A Professional Solution?
The sound quality of the Allen & Heath GS3000 is fully in line with modern
mixing console design and I am sure you will be entirely satisfied. The muting
and machine control facilities work well and you will wonder how you managed
without them. The EQ, with regard to what I said earlier about the combination
of facilities, is effective and I am sure most users will find it musical. The
incorporation of a pair of valve stages may be considered a novelty, particularly
since there is plenty of outboard equipment available that can do the same job,
but it is certainly perfectly usable, and having the option of high impedance
inputs on a mixing console can only be a good thing. Analogue it may be, but
the sheer range of facilities, and the way these facilities have been tightly
directed at the serious professional user make the Allen & Heath GS3000
a major contender in the project studio and even the commercial studio market.
Valve mixing consoles in current production are very few in number, and the
GS3000 doesn’t claim to be one, but it does have the benefit of a patchable
valve ‘warming’ stage. Being patchable, the two channels of valves
don’t affect the sound quality of the GS3000 unless you want them to, and
there are two ways of using them. One option is to use them as inputs where
they will work as mic or line inputs (with phantom power for microphones). The
valves are driven in a symmetrical mode where the positive and negative half-cycles
of the waveform are distorted equally giving a pleasant warming effect. Alternatively
they can be switched to guitar mode where a guitar may be directly connected
and only the positive half-cycle is clipped leading to more obvious distortion.
As well as using the valve stages as inputs to the console, they can just as
easily be patched to insert points in the channels, groups or masters. So you
can warm up a single channel, or the entire mix if you wish. It’s an interesting
feature, not essential perhaps, but I bet you will use it.
Mute automation is great when you are recording a band and lots of unwanted
noises get onto the multitrack before, during and after the song. With MIDI
instruments mute automation isn’t quite so important, although it can be
useful to create ‘breakdown’ mixes to edit into the finished song
later, perhaps for an extended remix version. The GS3000 itself provides mute
grouping and mute patching. To automate the muting an external MIDI sequencer
is necessary. Mute grouping is handled by four buttons in the centre panel.
Combinations of mutes can be set up and stored under each of the four buttons
so that you can turn on or off any number of mutes with a single button press.
If you have never used mute grouping you won’t know how wonderful a feature
it is – it’s very wonderful! Four mute groups is a good number, but there
are times when you will want more. This is where mute patching comes in. It’s
a very slightly longer procedure to set up and recall a mute patch, but you
can have up to 128 different patches which should be enough to cover any situation.
These patches correspond to MIDI programs which can be recording into and played
back from a MIDI sequencer.