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ITB versus ZED-R16 (mp3s)

Discussion in 'Backline' started by mickrich, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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    I recently got an A&H ZED-R16.
    It has made an amazing difference to the width and punch of my mixes.
    I haven't done much metal stuff lately so I opened a mix from earlier this year to test.
    I turned off all plugin EQs and stemmed the mix as kick mono, snare mono, stereo toms bus, stereo overheads bus, mono room, mono bass, stereo guitars, mono lead gtr, stereo vocals, stereo effects out.
    The stems were sent to channels on the ZED-R16.
    I then used the desk's EQ and and recorded the mix back in through the converters of my API A2D.
    Both mixes had a Drawmer 1968me on the master bus. Inserted using logic's I/O plugin for the ITB mix and inserted on the master of the ZED-R16 for the desk mix.
    The eq on the zed is fantastic. I can boost highs and lows without it getting grainy or boomy and the 2 fully parametric mids are great for carving out fizz on guitars. Best thing I have ever bought for the studio. It's incredible that this desk costs about the same as my API A2D. I have not used the onboard pres yet (I am using ISA828,ISA220,API A2D,UA LA610 to line ins) but will try them when I get a chance. I am using the ADAT in/out on the zed feeding my RME digiface so I have very low latency at 64 buffer.
    Anyway, here are the mixes.
    ITB
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133088/fallen itb.mp3
    ZED-R16
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133088/fallen zed.mp3

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Trevoire520

    Trevoire520 Member

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    Zed mix definitely sounds better. Much brighter and cleaner. Though I think it's partly down to you making different mix decisions compared to the previous mix as they sound REALLY different. You've probably just become better at mixing since you originally finished it.

    I'm really thinking about buying one of these sometime in 2012. I do alot of live work so mixing on an analogue console is much more natural to me compared to clicking around in pro tools.

    I'd love the GSR24 but that's just too expensive for me at the moment. Shame as it seems like a beast!

    Let us know how you get on with the preamps when you get round to trying them out man.
     
  3. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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    You might be right but I could never get the sound I wanted with plugin eq, especially high boosts (I have waves ssl, sonnox eq and some others).
    All I did different on the zed mix was eq and levels.
    Send me some stems if you want and I can sum them through the zed for you.
    I was looking at the gsr24 too but it has the same pres and converters and I have a mackie control for automation.
    Seemed like a lot of extra money for moving faders, 4 busses (would have liked that) and meter bridge and valve channels I don't want.
    One of my favourite features is the way it works in line. You can send to the converters pre or post eq then return from daw pre or post eq.
    The way I have been working is to send to logic post eq then return on the faders so my monitor mix doesn't affect the recording. I like to commit to eq while tracking so it works great.
    The ZED-R16 is a steal at the price. Think of how much it would cost for 16 I/O converters, 16 pres, summing mixer, 16 analogue EQs with 2 fully parametric mids, monitor section with alt speakers and 2 headphone mixes etc.
    I don't think there is anything else in this price range (or much more) that would improve my mixes more than the ZED. If it was a grand dearer it would still be a bargain.
    I will try the pres next week if I get a chance. An a/b against my API using the Lasse/Mago di song would be good. Interested in hearing it myself.
    I remember reading that they used Allen and Heath pres for Heartwork because they sounded better than anything else they tried.
    I am in the middle of 2 albums at the moment so I have been sticking with the my regular outboard pres so I get no surprises when it comes to the mix.
     
  4. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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  5. professorlamp

    professorlamp I are Joe

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    Definitely prefer the ZED mix compared to the ITB. The ITB seemed rammed full of mids whereas the zed was better balanced
     
  6. Trevoire520

    Trevoire520 Member

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    Hmmm that preamp comparison is really interesting.
    API has that signature pushed mids sound that makes the guitars sound very upfront.
    Zed pre almost makes the API seem ever so slightly boxy in comparison, sounds bigger. But it doesn't have that up front character that the API has.
    Really good considering the Zed pre probably costs about about £50 or less compared to about £700 for the API.

    I'm half considering selling some of my rack pre's to put towards one of those desks now. Really like the idea of getting a analogue board, and would work well with me planning to get more outboard compressors aswell.
     
  7. AllanD

    AllanD boom tap boom-boom tap

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    Very interesting shoot out, thanks!
     
  8. MatrixClaw

    MatrixClaw Member

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    Hmm... I'm quite intrigued. I was thinking of upgrading to an RME UFX or (maybe) a FF800, or just getting an API 3124+ for some better pres. For less than the UFX/3124+, and only a bit more than a FF800, I could get one of these, and have a ton more mic preamps, plus the console. Might have to look into it!
     
  9. Rob Logic

    Rob Logic yayyyyyy!

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    Wow, the zed is way more present without sounding brittle. Very much improved mix versus itb. Great job!
     
  10. t-rave

    t-rave Member

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    Zed sounds awesome ( both mixes are good to me though). And the production and overall track is steller! Nice "toolish" modern rock...
     
  11. Empathy

    Empathy Bulging Member

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    Interesting preamp comparison. API sounded a lot smoother, and 'up front' as trev stated, but the Zed still had it's own quality to it.
     
  12. Trevoire520

    Trevoire520 Member

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    Dammit Mick, you've got me counting my cash and eyeing up things I can sell in my rack to get one of these now!
     
  13. arv_foh

    arv_foh Brian K

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    Any chance you can send the ITB mix to the ZED without any post EQ so we can just hear the effects of the analog summing? Obviously a mix with outboard EQ is going to sound better, I just want an unbiased comparison, if possible
     
  14. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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    The Zed pre shouldn't stand a chance against the API but it holds up well.
    I certainly can't hear the API as 700 quid better than it.
    Trev, you will thank me when you do your first mix on the Zed if you get one :)
    I will stem out the ITB mix when I get a chance. That will probably be the end of next week.
    I have sessions from tomorrow until Sunday and I am back teaching on Monday.
     
  15. burst

    burst Member

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    Hey Mick, thanks for recommendation! I've been looking those boards for a while now, since I need to have more input channels so I can use triggers and couple of room mics. But the only way I can get one of those now is to sell my current FW rig, which is ECHO Audiofire 12 + ART Tubefire 8. Also, I have FMR RNP and RNC, couple of dbx 160's and some other stuff AND have API 3124+ being shipped to me. So, I've couple of questions about this board:
    1) Is it good to use as a main audio interface? Converters? Ergonomics?
    2) Is it OK to run my API and FMR pre's trough line-ins of ZED? Is it the same as running them straight to converters?
    3) Can I run my DI's straight to some output for reamping or I only can send it to one of the channels and then trough one of aux sends? I've got kinda confused about gain staging in manual...
    4) I've read somewhere that ZED have some problems with FW 400 to 800 cables if it's being plugged straight to Mac, can you comment?

    Thank you for time! I'm really interested in this board, because I'll have enough channels and nice outboard features, but, since I've just bought API 3124+, Neumann 184's, triggers and bunch of other stuff, I really need to be sure that I can rely on it as my only interface.
     
  16. xTomx

    xTomx Member

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    Might just be the monitors I'm using but the difference on the preamps is extremely subtle to my ears.

    Considering the huge price difference for such a negligible gain (and a subjective one at that) I can think of MUCH better ways to spend money than an expensive pre...
     
  17. C-Martin

    C-Martin Member

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    This is interesting but its impossible to judge the difference between ITB and the R16 because both mixes are so different. What i do find interesting is that it does sound pretty good and you've improved on the mix with the board which means its definitely capable. I've been keeping an eye out for a decent mixer i could use to make a "hybrid" setup like this but i was looking at something more like the Toft ATB. I had looked at the Allen Heath ones but i wasn't sure if they'd be any improvement over just sticking to ITB with outboard gear. The workflow would definitely be more pleasant and more intuitive though but i don't know if spending over 2k would be a better improvement over say a pair of Distressors. However, having all the outboard i would need/want, i can see being tempted if i was looking for an affordable way to get that workflow in a compact space.
     
  18. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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    I read the whole 100+ page thread on gearslutz before buying it and it seems that everyone who has bought one is as happy as I am.
    I am using a drawer dl221 on channels and a 1968me on the mix bus and having inserts per channel and on the master is great. I just repatch the insert cables for whatever channels I want them on rather than using a patch bay.
    To your questions

    1) I am using the zed's ADAT I/O feeding my RME digiface rather than the firewire drivers.
    Apparently there were some problems with the firewire board in the first run but this has since been sorted out. The converters sound fantastic to me. I was previously using the digital outs of my pres and monitoring with an Apogee Mini DAC and the ZED sounds pretty much the same to me.
    The mix in my first post is using 16 channels of the Zed's converters to send the busses to the board.
    The workflow of the desk is great. As I said already, it works in line with the channels sending to digital pre or post eq, then returning on the faders pre or post eq. You can also direct monitor with zero latency. Grabbing real faders and EQs make tracking so much quicker. You have 2 headphone sends that can be the l-r mix or any of the auxes or any combination. This makes it very easy to set up headphone mixes. For vocals I have been using the l-r bus PLUS aux 1 for the singer so I can listen to the vocals in the mix while he/she has a same mix with a boosted vocal level using aux 1. Mixing is amazingly fast when you can use the console eq rather than opening plugins and moving one knob at a time. When it comes to bouncing the mix I have been taking the stereo mix plus the returns of all 16 channels in case a recall is needed.

    2) I have isa828, isa220, la610 and API A2D going line in and they sound fine to me and I get to use the EQ while tracking which is a big plus.

    3) I have my BSS DI box going to channel 16 on the board and have aux 2 sending to my radial x amp. I use aux 1 for headphone mix and have aux 3 to my korg rack tuner.
    If I want to re-amp I always use channel 16 from the daw (logic). When in firewire mode the desk will let you use 8 adat I/O too so you could use a DA converter via ADAT to send to your re-amp box. The desk shows up as 26 I/O (16 desk channels, master stereo return and 8 ADAT).
    As I said, I don't use the firewire so have not worked this way myself. I am using the Apogee mini DAC to stereo return 1 on the desk (for fx from logic) and a behringer ada8000 to stereo rtns 2,3,4 for click and extra returns from logic if needed. If I was using the firewire driver I would use the extra 8 adat channels to the behringer and send the outs to the 4 stereo returns.
    I use aux 1 for headphone mix and have aux 3 to my korg rack tuner.

    4) I have no idea re firewire 400-800 cables. I use the RME digiface rather than the firewire driver but you could contact A&H support and ask them. There was a guy called Mike from A&H who posted a lot on the gearslutz thread who was very helpful. He is the designer of the desk and to see him answering questions and sorting out problems for people gave me a lot of faith in their support.
     
  19. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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    I think you have hit the nail on the head with your first line. The reason the mixes are different is because the desk lent to a different approach which ended up sounding better. The beautiful EQ helped too of course. Most of the ITB versus console comparisons you see are flawed because they just stem the ITB mix through a console or summing mixer. This doesn't take into account that you will mix differently on a desk. I am hooked on sweeping EQs on different channels at the same time like sweeping a mid cut on guitar while sweeping a mid boost on snare. Try doing that with plugins or even on a control surface (most will open 1 plugin's controls at a time).
     
  20. mickrich

    mickrich Member

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