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AMS-Neve Capricorn Digital Mixing Console (part 6)

In an analogue console review this section would be headed ‘The Channel’, but talking about channels makes life more confusing than anything else.

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The Strip

In an analogue console review this section would be headed ‘The Channel’, but talking about channels makes life more confusing than anything else. I think the best way to grab hold of the concept is to look at the system resources, as shown for the Systems 64, 112 and 160 in Figure 2. You can see that in a System 64 (there isn’t any difference in the systems apart from the quantity of component parts) there are 48 ‘channel faders’ and therefore strips, but if you examine the table closely you will see that there is no fixed relation between the number of strips and the number of inputs as there always is in an analogue console.

Any strip can be configured to operate in mono or stereo, automatically linking left and right paths in stereo and providing a meter display of the left and right signals. The GDS (Graphics Display System, remember) is used to assign paths to strips and once this is done the assignment can be stored to hard disk and recalled whenever necessary. Magneto optical and floppy disk drives are provided for removable storage. Each fader has a four character alpha numeric display which the operator can use to name the signal path, either according to function or according to usage. The types of path that can be assigned to strips are these:

  • Input
  • Monitor (track return)
  • Sub group (sum of several paths or track returns)
  • Main output
  • Aux master
  • ‘VCA’ group master (imitating the analogue equivalent)

With any assignable console, there is always likely to be the problem that some of the settings you have made are currently hidden since you are now using the assignable controls for something else. Preferably there would be some attempt to show you, in abbreviated form, the most important ones. Capricorn has a ‘function indicator’ at the top of each strip which shows the functions you have assigned. These include, as I mentioned earlier, expander gate, compressor, limiter, filter, EQ and of course the movable insert point. It’s almost a whole effects rack and patchbay in its own right. You can see from here whether a function has been assigned, and then switch it into the audio path. Phase, stereo mode and 48V phantom power are selectable here too. Operation of the console is spread between the AFU and the strips. you will notice from the photos a number of knobs on the strips. Oops, did I say knobs? Of course I meant Function Assignable Controls, or FACs as AMS Neve describe them. The FAC does look pretty much like a conventional knob but it doesn’t have any end stops so it goes round and round, if you want it to. The position of the ‘knob’ is shown by a ring of LEDs which can illuminate individually to show position or en masse to indicate something like stereo width. Mostly you might like to use these for gain, aux sends and pan or width, but you can assign EQ functions as an alternative. One point that is worth a mention is that certain of the FACs (which are present in the AFU as well as in the strips) have click stops and others operate smoothly. Clicks, or detents if that is your preferred word, are great for gain setting but they don’t seem too good for EQ. I found that when I was trying to adjust EQ precisely, judging by what I was hearing from the monitors, the additional sensory input from the clicking knob put me off just a fraction. I don’t mean to say that the knob clicks audibly, but the feel just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps AMS Neve can devise some kind of electromagnetic clutch so that you can have clicks when they are appropriate and smooth action when that would be preferable.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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