You are here

A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Fri May 14, 2010 8:31 am

Hi everyone! Not really new here, I just created a new profile after two years of inactivity...

I'm about to get a new desk, mainly for summing my Logic tracks (house and techno). Price about 1500-2500 pounds/euros. I currently have a nice little Sony MX-P21. I use it for tracking my SP 1200 to get a my drums punchy and lo-fi. However, while the Sony sounds great for tracking it doesn't work very well for summing, as the headroom is rather small.

So I would need
- at least 8, preferably 16 input channels
- a good EQ
- lots of headroom

After a lot of research I've come to the conclusion that these two are my best options, although never heard either of then:

Amek BC2
pro's: big warm sound, supposed to be ideal for electronic music
cons: vintage=potential maintenance headache, no guarantee, harder to find

Midas Venice 160
pro's: good headroom, good EQ, new!
con's: cold & sterile, subtle compared to the Amek? Will I notice a difference to ITB?


Which one should I get
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby johnny h » Fri May 14, 2010 8:44 am

Ossicle wrote:Hi everyone! Not really new here, I just created a new profile after two years of inactivity...

I'm about to get a new desk, mainly for summing my Logic tracks (house and techno). Price about 1500-2500 pounds/euros. I currently have a nice little Sony MX-P21. I use it for tracking my SP 1200 to get a my drums punchy and lo-fi. However, while the Sony sounds great for tracking it doesn't work very well for summing, as the headroom is rather small.

So I would need
- at least 8, preferably 16 input channels
- a good EQ
- lots of headroom

After a lot of research I've come to the conclusion that these two are my best options, although never heard either of then:

Amek BC2
pro's: big warm sound, supposed to be ideal for electronic music
cons: vintage=potential maintenance headache, no guarantee, harder to find

Midas Venice 160
pro's: good headroom, good EQ, new!
con's: cold & sterile, subtle compared to the Amek? Will I notice a difference to ITB?


Which one should I get

Neither. Outboard summing is a waste of time. Logic does it perfectly.
johnny h
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3182
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Fri May 14, 2010 9:43 am

johnny h wrote:Neither. Outboard summing is a waste of time. Logic does it perfectly.


Maybe so for some ppl. But I'm not able to get the sound I want ITB. Even with the 3rd party plugins I've used (Flux Epure EQ, Stillwell rocket, Waves API). There has to be the 'analogue touch'. Even the Sony I have gets me much nicer results than Logic ITB. But I'm sure a better desk would be even nicer. Maybe it's my lack of skill, IDK, but using analogue gets me there better and faster.

I would be greatful for any helpful comments, in particular from those who've heard both the Amek bc2 and Venice. Thanks.
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Andy McBain » Fri May 14, 2010 5:27 pm

If it's just summing you're after, why not look into something like the Neve 8816?
Andy McBain
Regular
Posts: 295
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:00 am

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Martin Walker » Mon May 17, 2010 1:16 am

...and then of course there’s the argument that it’s the analogue electronics that creates the ‘glue’ that holds everything together in the mix, and that passing your final ITB mix through a nice-sounding stereo hardware box rather than a summing mixer sounds just as good


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 9835
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Steampunk & Synth News | Mad Scientist Mode


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon May 17, 2010 9:39 am

I agree with Martin. You should be looking at something like a Neve Portico (I never heard one), or Manley Massive Passive (sounds lovely even in bypass, generates a lot of heat) as an insert on your main outs.

Outboard summing is indeed a waste. They are just passive, resistor networks. It's the gain bit at the end that gives the glueing.

I use the Massey Tapehead plugin for glue when needed.

A recent article in TapeOp describes the simplicity of placing audio transformers in the path. Your classic 600:600 boxes would cost around £100 each. Way to go if you can solder a mic lead.

I own an Amek BC2. These desks were sold in custom module configurations so it is difficult to generalise on sound quality. Someone on this board has an 8:2 line level only. Mine's 9:4:2 , 7 are mic inputs, one stereo input and each subgroup has a compressor.

I use it for tracking mic sources, never for electronic sources (I make electronic music). It's arguably a little lean on headroom when mixing but for just tracking it is a very fine sounding desk. The mic pres are the older SSM chips and are very well implemented, as are the four dbx compressors. Eq is OK too. But compared to mixing ITB, it just adds noise. There are no transformers in the audio path so there is no glueing of the sound.

The Venice has superb mic pres, the eq is ok but Amek's is better, and it is reliable and easy to use. Bit of a pain to hook up in low light situations (silly channel labelling). Again, no transformers AFAIK so no audio glue.

The above assumes that your monitors and acoustics are up to scratch...
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Tue May 18, 2010 1:05 pm

Thanks everyone for the replys! I found Tomás's post in particular really helpful. Glad to hear opinion from someone who has used both the BC2 and Venice. Interesting points on the transformers too.

To what Martin said: I have actually tried gluing my music by routing only the stereo out from Logic to my Urei 1620LE mixer (it has an output transformer) and to an RNC compressor on the mix bus and record back into Logic (with Audiofire 12) - a significant improvement! Btw, I did the same using Stillwell Rocket plugin instead of the RNC - sounded good and more "pro" but somehow more suffocated and dull.

Getting a proper buss comp, like the API 2500, instead of a mixer has actually crossed my mind too.

My question however did not exactly concern the ITB vs. OTB summing - I have already done my share of research and experiments on that. My personal conclusion is that in the end, there is a significant difference (not only sound but also workflow), yet preferring one over the other is purely of personal preference.

To me, pure ITB sounds 'wrong', uninteresting, too polished, 'too much by the book' etc. Using hw synths etc. helps a lot but still too characterless for my taste.

Thus I am convinced that I need an analogue desk. I realize it's not only about the gear one uses, but I can get better results taking it OTB.

I'm sure the Amek adds noise, and probably 'degrades' the sound but this might not be undesireable. Some people have reported that it has "a big console sound in a small format". I'm sure the fact that it has eq, i.e. more routing makes it different (bigger?) sounding than a simple summing box - I don't believe in the current summing boxes either. Even in the SOS review it was admitted that the Neve summing box sounds the same just running the stereo mix through it.

Sorry for the long post... I hope this is of interest to someone.

I've just actually got an offer on Acousta P100 - that has transformers...
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby The Korff » Tue May 18, 2010 1:24 pm

Ha, I was just going to suggest you look around for small-format transformerised broadcast consoles!

Of course, the other advantage to having a posh desk over a posh bit of stereo hardware, is that by balancing the input gains vs. the faders, you can vary the amount of saturation/distortion on each channel, so if you want one thing clean-ish and one thing gritty, you can have it.

Cheers!

Chris
The Korff
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1736
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:28 am
Location: The Wrong Precinct

I AM KORFF


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue May 18, 2010 3:23 pm

Ossicle wrote:
I'm sure the Amek adds noise, and probably 'degrades' the sound but this might not be undesireable.
Doesn't degrade the sound to my ears. Just adds noise. The Acousta P100, if it is a good clone, should be good. That's what I wanted originally, but I got a stupidly good deal on the Amek.
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby ill_ills » Wed May 19, 2010 11:21 am

If you look at house producers who's mixes have real analogue "weight" and "roundness") like The Freemasons - they use/used a TL Audio M1 (new it would be above your budget I think, but pre-owned it wouldn't be)

And Stuart Price owns the droolsome Neve Melbourne (as do Daft Punk x2)

Big production music company I work with also sum everything.

It's subtle, but I think analogue summing if you have the time and money is well spent
ill_ills
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby vinyl_junkie » Wed May 19, 2010 11:36 am

ill_ills wrote:If you look at house producers who's mixes have real analogue "weight" and "roundness") like The Freemasons - they use/used a TL Audio M1 (new it would be above your budget I think, but pre-owned it wouldn't be)

And Stuart Price owns the droolsome Neve Melbourne (as do Daft Punk x2)

Big production music company I work with also sum everything.

It's subtle, but I think analogue summing if you have the time and money is well spent


Imo TL audio gear is over priced for what it is and just use cheap marketing vale design
vinyl_junkie
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Wed May 19, 2010 1:15 pm

ill_ills wrote:Stuart Price
He could do a world class mix on a Behringer.
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby johnny h » Wed May 19, 2010 1:41 pm

ill_ills wrote:If you look at house producers who's mixes have real analogue "weight" and "roundness") like The Freemasons - they use/used a TL Audio M1 (new it would be above your budget I think, but pre-owned it wouldn't be)

And Stuart Price owns the droolsome Neve Melbourne (as do Daft Punk x2)

Big production music company I work with also sum everything.

It's subtle, but I think analogue summing if you have the time and money is well spent
I don't think its the summing which is better - its running the track through well designed analogue circuitry. This can be achieved just as well by running the 2 track master through it rather than using stems.
johnny h
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3182
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Wed May 19, 2010 1:47 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:
ill_ills wrote:Stuart Price

He could do a world class mix on a Behringer.


Wish I could too... wouldn't need to "buy my way" to good tracks...

I really envy producers like Theo Parrish who can make some of the most enjyable tracks I've ever heard with an old sampler and an old Mackie desk.
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby vinyl_junkie » Wed May 19, 2010 1:56 pm

Ossicle wrote:
Tomás Mulcahy wrote:
ill_ills wrote:Stuart Price

He could do a world class mix on a Behringer.


Wish I could too... wouldn't need to "buy my way" to good tracks...

I really envy producers like Theo Parrish who can make some of the most enjyable tracks I've ever heard with an old sampler and an old Mackie desk.

Kyle Hall too, dude's future is bright and right up there with Theo imo His studio is rather ghetto too.
As always though it ain't about what latest gear you got but how you use it, most of Theo's stuff is still done on a MPC2k XL
vinyl_junkie
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Sun May 23, 2010 12:53 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:I agree with Martin. You should be looking at something like a Neve Portico (I never heard one), or Manley Massive Passive (sounds lovely even in bypass, generates a lot of heat) as an insert on your main outs.


I looked more into that, i.e. just putting something on the stereo mix bus instead of using a full desk. Got really curious on the Portico and AMS Neve stuff. Couldn't find many user experiences with electronic music, though. Tomás, were you referring to the Portico 5033 EQ, the tape sim 5042, bus comp 5043 or something else?

I also learned that many "serious" producers - i.e. not just sound experimentalists - run their stereo mixes through mic pre's. So another option would be to mix ITB with plugins and run the mix through a pair of good pre's.

Would something like the Neve 1073DPA be an overkill for that? Wouldn't cost much more than the 8816 summing mixer... I could prob use it for tracking my analogue synths electronic drums too.

I tried running my mix through my Sony MXP's pre's and sounded good, really punchy and def better than itb, although the Sony's pre's have a rather aggressive forward sound.

I'm still waiting for more info on the Acousta P100 I was offered. That's supposed to have some very nice pre's too.
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby akkk » Sun May 23, 2010 3:56 pm

Ossicle, u are in the right path and don´t let them change your mind. At least for now u need something from outside to get what u are after, eq, comp, mixer whatever. I know how u feel. I have thousands of hours experimenting, and your conclusion is right. Keep searching, I keep too .
akkk
Regular
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Sun May 23, 2010 5:49 pm

Ossicle wrote:Tomás, were you referring to the Portico 5033 EQ, the tape sim 5042, bus comp 5043 or something else?
The tape sim. Ask narcoman, he has Cranesong Hedd, a Studer, the Portico and some other stuff AFAIK.

Ya, the mic pre being the gain part of the summing. Definitely will do stuff, of course. I am really liking the transformers idea though, very easy to do, and not at all expensive. When I get around to trying it I'll get back to you
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Sun May 23, 2010 6:20 pm

Tomás, thanks again. Looking fwd to hear more about the transformers! I heard some clips of the 5042 didn't sound like what I'm after. It was rock drums, so IDK for sure. Clips of the same drums processed with the HEDD sounded better though.

akkk, thanks a lot for the encouraging words! It does get a little confusing having literally thousands of options to choose from and little opportunity to test any of them. I know referring to forums is not going to get me quite there, but it really helps a lot. In the end I just have to take the path that 'feels' right...

I only have experience with outboard stuff that's rather low end (I own 80's roland efx, dbx 160x, Fmr RNC, 3630, Sony MXP, E-mu SP 1200 - all of which I love!).

I prefer "dirty punchy lo-fi" deep house sound and the natural, minimally processed sound of analogue synths. But I kind of want to emphasize this sound with something more high end, wrapping it all up at the end of the chain.

ATM, I think it would prob. be smartest to start with the Acousta mixer, if I get a good deal on it. It has trannies, good eq (albeit non-parametric) and good pre's. It's a sought after piece of kit so not difficult to get rid of if I don't like it...
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon May 24, 2010 10:40 am

So you liked what you heard of the Hedd? If you're running PT HD, the Cranesong tape sim plugins are gorgeous. I don't think they do a triode plugin though, as on the Hedd.
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby akkk » Tue May 25, 2010 8:56 am

Somekind of hardware maximizer/limitter (Waves L2? etc.)in the end of the master chain could make your old synths and sp1200 sound pretty up to date. Just an suggestion.

This could also get levels so high that u don´t need mastering at all. Without separate mastering u might maintain the high fidelity, bass and 3D deepness in your mix. Sometimes messing with plug-ins in mastering stage just make things worse. U loose punchyness etc. kick just doesn`t hit so hard to bass cabinet anymore. Good luck, sir!
akkk
Regular
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby johnny h » Tue May 25, 2010 9:57 am

akkk wrote:Somekind of hardware maximizer/limitter (Waves L2? etc.)in the end of the master chain could make your old synths and sp1200 sound pretty up to date. Just an suggestion.

This could also get levels so high that u don´t need mastering at all. Without separate mastering u might maintain the high fidelity, bass and 3D deepness in your mix. Sometimes messing with plug-ins in mastering stage just make things worse. U loose punchyness etc. kick just doesn`t hit so hard to bass cabinet anymore. Good luck, sir!

Leave stuff like L2 to the mastering engineer.
johnny h
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3182
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Thu May 27, 2010 1:13 pm

johnny h wrote:
akkk wrote:Somekind of hardware maximizer/limitter (Waves L2? etc.)in the end of the master chain could make your old synths and sp1200 sound pretty up to date. Just an suggestion.

This could also get levels so high that u don´t need mastering at all. Without separate mastering u might maintain the high fidelity, bass and 3D deepness in your mix. Sometimes messing with plug-ins in mastering stage just make things worse. U loose punchyness etc. kick just doesn`t hit so hard to bass cabinet anymore. Good luck, sir!


Leave stuff like L2 to the mastering engineer.


Will do. Anway I'm really not looking for another sw plugin or digital unit (as I indicated in my previous posts). My whole point is to get analogue, including its imperfections. Definitely not trying to achieve the "professional standard" sound (i.e. no Hedd or L2 for me). I generally find professionally polished, mastered music sonically uninteresting.

Instead, I'm more after my own verison of the Jamal Moss / Omar S / Theo Parrish "ghetto" sound. I've got the basic tools, synths and gritty samplers, already. I just need something to boost and empasize it. Might even be that modern high end is not what I should be after at all. I still think an old broadcast desk is my best bet.

Thanks for all the suggestions anyway. Always interested to read more of your ideas!
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby vinyl_junkie » Thu May 27, 2010 1:34 pm

Omar S don't get me wrong I like some of his stuff but his sound is far from nice..
If you want his sound I can tell you what he uses and it's not anything special..
A cheapo small Mackie VLZ Pro desk and EVERYTHING is bounced down to Minidisc without any attention to levels most of time (On the track Day you can hear the levels clip)
To get his lo-fi drum sounds buss a load of stuff to go through a Waldorf Micro Q (He has the Micro Q keyboard) and apply the Micro Q's lo-fi FX and some modulation
vinyl_junkie
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby vinyl_junkie » Thu May 27, 2010 1:55 pm

Image

Image
vinyl_junkie
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Thu May 27, 2010 7:39 pm

vinyl_junkie wrote:Omar S don't get me wrong I like some of his stuff but his sound is far from nice..
If you want his sound I can tell you what he uses and it's not anything special..
A cheapo small Mackie VLZ Pro desk and EVERYTHING is bounced down to Minidisc without any attention to levels most of time (On the track Day you can hear the levels clip)
To get his lo-fi drum sounds buss a load of stuff to go through a Waldorf Micro Q (He has the Micro Q keyboard) and apply the Micro Q's lo-fi FX and some modulation

I know. He also seems to record his drums through preamps, probably the VLZ's. Yet, most of the time he has a really pleasant sound. Kick drums are nasty, yet very pleasant when played with a good cartridge and DJ mixer. In my ears his sound is much more interesting than the industry standard mastered sound. It has attitude, something deep that really gets me going. I'm not even sure how much of this sound is intentional! Same thing with Jamal Moss (who sometimes uses VHS tape, Marcellus Pittman, older Parrish stuff and a few others. Sure, this stuff is not ideal and sometimes completely unplayable in a club sound system.

Let me be clear: I don't want to sound like Omar S or the others. But I don't want the polished professional sound either. There is lots of free unexplored sonic landscape in between, and I am just searching my own spot there. I've already tried lots of low end stuff with nice results but I don't feel I'm quite there yet. Hence started this thread.
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Thu May 27, 2010 8:17 pm

Check the mastering credits on his stuff...
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1528
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland.

madtheory creations


Soundware Shop


Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:37 am

Just got the 10 ch Acousta a few days ago. And I'm glad to say, it's as good as I was hoping for. Running logic tracks through it just makes the mix bigger, more defined, warmer etc. It was so fun to compare ITB mix to the Acousta mix, as the latter made the ITB mix sound so much smaller and 'digital'.

The EQ is also very good, in fact the 50hz shelf is extremely good. Shame it's non-parametric. But then, the Acousta even makes sofware eq's (which IMO are always harsher and more 2D sounding than hardware) sound bigger and smoother.

So I think I got what I needed and can focus on the music instead of gear again! Thanks everyone!
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby * User requested deletion 2 * » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:01 am

Just come across this thread, and a bit late to the party, but thought I'd throw in a couple of suggestions.

Old Studer broadcast desks are great - think along the lines of Swiss SSL. The 961 and 962 are classic options for summing - usually with good EQ but indifferent comp/limiters. Top notch mic pres and full of transformers.

New option could be the Toft ATB desks. They're not bullet proof build quality like Studer / Amek, but the EQ on them is just delicious.

Hunt around for old Calrec broadcast / remote desks too - the Minimixers are bargains for what they do.
* User requested deletion 2 *
Frequent Poster
Posts: 656
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:00 am

Re: A better mixing desk for electronic music ?

Postby Ossicle » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:33 am

reid wrote:Just come across this thread, and a bit late to the party, but thought I'd throw in a couple of suggestions.

Old Studer broadcast desks are great - think along the lines of Swiss SSL. The 961 and 962 are classic options for summing - usually with good EQ but indifferent comp/limiters. Top notch mic pres and full of transformers.

New option could be the Toft ATB desks. They're not bullet proof build quality like Studer / Amek, but the EQ on them is just delicious.

Hunt around for old Calrec broadcast / remote desks too - the Minimixers are bargains for what they do.


I did go through most of those optios. The Acousta P100 is in fact an Austrian broadcast desk from the 80's borrowing a lot from the the Studer 169 and 960 series, but in many ways it's better. It's got Haufe trannies in every line and mic inputs and outs, Alps, Penny & Giles etc., very sturdy buid quality and outstanding pre's (comparable to Neve's according to some). Sounds similar but better than the 169 yet more colour ("mojo") than the 961/2 - to my knowledge the 961/2 don't have line trannies. The Studers have more flexible EQ's though.
Ossicle
Poster
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 11:00 pm


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Hugh Robjohns and 2 guests