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Author Topic: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?  (Read 4704 times)

Kevin Pilsbury

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32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« on: July 21, 2011, 02:09:01 pm »

Our 24 channel mixer is starting to fade and we have been given a budget of about $1200 to replace the board.  With the stage renovation coming we would like to bump up to a 32 channel board (Analog) and I was wondering in the opinions of the experts, what is the best bang for the buck in analogs boards at 32 channels.  I have recently been loking at the Mackie 3204 VLZ board although there are not many reviews of it aout there.  Is this a good choice for the money?  It is actually listed at $1350.  Thanks for your knowledge.
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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 02:42:10 pm »

Our 24 channel mixer is starting to fade and we have been given a budget of about $1200 to replace the board.  With the stage renovation coming we would like to bump up to a 32 channel board (Analog) and I was wondering in the opinions of the experts, what is the best bang for the buck in analogs boards at 32 channels.  I have recently been loking at the Mackie 3204 VLZ board although there are not many reviews of it aout there.  Is this a good choice for the money?  It is actually listed at $1350.  Thanks for your knowledge.

Kevin.....

For anything of decent quality anywhere near your budget you're probably looking at buying a quality used console.  The Mackie is severely limited by the 3 band channel EQ and if you're dealing with more than a few inputs the channel strip EQ's are right up at the top of the list for what makes a console really work for mixing.

Cheap is cheap.  What more can I say.

Edit:

For the money, this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Allen-Heath-ZED-436-32-Channel-Live-and-Studio-Mixer-/390261222138?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5add61aafa#ht_3060wt_1089

is probably going to give you the most bang for the buck.  Fairly decent 4 band channel EQ and the input count you specified.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 02:56:55 pm by dick rees »
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Kevin Pilsbury

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 03:36:13 pm »

Kevin.....

For anything of decent quality anywhere near your budget you're probably looking at buying a quality used console.  The Mackie is severely limited by the 3 band channel EQ and if you're dealing with more than a few inputs the channel strip EQ's are right up at the top of the list for what makes a console really work for mixing.

Cheap is cheap.  What more can I say.

Edit:

For the money, this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Allen-Heath-ZED-436-32-Channel-Live-and-Studio-Mixer-/390261222138?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5add61aafa#ht_3060wt_1089

is probably going to give you the most bang for the buck.  Fairly decent 4 band channel EQ and the input count you specified.

Thanks for the reply, I have a feeling I may need to remain in the 24 channel market. Something I have heard of not sure how it works, what are your thoughts about A&H ZED 22FX (which would get us by for now) and then later maybe adding another one just like it. Can you "Daisy Chain" them together so to speak? I saw something in their documentation about not being able to run phantom power if you have another mixer or keyboard plugged into the xlr jacks, which may be a challenge. Is using 2 mixers essentially making it one big one, or are their drawbacks?
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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 03:47:26 pm »

Thanks for the reply, I have a feeling I may need to remain in the 24 channel market. Something I have heard of not sure how it works, what are your thoughts about A&H ZED 22FX (which would get us by for now) and then later maybe adding another one just like it. Can you "Daisy Chain" them together so to speak?

Not as such.  I know my other A & H consoles can theoretically be used together with the SysLink option, but I'm not sure if that technology is still supported.

You can, however, use a smaller sub-mixer for the drum kit or a group of voices, strings, etc which can be processed as a group, then run that into one of the stereo returns on the ZED.

The only limitation to using sub-mixers is assigning things back into the monitors.  If that can be done as a group  then you'll be fine.

Quote


 I saw something in their documentation about not being able to run phantom power if you have another mixer or keyboard plugged into the xlr jacks, which may be a challenge. Is using 2 mixers essentially making it one big one, or are their drawbacks?

As to the limitations, see above. 

When bringing the sub-mixer back into your main console you should use the line-level inputs.  Those would be the 1/4" inputs.  That way there's no 48v issue.

FWIW, the ZED is likely a much better bet than anything with a 3 band channel strip EQ.  But NOT the 22FX as it has only 16 mic inputs.  The rest are stereo line inputs in pairs.  Go with the ZED 428 to get your 24 inputs.  But there again you're over your stated budget.

Looks like you should find another $800.........or take your time and shop the used  market.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 03:53:32 pm by dick rees »
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Kevin Pilsbury

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 08:41:25 pm »

Not as such.  I know my other A & H consoles can theoretically be used together with the SysLink option, but I'm not sure if that technology is still supported.

You can, however, use a smaller sub-mixer for the drum kit or a group of voices, strings, etc which can be processed as a group, then run that into one of the stereo returns on the ZED.

The only limitation to using sub-mixers is assigning things back into the monitors.  If that can be done as a group  then you'll be fine.

As to the limitations, see above. 

When bringing the sub-mixer back into your main console you should use the line-level inputs.  Those would be the 1/4" inputs.  That way there's no 48v issue.

FWIW, the ZED is likely a much better bet than anything with a 3 band channel strip EQ.  But NOT the 22FX as it has only 16 mic inputs.  The rest are stereo line inputs in pairs.  Go with the ZED 428 to get your 24 inputs.  But there again you're over your stated budget.

Looks like you should find another $800.........or take your time and shop the used  market.

Weel it looks like I need to "prod" the sheep a little more :-) I am also thinking about staying with a 24 channel board, in the interim what are your thoughts on Yamaha mixers / speakers etc? A lot of people like this one:  MG32/14FX, MG24/14FX http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/products/mixers/mg32_24/ just curious your thoughts on this for a fixed system in a small church.
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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 08:53:51 pm »

Weel it looks like I need to "prod" the sheep a little more :-) I am also thinking about staying with a 24 channel board, in the interim what are your thoughts on Yamaha mixers / speakers etc? A lot of people like this one:  MG32/14FX, MG24/14FX http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/products/mixers/mg32_24/ just curious your thoughts on this for a fixed system in a small church.

The MG's suffer from the same deficiencies as the Mackies:  limited channel strip EQ.

I notice that you're looking at consoles with onboard FX.  This may be attractive for purposes of keeping things tidy and compact in the booth, but outboard units are relatively cheap and offer a bit more control of the parameters for those who wish to advance their tech skills.  And the "shine" of having built-ins comes off quickly when your basic EQ capability is compromised.

Other boards to avoid (just to save time):

Anything with only 3 bands of EQ

Behringer
Cheap Soundcraft (Spirit)

As noted previously, you can get by OK with just 24 channels and a small 5 channel sub-mixer (probably available for less than $100 new) .

Edit:

Sweetwater sells demos with full warranty for a nice discount.  They currently have a ZED 428 for just a bit more than you've budgeted.......

Lastly, the Mackie Onyx series features a 4 band channel EQ and decent functionality.  Their 24 channel model actually has 24 inputs and is very close to your budget amount.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 09:03:35 pm by dick rees »
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Kevin Pilsbury

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 09:37:57 pm »


I notice that you're looking at consoles with onboard FX.  This may be attractive for purposes of keeping things tidy and compact in the booth, but outboard units are relatively cheap and offer a bit more control of the parameters for those who wish to advance their tech skills.  And the "shine" of having built-ins comes off quickly when your basic EQ capability is compromised.


I want to thank you for your time, you have been a wealth of information for me.  I am definitely not married to the idea of onboard FX, obviously for some reason I kep getting drawn in that direction.  Is there an easy way to determine this other than looking at the description of every console? Are there specific consoles/manufacturers that don't have onboard FX you could direct me to ?

Thanks again for all of your responses, I have a lot of research, thinking and probably fundraising to do :-)
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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 09:46:30 pm »

Is there an easy way to determine this other than looking at the description of every console?

You should definitely read the info on any console you may be considering.  It's all just a click and a read on the good ol' interweb.

Quote
Are there specific consoles/manufacturers that don't have onboard FX you could direct me to ?

I've done that already. 

Quote
Thanks again for all of your responses, I have a lot of research, thinking and probably fundraising to do :-)

You're welcome.  Yes, it's pretty much up to you from here on out.  Just remember that it's usually better to solidly identify  your needs, then buy something that will fill the bill rather than buying what you can afford now with your arbitrary budget.  If you buy twice (once now with your "budget" and once again when it doesn't quite cut it) you'll end up spending more and have to deal with selling it to the committee twice.......pretty much an impossibility.

Take the time to educate yourself and those who will be funding this.  Write it all out, print out copies of everything from your interweb research and.....

good luck.

DR
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Matthias Heitzer

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 07:50:09 am »

I'd look for allen&heath and soundcraft desks, the old soundcraft spirit lx 7 was of doubtful quality, the new LX7II seems to be better, altough a don't have long term experience with it.
But it doesn't feel like a toy anymore.

The channel number is only one criteria of a mixer, what about your output needs?
How many different monitor (foldback) mixes do you need? What is the configuration of your PA? (stereo/mono/lcr/aux-fed sub,...) Are there any plans to upgrade it in the near future? do you need a feed to overflow rooms with a different mix?

Channels aren't channels.
how many mono and how many stereo inputs do you need?
Yamaha (and most of the cheapo brands) count the stereo channels as two mono channels.
A&Hs stero channels can be used as mono mic, too (with limited eq) and are counted as such.
Soundcraft generally doesn't add the stereo ins to the channel count.

The mentioned 4 band Eq with two sweepable mid bands is a standard feature, i'd say everything with a smaller eq section is either obsolete or a toy for garage bands.

The A&H syslink for daisy chaining two mixers seems to be still available, but it's not that economic. If you have several desks lying around, it could be worth it, but if you just want to expand a console, you have to buy a second complete mixer with master section, psu, output stages. and of course two overpriced little pcbs with a few components on it and ribbon cables.

It's a sad thing that sidecars have become unpopular.
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Tom Young

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2011, 09:20:21 am »

Our 24 channel mixer is starting to fade and we have been given a budget of about $1200 to replace the board.  With the stage renovation coming we would like to bump up to a 32 channel board (Analog) and I was wondering in the opinions of the experts, what is the best bang for the buck in analogs boards at 32 channels.  I have recently been loking at the Mackie 3204 VLZ board although there are not many reviews of it aout there.  Is this a good choice for the money?  It is actually listed at $1350.  Thanks for your knowledge.

Have you considered getting a higher (more realistic) budget ?

Churches, more than other areas of the live sound industry, tend to have committees or other folks who hold the purse strings and these folk seem to pull a number out of the air for sound system purchases. They almost always have no experience with the technologies involved nor the user needs and therefore they have no appreciation for what things "need" to cost in order to meet minimal requirements. Church sound folks then tend to say "OK, I'll go buy what I can find for that amount".

This is not the way churches get built nor is it how the parking lot gets repaved, the air conditioning system gets fixed, the roof leaks get repaired, etc. Because committee members own their own homes and/or may work in the building trades, people are more likely to intuitively know when the budget (or quote) is too little or they can more easily find out. In those cases where short cuts are taken for these things, the flawed results are quickly found and are financially painful.

I strongly suggest that you politely and diplomatically discuss what your needs are, what you have found as far as prices for the right console and explain why you need more money. Yes, you may have to wait (maybe not) but rather than possibly waste church money you are in a position where you can inform the powers-to-be and possibly see that the money is more wisely spent.   

I am aware that this may not be easy. But in the long term and for the good of all at your church it is worth trying.
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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2011, 11:28:30 am »

Have you considered getting a higher (more realistic) budget ?

Churches, more than other areas of the live sound industry, tend to have committees or other folks who hold the purse strings and these folk seem to pull a number out of the air for sound system purchases. They almost always have no experience with the technologies involved nor the user needs and therefore they have no appreciation for what things "need" to cost in order to meet minimal requirements. Church sound folks then tend to say "OK, I'll go buy what I can find for that amount".

This is not the way churches get built nor is it how the parking lot gets repaved, the air conditioning system gets fixed, the roof leaks get repaired, etc. Because committee members own their own homes and/or may work in the building trades, people are more likely to intuitively know when the budget (or quote) is too little or they can more easily find out. In those cases where short cuts are taken for these things, the flawed results are quickly found and are financially painful.

I strongly suggest that you politely and diplomatically discuss what your needs are, what you have found as far as prices for the right console and explain why you need more money. Yes, you may have to wait (maybe not) but rather than possibly waste church money you are in a position where you can inform the powers-to-be and possibly see that the money is more wisely spent.   

I am aware that this may not be easy. But in the long term and for the good of all at your church it is worth trying.

Tom is right on here.

Purchasing something which fits the "budget" but does not properly address your needs is a complete waste of the money you do spend.  You can hardly get more foolish than that.

Harsh, but true.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: 32 Channel Mixer in the $1200 range?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 06:16:25 pm »

Have you considered getting a higher (more realistic) budget ?

Churches, more than other areas of the live sound industry, tend to have committees or other folks who hold the purse strings and these folk seem to pull a number out of the air for sound system purchases. They almost always have no experience with the technologies involved nor the user needs and therefore they have no appreciation for what things "need" to cost in order to meet minimal requirements. Church sound folks then tend to say "OK, I'll go buy what I can find for that amount".

This is not the way churches get built nor is it how the parking lot gets repaved, the air conditioning system gets fixed, the roof leaks get repaired, etc. Because committee members own their own homes and/or may work in the building trades, people are more likely to intuitively know when the budget (or quote) is too little or they can more easily find out. In those cases where short cuts are taken for these things, the flawed results are quickly found and are financially painful.

I strongly suggest that you politely and diplomatically discuss what your needs are, what you have found as far as prices for the right console and explain why you need more money. Yes, you may have to wait (maybe not) but rather than possibly waste church money you are in a position where you can inform the powers-to-be and possibly see that the money is more wisely spent.   

I am aware that this may not be easy. But in the long term and for the good of all at your church it is worth trying.

Tom is right on here.

Purchasing something which fits the "budget" but does not properly address your needs is a complete waste of the money you do spend.  You can hardly get more foolish than that.

Harsh, but true.

Sometimes, the need is immediate but the budget cannot meet the need. In these cases you are best to have a long-term plan, and make do with what you have to work with. Plan accordingly so that what you purchase to meet the immediate need will not be wasted down the road when you do expand. If you can reuse those components when you upgrade the system, great -- but it needs to be part of a plan. It's a bit foolhardy to spend $1200 on a board that will be discarded after a year.

However, you may have to bite that bullet. Take good care of it and plan to sell it when you need to upgrade. Plan for the upgrade; have the church budget committee set up an on-paper account, setting aside a reasonable amount regularly until you can get the system that will meet your needs for the next ten years.

I think the detached-committee-mindset that pulls numbers out of the air probably is thinking of home stereos. I mean, a church sound system is just a really big home stereo, right?  ::)  That's why you need a plan, researched with prices. Come up with three plans: the bare minimum, the optimum, and the gold-plated Rolls-Royce premium plan. Explain the costs of each plan, and the benefits and drawbacks of each. Each plan can be further broken down into phases, phase 1 addressing immediate need (repairs); phase 2 addressing less-urgent needs (improving functionality and audio quality); and phase 3 addressing long-term goals (expansion).

I know that in my church, we can decide to "do something about the problem" (whether it is the sound system, the carpet, or the doorknobs) but nothing will actually get done until someone presents a researched proposal with expected costs. Once that's out there, the membership usually doesn't have a problem spending the money. If there's no plan, the purse strings are tight.

P.S. -- System specs are not entirely necessary in your budget proposal. What the committee and the membership need to understand is how the money spent will build a system that meets their needs; telling them you want to buy a McPeavus 3402 Multichannel Signal Bender means nothing to them.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 06:21:06 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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