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Broadcast Consoles / Desks

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Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Sossij » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:32 pm

Hi everyone.

I am hugely into that vintage sound. Not (necessarily) the Beatles, Stones etc but that warm, grainy Dylan / Neil Young / The Band sound. At the moment, I'm recording digitally and then working like crazy ITB to make it sound large, grainy and crunchy. It sounds good, but I'd like to do less work for my money!

What I'd like is a small, old desk to use as mic preamps, rather than spending my money on something new, hifi and crystal clear...

Anybody have any recommendations? A friend has an Alice mixer in his studio which works really well, and I'm looking at Revox and Studer too. Would a "broadcasting" mixer be the best way to go?
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Dave B » Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:57 pm

I've known people use old Amek BC2/3s as daw front ends. Darned good desks and not too expensive these days.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Sossij » Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:41 pm

Haha, just found this post after a bit of head-scratching! Don't like change, can't cope....

Thanks for your reply, I'll do a bit of searching. Anyone else have any recommendations for an old desk that can be used as front end mic pres to "vintage-ify" my recordings?
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby zenfrank » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:54 pm

Dave B wrote:I've known people use old Amek BC2/3s as daw front ends. Darned good desks and not too expensive these days.

I can confirm regarding the Amek BC3... it's an amazing little beast!
generally speaking I think old broadcast consoles are a good buy for a small studio, there aren't much of them around though, as far as brand... Neve, Amek, Studer, Otari..maybe MCI but I'm not sure :P
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:37 am

BC2 and BC3 are quite different circuits inside. Does the BC3 have the Amek Neve pre?

I don't think I'd describe either as "vintage" sounding, but I haven't used the versions with transformer balanced i/o. My BC2 mic pre amps have a "larger than life" sound, but are a tad noisy. I imagine transformers would make it "bigger". I like them just as they are, and with the desk I get to use the onboard eq and compression too.

A little secret- the electronics are only a small part of the "vintage" sound. It's really the musicians, but obviously you can't just buy those, so the instruments used would be the next most significant factor, then the room, then the mic positions, then the mics. So for example, vintage Ludwig kits with calf skins and a teatowel are available. And I reckon you'd really enjoy the book "Recording The Beatles"- except that it will make you want an EMI REDD desk. :)
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:54 am

If you can still get the transistors (BC109?)you could BUILD the pre amps. I think Sowter carry suitable transformers?

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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Zukan » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:01 am

Does it have to be a console? Can't it be a boutique and specific stereo front end?
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Jack Ruston » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:03 am

The mic amps are not the contributing factor in the sound you want. The way those records were made, the techniques, instruments and players made that sound. To some extent, tape and some of the mics used are a factor.

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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby narcoman » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:10 am

Fighting signal to noise ratio with amazing engineering talent is most of it, sonically speaking. Everything else is the playing of the day.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Sossij » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:20 am

Thanks for the comments. I am aware how much of the sound is the amps and how much is the musicians / equipment involved in the process. I have a '74 musicmaster bass with flatwounds, foam under the strings etc, a 1970 Traynor valve amp with a 72 US tele, a 60s John Grey drum kit, am micing with old dynamics, omnis, ribbons and an RE20 for vox AND using some very tasteful musicians who really "get" the genre

BUT

I'm still plugging it all into my digital interface and then frantically using tape saturation, valve emulation, classic channel strips etc to try and get it to deal with the transients like those old records!

For example, I was reading a classic tracks article about Neil Young's Heart of Gold - no compression was used! Now I know that hitting those old preamps hard compresses the sound (in it's own way) as do valve mics and tape machines. THAT's the stuff I'm after!
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:58 am

well then that's the stuff you need to get, not some broadcast console.


each stage has an effect, and if you were going to be pedantically purist about it, then........

you'd need to record to tape,(of appropriate formula, on the right kind of machine) using appropriate mics, through period pre-amps, and eq and dynamics (where necessary) ,

then mix it on an old desk... again with appropriate outboard...

recording the mix to 2 track analogue tape... THEN run it in to the computer.



OR


do what you're doing now.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Sossij » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:38 am

But that's just it, I don't necessarily want to be pedantically purist. There's no point me making a record that sounds EXACTLY like records that have been made, even if those records are utterly amazing. I've got a sound I'm pretty happy with, but I feel that some good quality input stages would help me enhance them.

You read on here, and experience in the real world, how much a good preamp can affect your sound. It's subtle but it makes a difference. And me - well rather than buying a DAV BG-1 or something new and sparkling, I'd like something of an era, that can give me more than just one or two channels, and can be crunched up in a good way, and is relatively cheap.

Asking too much?! Probably! But I am aware that you can get good mic pres from old, small broadcast desks, and so this is what I'm after. Hence the post.

Let's not get too fixated on the exact replication of a specific bygone sound. I have read a lot of the books and literature, and worked in old school reel-to-reel based studios. I know that there's loads for me to learn, but I am aware that it'll take more than a broadcast console for me to make a record that sounds like Blood On The Tracks!
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:52 am

well okay then.... i misinterpreted what you were after... and why...


the thing is , many of the older desks that are still in use, are in use because they have what are still considered "good" qualities today.... and that the audio results stand up against "modern" equipment....


I used to own such a Desk.... (Amek Classic) i used it because it had good pre-amps, nice EQ (not amazing, but "NICE" ) , some rather nice buss compressors, and a decent mix buss, and made good sounding recordings... period... nothing to do with getting crunched up, in fact , just the opposite... broadcast consoles are, and have , really, always been, made to do the job as well as possible for the price range they're built for... typically cleanly, without undue coloration.... but "nicely" in the same sort of "nice" way as driving a used Bentley, is to driving a car.... it does it all well, and performs as expected for the money it cost new.... and that was not cheap,

the essential message here is that "crunched up in a good way" is NOT the Raison D'etre of a broadcast console... and that most are designed to avoid that at all costs....

Sol, if you want a bunch of good clean pre-amps.... a broadcast console like the BC2/3/Classic , or some of the Neve or even DDA options is a probable solution to finding a way forward.... f

if you want crunchy, then maybe look at something else... like older PA consoles, or consoles "known" for a certain "sound" like maybe old Soundcrafts , tridents, and so on....
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:01 am

Sossij wrote:You read on here, and experience in the real world, how much a good preamp can affect your sound. It's subtle but it makes a difference. And me - well rather than buying a DAV BG-1 or something new and sparkling, I'd like something of an era, that can give me more than just one or two channels, and can be crunched up in a good way, and is relatively cheap.

Asking too much?! Probably! But I am aware that you can get good mic pres from old, small broadcast desks, and so this is what I'm after. Hence the post.

You'd be very lucky now to find something with a lovely pre in it. Even if you did, you'd probably either have to fix it yourself or pay to have it done.

You seem to have all the major stuff covered, so I suggest you rent a Chandler, a V72 of some kind, a Neve etc. etc. and compare them to the plugins you're already using. You could sum with a Folcrom which is a neat but overpriced way of getting the sound of an old preamp into the whole mix.

IMHO it's all just different flavours of harmonic distortion. Which reminds me to test this:
http://www.fieldingdsp.com/fieldingdsp/index.php

Another issue IMO is transients- basically digital is good at them, analogue is not. So examine how you're compressing, and consider positioning the mics a little further back than you normally would.

Alternatively, send me some money so I can buy a REDD desk, and I'll let you use it whenever you want. :)
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby ef37a » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:51 am

Of the old circuitry I have seen one thing stood out as being probably THE most influential in "moulding" the sound (or, as I would put it. The most crap part of the circuit!)
That was the class A (almost a proper usage here!) 2N3055 output stage.
I reckon a pair of those in the lines would cack things up "nicely"!

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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Sossij » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:53 am

Thanks guys, things are starting to look a little clearer now. So the broadcast consoles are not perhaps the droid I'm looking for if I want to bend the VU needle a little.

Hmmm. An older PA console? ie a desk that sat in front of a live rig, or literally a Public Address system?

And Tomás, I already put the mics a foot or so back from source, but I will definitely look at compression. I'm guessing in order to simulate that analog thing I'm using faster attack times to squash transients? Oh - and the money for REDD desk's in the post... ;)
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:52 pm

LOL!

IMO, old PA desks tend to be transistorised with decent headroom, and smelly. I wouldn't have one in the room.

I think you'd be blown away by a V72. I find the Neve sounds too "fat" and American whereas the V72 is sexy.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby narcoman » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:10 pm

I was going to suggest V72s as well. Even "back in the day" - you'll be surprised how much of a recording isn't the console pre-amps.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby ROLO46 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:54 am

For live to stereo gigs (my scene) Film Production Mixers are excellent
There are a few respected Marques, including Audio Design,Cooper, Sonosax.
They are compact,bullet proof and self powered with excellent pres
16 ch max
More than enough for any one.
With the advent of multi ch portable recorders mixers are now not essential as matrix routeing is done in the box.
Ergo, the used market is keen.
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Re: Broadcast Consoles / Desks

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:43 am

There are a few pants broadcast mixers about so watch what you buy and the older ones could bring servicing issues, i.e. 24 hours on, years on end, bad caps etc. Routing options may also be limited and get used to D sub connectors.

I have used quite a few Soundcraft broadcast desks and found them basic and reliable but nothing to write home about regarding audio fidelity.

Have fun looking for one.

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