Sound Sculpture Switchblade vs DMC System Mix Plus

Discussion in 'The Rack Space' started by guitarplayer1, Dec 3, 2017.


  1. MarcoR

    MarcoR Supporting Member

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    Loaded question? Optimal in, plenty of green and little or no red except hard peaks on a clean signal, standard audio rule, no? Out? well you got me.. Not attenuating the life out of the processor? maintaining unity gain? At the very least, keeping signals fairly consistent means less surprises of the damaging variety.
     
  2. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    Ok.... generally yes but it's not enough...
    where do you keep the input level knob?
    For output levels... you have to consider that those 6 delay lines, if all of them are used, will put out a lot more signal than a single one.
    That's ONE of the reasons why I much prefer a desktop line level mixer with input LEDs so that I can see what's the output level of any machine at any time.
     
  3. MarcoR

    MarcoR Supporting Member

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    On the PCM80? It's happy at around 10:00 to 11:00.

    Sadly, I need to use the WinBlade software to see the output levels on a device but very useful in more complex routings.
     
  4. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    The PCM input knob at 12 o'clock is unity gain. If you *have* to keep it lower it means you have a quite hot signal there.
    It's from the preamp?
    Any gain added by the SwitchBlade?
     
  5. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    Oh... and I assume the PCM80 is running on +4dB as per system setting and the rear panel input switch is NOT pressed.
     
  6. MarcoR

    MarcoR Supporting Member

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    Correct.
     
  7. ctreitzell

    ctreitzell Member

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    Babs, you don’t like computers? How do you post here? Does TGP have a fax or snail mail service? :rimshot
     
  8. max_1975

    max_1975 Member

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    In their website (http://www.soundsculpture.com/history) they say (about the Studio version) "The Studio Switchblade was discontinued in 2003 and will be replaced with a high level version of the GL before the end of the year". I don't know if the phrase "at the end of the year" means "at the end of THIS year (2017)".
     
  9. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    Yep--- I know about that.
    I used to work with an old studio model at EvT. THAT was a pleasure to use.
    But see... with all these pedals mania now, they may have just considered not worth upgrading the SwBl to real line level work:
    As you can see... people still buy it and have no idea about its specs.
     
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  10. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    Ideally, all gear should use the same standard and the one with max headroom. So all pedals and amps should also be redesigned to run at line level. And they should use balanced circuits. And they should use military connectors not 1/4 inch plugs.

    But studio engineers have been mixing line level and non-line level gear in the studio for decades and the world hasn’t come to an end. There are tools and techniques to deal with it. And sometimes using gear with a lower dynamic range isn’t a bad thing - just less compression that need be applied at the mixing stage :)

    I’ve used switchblades for a decade, and never found that the extra (line level) headroom is needed for my guitar rigs. I am not mixing a Steinway grand mic’d with 130v DPA condensers through it. I am going through dirt pedals and tube preamps, then sending it out through tube power amps and guitar cabs with limited dynamic and frequency response, mixed into a PA by a sound guy I met at load-in - the headroom of the Switchblade is not the part of my chain that’s causing noise, limiting the dynamic range or S/N ratio of my rig, or otherwise adversely affecting the tone heard onstage or in the audience.

    But for a rig that cannot be run at below line level or where the decreased dynamic range is a practical issue, the current Switchblades would not be ideal.

     
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  11. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    Engineers in a studio run consoles that cost hundreds of thousands.
    These mixing board use much hotter line levels than +4dB. And I mean dozens of dBs higher than what "we" consider professional line levels (+4dBu).
    A good mixer has a way to accomodate any type of signal, from the weakest microphone to the hottest device, because each channel has an input trimming pot and procedure.
    So, you can boost a weak signal A LOT and have it running in the same "playground" as other true line levels signals (which are not so boosted or at all). That's simple.
    And you can lower an output of a a very hot signal, staying fit with the lower ones.
    All of this works without noise issues.
    The only cheap alternative is a desktop mixer which offers similar ways to handle any signal. My Mackie inputs trimmers have a range of 60 dB (!!!), accomodating anything with an output between -45 dB to + 15 dB.
    Imagine those big desks!
    A mixer also has good ways to make balanced and unbalanced levels to work together.
    And last ... but not least... something I never mention... it has a MONO ouput with dedicated master level for those sorry folks who run rigs in mono.
    I'm not even mentioning the routings, direct outs, busses and what not.
    Unfortunately so far nobody has made anything in vertical rack format that can be minimally compared to what even cheap desktop mixers can easily do.
    The idea that a single rack space is IT for such tasks is just unrealistic. In two spaces one could build something decent, with proper power and routing possibilities, not so many channels... but the real good stuff to handle signal properly.

    Signals depend on what people use. A hot guitar preamp IS capable of sending out a LOT of dBs! TENs of dBs.
    Some effects processors can put out +20dB without any clipping on their side. I would much prefer to not touch the master output of such devices, and handle their signals on the mixer 'cuz it won't mess with their conversion quality and signal/noise ratios. Yes... I can include my TimeLine and all my original 1980s TC black pedals and process line levels signals in my rig very easily, IF I had a reason for that. The other stuff I have... makes this a bit cumbersome.
    So THE mixer is the thing when it comes to the best possible way to handle any kind of signal.
    What takes people away from desktop mixers are two points. First is that most people are totally in the dark about these matters and the possibilities of these devices. Second is the physical factor; even though many of them can be rackmounted, they would use a lot of vertical spaces. It's easier using a racked drawer (as I do) and have your mixer there. It just takes a little getting used to.
    Of course this is something that makes sense when quite elaborate rigs need to be managed, where routings and what not are very important.
    Given the great power many modern processors offer and the probability one doesn't need the whole universe in his rig, I'd say a couple or a single super_powerful modern boxes are all most people need... which makes the SwitchBlade a bit off the scene. It was created in a time when rigs where much larger for obvious technology limitations. The unit might be updated to more modern standards...
    The OP could easily find peace in a Samson line mixer, one rack space, two stereo Aux Sends, true line level unit... and live very happy, saving a lot of money too. Nobody really needs a MIDI programmable router with a single efx processor.
     
  12. Anje

    Anje Supporting Member

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    As discussed above and in other topics in the past, the input level limitation of the current Switchblade rack units is the main downside of those otherwise great pieces of gear.
    I really wish Ken and the team would come up with the "high level version of the GL" as it was announced on their website years ago, but it does not sound like it will be in any near future as Ken confirmed me again last sept that it is "ways down the road with no accurate time frame" on their priority list.

    I still love my GL to manage my 10U effect rack rig as I haven't found any 1U mixer contender able to offer the flexible routing w/ continuous MIDI control + full balanced connections (able to interface w/ unbalanced) + switcher functionality (w/ the smart insert feature); yet it requires very meticulous level setting & matching of all the units + significant output attenuation of most of the bigger rack units (esp. 2U Eventide & Lexicon) on top of using the internal 6dB input pads of the GL in order not to clip its inputs too much.
    That is making some compromise on the pure tone/sound department in favor of the mixer features & functionalities.
     
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  13. MarcoR

    MarcoR Supporting Member

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    I'm totally with you... My rig sounds great, quiet as can be and I have no reason to change anything but... I wish the 8F was balanced and I've wanted to switch to the 8B or GL yet those can't handle the input level the 8F can. I'm still not convinced this would be a limiting factor in my rig. I'll send Ken an email and ask the question.

    Well... consider that it serves as a splitter, a mixer, you can change the order of fx, route it any way you want on a preset level and control it via midi... it's a powerful tool and one of the best investments that I've made.

    The Two Delays thing you wrote about, I'm excited to try some of the cross fade ideas with the Switchblade, it can do it (just need to be extra careful). I'm nowhere near as complex but I like to send the output of an effect anywhere I want, mixed how I want and get it with a click on my midi controller (my hands will be busy).

    At the moment, I'm only using the PCM80 and Eclipse but some other processors get connected at times. With just those two, 5 ins and 6 outs are used including the preamp in and stereo outputs. The remaining outs are handy to send a dry direct signal to my recording interface and a mono sum of everything to whatever needs that. Considering the size, that's a useful piece of gear.
     
  14. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    I know, Marco.
    I know the SwitchBlade very well. My first experience with them was in the mid '90s. Then later in the 2000s, using two of them.
    They are fine pieces of gear, perfectly fitting people needs for "repertoire" based music. If you want to improvise with sounds... it gets tough as it's "too preset". That's its weak point for me... and the non line levels issue.
    On another hand... I have created an analog and digital SwBlade on the Orville and H8000, running at kickin' ass levels, with all those features the original one has and a lot more.
    My opinion is that the SwBl should live on BUT it requires a major upgrade to current high levels signals.
    It's just not right a 2000$ programmable jewel handles signals lower than most 4/500$ pedals put out today. It's embarassing.
    It doesn't take rocket science to make it right, so that it perfectly fits ANY user with ANY type of gear. It's so close to automatic routing perfection as it's far in levels handling.
    Just make that extra mile and it'll be game over!
     
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  15. max_1975

    max_1975 Member

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    For my purposes, I found the solution of the issues you mentioned using the Metric Halo ULN-8. It has plenty of headroom, Line+MIC+Digital inputs, and the fantastic software MIO Console that permits me to use it and configure it in any way I want. What you lose is the fact that everything is converted to digital (but to my ears the conversion is absolutely transparent) and if you need a tactile experience, you need an external controller.
     
  16. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

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    They did good stuff.
    The problem is when you translate audio to digital. There you have a 0dB you can't pass. In analog it's different.
    But having +4dBu nominal lines on the inputs is good as you can squeeze a lot more juice from the machines than lower headroom devices can possibly allow for.
     
  17. markiv2290

    markiv2290 Member

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    I have a Switchblade 8B, and have been thinking of asking Ken if some midi-based editing control could be added through a software update (unless that can be done already?). I could see myslef patching some assignable knobs on the keyboard I just got in the mail, to be able to modify levels and routing by midi CC or something in lieu of through the front panel or software. That could be very handy IMHO.
     
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  18. MarcoR

    MarcoR Supporting Member

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    @guitarplayer1, I'll assume the Switchblade didn't work out for you being I'm buying yours, lol. Was it just overkill for your needs? What did you end up going with?
     
  19. guitarplayer1

    guitarplayer1 Supporting Member

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    Ha .. yes I ended up sticking to my system mix plus as I wasn't using any pedals in the rig and it was just overkill. I jumped the gun and got one and while it was on it's way to me I decided it made little sense for my rig ... so I never actually even used it. Let us know how it works out for you .... who knows maybe in the future I'll try one.
     
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  20. JmpOne

    JmpOne Member

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    I entirely get you were setting up the next paragraph with this one, and the following stuff was your actu
     

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