JH-618 quality?

In the late 70's, over half of the records in Billboard's Top 200 were recorded and/or mixed using MCI equipment.

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JH-618 quality?

Postby dlmorley » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:19 pm

Hi all
I am moving my studio and for the minute have a D&R Orion BUT have a JH-618 in storage. It used to be Kraftwerk's and that means a lot to me as I do electronic music
Here she is
Image
I am wondering wether now is the time to resurrect the MCI or not. I really like the D&R (LOADS of in/outs, clean, quiet etc) so my question is the following. What are your thoughts on the JH600 sonically. What I have heard, I like, but that is rather limited tbh as it was really just testing but I felt it was a fine desk then. It is clearly a decent sounding desk BUT It seems to be the ugly cousin of the MCI desks, but is this true?
Quite a few posts on the net mention that they can be muddy and lack some headroom.
I have some nice preamps and outboard, so it will be mainly for mixdown or monitoring rather but before I service it and install it, I should consider if it is worth the investment. I also have a siemens 12ch desk for extra channels on mixdown if need be, so 18 channels should be enough.
In any case good to be here
David
Belgium
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby mikethebike » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:05 am

Hi David,

I also have a MCI 600 series - a 632, but reduced down to a 24 channel format. I like the sound of the MCI, but had a fair amount of work to get it up to spec. I have had to recap all the modules with new 105 degree caps and change a few chips, so it is quite an investment in time and money and auxilliary equipment such as a decent vacuum de-soldering tool. Also, while I like the overall sound, the so called 'balanced' line amps (transformerless) suck as they start to roll off at about 17 to 18kHz because they go unstable above 20kHz. I replaced them with an EMI-designed TG line amp with Sowter transformers. You may also have to recap the PSUs depending on how old it is.

So was it worth it? - yes? Would I suggest you do it? - yes; (a) because you have a piece of history in that console and (b) because the sound is clean and classic. You could try refurbishing a couple of channels and see how you feel then.

Happy listening
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby dlmorley » Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:45 am

Thanks for that Mike!
I'll talk to my tech and see what he thinks about cost etc. It's also a certain amount of cost in wiring the Tuchels I guess, but 18 channels isn't the end of the world either!
Thanks again
David

mikethebike wrote:Hi David,

I also have a MCI 600 series - a 632, but reduced down to a 24 channel format. I like the sound of the MCI, but had a fair amount of work to get it up to spec. I have had to recap all the modules with new 105 degree caps and change a few chips, so it is quite an investment in time and money and auxilliary equipment such as a decent vacuum de-soldering tool. Also, while I like the overall sound, the so called 'balanced' line amps (transformerless) suck as they start to roll off at about 17 to 18kHz because they go unstable above 20kHz. I replaced them with an EMI-designed TG line amp with Sowter transformers. You may also have to recap the PSUs depending on how old it is.

So was it worth it? - yes? Would I suggest you do it? - yes; (a) because you have a piece of history in that console and (b) because the sound is clean and classic. You could try refurbishing a couple of channels and see how you feel then.

Happy listening
dlmorley
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby porkyc » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:42 pm

It's an early 600, a production model. (The prototype ones had the routing switches and electronics round the other way, the switches being on the module.) You've got 2 enhanced parametric EQs, (see modules 5 and 6). The metering would imply broadcast use initially. The wood has been painted grey; they didn't ship like that. (unless a pre-requisite for German Broadcast!)
It will have black dBx 202 VCAs in the automated fader packs. Does the automation still work? doubt it.

Usual stuff, re-cap the whole thing. I've done that and all the Schadow (now Toneluck) switches to a very similar age grey console in Glasgow (#015, I think).
There is a capacitor missing from the mic pre circuit. The gain pot should have a 1000uF@10v in series with it. The mic pre daughter card does not have it, neither does the module itself, but it's on the circuit diagram!
They didn't sound bad, not brilliant. It's not an API, I can assure you!
Basically, it's a 5534/5532 based console. Oh, and you'll have to change the IC sockets, they will be the red Aries ones and the contacts will have lost all their "spring" and now not contacting.
So if reliability is your target, there's an awful lot of work to do, unless somebody has already done it.
PC
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby dlmorley » Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:29 pm

porkyc wrote:It's an early 600, a production model. (The prototype ones had the routing switches and electronics round the other way, the switches being on the module.) You've got 2 enhanced parametric EQs, (see modules 5 and 6). The metering would imply broadcast use initially. The wood has been painted grey; they didn't ship like that. (unless a pre-requisite for German Broadcast!)
It will have black dBx 202 VCAs in the automated fader packs. Does the automation still work? doubt it.

Usual stuff, re-cap the whole thing. I've done that and all the Schadow (now Toneluck) switches to a very similar age grey console in Glasgow (#015, I think).
There is a capacitor missing from the mic pre circuit. The gain pot should have a 1000uF@10v in series with it. The mic pre daughter card does not have it, neither does the module itself, but it's on the circuit diagram!
They didn't sound bad, not brilliant. It's not an API, I can assure you!
Basically, it's a 5534/5532 based console. Oh, and you'll have to change the IC sockets, they will be the red Aries ones and the contacts will have lost all their "spring" and now not contacting.
So if reliability is your target, there's an awful lot of work to do, unless somebody has already done it.
PC


Thanks for that!
It was ordered by Kraftwerk in Grey to suit their studio. It certainly looks factory.
I looked at the VCA's and it has Gold can DBX 202C in there. I doubt the auto works but I will not be needing it!
My tech just e-mailed me and said he has done a 636 and finds them easy enough to work on. He said about the sockets and caps. Luckily he is very affordable for me, so I think it'll be manageable.
I may throw in a couple of John Hardy mic pre cards too.
As long as audio passes through I doubt I'll be bothered. I do Electronic music and sometimes Rock..
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby porkyc » Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:42 pm

Shows what I know!!!
The one I looked after at CaVa Studios in Glasgow had black 202s.
The gold ones are the best.
Best of luck with it. I'll find the 600 circuit and show you the cap that's missing.
PC
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby dlmorley » Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:39 am

porkyc wrote:Shows what I know!!!
The one I looked after at CaVa Studios in Glasgow had black 202s.
The gold ones are the best.
Best of luck with it. I'll find the 600 circuit and show you the cap that's missing.
PC


It's all helpful, so no problem!! Glad everyone chips in and your advice is great. Thx
Thx re the circuit info too.. I have the manual with schematics so will compare with those.
I'm just a bit frightened by the possible costs of getting it running, but I think it will be worth doing. It's been sitting still unused for 5 years with me.
Can I replace the VCA faders with standard ones?
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby porkyc » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:04 am

If you have gold VCAs, then there's no real need. The main problem replacing the faders is that everyone else's faders have the slider and the mounting holes in line. The MCI faders used Waters tracks in MCI metalwork and the slider/mounting holes has an offset. Plus the fact that some (certainly P&G) faders tend to be slightly wider than the MCI ones.
What Sony did later was to recut the slot to put it in line with the mounting holes, but did not change the screening, so it looked like crap!
The reason MCI made their own was because initially P&G did not think there was a need for VCA law faders, so they said No. So MCI had to make their own.

It might be worth buying 1 Alps 10K log fader to see if it can be fitted, but the graduations won't match. The other choice is to go with a higher value linear fader and cook the law yourself. If you're interested, I can send you a link about making your own pot laws. The VCA law is somewhere between log and linear.
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby mikethebike » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:25 pm

On the question of faders, I took out the MCI ones as I could hear the VCAs working and didn't want the automation anyway. I used some 10 P&G faders that I had from an old defunkt BBC soundcraft, but as PorkyC said, the metalwork doesn't match. So I put one in circuit and calibrated the travel, had some metalwork made up and they work fine - much better than the originals and carrying the audio directly. A non-trivial task, but again worth the effort in my book.

Something worth considering.

Mike
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Re: JH-618 quality?

Postby dlmorley » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:29 pm

Thanks for that info...I will wait and see if I install this or my D&R console..
Good info here though
David
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