Neumann odyssey

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Well-known member
Aug 12, 2007
Berlin, Berlin
This was probably the biggest Hydra I ever had to Halo/Neumann. Lordy.

Ever since I installed it first in 2007, it's been causing nothing but trouble, and motivation to
continue just went further and further down the longer it went...boy where do I start?

Back when we got it all was looking great...I mean, theoretically, what more awesome thing for
a kid like me than a 400 Neumann, fired with a Halo combo, right? Sounds pretty good.


In the beginning, it was pretty much hit-and-miss. The Halos would tend to screw in every session,
whenever you patched anything in with 24 channels it would kinda "stick" for 3 seconds on routing,
then fall completely out of sync (no sound) after about 45 minutes- 2 hours, just plain no fun.

Aggregate devices just misbehaved all over the place, and there were 100 things we tried. Note the
phonetic similarity between "Aggregate" and "Aggravate". First was to get an isochrone to have a star
clock instead of the WC daisy chain around back. While totally cool, that helped pretty much zero.

Driver updates, console updates, whatever, the devil was just "in there".

So we blamed it on the FireWire ports. Somewhere down the line I was on the phone for long periods
with John from Halo in New York, and not even they had an idea what it was now that was screwing
me. Repatched everything, bought a PCIe FW card (because Apple had this brilliant idea of putting
all the bus data from FW and USB onto a single bus I was told), which also just kinda didn't help.

We were way deep into console logs by then.

Funny about something like this: You talk to everyone, they send you through 100 hoops and after
it's all exhausted everyone just starts hiding under the couch and gets reeeeeeal quiet. Good luck.

You knew - it'll be 3 times starting everything up just to get it running. Sessions could unpredictably
go all night because you could have a system dropout anytime. Ganging up the 3 2882s was begging
for crashes and freezes.

I don't even remember how many times I screwed those converters in, out, changed them, changed
configurations, you'd just suddenly see all the bargraphs light up and stick like that, taking the rest
of the setup with them.

Then installed the computer outside the studio (in the meantime I had just given up on "turn it on
and mix") and led the firewire cable through a repeater (top-grade "20m wire+built to go in pipes
for 10 years" industrial) and installed all the stuff as part of the apartment structure...then, screens
and mice. Like, 3 screens, two keyboards and mice, they'd interfere with each other big time, so
now mousing was no fun anymore either because cursor goes boing.

Worse, the (awesome feature) Neumann would just eat up any wireless mouse/keyboard signal,
it's like a black hole. Getting the screens to behave and not drop out was another thing (despite
"hey you can do 30M with this distributor" on the box...yeah make that 7m). So now you don't
know is the screen defunct or is it line length they was both. I had managed to
score two of the Samsung monitors from the crap run they did (drops in and out on occasion, and
then totally goes down. Got both repaired on warranty).

As if that wasn't crapola enough, the DVI distributor would "play inferior monitor" to the computer
and now you couldn't even get resolutions worth a monkey's. So ultimately found and downloaded
SwitchRes and cannon fired hires right past that bugger, as in, "hey mac, you don't ask the box
what it is, you tell it what to do!" For that now we had little red dancing pixels on the main.

Also, the super-duper graphics card, ATI 1900, was a crummy design that overheated. So now all
your screens are acting up all the time, and Apple had discontinued the "special edition" Geforces for
the 1st gen MacPros, which was stupid because THEIR EFI was a world of its own, and now nothing
was compatible.

Ultimately found one exact one on ebay after losing 240€ to a shady Dutch company pretending to sell it.

Just plain nasty. The fun factor went way down, and even getting commercial value wasn't really
gonna happen because you can't offer any competitive prices when you know that time could easily
go x3 (and your nerves into the blender). Actually offering someone to work on a console that has
a jumpy cursor, dancing pixels, types only every third letter, monitor drops in and out entirely and
audio craps out on digital in the middle of a session, like, 45 minutes of concert mastering and suddenly
noises like Das Boot? Umm...

Ultimately I had an exact startup procedure: Turn on clock, wait till it comes to temperature, turn on
DACs, start up computer, launch driver, launch Cubase, load project, pray. Without even Metric Halo
to know what exactly was screwing me, it all seemed hopeless. First-case scenario.

I was basically within inches of just doing ITB mixes or some "holy water" version thereof (mixing down
to internal Halo summer) for the rest of my days. What's the point, you know? Not like anybody thanks
you, no - all you get is "from a studio like yours we would expect everything to work" - right, I love you too!

You get to this point...what idiot ever came up with the idea of the "hassle-free digital studio, gone are the
days of complicated tape stuff and major rack work".

Well, for the first time yesterday, after ripping the entire apartment cabling apart and reassembling
from total scratch with a new concept, it did what it was supposed to from the start.

Somehow it had all come together. I had 5 things re audio kicking my butt simultaneously:

1. Some of the FW cable was inferior (yeehaa Lindy worx great).
2. No matter how good the
3. Daisy-chaining wordclocks on Halos...naw.
4. One of the Halos had a screwy DSP installation hardware side that would take the entire rack with it.
5. 1st Generation MacPro: Only one FW port worth a monkey's: The one on the front. Don't know why.

Good luck sorting that have to nail all 5 at once. 2 years, right?

Then, screens:

DVI distributor, repeaters every 5m of cable, VGA repeater cannon for projector, SwitchResX to get it all to behave.

Keyboards and mice:

Logitech Wave keyboard and Performance MX mouse in living room (unifying dogle reciever), in studio: Logitech
cable-tied gaming mouse (awesome) and illegal Cherry "10M Funkturm" keyboard off ebay. All on standard USB
hubs+repeaters, no switches necessary.


Yeeehaaa. It just became fun again.

My pride and joy is finally working. Halo/Neumann with 54 DAW busses that go through Halo DSP channels,
routable in any crazy direction, even back into the DAW, and then gets dumped in up to 24 channels onto the Mixer.

So basically it's one huge console. But to just look at wouldn't even know :)

And even better...anybody with a MacBook can come in and wing a huge mix, just plug in FireWire, or if it's Protools,
go optical. Totally open setup. Like I always wanted.

Even more fun: You can record in the living room, and in the studio, all at once, with real-time console tie-in and
control+screen from every position, and redistribution of any signal to anywhere, plus one big screen on the video
projector to boot. You can go from tracking to mixing to mastering all in one pristine chain.

Now you go like, 5 musicians, 2 rooms, 1 engineer, 1 mastering artist, awesome food, party!

I almost tore up the entire concept, really, I didn't believe anymore it would ever work. But now, it's staying right here.

Because, with this can ;D

Now I wanna pull out the Lemo patchbay and stuff on the right and fill it with Q Faktors and Little Beasts :)


Well-known member
Feb 15, 2010
Same feeling here. Glad you sorted it out, and it looks so awesome!!
Just one little comment: for my taste, the speakers are a bit too far apart. I have the impression that the center of your image is a bit too weak the way they are on the photo, but again, that's my impression ;D
Congrats on the odyssey!!


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2007
Berlin, Berlin
Oboi, thanks guys! I'm gonna go over there and just listen to music now.

(Oh and break out those 100 mixes I always wanted to do).

Funny that sig, it's been kinda with me for the last years...only here it was:

"How sleep when you have to mix...and nothing goes"? ;)

Ah yeah, re speakers, been through 100x combinations, and now have 2 equilateral triangles,
the Ginkos (small ∆) for sitting right up at the console (awesome speakers, of all things you
wouldn't believe the bass they have) and the NS-10s (big ∆) you just have to get a bit more
distance but then the music just kinda envelopes you :)

But it feels so good because way just going out and buying a setup like have
to go and physically earn it ;D

Hard to describe what it feels integration. Seamless from a-z because everything works


And for repairs: SpectraFoo setup from 3rd monitor position on electronics bench in wireless range
and PCB lab @ Neumann spec.

So if you ever find yourself in the ditch...chapeau.

Never give up.


Well-known member
Feb 22, 2006
livingnote said:
Ever since I installed it first in 2007, it's been causing nothing but trouble
well well.. what else did you expect for having a high-maintenance gf?


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2007
Berlin, Berlin
Well it's got just all the regular stuff, like was built for +6dB broadcast level iirc with headroom up to +22dB
(but someone better clarify that), the W491, 492 and 495 ST EQs (you can stick one in on every channel),
and NTP broadcast limiters before it hits the output, this console was the "Überspielpult" (how do you say that
in English?) for Hessian radio.

I originally just bought it for the sound, but what floored me about it was the way this thing was a tank.

I was told that these things had to be grenade proof, so there's heavy metal on everything. You could say they
designed it with war in mind, so now it just lasts and lasts. The rotary switches too, it's all super super heavy duty.

Next specification was that it had to be serviceable in running operation, so you had these cassettes that are just
awesome - you can pull them out to get at everything and make custom cassettes etc, so you can fix a lot of it just
like that...(Dan had this idea of trafo-balanced pico-tizing free slots).

Huge-sounding V475Bs as mic preamps, and every cassette that processes signal unbalances and rebalances
trafo floating Haufe/Pikatron. The patchbay to the right gives you the pre fader/post fader points and more
interrupts down the line in general, plus a signal generator for your +6dBu reference. Monitor switches & co,
someone removed the 450€ monitoring cassette and monitoring amps before they tossed it (but easy to re-slot
thankfully). Talkback x8, and output to broadcast transmitter.

So all the internal signal lines are balanced including routing/panning and relay-switched everything.

Then it's encased in this incredible EMI/EFI shielding exoskeleton. Boah.

Yeah...and pretty much all hand built, you open the cassettes and a lot are fully hand-soldered, or you see where
they corrected the machine soldering. It gives you a whole new light on the DIY concept because probably 400'000
of the 500'000 DM this thing cost back then were back to so much getting done to manual precision.

Built like Noise is way down, stereo field is just amazing, it's like a whole new dimension of perception
if you're used to the computer feel. Don't know exactly how to describe it, but it's like you have the signal
right in your hands in this kinda "total plasticity".

Also totally brutal for mixing in general because it doesn't tell you lies. Like, better have good ingredients, chop chop ;)

So now I have it as the perennial role model of building things the right way. It's pretty cool as a teacher, makes
you sad to see where the market is at these days but gets you all the more into DIY.

Like, argh, if it's supposed to be on level with that thing then I'll have to design one on my own. Dumb thing is that
for audio, if it's not, you hear it pretty darn quick.

But I guess that's a good thing :)


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2007
Berlin, Berlin
8 mono channels (W491), 8 stereo channels (W495STB), 4 mic channels(W492), 2 stereo groups,
4 aux busses, 2 inputs to every channel with direct out (XLR).

1 subgroup and the aux busses aren't working despite having power, someday probly gonna dive
in there with Volker if he wants to :)


Well-known member
Feb 22, 2006
livingnote said:
...brag...brag... But making love is just incredible.
Your pride will get sore and shrink
better spank your hiclass gf's ass while you can


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2007
Berlin, Berlin
Ha ha yeah, is the other side, ey?

I remember getting into this stuff like some blue-eyed whatnot, going "ah hey pro-level stuff, great,
that would be stable plug-n-play...right?"

Wrong. But with the 30-month headache gone, now it's all downhill from here.


Better get replacement parts as long as they're still around.


Well-known member
Feb 22, 2006
livingnote said:
Ha ha yeah, is the other side, ey?
Mann, your'e f**d. I see shes got you under HER /err../ thumb.

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