Help Shopping For An Inline Console

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Matt C.
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Help Shopping For An Inline Console

Post by Matt C. » Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:30 pm

I'm slowly considering the idea of buying a new recording console and I'm posting here to try to get some ideas for models to research. I'm pretty set on getting an inline console (or maybe dual-inline, I'm not sure of the difference). I intend to use the board for as many things as possible, meaning it needs to handle full band tracking, monitoring/headphone feeds, mixing, etc. It will act as the center of the studio. If anyone has experience with some inline consoles, I'd love to hear your opinions on them. I should also say I'd be happy to spend some time and money fixing up an older console or making some modest modifications. I want something that sounds "good", but my first concern is the feature set and workflow of the console.

Here's the basic run down of what I want from the board:

- at least 24 channels (to be used with a 24 track tape machine)
- inline design so that I don't have to "reset" the board between tracking and mixing
- balanced +4 I/O
- reasonably good mic preamps and EQ section
- modular channels
- price in the $3k ballpark

There's plenty more features I'd like but I'll keep the list short and simple. If anyone has some suggestions for boards to look into, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

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Post by The Scum » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:48 pm

I've no idea what "dual inline" means in console terminology. In my mind, it's an integrated circuit form factor.

The usual recommendations are the Toft ATB and Soundcraft Ghost. Plenty of threads about both around here. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and both are new enough that reasonable specimens are still available.

One thing you probably won't find at that price point is completely balanced +4 I/O at every single point. The tape sends/returns, subgroups and auxes will probably be balanced, but the channel direct outs and inserts probably won't be. That's often a Neve/SSL sort of feature.

If you can find one, some of the older Soundcrafts might be good - the TS12 and TS24 were both inline.

The old MCI desks are inline, but I'm not confident you'll find one for $3K that isn't a basketcase. MCI 400's are great when they're working, but it can take a lot of work to keep them there. 500's are weird in a lot of ways. The Sony 3000's are the end of that lineage, and are a lot more maintainable.
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kakumei47
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Post by kakumei47 » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:50 pm

The Scum wrote:
The old MCI desks are inline, but I'm not confident you'll find one for $3K that isn't a basketcase. MCI 400's are great when they're working, but it can take a lot of work to keep them there. 500's are weird in a lot of ways. The Sony 3000's are the end of that lineage, and are a lot more maintainable.
The MCI 500 series is a fantastic sounding console with a lot of routing features and can be found fairly cheap if not "restored" (I bought mine for $2200, but knowing it needed a ton of work). Much better sounding console than the 600 or Sony desks.
DO NOT buy one if you are not ready to spend a lot of time on it and don't already know your way around a schematic and soldering iron. It won't make financial sense to have to pay a tech to maintain it especially at first. I spent another $4k plus on caps and parts for mine initially (and double that eventually for mods and other things), then spent realistically about 500 hours tech time getting it in shape. Then it was really reliable, and killed anything I've used for anywhere near that price. But you still need periodic maintenance (just helped fix an intermittent CR module on a friend's console this weekend). So yeah, I love them and I'd still say beware especially if it's pushing your budget anyway.

MCI 400s are cool sounding but less flexible for sure. Easier to work on (much simpler circuit, less annoying molex issues) but you're still going to need to at least recap and do regular work on it.

Anything 35+ yrs old is going to need a decent amount of regular work. I'm constantly working around the dead or intermittent channels when mixing on friends' old consoles...

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Post by brew » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:16 am

Soundcraft Ghost too.

Otherwise, as mentioned, you may have to double your ask to get an inline console.

Matt C.
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Post by Matt C. » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:40 pm

the Soundcraft TS24 and TS12 look promising. I'll gladly put in some time with a soldering gun but the MCIs seem like they can turn into a real maintenance nightmare, plus they're probably a bit out of my price range to being with.

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Post by roscoenyc » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:05 am

If you can get your budget up to 5k or so you could probably find a very nice Neotek with a built in patch bay too. There's a great users list online that is a terrific resource as far as working on them. To me something like that is worlds above a Toft or a Ghost.

disclaimer: I have had a Neotek Elan since around '98. It's currently on loan but I always liked it.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:49 pm

Neotek, Soundcraft (6000, Sapphire), MCI 600/Sony MXP 3000...all can be had rather cheap and have a lot of busses and options
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Post by ashcat_lt » Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:00 pm

I've got a Ghost in Duluth (actually, Superior, WI, but...horseshoes...) that I could let you have probably reasonable. I haven't fired it up in a while, and it needed a good cleaning then, PM or something if interested.

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Post by snatchman » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:35 pm

Not considered " top of the line" by many, but the Tascam M-2600 MkII console have some of the best routing feature than most/many modern consoles, and it's an inline console. ( meaning it has two separate inputs per channel. One input for live sources and the second input to monitor the returns from your tape machine,or recording media.. I had one that I used for years and it turned out some good results. It can also be modded ( if your tech chops are good.. :wink: )..I wish Tascam would've did a little more to this console to warrant "hi-end' as far as consoles goes but then it would've cost a whole lot more than it did tho! Take look around for an used one. Good luck..!

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