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Thread: have otari mx5050 8 track, need mixer

  1. #1
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    have otari mx5050 8 track, need mixer

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    I need a mixer for my otari mx5050 8 track. Am leaning towards Mackie Onyx, Allenand Heath ZED series, or Soundcraft M series.

    Which one sounds the best?

    I like having all the features that the Mackie and Allen and Heath's have that are around $1500 US. Do the cheaper ones that have fewer features offer the same sound quality?

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    What specifically are the features you like best about Mackie and the Allen & Heath?

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    4 band EQ, groups, control room mix that's separate from master. I could get by with one of the smaller ones that doesn't have those, but only if the sound quality is just as good. I haven't decided how much I want to spend. No more than $2000.

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    Are you set on buying new?

    How many channels do you need and how many groups?

    I realize this is OT from what you were originally asking, but realize that in your price range none of the mixers you mentioned will be a good for tracking to an 8-track recorder if you need to record more than 4 tracks at a time because none of them have more than 4 groups nor do they have post fader direct outs on the channel strips...unless you use aux sends to do it.

    That's why so many of us here are partial to the older Tascam mixers...inline mixing features and I/O galore...rugged build and nice sounding.

    Is the I/O on your 5050 balanced or unbalanced and is it +4, -10 or both?

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    nor do they have post fader direct outs on the channel strips
    Good point, that I had not thought about, however the Soundcraft M series does have that.

    Is the I/O on your 5050 balanced or unbalanced and is it +4, -10 or both?
    Unblalanced, definitely +4 and maybe -10 but I don't remember.

    I'm open to suggestions on good sounding older mixers.

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    Sorry...missed that on the Soundcraft...

    Another option (since the Spirit M12 is lacking in monitoring facilities) is the Allen & Heath MixWizard WZ3 14:4:2. More than the others, but well within your budget ceiling.

    I've worked extensively with a GL3300-32 and it has been a great mixer to use. The 14:4:2 has all the I/O and monitoring options you would need and more in a fairly compact package. A lot of pro features in a small format. In that way it is reminiscent of the older Tascam mixers.

    I've also worked with an older Mackie. Not apples-to-apples with the newer generation but there were some things left desired with it...plus the Onyx series mixers as far as recording are really geared for tracking to digital over the optional f/w card.

    How many channels do you need?

    As far as used mixers, I really haven't found anything else that compares to the older Tascam mixers in terms of build quality, design and features. They were designed around the project studio. I presently have an M-520, and M-308B and a prototype 500-series mixer. Based on what you are looking at and what you are wanting to interface I'd direct you to an M-312B...12 x 4 x 2 x 1, inline features for quick flip between MIC and LINE inputs (with separate TRIM knobs), 3-band eq but mid and lower bands are swept, 100mm faders, full routing capability, a silly-flexible 8-channel monitor mixer for tape returns, full control room and talkback facilities...hand and fist above the mixers you are looking at in terms of mixing power and flexibility. Something to think about for sure. Maybe $400 +/- for one in good condition?

    Here's a full-color brochure on the 300B-series...

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    How many channels do you need?
    More than 8, but I haven't thought through that. I of course want to be able to monitor the tape while recording, and not having to patch all the time would be nice, so maybe 16, but I'm mostly concerned with getting the best sounding pre's, eq's and mixing and such that I can afford and then I'll make comprimises elsewhere.

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    Man...I'm hoping others will chime in, but IMHO the sonic differences in pre's between the mixers you are talking about and/or a Tascam 300-series or anything in that arena are going to be hair splitting...none of them are "boutique" pre's and neither are any of them ROC special...y'know what I mean? I'd be happy using any of those pre's but from an engineering standpoint I can tell you that I think you are making a mistake sacrificing good control room and monitoring capability to get maybe a slightly better mic preamp (based on somebody's opinion)...I'm just basing that admonishion on your priority list:

    I'm mostly concerned with getting the best sounding pre's, eq's and mixing and such that I can afford and then I'll make comprimises elsewhere.
    You need to ask yourself also what you are expecting this mixer to do for you. It won't make you sound better or improve your skills. I'm not questioning that at all...I don't know you from Adam but I know its a mistake I made. I've heard incredible sounding songs from people on this very forum and they've done it with "second-rate" mics on 25 year old cassette 4-trackers. I'm picky, and I think I can recognize a good mix vs. a bad mix and this stuff blew me away. And I figured if they can do that on that gear then gear is not my limitation and neither will the difference between the pre's on a MixWizard, ZED, Onyx or Spirit M mixer...I can tell you from experience that its an exercise in frustration to use a mixer where you have to jury-rig monitoring functions and patch and re-patch to get the job done and at that point you and the talent would rather anything with the right functions be in place than something that some marketing guru told the world was "better". That's my 2p but I feel pretty passionate about that and I don't believe you are going to find anything in your price braket better suited for mating with that 5050-8 than something akin to the M-312...the WZ3 14:4:2 comes pretty close.

    And as far as pre's go? Maybe I'm biased/inexperienced/insane, but my favorite pre's in my studio are on my 20 year old Tascam M-520...haven't used the 308B yet as it needs work but based on the channel architecture and the opamps used I bet I'll like those even better, and that's comparing to a Yamaha i88x (only 2 pre's but they are based on the Yamaha DM-2000 pre's...Google that...highly touted pre's as were the i88x's in kind) and a Presonus Digimax FS. Hands-down I like the M-520 better. If somebody was going to give me my choice of the mixers you listed or minty Tascam M-312B, I'd take the Tascam. It would be a better fit for what I do.

    So, do what you're going to do, but knowing what I know today I can't imagine spending $1200+ bucks on a mixer that lacks the things I need in the control room and doesn't sound as good to me as a mixer that's got it all and more that costs 1/3 to 1/4 the money.

    That's one opinion but it is based on 2 full and involved CD projects and getting my hands dirty with the internal components and how stuff is put together.

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    By the way, one of the beauties of the Tascam mixer is that you don't need extra channels to monitor 8-track returns...that's the plus of a mixer with inline features...the tape returns go into the line inputs and those can either be routed to the channel strip (for mixdown time with full eq and AUX functions), picked up by the monitor send for a cue mix while the MIC is routed through the strip (keep in mind the TRIM knob is stacked so you can set the gain independently for the MIC and LINE inputs), and/or you can also pick up all 8 returns through 8 channel monitor mixer...that is all on only 8 channels. So the 308 can do that, but the 312 gives you 4 more channel strips for whatever, plus the 312 adds two more AUX sends dedicated to the 8-channel monitor mixer so you've got three ways to create cue mixes. Plus we haven't yet even touched the 4 subgroups with balanced or unbalanced outs switcheable -10 or +4 AND the STEREO mix AND a mono mix...the 312B would be completely comfortable simultaneously handling an 8-track production while managing 12 sources in a live FOH setting and you'd have 4 balance +4 monitor feeds and a mono mix to the house pa and stereo for balcony fills or sub feeds and all the while the engineer has all the talkback and monitoring flexibility to communicate and monitor without repatching...and the 8-track sends can be monitored off the desk or the heads with the flip of switches. You can't do that with anything new for even 4 or 5x the price today.

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    Thanks. You've about sold me on the tascams. I read in a post somewhere that the 308/312 etc are at -10db. Don't know if that's right. Since my otari is at +4 is that going to be a problem?

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