Large Format Console Conundrum

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audiosway

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Jul 21, 2014
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67
Plus the 4000/6000/8000 can be worked on while the 9000s are nearing EOL and even SSL won’t support them. 9000 sounds great, but is a tough one to keep alive.
I've heard that too. The DBX Gold can can be duplicated and since it's still on op amps, resistors, and caps you can maintain the 4k. I've been really scared of the 9000 because of the things I've heard. Great sound. Really hard to maintain and expensive on power.
 

vintagetools

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Jan 9, 2011
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Build from scratch using vintage german cassette modules from Neumann, TAB, Telefunken, Siemens, Lawo, Monitora, ANT, NTP, Filtek, BFE, and EMT. I had SSL 4056 G+, Neve V3 and STUDER 900 series desks before. This desk is by far the best sounding to my ears. Buildtime 14 month 3-4 days the week for 3 people. Costs WITHOUT the worktime I payed 78.000€. Do I love the console? YES. Would I sell it? No. Would I do this again? N E V E R E V E R !!! Haha.a58seite - 3.jpg
 

audiosway

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Jul 21, 2014
Messages
67
Build from scratch using vintage german cassette modules from Neumann, TAB, Telefunken, Siemens, Lawo, Monitora, ANT, NTP, Filtek, BFE, and EMT. I had SSL 4056 G+, Neve V3 and STUDER 900 series desks before. This desk is by far the best sounding to my ears. Buildtime 14 month 3-4 days the week for 3 people. Costs WITHOUT the worktime I payed 78.000€. Do I love the console? YES. Would I sell it? No. Would I do this again? N E V E R E V E R !!! Haha.View attachment 96889
That's seriously awesome. The more thought I've put into it I see why people don't build a console. lol. Thanks for sharing! Very impressive.
 

audiosway

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Jul 21, 2014
Messages
67
How about the SSL AWS series?
I see what you are saying there and I have looked at them. The biggest problem for me with the AWS is that there is so much digital in it. I can repair a 4000 series or call out some great techs to quickly do that. I'm in San Francisco so that isn't hard to get done. I also started on 2 inch tape. So, I can mix in the box but prefer to use pro tools as a glorified tape machine.

Also, I can get an SSL 4000 series to fit my needs for $45-$60k. An AWS for my studio would run about $130,000. I could get a duality for less. I'm just a crusty old guy I guess. lol
 

Matt Syson

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Dec 17, 2005
Messages
255
Location
France
The biggest 'killer' for any desks more than say 5 years old is the pots and switches. Many used 'unique parts (more specifically they bought pots in sufficient quantities that they were custom assembled so not readily available 10 years on. Switches, well SSL4K and a few other desk makers used switches with a unique 'footprint' which were discontinued 25 years ago so replacements tricky.
Then there is electrolytic capacitor failure. Desks that run hot are particularly bad but the 'remedy is 'simple' although time and labour expensive.
If buying second (third?) hand you hAVE to spend a day actually using any desk you might purchase and check that pots and switches (all of them) work cleanly and reliably. Since I have been repairing desks for 40 years I have a feel for how much effort (cost) could be involved. Leaving desks powered 24/7/365 is not a good idea because continually dragging dirty air through the desk (because it is warm) damages pots and switches.. If the desk 'sounds better' because it is left switched on, it is a sure sign it is already faulty because capacitors (the main components that are affected by heat) recover within about 20 minutes of having power switched on. Electrolytic caps use an electrochemical process as part of their function. At a conceptual level they could be compared to a lead/acid car battery where they need a (tiny) maintainance charge current but otherwise can stay fully charged ready for use, but over time the electrolyte can evaporate a bit.
 

soapfoot

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LA + Brooklyn
It’s likely worth paying a premium for a desk that has been fully gone-over and guaranteed to work 100%.

That’s what we did with our SSL. We bought our Neves as-is, and the maintenance cost on both has probably been higher than the amount over-market we paid for our fully-serviced SSL
 

FIX

Paul Wolff
Joined
May 5, 2021
Messages
199
Location
Nashville
Building your own console is like making sausage. Like people here said, few survive it, and that's not a joke. It is emotionally and mentally taxing. Older consoles are also a close second, as in those days, studios had maintenance staff, who were really good at fixing everything. Many of the old console will have switch and pot issues, and many are custom values, and are made of unobtanium. Many of the new consoles are almost unrepairable for most people.

I don't want to ad here, but you should check out a FIX console, it has a lot of great features and it can sound like any console you prefer, up to 3 different ones at once. No audio runs through switches, all through relays, Pots and switches are paralleled redundant wafers and available on Mouser or Digikey, the inputs and outputs are all diode protected, and the bus structure has the opamps and transformers of your 3 favorite consoles, so you can switch tones between A, B or C stereo bus as you mix. I designed it that way because I don't want to repair them, and I don't want you to either...

Plus you can start with 8 channels and add to it whenever. Every frame layout is to your liking (to match the profile of something you already have, etc.) and you get extra side pieces so you can grow it in the future with little effort. The studio in Australia has an 8 channel one and he said that it's his best friend...

We have done traditional looking consoles that lay low, and raked ones that look like the old Neves, Spheres, EMIs etc. Plus, I make stereo consoles and Immersive consoles that pan to 9.2+6...
 

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porkyc

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Dec 30, 2008
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London
Just to go back to the start of the thread, so you think it's acceptable to "use" another Company's intellectual property despite that Company still trading........................
Do you have the small army that these console manufacturers had? (When parts and labour were cheap).
You cannot just take some schematics and get a console out of them.
Have you any idea about the grounding needed?
Have you any idea about the specific shortcomings of the consoles you are talking about and what the manufacturers did to overcome them?
It sounds to me like you want a Harrison type console and want this forum to do it for you. Hardly GroupDIY, I would suggest.

Ironically, there are enough members here who have worked on/serviced/modified/designed/manufactured the very type of consoles you are talking about. And know how to do it.
(They would probably never agree, though! We would be into drummers and light bulb territory).

Find the console you want and have it fully refurb'd. It'll be quicker and cheaper. And like IP, knowledge has a value.
PC
 

FIX

Paul Wolff
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May 5, 2021
Messages
199
Location
Nashville
99.9% of everyone that wants to build a console won't, but I appreciate anyone that wants too. Take an existing idea and make it better, or come up with something new, which ever direction you go, don't just steal something and clone it. Not because of IP, but because it's douchey. Innovation drives the future. If you want to build one, give it a shot. Any questions you might have, like "will making the center section actually kill me?", I will be happy to give guidance.
 

Rowboat

Active member
Joined
Jul 17, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Philadelphia
Oh, I do feel such an idiot! As a lad, the A rooms in which I was recorded had SSL, Trident or Neve consoles..

How little I knew.

Currently attempting to counter my late-middle-age crisis with Cubase/Harrison Mixbus 32c, some cheap outboard compressors and a pair of Softube units (console & fader).

How pathetic, how small it all seems in comparison to synced 2"/24-tk recorders!

I just don't have the real estate for a full-on control room.. or a decent console :(
 

Newmarket

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Oct 10, 2016
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Brighton Sussex UK
I don't want to ad here, ..

For someone who didn't want to "and" you didn't too badly there tbh 🤣
Interesting stuff though tbf.
And yes, custom multi gang pots etc can be huge issue for maintenance.
In some cases I think the only practicable solution is to replace with a switched solution. Then say you've upgraded it to "Mastering Standard" 🙂
 

Newmarket

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Oct 10, 2016
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1,237
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Brighton Sussex UK
It’s likely worth paying a premium for a desk that has been fully gone-over and guaranteed to work 100%.

That’s what we did with our SSL. We bought our Neves as-is, and the maintenance cost on both has probably been higher than the amount over-market we paid for our fully-serviced SSL

I'll add that even if a desk has been checked and all good then it's still with considering if it has parts that would be difficult to replace if required. Esp custom pots and custom or obsolete switches.
 

nielsk

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Nov 12, 2004
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1,648
Location
Megapopulas, Florida
How many channels do you need? All line input?
Is it just you using it?
I think there are some very inexpensive 80s & 90s B room consoles that are easily upgraded, parts are readily available for, not difficult to add automation, not power hogs, easy to work on (some).
I know of many in daily use
Or something like the Looptotter... configure each channel the way you want with all the 500 gear you have!
 

Timjag

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GDIY Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
168
Here’s a question with some potential answers.

Why do you want a large format console these days?

1) Is it to have something sexy to use as a selling point for your studio and projects that actually doesn’t get used as much as you’d like cuz it’s all ITB?

2) you’ve got loads of money you’re building an all analogue studio and you just know you’ll have clients tearing your doors off for the chance to record with you/in there

3) you’re young and adventurous and prepared to take a punt (see never built a second one)

4) you’ve always wanted one you’ve made a fair bit of folding and are looking to write off you’re huge tax bill



Owning a large format console is like owning a couple of vintage cars - like a C-type jag and a delahaye 175s. Always seems like a good idea BEFORE you get into it lol.
 

Brian Roth

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Aug 20, 2005
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Salina Kansas
Decades ago, I went down that rabbit hole:


It about killed me....lol!

For many things like the custom Bourns pots, we ordered enough to build two desks plus a few extras, especially to hit minimum order requirements. IIRC, we also had 2x of the front panels and other metal parts made as well.

I had a falling out with my then-employer and moved on. They sold off the extra parts to a guy in Kansas City, who then built up Serial Number Two. I did a lot of telephone assistance and sent pages of handwritten notes to him.

He used SN #2 for many years, then sold it a few years ago to a new build studio in Omaha for their tracking room. I worked for several weeks in Omaha going through it with a fine-toothed comb.


Ultimately, the Omaha folks opted for an API because it "looked better" on their equipment list. They sold it to a guy in Denver who still uses SN #2 to this day AFAIK.

TMI......

Bri
 

Brian Roth

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Aug 20, 2005
Messages
2,123
Location
Salina Kansas
Latency in a total "digi studio" have always bugged me. I don't do much recording these days, but a couple years ago I was doing tracking at a studio running Logic and ProFools <g>. When out in the room with headphones listening to the cue feed, the (allegedly) low latency was totally audible to me. My own voice sounded "hollow" in the cans. I presume it was the couple (?) of millisecond latency mixing with the bone conduction in my head. It just sounded weird. We spent hours diddling with settings in the computer....it only made it worse.

Another studio here is all analog, and the headphone cue there sounds Just Fine. Maybe I am just too sensitive to that very small delay in the headphones.

Bri
 
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