Thread: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

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  1. #1
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    Default Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I know. Probably shocked a few with the title. Bear with me.
    For the purpose of this discussion, I will exclude cases where someone (or some facility) has been using large-format consoles for a while. You've probably already built all the rest of the infrastructure around it, so no sense in even considering this scenario.
    However, in the case of someone considering acquiring/using one, how important is that today? I ask because of the following:
    1. It seems that a lot of hardware is now being designed around the box which could replace a bunch of stuff larger consoles were designed to do. Summing boxes, hardware insert points, outboard processors... you name it.
    2. Keeping things modular means easier swapping, maintenance, reselling, etc.
    3. If you're into the ergonomics of it, there are a bunch of control surfaces that could be used.

    Yes, I know there's immediacy. Is that worth the price of such a piece of hardware?

    It also seems a bunch of well-known manufacturers have started to come up with smaller consoles (8-16 channels) that are designed to work with a computer as the heart of the studio. So... are larger consoles still a thing? Does anyone see clear benefits in them over having separate pieces of hardware (or hell, even software) for the price?

    Discuss.

    P.S. I'm genuinely curious. Not that I'd be ever able to afford one, and I don't think I'd even consider it, but I still wanted to ask.
  2. #2
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    In large recording studios they have a place.

    The other reason you see manufacturers making small scaled down versions (and increasingly rackmount modules modules as well) is that there are fewer and fewer OF those large studios to sell to, so they try to sell to the larger market.
    Last edited by weedywet; September 9th, 2016 at 08:05 PM.
  3. #3
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    Here's a neat "smaller" console for sale...

    http://vintageking.com/emi-abbey-roa...eatles-console
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    3. If you're into the ergonomics of it, there are a bunch of control surfaces that could be used.
    It should be noted that control surfaces generally do not offer the same ergonomics and workflow as a real console. You still have to deal with nested menus and a lack of one knob/one function functionality.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    It should be noted that control surfaces generally do not offer the same ergonomics and workflow as a real console. You still have to deal with nested menus and a lack of one knob/one function functionality.
    True John. Thanks for pointing it out. Which also means that...

    Originally Posted by weedywet
    I'm large recording studios they have a place.

    Mother teason you see manufacturers making small scaled down versions (and increasingly rackmount modules modules as well) is that there are fewer and fewer OF those large studios to sell to, so they try to sell to the larger market.


    ... this is probably more something related to scale then. Does a large console allow you to work faster/more efficiently on large-scale projects when compared to a control surface/outboard - based approach (I am aware outboard still plays a large role when using a console, but I think you get my point).

    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I would go here.
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    True John. Thanks for pointing it out. Which also means that...



    ... this is probably more something related to scale then. Does a large console allow you to work faster/more efficiently on large-scale projects when compared to a control surface/outboard - based approach (I am aware outboard still plays a large role when using a console, but I think you get my point).

    Thanks!

    [/FONT][/COLOR]
    No.

    It has nothing to do with "scale".

    Most ITB projects are far more (unnecessarily) complex than analog projects.

    And suck accordingly.

    Sorry, I'm slightly drunk at the moment.



    EDIT: I refer you to the post about the Abbey Road "REDD" console
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    May be apples to oranges here because my experience is really based on live sound consoles and outboard gear. I still haven't had a lot of oppertunity to work in "proper studios" where a console is the centerpiece. Take it for what it's worth.

    I spend a minimum of 40 hours a week doing computer based work, so I consider myself fairly proficient. I'm also pretty particular with customizing my work station. Minimum of three monitors, good mouse, as many keyboard shorts as I can memorize. But I'd still rather have a board in front of me. The idea of a tactile thing that I can immediately reach down and touch gives me some warm and fuzzy feeling. And it's also faster. I couldn't fathom trying to do a live show with my recording/mixing set up(apples to oranges maybe)

    I'm constantly frustrated by knowing that I'm slower when i have to navigate the on screen interface. In the back of my head I know I could reach straight for the knob I need on a board or outboard gear. I wouldn't have to reach for the mouse, open a plugin, aim for the knob I need and "unnaturally" turn it.
    But that's an awfully expensive fix for my frustration. Ultimately it's impractical in my position to buy even a low end board. For one, if I bought a 30k to 50k board my wife would kill me ... and if I survived that somehow, it wouldn't bring me any more projects.

    Add in the loss of recall between sessions (for consoles that I could consider buying) and my path is pretty well laid out. I'd think this scenario is pretty common for most home studio / project studio/ hobbyist style setups. Thus the new market for smaller consoles. The difference for me is I'm not going to try and arguer that what I'm doing is better.

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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    It's a necessity for recording ensembles rather than Les Paul Memorial Overdub Parties.
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?


    Most ITB projects are far more (unnecessarily) complex than analog projects.

    And suck accordingly.
    That may be true as a generalization but for those who would just as soon use an analog console but don't have the budget req'd for the console and the room to put it in, the real issue is that the typical DAW is vastly more complex than an analogue console and has to be all things to everyone.

    So you'll be mixing a song and making good progress and you accidentally hit a hotkey and your virtual console disappears. Then you have to do searches online for half an hour to make it reappear
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    It's a necessity for recording ensembles rather than Les Paul Memorial Overdub Parties.
    No wonder Ken Scott doesn't post here any more -- people attack his methodology
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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    Default Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I'd have one for the look (impresses clients) but I don't have the space.
    And as far as live goes, soooooo much work is being done on digital boards.
    And they kick ass.
    I wouldn't prefer one in the studio, but for live work?
    Hells yes.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I don't like those dismissive internets memes.

    I don't use a large desk or big monitors or tape machines to "impress clients"

    i use use them to make better records
  14. #14
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    It should be noted that control surfaces generally do not offer the same ergonomics and workflow as a real console. You still have to deal with nested menus and a lack of one knob/one function functionality.
    That depends on the console. Mine does. The Avid System 5s also have a digital patch matrix. I can access 48 stereo pieces of outboard gear without ever having to touch a patch cable or a bay. I don't have 48 pieces of outboard gear though. :(
  15. #15
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    For the purpose of this discussion, I will exclude cases where someone (or some facility) has been using large-format consoles for a while. You've probably already built all the rest of the infrastructure around it, so no sense in even considering this scenario.
    However, in the case of someone considering acquiring/using one, how important is that today? I ask because of the following:
    I bought mine 3 weeks ago. Avid System 5BP. 72 preamps, 96 analog busses i/o, 672 channels. I'm also 7.1 and Dolby Atmos equipped. How important is it? For me, I need it. For others, I'd say its more a luxury. This one was in the old NBC studios...Jay Lenos old post suite.

    1. It seems that a lot of hardware is now being designed around the box which could replace a bunch of stuff larger consoles were designed to do. Summing boxes, hardware insert points, outboard processors... you name it.
    2. Keeping things modular means easier swapping, maintenance, reselling, etc.
    3. If you're into the ergonomics of it, there are a bunch of control surfaces that could be used.

    Yes, I know there's immediacy. Is that worth the price of such a piece of hardware?
    Only your workflow and business model can answer those questions.
    It also seems a bunch of well-known manufacturers have started to come up with smaller consoles (8-16 channels) that are designed to work with a computer as the heart of the studio. So... are larger consoles still a thing? Does anyone see clear benefits in them over having separate pieces of hardware (or hell, even software) for the price?

    Discuss.

    P.S. I'm genuinely curious. Not that I'd be ever able to afford one, and I don't think I'd even consider it, but I still wanted to ask.
    I'll tell you how I made the decision. I hunted for a year. I spoke with sales guys of course, then had some dialogue with people on here (which are generally more honest and knowledgeable). Though I weighed the pros and cons, what it came down to wasn't so much sonics vs ergonomics. Nor flying faders vs DAW control. For me it really came down to a year long conclusion about who I am and where I want to be in 10 years.

    Once I understood how important it was for to go all-in at the audio post and gaming, and exit the music recording end, everything else fell into place. I realized that DAW control is an absolute must have, and it takes priority over everything else. Massive channel count is an indispensable part of dub stage mixing. The ability of the console to simultatiously interface with several protools rigs over satellite control and tie into the Avid isis 5000 (or nexus) servers was more important than having a 'neve' sounding preamp. Matter of fact, yeah, I have 72 preamps. I probably won't be using them.

    I looked very hard at a Neve VR (the one that was in New Hampshire and the one that is still for sale in Arizona). I looked at smaller SSL g's. And at the big huge Trident #7 that keeps floating around. They're huge, clunky, power hungry, they break, and they eat up an ungodly amount of cables and they have lousy recall. And the neve didn't have its flying faders because the computer is broke.

    One other thought...if you take the $20K asking price of the Neve VR, and divide it by the number of channels you're at $400 a shot. There's a cost efficiency, and a routing continuity argument to be made for the old school analog console. But as soon as you take away channel strip dynamics (which seems to be unique to the Neve and SSL), you loose functionality.

    Regarding your last point about smaller consoles (and I've been researching this quite a bit), the S6 is smaller than an S5. Its arguably quite a bit more powerful than the 5MC as well. But the film guys need the size. You just can't manage all that stuff with a smaller console or a mouse. And recall is of utmost importance. I actually never understood the market for the SSL AWS or the Neve Genesys.

    Yes larger consoles are still a thing in film, post, gaming and broadcast. In music? I'm the wrong guy to ask.
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I'd have one for the look (impresses clients) but I don't have the space.
    People listen with their eyes. Visual stimulants naturally dominate auditory ones.

    And as far as live goes, soooooo much work is being done on digital boards.
    And they kick ass.
    AMEN BRO!!!
    I wouldn't prefer one in the studio, but for live work?
    Hells yes.
    You mean you won't rather cart around 2 enormous racks full of Rane, Ashley, and Klark outboard gear? Come on dude! What are those muscles for?
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I don't like those dismissive internets memes.

    I don't use a large desk or big monitors or tape machines to "impress clients"

    i use use them to make better records
    Exactly!
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I'd have one for the look (impresses clients) but I don't have the space.
    And as far as live goes, soooooo much work is being done on digital boards.
    And they kick ass.
    I wouldn't prefer one in the studio, but for live work?
    Hells yes.
    Well, I wouldn't. At least not the lower tier ones I've had experience with. Mousing through nested menus to get to a control that I need right NOW is not my idea of a useful live console.

    One knob, one function.
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    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  19. #19
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    How large is large? I like consoles for my own use 24 channels is enough for me and I would not call that large?
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Are (large) consoles still a thing?

    I bought mine 3 weeks ago. Avid System 5BP. 72 preamps, 96 analog busses i/o, 672 channels. I'm also 7.1 and Dolby Atmos equipped. How important is it? For me, I need it. For others, I'd say its more a luxury. This one was in the old NBC studios...Jay Lenos old post suite.

    Only your workflow and business model can answer those questions.


    I'll tell you how I made the decision. I hunted for a year. I spoke with sales guys of course, then had some dialogue with people on here (which are generally more honest and knowledgeable). Though I weighed the pros and cons, what it came down to wasn't so much sonics vs ergonomics. Nor flying faders vs DAW control. For me it really came down to a year long conclusion about who I am and where I want to be in 10 years.

    Once I understood how important it was for to go all-in at the audio post and gaming, and exit the music recording end, everything else fell into place. I realized that DAW control is an absolute must have, and it takes priority over everything else. Massive channel count is an indispensable part of dub stage mixing. The ability of the console to simultatiously interface with several protools rigs over satellite control and tie into the Avid isis 5000 (or nexus) servers was more important than having a 'neve' sounding preamp. Matter of fact, yeah, I have 72 preamps. I probably won't be using them.

    I looked very hard at a Neve VR (the one that was in New Hampshire and the one that is still for sale in Arizona). I looked at smaller SSL g's. And at the big huge Trident #7 that keeps floating around. They're huge, clunky, power hungry, they break, and they eat up an ungodly amount of cables and they have lousy recall. And the neve didn't have its flying faders because the computer is broke.

    One other thought...if you take the $20K asking price of the Neve VR, and divide it by the number of channels you're at $400 a shot. There's a cost efficiency, and a routing continuity argument to be made for the old school analog console. But as soon as you take away channel strip dynamics (which seems to be unique to the Neve and SSL), you loose functionality.

    Regarding your last point about smaller consoles (and I've been researching this quite a bit), the S6 is smaller than an S5. Its arguably quite a bit more powerful than the 5MC as well. But the film guys need the size. You just can't manage all that stuff with a smaller console or a mouse. And recall is of utmost importance. I actually never understood the market for the SSL AWS or the Neve Genesys.

    Yes larger consoles are still a thing in film, post, gaming and broadcast. In music? I'm the wrong guy to ask.
    Well, this is really an insightful post. Thanks a lot jkuehlin!
    I had failed to consider the needs of the post market. Indeed, I can see how a large console could be necessary for such workflows. It seems though that digital consoles would be preferable over analog ones, in these cases? Just asking.

    Funny you mention your plans, because I've also decided that it's a much better idea for me to start focusing on markets such as games and post (although more as a composer, in my case), and leave my musical aspirations to be more of a really nice hobby. I guess we'll see about all this.

    This thread has turned up to offer a lot more than I initially thought. Keep 'em coming!

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