John McCulloch .Net - Home Recording

Mixers/Pre-amps

Studer 961

The Studer 961 is a compact 8:4 mixer with a variety of configuration options accross its 14 unit width frame.

It is the classic Studer mixer. Very well designed we needed to improve just a few parts over the years. The Studer 961/962 is still one of the very best sounding mixers on the market. Many of them are used for on-location recording purposes like classical music recoding as well as any other difficult acoustical recording. The input stage is very carefully designed using high quality components for the best sound. In addition the equaliser is very "musical" as it allows changing the frequency response without coloration of the sound. The reliability of the Studer 961/962 makes it a perfect tool for any broadcast application as well (production, small live events, smaller OB-vans etc.).

Fully modular in design there are already 26 standard configurations available. Custom configurations are avilable at no extra charge and allows it to get the perfectly suited mixer for your application. Up to 16 inputs (mono, stereo or stereo w/o EQ) can access the 2 outputs or up to 14 inputs to 4 outputs. There is much more to tell about this versatile mixer but to put it simply: The Studer 961/962 is an incredible working tool.
Studer 961
pdf-icon Studer 961/962 User Manual (97.95Mb)
pdf-icon Studer 961/962 Specs (2.42Mb)
pdf-icon Studer 961/962 Brochure (5.16Mb)
pdf-icon Studer 961/962 Fader Care (0.77Mb)
pdf-icon Studer 961/962 Metering Options (3.73Mb)
ie-icon DIY Studer CR Monitor Output 1.960.420
pdf-icon Barmeter PPM LED Meter Module Manual

Lynx Aurora 8

The Lynx Aurora 8 is an audio-to-digital and digital-to-audio converter, giving you conversion rates of up to 192 kHz, 8 channels of analog I/O and 8 channels of AES/EBU I/O, all using DB-25 connectors. Including Lynx's SynchroLock word clock on BNC, the LSlot expansion on this rackmount AD/DA converter means the Aurora 8 has an array of interfacing options including Dante, Thunderbolt, USB, Firewire & Pro Tools HD. Lynx Aurore 8
pdf-icon Aurora User Manual

Audient Mico

The unit is a half-rack size, measuring 430 x 270 x 80mm and weighing just 2.5kg. An external in-line, switched-mode power supply provides 12V DC, so the Mico can be battery powered if necessary (it accepts 9-15V DC). There are two channels, both able to accommodate mic or line inputs, and a built-in A-D converter to make it easy to feed a digital recorder directly. The basic mic-amp design is essentially the same as that in the ASP8024 console and rackmount units, but with some incremental improvements that have resulted in a slightly lower THD+N distortion figure (0.0015 percent instead of 0.007 percent), as well as some additional facilities well suited to a home studio application. Following user (and reviewer) feedback, the Mico has recently undergone a slight revision to improve the linearity of the gain control, and it is the revised model I’m describing below.

Each channel is controlled via one rotary knob and five illuminated buttons. These provide variable gain (18 to 66dB, with 36dB in the mid-point), phantom power, a 20dB pad, a switchable high-pass filter (40, 80 and 120Hz turnovers and off), plus polarity inversion. A four-LED bar-graph meter is minimal, but workable — the LEDs are calibrated for -36, -12, -6dBFS and Over, all referring to the digital output, which is calibrated so that 0dBFS equates with +18dBu. In other words, for normal signal levels the bottom LED will be on all the time, the -12dBFS will flick on peaks, and the -6dBFS should barely light at all. In practice, it is actually very easy to optimise levels with sensible headroom margins using this simple meter. Both channels share these same, identical preamp controls and facilities, although channel one also has a front-panel DI input socket. Plugging in a quarter-inch jack plug overrides whatever is connected to the rear input sockets.

In addition to the controls already described, both channels also have a rotary control and one more illuminated button — but their functions are different for the two channels. Channel one is equipped with a ‘harmonics’ (HMX) control, which has been translated from Audient’s Black Series preamp. The knob sets the amount of harmonic coloration, while the push button switches the system on or off. This HMX system is designed to progressively introduce harmonic distortion with a character similar to that of classic valve preamp designs, and it adds a nice degree of ‘body’ and richness to a source — particularly through the mid-range — that just helps to bring the sound alive. It is useful on vocalists, and absolutely perfect for DI instruments, which is why the function was added to this channel.

The second channel’s rotary control is labelled Variphase and uses an all-pass filter to provide a continuously variable phase-shift of up to 180 degrees. The idea is to allow phase alignment of one channel with the other (for example, a DI’d guitar with the signal from a mic in front of the cab), although it should be realised that ‘phase alignment’ isn’t the same thing as ‘time alignment’ — I’ll come back to that in a moment. Again, a bypass button is provided to disable the facility or check what effect it is having.

Tucked away between the two sets of channel controls are three mode LEDs which indicate the digital sample rate (44.1, 48, 96kHz or external). Oddly, the controls to configure the sample rate are located at the back of the unit.

The majority of the rear panel is taken up with five XLR connectors: two Combi XLRs for the mic/line inputs, two male XLRs for the balanced line-level outputs, and a further male XLR providing an AES3 digital output. This is supplemented with an RCA/phono socket and TOSlink optical port to provide S/PDIF digital outputs. All three can be used simultaneously if desired.

Alongside these output connectors is a BNC socket and a recessed six-way DIP switch. The BNC accepts an external word clock (44.1 up to 192kHz) to drive the internal A-D converter, while the DIP switches configure the unit’s operation. The first two switches select the internal sample-rate options (44.1, 48 or 96kHz), while the last two determine whether the internal or external word clock is used, and add a 75Ω termination to the BNC socket. The middle two switches currently have no function. The analogue-to-digital converter sounds very clean and detailed, with a noise floor around -95dBFS, and it sounds very smooth.
Audient Mico
pdf-icon Audient Mico Manual (0.7Mb)
pdf-icon Audient Mico Brochure (1.01Mb)
pdf-icon Sound on Sound Review
pdf-icon Audiofanzine Review
pdf-icon Gearslutz Review

Behringer Tube Ultragain T1953 (SOLD)

Discrete input stages, input gain adjustment, 48V phantom power, mic/line capability, switchable high-pass filter and a phase inversion switch. Plus twin 12AX7 valves and ULTRA-TUBE circuitry, which lets you add tube warmth to your signal. You can see the valves glowing through a window in the front, though if you take the box apart you can see that the valve has been backlit by an orange led. Behringer Tube Ultragain
pdf-icon T1953 Manual (1.6Mb)
pdf-icon T1953 Spec sheet (0.7Mb)

Mackie CR1604 VLZ (SOLD)

Mackie's CR1604-VLZ is an update of the CR1604 compact mixer.

The CR1604-VLZ maintains the original's sound quality, musical equalization, and rugged construction, and keeps intact the multi-configuration possibilities, too.

The CR1604-VLZ is a true 4-bus mixer. With channel assigns to buses 1-2, 3-4, and main L-R, submixes are easy. Sixteen high-headroom/low-noise mic preamps and a new trim control gain structure for both mic and line inputs allow the CR1604-VLZ to handle everything from ultra hot digital multitrack signals to the quietest of vocalists.

EQ-wise, the CR1604-VLZ is not only 3-band with 12kHz Hi and 80Hz Lo shelving EQ, its midrange equalization is sweepable from 100Hz to 8kHz. The low cut filter on every channel lets you cut unwanted low frequencies like mic thumps and stage noise with one push of a button. Your low frequency EQ needs can now be met with Lo shelving EQ (rather than using the low EQ to do what the low cut filter was meant to do in the first place).
Mackie CR1604 VLZ
pdf-icon Mackie CR1604 VLZ User Manual (4.24Mb)
pdf-icon Mackie CR1604 VLZ Architect Spec
pdf-icon Mackie CR1604 VLZ Contractor Spec

Fostex 350 (SOLD)

The Fostex Model 350 mixer is an 8:4:2 analogue mixer from the early 1980s. It was primarily used for recording, but also incorporated a pair of independent RIAA pre-amps for DJ use.

It has unbalanced -10dBV inputs and outputs and no phantom powering for the unbalanced mic inputs.

It was specifically designed to be used with the Fostex A8 & R8 8 track recorders, but can be used with any 4 or 8 track recorder with a little lead re-connection.
Fostex 350
pdf-icon Fostex 350 User Manual (3.8Mb)