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best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:15 pm

Happy 2018!

A question for all the peoples here... What should I replace my PreSonus Central Station (the first) with?

It's been a decent piece of kit... I've 15 years out of it at least. (I think? Doesn't matter.) The "A" speaker selection no longer passes signal at the same level as "B" and "C". Seems like it might be the year to replace it. (tested cables etc etc)

I like 90% of the features and I use them all... 3 sets of speakers. Digital input. Headphones.
I don't like the fact that the "C" speaker select is not exclusive... a bit of a pain, but I can deal.

The price point was good also. Thanks in advance for the opinions!
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Re: bast replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:47 pm

Drawmer are making some superb monitor controllers right now, judging by the MC2.1 which I have had for a while and would not be without. The requirement for a digital input pushes you towards the top-of-the-range MC3.1, I guess. I can also testify that their after sales support is excellent even when you've hit problems and your device is way out of warranty. 10/10.

CC
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Re: bast replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:12 am

Have you tried adjusting the speaker trim?

You could also replace it with another. I fairly recently bought mine and it does exactly what I want, plus a single rack mount unit sits well in my studio.

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Re: bast replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:05 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:Drawmer are making some superb monitor controllers right now, judging by the MC2.1 which I have had for a while and would not be without. The requirement for a digital input pushes you towards the top-of-the-range MC3.1, I guess. I can also testify that their after sales support is excellent even when you've hit problems and your device is way out of warranty. 10/10.
CC

Thanks, ConertinaChap! This device was unknown to me and it is perfect... except I wish it was rack mount! I might get it anyway because that is the only flaw and I have always been a huge fan of anything made by Drawmer. They seem a very competent crew without making things that are insanely expensive. A great balance for the real world

Bob Bickerton wrote:Have you tried adjusting the speaker trim?

You could also replace it with another. I fairly recently bought mine and it does exactly what I want, plus a single rack mount unit sits well in my studio.

Bob

Speaker trim... yes I have Bob and actually, I did get it workable again last night... but it's really drifting. When I first got the unit, the trims were all pretty much neutral. But now I am getting to ends of the stops to get it balanced between all 3 speakers (Mackies, NS10m, Auratone). I've always struggled a bit with this unit and trimming everything up. Now with all these extreme settings, it is really starting to weird me out. Science is science, but the subjective head game of my monitor chain really puts me off. Once I've lost the faith... it's quite a chore to get it back.

I did look at the new version and honestly... it still seems like a damn fine choice. The Drawmer seems like a better choice for my setup... or the Dangerous Box DAW version... but the price is creeping up...

Is there anything to the passive Vs active approach to speaker switching? When I bought the Central Station the soulful 'click' of the relays was a feature! Seems like there is a better way now? And I do like to just pump in digital out from my DAW so D-A matters.
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:36 pm

Sounds like it could be time to open it up and squirt some switch cleaner and then lubricant into the controls.
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:03 pm

James Perrett wrote:Sounds like it could be time to open it up and squirt some switch cleaner and then lubricant into the controls.

Yeah... do you think it could be that simple? Probably worth a try. It's a passive relay... should be fixable. I am hesitant because I don't want to mess around with it right now. Too busy.

What do folks think of this unit?
Mackie Big Knob Plus
http://mackie.com/products/new-big-knob-series

I've never used one but the price is right...
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:49 pm

This has me thinking about the problem and some observations...
  • I have decent D-A in my UAD Apollo (it's one that has been hot-rodded) I should probably use that.
  • The reason I use the D-A in the central station is all the problems I have balancing my speakers... and the issue sometimes feels like it's the Central Station; not the room or the speakers... because of those damnable trim pots. That's why I went to digital input from my DAW to remove some analog from the equation.
  • The only reason I have the Central Station is so I can use 3 sets of speakers.

Is it time to go to one set of speakers and use some software to trick myself when I am looking for a reference? "Soundways Reveal" is pretty handy in this regard.
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:50 am

Well, I guess it's each to their own.

My set-up is to use the Apollo DA into the Central Station.

I can then send the Main Mix to either my speakers (PMC TBII) on 'Speaker Select' A or to a nice Lehmann Headphone Amp on 'Speaker Select' B. But I also set up a Cue Mix in the Apollo software for clients. I like the fact I can audition that myself (through the main buss) or just listen to the main mix. I also have CD coming into the Central Station over TOS digital.

Personally I like to do all my mixing on one set of speakers (with occasional reference to headphones). Rarely do I feel the need to reference on alternative speakers, but if I do, then I'll audition on entirely different systems in their natural environment, like the van stereo and lounge system.

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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:06 am

Another thought: If you’re after a rackmount solution I’ve noticed that Sweetwater seek a range of rackmount controllers by Coleman, not that I’ve tried them myself.

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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:32 am

Jadoube wrote:Yeah... do you think it could be that simple? Probably worth a try. It's a passive relay...

The relays are all sealed types, so it's unlikely that these are the source of your intermittent problems. My suspicion falls on the trimmer pots because they don't get moved and so never benefit from the cleaning action of being operated regularly. A bit of exercise to clean the tracks and/or cleaning with a good quality contact cleaner/lube might well help.

If you are looking for an alternative, I can certainly vouch for the various Drawmer monitor controllers. They offer excellent facilities with very high quality electronics and unusually attractive pricing.

In general, active monitor controllers are better, more consistent, and more versatile than passive designs... but there are some budget active controllers with a disappointing level of technical performance. The original Mackie Big Knob fell into this category for me, but I've not tried the new model...

H
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:52 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:Well, I guess it's each to their own.

Always! Very helpful comments. I don't get into commercial studios or even much a recording "scene" anymore, so I really enjoy this forum to get some feedback and learn what other people are up to.

Bob Bickerton wrote:Personally I like to do all my mixing on one set of speakers (with occasional reference to headphones). Rarely do I feel the need to reference on alternative speakers, but if I do, then I'll audition on entirely different systems in their natural environment, like the van stereo and lounge system.

Bob

You have a good point... and I do that too. I listen wherever I can. The NS10s and auratones have been a constant in my music life and I lean on them for that. A true reference; as flawed as they are 35 years on! It's the flaws that work. And people still react to those bloody little white speaker cones... "Ah! must be a real recordist... has ancient 80's reference monitor that says 'rawk'! "
However, it's also a pile of kit... I find myself paring back more and more. I don't use them much. I could save a ton of space and money to lose them.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The relays are all sealed types, so it's unlikely that these are the source of your intermittent problems. My suspicion falls on the trimmer pots because they don't get moved and so never benefit from the cleaning action of being operated regularly. A bit of exercise to clean the tracks and/or cleaning with a good quality contact cleaner/lube might well help.

now to find that contact cleaner I bought in the 90's.... :headbang:

Hugh Robjohns wrote:If you are looking for an alternative, I can certainly vouch for the various Drawmer monitor controllers. They offer excellent facilities with very high quality electronics and unusually attractive pricing.

In general, active monitor controllers are better, more consistent, and more versatile than passive designs... but there are some budget active controllers with a disappointing level of technical performance. The original Mackie Big Knob fell into this category for me, but I've not tried the new model...

H

Yes... that's exactly what I am wondering Hugh... is the new Mackie Big Knob too much compromise? I didn't care for the old one either. I like the price but I am 90% on the Drawmer. It's a bit of overkill for me, but it's overkill in a comfortable direction; good monitoring.

I think I have a Mackie MCU in storage I can recycle to make the price a little less painful...
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:06 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:Another thought: If you’re after a rackmount solution I’ve noticed that Sweetwater seek a range of rackmount controllers by Coleman, not that I’ve tried them myself.

Bob

That Coleman is pretty nice looking! No Digi. Top of my price for what it is and no remote/desktop volume knob function. That would drive me mental having to reach for the rack. Deal breaker I'm afraid although my chiropractor would vote for it!
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:19 pm

Jadoube wrote:That Coleman is pretty nice looking! No Digi. Top of my price for what it is and no remote/desktop volume knob function. That would drive me mental having to reach for the rack. Deal breaker I'm afraid although my chiropractor would vote for it!

It's built with good quality components but it is another passive design, with all the weaknesses (and alleged benefits) that entails. I reviewed the Mk2 a decade ago:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/co ... -m3ph-mkii

But I see he has now produced a mk3 version and -- finally -- he has done what I suggested to him when he introduced the mk1, which was to locate the polarity inversion facility before the mono sum so that you could monitor the 'stereo difference' (or Sides) signal. The block diagram on the website still shows the Mk2 arrangement...

Personally, though, I'd go down the Drawmer route if the budget is limited without a moment's hesitation.

H
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby toader » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:24 pm

Cranesong Avocet is an excellent piece - great converters, very reliable, 3 monitor set switches, but the the price point is more.

You could always buy another used Central Station...
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:32 pm

The Avocet is a very good monitor controller indeed, but at more than 2.5x the OP's top price, not likely to be in the running...

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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:38 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The Avocet is a very good monitor controller indeed, but at more than 2.5x the OP's top price, not likely to be in the running...

H

Yeah, the avocet seems more like something my mastering engineer would buy!
Undoubtedly better but not THAT much better. That's a lottery ticket buy. :thumbup:

I am definitely leaning away from any passive designs because I think they require more care and attention that I am realistically willing to commit too. I just want it to work and I think the Drawmer is very strong in this regard.
The new Mackie also if they sound ok... but I lean away from this because I don't listen to enough different things to easily recognize issues until it's too late... like 6 months down the road. In this regard, I rely on the experienced opinions like the folks at SOS who are exposed to a large breadth of good, great and otherwise kit.
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:28 pm

Just to mention (again because I was very impressed by this) when I had a problem with my MC2.1 I wasn't talking to people following scripts in a call centre, I was exchanging emails with the product manager and the service manager. And though my problem was definitely somewhat weird and recalcitrant (a bit like me, maybe) they plugged away at it until eventually my controller was once again working as it should. And they did all this for free even though it was well out of warranty (apart from my shipping charges to them, which I regard as fair enough). I don't know what sort of price you can put on after sales support like that but Drawmer have my deepest respect and that should count, IMHO, in buying decisions.

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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:03 pm

Hey all... I am going to pull the trigger on a new Drawmer MC3.1. I tried to get happy with my old Central Station again... but I think it's time to part ways. Before I exercise the ol Mastercard.... anything else looking good? Or is Drawmer still the favorite? I certainly love any Drawmer stuff I have owned and this one checks all the boxes... but it is also the most expensive option. Anything new come along in the last couple of months that is worthy?
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:52 pm

It might appear the most expensive option, but it punches way above its price point and will serve you well for a great many years. You'd have to pay well over £1k to find anything significantly better, either in terms of sound quality or features. I reckon it's a total no-brainer...

H
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Re: best replacement for my PreSonus Central Station

Postby Jadoube » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:20 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote: I reckon it's a total no-brainer...
H

Well then... I qualify! Thank you sir... ordered... and a bit back ordered here in the colonies but hopefully, it won't be too long.
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