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Author Topic: Soundcraft GB8 48  (Read 64270 times)

Bennett Prescott

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Soundcraft GB8 48
« on: September 08, 2006, 11:52:36 am »

This console is something I'd been wanting to get my hands on for some time, so I was pleased to hear from Tom Der at Soundcraft that if I ate all my meat he'd ship one out to me for a late-August outdoor show of mine. True to his word, a 48-frame GB8 in roadcase with doghouse, spare PSU, lamps, and meter bridge arrived just in time. I've got to say, for a fairly small board, once you're out to 48 channels and a real case it sure gets large and heavy! The desk looks like this:
http://www.soundcraft.com/images/products/product_sheet/GB8.gif

The GB8 is an 8 group, 8 aux analog console with the dual-swept-mid EQ that is ubiquitous at this price point and a separately assignable mono buss for center clusters or subwoofer feeds. Soundcraft's page on the desk is available right here. Littlite sockets are included. Per-channel control includes +48v phantom, polarity reverse, and 100hz HPF. EQ is defeatable per channel. Auxes are individually switchable pre/post on a global basis. Single point TRS inserts and line inputs, a per-channel direct out that is switchable pre-insert/post-fader per channel, and 4-segment signal meters round out the channel features.

Each GB8 frame size comes with four stereo channels, each of which has the same preamp gain available as the mono inputs. Phantom power is available, and there is a polarity reverse switch for the left channel only. Switches are available to sum either or both channels to mono. EQ on the stereo channels is truncated to four fixed bands, but otherwise control is the same as the mono inputs.

The master section features 8 switchable mode group/aux faders with inserts, plus a 4x11 matrix, nice big meters, and two dedicated outputs with limiters for recording or what-have-you. Four mute groups are provided for super-handy... err... muting of stuff. Anyway, a nicely comprehensive and flexible master section. It should be added that I made a board recording off the record out with the limiter engaged and, while I was hitting it pretty hard, it's fairly "soft" and didn't mangle my recording.

With a little help from my accomplice Geoff I got the case opened, lights socketed, spare PSU racked (which is extremely light due to a switching world power supply), and the meter bridge screwed into place. This last feature especially I was rather wary of... I grew up with LED ladders and an LED VU meter just seems weird to me. Looks cool, though. More on that later.

Here's me grappling with the beast on this extremely high-channel-count show:
http://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/8.jpghttp://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/4.jpg

The first thing I noticed, unfortunately, was that the gooseneck lamps provided with both the GB8 and the MH2 I'll review later aren't Littlites, but some offshore lowest-bidder monstrosity that refuses to stay in place. I finally found the "magic position" that kept them in balance, but one bump of the console and all three lamps would keel over. The GB8 has lamp sockets on the top of the desk and these lamps were shipped with right-angle plugs, which only made things more difficult. Fortunately, this issue is easily remedied by running down to the corner store and buying real lamps.

At this point I had to run off and set the stage, but when I came back for a quick sound check I found the board pleasantly simple and easy to navigate. Through extensive use of color coding and extra-large knobs and text, Soundcraft has made a desk so easy to use even I can't get confused. Admittedly, I wasn't using all the auxes and I certainly wasn't using all the channels, but I didn't have to think twice about where anything was or how to get there from here. Those large, easy to get your fingers around knobs are an ergonomic wet dream, and every button is easy to find and hard to miss even with moderately large fingers.

We were running the RSS snake for this show, right into the GB8's XLR inputs. This proved a little tricky. The GB8 has no pad on the XLR input, and with the preamp control fully counterclockwise the preamp is still adding 6dB of gain. We were also running an MH2 on monitors, which does have an input pad on the XLR. We ended up gaining up the MH2 to roughly match the GB8 gained all the way down so that, since Geoff in monitor world had control of the preamps, there was some way to gauge how hard the RSS snake was hitting the inputs of my board out at FOH.

As it turned out, we guessed wrong on a couple of inputs and ended up slamming the GB8 pretty hard so that everything was running really hot. I soon discovered this was just fine, the console took it right in stride and sounded great under pretty significant abuse. During the course of the show I clipped every bus in the console at least a little and didn't hear it at all through the PA. In a studio environment or on a recording it might have been apparent (or maybe on a nicer PA), but I was extremely pleased at the console's ability to gloss over my stupidity.

As you can see by the fancy meter-bridge, even during soundcheck I was slamming the console pretty hard:
http://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/9.jpghttp://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/10.jpg

Sound quality I found to be about on par with most analog boards in this category, which is a totally unfair statement to make since there's no way this test was impartial. Based entirely on my few hours on the board, however, I found it easy to get the results I wanted and the clarity and source separation was good. The channel EQ is nice and responsive, I found I could make most of my corrections with only small turns of the EQ pots. This is not a desk that you have to fight and guess with throughout the show, I had my mix up and running in all of 5 minutes (including dynamics and effects) and aside from level changes on stage really didn't have to touch it for the rest of the show.

If you're used to mixing on the Soundcraft Live series or the LX series I think you'll find the GB8 to be a little more of the same, kind of buying the Acura instead of the Accord from Honda. Same simple layout, but it handles more easily and takes more hits before it starts to show stress. I also think it looks a lot cooler out at FOH, and of course having 8 auxes makes the difference, for me, between a real desk and a compromised desk. That's 4 monitor mixes from FOH and 4 FX sends, and the board's got the stereo channels or returns to accomodate that setup.

I mentioned being wary of the meter bridge earlier, and I'd like to expand on that by saying... I think it's a really cool feature. Instead of having to look down and hunt through a sea of LED ladders to figure out how loud you're getting, it's like a little Heads Up Display. The "VU Meter Ballistics" mean that it's not hopping all over the place and gives you an idea of relative signal density, so one quick glance is all you need every few minutes to make sure you're keeping it under control. It's a lot easier to see than a "real" VU meter, too. Soundcraft was also kind enough to include a fast-attack clip light for each meter. Furthermore, because it's right next to the "standard ballistics" LED ladders for the groups and main outputs, two glances tells you both where your peaks are and how dense you are (and I'm pretty dense).

All in all, this console is everything I was hoping it would be. Well laid out with an appropriate feature set and a few extras that make last minute changes easy to accomodate. If you've got 4 figures to spend on a new analog console, but definitely not 5 figures, you can get the 48-frame GB8 cased for that and own a serious piece of hardware. I wish it had been around back when I bought my Spirit Live 4^2 a few years ago, because it sure takes care of all the limitations I find that console gives me. Soundcraft has really stepped in here with excellent value and performance for the end-user in many different applications.

Blatant Road Test Advertisement


Would you like your FOH to look like this?
http://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/6.jpghttp://campuspa.com/images/gb8/index-Thumbnails/0.jpg
Make your dream come true, road test this console (engineer not included)!
Seriously, if you'd like to give it a whirl let me know and we'll get it out to you. I'd really like to hear more opinions on this unit, it's a great festival console and 'tis the season.
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-- Bennett Prescott
Director of North American Sales
ADRaudio d.o.o.
Cell: (518) 488-7190

"Give me 6dB and I shall move the world." -Archimedes

Bennett Prescott

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 12:15:54 pm »

I just wanted to add that if you want the same sound quality and ease of use but can survive with less groups and/or auxes and so forth, there's also the GB4 and GB2.
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-- Bennett Prescott
Director of North American Sales
ADRaudio d.o.o.
Cell: (518) 488-7190

"Give me 6dB and I shall move the world." -Archimedes

Michael 'Bink' Knowles

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2006, 12:32:09 pm »

I'm not a big fan of pushbutton assigns that run along your fader travel path. I'm afraid I'll accidentally reassign things in the heat of the mix.

Soundcraft's MH series don't have pushbuttons there. Of course with those models you're paying for more board and big league features like separate Send and Return jacks on inserts.   Smile

I do like the GB's switchable pre/post Direct Out and the switchable vHPF.

-Bink
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Bennett Prescott

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2006, 12:37:35 pm »

Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Fri, 08 September 2006 12:32

I'm not a big fan of pushbutton assigns that run along your fader travel path. I'm afraid I'll accidentally reassign things in the heat of the mix.

Soundcraft's MH series don't have pushbuttons there.

Yeah, but they've got pushbuttons freaking everywhere else! That aux send section is a minefield Shocked

Seeing as the only reasonable fixes for the "pushbuttons along the fader travel" problem all cost a bunch of money or board real-estate (which, believe me, is money) I'll learn to keep my pinkies away.
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-- Bennett Prescott
Director of North American Sales
ADRaudio d.o.o.
Cell: (518) 488-7190

"Give me 6dB and I shall move the world." -Archimedes

Caleb Dick

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2006, 10:09:43 pm »

Bennett, have you had much time behind the A&H GL series consoles?  I had to choose between GB4 and GL2400, and took the GL.  At my current job, we have GL2800's.  Sadly, I don't have any real Soundcraft experience to compare with.  

Looking forward to your MH2 review.  Liked the Spectra-T write-up, will likely have one soon to demo.  

Caleb Dick
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David Morison

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2006, 07:59:22 am »

Hey, good review, thanks.
Have you had the chance to compare it with the Series TWO? It seems to offer just a very slightly different set of features for a bit more money - I'm not sure how it's meant to fit in Soundcraft's line, unless they're going to ditch the TWO in the near future.
Cheers,
David.
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Bennett Prescott

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2006, 10:22:07 am »

Caleb, I've spent a good amount of time on the A&H consoles, which are excellent. However, between the GB4 and the GL2400 I'd go with the GB solely because of those two extra auxes. GB4/8 and GL2800? That's a much more difficult choice.

David, I've never used a Series TWO, so I can't compare past what's available on the website.
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-- Bennett Prescott
Director of North American Sales
ADRaudio d.o.o.
Cell: (518) 488-7190

"Give me 6dB and I shall move the world." -Archimedes

Tom Reid

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 03:25:26 pm »

Bennett Prescott wrote on Fri, 08 September 2006 11:37

Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Fri, 08 September 2006 12:32

I'm not a big fan of pushbutton assigns that run along your fader travel path. I'm afraid I'll accidentally reassign things in the heat of the mix.

Soundcraft's MH series don't have pushbuttons there.

Yeah, but they've got pushbuttons freaking everywhere else! That aux send section is a minefield Shocked

Seeing as the only reasonable fixes for the "pushbuttons along the fader travel" problem all cost a bunch of money or board real-estate (which, believe me, is money) I'll learn to keep my pinkies away.


The LX7ii has the same button scheme.  Twice in my ownership I have unassigned the drums and bass from the main mix.  Talk about feeling like yer mixing naked ...When all eyes go back to you.  Both times it took a minute to figure out what the hell was wrong.  Sub amp clip out?  DRPA being funny?  Oh!  My 6th digit got in the way.  
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Fred Garrett

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2006, 04:38:27 pm »

I would like to add that my partner bought a GB8-48 this spring, and it came with straight lamps, not 90 degree lamps (he also bought the tour pack), and they do not seem to suffer the need for viagra that Bennet's test console did.

 I would also like to add that the case that comes with the tour pack is quite nice, the dog house cover is a very beautiful stained wood finish.  More furniture than road case really.  I also recomend a tilt stand for a 48 channel ...well..anything!
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Ryan Lantzy

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Re: Soundcraft GB8 48
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2006, 09:49:41 pm »

Hi,

Just got back from NY a little while ago from picking up the GB8 from Bennett.  The MH2 tempted me Mr. Prescott. Very Happy

I will try to get some first impressions up this week.  I'll start with this.  Bigger case than I expected.  Bennett got the dimensions right, but seeing is believing.  It is a very nice case though.

First gigs will be Saturday and Sunday (30th and 1st) so I will report back with findings from that.

Edit: clarify dates.
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