Allen & Heath GS3000 8-Bus Recording Console - with tubes (valves)! (part 6)
A Professional Solution?
The sound quality of the Allen & Heath GS3000 is fully in line with modern mixing console design and I am sure you will be entirely satisfied. The muting and machine control facilities work well and you will wonder how you managed without them. The EQ, with regard to what I said earlier about the combination of facilities, is effective and I am sure most users will find it musical. The incorporation of a pair of valve stages may be considered a novelty, particularly since there is plenty of outboard equipment available that can do the same job, but it is certainly perfectly usable, and having the option of high impedance inputs on a mixing console can only be a good thing. Analogue it may be, but the sheer range of facilities, and the way these facilities have been tightly directed at the serious professional user make the Allen & Heath GS3000 a major contender in the project studio and even the commercial studio market.
Valve mixing consoles in current production are very few in number, and the GS3000 doesnt claim to be one, but it does have the benefit of a patchable valve warming stage. Being patchable, the two channels of valves dont affect the sound quality of the GS3000 unless you want them to, and there are two ways of using them. One option is to use them as inputs where they will work as mic or line inputs (with phantom power for microphones). The valves are driven in a symmetrical mode where the positive and negative half-cycles of the waveform are distorted equally giving a pleasant warming effect. Alternatively they can be switched to guitar mode where a guitar may be directly connected and only the positive half-cycle is clipped leading to more obvious distortion. As well as using the valve stages as inputs to the console, they can just as easily be patched to insert points in the channels, groups or masters. So you can warm up a single channel, or the entire mix if you wish. Its an interesting feature, not essential perhaps, but I bet you will use it.
Mute automation is great when you are recording a band and lots of unwanted noises get onto the multitrack before, during and after the song. With MIDI instruments mute automation isnt quite so important, although it can be useful to create breakdown mixes to edit into the finished song later, perhaps for an extended remix version. The GS3000 itself provides mute grouping and mute patching. To automate the muting an external MIDI sequencer is necessary. Mute grouping is handled by four buttons in the centre panel. Combinations of mutes can be set up and stored under each of the four buttons so that you can turn on or off any number of mutes with a single button press. If you have never used mute grouping you wont know how wonderful a feature it is - its very wonderful! Four mute groups is a good number, but there are times when you will want more. This is where mute patching comes in. Its a very slightly longer procedure to set up and recall a mute patch, but you can have up to 128 different patches which should be enough to cover any situation. These patches correspond to MIDI programs which can be recording into and played back from a MIDI sequencer.