Allen and Heath Zed R16 working with Ardour on Linux

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allank
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I picked up a Zed R16 firewire mixer last week, and am very happy to say that it works with Ardour 3..

All that is required is to have the latest ffado library 2.2.1 (no need for GIT releases)

I've only done basic testing, but in 44.1k the 16 mono inputs are all exposed, plus a digital master , plus one of the ADAT ports.

MIDI output from the desk is also exposed..

Latency appears to be excellent with recording of 16 tracks tested (no plugins running at this stage) at 64 periods with no xruns (of course this will be system dependant)....

With Ardour's anywhere to anywhere routing and the mixers flexible digital routing, I'm looking forward to having 16 analog parametric eq's to use and am also keen to see how it performs as a summing mixer...

veda_sticks
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Allen and Heath have mixed opinions on alot of there anologue consoles. some refer to them as allan & Grief. Howver my local studio just got one of these . they were using a control surface previous and a couple of behringer desks for preamps.

Its great this is reported to work.

Not slagging Allen & heath they have some great desks.

jrigg
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@allank: Good to hear.

Having used and maintained quite a few A&H mixers in the past I consider them good value for money.

seablade
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@veda_sticks

Depends, and can depend on where exactly you are. For instance in the US I have seen more problems than in the UK resulting from loose ribbon cables etc. But still not a huge amount. I have had one power supply fail on me over the years on one of their smaller consoles (A 40 channel GL2400 IIRC) but overall good results, I have had at least as many problems with old Midas desks before the Behringer takeover as well as an example.

I also get GREAT support from my local A&H rep where I am, so I will take that easily myself:)

Seablade

jrigg
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It's worth remembering that the use of ribbon cables is pretty standard across many manufacturers, so A&H aren't the only mixers to occasionally suffer from loose ribbons. When I worked full time as a touring FOH engineer I used everything from Midas XL and Heritage series down to consumer grade toys that had no business being in a pro music venue. A well maintained Allen & Heath was never a problem.

The last A&H I owned myself was the little 24 channel GL2400 I had in my home studio. That was a good-sounding, reliable mixer and once I'd built a silent external PSU for it, it was quite suitable for studio use. I'd still have it if I wasn't mixing recordings ITB now and wasn't so short of space.

veda_sticks
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ive never understood why they got that reputation with some people. My only complaint was the signal leds on the channels being on the "wrong side" compoared to other desks i was more used to.

other than that they works as should, only when not looked after did i have any problems.

seablade
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As I said, it can vary depending on where you are. I see more problems in the US than I hear about in the UK, but they tend to be easily rectifiable problems for the most part, a loose ribbon cable, a jrigg mentioned, is nothing to most FoH techs worth their salt. Crossed ribbon cables can be slightly more problematic, but usually not much so (And I have seen this on consoles delivered from the factory). Blowing a power supply is a bit more problematic still, but that is why even their GL series had the option for redundant power supplies, and why most consoles that tour have at least one redundant power supply, it is typically the part of the console most vulnerable to failure that will kill an entire show.

And all these problems I have seen on a wide range of other consoles as well, so don't get me wrong, overall I am perfectly happy with A&H, then again I currently am responsible for five A&H consoles (Two iLives, Two GLDs, and one GL) amongst other consoles from Crest, Yamaha, etc.

Seablade

allank
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Value for money is definitely the call on this model (although it's the most expensive mixer I've owned)... 18 firewire i/o at 44.1k and 48k (26 if you count the ADAT port) or 16 i/o at 88.2 or 96k (although I'm yet to really see a benefit of those bit rates as opposed to using 32 bit float) Plus 16 channels of with high and low shelf plus 2 parametric eq's...

It was a toss up between this and the Mackie Onyx 1640i... but the firewire routing options combined with my preference for the A&H EQ lead me to this... I was comfortable taking the slight risk of it not being officially supported due to the ADAT i/o but there had already been a thread on the ffado ML about someone else having success...

Unfortunately it doesn't work at the same time as my Focusrite Saffire pro 10io.... (maybe at much higher period settings - I only tried as high as 256, but I'm not prepared to go higher than that in real situations) but the workflow I wanted that for (hardware based FX inserts on channels/busses) can be worked around with a few insert cables going into my patchbay. Probably works with another DICE chipset firewire device one of the newer saffires, but really if I need more i/o I'll pick up an ADAT i/o box like a Behringer.

veda_sticks
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Ive been more than happy with the I live whenever i have used it, great console. though i did have it crash on me once during sound check several times, then during the show aswell. Im guessing it didnt have the latest firmware at the time i had it hired in for a show. Despite that it didnt stop the show obviously as the desk crashing isnt a show stopper. Give me an allen and heath i live any day! Even the GLD. Keep the ls9 away

Ive used the onyx desk live while recording onto a mac. worked great though i never delved too much into its routing options as jjust need to recorded 8 channels.

seablade
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If you iLive was crashing like that I would seriously suspect it. Not even just a 'not latest firmware' but probably more dangerous is the console firmware and stagebox not matching. If a console surface crashed on me like that, especially multiple times I wouldn't trust it till it was fixed and try to find a replacement for the event personally if I could (Note you can't always).

All that being said, obviously never had that problem with my iLives.

Seablade

allank
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Was interested in the QU-16 (even though it's primarily a live desk)... it did pretty much everything I wanted, with superior DAW control and smaller footprint to the Zed (and I probably could have ditched alot all my hardware compressors and effects units) but it only runs at 48k and my sampler/sequencer (MPC 2500) runs at 44.1k so it would have caused no end of pain when exporting out and importing back in.. Supposedly runs class compliant USB but from what I asked of the local A&H rep, sample rate couldn't be changed.

jrigg
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"the desk crashing isnt a show stopper"

You obviously work on more fault-tolerant shows than I do ;-)

As seablade said, this is serious. It's only recently that I've felt able to trust any digital mixer in a live situation, as when they develop a fault they're more likely to lose everything, rather than just a channel or two as is often the case with analogue.

jrigg
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@allank: The Zed R16 looks a real bargain. I'd seriously consider one of these myself if I was in the market for a new project studio mixer.

veda_sticks
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I only ever had it happen to me on that 1 particular console and stagebox which was hired in for a farmers birthday party, any other time i had used the i live it was rock solid. That desk i had aswell had an EQ issue where the freuqyency markers on the controlls didnt match the frequency it was actualy centred at you would take a chunk out at say 6khz and it was actualy centering at 2k which is why i was thinking a firmware issue.

Even recent digital mixers can have issues they are ofcoarse computers.

anyway, the zed R16 really looks like a great compact solution for multitrack recording into a DAW that can also serve as a live mixing desk for multitrack recording. Good price aswell.

what are the preamps like on the desk?

seablade
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That desk i had aswell had an EQ issue where the freuqyency markers on the controlls didnt match the frequency it was actualy centred at you would take a chunk out at say 6khz and it was actualy centering at 2k which is why i was thinking a firmware issue.

That isn't an issue, that is a configurable feature. The default is that EQ bands are limited in the frequency range they can sweep, and then match the markings on the controls. However on any semi-recent firmware you can tell it you want the bands to span the entire frequency range instead (20Hz-20kHz) and then they obviously won't match the controls, this is what it sounds like it was set to for the EQs in your case.

I generally run like that on the output EQs, but the input EQs I keep limited as I rarely need more flexibility than they provide and it makes it easier for others to step up to the desk if I am not the one mixing.

Seablade

anahata
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See the S-O-S review for a mention of the preamps.
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov08/articles/allenandheathzedr16.htm

Pretty good, it seems.

allank
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I generally only use the line inputs, so I can't talk too much to the pre-amps.. Needless to say they will be good enough for the odd vocal sample I may occasionally record and then distort the crap out of, so you can't tell it's my voice!!
Still trying to work out my ideal workflow with this.. There are so many options.. Very tempted to use it as a summing mixer but would have to "pre" record things like parallel compression so I don't need busses... or do I just sum the busses in the analog realm... (tough decisions)

jrigg
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"I generally only use the line inputs, so I can't talk too much to the pre-amps.."

I don't know about this specific model, but other A&H mixers in this price range use a pad in front of the mic preamp for the line-level inputs -- you may be using the preamps without realising it.