Build Your Own Mixing Console
Building a large, professional inline mixing console has widely been discussed in forums all over the web. You might even find some promising circuit plans, or some people claiming they're planning to build one. But nobody ever succeeded.
Nobody? Well, not really...
We're lucky to own a large, self built, hand made 32 channel inline console! It offers 4-band semi-parametric EQs, 6 FX sends, a compressor (!) and a level meter on each channel. The console also allows to create two completely different mixes, one using the large 100mm faders and one using the additional monitor knobs. It uses an external 19" power supply, and we even own a backup power supply.
We purchased it about 10 years ago, we used it for several years and we know that it was used for several CD productions before. Some faders and knobs are broken, but the mixing console itself is fully operational (it's not installed for the moment, but it should still work fine).
We don't know the guy who originally built it, we know his name although we never met him.
For the moment we have only a series of photos online, but they clearly show how impressive this thing is. It's not quite as large as an SSL or Neve mixing console, as the center (control) section is a bit smaller. There's also no computer on board of course.
There are XLR inputs on all channels, although they're not really visible on the photos, a jack input for line signals, two jacks for effects (send and return), plus a stereo jack for the tape machine. There's a button that lets you select (per channel) if you'd like to get the signal from the microphone/line or from the tape machine/computer. Recording while mixing is also possible.
Of course there are also some routing options. Each channel can be run in "sub" mode, then it gets its input form another channel. The output of each of the channels can be routed to channels 1-24, the routing buttons are located left to the main channel fader (the red button is the master bus) which is not really cool though - would have been better on top of the channel, like on the SSL 4000 for example.
The master section offers 4 faders, 2 for the main mix and 2 for the monitor mix. You can create your own mix in the control while while the artist in the recording room gets a completely different mix on this headphones. Really cool! Of course there's also a talkback button and a built-in microphone.
I know this is no SSL or Neve, but I've worked on SSLs and I think this console is really incredible for a self-build, hand made mixing console! The feature set is better than anything available on semi-pro mixing consoles and it also sounds really good.
This mixing console must have been built in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It has been clearly inspired by large Solid State Logic, Neve, Harrision or Raindirk designs. The parts used to build it must have cost about $15,000 - $20.000 back then.
We don't know if the guy who built the console used existing circuit plans or if he designed everything by himself. But he must have had good knowledge of both mixing consoles and sound design to build such a large gear.
Everything is hand made.
Where is it now?
All photos of the entire console are from 1998-2002, they were made in our old recording studio where we used it as our main mixing console. The old studio doesn't exist anymore and the mixing console is currently not operational. We still own it, but we don't know if we'll use it in future, as we have no room for it in our new studio.
The channel strip photo on the left has been done in 2011, it's channel 32 and you can clearly see the available features per channel. The "sub" button is missing on this channel as only channels 1-24 can be run in sub mode. The "remix" button is there as all 32 channels can be connected to the tape machine (or the computer).
You can also see the 10 segment LED level meter, on its right you see the compressor which uses only a single LED for feedback. The compressor only offers one knob, but it works incredibly well (today you'd probably do this within the DAW anyway). The fader on this channel is working, although the cap is missing on the photo.
Photos of the master section shall follow soon...
We thought about making the circuit plans for the mixing console available on this website, although this would take some time.