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Author Topic: Some Harrison S12 advice
Posts: 2
Post Some Harrison S12 advice
on: October 16, 2017, 14:02

Hi guys,

glad to be here and many thx for allowing me signing up ;) 8-)

My name is Carlo,from Italy...

I'm here to ask you people some good advice, as I'm considering to buy a "new" console for my upcoming studio which I'm building from the ground up; between one thing and another I'd like to steal some good deal, whenever one happens. In these days I could have the opportunity to assess a bunch of real good epic consoles at affordably prices,here are the following:

1)Neve V3 48 Ch,year 1988 (which I checked personally here in Italy), in a real good condition and cosmetic shape, bidding for 20.000$ circa, modified to be powered on in sections of 12 channels,in order to use only those channels needed for the session(current saving). Everything seems to be working,except for some pots and switches scratching due to the usual accumulated dust and moisture,but the console was operational until august/september. Obviously could not verified all the capacitors,seller told me the recapping was made 13 years ago,maybe a little too much for this pretentious and heating desk!

2)Harrison Series 10 - 56 Ch, year 1985, bidding for 11.800$ which I cannot gauge as it's placed in Germany,but the seller claim to be in great working condition. I only can see photos and read all the details along wiht it(I'm trying to get in contact and ask further infos);

3)Harrison Series 12 - 60 line Inputs -40 faders- 24 Busses -5.1 surround- Pec Direct Panel (which I don't mean what it is) - Mac with NuBus card- Surround motorised Joystick - Film Monitor Panel (guess I should use a separate monitor controller?),year 1996, bidding for 14.200$; cannot check it as it's placed in Dublin,but one more time the vendor claim to be "Very Good",though I'm asking further infos as well.

4)Otari Concept Elite+ designed by Saul Walker(API) - 36 Ch - Computer Recall+ Master Compressor - "Good general conditions,recapped,tested and working",as referred by the seller statement. No other information at the moment; it's placed in Spain.

I know the Harrison S12 has no Pre's onboard but it would be very straightforward for me,as I'm mostly involved in mixing and mastering service and I have separate Mic Pre's to use eventually for tracking time. I was honestly taking into account the Neve but I'm very surprised by the positive feedback of a largest community talking about the Harrison S12. It would be very handy for me having the automation and total recall as I would like to push the mixes out of the box and not just using it as a simple summing amp(rather I would go for a 16x2 box).

What do you guys suggest me?

What are the Pros and Cons of choosing the Harrison 10/12? What can you tell me about the overall sound,eq's and dynamics? I only knew the 32c series,never had the chance to sit behind one of these series desk; would you consider the other options or not? How much current does it suck(average)? Do Do you know its weight?

Lookng forward to receiving your response,and thank you for all your support!

Warmest regards,

Carlo ;)

Posts: 54
Post Re: Some Harrison S12 advice
on: October 16, 2017, 14:58

Hi Carlo and welcome here ! :)

Here's my 2 cents on your questions :

- Neve V3 : well, it's a Neve so it should sound nevish right ? :) So probably a nice analog console, but no "real" automation or total recall. And yes, these get very hot, you'd need aircon right above it if you don't want problems. Also be prepared for a possible recap on that one, which might be a real nightmare (this is a neve, so it's probably nowhere near an SSL4k for ease of maintenance !). However, being a Neve, you're probably going to find some tech person in Italy able to do the maintenance.

- Series 10 : known for their great sound, but unfortunately also for being needy on maintenance. And good luck finding some tech person knowing them... Also, it's a full digitally controlled analog console, so total recall takes just a few seconds. However, the analog channels are in the desk itself (which is not the same with series 12, see below), so it probably needs aircon above it like the neve. If it hasn't been recapped in the last 15 years, you're probably going to have to do it.

- Otari : I have never used this console. All I know is that it is probably pretty rare now, and that some friends had a Status model that was such a mess to understand and maintain that they ended up replacing it by something else. I would also expect it to maybe have a little lower sound quality than the other 3 ? I guess it's also risky on the maintenance side as very few people know these well ?

- Series 12 : well, as you can guess owning one I'm a bit biased here ;) . So here the analog channels, the monitoring system and the power supplies are in separate racks (the "console" is really only a remote controller), so you can have all that's noisy and needing aircon in a separate tech booth, along with computers and so on. It also means that remote controllers could be ordered any way you wanted them to be, and the modular nature of them makes it possible to somehow modify them. Provided the ribbons connecting the controls panels to the chassis's backplane are long enough (and it's pretty easy to do some new ones), you can change their position.

And of course you get "real" total recall (takes like 1 second for the console to recall a saved snapshot) and full automation, and I mean FULL automation. Everything is automatable. But it isn't your usual DAW automation though, so don't expect to have graphics showing automation, it's all old school way of working (select what parameter on which channel you wish to record some movement, play the tape around the section you want, do you thing, stop, etc.).

Not being from the old school generation, I found that I seldom use the automation.

However the total recall alone is worth everything !

Re: how it sound's : I like to think about it as a really clever cousin to a SSL 4k. I think it has less of a "sound" than the old 32C, but it still sounds really analogish and creamy. The EQ is very usable, and the Expander/Gate/Compressor is pretty close to what the VCA comps on a 4k can do, so good on catching quick transients, but not so good on slow stuff like bass or vocals.

Re : maintenance : as you only have remote controllers on the desk, it doesn't have the usual cracking pots that normal analog desks have. I've personally not have any major problem here, the only important one being when the old CRT touchscreen died. I got the tactile glass out of it and put it on a philips flat screen and it's still working well. So it ended up cheap, but if I hadn't been keen on DIY there, it would have cost me several thousands to buy a refurbished one to Harrison. Which means that yes, Harrison still has some parts for these. But they ain't cheap... :P

Then as the one you're being offered is from 1996, it probably needs a recapping of the electrolytic condensers. I did this on mine a few years ago, and I found that it was really time to do it. We're talking about around 60 caps per channel, so be prepared for several thousands of caps to change ! :P

Re: the S12 you are proposed : it's a cinema version, so it has a specific cinema monitoring section, with Pec/direct monitoring style (which allows switching between tape and bus. See here how Ben Loftis from Harrison explains it : ), but none of the usual features you'd find on a music console (monitoring level is fixed for example), so you would have to use a separate monitor controller.

So to conclude I would say if you think total recall and automation will help you to work better, then the S12 is the best options between the ones you are talking about. I would add that Euphonix CS3000s can be found for good money too, and they are pretty close to the Harrison S12 sound wise. But I would prefer a Harrison, of course ! ;)

Cheers, and hope this helps !

Posts: 2
Post Re: Some Harrison S12 advice
on: October 16, 2017, 22:41

Hey Maikol,that's very impressive!

You drawn the best of your knowledge and Know-How while unveiling the beautiful worlds behind these beasts!
I don't have enough words to say to Thank You for the useful advices!!
I'm still sticking with Neve beacuse of it's great sound and headroom,but I know very well the bad idiosyncrasies behind it,concerning the fast capaciotors wear and heat production,making it necessary continuous AirCon to balance the circuitry temperature! And the bill... It's a pain in the ass!!
However I'm still taking some decision and valueing all the pros and cons about these two,but I'm very interested in your desk ;)
I'll keep you updated!

Cheers and regards,

P.S. I'm not too scary of the recapping procedure as I would be able to perform by my own,rather than doing all of those channels!!!

Posts: 47
Post Re: Some Harrison S12 advice
on: October 19, 2017, 15:00

I agree w M!

After my soon 10 yrs w the S12 I have to say there hasn't been one client (except older engineers) that has been impressed by total recall. With all ITB mixing today everybody expect endless quick fixes of mixes.

The guys I know with the iconic desks with no automation or only fader automation, say that things very often get complicated these days. Not even the producers come to the studio. Mixes are printed and emailed. Producers, artists, musicians A & Rs don't respond fast and you can't do anything while waiting. Very frustrating and time consuming

So if I had to choose another setup today I would go hybrid and have five or six Avid 16i/o interfaces with the ins/outs hardwired to outboard for fast/easy insert. All outboard would have to be easily recalled, to be able to switch between projects within 15-20 minutes. Eq's with stepped pots I guess. For outboard compressors I've more or less found a sweet spot and control the amount of GR by amount of gain out of the DAW. I would get some kind of ergonomic DAW controller too.

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