Mixing Desks/Consoles Appreciation Thread

I’ve perused the forum looking for a conversation about mixing consoles, mixing desks, etc. I occasionally frequent groupdiy and diyaudio, but would love to bring this discussion to the lines world. I would love to hear what people use, what preamp/eq people particularly like, and any secrets people want to share with the community. Also, I have a fascination with old audio product ads (they feel less scummy, almost comical, for some reason?), so I’d also love to see any of those that you have.

I own three analogue consoles at my studio.

Our main desk is an upgraded TAC Scorpion, which is a modders delight. Lots of information about these online. The other engineers and I consider this a big educational project and are trying out different components to get the noise floor down (these are quite noisy, comparatively).

Our second desk is rad and from the 70s, a 24 channel Cetec 20a, (at this point, completely non-operational). We purchased it from a film studio warehouse liquidation for next to nothing. My research tells me this likely has Electrodyne/Langevin designed pres and eqs, as Cetec purchased both of those companies in 1972, as well as having some of the original Cinemag transformers when Cinemag was Reichenbach. I’ll have to dig a little deeper, but I’m really jazzed to get this up and running. Sidebar: damn, I love the Electrodyne style slider caps :heart_eyes:

Last, I have a weird modular DJ mixer from Ecler, the 8 channel Sclat 100. I’m adding it in because it has channel strips, phantom power and quiet, very transparent preamps. It’s been my go to for synth based music since I purchased it. My one complaint is there isn’t individual outs, but I may try to add some 1/4 outs for the channels so I can use it as a standalone preamp. For now, I keep it with my turntables and my eurorack setup.

I don’t have any photos of mine, but here’s one from the web.

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Thanks for starting this thread. I’ve been perusing the minimal mixer thread and just recently joined groupDIY, with the goal of hopefully learning more about what would be a good option for dub mixing.

One initial comment is that it’s kind of hard to get an idea of what’s quality beyond the Neve’s, API’s, SSL’s, etc. lots of anecdotal stuff especially regarding preamps. Doesn’t really matter too much for my use beyond summing and the actual “playability” of the console, but it’s so interesting how hotly debated everything is in the pro audio world.

I think my best bet might be to DIY a nice 8-10 channel desk like a Studer 169 form factor, but for now I just have my eye out locally for anything good. Will be monitoring this thread for tips!

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Say, like, with cars I know which tier which make and model is in and why. I know a bit about vintage cars and a bit about car history. How do I learn to know more about mixing desks like I do about cars? I’m thinking about buying a Midas Venice F24 and I know why but I don’t know what I could compare it with?

Great thread, thanks.

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Old mixers are a very varied bunch. The best were very expensive in their day and some of those - like Neves - are obviously still both best and (even more) very expensive.

But honestly, I’d approach second-tier desks - TACs (sorry!), Soundcrafts and the like - with a bit of caution. IME the stock pres and EQ on them are nothing special, and unless you really want the feel of analogue faders, knobs and workflows, you’ll get better sonic results in the box. And you won’t have to deal with service issues, trying to find spares etc.

I think of it in terms of vintage cameras (another sad enthusiasm of mine). A Hasselblad SWC is still an amazing lens, but the majority of consumer lenses and bodies from the same era are easily bested by the camera on the phone in your pocket.

If you have soldering skills and time, you can upgrade some old consoles - I think Audio Accessories still does opamp upgrades for some of the TAC desks - but in general, you’re buying obsolescence. Stay away from live desks too unless you’ve really thought through the workflow!

On the other hand, Studer 961s/962s are bombproof, sound great, and if you can live with limited routing and get the pres modded for direct outs, they’re still bargains relative to most other vintage consoles.

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Oh hey, no need to apologize for it! Like I said, for us it’s more of an experimental platform than anything else. I think your point moreso speaks to one of the earlier comments/car analogy. What tangibly makes the Studer 961 that much better than a TAC scorpion? How do you “know” what’s “good” and “bad”?

The Studer (likely) has less noise, a different (better?) preamp/eq, brand recognition, and potentially better build quality (not sure on that one, tbh, but I’ve never had my hands on the 961. This Scorpion is solid…).

The nice thing about the mid tier consoles (Scorpions, Ghosts, etc) is the fact that they are so affordable and parts are more or less accessible. Good luck finding a spare for the high end stuff. I picked up my Scorpion for $200 locally and will pump a little more in to have an experienced tech give it a look through with me. We will likely make some good records on it. We might just mod it to be a summing mixer. Who knows!

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