|About ORAM Professional Audio Trident 8T-8|
|Russ Long, a Nashville-based producer/engineer, owner of the Carport recording studio for Pro Audio Review
Since PARís positive review of the Trident 8T-16 analog console in the April 2007 issue, I anxiously awaited a chance to review the smaller version: the eight-channel Trident 8T-8. After the AES show, in which the board garnered two magazine awards, my zeal to review it increased even more.
In addition to the eight-channel version examined here, the made-in-England Oram 8T series Trident console is available in 16-, 24- and 32-channel configurations.
Each configuration features an optional meter bridge that includes 12-segment LED metering with peak hold capability on every channel, as well as metering on all 8-sub groups and the master L/R output. The meter bridge is user-installable, so it can easily be added at a later date.
The 8T-8 console is also available in an eight-channel rack-mount version called the Series 8T-8 Rack, allowing the desk to be mounted in a standard 19-inch equipment rack.
The consoleís input modules include individual mic/line gain control and the ability to mix mic/line signals together within the input module. This is a useful feature that I rarely encounter, even on expensive desks. Additionally, the mic inputs are capable of handling line level inputs. The mic amps provide +70 dB of gain (input to group output) and the line inputs provide +25 dB. The mic and line inputs are capable of handling inputs levels up to +22 dBu.
When the Unity switch is activated, the mic input becomes a unity gain balanced line input. The microphone input impedance is >1.2 kilohms, electronically balanced and the line and tape inputs are >10 kilohms, electronically balanced. The microphone input has a frequency response of 20 Hz - 20 kHz within 1 dB, -3 dB@ 45 kHz and the line inputís response is 20 Hz Ė 20 kHz within 1 dB, -3 dB@ 45 kHz.
The desk has numerous inputs and outputs, which are all balanced, except for the channel insert points. The I/O includes line inputs, tape inputs, channel direct outputs, channel insert points (on a single TRS jack with the tip acting as the send and the ring acting as the return), L/R output, main speaker output, nearfield speaker output, aux master outputs, track buss outputs, two-track returns, talkback mic input and talkback output. The microphone inputs are XLR, and the rest of the I/O is 1/4-inch TRS. The maximum gain of the balanced outputs is +28 dBu, and for the unbalanced it is +22 dBu. The output impedance of all outputs is <100 ohms, electronically balanced.
Each channel has a Flip switch that swaps the live inputs on the faders with the tape inputs on the pots. This allows the console to quickly be switched between record and mix modes. In addition to the stereo buss, each channel can be assigned to any of the four buss pairs. The pan control determines odd or even buss assignment. Each buss has an output control and buss solo button.
The EQ section of the 8T is based on the original Trident Series 80 Mk 2 design. The EQ includes a high-shelf (+/-15 dB) set to either 8 kHz or 12 kHz, high-mid level control (+/- 15 dB) sweepable from 1 kHz to 15 kHz, low-mid level control (+/- 15dB) sweepable from 100 Hz to 1.5 kHz, and a low-shelf (+/- 15dB) set to either 60 Hz or 120 Hz. The EQ section also includes a 50 Hz low-cut filter.
Stereo buss metering is provided via two classic, backlit VU meters, which are set to 0 VU at +4 dBu. A -10 dB attenuator is provided to simplify the monitoring of high-level digital signals. These meters can alternatively be assigned to monitor the two-track returns or the busses.
Each channel strip includes a Solo Engage button and an aux buss section. There are eight auxes in total, and each channel has just three sends (the latter aspect, I assume, is one way of keeping the deskís price down). A switch determines if the first two sends are set to Aux 1 and 3, or Aux 2 and 4. The third aux is a stereo send that is set to Aux pairs 5/6 or 7/8 and can be configured as pre- or post-fader. Also located on each channel are signal-present and peak LEDs ó a necessity if you are using the console without the meter bridge.
There are output controls provided for the monitor section, track busses, solo, talkback section and headphone amp. The 8T features first-rate specs, including a flat top end that goes well past 20 kHz (and down only 3 dB at 45 kHz). This, coupled with its extremely low noise from input to output, makes the 8T a perfect compliment to high-resolution recording.
Also, having been able to work with the optional meter bridge, I feel I should mention it is indispensable if you are working with all the tracks and subgroups.
In Use After much use of the Trident Series 8T over the past two months, Iíve concluded that the board simply sounds good. The preamps are quiet and punchy. Iíve used them on kick, snare, toms, overheads, hi-hat, vocals, plus bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitar; and in every instance they sounded quite good. The bottom end is punchy and tight, while the top end is smooth and warm (unlike many lower-priced consoles that tend to get harsh and brittle with higher-frequency signal). The EQ is extremely smooth; the top end opens up when boosted without getting the least bit edgy or piercing.
In addition to a fine recording console, the 8T is an obvious choice for DAW summing, which it also does quite well. I split a Pro Tools mix through three stereo pairs and two mono channels (1-2: kit, 3: bass, 4: vox, 5-6: band, 7-8: backing vocals and effects) and was surprised at the nice analog coloring I was able to attain with the Trident console.
The Trident 8T, coupled with the optional meter bridge and classy wood trim, is a mighty impressive looking little desk, easily upping the ante both visually and sonically of most project studios. The single rack space power supply easily tucks away in the most cramped recording space.
The consoleís manual is well written, thorough and easy to understand. I found the metering to be accurate and helpful. Visually, I like the fact that the meter bridge conveniently hides all connections and cabling from view. Unfortunately, it makes the already-cramped patch area even more difficult to access. If I installed the console in my studio, Iíd make sure that I had a patchbay so I wouldnít have to constantly fight with the consoleís tight patch space.
Where the 8Tís 100 mm faders are smooth and professional feeling, the knobbed controls leave a bit to be desired. Sonically they are excellent, but the plastic-shafted pots are flimsy and make the overall feel of the mixer a bit cheap. That said, the mixer is an amazing bargain and Iím sure that one of the best ways Trident was able to keep the price-point low without sonic compromise was to use the plastic shaft pots. (According to designer John Oram, the 2008 versions of the 8Ts will have metal shaft potentiometers with minimal increase in cost Ė Ed.).
The Trident 8T-8 is a quality analog desk that provides great sound at an extremely reasonable price. Its abundance of ins and outs makes it perfectly adaptable to most any situation, and its intuitive layout makes it easy to use. Anyone looking for a small-format console should give this 8T serious consideration.
Russ Long, a Nashville-based producer/engineer, owns the Carport recording studio.
He is a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.
Apple Macintosh 2 GHz Dual Processor G5 w/2 GB RAM; Digidesign Pro Tools 7.3; Lynx Aurora Converters; Lucid Gen-X-96 Clock; PMC AML-1 monitors; Focal Twin6 Be monitors