Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console - with tubes (valves)! (part 5)
Oddly enough, there is no such thing as an auxiliary return on this console. At least there is nothing called an auxiliary return but there do just happen to be four stereo input sections. I like this approach because in my alter ego (one of several) as an audio educator I find it difficult to separate auxiliary sends and auxiliary returns in peoples minds and there is a tendency to think that it is obligatory to patch the output of a reverb unit into an auxiliary return when if the project calls for it, it can be connected just as easily to a couple of spare channels with the full range of EQ and other features. It may be just a conceptual matter, but I think Allen & Heaths presentation is correct. In fact two of the stereo inputs are almost as fully featured as the mono channels with gain, four band EQ (but with fixed mid frequencies) and all six auxiliary sends. Full size faders are the icing on the cake. The other two stereo inputs are more modest in capability with only two of the aux sends (auxes 1 and 2 which can be global switched to pre-fade) and small faders. I can certainly find no fault here.
To complete all of the consoles inputs before moving on, the GS3000 provides return inputs for three stereo recorders. This means you can have a DAT mastering machine, a cassette for quick and dirty copies and a CD player for reference purposes all permanently patched to the console ready for use at the push of a button, or any other combination that takes your fancy. More than this, the console provides push-button routing so that direct copies can be made from stereo 2 to stereo 1 and vice versa, and from stereo 1 to stereo 3. Its a small thing, and Allen & Heath are not going to sell any more consoles because of it, but it shows they are thinking of real life requirements and what really goes on in a session besides the fun stuff.
Having dealt with the inputs, lets look at the GS3000s outputs. There are eight groups as you would expect from an 8-buss console, and they can be switched to work as subgroups into the mix if required. The group faders are calibrated, like the channel faders, up to +10dB which means there is always some extra gain in hand should the meters on the multitrack not quite be hitting the end stops. Actually my personal preference is for group faders that have 0dB as their upper limit, as the master fader does here. It is common practice these days in mixing console design to route the group outputs internally to the channel strips, in banks of eight, so that group 1 feeds tape outputs 1, 9, 17 and 25. I might have liked a set of eight outputs actually labelled group outputs since it would have been practical to wire these to a patchbay and wire the tape outputs directly to the multitrack to give the optimum compromise between flexibility and economy of wiring. You could still wire tape outputs 1-8 via a patchbay, but they would be affected by the Group/Direct switch on the channel which could cause confusion. Insert points are provided on the groups and on the masters. Auxiliary outputs, as you would expect on a console of this nature, do not have insert points so if you want to compress the send to the reverb from a mix of channels (what do you mean youve never tried it?) you will have to find another way of doing it. Funny isnt it? Allen & Heath have gone out of their way to provide a wonderful range of facilities and Im still asking for more!
The GS3000 is very well provided for in the monitoring department. Once again, Allen & Heath have covered almost every scenario. Any console will provide control room monitoring with outputs for a power amplifier and headphones. Many consoles will provide alternate speaker switching so that main monitors or near fields can be selected. Many consoles will also provide a mono switch so the mono compatibility of a mix can be tested. Fewer consoles will provide all of the aforementioned plus studio monitoring so that you can play a take back over speakers in the studio and save the band a trip back to the control room to hear their mistakes. The GS3000 goes one stage further and provides two studio monitor outputs so if your studio has a drum booth annexed to it the drummer can have his own loudspeaker playback too. In fact, rather than providing loudspeaker playback in the studio, which is commonly done at a professional level, the way you will probably use the studio outputs is for foldback on headphones. The classic way of doing this is to use a pre-fade auxiliary send but this takes time to set up and many people take the quick route of patching the main stereo mix to the headphones. The studio outputs of the GS3000 can be driven by a number of sources: auxiliary 1, the main stereo mix, mix B or the control room monitor. The great thing is that you can mix these sources together, so you can quickly select the main mix as the monitor source, then if the singer (for instance) wants to hear more of a particular instrument you can add it using aux 1. If you really want to be clever you can invert the phase to add less of a particular channel. Talkback, mute and AFL are also provided.