Adventures In Audio
AMS-Neve Capricorn Digital Mixing Console (part 4)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday January 1, 2004

System Philosophy

You may have come across the phrase ‘all digital studio’ and decided that it’s not the line you want to follow. You will be pleased to hear that, given the right bits of kit, the AMS Neve Capricorn will take the place of your existing console quite happily, interfacing with the rest of the world through high quality convertors. If you are worried about the logistics of installing what could be a 240 channel console, worry not - the great thick bundle of cables will go to your rack room, not to the console itself so you are not going to have to dig a bigger trench in your control room floor.

It is sometimes found with analogue consoles that the designers put their heart and soul into the main inputs and outputs of the desk and treat them to their finest electronic offerings, while giving items of more lowly status - such as insert points - heap and cheerful unbalanced op amp inputs and outputs. This is not the case with Capricorn as the same quality of convertor is used all round. I remember that there used to be a talking point about whether a signal was degraded by all the transformers it would go through during its life cycle in the studio (this is in the days when all decent pro gear was transformer balanced). You could make this point about convertors too, and I am sure there will be scope for the subjective interpretation of the sound quality of a digital console installation, considering the installation as a whole.

The console itself consists of a number of strips (I don’t think it’s quite right to call them channels) and an AFU. The AFU has nothing to do with ‘situation normal…’ but is simply the Assignable Facilities Unit. The smallest number of strips you can have is twenty-four, but any size of console can control any number of signal paths up to the maximum of 240, as I mentioned earlier. If you want to start small and build your system up, the Capricorn is ideally suited. You just buy the bits and bolt them on. You can use the same control console and the the system will recognise the extra processing power available and allow you to use it straight away. Each strip section of the console (like the channel section of an analogue desk) has twenty-four strips and the system may have up to five of these sections making a total of 120. Although the strips look like channels, they may control inputs to the console, groups or monitors. There is no difference in the facilities available to any of these functions.

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