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Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console – with tubes (valves)! (part 5)

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Centre Panel

Oddly enough, there is no such thing as an auxiliary return on this console.
At least there is nothing called an auxiliary return but there do just happen
to be four stereo input sections. I like this approach because in my alter ego
(one of several) as an audio educator I find it difficult to separate auxiliary
sends and auxiliary returns in people’s minds and there is a tendency to
think that it is obligatory to patch the output of a reverb unit into an auxiliary
return when if the project calls for it, it can be connected just as easily
to a couple of spare channels with the full range of EQ and other features.
It may be just a conceptual matter, but I think Allen & Heath’s presentation
is correct. In fact two of the stereo inputs are almost as fully featured as
the mono channels with gain, four band EQ (but with fixed mid frequencies) and
all six auxiliary sends. Full size faders are the icing on the cake. The other
two stereo inputs are more modest in capability with only two of the aux sends
(auxes 1 and 2 which can be global switched to pre-fade) and small faders. I
can certainly find no fault here.

To complete all of the console’s inputs before moving on, the GS3000 provides
return inputs for three stereo recorders. This means you can have a DAT mastering
machine, a cassette for quick and dirty copies and a CD player for reference
purposes all permanently patched to the console ready for use at the push of
a button, or any other combination that takes your fancy. More than this, the
console provides push-button routing so that direct copies can be made from
stereo 2 to stereo 1 and vice versa, and from stereo 1 to stereo 3. It’s
a small thing, and Allen & Heath are not going to sell any more consoles
because of it, but it shows they are thinking of real life requirements and
what really goes on in a session besides the fun stuff.

Having dealt with the inputs, let’s look at the GS3000’s outputs.
There are eight groups as you would expect from an 8-buss console, and they
can be switched to work as subgroups into the mix if required. The group faders
are calibrated, like the channel faders, up to +10dB which means there is always
some extra gain in hand should the meters on the multitrack not quite be hitting
the end stops. Actually my personal preference is for group faders that have
0dB as their upper limit, as the master fader does here. It is common practice
these days in mixing console design to route the group outputs internally to
the channel strips, in banks of eight, so that group 1 feeds tape outputs 1,
9, 17 and 25. I might have liked a set of eight outputs actually labelled group
outputs since it would have been practical to wire these to a patchbay and wire
the tape outputs directly to the multitrack to give the optimum compromise between
flexibility and economy of wiring. You could still wire tape outputs 1-8 via
a patchbay, but they would be affected by the Group/Direct switch on the channel
which could cause confusion. Insert points are provided on the groups and on
the masters. Auxiliary outputs, as you would expect on a console of this nature,
do not have insert points so if you want to compress the send to the reverb
from a mix of channels (what do you mean you’ve never tried it?) you will
have to find another way of doing it. Funny isn’t it? Allen & Heath
have gone out of their way to provide a wonderful range of facilities and I’m
still asking for more!

The GS3000 is very well provided for in the monitoring department. Once again,
Allen & Heath have covered almost every scenario. Any console will provide
control room monitoring with outputs for a power amplifier and headphones. Many
consoles will provide alternate speaker switching so that main monitors or near
fields can be selected. Many consoles will also provide a mono switch so the
mono compatibility of a mix can be tested. Fewer consoles will provide all of
the aforementioned plus studio monitoring so that you can play a take back over
speakers in the studio and save the band a trip back to the control room to
hear their mistakes. The GS3000 goes one stage further and provides two studio
monitor outputs so if your studio has a drum booth annexed to it the drummer
can have his own loudspeaker playback too. In fact, rather than providing loudspeaker
playback in the studio, which is commonly done at a professional level, the
way you will probably use the studio outputs is for foldback on headphones.
The classic way of doing this is to use a pre-fade auxiliary send but this takes
time to set up and many people take the quick route of patching the main stereo
mix to the headphones. The studio outputs of the GS3000 can be driven by a number
of sources: auxiliary 1, the main stereo mix, mix B or the control room monitor.
The great thing is that you can mix these sources together, so you can quickly
select the main mix as the monitor source, then if the singer (for instance)
wants to hear more of a particular instrument you can add it using aux 1. If
you really want to be clever you can invert the phase to ‘add’ less
of a particular channel. Talkback, mute and AFL are also provided.

David Mellor

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David Mellor