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Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:23 pm

I was recently directed to Alto Professional's website, i had never heard of them before. I was astounded by the number of inputs and outputs on the ZMX-244-FXU 24-channel version, and the price was cheap too at £399.

I am thinking about buying such a desk, but has anyone bought or previously owned one, and can you tell me about it's build quality, sound etc?
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby dmills » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:14 pm

First rule: "Anything that looks too good to be true...."
Second rule: "Anything that has 'Professional' in the name almost certainly is not".

I see nothing on the site to make me think the above do not apply.

In particular I would have a long hard look at that USB interface if planning to use this for a recording desk, you might find it is just a two channel affair over L/R, very common at that end of the market.

I have never used that particular variant on the theme, but it looks like just another cheap Chinese desk to me, I would personally sooner look to the second hand market if I was looking for a analogue desk in that price bracket, plenty of A&H/Soudcraft/Yamaha and even a few exotics out there in that price bracket.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:30 pm

i've seen the brand before..... think Behringer. that's about what you get.

if you're lucky.......

as Dan says...

if it says professional, it probably isn't.

it'll do more or less what it says on the tin, just not amazingly well, and longevity is not likely to be a strong point.

for that money, you might find a DDA interface series floating around.... if you're lucky...... much better than anything you can buy new for less than 5 times that price.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:38 am

So your both making assumptions on a mixer you have never used or came into contact with ?

How do you know it's a cheap chinese desk?

Yes i know i can get a better s/hand desk on the likes of ebay, but there are risks with s/hand desks too (breakdowns, faders not working, power supplies going up in smoke) plus sellers unwilling to ship them, i'm not gonna drive 300-400 miles to just buy a s/hand mixer, and there are risks with new ones too, even a lot of the old mackies are unreliable they have issues, same goes for behringer. Any old desk has problems that you need spend money on fixing right.

I have no use for USB recording. Haven't you ever heard of multitracking on a DAW ?
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Dave Rowles » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:48 am

You asked for our opinion and we said it looks like a cheap mixer. It does look like a cheap mixer. Short throw faders, fixed band eq, built on graphic. To me it looks like something that will probably break sooner rather .

To be honest, I'd rather buy the Allen & Heath Zed-24 mixer. And at only £450 brand new, IMHO, represents much better value for money.

But it's your choice.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:06 am


good luck getting any more advice.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:14 am

Exavior Music wrote:To be honest, I'd rather buy the Allen & Heath Zed-24 mixer. And at only £450 brand new, IMHO, represents much better value for money.

But it's your choice.

I wouldn't buy a A&H Zed-24, simply because it doesn't have enough aux sends or aux returns. A GS3 is still far superior to the crap A&H puts out now.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:49 am

Kwaidan wrote:
Exavior Music wrote:To be honest, I'd rather buy the Allen & Heath Zed-24 mixer. And at only £450 brand new, IMHO, represents much better value for money.

But it's your choice.

I wouldn't buy a A&H Zed-24, simply because it doesn't have enough aux sends or aux returns. A GS3 is still far superior to the crap A&H puts out now.

I think an Alto mixer would suit someone with your appraisal skills and attitude perfectly.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:22 am

Kwaidan wrote:How do you know it's a cheap chinese desk?


The give away is that it's incredibly cheap, and the company's website makes several references on its 'jobs' page about wanting people experienced in working with asian manufacturers...

So it would appear that these are cheap desks make in China (or that side of the world generally), sold from an office in America. The assessment seems broadly accurate to me.

It may not be what you wanted to hear, but there's no need to shoot those who responded to your question. It's not friendly, and it's not going to encourage people to offer their help in the future.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:13 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Kwaidan wrote:How do you know it's a cheap chinese desk?

The give away is that it's incredibly cheap, and the company's website makes several references on its 'jobs' page about wanting people experienced in working with asian manufacturers...

So it would appear that these are cheap desks make in China (or that side of the world generally), sold from an office in America. The assessment seems broadly accurate to me.

It may not be what you wanted to hear, but there's no need to shoot those who responded to your question. It's not friendly, and it's not going to encourage people to offer their help in the future.

hugh

Thanks Hugh, just the answer i was looking for, i didn't look at the jobs page tbh.

I'll keep my Soundcraft desk for now

Cheers.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:36 am

Undoubtedly they are made in China or similar - but a hell of a lot is outsourced to China . How it performs partly depends upon the design that has gone into it (these are british/italian?), the durability of the components and the quality assurance and the marketing strategy ( a few at high prices with a high margin or aim to sell lots with a low margin). Arguably if it is cheap then the qa has suffered ( live with some having to be sent back).

Years a go I went on a QA course and a question posed was which is of a better quality a rolls royce or a mini? Well even though they are vastly different in price they can still both be made with the same quality assurance and hence both be quality products!


The stance that "You do get what you pay" is often and usually true but then there are a couple of other considerations now-a-days

1. electronics now tend to be throw-away when bust ( due to low price)- it is often expensive for manufacturers to keep spare parts and the skills to repair them are becoming scarcer - can be more expensive to repair an item than simply replace it!
2. new models with additional features are continually being released ( take TV models for example) - the consequence can be that the life of a product if you want the latest features is not as long lived as in the past.

I do not necessarily believe in this type of culture (I have an excellent Yamaha stereo amplifier I bought in 1972 which is still in use) but it is where we are today.

As a thought perhaps SOS could review/critique more of this suspiciously "high spec'd for the money" gear - say do a "comparison / best buy/ avoid" for a price range type review.

By the way I heard a news item that products from China may rise in price as the workers are beginning to strike demanding higher wages!
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:01 am

N.icholas wrote:Undoubtedly they are made in China or similar - but a hell of a lot is outsourced to China . How it performs partly depends upon the design that has gone into it (these are british/italian?), the durability of the components and the quality assurance and the marketing strategy ( a few at high prices with a high margin or aim to sell lots with a low margin). Arguably if it is cheap then the qa has suffered ( live with some having to be sent back).

This is true, bu the other posters in this have failed to realise, when they said cheap chinese made stuff. However if your desk is from the 80's or 90's then that is not the case.

Alto - Italian Design, the desks are built in Taiwan (part of a multinational company called SEIKAKU), info here:
http://legacy.altoproaudio.com/index.php?template=4&testo=120792509226967&rubrica=120783504004171

Mackie - All production now outsourced to china, everything was once made in the USA. Mackie desks still have a lot of problems - see the Mackie forums for one.

Behringer - Cheaper knockoffs or Mackie/Boss et all, everything made in China

Allen & Heath - Designed in the UK, but outsourced to China for production, once made in the UK

Soundcraft - Designed in the UK, but outsourced to China, once made in the UK

The build quality and components maybe better on the more expensively priced desks, but everything is still being manufactured in China nowadays. Whatever happened to the good old british built desk, i'm afraid it's gone far east.

SOS should do a review of Alto products and put them to the test.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:55 am

To respond more seriously to your enquiry, I have had a couple of Alto products over the years and know the importer here.

My appraisal would be that they are in the Behringer class, and like them seem to copy ideas from other folk, though not exclusively.

The price really tells you that the components won't be top notch and that quality control may not be in the same league as the venerable established companies, who, having sent manufacture off shore still perhaps wish to retain something of a reputation and therefore build more quality control into their budgets. Well at least hopefully!

The price really says it all.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:53 am

look at the back of an allen&heath ZED series mixer - guess where is it made?

But does not mean it is necessarily rubbish! -

is part of the price in the name ( bought by a japanese company)?

(Note not defending the alto products - have not got a clue whether any good!)

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:15 pm

can't believe all you (I) read obviously!

"With our design centres in Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom we provide you with world-class designs"
- a bunch of lies or moved on since this was written? or maybe the logo designed in italy, the colour in the netherlands and the packaging in the uk and the rest in???????!!!!!


Just out of interest looked up their marketing blurb - obviously does not add to anything and should be taken with "ultra-caution"!

"the well-known worldwide audio company Alto was established in 2000, engineered by a staff full of enthusiasm and passion for music and audio equipment. The fast growth and the positive market feedback, supported by pluri-annual background, high technology, and daily research and development, drove ▲LTO to reach a reference position in the international audio scene.

Now ▲LTO is proud to offer a complete product line up, comprehensively fulfilling the needs of every musical genre:
Speakers
Amplifiers
Mixers
Processors
Wireless Systems

Recently the ▲LTO brand has been completely renewed and restyled in terms of management, global image (influencing the website, all catalogues, packaging and advertising materials), organization, marketing strategies and future products' features. Their increasing cooperation with Italian R&D laboratories, has added value to ▲LTO products, with new "made in Italy" design and project distinction.

Also the new slogan, "Music, Passion, Design", immediately communicates the concept of several projects constantly brewing inside the ▲LTO Company.

With "MUSIC" we want to clearly express our field, creating innovative products to provide professional solutions for the growing needs of all musicians and people dealing every day with audio.

"PASSION" is our constant inspiration, it's our philosophy in our daily jobs, it's our never-ending mission.

The introduction of the word "DESIGN" is a bridge towards the future, it's our power, our constant attention to detail, application, user-friendly design, and original look of our products."


and


"SEIKAKU - the group behind ▲LTO

Since the beginning, their passion for music equipment combined with long-standing experience in the same field drove SEIKAKU to conquer a prestigious position in the audio market; today we can consider the company one of the worldwide leading groups operating in the music and audio markets.

Constant growth in terms of technology, organization and product range, transformed SEIKAKU in a big multinational company exporting and distributing products in more than 150 countries all over the world.

SEIKAKU TECHICAL GROUP LIMITED can proudly count on a 130,000 sq.m production area, an experienced and motivated team of 3,800 people, 8 no-stop production lines and a strong R&D department with 160 professional engineers.
Recently some substantial changes in the internal organization and structure have given SEIKAKU group extra power in approaching the international markets.

QUALITY SERVICE: The program concerns the whole SEIKAKU production, with specific new certified procedures to check step by step the quality status of each unit. Many people have been trained to achieve the perfect flow of new procedures. All SEIKAKU products will get considerable advantages from this wise investment, and the concept
of Total Quality Control (TQC) has been implemented in every aspect of the product: from development to production, from sales to assistance.
A real "guardian of quality" team is working daily on this challenging project.

DELIVERY TIME: Thanks to the new logistic and quality projects, drastic reduction of delivery times are being achieved, allowing our distributors to better schedule their marketing and sales activities.
Under the motto "The faster, the better" the motivated people responsible for delivery services can now guarantee a maximum time of 10 weeks for the entire product range.
Now we are able to identify three big business units within SEIKAKU:

SHOW: A complete range of products dedicated to Public Address

▲LTO: The professional branch producing and distributing music and audio equipment

OEM and ODM business: Original products manufactured or designed for several top brands in the world"
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby dmills » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:07 pm

That text is on the web equivalent of a 4 colour glossy handout, take it for what it is worth.

Me I don't really care where the designers are (There are competent electronics folks in every country in the world), and in fact I don't even really care where it is made, but at that price point it is going to be VERY heavily 'Value Engineered', which is the issue.

In point of fact, the Chinese factories will produce to whatever quality standard you specify, its just that the segment where they are MUCH cheaper then getting it done locally is the low end, they cost about the same as everyone else for the good stuff.

Subsequently they have a reputation that is somewhat undeserved for low end product (because basically all the really cheap and skanky stuff comes from that part of the world), while their ability to make high end product tends to be less on display.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:52 pm

The thing that has grabbed be about the Alto ZMX 244 FXU mixer is it's outputs and inputs.

Image

I haven't seen a budget mixer like this with -

16 direct outs, 8 subgroups (4 out and 4 inserts)

4 aux sends and 4 aux stereo returns

ctrl room out, main mix on XLR and TRS


I looked at the ZED mixer and it has Zilch like this. Only the Behringer MX3282A or SX3282 or Mackie 24-8-2/32-8-2/SR24-4/32-4 VLZ pro offers the same as the ZMX 244 FXU. And yet all still made in China or Taiwan (take your pick, except the Mackies i mentioned), the VLZ3 pro's are chinese made.

I managed to find some Alto reviews on the net, some people like their stuff, others don't, but it's the same for any bit of gear always going to be good and bad.

Someone could have the latest state-of-the-art mixing desk with automated everything and built-in coffee machine, and someone could say that's the biggest pile of crap i have ever seen.

The thing i hate on music forums is people saying "don't buy it, it's rubbish", they only say this when they have a bad experience with it themselves. Let people buy what they want to buy, if it screws up then a lesson is learned, if not fine, they have a nice bit of gear to use in their home studio etc.

I called DV247 the other day to ask them what sales of this desk have been like, they said "we have sold a good number of them" of course music stores are big box shifters.

But at £399 it's a bargain, although i'm still not wholly convinced just yet! And no local music stores have these desks to try out.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby dmills » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:42 pm

At £400 it is indeed very cheap, bargain? That depends on how well the thing fits your use case.

My general experience has been that the kit that sells on its low cost is seldom a bargain unless you are a very occasional user of such with fairly low expectations, but your mileage may differ.

Black and decker is fine if you drill a hole one or twice a month, but you seldom see them in a jobbing carpenters kit.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:16 pm

Kwaidan wrote:The thing i hate on music forums is people saying "don't buy it, it's rubbish", they only say this when they have a bad experience with it themselves. Let people buy what they want to buy, if it screws up then a lesson is learned, if not fine, they have a nice bit of gear to use in their home studio etc.

Surely this is self contradiction? You are asking for advice on a product, but are implying if someone has a bad experience with it you don't want to hear about it? Obviously you have to sort the wheat from the chaff and there's a fair amount of chaff in this thread.

The bottom line is there's no such thing as a bargain. If something is cheap, then it's for a reason other than because the company was feeling particularly generous to their customers that day! There's nothing wrong with Chinese made goods per se, it really depends on the technical and quality control processes dictated by the company doing the outsourcing.

My experience with 'bargain' gear is that it's a false economy. It either doesn't last, or doesn't perform as well as professional gear and so you end up replacing it, which in the long run is a far more expensive route to take.

I do like Dan's analogy of black and decker.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Steve Hill » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:04 pm

A couple of months ago I bought a Midas Venice F24 for about ten times the price of this box.

What's the relevance of that? Midas (Klark Teknik) in Britain is owned by Behringer. The desk is made in China. I'm sure the desk stands comparison with costlier desks made in places paying Western wage bills. And if you give China a big enough budget to make a high quality product, they will generally be able and willing to do so.

In other words, you get what you pay for.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:00 am

Plus undoubtedly in many instances the Name or the hype ( cables?)!
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:06 am

Kwaidan wrote:

But at £399 it's a bargain, although i'm still not wholly convinced just yet! And no local music stores have these desks to try out.

I think there is one site that is offering something like a 45 day trial on alto products - why not get one and see what it is like!
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby James Perrett » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:21 am

Kwaidan wrote:
I looked at the ZED mixer and it has Zilch like this. Only the Behringer MX3282A or SX3282 or Mackie 24-8-2/32-8-2/SR24-4/32-4 VLZ pro offers the same as the ZMX 244 FXU. And yet all still made in China or Taiwan (take your pick, except the Mackies i mentioned), the VLZ3 pro's are chinese made.

You're missing the point with the Zed. Unlike the other desks you mention, the Zed has individual PCB's for each channel which make it much easier to repair if things go wrong. So the Zed is probably intended to have a longer lifetime and will be a better long term investment. If you are looking for something that will only last a couple of years then the cheapies are fine.

James.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:00 pm

James Perrett wrote:
You're missing the point with the Zed. Unlike the other desks you mention, the Zed has individual PCB's for each channel which make it much easier to repair if things go wrong. So the Zed is probably intended to have a longer lifetime and will be a better long term investment. If you are looking for something that will only last a couple of years then the cheapies are fine.

James.


No mate, i have hardware external effects i need to put through the desk, the ZED mixers have very little in the way of aux sends or stereo aux returns, that is the point you are missing. Aux Sends and Returns are very important to me so i can use my effects processors. I'm not going to swap them out for USB. the ZED 24 looks nice, but still no dedicated AUX returns.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov08/a ... zedr16.htm.

Well if you know anyone selling a Thatched Cottage GS2 or A&H GS3 let me know.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby James Perrett » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:17 pm

Most people would use the stereo inputs as aux returns but 2 post fade aux sends is a little bit stingy. When I bought my mixers, 6 auxes were normal with the possibility to choose internally (on a channel by channel basis) which were pre or post fade. More expensive desks offered up to 8 auxes.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:28 pm

Kwaidan wrote:No mate, i have hardware external effects i need to put through the desk, the ZED mixers have very little in the way of aux sends or stereo aux returns, that is the point you are missing.

The point he was making is that more expensive mixers usually cost more for good reasons, one of which might be easier servicability and a more robust construction... such as the individual channel PCBs of the Zed as compared to the all-on-one motherboard approach of most budget mixers.

Regardless, given your requirements for a lot of aux sends you may have to concentrate your search around live sound consoles since a high aux send count tends to be more of a priority in that market than the recording market -- but make sure that a sufficient number can be switched post-fade.

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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby grab » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:07 pm

The Zed R16 is primarily a multitrack recording/mixing desk though, unlike the ones it's being compared against. A better comparison would be the ZED 420. These do indeed have 6 auxes (2 pre, 2 post, 2 switchable). They also have two pairs of stereo jack inputs for aux returns, plus two further pairs of stereo RCA inputs which can either go through the EQ/faders or go directly to the L/R mix.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Kwaidan » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:30 am

Apparently Alto is owned by Numark, also owners of Alesis, AkiaPro, Mixmeister & IONpro.
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby N.icholas » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:26 pm

????????!!



N.icholas wrote:
Now we are able to identify three big business units within SEIKAKU:

SHOW: A complete range of products dedicated to Public Address

▲LTO: The professional branch producing and distributing music and audio equipment

OEM and ODM business: Original products manufactured or designed for several top brands in the world"
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Re: Anyone bought or used Alto Professional Mixing Desks

Postby Greg Strutton » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:50 pm

Just my 2pence worth.

Looking at this product shot - http://legacy.altoproaudio.com/admin/_static/files/prodotti/124339232658342/124407537881871.jpg - I noticed several things.
A few of the faders are wonky. The min mix especially.
Some of the buttons seem to be sloping rather than be flat. See above the group channels.
Look at the joins on the unit, in some places it doesn't all match up. Gaps here and there.

Now compare that to the ZEDR16 product shot (as it's already been mentioned a few times) - http://www.allen-heath.com/Assets/Images/Products/ZED-R16/L_Gal_1_ZED_R16_3Q.jpg
All the faders line up
All the buttons are perfectly flat.
The frame fits the body of the unit without any gaps.
But devil is also in the detail, look at all the screws on the ZEDR16, they have been designed to be flush!

So, from the view point of build quality, you can see where some the extra pennies you pay for have gone. Personally, when purchasing gear I always look for detail like this. Has a major influence on who I part my cash with.
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