You are here

Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Ramirez » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:29 pm

Hi

The studio is based around a pretty large 56-channel Amek Rembrandt desk hooked up to RME M32 and M16 converters feeding an RME MADIFace Pro interface. It works great, and I really enjoy working on the system.

However, I'm becoming more and more aware that the desk is very reliant on an ancient MS-DOS (I think) computer running the Amek Supertrue software. I haven't really explored this software much, as it mostly pertains to the automation and dynamics processing on the console, both of which are not needed in our workflow.

However, the few times I've booted upo the console and forgetting to turn the Supertrue computer on, the desk doesn't work properly. It almost does, but a few things act weirdly.

One day this computer will very likely stop working, and what then?

I'm not in the studio now to explore, but does anyone have any experience with Amek and Supertrue? Is it possible to 'save' a state into the desk so the front face it will operate properly without Supertrue running? Is it possible to run Supertrue on a modern Windows computer? (Google doesn't help me on this).

I'm also thinking there would perhaps be less of a chance of failure if we kept the Supertrue computer running 24/7 instead of powering up and down each session?


Should we perhaps be lookin at getting rid of the Amek while it's still working? What would the value of such a thing be in this day and age?
We would still need to replace it with a large-ish console (we have an MCI 2" 24-track that needs to be usable) and around 32 mic inputs, which could well cost more than we would get for the Amek.
IF we were to look for another desk, the Audient 8024 looks to me like the best solution, (especially with its ability to mount a monitor screen and control surface section), but seems unneccessary while the Amek is still working. Not to mention the installation and cabling time and costs.

The Amek and its computer may well work for decades more, and if there is a way of future-proofing it and its reliance on MS-DOS and Supertrue, I think sticking with it is the best best, and dealing with it when it lives no more.

Opinions?
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1007
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:56 pm

Is the computer built in to the desk or is it in a separate box? If the latter FreeDOS might provide a solution https://www.networkworld.com/article/3165680/freedos-12-why-dos-is-amazing-in-2017.html

Otherwise there are plenty of servicable old PCs around or, if the source code for the software is available somebody may be able to port it to Linux or something, then it would probably run on a Raspberry Pi?

IIRC Foldy is the resident Linux guy maybe he can suggest something.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10502
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby James Perrett » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:00 pm

You can still buy industrial PC's that run DOS and it is likely that alternative forms of DOS (like FreeDOS mentioned) will be around for a while. My biggest worry would be the communications between the computer and the desk - do you know how the two talk to each other and do you have suitable interface cards? I would also make sure that you have plenty of backup copies of the software.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8568
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby resistorman » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:14 am

Sam’s link is great, and the author mentions that he runs it on virtual machines. That’s all free and easy. The tricky part, as James points out, is the communications between the computer and desk. If it’s just a simple serial port, then that should work without much trouble. You just have to find someone old enough to configure it :D
User avatar
resistorman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 678
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:00 am
Location: Asheville NC

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Wonks » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:42 am

Wire CTS to RTS etc..
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10120
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:06 am

I guess rebuilding the software control system when it eventually dies is not going to be a trivial task but replacing a 56 input vintage analogue desk is far from trivial too, if the desk is all working well electronically and mechanically I'd say it's well worth the effort.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10502
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Ramirez » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:46 am

Thanks all.

The computer is a separate box - I'm not sure how they're connected. They've been here far longer than I have!

As luck would have it, once I've started thinking about, the desk computer now warns that its battery needs replacing, so that'll be a good opportunity to have a look.

Such a large desk is still overkill for us in this day and age though - 56 mic channels and a 112 full EQ sections is just a waste, and the 18u power supply isn't exactly frugal, I'll bet!

Having just noticed the new Trident 68 - that looks like an ideal solution if we were to change. Pretty much everything we need on the analog front, and nothing we don't need. Small footprint (110cm wide compared to Amek's 3m including patchbay...). And a good price, though it's hard to judge how much we could possibly expect to get for the Amek.
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1007
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:23 pm

Some random thoughts on Supertrue and Amek desks in general.

1. You don't need automation to use the basic desk. As everything happens in the DAW nowadays, all that 'Virtual Dynamics' and other things are far better and more easily done in the DAW. All you need from the desk is the mic-pre and a direct out into the multitrack.

2. Right now, an old Amek Rembrandt (age? 25-30-more?) is one giant recap waiting to happen! Sooner you than me! And if the caps ain't dry, then the pots and faders are scratchy.

3. Trident - the new range are solid and good desks and at c.a. £13k for the 24:8 the price is right. But TBH who needs a desk? I have a 60-frame Amek and it is just a giant collection of very good mic-pres - the rest never get used, unless it's a really basic gig. The EQ is also brilliant, but all that is still better inside the DAW.

4. I did an all-analogue gig last month and it sounded great. Analogue compressor and 960L reverb for the voice, bass through the RN EQ, the rest (guitar, fiddle, accordion) flat. Customers said that it was the best recording they had ever had!

5. Back-up the DOS and the Supertrue to any cheap computer. And yes, replace that stupid 1.5V battery in the PC today!

6. The PSU on the Rembrandt had under-sized rectifiers and they were insufficiently cooled. Replace them and put them on decent cooling fins or blocks or whatever you call them. - And keep a set of spares!

7. Frugality? Haha! Over 1kW, so about 20p an hour or whatever you pay for all those little electricities marching up and down the wires!

8. Leaving PC on 24/7 is a great way to shorten its life-span!

9. Amek support can be found here - http://www.audiomaintenance.com/acatalo ... ducts.html and perhaps Colin at AML does a range of Rembrandt upgrades - ask him!

10. The value of a 25-year-old 56-channel Rembrandt with a dodgy PC that requires a recap and servicing? Try about roughly F-all!

11. Someone might want one as a prop for a movie - I bought a 24:24:16 prototype desk as a movie prop for £180. It's job is to just look like a desk and light up. That's all these old large-frame desks are good for TBH.

12. Old Ameks from the 'Dead Men' series (i.e. Einstein, Hendrix, Rembrandt, Mozart) were very complicated and are not sought after like Neves and SSLs. Media 51, Recall and the BC series are still sought however, but only if in good condition.
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2279
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am
Location: . . .
 

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Ramirez » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:47 pm

Thanks for your reply, but I'm not sure you read/understood my posts. Anyhow:

The Red Bladder wrote:1. You don't need automation to use the basic desk. As everything happens in the DAW nowadays, all that 'Virtual Dynamics' and other things are far better and more easily done in the DAW. All you need from the desk is the mic-pre and a direct out into the multitrack.
Yes, that was in my original point. However the desk does not function correctly without connection to the Supertruw computer. I can't quite remember what it is off the top of my head, but something in the aux sends section. As I stated, the virtual dynamics and automation are redundant to us.

2. Right now, an old Amek Rembrandt (age? 25-30-more?) is one giant recap waiting to happen! Sooner you than me! And if the caps ain't dry, then the pots and faders are scratchy.
Yes, this is a big part of my concerns. Pots and faders are perfectly fine for the most part, though I haven't tested everything.

3. Trident - the new range are solid and good desks and at c.a. £13k for the 24:8 the price is right. But TBH who needs a desk? I have a 60-frame Amek and it is just a giant collection of very good mic-pres - the rest never get used, unless it's a really basic gig. The EQ is also brilliant, but all that is still better inside the DAW.
As stated, we need a desk as the the 24-track tape needs to be available, both as a service and for archiving purposes.

6. The PSU on the Rembrandt had under-sized rectifiers and they were insufficiently cooled. Replace them and put them on decent cooling fins or blocks or whatever you call them. - And keep a set of spares!
This one's been running fine for 20 years or more, but that's worrying to hear! Thanks for the heads-up.

7. Frugality? Haha! Over 1kW, so about 20p an hour or whatever you pay for all those little electricities marching up and down the wires!
I was talking about the Trident compared to the Amek.

8. Leaving PC on 24/7 is a great way to shorten its life-span!
I've heard arguments on both sides here.

9. Amek support can be found here - http://www.audiomaintenance.com/acatalo ... ducts.html and perhaps Colin at AML does a range of Rembrandt upgrades - ask him!
Excellent, thanks.

10. The value of a 25-year-old 56-channel Rembrandt with a dodgy PC that requires a recap and servicing? Try about roughly F-all!
Hmm. It doesn't require a recap nor a service, and the PC is not dodgy (apart from the battery needing changing). I'm just thinking ahead.


I might contact FunkyJunk to see if they'd give a valuation (and perhaps a p/x price against a Trident). If the Amek is practically worthless, however, we might as well run it to the ground!
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1007
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:06 pm

Ramirez wrote:Hi

The studio is based around a pretty large 56-channel Amek Rembrandt desk


Looks like these are the guys you may want to talk with http://techaud.com/wp/about-us/ - David there seems to be the author of Supertrue...
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4451
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby James Perrett » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:31 pm

Ramirez wrote:
6. The PSU on the Rembrandt had under-sized rectifiers and they were insufficiently cooled. Replace them and put them on decent cooling fins or blocks or whatever you call them. - And keep a set of spares!
This one's been running fine for 20 years or more, but that's worrying to hear! Thanks for the heads-up.

...
I might contact FunkyJunk to see if they'd give a valuation (and perhaps a p/x price against a Trident). If the Amek is practically worthless, however, we might as well run it to the ground!

Personally I'd say that if it is working and doing all that you need it to do then keep running it. Any failures now are likely to be down to old age rather than design issues like the one that Red Bladder mentions. While it may not be as desired as some other consoles, it is probably built to be serviced so it will be easier to keep going than some of the newer alternatives.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8568
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:22 pm

Got curious about the desk and found that Matt Syson is a guy to talk with as well for these consoles, and he's in the uk (at least judging by the domain)

http://www.matt.syson.zen.co.uk/page2.html
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4451
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video  and the FB page

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:23 pm

Ramirez wrote:If the Amek is practically worthless, however, we might as well run it to the ground!
That would be my choice as well - the Rembrandt looks like the dogs bollocks, so it impresses the customers and TBH it really does a good job.

PSU - it can be that you have an earlier model with beefier rectifiers. Ask Colin Adshead at AML as he does upgrade kits for many Amek PSUs. He'll probably tell you that there's not much wrong with the PSU and just keep on trucking!

Leaving PCs on - leaving them on dries out the caps and wears out other components such as hard disk bearings. Switching them on stresses them and that's when they fail!

Backing up DOS and Supertrue is pish-easy. Just copy them over to any other PC (or a 2nd disk) and create a batch file (autoexec.bat) that tells the PC to go to DOS and crank up the ST.

Funky Junk are not keen on Ameks so don't expect much. Also, remember that they have to fix it and service the thing and also store it for heaven-knows how long before someone buys it!
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2279
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am
Location: . . .
 

Re: Amek Rembrandt desk and Supertrue software

Postby Ramirez » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:24 pm

Well I'll be...

There is a button on the console whose sole purpose it is to "disconnect the computer from the console, allowing manual operation."

Who'd a thunk it?

Shows that its worth re-reading manuals every now and again! (I had read it before, honest!)


Looks like we'll be sticking with the Amek for the forseeable - although we're interested to see how the three different PSUs are configured, and whether nor not it's possible to run a reduced channel count with only one or two of the supplies running - that would would gives us redundancy with the PSUs, as well as avoiding running unnecessary channels. It would perhaps be worthwhile removing the channel strips above 24 and blanking it off to create desk space for screen/controller etc.

Thanks all for your input - CS70 that's a very handy link, thanks. May well be worth getting in touch with some questions regarding the PSU etc.
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1007
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Arpangel, Sam Spoons