Calrec Q versus S series

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Calrec Q versus S series

Postby stevland » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:14 pm

Sorry, the title is a bit of a misnomer, but sets the scene!

I have a Q1 series which needs some work, - a full recap to start with. I also have the chance of getting a S2 (which could be a more straightforward answer to my console needs).

My Q1 is more of a desk, - 24 buss + 8 stereo Groups, while the S2 has just the 8 stereo Groups.
The Q1 is 60 channel, while the S2 is 48 channel.
Q1 has 12 stereo comp/lims & 4 exp/gates while S2 has just 8 comp/lims.

The Q1 is old school, serviceable components while the S2 has surface mount (where I guess the increased repair costs with surface mount have to be set against the increased running time on lower voltage).

The S2 is still supported by Calrec (up until 2020), however ....

I'm wondering how the S2 compares sonically with the Q1? The bottom line is that I have no idea what (if any) advance the S series represented.

Any ideas, very gratefully received.

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Re: Calrec Q versus S series

Postby Matt Syson » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:05 am

Surface mount does not equate to lower voltage, it is simply the component package size, type and assembly technique of which SMT is readily done by machine.
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Re: Calrec Q versus S series

Postby GJC Designs » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:28 am

Sonically the Q and S/S2 should be very similar. Many of the blocks of circuitry are the same but they are just packaged differently into the modules. I worked on a large S2 console (reconfiguring and installation) that is installed in a music studio with a very happy owner.

Some types of Q modules will run very hot and this will lead to a requirement for re-capping. S and S2 consoles also need re-capping, but not as frequently. The longer life of caps in the S/S2 is due to a number of factors which include the space between the parts resulting from the use of surface mount components, the choice of particular ICs for their thermal performance (without compromising the audio), greater airflow through the modules & console frame.

The Q, with its small size modules and ribbon cable interconnect within the console frame lends itself to cusomisation but it is very involved and time-consuming, whereas the S/S2 with its one channel per module design is pretty-much fixed-facility. Having said that, Calrec thought-out the S/S2 with care and the range of modules and facilities designed for the S/S2 is staggering. Re-configuring an S/S2 console really is "electronic lego" when you have all the modules to hand..... make a desk larger, smaller, install compressors in the meter upstand, re-configure the metering.

There is an increase in reliability with the S/S2 as the number of inter-module connections is reduced: EDAC connectors are on the channel and master section backplanes and the modules plug directly into these backplanes. The majority of the console wiring is inter-backplane (comprises of short ribbon cables), power distribution and meter upstand wiring. The Q on the other hand..... well.... I'm sure you have seen what's under and behind the Q console.

As far as cost of repairs to SM assemblies is concerned, within my own workshop, there is no differentiation in costs for SM or through-hole work - the workshop rate is the same. The cost of SM parts is often less than conventional parts. The real differences are in the handling (tweezers instead of fingers) and tools (fine tip soldering iron, tweezers, magnifiers). Finally and most importantly skills of finesse are a pre-requisite for SM work. With the correct tools and skills, recapping a surface mount module is quicker than a comparable through-hole module.
There is a lot of negative writing about the use of SM parts in high-end audio and a large proportion of it is NOT based on fact, knowledge or experience.

There was a multitrack system available as an option for the S/S2 consoles - it sounds like the desk that is on offer does not have this fitted.
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Re: Calrec Q versus S series

Postby stevland » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:38 am

I just logged in after the festive season and found this very informative post. Thanks for this useful information Gareth.

This S2 has routing via a 16 channel multi-track (and I'll look forward to working that one out) as well as 8 stereo groups, so it will lend itself quite well to music recording. I received it on the weekend and its outer frame has been mislaid (hard to believe I know)! Therefore I shan't be switching it on just yet. It has come with XLR patch bay too, - very nicely soldered, ...but huge!!!

The Q certainly has a lot of wiring in and around the chassis. It in the process of being recapped and so far has 12 full channels ready to be worked!

Thanks again,
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