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Old 01-15-2014, 05:36 PM   #1
reelbigfish2020
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Looking for Mixing Board for Professional Studio & Live. Suggestions?

Hello all. I don't know if this website would be a good place to post this since it is mostly guitar players and not so much studio guys on this site, but wanted to throw it out there. Our studio is about to buy a new board. I'm torn between what we should get.

I've seen a couple of different boards out there that I'm somewhat interested in. Basically we are looking for something that one has firewire connection to use with DAW in our studio and also we would like to be able to take this board out and have the ability to use in a live setting with recording as well. I think we need at least 16 channels. We have pre amps already in the studio, a Focusrite isa 828 and Digidesign Rack 003+, so we don't need a board with any fancy pre amps in it, the less money we spend there the better.

Our budget is about 2,400. If we spend less, great. I have been looking at Midas boards, Presonus StudioLive and also Control 24. This is essentially a giant mouse, we want something that has some "wow" factor when walking into the studio and seeing it. The big mouse is the only thing customers notice. *eyeroll* but that's how it goes.

Anyway, I just wanted to see if anyone else had some other suggestions or advice before making this big purchase. Any help is appreciated, thanks in advance.

Last edited by reelbigfish2020 : 01-15-2014 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:52 PM   #2
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A control 24 together with your pres seems like a good idea to me.
To make it simpler you could buy a big digital mixer with pres in it though.
The Mackie onyx 1640i has 16 channels + 4 busses, it has FireWire and if you buy the thing together with the rack mounting fancy stuff, you can mount it on a rack and to find a big mixer on a rack when you enter a studio kinda gives a nice wow factor to the place.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:01 PM   #3
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The Mackie Onyx looks like it would do the trick, but it looks a little bland. I liked that the control 24 has digital meters for each individual channel, plus the vegas mode makes people go :O. But, I kind of thought the Control 24 is kind of going the way of the dinosaur. Super old boards. I heard people aren't using them with the new pro tools 11 (or that they were working on it), but then again I'm not using pro tools 11 anyway.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:47 PM   #4
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Avid now produce the C|24, which is effectively the same thing in a modern outfit (EDIT the old Control 24 works up to PT10, but you'd need a C|24 for PT11). There are also improvements over the old Control 24. When my placement studio upgraded there were things that were like "man, why wasn't it like this in the last one", so definitely a great controller if you've got a PT system already.

However, don't just get a desk based on what clients will think of it. While image is nice the end result it what really matters to them.

Also, the C|24 is a controller and won't do for live sound! It'll record on location, but you're going going to be able to mix FOH on it. Given that, perhaps look at the Yamaha stuff. I used an M7 live last year and it was glorious! The pre's aren't the best (but you've got those already), and I'm not sure whether you can use the faders to control PT, or even to automate a mix on the desk, but it's worth a look!
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:01 PM   #5
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I would NOT buy a Control 24 at this point, it's not officially supported by Avid and there's no guarantee it'll work in future versions of Pro Tools. The C|24 is the new version, as mentioned above, and is the one you want, if you're looking in that direction... It's expensive, though and you're not going to find one for $2400.

Do you have your own conversion? That would be my concern, honestly. You might not be using the mic pres in the studio, but if you don't have external conversion, you'll have to use the board's.

For live use, the StudioLive is the CLEAR winner out of those. It's an AWESOME board for live use that combines the best of both worlds from an analog board, with the digital effects, recall and remote control of digital. That being said, it's definitely more of a live board, it doesn't have motorized faders and is far less useful in professional a studio environment.

The Midas Venice F24 & F32 are more useful in a studio environment, as they have analog EQ and summing, with digital conversion built in. It doesn't have all the cool features that the StudioLive has for concerts, as it's really more leaning on the analog side than anything. It doesn't have motorized faders, which makes it less useful in a studio for riding levels, but I know a lot of guys get away with them, still. The Venice series has been known to have several issues, which is one reason I've passed on buying them before.

Another consideration is the Toft ATB, though it's a completely analog board, and you'll need your own conversion in the studio. It's basically a Trident Series 65, and has a great reputation for its analog summing and EQs, even its preamps are supposedly pretty good.



Honestly, if you don't want to use the board for summing or EQ and just as a "giant mouse," then I'd steer toward something like the Avid Artist series of digital surfaces and just buy a smaller StudioLive for concerts. You'll get the most control of your computer, with motorized faders and EUCON support, plus it'll look much more sleek and take up less real estate.

You could pick up an Artist Control, 2 Artist Mixes and a StudioLive 16.4.2 for a little more than your budget and have the best of everything.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:16 AM   #6
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Those Avid Artist Control and Mix are really cool. Seems like they are a sleek and cost effective way to do things. Gives you the basics you need for a studio. The only thing I don't like is that it has no capability to be used as a live board. I don't have to worry about the AD converter, my Digidesign Rack 003+ does that. Also all of my pre-amps and gear is mounted in a rack mount case on wheels, very easy to transport, so that is a big plus.

This being able to track live is a brand new thing we are doing. We figured if we are upgrading this would be a great new service to able to offer clients, might as well have that door open as a possibility. Primarily this will still be a in house studio board, with capability to go out and capture a live performance. I don't want to buy a separate board for the live functions because I don't know how much it will be used for that honestly and I'd rather just have the duel function instead of having two different boards I'd need to have. It'd be nice, but I can't justify the extra budget for it right now, or anytime in the immediate future.

I've talked myself out of the Midas board. One thing I don't like about the Presonus board is like you said it doesn't have motorized faders. Thats a huge plus in the studio being able to recall and control your mixes in session. I love all the features on that board for live (remote control). But, like i said this is primarily a studio board, not live.

I found another board that peaked my interest, I was looking at a Soundcraft Si Expression. It's a digital board that has motorized faders. I think the regular ethernet on the board would work in hooking up to DAW. I'm not sure if I would need the firewire expansion card. I'm drawn toward it. The digital boards are pretty cool. The having two boards is still on the back burner, but idk. Any opinions on this one? Any other suggestions out there?
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:17 AM   #7
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I guess what I'm really looking for is a control surface that will double as a live mixing board. It seems most of the boards are geared toward one market or the other. I just checked out a Behringer X32, that was pretty cool as well. But it looks like although it has 32 channels, I can only control 8 of them in my DAW . So close. I think I know the features I'm looking for:

Motorized faders able for automation in Logic or Pro Tools
Able to be controlled with iPhone or IPad. Most interested in musicians controlling their own monitors on stage.
Can have play, record, fast forward buttons, but doesn't have to
Ethernet connection for DAW
I'd like to have digital level meters for each channel on the board
At least 2 Aux Channel for monitors
Scribble strip would be a plus

I think that's basically it

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Old 01-16-2014, 10:14 AM   #8
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What you're looking for is simply not possible at this time, then. There are options, like the ones already mentioned in this thread, but you are sacrificing functionality, depending on where its being used. All of the digital boards that have those features, or most of them, are more tailored to live sound, and lack features in the studio. All of the boards that will excel in the studio will lack the features you want for live use.

Honestly, the ONLY way to get all of those features, and still have a quality unit doing so on your budget is to have two separate rigs. Otherwise, you're going to have to sacrifice several things on a board that will make it so so at live or studio work. This is why I mentioned the separate StudioLive rig. Your rig now might be portable, but owning the Presonus board, that's ALL you'd need to bring, in addition to your computer.

Honestly, if you're using this board to impress customers, there's not a single live board with those features that I'd even consider putting in my studio. Aside from the StudioLive, they all look gimmicky and cheap, in comparison to a board that is actually made to be used as a centerpiece of a studio. All of them were made with the intention of being used live, with recording features added to them. They're not really made for pro studio work, as they're not fully integrated with most DAWs.



As a completely different option to consider - You could pick up an Allen & Heath ZED-R16. It doesn't have any of the digital features you're looking for, but what it does have is preamps that are BETTER than your Digi, conversion that is BETTER than your Digi, 16 channels of ADAT, so you can expand to 24 channels with your Focusrite 828's digital card, and add even more later, plus it has a talkback mic built into it, DAW control (though, no motorized faders), great summing and great analog EQ on each channel. Really, the only bad thing about it is there's no meter bridge option that I'm aware of, and the more expensive GSR24, is $8000 more to get one

Going this route, you could sell your Digi 003+ (or use it as 8 channels of ADAT with your 828 and be able to record 32 simultaneous inputs) and use the money to buy other upgrades. If you need motorized faders, you can pick up a Mackie MCU for ~$300 used and it'll integrate with Pro Tools over HUI very nicely, and is also usable in every other major DAW out there.
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Old 01-16-2014, 03:54 PM   #9
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I'm looking at the Mackie D8B as well. Does this board work with DAW? I haven't seen an ethernet port for it, I don't know if they have an expansion card for that.
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:17 PM   #10
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It says it'll do PT, but again, it looks like it won't be what you want for live sound.

Just to ask once more so we're clear, are you talking about mixing the Front of House at a live gig or just recording the gig and letting someone else mix for the audience?

Few desks are designed for the studio (flying faders, transport controls etc) and for live sound. There are different requirements, and it's very rare a studio desk is moved out of a studio.

Your best bet is to get two units. Why not look at an Allen and Heath ZED series desk, and combine it with an Avid controller? Think that would be closer to your budget as well.
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:22 PM   #11
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You don't need an ethernet port to control a DAW... that's a pretty new thing.

You need MIDI or some kind of USB input. Yes, the D8B will control Pro Tools over HUI using the MIDI in/out ports on it, but it's a very old surface that has a lot of downfalls. It might have motorized faders, but they are not touch-sensitive and interaction with Pro Tools is painfully slow. If you were using a different DAW, you could buy the D8Bridge software and cable and run it as 3 Mackie MCUs, but the Mackie Control protocol doesn't work in Pro Tools. For PT support, you need HUI (which is pretty limited) or, ideally, EUCON (which is what the Avid Artist series of controllers use).
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:32 AM   #12
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Ok, if I'm understanding correctly, even if a board will connect and has motorized faders I have to make sure it has HUI or EUCON for it to automate with protools?
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by reelbigfish2020
Ok, if I'm understanding correctly, even if a board will connect and has motorized faders I have to make sure it has HUI or EUCON for it to automate with protools?

Well, the C24 runs over what I believe is called their Icon protocol (not to be confused with the ICON consoles), but that is proprietary to Avid hardware and only works with Pro Tools. EuCon can only be run over ethernet, whereas HUI and Mackie Control are through MIDI. EuCon is a fairly universal language that is coded into most modern DAWs at this point, which means you can use your EuCon capable hardware with practically any DAW (as well as several video editing programs, and even parts of your OS), with seamless switching and control between multiple programs at the same time. EuCon is the newest protocol and is the best way to ensure that you're future-proof, as it can also run in HUI and Mackie Control modes, if needed.

For purely Pro Tools control, the Icon protocol was the deepest integrated control protocol, but now that Avid has acquired Euphonix and branded them as their own hardware, the newest flagship ICON board (the hardware, not the software), the S6, runs over EuCon and they've made great strides to make EuCon the way to go as far as control is concerned now. The fact that the protocol is cross-platform means that you don't have to completely change your rig, should your studio change to a different DAW in a few years, like you would if you were running a C24. Unfortunately, EuCon is only available in the Euphonix MC/Avid Artist series of controllers, or the far more expensive S6 system, which means you're not going to find it in a board that will work for live use.

HUI is over MIDI and can control less parameters in Pro Tools and is much less flexible. In other DAWs, you can also utilize Mackie Control with most HUI-capable devices, which many have integrated to be more powerful (some, like Logic, even implement HUI very well to control many more things than PT does), but Pro Tools does not support this feature. Surfaces like the Mackie Control Universal are cross-platform between DAWs, but because they have to run HUI in Pro Tools, they're not able to control as many parameters in it, as they would be able to in another DAW.
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:10 PM   #14
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It looks like the X32 has won out so far. I've got a couple of other boards that are up in this round. Just want to make sure we looked at our options before pulling the trigger. Right now I've got these on my list:

1. Behringer X32
2. Roland M200i
3. Tascam DM 3200

I think they all have motorized faders. A little bit different screens to work with on their built in digital functions. I believe all of these boards would work? Any suggestions, thoughts?
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:34 PM   #15
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^That Roland board is pretty slick... I've never seen that one! But I have no idea how well it'd integrate with a DAW. There doesn't seem to be much information there...

The Tascam is a fairly well-known recording board. I've not seen as many people using it live, but I don't see why you couldn't. You don't get iPad control with it, though, and it's getting pretty old. Its preamps aren't that great and neither is its conversion. Again, you're using HUI to control Pro Tools with this. This looks the most professional in your studio, though.

The Behringer is fairly new, but TBH - I wouldn't be caught dead with that thing in my studio. If people are looking for the big board in your studio, they're going to be turned off by the Behringer name. I've used it a few times and while it has some cool features, for $3000, I thought it felt cheap. The rounded design on the side looks wonky and putting that on a desk is not going to look attractive. It does have a ton of mic pres, which are supposedly pretty good for the price. I'm sure the conversion is at least on par with the Tascam, if not better. If the Behringer name isn't a concern to you, then this one has the most features for live and studio use... but I'd be afraid of it marking my studio as "low end" rather than "high end," even though the price suggests otherwise.
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:17 PM   #16
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Yeah, the Tascam I am not really too turned on by because of the control display. I read a lot of reviews and they had said that it has a steep learning curve. It's like looking at a 1980's computer program trying to work that thing.

Behringer does have a low or mid range connotation to it's products in the past, but that is mostly sound quality not durability. The Midas pre amps seem like they are great, but I wouldn't be using them 99% of the time anyway, if ever. Its just a controller, not something that colors the sound.

The board looks cool and really has the most features. I don't have an iPad, the roland looks like it needs an iPad to really make the most of it. That would be extra in the budget. It looks really cool, but then it doesn't have the scribble strips on it like the Behringer, so I'd have to slap down the masking tape in each session to keep track of things.

I'm tempted to go with the Behringer. The equipment snobs can turn their nose up in the air, but the board really has the most features. If you want to put head to head on features and use the Behringer wins out. It really is just the name. I think the Roland looks kind of small to put on a desk in a studio. Looks really compact.

The end of the day I'm here to do an excellent job with my service and bottom line, make money. I wonder how much the name would turn people away. This is like the whole Pro Tools vs. Logic snob mentality of accepted norm vs something new. Why would you care if you aren't the engineer and it's just a giant mouse that doesn't color sound? I think it's kind of stupid if that would shapes someone mind. I need functions, not brand name. Idk, I guess I'll kick this over some more before buying.

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Old 01-17-2014, 05:47 PM   #17
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http://www.erg-blog.com/behringer-x32-vs-roland-m200i

Here's a shoot out of the X32 vs M200i. Highlights:



People are caught up on the name of the Behringer. They have made low cost equipment in the past, some are a fan of that, some look down on them. In my opinion I think the roland looks sleeker and more pro than the Behringer. Gets a plus for aesthetics in my book. But how much is that plus worth...
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Old 01-17-2014, 06:25 PM   #18
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The Behringer does have the best features of all the boards out there at its price point, I'll give it that. I'm not going to watch this whole thing, but Behringer did a whole webinar of the X32 with Pro Tools:



Personally, I have no qualms with Behringer, I think the ADA8000 and FCB1010 are both fantastic products, at a great price, but most musicians don't see it the same way. Behringer has done a lot to turn their image around in the past few years, but I think releasing this board under the Behringer name was a bad choice. Had it been released under the Midas name, this board would do A LOT better IMO.

That being said, even knowing that the Behringer board is a good one, as a musician, I still wouldn't pay a premium price to record in a studio that is using one. The Behringer name has the connotation that the studio isn't willing to spend more money and buy quality gear, so why would I pay them a lot of money to record me through it? No offense - maybe you're clients won't care, but personally, I wouldn't buy one if I were trying to market myself as a higher end professional studio.

It's something you'll need to weigh the pros and cons of, really. Hell - for the price those X32s sell for, and being that they're a Behringer product, I wouldn't be surprised if they sold used at a huge price cut... You could save a lot of money and if the Behringer doesn't hit all your needs in the studio, you could buy an Avid Artist Control as a companion to it, and still be under budget.

I still think that by going with one singular board for live and studio use, you're going to be making a lot of sacrifices (probably in the studio, as you're leaning most towards digital boards, it seems). If you're okay with that, then so be it, but I think you're going to be missing a lot of controls with a single board, if you do.

Really, it's up to you to evaluate how much of each is going to take up your time and spend the money you best see fit. If you get the Behringer, I think you might be surprised at how much you'll be using its mic preamps and conversion... I'm sure they're better than your 003+ which, to be honest, is pretty poor in both areas.
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