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Author Topic: Invest in used analog or go digital?  (Read 3438 times)

Chris Edwards

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Invest in used analog or go digital?
« on: March 31, 2014, 11:30:39 pm »

Hey Folks,

I currently provide PA sound systems for small corporate events, fundraiser, fashion shows and wedding ceremonies.  It is a very basic setup but does fine for most of my shows.  The system currently consists of:

Soundcraft MFXi8
Sennheiser EW100 systems with the 865 handhelds
Shure Beta 58 & Beta 87 Mics
Yamaha DXR 10s or DXR12s

I am not mixing any bands and mainly need to mic the speakers at these event.  I have no outboard gear at this time and mainly use the Soundcraft's EQ for any fine tuning.  Not the best idea I know and this is the reason I am starting this topic. 

Given the cheaper pricing on used analog gear would it be an wise move to pick up some good used graphic eq, compressor, etc. or sell the Soundcraft off and invest in a unit like the X32 rack or a Mackie DL1608.  Would these digital units cover all my bases?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2014, 12:03:33 am »

Hi Chris-

For me the deciding factor is how much cubic space and weight I could commit to the analog outboard gear and its interfacing costs.  In the old days my carry bag was a 4 space rack bag that contained a Lexicon LXP15, Klark Teknik DN405 EQ, a DBX 1074 and a DBX 1046.  I thought it was great because it was just under 50lbs.  That's what a full size X32 weighs, or more than a Soundcraft Expression Si3.  Other mixers are even smaller and lighter if you need fewer inputs.  Times they have a changed...

It also depends on what you want to do with additional gear.  Need more control or want to try new techniques?  Hey, the price of gear is part of the tuition, except you'll get to sell it if you change your mind. :)  If you're trying to fix a particular problem let us know as that will guide suggestions for gear and application techniques.

Big ol' edit ps.  It also depends on what you're comfortable with, your workflow, etc.  I love what I can do with a competent digital mixer.  I can do all the stuff, have all the toys that lets me deliver a better product than I might otherwise... but on the job it's about operator comfort zone, so if you've got long established analog habits and workflow you will find more comfort in remaining analog.   {quicky story} My first exposure to digital mixers was an original, silver face Yamaha 01v I found on eBay for $450, shipped.  I decided that was the tuition at My School of Digital.  I hooked it up in the shop, learned how to do i/o routing to make sound come out, played with EQ and figured out the EFX.  Then I put it away.  I ignored it for a year.  One day I looked at it and thought 'the only way I'm going to really learn that mixer and be confident is just take it out and use it.'   Oy veh.  I took it to a youth conference, set up the night before and was there til midnight trying to relearn what I'd figured out a year before.  Next day, though, I was starting to feel at home by lunch break.  I still had some deep thinking moments and a couple of pilot error mistakes but nothing painful or humiliating.  That was it.  That was the gig made me give up analog.  Once the gear and workflow was demystified and I became more fluent there was no reason to look back.  {/quicky story}

The light at the end of the tunnel is an LED... and it's digitally triggered. ;)

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 01:38:28 am by Tim McCulloch »
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Chris Debol

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2014, 12:54:53 am »

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John Rutirasiri

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2014, 04:31:56 am »

Hey Folks,

I currently provide PA sound systems for small corporate events, fundraiser, fashion shows and wedding ceremonies.  It is a very basic setup but does fine for most of my shows.  The system currently consists of:

Soundcraft MFXi8
Sennheiser EW100 systems with the 865 handhelds
Shure Beta 58 & Beta 87 Mics
Yamaha DXR 10s or DXR12s

I am not mixing any bands and mainly need to mic the speakers at these event.  I have no outboard gear at this time and mainly use the Soundcraft's EQ for any fine tuning.  Not the best idea I know and this is the reason I am starting this topic. 

Given the cheaper pricing on used analog gear would it be an wise move to pick up some good used graphic eq, compressor, etc. or sell the Soundcraft off and invest in a unit like the X32 rack or a Mackie DL1608.  Would these digital units cover all my bases?

Chris, I do the same types of shows and a digital board has been a invaluable for a couple of reasons:  (1) I can take a snapshot (save the scene) of all the settings of every channel and re-use event after event (particularly in the same venue);  (2) as Tim said, you have all the toys at your fingertips:  need to reverse polarity on one of the podium mics.  Touch the screen.  Need to gate the mics?  Have the gate any way you want, graphically, in seconds.  Copy the settings from the first channel to the remaining channels.  Done.  Want to add a compression?  Bingo.  The list goes on and on, all without a single piece of outboard gear.

When you start doing bigger shows and need to run a snake to the stage, a digital mixer+digital snake actually saves you money in labor, and the fact that you just need the stage box (for compatible mixer/snake systems anyway.)  With analog mixer, you need a stage box and FOH box if using digital snake.

But even with digital mixer, I still bring my analog board to every show as a backup.  For some no-frills, simple show the analog mixer is still all I need.  So don't ditch your old pal just yet.

Take the dive if your budget allows -- you won't look back.

Good luck,
JR
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Tom Burgess

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2014, 12:34:11 pm »

If you're already an iPad user, then IMHO one of the Mackie DL's is a no-brainer.  From your brief outline it looks like perhaps you can fit everything in 1 rack with a remote-mount wireless antenna (if necessary) and depending on how many speakers you actually have, cart everything in / out of a job with one trip.  Add a wireless router to the rig and you can mix from wherever you need to mix from.
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James A. Griffin

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2014, 01:12:41 pm »

If you're already an iPad user, then IMHO one of the Mackie DL's is a no-brainer. 

If you're going to spend $1000 on a Mackie, spend an extra $200 and get an X32 Rack.    It's better on so many levels.
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Chris Edwards

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2014, 06:51:40 pm »

Thank you everyone for your input so far.  I really appreciate it.  The X32 rack or producer are definitely on my short list if I make this move. 
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James A. Griffin

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 07:07:42 pm »

Thank you everyone for your input so far.  I really appreciate it.  The X32 rack or producer are definitely on my short list if I make this move.

Per the question in your heading,  "used analog" is an expense that will suffice in certain situations.   "Digital" is the investment that will help you do better work and perhaps grow your business.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 07:22:21 pm by James A. Griffin »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2014, 07:42:44 pm »

You can pick up used outboard gear at extremely inexpensive prices.  Adding it to your existing gear may be less cash outlay than upgrading to a digital board.  However, you need to factor in the simplicity of having everything all in one package.  Is it worth a few hundred extra dollars to have everything in one box ready to go?  For me, that's more of a deciding factor.

For small events, NOT having to locate a mixer anywhere is a huge advantage.  The X32 rack is perfect for those sort of shows.  Put it in a rack with a small WIFI access point and drop it where you need it.  Use an iPad to mix from anywhere in the room.
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Brian Jojade

Mark McFarlane

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Re: Invest in used analog or go digital?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2014, 11:47:23 pm »

If you're going to spend $1000 on a Mackie, spend an extra $200 and get an X32 Rack.    It's better on so many levels.

One of those being, in an (iPad) emergency you can actually mix on a X2 rack, albeit one channel at a time, with full access to all params, routing,....  8 XLR outs instead of 7 TRS outs, lots of other stuff for $200.  Still, I really like the Mackie and its simplicity means its easier to learn and use under fire. I learned how to use a DL1608 in about 5 minutes.
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