higher, I have a Calrec M-Series console in my workshop that is due to be disassembled for parts. The M-Series has 3 modules per channel strip; mic-pre & EQ, aux & group routing, and finally a fader. The mic-pre & EQ modules are not available as these will be refurbished and racked-up separately, but as one of your ideas was to re-package 500-type modules, there will be the space to place re-packaged mic-pre & EQ modules. At 6 feet in length, the console is not small.

What is your experience with surface-mount components? Expect to find these in modern consoles.

Gareth.
Gareth.

sahib

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2011, 04:57:55 AM »

I had a Soundcraft 200B and it was indeed very suitable for modding. Although I sold it (lost in post to be specific) I still have further modules that I bought off e-bay.

However, I remember my brother making a comment about "B" standing for broadcast and was being corrected by the person who turned out to be the designer. Would it be possible that it was you Gareth?

Regards,

Cemal

Gareth Connor

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2011, 05:59:15 AM »
Yes Cemal, I am the one, along with Douglas Self, who did the 200B.  :)

Cheers,

Gareth.
Gareth.

sahib

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2011, 06:13:46 AM »
Hi Gareth,

I assumed so. Mr Self actually credits you in one of his books for one of the Soundcraft console designs.

Regards,

Cemal

Gareth Connor

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2011, 07:37:03 AM »
Douglas and I worked together on a number of console designs when we were at Soundcraft. Although neither of us has had anything to do with SC for over a decade, we still work together. See here for more details:
http://www.signaltransfer.freeuk.com/

Cheers,

Gareth.
Gareth.

Balijon

    Enschede 'the town of Grolsch', The Netherlands
  • Posts: 165
Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2011, 11:21:11 AM »
Hi Gareth,

Great to read you are still working together, I enjoyed working with your SC-designs (and still do) for many years. :)
I know it is likely before 'your time' at SC, but do you know anything about the design origin of the very early Soundcraft Series-One/Two? (still love their character)
Was this mainly Graham Blyth's work? I read somewhere they were inspired on designs by Bill Kelsey.
Do you know what brand and type input transformers were used in the Series-One? (both the 'PCB' version and the early 'non-PCB' version)

Theo
Living on the edge is not always stable.

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2011, 02:53:05 PM »
To be highly specific, a Soundcraft 200B would be a very good starting point.


hmm very coincidental that you recommend that particular board on this thread. in doing a bit of research on it I came across an article about modding it by Eddie Ciletti. this whole thread was inspired by visiting a school he teaches at and also attending one of his Analog Tech classes (where I got to record a piano part from a led zeppelin song to the studer 24 track I mentioned in my first post) with my friend that goes there. Very cool and interesting guy. I'm really surprised at how much one these mixers can be had for. I'm definitely considering getting one after the holiday season when I have a bit more extra cash to mod/restore it.

Andy Peters

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2011, 08:53:11 PM »
To be highly specific, a Soundcraft 200B would be a very good starting point.


hmm very coincidental that you recommend that particular board on this thread. in doing a bit of research on it I came across an article about modding it by Eddie Ciletti. this whole thread was inspired by visiting a school he teaches at and also attending one of his Analog Tech classes (where I got to record a piano part from a led zeppelin song to the studer 24 track I mentioned in my first post) with my friend that goes there. Very cool and interesting guy. I'm really surprised at how much one these mixers can be had for. I'm definitely considering getting one after the holiday season when I have a bit more extra cash to mod/restore it.

The main reasons the 200B is so cheap are that it's an old console, out of production for at least fifteen years, and it's very limited, only four groups, four aux sends and no inserts on groups. And many of them were used as live sound desks (we had one at Maxwell's in Hoboken for years) and as such, are just plain worn out.

So if you want sheet metal, then the 200B's a good choice. If you want to actually use it to mix a live show, or run a small project studio, there are newer, better, more reliable options.

-a
"On the Internet, nobody can hear you mix a band"

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2011, 02:39:47 AM »

So if you want sheet metal, then the 200B's a good choice. If you want to actually use it to mix a live show, or run a small project studio, there are newer, better, more reliable options.

-a

Well, I'm open to other suggestions! the 200b just sounds cool because its supposedly easy to modify, and would give me good practice for something like this at a minimal cost.
It would be cool if the unit actually sounded good as well, but spending (possibly less than) $400 to be able to mess about with the internals of a 16 track console doesn't sound like that bad of an idea to me.

In the scenario of my original post money was not that big of a deal because by the time I could actually have something designed, I would've had a looong time to save up.
If I'm trying to buy a used console to work on now, keeping the cost down would be preferred.


alexc

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2011, 03:01:52 AM »
+1 for soundcraft

I have a Spirit 32 Auto - lots of I/O, pretty good eq, modular internals and easy to maintain
Sounds good to me and very quiet even when 72 ins are connected.
All for pretty minimal dollars.

I use it for everything except for my fancy analog channels and summing needs :)

I like to save the building effort and cash for the diy rack pieces and have
them go directly to DAW as well as a diy summing unit for combining DAW tracks
'better' than what the soundcraft does. (not even sure there is much in that)

So using a mix of technologies, DAW+fader unit, cost effective analog mixer for monitoring
and routing as well as diy channels and summing, I think I get a system which suits me
and is practical as far as diy and cash go  (if such a thing is possible!)

Anyway, +1 for Soundcraft. Fine, no BS quality IMHO.
20years operation and counting with only minor maintenance.

Still, if I had the cash I'd buy a fancy desk!
But I don't. So I won't :)

PS - it's also very cool to hear from some of the guys who worked on their design!

Cheers
I ping therefore I am

abbey road d enfer

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2011, 09:29:17 AM »
Beware of generalisation.
200B, 400B, 800B/8000 are good for modding. 500/600 not so much, because the internal operating level is screwed from the start, but still feasible.
I would be cautious about Spirit because IIRC, they're all SMD.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

Gareth Connor

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2011, 10:00:11 AM »


The main reasons the 200B is so cheap are that it's an old console, out of production for at least fifteen years, and it's very limited, only four groups, four aux sends and no inserts on groups. And many of them were used as live sound desks (we had one at Maxwell's in Hoboken for years) and as such, are just plain worn out.

So if you want sheet metal, then the 200B's a good choice. If you want to actually use it to mix a live show, or run a small project studio, there are newer, better, more reliable options.

-a

As with any second-hand console, buyer beware.

In any year, in the GJC Designs workshop, I see a number of consoles coming through for service, repair, customisation, re-sizing, refurbishment etc: Calrec, Neve, Soundcraft, Soundtracs, Yamaha, AMEK, and so the list goes on. One of the nicest condition consoles this year has been a 200B, and although out of production for 15 years or so, this 16 channel desk was immaculate. Someone in a hire company knew how to look after a console. A re-cap, good strip-down and clean, replace a VU meter and do some other minor work on it and the owner is now getting a very nice sound for the band he does live mixing for.

There are certainly newer and more reliable consoles, but if it is in the right condition and at the right price, with the facilities that suit your needs, it is a console worth considering.

Edited by Gareth to try to get the quotation stuff correct.... I think I have got it now.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 01:23:11 PM by Gareth Connor »
Gareth.

JohnRoberts

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2011, 11:58:23 AM »
If i were in need of a console myself (I'm not), I would go a similar path (refurbish an existing console). Just like it is way too much work to design a car from scratch, you can pick up a used console, if the pots and switches are in decent shape, and the design is not pre-history (before modern ICs) and get a fair result.

Andy comes from the live sound world, so consoles there are constantly being trucked around, or used in a smoky club with beer spilled into the chassis. I suspect most here are looking at more gentle service, in some small studio setting.

I would prefer through hole, double sided PCB construction as best for modifying and reworking. ICs in sockets is a nice bonus feature.

Another consideration is availability of service/repair parts. If the console uses obscure, custom or unusual switches and pot tapers, concentric, or other possibly hard to source repair parts (in small volume) that could be an issue.

Finally the last consideration is access to documentation and advice. If there are already people out there hot rodding these desks and writing about it, you have another asset.  If Gareth is willing to answer reasonable questions that could be nice too, while i don't suggest bothering him about the simple or obvious stuff.  If anybody knows where the weak parts of a design are, it is usually the designer after the fact (while we don't enjoy talking about such things, and exorcise those demons with later designs). It might be fair for him to share his opinions about the hot-rod advice from other's like Eddie Ciletti if willing and aware of the details, while make no mistake this is very much like uncompensated consulting work so don't expect too much.

JR
Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

alexc

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2011, 05:17:37 PM »
>would be cautious about Spirit because IIRC, they're all SMD.

Not the Spirit Auto 32 at least.

They are single sided pcb per strip, transistor and DIP IC packages
I ping therefore I am

JohnRoberts

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2011, 06:08:15 PM »
Depending on the age if the console you will likely find different technology used. You won't find too much SMT on consoles built in the '70/80s, and you won't find many built today without using SMD.

JR
Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2011, 07:09:29 PM »
If i were in need of a console myself (I'm not), I would go a similar path (refurbish an existing console). Just like it is way too much work to design a car from scratch, you can pick up a used console, if the pots and switches are in decent shape, and the design is not pre-history (before modern ICs) and get a fair result.
I second (third?) that.

Heffree, you'll note that the ex-console designers (I'm ex-Calrec) all recommend you buy and modify something.  If it is in working order, even better.  You'll be able to compare any new mods you do with a working alternative.  The major work in a console is the metalwork, chassis and particularly wiring it properly for low noise, hum etc.

Soundcraft 200B is the right sort of vintage.  Douglas Self has a book describing the circuitry that went into it.  Buy it if you have any interest in audio design.

Calrec M-series is good but likely to be expensive and very large.  Gyraf is selling a fully working Calrec UA8000 with full documentation.

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2011, 12:13:52 AM »
Im doing a build right now, im making a mini SSL 5000,
Its 24 channels (12 stereo channels any of which can be mono'd) using stereo input modules that have L or R mono-ing phase reverse, hi/low pass filters an insert and direct out pot (which will be my faders) a stereo EQ will be integrated in between the filters as per the original desk design and the whole lot will be summed to stereo through a passive resistor summing network and amplified by an SSL 552 IMO module which has a pre and post fader insert and a master fader.

Heres the build thread on the mixer:

http://www.groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=41573.0

and heres the build thread for the summing unit

http://www.groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=43999.0

Its not far off being finished now,

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2012, 11:32:11 AM »
Quote
I would be cautious about Spirit because IIRC, they're all SMD

just picked up a 16 channel spirit studio, 1992 possibly, and it's all through hole on single sided pcb, but i don't know when they switched. very cheap too, that's gonna be my new modding strating point!

alexc

Re: I Want To Build A Modular Console.
« Reply #39 on: January 03, 2012, 03:30:23 AM »
Good stuff - I think that these older spirit studio desks are very nice.

Just curious as to what mods you think would improve the performance?

Apart from psu maintenance (recapped some electrolytics  and the high current diodes)
my 1992 Auto 32  model hasn't shown any symptoms of needing a general audio path recapping
or anything else for that matter. It was used daily in a small commercial studio for at least 12 years
before I bought it. Even the automation still works fine.

My own opinion is that at the end of the day, changing opamp types and maybe signal path cap types
is of marginal value to the overall sound. I mean the Soundcraft guys were not inexperienced in these things!

The noise floor is already very low - I measured mine at unity gain and 72 channels connected up
and switched on to be approx -74dBu at the main outputs, -78dBu at each direct out and
around -76dBu for the aux and bus outs.

That is using Motu sound interfaces with loop back noise floor of -84dBu
(aggregated RMS value across the frequency spectrum - individual components < -90dBu or so)

I calibrated the Real Time Analzyer to absolute voltages using cro/sig gen/rms meter and the application
calibration facility. It is reaonsably accurate - to within a few dBu in general, I would say.

And there was very little variation with the fader position or when muting channels  (mine is a vca fader model)

Which is pretty good indeed, especially for the money.
Not a lot of gains to be made in the basic noise department.

It uses bog standard tl07x and ne553x DIPs.

So - what mods to do?
I ping therefore I am


 

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