Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console - with tubes (valves)! (part 1)
Every home and project studio owner aspires to have a proper professional mixing console as the studios centrepiece. Something like an SSL J Series would do nicely. Most of us cant afford the price tag (although Paul Allen, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, has a top-dollar AMS-Neve Capricorn digital console in his home studio, just for fun you understand). We have to make do with something smaller, cheaper, less versatile, and somehow lacking the aura of a real pro console. But help is at hand Allen & Heath have had brainstorming session with the Cornish piskies in their Penryn headquarters, and they evidently decided that they would design a console that would have this elusive pro aura, and at a reasonable project studio price. The result is the GS3000. Quite simply, it looks the business and anyone experienced in the world of pro studios could walk into a GS3000-equipped project studio (or indeed commercial studio) and feel very comfortable because they can see at a glance that the studio is properly equipped. And as we shall see, the GS3000 is the business. Its a console for the professional, not the dabbler, and virtually every pro requirement is catered for with lots of neat touches that demonstrate that the purpose of the GS3000 is to turn out commercial product, day in day out.
In an era when digital mixing consoles are becoming increasingly of interest, the Allen & Heath GS3000 is absolutely rock-solid analogue. See this as a disadvantage if you like, but you can at least be assured that this console is 24bit/96kHz ready, which is more than any of the current crop of digital consoles can claim! Traditional analogue design also has the advantage that any engineer can walk into your studio and start recording or mixing. No training, no manual, just roll the tape and push up the faders. Although traditional analogue consoles will always lack the programmability of digital consoles, familiar appearance and methods of operation are very valuable features.
Be warned that the GS3000 comes in a very big carton, its big for a project studio console and the pro technique of using a crane to fly the console in through a window may - almost - be appropriate in cramped locations (I didnt have enough headroom in my studio to stand the empty carton on end!). The GS3000 is itself a very satisfying size, although with respect to the wide range of facilities it provides you could call it compact. The 32 channel version is just under a metre and a half wide and since it weighs 37kg youll need someone to help get it in position. The construction of the console doesnt betray any of the obvious cost-cutting measures that are commonly employed on project studio consoles. The connectors are exactly where they should be - on the rear panel - so the cables are not visible for all to see, nor are they only partially hidden by the bolt-on meter bridge. (The meter bridge on the GS3000 is actually an option and it does bolt on, but once in place it looks like an integral part of the unit). The pots are all bolted to the front panel so you can be sure that no stress is being placed on the printed circuit board behind. Internally the construction is modular so that service is easier, and potentially a circuit module could be sent for repair and the rest of the console still used as normal. Another nice touch is the arm rest at the front which, although unfortunately I cant tell you that that it is padded leather, is at least slightly soft and provides a useful creature comfort for protracted mixing sessions. The power supply is external, as is appropriate for mixing consoles, and is silent! Great big heatsinks on the back perform the work that is often taken care of by a fan.