Solid Tube Audio
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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Solid Tube Audio "C3" require a special maintenance?

Many questions were asked to us concerning the required maintenance efforts of the Solid Tube Audio console "C3". Of course, we considered that already in the development phase and have chosen the respective quality of components. Except the regular cleaning of the airfilter-mats the "C3" requires no maintenance at all. If however a channel or a power-supply should fail, you can easily replace them by a back-up channel or power-supply which are in the scope of supply. You can then return the defective part for exchange to our service. That's it.


When do the tubes have to be exchanged?

We have often been asked, whether the tubes need to be changed constantly. We use special tube types, which were originally supposed to be used for military purposes. These tubes have an extremely long and guaranteed life span and can not be compared with conventional standard tubes. We expect a life span of 8-10 years (40.000 hours), whereby the life span can be also substantially longer. Nevertheless if a change of the tubes should pend after this time, we are of course prepared for that and can execute a complete exchange within a few days.


Does the console produce a lot of heat and is air-conditioning required?

We assume that an air conditioning system is installed in every good studio. The warmth produced by the "C3" depends of course on the number of channels. As a rough specification, the value of the heat emission, which is approximately equal to the required cooling-rate, is 160 W per channel. If there is no air conditioning system installed in your studio, we advise you gladly.


What happens if a single channel fails?

Let us point out one thing first, during our hole test phase of the channel strips and modules it came to no failure. The Solid Tube Audio "C3" prototype console operates absolutely failure-free up to now. Nevertheless we integrated various safety mechanisms. Each channel possesses its own power-supply. This unit is very complex. It monitors the temperature at the channel and at the power-supply cooling radiator. The amperages and voltage levels for high- and filament-voltage are constantly verified. Altogether 14 monitoring functions are established in each channel unit. If an error in a channel path or its current supply should occur, the appropriate channel is switched off automatically. The console and all other channels remain however fully functionable. The developed error is internally processed by the "C3" and initiates the console to call our service automatically (via GSM) transmitting also an error source code. Thus we can react , before you probably determined the error. Furthermore a back-up power-supply and a back-up channel strip are contained in the scope of supply. These can be easily exchanged by you and you can sent the defective channel unit for the exchange to our service.


Why do you use tubes?  

The tube is almost predestinated to amplify audio signals. The high rate of rise provides the transmission of highest signal harmonic waves, presupposed the frequency band width is large enough (bandwidth of the Solid Tube Audio "C3" 10Hz - 30kHz). Thus providing a clear sound, a high transparency and a unique placement of the instruments. This is also supported by low capacitive couplings of the tube, which cause very small intermodular distortions. The characteristic curve of the non-linear distortion in dependency of the amplitude is substantially flatter and does not show an abrupt operationpoint.  With respect to the sound, this affects particularly high-frequency peaks, which are softly compressed thereby. In the Solid Tube Audio "C3" exclusively triodes are used. The advantage of this is, that these tubes only produce harmonic-distortions (k2) and a low noise-floor. So, with the "C3" one will not be able to sense an audible distortion caused by deliberately overriding. In this case, the sound is rather determined by the compression and still felt as warm. We could still specify endless reasons here, but just hear it yourself.


Why wasn't such a console build much earlier?  

The tube was replaced by the transistor for economic reasons. The heating is not required anymore and a substantially higher efficiency could be obtained. Beside that the transistor was much smaller. The outstanding audiotechnical characteristics of the tube remained unconsidered thereby. With today's technical possibilities we were able to develop new circuits, to reduce size thereby strongly and increase the quality to maximum. The entire development of the C3 was extremely complex and cost-intensive. By means of most modern technology it became now however possible to implement such a project.


Can the console be tested in the demo-studio under real conditions and which microphones are available there?

We established a modern, beautiful studio complex on altogether 250 square meter for you. There the Solid Tube Audio "C3" can be tested extensively under real conditions. Two control rooms and a big recording room are at your disposal. A Solid Tube Audio "C3" in the 56 channel version equipped with 48 x TAB V76/80 are awaiting you. Furthermore, a large collection of legendary tube equipment and tube microphones.

AEG:  D19 BK HI
AKG:  C 12, D 12, CK 8 
Beyer:  M 201 N (C), MPC 50, MC 740 N, MC 742 (C/7), M 160
EV:  RE 20
Neumann:  M 49, U 67, U 47, U 47 FET I, U 87, U 269, M49, M 50,  M69, SM 69, KM 53, KM 54, KM 56, KM 64, KM 84, KM 86,  KM 254, KM 264, CMV 3, SM 2 C, SM 23
Neumann Gefell:  UM 57, CMV 563, M 62, 563
Sanken:  CU 41
Sennheiser:  MD 441 N
Shure:  SM 57, SM 58, SM 59


How is the console cooled?

The "C3" is equipped with a fully integrated, ultra-quiet cooling system. The complex air flow analysis was calculated and optimised by computer simulations. All temperatures are monitored within the C3 by sensors. To find a solution regarding the cooling was one of the most complex tasks, it took about 1 1/2 years of development. The installed high-quality exhausts are, except changing of filters, maintenance-free.


Do the tubes age?

SQ tubes are subject only to a very small aging. Possibly changing parameters of the circuits are being independently balanced. We expect a life-time of the tubes in the "C3" of approx. 8-10 years (40.000 hours). A longer life is quite probable.


Is the long-term-supply with tubes ensured?  

Yes, the long-term supply is ensured for the tubes we use.


What is Hybrid-Technology and why do you dissociate from it?

In the reference to tubes, mixing semiconductor technology and tube technique is called hybrid technology. Many manufacturers of tube equipment insert a “show-off-tube” into a conventional semiconductor circuit or integrate transistors in the vacuum-tube-circuit to solve problems e.g. the relatively high output impedance of the tube. Thus one changes however the so crucial characteristic of the tube. We decided for the more complicated way and developed the C3 in all-tube-technique thus achieving the fascinating sound of the tube.


What is "Real bandwidth adjustment" concerning the equalizer?

Particularly tube-equalizer with band filters usually increase the bandwidth by degradation of the quality of the respective filter.  Consequently, when the equalizer is in position “Wide” of the respective frequency band, the maximum amplification-/attenuation-level is no longer achieved. Using a completely new developed circuit concept the full amplification-/attenuation-level (+/- 20dB) can be achieved at every bandwidth adjustment with the "C3".


What is the structure of the filter?

Every filterband possesses a non-standard cam shape, which was hearing-physiologically optimized. The respective frequencies can be selected by a rotary switch and can be adjusted in bandwidth (0,8 octave – 5 octave) as well as amplification-\attenuation-level (+/- 20dB). The frequency bands have the following values:

Switched Highpass Filter (53 Hz)
Low Band Filter: 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz, 125Hz, 200Hz
Low Mid Band Filter: 160Hz, 250Hz, 400Hz, 650Hz, 800Hz, 1kHz Mid Band: 0.5kHz, 0.8kHz, 1kHz, 1.5kHz, 2.5kHz, 4kHz High Band: 3.2kHz, 6.5kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12.5kHz, 16kHz
High Shelve: 10kHz, 12.5kHz, 16kHz, 20kHz


What are the dimensions of the console?

For the standard version ( 56´er frame ) the dimensions are as follows: Length: 4212 mm (165.9 inch), Height: 1096 mm (43,2 inch), Depth: 1465 mm (57,7 inch)


What is the maximum distance between the power-supply and the console?

The cable lengths between the power-racks and the console is consistently 22 meters. The actual distance results from local installation methods.


Are different console-configurations possible?

The C3 console will be available in different versions:

40 channel frame equipped with 24-40 channels
56 channel frame equipped with 24-56 channels
64-96 channel frame equipped with 48-96 channels


Is a subsequent extension possible?

An extension of the frame is possible.


What is the smallest console-configuration possible?

The smallest configuration possible is a 40 channel-frame equipped with 24 channels.


Are the frames pre-wired for subsequent extensions (incl. Patch-Bay)?

The frameworks are completely pre-wired, including patch-bay and power supply. When, for example a 64´er framework with 48 channels is to be extended all further channels and powersupplies only have to  be plugged in.


If technical problems arise, where when and how fast will we get technical support?

Via our service telephone-hotline you'll get immediate support.

How many Stereo-sources (2-track) can be connected to the center source selector?

22 stereo-sources for studio and control-room can be connected.


Why are there 3 more sums apart from the mainsum?

From each channel strip the audio signal can be routed on the sums A, B, C and/or the sum mix. This makes it easier to create three Stereosubsums which can be controlled by the stereo tube equalizers in the center section. Likewise a limited Surround 5.1 mix is possible.


Which automation system can be connected?

The console is prepared to be equipped with different Motorfaderautomations on the market. Only motorized fader can be used, in order to avoid the use of VCA's.


How is a 48-track-recording done with a 32-routing?

We use a splitted routingsystem. Channel 1 is simultaneously routed on channel 33, channel 2 on channel 34 etc. Thus all tracks of the Multitrack can be addressed.


What is the purpose of the DI-switch on the channelstrip?

In combination with the Solid Tube Audio "C3" a D.I. box is available. This D.I. box enables the connection of 24 - 96 unbalanced sources. By pressing the D.I. button the input of the respective channel is routed to this box.


Which sources can be displayed on the internal TFT monitor?

3 (standard) up to 6 (custom) different sources can be routed to the integrated TFT Display. This way different sources like Automation, Internet, TV, Video or Frequencyanalyser etc. can be made visible on the 10,4" Display.


What is the reason for a balanced routing and is the signal processing completely balanced within the desk?

The audio signal within the "C3" is completely balanced. The quality of the individual tubestages is close to the physical limit. To avoid any loss of this quality on the internal signalpaths these where built completely balanced.


Which Talkback functions does the console offer?

The Solid Tube Audio "C3" is equipped with an intelligent Talkbacksystem. Omni (Talkback to all), Talkback to Cues, Listen Intercom, Listen Mic are the standard control elements. External to Cues and Mix to Cues are the extended control elements. The Intercom system enables communication among all persons logged on into the system. Whereas each musician possesses a communication desk with 8 fader and various outputs and inputs. With the standard version Aux 4 - 8 are fixed connected with this system. All internal and external sources of the "C3" can be brought in over the Intercom. The volume of the individual Intercom channels is adjusted by the Soundengineer, but can be corrected by each musician individually via a fader. 3 Intercom - communication desks are contained in the scope of supply of the Solid Tube Audio "C3".


Can the talkback-function be operated by remote control?

The C3 is equipped with a free programmable IR remote control. According to standard this serves the talkback function for further persons in the close surrounding field of the console e.g. the producer. Further functions can be programmed on customer's request with the remote control.


How noisy are the integrated fans?

Into the console ultralownoise exhausts of the company Papst were integrated. Depending upon size and type of the console the exhausts produce within the C3 an extremely quiet sound level of approx. 9-12dBA.


Does the surface of the console become warm?

No, the surface of the console and their control elements do not warm up during operation.


How can the microprocessor be agreed with the tube technique?

The Microprocessor integrated in the "C3" does not touch the actual tube technology. It serves for the controlling of the complex automated processes and functions. In order to avoid influences of noise, the MPU (Micro Processor unit) was accommodated in a high-density EMV housing. The crucial advantage was to be able to deal with customer's requests concerning the operation and the functions. This can take place by means of a flexible organization of the software. All audio paths in the "C3" are switched by high-quality relays, thus galvanically separate the MPU from the vacuum tube circuits. Additionally a separate groundrail was integrated into the "C3" serving exclusively the signalization, MPU and their control items.


What about metering?

Each channel possesses a buffered output for an external meterbridge which is pre-wired up to the main connection field. An internal metering is also possible on customer request. Talk to us about your desires and conceptions.


What made you build such a console?

We want to provide an ultimative and compromiseless tool for sound engineers, musicians and producers. With the development of the C3 were the following points in highest place: Best sound and best quality without consideration for the complex manufacture process. Each "C3" console is a piece of  handmade quality work. The sound quality will play a crucially role with the new media again and will be able to safe this quality of sound at the origin.


How long is the delivery time and how long will it take to set up the console "C3"?

Approximately 10 months after incoming orders the console is delivered to you. An authorized team of technicians sets up your "C3" within 8 workdays ready for operation and tested.


How many monitor-speakers can be connected to the console "C3"?

Three Monitor Speaker can be connected and addressed, Main, Alt and Mini. Additionally a set of speakers in the recording room can be connected.


Is the console "C3" also available without producer-desk?

To abstain from the producerdesk is an option as requested by the customer, e.g. if there is not enough room available. This requires however the relocation of the electronic circuits accommodated there.


Which potentiometers and switches are used inside the "C3"?

The potentiometers and fader used by us are exclusive from BC-Electronics, Clarostat and Penny & Giles. The switches are from Alps (custom made for routing) and EAO Lumitas.


What's new about the circuit-design?

With the development of the Solid Tube Audio "C3" new paths were taken. Generally one states, that the circuit technology with respect to tube technology, was sophisticated many years ago, but more than 20 years ago, not even the appropriate measuring technology was available for further optimations. The many new concepts used in the C3, are protected by patents.


Are there disturbances caused by the display in the center section?

Definitely not. With very high expenditures the display is EMV technically sealed several times to definitely avoid any possible electromagnetic or electrostatic stray effects.


How is it possible to accommodate so much tube circuit technology on so small space?

Modern Multilayer, Sandwich, SMD and Mixequiptechnologies were used to build the Solid Tube Audio "C3". Thanks to these techniques such a high component density could be achieved. But this required a highly complex cooling-system. The circuit modules were continuously reduced in size, without loss of Quality.


I find the Design of the buttons remarkable. Where one can buy those?

The buttons are designed especially for the Solid Tube Audio "C3" and are exclusively manufactured and produced for our products.


How long does it take after switching on until the console is ready for use?

Since we are dealing here with a tube-technical large-scale installation, the power-on procedure was completely automated. You only have to turn one switch and the console is automatically starts up in several phases (12 stages/6substages), whereby all necessary standby times and the sequences are monitored and controlled by electronically. After 9 minutes the console is ready for operation. The maximum technical values are reached after 20 minutes.




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