Recommendations for an analog console

Mike Garland

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Had several over the years and have a 32x8 mackie with a dead master section. Here is requirements
24 to 32 channels, real channels not stereo
Decent eq
Least 6 aux sends per channel
Would like 8 sub groups but can live with 4
Would like direct outs and decent routing
Don't care about mute groups
This is for live use and possibly mixing tracks down the road.
No, I do not want a digital console at the moment. Buy in price and reliability are not where they need to be yet. Not to mention, mixing with a tablet is lame. I need meat and potatoes, not built in effects. Over use of effects ruins a decent mix and I have the effects I get good results with already. I dont use compressors, or side chain eq unless I have no other choice. Iv never used Allen and heath as im not fond of the layout, but hear good things. Soundcraft is another brand I have never used but heard good things about. Looking at a peavey and an a&h right now.
 

Brian Bolly

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Jan 11, 2011
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No, I do not want a digital console at the moment. Buy in price and reliability are not where they need to be yet. Not to mention, mixing with a tablet is lame.
Hi Mike,

I'll address the questions/requirements in a minute, but first let's tackle the digital Elephant In The Room. I'm not sure what you mean by the above statement. Personally, I've been mixing on digital consoles for over 22 years. I can count on one hand the number of failures I've had across them that could not be attributed to an external factor that would have affected any console. And just because you're on digital does not mean you're forced into using a tablet - in fact, quite the opposite.

As for price? A 32-input, 40 channel digital desk (32 mic pres, 32 parametric eqs, 32 comps, 32 gates, PLUS output processing for every aux + LR) can be had for $2000 on your doorstep. And more DSP and effects than most of the outboard effects boxes you'd likely use. Food for thought.

Unless you're buying a brand new analog console (of which I think there may be ONE manufacturer left building live desks over 16 channels) a used analog console is now a great liability depending on the age, maintenance level, and original quality of the console. Not to mention the outboard equipment required to go with.

Be that as it may, I understand not being one to be deterred by the masses. So since you've asked, my console choices would be the following:

- APB Dynasonics Spectra (VCA) or ProDesk-4 or ProDesk-8 (non-VCA)
- Midas Heritage (something) short-frame
- Soundcraft K3, maybe a K2
- Allen & Heath ML3000-5000 (VCA)
- A&H GL3300 or 4000. Maybe a 2400 or 2800 if they were new enough, well cared for.
- Crest, only if it were an absolute gem of a specimen
- No Peavey.

Regardless of what desk you choose, I hope you either have sources for parts or a very handy electronics tech on speed dial.
 

Mike Garland

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The largest issue is the buy in cost. I plan to upgrade to a digital console later but I still have a family and day job. I can't spend 2000.00 on a mixer I mainly use on weekends until I get established again. As for reliability, iv read a lot of stories about digital stage boxes with built in wifi losing signal in the middle of a show, and when you add together the cost of the stage box and external router to negate this issue the cost is nearly double a decent analog console and snake. I can get by with a minimum of 20 mic channels. Mackie, behringer, A&H and a couple others are still making analog consoles above 16 channels, most have digital outputs or the option at least. Im talking about clubs sound by the way. I wont have the gear for anything larger until I get solid booking again. And why no peavey ? I used a 40 channel analog 8 bus of theirs that was better than any mackie on the market and took road abuse all day long. Mixing from a tablet or lap top is lame. Sorry but ill bet real money I can do better with faders. There are a couple options that iv been looking at but again, I dont have 2k let alone 3. Im having to build a complete system piece by piece. Have a set of active 15 inch cabs, im hunting a pair of 18" subs and 4 monitors. My tax refund will cover that. I just need a board to go with it. Right now im working at a venue owned by a friend. We pooled our gear and have a complete pa but his 24 channel board is not long for this world. I have a 12 channel rack mount board but it will not cover a large band as it only has 8 mic inputs. I use that just for a drum kit by the time you add overheads.
 

Mike Garland

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This is the last rig I used and never had any issues or breakdowns. The speakers were not mine and just used for a table that night. People will scoff today, but I'd wager they would be impressed at the sound quality.
 

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I bought a lightly used M32R with stage rack for less than $2500 pre covid.
I imagine there are better deals available today, just saw a Pro1+DL251 for $3500.

I would only buy a used analog console today if I had all the outboard needed and the console came in a case for less than $100. Preferably delivered at my doorstep for that price.
 

Brian Bolly

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Jan 11, 2011
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I stand corrected - apparently there are TWO manufacturers still making analog desks **that fit your requirements** - A&H and Soundcraft. No Behringer, no Mackie, no Peavey. But since you mention $2k is too high, you are absolutely looking at a used analog console.

Let's do some math and say you managed to find some deals on things that meet your requirements:

- A console for $500. (locally/driving distance, as shipping would be +$200)
- 3x 2ch 31-band EQs @ $50/channel for L/R + 4 mixes - $300
- 4ch each of comps & gates @ $50ch - $400
- 3x 8ch patch snakes for EQs, comps & gates @ $50 each - $150

You're now at ~$1350 for what is most likely 15+ year old gear with unknown heritage and questionable reliability.

Option B: Behringer X32 for $1999, delivered to your doorstep. Real faders, real knobs, real buttons, and a USB port to multitrack all 32 inputs right to a computer. No WiFi, no tablets, no digital snake necessary, and a 3 year warranty.

What's the lesser of the evils?

Since you mentioned on PSW you are coming out of retirement, you probably aren't aware that the X32 is pretty much the standard (read: minimally accepted level of equipment) in "club sound", for a band that would need 24-32 input channels. It's now been out for about 9 years - the technology has been tested.

To borrow a phrase coined by an old friend from the early PSW days: Buy Once, Cry Once.
 

Mike Garland

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Found an x32 for 1200.00 so thats the rout im going to go. Just have to wait a bit longer. Im going to get the rest of the cabs first. I set up a 24 channel mackie on a 50' snake and using an old peavey power amp to run monitors. Funny, a ton of head room, clean sound, no issues. Alesis wedge for vocal effects, using my phone and a tablet to spin music off of between acts. 12 inch monitors, 15 inch mains. No subs needed cause its three singer songwriters and a duet. Have another show booked for the 20th and ill have subs by then. Scoff if yall like but it works and sounds great. The board is not mine. Borrowed from a friend. Could use my small console but wanted more aux sends. Anyway, ill be snagging the x32 asap
 

Mike Garland

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Yes, although note that that article is from 2007 and many things have changed since then (including acceptability of analog gear to guest engineers)
Well, im using an analog system at the moment and his article still applies. His points are still valid. More flexibility, ease if repair, and up front cost go a long way in the decision making process. Im not a gear snob. Im not competing with anyone to brag I spent the most money. Yes, im going to get a digital board, mainly cause I can still use my outboard gear either way. Ill simply also have an analog backup. I use active cabs, so iv already eliminated half the gear I used to haul.
 
Trust me you do not need any of the outboard that is in the picture of the rack you posted .... ever again with the X32!!
I'm not a Behringer guy but you have everything in the x32 your going to need at this time or in the immediate future.

Do take some time at home to learn the routing, IO set up and workflow before jumping into your first gig with it.
I find the X32 app is easier to navigate than some of the menus on the surface itself.
 
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Mike Garland

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Trust me you do not need any of the outboard that is in the picture of the rack you posted .... ever again with the X32!!
I'm not a Behringer guy but you have everything in the x32 your going to need at this time or in the immediate future.

Do take some time at home to learn the routing, IO set up and workflow before jumping into your first gig with it.
I find the X32 app is easier to navigate than some of the menus on the surface itself.
Sorry man but have to disagree. For one, I dont have that fear anymore, sept the wedge. The other stuff I have is purpose built, and no, you can't get that sound any place else. Digital boards with all the on-board effects are like a Swiss army knife. Compromise. Sure it has a blade, but would you trust it to defend your life, ? Ill be using outboard gear period. From channel strip to eq, you can't replace some equipment. School taught me that. Plus, the gear I use is not only well known to me and iv had training how to use it properly, but it run circles around any plug in or built in.
 

Jeff Babcock

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Jan 11, 2011
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Sorry man but have to disagree. For one, I dont have that fear anymore, sept the wedge. The other stuff I have is purpose built, and no, you can't get that sound any place else. Digital boards with all the on-board effects are like a Swiss army knife. Compromise. Sure it has a blade, but would you trust it to defend your life, ? Ill be using outboard gear period. From channel strip to eq, you can't replace some equipment. School taught me that. Plus, the gear I use is not only well known to me and iv had training how to use it properly, but it run circles around any plug in or built in.
I think you will find yourself alone in that opinion. It's very 1998.
Digital won, a long time ago.

Congrats on your x32. Give it a chance. It was only the best selling mixer ever for a reason.
 
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Mike Garland

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I think you will find yourself alone in that opinion. It's very 1998.
Digital won, a long time ago.

Congrats on your x32. Give it a chance. It was only the best selling mixer ever for a reason.
Ran a show last Saturday and had to use a mackie 24.4 console, and no outboard gear. Three new bookings thanks to the sound I achieved. Its about skill, not the latest tech or how much money I spent on gear. Yes, I freely admit there are much better boards available, but I also know how to do the job without the latest software and gadgets. In the last 5 days iv booked 6 more jobs based on that one gig, 2 of them will be once a month for the next few months. What do you think will happen once I have a better set up to work with ?
 

Mike Garland

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I did not take any video. Im booking at a private bar owned by a friend, and my only promotion is word of mouth and the results I get. I wont name names here but right now its singer songwriters out of Nashville and the outlaw country circuit. Part of the gear is mine part is the owners. I own the mains, cables, he owns the board and monitors and the venue. Im building a system of my own for the future and he is doing the same.
 

Mike Garland

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I agree. But I also not Require one to get good sound. Ill be buying one asap. But I seriously get the feeling that to most of the people on this forum its more about how much money you spent on your gear than actual skill. I dont need compressors and gates on every channel us stellar eq to get good sound. Honestly I find it sad that so many think they do. They simply do not have the baseline skills apparently. I have run into a lot of snobbs so far. Spending 2 k on a console seems to make sense to them. That is folly. Upgrading later makes much more sense as im doing this as I can afford it. If I followed the advice of the people here I'd have 15k in a system for club size gigs and that just stupid. No one will pay enough to make that system profitable. I dont care what state your in.