Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console - with tubes (valves)! (part 4)
Moving down, the auxiliary sends look rather less capable at first sight than they actually are. There are four knobs, but the lower two can switched on individual channels to aux outputs 5 and 6. Auxes 1 and 2 can be globally switched to either pre-fade or post-fade. Global switching of auxes is of course a cost-cutting measure, but it is I think reasonable and any problem you might have can be worked around by some other means. Auxes 3 to 6 are all post fade, which is most appropriate for reverb and delay effects. A red button close to the aux sends curiously labelled XFX provides an additional stereo aux send when mixing. Its a nice touch, but only people who consider the user manual suitable bedtime reading will ever take advantage of it.
The lower section of the channel strip is actually the most interesting and exciting part. This is where Allen & Heath have decided that the GS3000 will mimic a high cost commercial studio console as closely as possible. Top pro consoles, as you will almost certainly have noticed, have two faders per channel strip. Project studio consoles just have one. Well the GS3000 has the full complement of two, and is all the better for it. The small upper fader controls the level going to the multitrack recorder. The large lower fader controls the monitor level of each track during recording and overdubbing, and the level of each track during mixdown. Yes, what I said is correct - the small fader is the multitrack send and the large fader is the monitor. This is the exact opposite of the traditional in-line console, but it is actually becoming increasingly common, and when you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. You can build your mix as you go along, and there is no need to switch from the small to the large faders when you start mixing since you are there already! For some curious reason, although the large fader is smooth and easy to operate, the small fader is quite stiff. They do their job though. The group routing buttons are, a little confusingly, located next to the monitor fader (I still hate this clutter around the faders. I always have and I probably always will). They can however be switched to either the channel or the monitor signal path so perhaps this is reasonable. Both channel and monitor faders have large LED-equipped mute buttons controlling and signalling whether the source is sending signal to the busses. Big buttons with LEDs are indeed pro features because you need to see whats active and whats not at a glance. These buttons dont latch because they can also be controlled by the muting system, which is a very powerful facility when mixing recordings of bands and other non-MIDI combinations of instruments. The console also offers Solo-In-Place as well as conventional PFL. There is also an alternative Mix B buss with a number of possible uses for the creative engineer. Both of these are important features.