Analog = Cables…mixing outside the ‘Box’

Well, it’s been a while since my last post, and mostly, it’s been because I’ve been struggling with the old necessity of analog that I had conveniently forgotten: You have to wire the whole damn thing up. I say struggle, because, whoa man, cables and copper ain’t cheap. I know this, my day gig is in telecom and I have seen the ebb and flow (though, more flow…) of copper prices and the impact to cabling. My struggle is, of course, when it’s coming out of my own shallow pockets, and the cost of cables are more then the cheap, vintage, hand-me-down gear that I have gotten for my little audio experiment.

I had gotten my two, Original ADATs for $50 CAD. Nylon fibre TOSLink cables are cheap enough, but to enjoy the 8 in X 8 out times 2 – ADATs, that’s 32 wires, when an 8 channel snake costs between $25 – $80, depending on length. So if I want them in my rack, under the old iMac, it’s going cost me a fortune. Though I hesitate, because these are old bird devices that will need a lot of cleaning and constant attention, so pulling them out and putting them back into the rack feels like the future of running anything out of the ADATs. I guess, it’s part of my goofy experiment. Plus, I want to take advantage of the Mackie 24-8, not as a mixing wonder-box with it’s fabulous EQ or bus ribbon problems *eye roll*, but because it does offer some routing options, out of the box.

I also have two Alesis 3630 compressors (no, I’m not an Alesis fanboy, they were cheap and I liked using them back in Audio School on drums!), with 2 channels X two units, so that’s 4 ins, 4 outs, and 4 sidechain (though those use insert cables), so at a minimum without keying I’ll need an 8 channel snake (then save up for the 4 insert cables). Marry all of this with my Digidesign 003 and it’s own 8 X 8 (I feel the Alt and Aux’s are a bit deceiving), I will need a grand total of:

  • 16 ADAT channels
  • 4 fibre cables (though the 003 only has 1 ADAT in, 1 ADAT out)
  • 16 Digi003 cables
  • 8 cables for the compressors
  • any other outboard gear AKA goofy ideas??

Feels like a lot. To be honest, I didn’t consider the wiring nightmare of cheap, vintage, used gear until I was holding said gear in my hands and when I looked at the back went “Oh…right…” I have been so spoiled with VST’s / AAX’s and virtual instruments, grumbling when they go on sale that they still cost as much if not more in total than the DAW. That said, I feel like the cost of the wires has been worked out on the cost of the plugins, and manufacturers know this.

Til next time!

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