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Allen & Heath Zed R16
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Allen & Heath Zed R16
plord
Holy shit eek! w00t SlayerBadger! nanners

This thing is absolutely amazing. It's been a long, long time since I used a computer in the studio for ANYTHING...

Actually thereby hangs a tale. Sit down children and let Uncle Paul tell you a story. Way back in the dim dark ages of the early 90s or so, when the fastest internet connections were 64Kbps ISDN, most people were on dialup unless they were at a university, and we had to hand-assemble our porn from uuencoded image streams on Usenet (video? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), before Firewire or even USB were common, the options for home studio recording were extremely grim. HDRs were in their infancy. People still made regular use of Amigas and Ataris to sequence tracks and record straight to DAT or cassette (for the purposes of this discussion, we assume that if you had access to multi-track tape of better quality than a Tascam Porta-Studio, you were a pro, not a home recording enthusiast). Even for pure sequencing, the Windows music software market was dismal; things were only slightly better on the Mac (and by Mac I mean, "firebook" era powerbooks, pre-Intel chip architectures...was this really only um, I guess it's like 18 years ago by now so kthxbye omgwtfbbq I don't want to talk about that part anymore).

Then, lo and behold, I came upon Opcode Studio Vision Pro, and their fine line of MIDI interfaces. And all was good and right with the world for a few years. The UI was CLEAN. Shit just WORKED. For me, anyway, this was like climbing Everest. The computer was no longer a thing that sat there failing and keeping me from getting any music made. It was awesome. The only thing keeping me from getting any music made was ME Dead Banana BUT THEN, children, Gibson and Henry-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named bought Opcode, and just like a dozen other acquisitions over the years, they proceeded to KILL the brand and all of its products in less than a year. No more hardware interfaces. No more killer software. THOSE FUCKING RATS. I do not now nor will ever own a Gibson product, because they are such abysmal suckweasels. So as soon as I upgraded to my next computer, so much for software support, goodbye awesome Studio Vision Pro. I moved the computer back to the office and out of the studio and didn't look back.

Until now. It may be the honeymoon period, but so far I love this desk. First off it's a killer analog mixer; I had forgotten how much I prefer A&H EQs to what you get on other midrange mixers. It has dedicated transport controls and sends MMC through firewire and an external MIDI port; I have it controlling the DAW and will see how it gets along with the MPC later this afternoon. For cost reasons I chose to go with Reaper as my DAW. It is like the Gentoo of DAWs, I feel like I'm bootstrapping it from assembler at times, but thankfully the A&H team released a tidy little doc with Reaper-specific instructions. If I hit a button near the faders, it becomes a DAW controller, the 16 channel faders send midi CC to control volume for the first 16 channels ITB, like you'd expect. Turn that off, hit another button, and it's a 16 channel FW audio interface, the post-EQ analog signals hit the DAW channels. You can of course defeat the EQ section if you want to push raw signal to the DAW. Switch modes again, and the 16 recorded tracks in Reaper go back through the FW interface for full analog summing and mixdown (I have a separate pair of channels to record the Main L/R feed from the desk to the DAW for just this purpose). THAT set of DAW track signals can come back either pre-insert or post-EQ to the desk, depending on whether you want to EQ in or out of the box. Flipping the overall mode of the desk between ITB and OTB is literally a button press. I went into Reaper and hit maybe 6 mouse clicks per channel to configure all this and save as a template; everything worked on the first try. GUYS THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO ME.

I won't claim it's perfect. There are no groups, for example; this doesn't bother me as I don't tend to work with Groups and if necessary I can submix on the modular. You also can't send the stereo channels to FW, only the 16 mono and main L/R; I solved this by using the 4 stereo channels as OTB Aux returns and wiring every last goddamned signal through a patchbay, so I can patch the FX returns to real channels if necessary. Alongside the transport controls there are dedicated MIDI faders, buttons, and pots, but only 4/8/12 of them respectively so not enough to handle, say, pan on every channel. Given that Reaper has MAXINT configurable parameters, I'm not sure what to do with these buttons and knobs quite yet.

But in general: SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger! SlayerBadger!

Maybe you guys have been enjoying this sort of functionality for years via some collection of interfaces, but for me this kind of integrated single-device/multiple-modes workflow is a revelation. This stuff used to be a lot harder to set up and get working, and it was clumsy to operate in the best case. I guess it's the same with any technology; if you don't like it, check again in 10 years smile
obscurerobot
Great writeup!

Have you played with MIDI in Reaper yet, or just audio?

Logic's handling of MIDI has been disappointing. Although it is pretty good with automation, it is just way too easy to crash. Back when I was doing a lot of stuff with aleatoric sequences, an easy way to crash Logic 9 was simply to drag-copy a set of 50+ notes further down the MIDI region (this may be fixed now, I haven't tried it in a while. Also, yes you can loop regions, but that doesn't help if you want to pitch up/down your phrase, or otherwise transform it). Similarly, I can't get past the fact that Live can't handle Sysex. I guess it is just intended for live audio, not midi. very frustrating

Related - is there a writeup anywhere that goes into detail of the magic of Opcode Studio Vision? I keep hearing people talk about how great it was. If there was a writeup, that might help revive some of the great ideas.
plord
obscurerobot wrote:
Great writeup!

Have you played with MIDI in Reaper yet, or just audio?
Only the audio so far; I just got it hooked up late last night. I am hoping that the MMC control syncs up to the MPC, because in that case I am in like Flynn on the MIDI side.

Quote:
Logic's handling of MIDI has been disappointing. Although it is pretty good with automation, it is just way too easy to crash. [...] Similarly, I can't get past the fact that Live can't handle Sysex. I guess it is just intended for live audio, not midi. very frustrating
I didn't know either of these things; thanks for the passive validation of my financially-driven choice!

Quote:
Related - is there a writeup anywhere that goes into detail of the magic of Opcode Studio Vision? I keep hearing people talk about how great it was. If there was a writeup, that might help revive some of the great ideas.
I don't know of one but I can poke around. It may be, given the amount of time that has passed, that what was revolutionary then has become commonplace. All I remember it that it seemed years ahead of its competition when it came to configurability, ease of use, and *stability*. It just would not crash on me, where most of the other software of the era would get all fux0red trying to jam sysex down a skinny serial connection to a midi interface and lock up if you so much as went for the pitchbend on too many tracks at the same time.
D Bondi
Really looking hard at the Zed.....does it feel cramped at all?....how bout the build quality? SOUNDS AMAZING???!!!??? MY ASS IS BLEEDING
plord
D Bondi wrote:
Really looking hard at the Zed.....does it feel cramped at all?....how bout the build quality? SOUNDS AMAZING???!!!??? MY ASS IS BLEEDING


It is a dense board but does not feel cramped to me at all; it's 28" wide and the horizontal spacing between channels is great. The EQ section, yeah, you'll be going for the sides of the pots instead of the top and bottom because of proximity. The 60mm faders might be a problem for some; I don't mind them.

The build quality is awesome. Metal chassis; locking panel nuts for every pot and jack; screws indicate that individual faders are replaceable. the pots are very firm so far. Most of the mode/mute/PFL/routing buttons are sturdy and give good tactile feedback. The transport and midi section is a little different; the buttons have a spongy feel. My guess is that this is to allow quicker manipulation than a clicky button like they use for the rest of the interface.
mattysal
thumbs up +1, love my zed r 16
loydb
I've got a Zed 14, and love it as an analog mixer, but find the USB lag to be so bad I can't use it. I just have the analog outs running into my Saffire 56. This is what I bought it for, so I don't really have complaints, but if I'd purchased it expecting to use it in realtime while playing/recording via USB, I'd be pissed.
Luka
i was about to get rid of my zed420 until i started patching the EQs - they sounded so darn nice

i want to make some wood ends for it and get rid of the plastic
plord
loydb wrote:
I've got a Zed 14, and love it as an analog mixer, but find the USB lag to be so bad I can't use it.


I was specifically distrustful of USB and wanted a FW interface. That reduced the field of options considerably; basically, there was the out-of-production Tascam unit I had and sold; one of the new Presonus Studio Live rigs, or the Zed R16. Or mega desks costing jillions, so: Presonus or A&H. The Presonus is a digital board with flying faders, but was more than half again as costly AND early units had a reputation for crashiness. The Zed, at the root, is a bog-standard analog desk, was cheaper, and I'm not sure there is a thing on it that you can crash. I guess you could bung up the FW interface but I'm not sure how smile
plord
Luka wrote:
i was about to get rid of my zed420 until i started patching the EQs - they sounded so darn nice
That they do. It's a pleasant surprise.
Quote:
i want to make some wood ends for it and get rid of the plastic
Oooh, let me know if you do. Hardwood ends cheeks would be killer; especially if they were oh, half as wide as these are smile
CF3
Congrats on the mixer.

I've been rockin one for awhile now.. love the workflow. Om


as far as wooden cheeks go:

http://www.mixingtable.com/

Enjoy the ZED w00t

PS. There's an epic 100+ page thread going on Gearslutz about the ZED R16. One of the A&H tech support guys is on there all the time answering questions.
mitzush
Hi Guys, just thought I'd let you know we're having a 15% discount sale on the all the wooden side panels for the Zed mixers over at http://mixingtable.com until 15 march

cheers thumbs up

Pete
mitzush
Quote:
Hardwood ends cheeks would be killer; especially if they were oh, half as wide as these are smile


btw, we can make the panels for the 420 series thinner than the rather chunky originals if you wish.
16osc
can anyone offer a comparison the 2k range eq to those on mackie vlz's? i'm sure the mackie's "suck" but i've really gotten use to the 2k for certain things.

serious question(!)
plord
mitzush wrote:
Hi Guys, just thought I'd let you know we're having a 15% discount sale on the all the wooden side panels for the Zed mixers over at http://mixingtable.com until 15 march


Oooooooooooooh!
D Bondi
So are most of you guys bypassing the Firewire of the Zed for your audio interface instead?....hey that rhymed!

just curious
elemental
Thanks for this...

Interested in this as I been looking to get a Fireface 400 to replace my old Multiface which I will sadly have to get rid of when I inevitably move to production on a newer computer.

Also would love an upgrade to the preamps on my Mackie VLZ... so this looks like a potential winner.

Only thing is I'd still like to have the ADAT out to power my ES-3... but there are ways around that too.

Anyways long way off for me, cash flow pretty slow atm..!
plord
D Bondi wrote:
So are most of you guys bypassing the Firewire of the Zed for your audio interface instead?....hey that rhymed!


I am bypassing nothing; The Zed is all I have, mixer, FW audio interface, summer, the works. No other input methods; no other mic pres even. Well, I have an M-Audio Tampa, and I use that exclusively as a bass DI with bonus opto compressor built in.
plord
elemental wrote:
Only thing is I'd still like to have the ADAT out to power my ES-3... but there are ways around that too.


There are ADAT inputs and outputs on the back of the Zed R16, but you should scope the manual to make sure it will do what you want.
CF3
elemental wrote:
Only thing is I'd still like to have the ADAT out to power my ES-3...

You can run an ES-3 and still have 18 channels of firewire audio, as long as you keep the sample rate at 48kHz or less
DT
what about the built-in converters?
stk
Luka wrote:
i was about to get rid of my zed420 until i started patching the EQs - they sounded so darn nice


Oh so you want it back then? poke
Kidding, it's been awesome, facilitated some wicked jams. Always been a fan of AH mixers meself, will be tracking down a replacement when you claim yours back Luke smile
Luka
Rockin' Banana!
whitewulfe
CF3 wrote:
PS. There's an epic 100+ page thread going on Gearslutz about the ZED R16. One of the A&H tech support guys is on there all the time answering questions.


I thought it was the designer himself that was answering a lot of the questions? Although it's odd, the new Allen&Heath website makes no mention of him on the ZED-R16's page. If I remember correctly, the guy who did the R16 is the same who designed the GS-R24, utilizing a LOT of feedback from the various forums, but GearSlutz especially.


I've wanted a ZED R16 for so bloody long, and hopefully will be picking one up in the near(ish) future - I love how A&H stuff sounds/feels!
mitzush
Quote:


I thought it was the designer himself that was answering a lot of the questions? Although it's odd, the new Allen&Heath website makes no mention of him on the ZED-R16's page. If I remember correctly, the guy who did the R16 is the same who designed the GS-R24, utilizing a LOT of feedback from the various forums, but GearSlutz especially.





Yes, that would be Mike Griffin. R&D manager at A&H.
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