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Thread: Studer 928 Story...

  1. #1
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    Studer 928 Story...

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    So this Story actually starts in this thread here:

    Hittin’ The Road Again...

    So go check that out and then come back here.

    Some of you might be wondering why I'm getting another console...I mean, I've got the Tascam M-__ prototype 12 x 8 console, I've had a Tascam M-520 and M-512, Soundtracs MX32, MCI JH-416, and Teac 5B mixing consoles...I think there have been some smaller ones in there too...Tascam M-106...A Mackie...ummm...couple Allen & Heath. They've all been projects to to lesser or greater degrees...mostly greater I think...but I've put a lot of effort into the Tascam M-__ even to the point of collaborating with some really smart people to redesign the output line driver to better interface with my Ampex multitrack machine. So, what gives with the Studer? Unlike most everything else I've purchased audio equipment wise, the Studer was relatively expensive (still got a REALLY great deal on it compared to what I see elsewhere in the market), and it needs relatively little to be fully operational. Well, its like this...probably the main reason has to do with the Ampex tape machine. I'd like to be able to run the Ampex in 16-track trim. At 12 main input channels, the Tascam isn't really setup to easily mix and monitor 16 tape returns. It could be done, but it would be a kludge. The Tascam is wonderfully unique and I'm pretty attached to it. I don't imagine it will be going away, but in all the collaborative work I've been doing the past year or so to beef up the outputs, with the things I'm learning I'm realizing even with all the mods and tweaks, it will never be what something like the Studer is. And that's always been gnawing at me. I mean NO disrespect to Tascam and I hope that's clear. The Studer was, I think, something like maybe $60,000 or $70,000 new in 2000. Its in a different class. There are beneath the skin differences in the construction, materials, design (physical and electrical)...its a different animal designed with different priorities. Teac has done such a great job over so many years innovating features, innovating ways to bring features to consumers that otherwise would not be able to access them. They also have produced some very seriously professional products. The Tascam M-__ is purposely in a particular class. The Studer is, from a feature standpoint, a better match with the Ampex. And I know the Ampex isn't going away. So...Ever since I let go of the MCI project a few years ago (because I finally admitted it was too big a project than I wanted or felt I could complete), I was really settling in a way for the Tascam, telling myself I would probably just run the Ampex as a 1" 8-track, and ignoring what I really wanted. All the while I troll eBay, Reverb, craigslist...I had devised a pretty specific list of features I wanted a mixer to have, and pretty much had decided that it was out of reach. Then the Studer came along on craigslist. The seller and I turned out to have a mutual respected friend who's also an electronics genius...and the operations and service manual is readily available as a download online. So there was about a week of chewing on all that and consulting with my friend...and bouncing it off of others including miroslav. It was WAY not in the budget. But I talked with my wife about it. Folks, something is changing. I've spent so much time tinkering and fixing and refurbishing, there's no music being made, and my priorities have shifted...I've learned A LOT in the process. But all the fixing stuff keeps making the end goal look like its getting further away; not what I want to be doing...not how I want to spend my time so much. That will still be a piece of things always...I really enjoy that. But its become bigger than I can see through...all the work left to do on the Tascam M-__ and I knew it still wasn't going to be "it" for me. And spending time with my wife and the kids too is my favorite thing nowadays...tinkering takes away from that. And my wife likes the the music making part. So my wife encouraged me as did others, to pull the trigger, and off my son and I went to get it. I won't repeat what's in the prequel thread linked above...it was a memorable trip. So that's how I came to the decision, and I'm not regretting it.

    So far the tinkering to do on the Studer aside from detailing it at some point, includes some work to do on the power supplies (but SIMPLE stuff...new quieter cooling fans, the lids are missing screws), and the power supply umbilicals need reinforcing. The console itself needs one of the master buss meters looked at...its dead. That may be ALL.

    This Studer 928 was commissioned for one of my local state universities in 2000 or 2001. The Studer 928 is built to order with up to 8 mix busses, and a maximum number 96 input modules. I'll put up a link to the sales brochure at some point. But anyway, the university is where this one lived, probably in a broadcast or performance facility until it was put on the university auction block in 2015...probably replaced by a digital console. That's when the fella I bought it from brought it home to his home-based production facility. He's a busy Seattle area engineer/producer and has put out some great stuff. He's going a different direction with his studio and so the Studer went into clean heated storage nearly a year ago.

    Now some pictures.

    Here's the master section...four mix busses each with assignable stereo returns, onboard linkable and patchable compressor/limiter, hybrid opamp/transformer balanced output, clean +23.5dBu balanced output at 600ohm, 40ohm nominal...dual masters have onboard stereo limiter, and also have the same hybrid output. The control room and studio control modules to the far right have tons of super useful monitoring and talkback control features, and also house the four VCA group master faders...all the faders are VCA controlled which means no scritchy ever from the P&G faders. And then there's the handy and very useful TT patchbay...always wanted a console with its own patchbay...all inserts are balanced.

    img_3968-jpg


    The meter bridge...its all modular. Mine comes with meters for the groups, dual masters, and switchable stereo correlation meter, and meters for the 8 AUX groups (10 meters...6 mono AUXes and 2 stereo...) plus there are gain reduction meters for all of the dynamics processors (4 mono and 2 stereo), and again its modular, like a horizontal rack for meter modules...any 900 series analog or digital meters will mount up:

    img_3967-jpg


    And here are some mono and stereo input channel modules:

    img_3971-jpg


    And here is the backplane...All XLR I/O, except for in the master section some of the I/O is grouped on to 39-pin DIN 41622 connectors (I think most commonly referred to as Tuchel connectors, but they are made by a number of companies and come in a variety of pin counts, but DIN 41622 is the official connector type):

    img_3972-jpg

    img_3973-jpg


    ALL of the I/O is balanced, including the I/O on the DIN 41622 connectors, and as mentioned above the patchbay is balanced...and even though only the group and dual master buss outs have the transformers (which give a *little* step-up boost), all of the outputs have plenty of drive...everything is +6dBu nominal and even the electronically balanced direct outs can push +21dBu at 200ohms with ultra low distortion.

    I love the backlit switches...and the switches are really high quality. Most of the switching is electronic...in other words signal doesn't pass through the switch, the switch controls logic which does the actual switching...this eliminates any pops and clicks when switching signal in and out, especially problematic as the switch ages. Any circuits where logic switching wasn't feasible, gold contact switches were used. So...yes...this console is full of logic chips, which usually scares me away, but its all 4000 series logic...and I've gotten a lot more comfortable with that in trying to figure out some stuff on my Tascam console...but I like lights...and they're all LED...low maintenance and long-life:

    img_3978-jpg


    The 928 uses a strategic combination of opamps...The mic transformer is followed by a 5534...I am a fan of the 5534 and 5532. The single 5534 opamp is nice because the compensation is externally adjustable via one of the pins, so you can tune the opamp for the given circuit. The rest are dual opamps, again, the 5532, and a lot of 33078, TL072, and 2142 parts. "They did their homework" says my really smart electronics friend. All the components are high quality, and the component layout appears to have been designed with a certain aesthetic in mind.

    As I mentioned early in the post I need to do some work on the power supply umbilical cables...they are *okay*, but when the fella I bought it from got it in the university auction, whoever decommissioned it didn't retain the original cables, so they needed to be built, which he did. There are three power supplies, each power a section of the frame. At the supply end the connector is a circular 10-pin connector that is supposed to have a threaded locking collar. Those are missing from the connectors the seller sourced, and one is missing the strain relief as well. And the cable is too big for the entry into the cable mount plug. So, not all sure how deep I'm going to go, but as it stands the plugs are relatively easy to pull out and I see that as a safety issue...and I don't like how they look. I haven't started working on finding the missing parts or new connectors altogether. But I'm not concerned. This is what I'm working with...no discredit to the seller...these are functional...I know the parts are hard to source...and I'm very particular:

    img_3994-jpg


    At the other end there are 30-pin DIN 41622 connectors...two of them. The seller found the connector blocks themselves, but not the hoods, which provide a safety barrier, strain relief, and latching between the two connector blocks. The seller said the parts were impossible to find. He doesn't know what I'm capable of...buddy...YOU try finding the parts to make a Tascam M-520 umbilical... You can actually find the stuff new, but no joke its like $60 for each set (connector block and hood)...I've already got the blocks for the power connectors obviously, but no hoods at all for the power connectors OR the audio I/O connectors, and only 3 of the 6 connector blocks for the audio stuff...until yesterday...For about $90 shipped I found what I needed from a fella in Germany...he was selling bundles of 4 hoods with connector blocks, you tell him what you need and he digs through his box to see if he has it...the price was right so I didn't haggle about only needing 3 39-pin connector blocks and all the hoods...and I wanted a spare hood, so I got 9 hoods with connector blocks...spares for everything and that's $10 per set. And this is why something needs to be done...look at this...because the cable is so stiff, the power connectors have to be periodically checked and reseated...that's no good:

    img_3995-jpg


    I'm trying to think of what else to say...there's a lot on my mind about it just because there's so much about it that I like...its going to be a great fit with the rest of my gear. Oh and here's another thing that seems to be changing with me...I have a bad habit of getting something and then wanting to do some impossible reconfiguration with it to make it something it wasn't necessarily intended to be...sometimes this turns out pretty good, other times it just takes a LOT of time and patience and ends up compromising something. Well I originally had it in mind, since the frame is assembled of 3 buckets, to swap the master section into the middle to make a true split console...12 mono input modules on the left, master section in the middle, 16 mono/stereo line modules on the right for tape/DAW returns or whatever...the more I look at this I see how "made to order" these things are...I mean, they ARE modular, but all the patchbay and armrest labeling is actually etched...the motherboards configured for input or master section modules...the backplane same thing...there would have to be a MAJOR tear-down and reorg of the whole frame assembly to get it to work, and I'm sure I'd need to make custom cabling to extend connections...and then I might be compromising the build...and labeling wouldn't line up...the patchbay would become a confusing place. Leave it alone I decided...which is huge for me. If you haven't ever checked out my Soundtracs MX32 Story thread look at what I did there...turned it from a 32 x 8 x 2 console into a 24 x 8 x 2 x 8...meter bridge panel and ribbon cable mods...rivets drilled out, frame bins separated and reassembled...it was a huge project. I think it was a better console after that was done especially with the ground scheme redo...but this is a whole different animal. There are four vacant slots in the frame...they have blanks...I decided to put two blanks in between the mono modules and 16 stereo modules, and between the stereo modules and the master section. It creates the visual separation I'm looking for to segregate the functions of the control surface. Done. Massive time wasting risky project averted. You can see the minor difference in the before and after below:

    img_3974-jpg

    img_3992-jpg


    And for now I leave you with this...this console is so cool it even cares for you emotionally...when you're in the middle of the session and you've lost your mojo, look no further than this button over in the studio control module...press it and you'll be feeling fine...genius!

    img_3993-jpg


    Okay...gotta run...now that I've verified the console powers up and things are more or less working, the next step is to just hear how audio sounds through it...I rarely have time to play so off I go!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_3973-jpg   img_3971-jpg   img_3978-jpg   img_3992-jpg   img_3993-jpg  

    img_3968-jpg  
    Last edited by sweetbeats; 01-22-2019 at 19:51.

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  3. #2
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    Looking at all those pics now...yeah, for sure, that's a serious piece of gear.
    That's the kind of console I would have preferred, one that has a bit more modern features, and I did look for quite some time (you remember all the conversations we had)...but after looking for about 4 years, I needed to make move, and when the Trident came up, it was a shit-or-get-off moment (same thing you had with this Studer). My Trident is more classic old-school analog, an I love it for that vibe, but it doesn't have as many modern features as your Studer...but it's a good 10 years older too. Not complaining...I've gotten very comfortable with the Trident...but that Studer is sweet, especially for what you paid for it.

    I'll have to reread your lengthy post again to soak up all the details...but the pictures alone say a 1000 words.
    I know it will be a bit of time before you're at that fully hooked-up state with the tape deck and peripherals...but don't let it lay too long, don't lose the motivation. This is your shit-or-get-off moment to go all-in. Not sure how old your son is...but this could be his legacy...to dive into recording along your side. That gear has a long life and it will only be more valuable with time, and you know how to keep it in top shape.

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    Shit! Way above my pay grade. Even the hookups scare me. Lol
    But it looks like a serious piece of gear.
    Congrats, and I'm sure you'll keep us posted.

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    Yeah, that it something I can definitely say is beyond my capacity. If I ever were to score something like that (not that I have the slightest need for it right now), I would certainly need to hire someone to set it up for me.

    Congrats again!
    famous beagle

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    Congratulations on getting an incredible desk.

    I have a 269 that I use with my TRS-8. For an 8 track tape machine I think these smaller Studer Boards are the best way to go, particularly for someone in my shoes. I record myself, and it's rare that I am ever tracking anything other than mono (even drums). What they lack in bussing and routing options they more than make up for in sound.

    Your 928 is a wayyyy more flexible beast than my little 269, but I think my main point is that these are serious pieces of kit. Plus, they are very user-friendly to work on. I look forward to hearing how you think this board sounds.

    Congrats again. I've lurked here for many years. I really wanted to chime in on this thread so I finally signed up and did!

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    Thanks for the input/feedback everybody! Will respond in more detail later. In the meantime here is a link to the discontinued product site for the 928:

    928 | Studer Professional Mixing Consoles

    Specifically here is a link to the sales brochure:

    https://www.av-iq.com/avcat/images/d...8_brochure.pdf

    Here's one of the songs for which the seller sent me a link so I could hear something tracked and mixed through the Studer:



    Now, that to me sounds great...this was a Protools project, but tracked and mixed through the Studer. I wanted to know how much of the end result was attributable to the Studer, which is, of course a totally dubious question, but I had to ask just to get any kind of subjective information. I know a final mix is so much a culmination of the performance, the instruments, the mics, the mic placement, the front end, the recording medium and what surrounds that (the type of tape machine and how it was setup, or the A/D/A converters and DAW audio engine), and any processing and effects used during tracking and mixing/mastering, so it’s NEVER just one thing, but, depending on the workflow process, the mixing console is in the middle of it all and can either hinder, enable, or even create sonic greatness. So I asked how significant a role did the the seller feel the Studer played on that song?

    He replied "Well... like you mentioned, it’s hard to say, but I did use plenty of eq and probably a little of the stereo panning [the stereo width filter on the stereo modules]. I always found the board to be fairly neutral, maybe a tiny tiny bit rolled off at the highest frequencies and no weird reaction to transients."

    My greatest take-away from our dialog on this subject, and really the final push to pull the trigger, was that the Studer doesn't stand in the way of that kind of final mix. And the neutral character I think is good in my setup since I'll have some great tape machines for tracking and mastering. And actually I'm reasonable certain the sound of audio through it will make smile.

    Didn't make it out to actually pass program material through the console last night...maybe tonight...

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    Amazing...

    I’m still amazed when any complex audio device over 15 years old still works well.

    Hooked up a stereo source and tested all input modules. The stereo modules have two stereo inputs per module, switch selectable...they all work and work well except for one module, one side is crunchy on input 1 and input 2. Sounds like a blown opamp. Everything is super clean and quiet. VCA controls work. This console is in super solid shape. And...I love the EQ. It is super easy to dial in what you need. The HF and LF shelving EQ sounds sweet. And overall the sound is sweet through the console and that’s just to the headphone jack...noise floor is super low. I’m smiling. Can’t wait to have things setup. It’s going to be a bit because the space has to be finished first, but this thing is awesome. The stereo width filter is really neat too...powerful tool.

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    ...like the EQ just totally does what you need it or want it to do, without causing more trouble. And makes stuff sound good. I spent like an hour running all sorts of program material through it and it was super easy to manage problem frequencies with the mid bands and sweeten or tame the high end with the sweepable HF shelving filter and either control the low end by cutting at 30-50Hz or use the low shelving in conjunction with the hi pass filter to tighten up the low end or bring out certain frequencies...super useful. It just works. And this wasn’t even the EQ on the mono modules with the switcheable Q on the mid bands.

    I was a little bummed it looks like the stereo modules aren’t configured with a direct out? But instead two stereo inputs...switch selectable. I have a text out to the seller to confirm this and I need to refer to the manual again and look at what the options were and look at the schematics again, but I was thinking about this...this means I could easily have 16 mono tape returns as well as multiple DAW returns and other stereo sources all hooked up at the same time and switch between them as needed. No need for a patchbay. Those 16 stereo modules have a total of 64 balanced line inputs. And you can basically sum any pair as dual mono or stereo, and switch between each set of jacks, stereo or mono.

    All the VCA masters work great. Super cool.

    This thing is really quiet. I’m not used to opening up 8, 16 or 24 channels with no sources, pumping the trims and faders and hearing almost nothing in the monitors.
    Last edited by sweetbeats; 01-21-2019 at 18:12.

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  12. #9
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    Great news!
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    I always found the board to be fairly neutral, maybe a tiny tiny bit rolled off at the highest frequencies and no weird reaction to transients."
    That about sums it up.

    You make me real jealous

    Finding a desk like this at a reasonable price is remarkable. Even here in Europe, where you still can find some from broadcast, these are snatched up by traders immediately. In fact, I've given up hope of ever finding one. Unfortunately all the rest is inferior (in build quality and sound) or even more rare and expensive.

    I'm sure you'll enjoy that desk endlessly.

    You lucky dog, you!
    MB Pro, FF400, AKG C451-C1/CK8, NT1, B5, MD21, Korg RC168, DEQ830, ADA8000...

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