Getting your head around a new console, especially one that has custom features can be a challenge. I recently sat in on a session in a room that had a Neve 8078 console that had been completely refurbished and hot rodded. This one can operate as an inline or split desk and the rear bus is purposed as a second stereo bus. It also had other custom features that are purposed on existing switches. For instance, the Direct button sends the 100mm fader to the multitrack buses much like the Float button on an SSL 4000 series console. Lots to remember!
When trying to get up to speed, the perfect scenario is to watch someone who is an expert operate the desk in session who is welcome to questions, which was the case with me. But what if you are thrown into the deep end by yourself? You would expect the studio to have an able assistant who can help but you still need to have your questions ready so you can get up and running quickly.
For starters, I find myself gravitating towards the basics first then more advanced controls. For instance, knowing how to switch between recording and mixing workflows is something you’ll need to know, but where are the buttons? Are the controls global, per channel or both? Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 essential console features you’ll need to know when working on a new desk.
Control Room Volume
Source Fader Control and Flip (if available)
Global Controls (flip, mute and solo clear, grouped solo safe etc)
Multitrack Bus Pan
Aux Send Masters
This is just a start but should get you through a session. Like anything else, say learning to drive a car, you feel clunky at first but soon get used to the controls. Knowing where the controls for the ten functions above reside should get you on your way to Ninja status on a new desk.
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