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desk expansion connections...

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desk expansion connections...

Postby molecular » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:00 am

My X-Desk has an expansion port on the back on a d-sub connector which is designed to allow you to link up one of their sadly out of production expansion modules, or a second X-Desk using a single cable.

As far as I can tell, this is just a normal 8 channel connection using the standard 25-pin pin-out allowing input into the mix bus and the two mono FX send busses etc.

If that's the case, presumably I can supplement the desk with anything that has a line level mix and aux bus? Like getting a decent little line-level rack mixer (I'm a fan of the tascam LM8ST) and getting a dsub > 8 x XLRF in place to connect the main and one of the aux busses, so the aux send from the tascam acts just as the first FX send on the X-desk

Are there any pitfalls to doing this that I'm not thinking of?
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:16 am

molecular wrote:As far as I can tell, this is just a normal 8 channel connection using the standard 25-pin pin-out allowing input into the mix bus and the two mono FX send busses etc.

Not quite.... and the manual is rather light on details...

The X-desk expansion output connector appears to be arranged such that pairs 1/2 carry the balanced stereo mix bus, pairs 3/4 carry the balanced stereo Cue mix, and pairs 5/6 the balanced FX1/2 buses. So far, so conventional -- although there is no confirmation in the manual I can see that states the pairs use the standard Tascam/AES59 wiring convention.

However pair 7 appears to carry an unbalanced stereo AFL monitoring signal, and I presume pair 8 is a DC control line for the AFL bus, but there's no indication of what the control voltage or switching system is.

It would be reasonably logical to assume the X-desk expansion input socket is wired the same way but I'd want to test that notion carefully... it's not unheard of for companies to use cross-over cables in this situation rather than pin-to-pin connections!

The X-Rack expansion socket is another input to the mix buses, but appears only to connect with the Stereo mix bus and AFL -- presumably with a DC control line to activate the PFL system. Again, it might seem logical to assume the same connector pairs are used but there's no evidence to confirm that which I can see...

If that's the case, presumably I can supplement the desk with anything that has a line level mix and aux bus?

Potentially, yes. However, it is very likely that the operating level in and out of the mix buses could be (up to 10dB) lower than standard line level, so headroom could be an issue if connecting normal studio equipment. There may also be considerations regarding the signal buffering requirements onto the buses for mix inputs.

Taking all that into account, if I were you I'd contact SSL and ask for their advice on connecting external equipment via the X-desk and X-rack expansion connectors, with particular attention to the connector wiring and signal levels. I'm sure they have all the relevant information easily to hand, and better safe than sorry with something as nice as the X-Desk!

H
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby molecular » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:41 pm

The X desk is the very last thing in the studio I want to blow up. Perhaps if I manage to get them on the phone I can find out why they stopped producing the xpanda thingy, who's purpose is what I suppose I'm trying to replicate here... :protest:

There is a master buss insert return which can be switched to sum with the mix, which would solve this problem for simply adding more channels, but as far as I can tell the x-desk expansion input is the only way of accessing the aux busses so the extra channels can share a reverb send (The X Rack set up does not have an aux bus, I don't think, and is out of my budget anyway).

Good thoughts, though, Hugh. Thanks for the informative analysis as always!
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:56 pm

molecular wrote:Perhaps if I manage to get them on the phone I can find out why they stopped producing the xpanda thingy...

Expensive to make and too small a market = no demand and no profit margin.
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby Humble Bee » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:24 pm

I've been gasing for a X desk for a while and seen a couple of x-pandas form sale over the last year or two but they have gone for silly money €3500+...
Silly as you can get an used x-desk for €1500 or less.
How does your x desk setup look like if you don't mind me asking?
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby molecular » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:17 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
molecular wrote:Perhaps if I manage to get them on the phone I can find out why they stopped producing the xpanda thingy...

Expensive to make and too small a market = no demand and no profit margin.

I'm standing by my theory that I can talk them back into it! :tongue:
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby molecular » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:37 am

Humble Bee wrote:I've been gasing for a X desk for a while and seen a couple of x-pandas form sale over the last year or two but they have gone for silly money €3500+...
Silly as you can get an used x-desk for €1500 or less.
How does your x desk setup look like if you don't mind me asking?

Yes, I got the x desk used for about 1500, and the only live xpanda sale I've seen went on Reverb after about 10 mins for most of 3000.

It is, however, really great. I have mine in place for mixing and monitor control rather than for recording multiple channels (just because of what I work on). 16 channels out of the DAW into the line- and alt- ins. Then I have 500 modules on the inserts, reverb unit on the FX and a couple of other bits and pieces. One of those 500 modules is a pre, so when I need to record something I can just punch the insert button on the channel and the channel out gets patched into one of the DAW ins. Another two DAW ins record the mix out.

The main job setting it up was configuring how I wanted the patchbays (which I suspect is going to be a lifelong project). My only caution to someone thinking of getting one is that it's pretty easy to spend an additional 2-300 on cabling and budget patchbays, and I can't imagine getting the best out of the desk without that.
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Re: desk expansion connections...

Postby Humble Bee » Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:33 pm

That sounds like a great setup! Thanks for sharing !

A patch bay (or two) is certainly needed with one of those...

Keep us posted on how the link stuff works if you find out.

Cheers!
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