January 23, 2006

Big mixer, small footprint...

by Chris Randall

This is kind of an interesting concept in mixers I came across today. It's the Blue328 from Renegade Labs. It's a full 32-input 8-bus mixer in a package that is 12" on a side. The name makes me think of the Digital328 from Soundcraft, the most expensive boat anchor I've ever bought. (I could easily come up with 328 reasons to never, ever give Soundcraft another dime.) But that aside, this actually looks pretty fly. There are three card slots, and each one takes 8 channels of AES, AES SRC, SDI, or a four-channel analog card. A three-band parametric and dynamics for each channel, and presto.

I think it is primarily intended for NLE suites and the like, so there's a dearth of normal features you'd see on a music production console, e.g. sends, inserts, etc., but if space is at a premium, and you just need to sum a bunch of inputs (like, for instance, a wall of modular gear) this might be the business for you. I couldn't find a price for it, which leads me to believe that "your left nut" is the going rate. Something to consider, though.




Jan.23.2006 @ 10:58 PM
Suit & Tie Guy
what do you dislike about the Soundcraft 328?

i don't doubt you when you say it's a piece ... i've just read you bitch about it at least once before and it kind of makes me curious.


Jan.23.2006 @ 11:09 PM
Chris Randall
Jesus. Where to start. In the five years I owned it (I guess technically I still own it, but it's in a landfill in Chicago now) I had to have the power supply replaced 3 times, twice after the warranty expired. The mass of buggy code that Soundcraft jokingly referred to as the operating system was more like a mechanism for crashing at inoportune moments (like the final pass, for instance.) The entire analog input section (mic pres, line inputs, inserts, fx inputs) went out twice, and the second time was after the warranty, and required shipping it to Nashville for repair; the repairs and the shipping together totalled almost $600.

I had to open it up so many times, towards the end, I left the screws out, to give you an idea of what I was dealing with. The build quality was low, and the motorized faders needed to be replaced often. The rear panel connections were poorly soldered to the board.

I bought this piece of garbage new, right when they came out, so it set me back quite a chunk of change, on top of constant repairs and the like. The final straw was the analog inputs going out a third time. I unplugged everything from it, and threw it down the stairs.

Now, the flip side to this is that it sounded GREAT. When it worked, it was an excellent console, with all kinds of routing options, and the eq, while digital, was really quite good. I mixed a dozen or so albums on it, as well as many remixes and the like, and when it was working, I was very happy with it. But it pushed me over the edge. I wanted the DMXR100, but I didn't have the coin at the time, and I imagine if I did, that Sony would still be my main axe. Live and learn.



Jan.24.2006 @ 4:17 AM
Love the industrial design of this thing - doesn't look like anything else

Jan.24.2006 @ 7:39 AM
HAHA...this thing looks so good,i wouldnt have to do any convincing of the wife why i need to purchase it.i can hear her now..honey the colors are so pretty..lol

Jan.24.2006 @ 1:30 PM
Interesting point, there's a good wife factor on this one. Since it's so compact, it looks inexpensive and it's easier to slip through the door than, say, a DXB or Andromeda.

I assume that the faders aren't touch-sensitive by the fader caps. It's also missing either solo or mute, unless you hold down shift+mute to solo or something. It also looks painful to change EQ. That's my review based on the 400x400 JPEG.


Jan.24.2006 @ 4:42 PM
looks like a speak 'n' spell

Jan.24.2006 @ 5:13 PM
Never heard of this company before... do they make their own ad/da chips? I'm sketchy on digital mixers in general, but it'd be interesting to know if the conversion is any good.



Jan.25.2006 @ 11:04 AM
Chris Randall
Hardly anyone makes their own AD/DA. If you crack a MOTU 896 and an Apogee AD16, you'll see that they have the same convertors. There's like a low-end one, a medium-end one, and a high-end one. This little box probably uses the latter.



Jan.29.2006 @ 10:11 AM
Wow, your 328 experience is the exact opposite of mine.

There's one at the radio station that's used a couple times a week for the past 5 years, and it's been really solid. About a year ago the channel 1 mic pre went band, and within the past couple weeks both onboard effects became noisy to the point of unsuability, but that's it. Maybe we got one manufactured later that yours?

We're replacing it soon, anyways, but it's been a warrior, and we've done literally hundreds of mixes on it.

w/ a little work it could certainly sound good. I liked the built-in plate effect, but never cared much for the others.

Sometimes we record to ProTools, and use the 328 as an outboard mixer and EQ. Funny, no? But we like working this way.




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