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Author Topic: TT24  (Read 34301 times)

Mark Herman

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TT24
« on: April 29, 2006, 08:36:30 pm »

ProSoundWeb is introducing a new twist in the forum with ROAD TEST. We have a new Mackie TT24 mixing console to experiment with and have given it out to be used by someone who has never mixed on one. Veteran audio mixer and journalist Mark Frink had it shipped to him and placed the TT24 in a local Portland, OR, venue to see what would happen and how it will perform in a real live environment. Mark Frink has never used the TT24 or read the manual.

Steve Beatty is our designated field tester and he will be posting his thoughts and experiences as they unfold. Mark Frink is our guest VIP that will periodically weigh in with comments and assist Steve if needed.  Steve is a working audio guy and appears to have a pretty good grasp of things from what we can tell.

When the inevitable question arises that only the factory can answer, we have Mackie’s engineering representative Gilbert Perales available to help Steve Beatty get through any major technical uncertainty.

You may also see periodic updates from ProSoundWeb.

We invite all of you to participate in Steve’s quest to learn the Mackie TT24.  The interesting part will be the interaction between Steve the end-user, Gilbert the manufacturer, Mark the veteran VIP, ProSoundWeb and all of you who post and lurk.

This thread is unique, where a specific user, potential operators, TT24 owners and the manufacturer can have a place to discuss any and all issues surrounding the Mackie TT24. It is our goal to have a vibrant discussion between users of the TT24 and our thread moderators.

None of us have any idea what the result will be…
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Mark Frink

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2006, 08:37:57 pm »

For reasons that now elude me I have agreed to take delivery of a Mackie TT24 digital mixing console and find a home for it in order to do a real life ROAD TEST for ProSoundWeb.  In addition I am to find some unsuspecting audio guy and help teach him all about this model I know very little about. Instantly I misplaced the manual and had to do some quick research to get somewhat familiar with the mysterious TT24.

Overview: Introduced a year ago, at the 2004 NSCA show, the TT24 is Mackie’s first digital live sound console, designed from the beginning as a mixer intended primarily for sound reinforcement. The ‘tt’ stands for two-touch; meaning the control of any parameter should only be two touches away. Its price and features are aimed at mid-level live sound operators who are frustrated at digital consoles whose primary application is recording. However, the TT24 has three ADAT optical ports for its 24 mic channels so it easily doubles as a 24-channel recording interface.

Physical: At 71 pounds, it’s a third lighter than a comparably priced analog desk, like a 24-channel GL4000, and it’s also 25% smaller. The desk is about 3 feet wide, not counting the pair of sturdy handles on each end, and about 2 feet deep. The slightly angled fader deck on the front has 24 motorized faders, plus 5 more in the right-hand master section. Each fader has 3 buttons – solo, select and mute – plus a rotary encoder, called a V Pot. Above the fader deck are 24 analog pots for the 24 mic pre-amp gain controls, and on the right is the Quick Mix area: a dozen rotary encoders that map to controls that are displayed on an angled black and white touch screen, with buttons that call the several displays for the selected channels, plus scene and utility buttons.

Features: The console has 24 microphone inputs with four-band EQ, gate and compressor. These XLR inputs have individual phantom power, a line/pad switch, an analog pot for the pre-amp with 0 to 60 dB of gain, separate TRS line input jack and single-jack TRS pre-digital insert point. Additionally there are eight line inputs that are fully featured minus a mic pre, plus a two-track return, a talkback mic input and two-channel digital I/O

The TT24 has 12 auxiliary sends, with the last four default-patched to the mono inputs of 4 internal stereo effects. Every output has quasi-six-band EQ: two parametric, two adjustable shelves, and two feedback “kill filters,” which are swept notches that can be set for -6, -12, or -18 dB by pushing on their encoder. The three main outputs, LCR or LR/Mono, also have a graphic equalizer.

The control surface has 29 motorized faders, 24 grouped together, and five more at the right end with the master controls. Over these are V-Pot controls: rotary encoders surrounded by a ring of LEDs to indicate position. They are used for Pan, Trim, HPF and aux sends (and pan for stereo linked auxes) and as signal meters.

The main control ‘Turbo Touch’ section has a dozen small rotary encoders of its own that work with a 5-inch black-and-white touch-screen and eight function buttons for quick access to screens for EQ, Dynamics, Group/Aux assignments, Aux masters, Snapshots, FX control and Matrix.

The eight groups can be chosen to be VCA, mono or stereo groups. There are a total of ten channels of assignable compression and EQ processing for any audio subgroups, so if they’re all stereo, you’ll run out after the first five.

Matrix Plus turns the eight subgroup XLR outputs into an 11 x 8 matrix with delay to 600ms in addition to the quasi six-band EQ. The Plus refers to the fact that each of the sub-group inputs can be reassigned to any of the other inputs or returns, making it possible to create additional, though somewhat limited sub-mixes beyond the 8 groups or 12 auxes.

I’m bringing this console into Mississippi Studios (www.mississippistudios.com); a small venue that’s been running one or two monitor mixes from their 16-channel Alesis mixer for the last couple years. Since they’re using self-powered wedges they’ll immediately be able to run all four wedges on separate mixes. Owner Jim Brunberg and Sound Engineer Steve Beatty will help us evaluate the console in use there.

(Please note: I did not place that VIP avatar in my profile. It’s Herman’s idea.)
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Steve Beatty

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TT24
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 08:41:31 pm »

Mississippi Studios, in Portland, Oregon, is one of the most unique music facilities in the country. Besides an upstairs recording studio, equipped with an incredible array of pre-amps, a complete ProTools HD system with a Control 24 DigiDesign console and an Otari MX-80 two-inch tape machine, there is a beautiful downstairs live performance venue. The warm and inviting room is painted a deep shade of red, with Persian-style rugs covering the entire floor and stage. Seating space is divided between two levels, with the stage being on the lower portion. Church pews (with cushions!), old theater seats, and comfortable high-backed stools make up most of the seating for our one hundred-person capacity.

Live sound reinforcement gear includes a Meyer CQ-1 PA system and a full complement of Audix microphones.

Because space is so limited in our facility, built on the site of an old church, I was thrilled to find out that a Mackie TT24 would be arriving for a trial run. The possibility of removing all the rack mounted gear occupying valuable real estate, in favor of a single desk with onboard dynamics, effects, and equalizers warranted an immediate testing.
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Mark Frink

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 08:48:01 pm »

Hi Steve,
Thanks for taking a look at the Mackie TT24 digital live sound mixer. Initially there is usually some resistance to the idea of moving from an analog mixer over to digital, and that’s normal, not just for audio, but also in any technical field. I wouldn’t suggest this console unless I thought it would work well for your small venue, have a lot of cool and useful features, and be backed up by support from the manufacturer.

Though there have been a range of compact digital recording consoles that are serviceable for sound reinforcement, they’ve left sound guys wanting a mid-format digital desk better designed for live sound work. UPS dropped off a large package from Mackie the other day, so I checked it over to make sure it’s working before leaving it for you at the venue.
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Steve Beatty

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 09:04:06 pm »

The TT24 has arrived. The four sturdy side-mounted handles allowed studio owner Jim Brunberg and myself to move the Mackie easily into position on top of a single 16-space rack.

After setting up a Whirlwind sixteen-channel microphone splitter at the front of house position and patching the console in parallel to our existing Alesis console, I employed my usual routine with a new piece of gear. Plugged it in, and tried to make it work – no help from the manual, yet. Watching the pastel-hued lights flash their welcome to me, seeing the faders fly, and checking out the display screen, I instantly felt comfortable behind the desk.

While I ran my hands over the console, touching all the pots, faders, and buttons (as well as the screen) one word came to mind - architecture. The first impression I got from the TT24 was that it reminded me of a high-tech drafting table. Mackie had done a great job in the design of this digital console. The logical placement of key controls made my first voyage with the TT24 instantly engaging.

The Turbo Touch section, and it’s functions as Auxiliary Masters, as well as dynamics, effects, and equalizer editing, made themselves instantly apparent, and very user-friendly, at the first cursory glance.

Within five minutes, I had a mock-up mix titled and saved in one of the 99 snapshots, instantly recallable. This would prove invaluable when saving different master EQ curves, based on the vocal microphone model being used on any given night, easily designed with the 6 function parametric equalizer assigned to all of the master outputs on the TT24. Mackie added two unique “ Kill Band “ features, very helpful in eliminating monitor feedback quickly. Mississippi Studios runs the monitors from the FOH position, so a fast reaction is necessary when feedback occurs. Again, designing snapshots based on the vocal microphone being used allowed for a strong sense of security in monitor world.  Being able to add the onboard compression on the auxiliary sends made all the difference in the world in our primarily acoustic instrument venue. The twelve auxiliary mixes on the TT24 provided endless flexibility and control over the maximum of four monitor mixes we use, while still employing the four onboard effects units defaulted to sends 9-12.

While prepping for the show that night, I was informed that the band (Trespassers William) travels with a sound engineer. This fact allowed me the best opportunity to test the TT24 in a real time situation, without my experimentation to affect the show. Since the Mackie was hooked up to our microphone splitter at front-of-house, I would simply mix to a recorder, while getting to try the console’s every feature.

Setting up a blank snapshot, I received the input list from the band. This was not going to be a typical Mississippi Studios show. Drum kit, electronics, many keyboards, bass synthesizer, guitars and vocals filled our sixteen-channel snake to its capacity.

During sound check, navigation on the TT24 quickly became easier and easier. Calling up multiple dynamics on the same channels, thanks to the eponymous “ two-touch “ system, and manipulating the parameters of these compressors, expanders, and gates was crystal clear and very effective in my headphones.

My finding with the Virtual Pots on each channel was that the functions of High Pass, Trim, Pan, and Channel Meters provided the appropriate visuals in a dark setting. After stumbling a bit with the V-Pots, I found the V-Pot speed control in the Utility Menu, set it to FAST, and had no further issues. During the sound check, I quickly figured out that the High Pass Filters would be my display of choice.

Settling in with the console now, I looked round for features not yet tried. Typical tongue-in-cheek Mackie humor showed up in the form of the “ FAT “ button atop the control buttons alongside the Turbo Touch controllers. Pushing the FAT button, I was shown a comprehensive overview of any individual channel or send I selected. Right there on one screen display, I was able to check gain, dynamics, auxiliary sends, equalizer, and pan – the works. This was getting good.

Confidence assured, I hooked up a TCElectronic Finalizer 96K to the AES/EBU output of the TT24. Finding the Digital Output section was a breeze, and within seconds I had a 96K input to the Finalizer. A full set of digital outputs, including three fully assignable light pipe outputs (inputs as well) made my mouth water thinking about the multi-tracking possibilities.

Venturing further, I decided to give the TT24 Control software a whirl on my laptop. Hooking up the included USB cable, loading the software, and immediately gaining control of the entire board in full color on my computer could not have gone any smoother. Within minutes, I was showing my co-workers the lightning fast response of the software. Most impressive were the equalizer and dynamic displays. Using the click-and-drag method for all parameters of these processing devices removed the most dreaded part of many digital consoles – accessing the fine-tuning parameters of your mix quickly and efficiently.

Doors were scheduled to open in twenty minutes.
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Bennett Prescott

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TT24
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2006, 10:18:33 pm »

Y'all,

I just had an extremely informative chat on the phone with Mark.

Here's what's really going on: The Road Test forum will be a separate forum from the ones we currently know and love. It is not an arena for manufacturers to bribe big names in the audio business into spewing fluffy reviews out their proverbial rears. It is unfortunate that the TT24 review appeared that way, but that is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is that it's the first of its kind and Steve Beatty is used to mixing on a lot less, so isn't coming at this from the LAB-level perspective.

What Mark is really trying to do is get meaningful, near-real-time, un-glossed-over reviews about products that have a lot of interest in the marketplace but not a lot of exposure. He wants to try an use his clout as president of Huge Universe to get manufacturers to send products to people the pro audio community respects for a real hands on review. Everyone wins in this case, since the manufacturer gets feedback and exposure, and the LAB gets a meaningful review. The manufacturers will not be allowed to edit content, and hopefully there will be a meaningful discussion of features and impressions started so that LABsters can get their points of interest covered by whomever has the product being reviewed.

Hope that clears things up a bit.
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Ken Freeman

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Re: ROAD TEST: New Forum
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2006, 02:46:00 am »

Mark Herman wrote on Mon, 01 May 2006 17:41


Our intention is to create a completely new Road Test forum that is separate from the LAB but significantly different than the existing Product Reviews forum. We are looking for constructive viewpoints and welcome creative ideas to make it work. It has a lot of potential and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.



This I look forward too.  Let me know how I can help.

Ken
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Steve Beatty

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2006, 02:00:19 pm »

Hi everyone:

There has been a call for me to establish some level of credential/ credibility in order for this discussion to seem authentic.

I do not work for anyone besides Mississippi Studios and myself ( not Mackie ). I own a company known as Real Image Recording, and mix FOH for several national and international touring acts. I have been doing so for fourteen years. One of the releases - RL Burnside, Burnside on Burnside - I recorded was nominated for a Grammy a few years ago.

I also mix at the small live venue/ recording studio ( Mississippi Studios ) in Portland mentioned in the first part of the tt24 review. This space is a wonderful combination space for new gear, top-shelf clientele, and high-end recording. We strive for the highest possible production value in a 100-person room.

Finally, here is some more info about me:

Article: http://www.jambase.com/headsup.asp?storyID=4708
Website: www.realimagerecording.com
Please see my client list @ http://realimagerecording.com/bands_recorded.aspx

Part two of the tt24 review coming right up... thank you all for helping move this new chapter forward in a way that delivers the authenticity and credibility to which you have become accustomed.
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Steve Beatty

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2006, 03:00:50 pm »

Wow- doors opened, and I have a new digital console up and running in under an hour. Fifty or so people have come through the door and grabbed the best seats.

My soundcheck recording reveals that while I have gain structure correct, there is a lot of individual channel fine-tuning and overall mix polishing to do yet.

Trespassers William is a band from Seattle. Similar bands are the Cowboy Junkies, Cocteau Twins, or Mazzy Star. Female lead vocals sung in a distant, ethereal way, over slow drum beats, and dark, reverb-laden guitars and keys.

In my efforts to create a recording mix on the tt24, my happiness and self-satisfaction over getting the console up and running came to a crashing halt. As the lead singer Anna-Lynne began her haunting, breathy vocals, I applied the combination of cathedral-reverb and 400ms delay that I had designed between soundcheck and show, using the tt24's internal effects engines.

An ear-splitting burst of digital feedback erupted from my headphones as I immediately realized that my routing was incorrect. Though I knew WHAT was wrong, I struggled to find WHERE it was misassigned. Obviously, I simply turned down the send and the howling went away, but the tt24 was not revelaing it's secrets very easily.

I searched through the AUX MODE pages, then the Turbo Touch section containing the AUX masters, then the effects returns. Here was the problem: my effects returns were assigned to the same faders, but different pages, as some of the channels that I was applying the effects to. So, with one missed page switch, I had managed to loop my effects into themselves.

My hopes of this being a console that guest engineers wouldn't mind using without a complete tutorial took a severe blow. One burst of the horrendous feedback loop I had created while the console was mixing FOH would be very embarrassing, and harm Mississippi Studio's reputation of flawless live sound.

To top it off, the owner of the studio, whose main concern was that the flying faders and bright lights would distract the customers in our tiny venue was watching me struggle with figuring the routing out, and undoing my mistake. Let's face it - when a digital console's faders are zooming up and down several times in a row, people notice...and they watch until the faders stop.

The tt24 and I still have a ways to go...
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Andy Peters

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Re: ROAD TEST
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2006, 03:13:29 pm »

Steve Beatty wrote on Tue, 02 May 2006 12:00

In my efforts to create a recording mix on the tt24, my happiness and self-satisfaction over getting the console up and running came to a crashing halt.


Why are you paying attention to the recording mix when you're supposed to be mixing for the house?

-a
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