October 1, 2005

Master Control Center 101

by Chris Randall

Since I'm about to start accepting commercial clients in my (thus far private) studio, it is time to address the issue of my desk/console/whatever. The current Rube Goldberg assemblage of Metro Shelving and Quick-Lok stands just ain't gonna cut it any more. First, it doesn't look professional, and second, it's just asserific.

So, I'm going to build myself a desk/console/whatever that better suits my working methods and compliment of gear. Spending a couple minutes in 3D Studio Max to (copping a phrase from our friends in the movie industry) previsualize the final product was very illuminating. The first thing I noted is that I need at least four, and preferably six, rack spaces directly in front of me. These will hold the stuff that I have to twiddle most often (my Neumann EQs, Central Station, mic pres, et al.)

The next thing, being primarily a keyboard player, is a keyboard controller. Now, this took some thinking. I wanted to have some options in the way things are layed out here. I could move the controller to live with all my synth stuff (which is immediately to my left, as I am left-handed) so it would be wise to make this area deep enough to hold a dedicated fader extravaganza for working with Nuendo. In browsing all of these various devices, it looks like the best bang-for-the-buck, without all the stupid bells and whistles, is the Tascam US-2400. Now, I've never laid eyes on one of these in real life, so I can't speak to the build quality or anything, but it looks well enough, and the reviews I've read seem to be uniformly "this is fine." I'm very much a control-keys and mouse mixer, so I don't really know if this would aid my workflow enough to justify the expense.

Anyways, that's down the road a bit. I made enough room on the desk portion to hold one of these, should I go on a wild spending spree and decide to purchase something like this. The nice bonus here is that the Tascam unit is one of the larger devices of this family, and if it will fit, most all of them will. (Except the Mackie one, which is deeper by a couple inches, and I already know I don't like that one, having spent some quality time with it.)

Some further thought on the matter, and it occurred to me that the base of the unit could hold my pair of PCs, and if I spent some time with that sound-mat shit that the Hi-NOS Tunerz use, there would be a little iso booth in the bottom to kill the sound of the computers.

I should point out that I stridently refuse to buy anything that I can build myself, and that goes quadruple for shit that is made out of MDF. I WILL NOT purchase anything made out of MDF ever again. I've learned my lesson. "Hey, that desk is cheap, and it looks nice! I'll take one!" and then 6 months later it's all bent to shit because you put your speakers on it, and it couldn't take the weight. Then you move one time, and the corners all get rounded off. Thanks, but no thanks. Cabinet-grade birch plywood will be our medium of choice here.

I'm open to thoughts on this matter. I won't be doing anything ridiculous like that bent birchwood thing we had in Gear pr0n couple weeks back. My cabinetry skills lend themselves to austerity, so keep that in mind.



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Oct.03.2005 @ 2:05 PM
Use those Behringer BCFs. At 200-some bucks a pop, you can treat them as disposable and probably still end up with money left over. You can use multiple units with Pro Tools, so I assume it's only easier to use them with all other software. Some people slag them off, but assuming it works, faders are better than no faders...

Oct.03.2005 @ 2:30 PM
Chris Randall
Sorry. Gotta draw the line. There's no way a piece of Behringer gear will be in my studio, and especially not as the centerpiece.

I'm pretty much set on the Tascam box, I think. Of course, the Id controller is the Mack Daddy of Nuendo control surfaces. (Or a Euphonix console, I guess.) But those are out of my price range, unfortunately.



Oct.03.2005 @ 5:22 PM
D' MacKinnon
Behringer = poo.

The only thing I have of theirs is a 4-output headphone amp. I used to own a feedback suppressor by them but after using it for awhile I realized it was a piece of shit and ebayed it. I doubt I'll ever buy anything by them again.


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