Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console - with tubes (valves)! (part 3)
Reassuringly normal. Thats what many users, and virtually all analogue enthusiasts will want me to say. And it is. The GS3000 displays classic design and incorporates the best thinking of the last thirty years to provide a channel strip which is as straightforward yet effective as it possibly could be in its price range. Let me point out some of the interesting features, starting from the top. I was pleasurably surprised to see the gain of the line input ranging from -10dB to 40dB. The negative figure is actually of more interest because it helps when something is coming in to the console quite hot yet needs to be mixed at a low but accurate level. Setting the gain to a negative value allows the fader to be higher up in its travel where it has better resolution. Unfortunately this doesnt extend to the tape input which is merely switchable between +4dBu/-10dBV. The insert point is pre-EQ. On a console such as this - as I have commented elsewhere - it should have been post-EQ, but I can live with it.
EQ, as you might see from the brochure, is of the British variety. Fair enough, Cornwall has been a part of Britain for as long as I can remember so I suppose it has to be true. This term, British EQ really goes back a long way to the days when some Americans thought that some British consoles had better EQ than their home grown product. Every competent console manufacturer now knows everything there is about equalisation in a technical sense and it is an artistic decision on what facilities, frequencies and slopes are provided. Consoles still stand or fall by their EQ and the GS3000 can stand tall, at least in the project studio bracket. Two mid frequency sections are offered with full parametric control. This means that each band has controls for frequency, gain and Q - and its a rotary control for Q, not a switch. Q ranges from 0.6 to 2, which still isnt quite as low on the low side as I would like (0.3 please) but apart from that this is a good feature. Oddly enough I find that Q is puzzling to many engineers who are otherwise very technically competent but still on the learning curve of their career. The Q setting changes the range of frequencies over which the other mid band controls work. A low Q means a wide range of frequencies. I find the best way to use the Q control is to set it as standard to a lowish value when I am zeroing the console. Then if I need to change it, Ill change it, but quite often I wont need to. High values of Q are more appropriate when drastic action of some sort is called for, either correctively or creatively. On this console, a Q of 1 is in the centre position of the control and it is detented, which I think is good. The other EQ facilities include basic HF and LF controls. Here unfortunately you dont get a choice of frequencies, not even a switch. This is a shame, but you cant have everything and a reasonable price tag as well. There is also a 100Hz low cut filter and the all-important EQ Out switch, for reducing circuit noise (by a very slight but useful amount) when EQ isnt needed, and for making comparisons with the flat signal.