People who mix on large format consoles, how much does the upkeep cost?

I’m just curious to know what the real upkeep costs are on a large format console. With any analog gear I own, faders and knobs start to get scratchy, buttons get sticky and fiddly.

Do these issue not happen with high end consoles? Is that part of what makes them expensive? Or do people who own them just budget in the time and money to keep them operating? And how much does that cost?

I spend about $1000 per year on up keep. of all my hardware including my console. I spent a few thousand getting it in shape though. I costs me about $200 CDN to have a channel on my console recapped and change IC’s, pots and buttons cleaned and changed as needed.

I’ve had about half done when I commissioned the console. The other half are good for now. There is always something that needs fixing. I pull hardware as it gets to that point. My 1176 is needing some attention now.

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Think of it like a house. The amount of knowledge you have is a big factor. The amount of handy man work you can do on your own house (or car) not only saves money in labor, but also helps you prevent problems from escalating in to bigger ones.

A lot of people get caught off-guard by the expenses of a large analog console. Most studio engineers have no clue how to even put the thing together. Highly tech savvy pros can assemble an API, but a Neve, SSL, and first generation Avid analog boards (CS2000 and CS3000) are a whole different story. Partly due to the lack of parts, the lack of documentation, and the inability to get help from the manufacture after the unit is end of life and end of support.

The computers are a big problem on the older hybrids, and even worse on fully analog systems with digital recall and digital automation.

This is a power supply for a Neve VR (that was the console I was thinking about getting before I got the avid).

But one isn’t enough. You need four of them. This guy is probably down-sizing his mixer, or parting out extra modules. Sonic Circus quoted me $10,000 just to deliver and assemble, on top of the $45k for the refurbished unit. They said it takes 3 guys about 5 days to actually assemble it. And if you watch time lapse videos of these on youtube, you’ll realize its actually does take that long.

The cost isn’t just the console and the install. I would have had to overhaul the HVAC in my previous studio because the heat. Based on the metrics provided by Duke/Progress Energy Co. in my region, running all six of those power supplies year around would have raised my AC bill to about $3600/mo. So unless you want to start a solar farm in your back yard, you may as well forget about buying one.

What I’ve found mega million dollar studios do to minimize the maintenance is not use the console. And if they use it, they don’t use the whole thing. There’s a studio called Patchwerk in Atlanta. They have a several neves and SSL’s. They’re one of the biggest freelance studio operations in the Southeastern US. They’re $1800 /day to rent a room. They’re whole damn business is built on rap and hiphop. Nearly all of their clients tap the patch bay and mix in the box! Unbelievable. They have the consoles available if someone needs them, but they hardly ever get used.

From what I’m told by nationally known studio designers and console install companies, is that the people who really need them are studios in CA that are tracking film orchestras 24/7. Skywalker legitimately needs their 88R. East west and Oceanway actually need their 9Js, but there are an abundance of highly-qualified console techs in southern CA, and the direct line that those guys have to the manufacturers makes it a sensible investment. The days of the analog consoles do seem to be coming to an end.

I’m glad I went digital with the S5. I don’t regret it for a sec!


I haven’t been with mine for a year yet. I’ll let you know how the finances on repair turn out around October :smiley:

For power consumption, mine makes no discernible blip in my power bill. Mine has two power modules. My whole hardware rig is on one 15 amp circuit to minimize ground loops. I never blow a breaker.

You were asking about costs…

The computer that runs the mixer died this morning. Just paid $2000 to replace the computer chassis and motherboard. Sad :frowning:

Yikes. Not fun at all.

Meh! My mixer is almost working again! I have power to the center section in the new facility! Yay.

Tomorrow and the next day I dig up the instruction manual and re-establish the Eucon link between the mainframe computer and the computer running ProTools.

**I did this to myself. :frowning: It’s a love-hate relationships with the maintenance on one of these.

Beautiful setup Jonathan! We had a D-command for about a year and had nothing but issues. Pro tools just hated us. We tried it on mac and windows just to be sure. It just wasn’t stable.

I’ve scaled down considerably these days and have had great results with a Midas M32. Perfect for what we do since most of it is ITB and we just use the Midas for the pre’s (which are killer) and the controller integration in our DAW. (Sonar Producer)

It’s funny, I was hawking an SSL which are quite affordable these days. I compared features…and though a Midas is a far cry from an SSL the options I needed were all there and still s great front end with the pre’s. I’ve never been a fan of SSL pre’s to be honest. Past studios I’ve worked in had them as well as when I went to school. I always thought they were just a bit harsh.

Anyway, glad you got your console up and running. It sure is incredible looking!

To answer the op, I doubt my console counts as “large” but it’s been a dream come true at a very affordable starting price that has allowed me to spend in other areas. So far it’s not cost me a dime in almost 3 years. (Thanks God and knocks wood)

Midas fan? If you know anyone who needs one of these…Pass them my contact info. I’ve had this thing sitting in a closet for years. I’ll cut them an amazing deal on it.

People are still furious about Avid dropping the support on those. It was a bad decision, and hurt a lot of users.

Be prepared for a lot of maintenance, a ridiculous power bill, a HVAC overhaul, and about $10,000 to install it. SLL K’s, G’s, and J’s, are not boards even a highly experienced audio engineer can install themselves. You must have a specialist. You need to hire a crew of about 3-5 people to assemble it over the course of 4-7 days lol.

Past studios I’ve worked in had them as well as when I went to school. I always thought they were just a bit harsh. [/quote]
I agree that the summing busses on the neves are a little more relaxed. And the API vision consoles are equally amazing, with a lot less shit going wrong than on a Neve. Both, I’d say, have more warmth, less aggression. And beyond SSL/Neve/API, your list of good consoles starts running real real thin. Channel dynamics would be non-negotiable. I don’t even see the point in buying a console that basically consists of a preamp and an EQ strip. Not for $40-$100k.