An investigation of the latest offering from Penny & Giles, the Rolls Royce of fader manufacturers.
Penny and Giles are the Rolls Royce of fader manufacturers, but just like the car, their faders aren't cheap. On the other hand, worn faders can wreck the performance of an otherwise perfect mixer, and the carbon faders fitted to most mid‑priced consoles wear relatively quickly. P&G's contribution to fader longevity is the use of conductive plastic; conductive ink is actually moulded into the surface of a plastic fader track rather than simply screen printed onto the surface. There's also a sophisticated contact wiper system which ensures continued low‑noise operation. The wiper assembly slides along a couple of polished bars to ensure a free and reliable travel, and the whole thing is mounted inside a screened metal case. Should the fader require cleaning, pull it apart, wash the innards under the tap, reassemble it, and it's as good as new.
The new 8000‑series fader embodies all the principles of P&G's original design, but its newly‑designed packaging enables it to be produced at a much lower cost. The secret is in the new plastic shell which is impregnated with stainless steel particles to increase its strength and screening abilities.
The faders are available in fewer formats than the more costly premium models but cover the resistance values most commonly used in consoles. Variations are available with either log or linear laws and there are both mono and stereo versions. There's also a choice of cap covers and widths to suit most tastes. Connection to the fader is via a multi‑pin plug for which a mating lead is available; it is possible to solder directly to the fader pins, but using the proper plug is a rather nicer solution.
To check the new faders, I refurbished my Tascam M600 console using the 8000‑series equivalent. The mounting hole spacing matched up perfectly and the mounting screws from the original faders fitted the P&Gs with no trouble. These faders have four, not three main contacts, the fourth being to ensure full cutoff when the fader is at its minimum setting, and two of the leads must normally be joined together; details are given on the data sheet. Replacing all the faders on a large console is the best part of a day's work, but can give an old desk a new lease of life. Like all P&G faders, the 8000s are seductively smooth, effortless in operation, and extremely quiet. If you can't justify replacing all your faders, it may still be worth changing the master faders so that noise‑free fades can be achieved.
P&G 8000‑series faders are no deeper than other box‑style professional faders, but they are considerably deeper than the budget carbon faders found in most semi‑pro consoles. The depth from the underside of the front panel to the bottom of the plug‑in lead is 46mm, so make sure you have at least this amount of space available before you order your replacements.