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Soundcraft or SSL which mixer?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  

SSL or Soundcraft, fight!
SSL X-Desk
72%
 72%  [ 8 ]
Soundcraft LX7II GB2R or Ghost
27%
 27%  [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 11

Author Soundcraft or SSL which mixer?
calaveras
So I am going back over to mixer land.
I started off on an 8 track open reel a looong time ago, and really like having a mixer in front of me with faders and such.
I've mulled it over and it kind of boils down to either getting a new or used Soundcraft. Or an SSL X-Desk.

I'm pretty familiar with Soundcraft mixers. I've used the 200B and a few other older classic mixers from them. The newer ones aren't quite as good for the EQ and mic pre, but they are quieter which is a bonus.
The SSL I am not quite as familiar with. Honestly I've never mixed any stuff on an SSL because I'm a mid sized studio or project studio guy.
But the X-Desk fits a lot of my requirements for ideal mixer in terms of getting the fuck out of the way. It gets good reviews from most, except it apparently has a less than stellar headphone amp. Which really blows. I do a lot of my work on headphones.
taylor12k
they're completely different products.. so really comes down to what you want/need.

the X-Desk is a summing mixer with no EQ, no mic pres, limited (2?) aux sends, no busses..

the Ghost is a small console with everything that comes with that including EQ, pres, plenty of auxes, etc..

it's also a lot bigger.

if all you need is a summing mixer, get the SSL, if you need all the other features you'll need the Soundcraft.
Michael O.
The two choices are pretty apples and oranges. The Soundcraft has more character (naturally, as it’s a relatively full-featured compact console rather than a summing mixer), but not necessarily a desirable character imo. The xdesk is boring but does its job well, if not particularly economically.

What is the purpose of the mixer in your work? Is it purely for mixing or will it be used for tracking as well? Is it intended for a setup with existing outboard equipment?
calaveras
Part of me wants to go hard on the best spec gear possible.
Part of me wants a nasty slutty mixer with fun SR features like a send matrix, mono submaster etc.

My main reason for buying a mixer is so that I have gain on a knob or fader for each of my electronic boxes. And can have all of them plugged in, with a scratch reverb to jam with.
The X-Desk has the pros of being small, flexible and very clean.
The Soundcraft (and a couple other SR-ish mixers I'm looking at) have the benefit of decent EQ and lots of auxes.
But then being mass produced cheap SR gear they can't possibly compete in terms of wide soundstage and clean headroom.

It's like deciding between a good used Subaru and an entry level Benz.

I'd add that I have been plugging all my gear directly into my audio interfaces for a while now. It works in that you can hear everything just fine. And if you are using gear like the air of old MOTU 828MKII that I just sold, you can get latency free monitoring through the interface.
But when you are jamming with all your synths and machines, it's kind of annoying to have to go into an app on screen to bump up, or reduce the gain.
The Machinedrum is not too bad for this. I can adjust gain per voice very easily. And many of my synths do have very obvious, distinct 'volume knobs'. But not all of them! Also, being that I have a mix of modern and vintage, pro, semipro and fucking toy. The output levels on this stuff are all over the map.

Now I know I'm going to be taking a hit in fidelity just by inserting a mixer into my setup. So it's either go for the mixer with tons of headroom, and wide bandwidth (SSL) or get a mixer that has a 'sound'. One thing for sure; no Mackie no Behringer. I'm not dicking around with stuff that phones it in.

Part of me is even considering buying some behemoth vintage mixer off of Ebay or Craigslist. The old Soundcraft, Soundtracs, Midas and others are going for very cheap prices. I'm sure a lot of them have been abused in some nightclub or touring sound co. But I know those boards well. They have great preamps, EQ and make very nice mixes. But I live in New York, and even the rehearsal spaces are tiny and overpriced.
Standup
I think I’m done with mixers. Sold off a small Sound Workshop mixer this year.

I checks SSL in your survey, but instead of Soundcraft, I wanted to suggest Toft ATB or maybe Neotek, both of which should be several levels above a cheap soundcraft. Once you get into used gear, it’s a much bigger, weirder field of options. I think you could still buy a Neotek board brand new.
calaveras
I really really dig soundcraft.
The two mixers I have fondest memories of are Soundcraft 200B and Yamaha PM1000. Both of those mixers were very idiosyncratic, but able to deliver a huge sound when gained properly and with judicious EQ.
Which was very difficult on the PM1000. What crazy EQ points. 1k, 2k and 4k?
Why didn't they give us a lower mid and higher mid!

The Neotek Elan/Eite/Tabletop are compelling mixers, simply based on the Sytek preamps. But man, I swear that is a moribund site. Are they still in business?
Also, even the TableTop is a bit large. I'm kind of limited by the size of things in NY. Heck the ATB noisemaker is a bit large at 16 inputs with no meter bridge!
The other consideration on Neotek, is that all I see on Ebay and other sites for Neotek, are the vultures who take a mixer, break it apart and sell it peicemeal.
Sure they get a lot more money for the hassle, but that will never be a mixer again. It will be a few racked preamps and some spares for someone elses mixer. Same thing happens to old Neve and API broadcast boards.
Not to mention Quad Eight and other more esoteric, handmade mixers.



ps wow you mf-ers really got no love for Soundcraft.
dogoftears
well you already know my opinion...

btw you can use the cue mix on x-desk as an extra send (stereo, even)... i do this a lot (but i also have the x-panda, so have channels to spare).

look on GS classifieds. plenty of good deals there. and don't forget you will have to spend some more money on DB-25 snakes...
calaveras
Recently heard back from Mike Stoica at Neotek. Apparently they will be ceasing production on the Table Top Elan II this year.
But it's $25k, 50% down with balance on delivery and 4-5 months delivery.
Eek.
I could really go for Neotek, but that is committing hard to the idea of a console. Makes $3-5k spent on SSL X-Desk and X-Panda seem like chicken scratch. Also easier to waddle around from one space to the next over the course of my pathetic life much easier with a desk you can carry under one arm.
notmiserlouagain
Soundcraft fanboy here. I have a 8 channel B100, which is excellent sounding and quiet, D.Self´s padless preamp topology with stereo/mono line level modules to switch in if needed. Also in the process of building up a discrete transformer based Series One, that´s huge sound cool

But I think you really REALLY have to think hard here to not make a bad decisison, no matter how well off you are.
Take this with a grain of salt, but you are probably aware that you are befallen by an irrational desire, else you wouldn´t need any of these behemots.
These are for microphone work and their big value is in the mic preamps, which you will not be using, unless you are willing to to loose S/N ratio by heavy attenuation in front. To get a "sound", you could get much easier, cheaper (200B...).

Larry Crane (editor of tapeop) has a strictly line level Neve in his Joker studio, check that thing out. There are a couple of good small modular mixers, like my b100 or Audio Developments come to mind, that offer line level modules (mono/stereo).

For what it´s worth I´m still very happy with my crappy Tascam M106, as it just sounds beautiful for synth work.
calaveras
Yeah, I know what you mean. I picked up a badly modified PM1000 a while back to record my band with. It functioned nicely for a while. But it weighed a bloody ton. And the mods they had made, putting 4 send knobs to the buss matrix instead of the 4 on off switches, played havoc with the internal impedance of the busses. Which would sometimes start to self oscillate!
That behemoth, with it's huge sound, fast preamps and strange EQ, was eventually broken down into channel strips. The wood and metal chassis chucked and the remaining parts are still in storage. (anybody wanna buy a couple PM1000 channels?)
I do not want to go the massive mixer route again until I have a space large enough to justify it! A lot of folks seem to have the same opinion, as there are many large mixers for sale on CL and ebay, for peanuts.

But having mixed on (good)Yamaha, Ramsa, Soundcraft, A&H, Quad Eight and a few other such desks. There is something about crafting music that way which I miss. I used to be a live sound guy a long time ago. So I was adept at getting a mix up in the first verse and chorus of a bands first song.
By the time of the 2nd, I was just putting the icing on the cake with little tweaks. And if they were a band I liked, and it was warranted, I'd be doing fun stuff with reverb and delays by the 3rd.

I really miss working fast like that.

Even with a control surface, templates and knowing all the keyboard shortcuts in Logic. It takes me an entire afternoon to setup my recording environment the same way I used to set up a band in minutes on an analog mixer.

The X-Desk is hardly a 200B. However it has a staggering amount of in and out, and very good specs. I'd see that as the heart of a system which I'd eventually augment with an X Rack and/or 500 series rack. But I'd have to get a 2nd X-Desk, or an X-Panda to be comfortable with inputs. And then all the snakes.
That is a very expensive proposition to be sure. But I can kind of be an audio fidelity geek. Having worked in Sound Reinforcement and all. I can justify it to myself that it's a buy once, cry once kind of thing.

The other thing about the X-Desk, the older Soundcraft 200B and the newer Soundcrafts made in China. Is that they are not Behemoths!
I'm a one man band, and I do not want to get into anything that I cannot move by myself.
dogoftears
I guess you just have to think, am I gonna get this Soundcraft, then sell it for a loss later on to get something bigger/better? Or if I get this SSL will it really last me for the foreseeable future?

I try to maintain this attitude with gear purchases... often what appears to be a more expensive investment turns out to save you money in the long run. Speakers are a great example of this.
calaveras
I suppose I am having a hard time swallowing the SSL given that its been out for ten years now. You would think A&H, Soundcraft, Midas/Behringer or any of the otehr pro audio companies would have come out with something in the same vein.
I see lots of SR mixers, or mid sized mixer with firewire/USB. But not a lot of small, clean, straightwire with gain type of mixers. Except of course for the plethora of summing buss mixers. Most of which have little extra beyond that. The only two that even come close are the Neve 8816 which get very mixed reviews, and the SPL Mix Dream, which has a couple cool things about it, but not enough about it that is a mixer for me to want.

True story, last time I had this conundrum, I sat down and drew a picture of what I want for a mixer. It's basically the X-Desk, but with more inputs. (or the X desk with X Panda).
I'm pretty much going there. But I have to do a 'last call' before I start blowing money on snakes and Ebay listings.
dogoftears
all those companies are building a product for a specific market at a specific price point. that market is infinitely bigger then the market the XD/XP are built for. they are special products, there is a reason you don't see competitors, that market is small. those much more expensive "summing mixers" by neve and the like are really not the same thing. the SSL is more like a totally versatile desk with no EQ's or pres, the assumption is that you have a 500 series rack or are doing digital summing of some kind. I personally use it in conjunction with a lot of rack and 500 series EQ and dynamics gear, and literally never for digital summing (even though i make lots of digital multitrack music-- i don't buy into "analog summing" so much). for my setup i love the monitoring section, i can monitor the live mix and the DAW at the same time, it's very convenient for overdubs.

if you are going in a direction towards collecting outboard gear, and you have lots of line level synth equipment, it's a good piece. if you need versatile, clean monitoring, it's also good. if you want pristine, nearly toneless mixing sound, but with palpable space, good again. if you have DB25 patchbays, it's pretty much a no brainer.

calaveras wrote:
I suppose I am having a hard time swallowing the SSL given that its been out for ten years now. You would think A&H, Soundcraft, Midas/Behringer or any of the otehr pro audio companies would have come out with something in the same vein.
I see lots of SR mixers, or mid sized mixer with firewire/USB. But not a lot of small, clean, straightwire with gain type of mixers. Except of course for the plethora of summing buss mixers. Most of which have little extra beyond that. The only two that even come close are the Neve 8816 which get very mixed reviews, and the SPL Mix Dream, which has a couple cool things about it, but not enough about it that is a mixer for me to want.

True story, last time I had this conundrum, I sat down and drew a picture of what I want for a mixer. It's basically the X-Desk, but with more inputs. (or the X desk with X Panda).
I'm pretty much going there. But I have to do a 'last call' before I start blowing money on snakes and Ebay listings.
calaveras
The Neve 8816 is actually similar in features. Wiithout the fader pack It’s a summing mixer that also has monitor A/B, inserts , pan etc. The faderpack adds direct outs per channel. This adds up to less than an Xdesk+ Xpanda. But reviews point out poor workmanship and a lack of any true Neve DNA in the design.
dogoftears
calaveras wrote:
The Neve 8816 is actually similar in features. Wiithout the fader pack It’s a summing mixer that also has monitor A/B, inserts , pan etc. The faderpack adds direct outs per channel. This adds up to less than an Xdesk+ Xpanda. But reviews point out poor workmanship and a lack of any true Neve DNA in the design.


naw, it's focused on summing, there isn't even a single fx send on there. are there inserts? looks cool tho. i thought you were referring to the insanely overpriced and underfeatured "5060 centerpiece" and the like.

reading now, it does have some insert action, including an M/S insert!! which is cool. but still it's obviously a product for summing stems from a DAW together, not for jamming out live mixes.

Al.so was teasing something even *better* than an XD on their site for a while... sadly the info is removed. That was a few years ago.
calaveras
The 8816 is a close miss.
It has inserts, but one DB25 for insert ins, and another for insert outs means it can't possibly have inserts for all 16 channels unless they are using some non-standard pinout to stuff 16 unbalanced channels on a DB25.
Also, having to get the direct outs off of the fader pack, which itself will be connected via some cockamamie non DB25 cable, is kind of annoying.

If I'd read some good reports on it I might give it a chance. But it's been a few fanboys and a lot of 'bought it, used it, sold it'.
CF3
I agree with others that the choices are miles apart as far as functionality.

I’ve owned a few Ghosts, including the one I have now (paid $400 w/ the meterbridge). They’re very easy to mod and service. I love the routing. If you do get one, by a Blue Dog power supply. Wish you were closer, cause it’s almost time for me to move and this Ghost will need a new home shortly.

The X-Desk are cool for what they are, but require a patchbay to get the most out of it (way to small for me personally), or a X-Patch maybe.

There’s SO MANY cool sleeper consoles out there. Some amazing shit can be had for under $2000.
calaveras
Like I said above, if I had a larger space, I'd be swooping in on one of these 24 or 32 channel boards that are going for pennies. It seems nobody wants the midrange large mixers anymore.
Of course there could be some maintenance issues. But I know a bit about that.
As far as Soundcraft (or A&H, Soundtracs, Ramsa etc) vs SSL. It's a fork in the road. I could go for compact, no frills and clean. Or a larger mixer with EQ that is usable (shakes fist at Mackie) and mix busses for group processing drums, vocals, etc.

The idea of the SSL witha patchbay I am not sure about. I prefer to have a couple signal chains on dedicated channels as opposed to constantly patching things in ad hoc on a patchbay.
In a production facility with dedicated staff that makes more sense to me.
I'd probably be setting it up just as clean gain and mixdown of stems with stuff on inserts, later on adding in a 500 series rack or X rack connected via inserts.

If I was billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, or his buddy billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, I'd pay some guys to turn my ideal concept of a mixer into a reality. Because nobody makes what I want. So I'll end up spending way too much money on pieces that make up what I want. Or settling for a good enough mixer with nice eq but terrible noise specs. (Toft ATB?).
Standup
There was a time, I think, when Studer compact mixers were kind of affordable. I just took a look at Reverb, because I’m curious, and there’s nothing cheap right now. But they’re small, built for location classical music recording, and the reputation is stellar. I never used one, so it’s hearsay.
Futuresound
calaveras wrote:

If I was billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, or his buddy billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, I'd pay some guys to turn my ideal concept of a mixer into a reality. Because nobody makes what I want. So I'll end up spending way too much money on pieces that make up what I want. Or settling for a good enough mixer with nice eq but terrible noise specs. (Toft ATB?).


The Tree Audio Roots II seems like it's pretty close to ideal, but its only 8 channels and not at all cheap.

http://treeaudio.com/rootssecondpage.html
calaveras
I have a line on a Soundtracs Topaz locally.
It's not the most amazing mixer, but supposed to have decent EQ.
Will check it out and see if there is more than tolerable background noise. Also see if the headroom is acceptable.
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