A Ghost Story
One dark and stormy night, I was sitting alone in my studio pondering the existence of the universe, when suddenly, there came a strange sound from the speakers. First a buzz, followed by a crackle, and then more buzzing. Yes, I thought to myself, it's time for the inevitable task of maintenance on the Soundcraft Ghost.
Purchased new in 1996, when I was working for Soundcraft as a technician in Canoga Park, it was the first Ghost from England to be delivered in the U.S. The many features, which included automated mutes, machine control, and 2 bands of fully parametric EQ on every channel were unheard of at this price point, and made the console very popular for many years. However, in today's studio environment, the large format analog console has fallen prey to downsizing in a digital world, that favors small compact controllers. To justify it's substantial footprint, there really needs to be something special about an analog console in a modern studio.
As I mulled over this, I thought of the many custom consoles that I had built for Neotek, and other consoles that I had modified for clients over the years. Some of the mods involved adding new functionality, while other mods were concerned with lowering the noise and distortion. What if I was to take everything I've learned about analog consoles and apply it to my Ghost? This would be the Ghost with the most, and truly something special.
Clever Engineers, er, uh... marketing guys
Now having spent many years as a technician cussing and fussing over other folks short cuts to the sales floor, I swore that someday when I design and build products of my own, I will always be mindful of the poor lowly tech that has to make repairs. After all, it might be me.
So how Soundcraft was able to keep the cost of the Ghost in reach to so many was to build it with the same technique used to make small inexpensive consoles. Even though the Ghost has individual circuit boards for each channel, they are all attached to one large panel that makes up the entire top surface of the console.
With standard "professional" consoles, each channel strip is a module with it's own removable metal panel, making for easy service. However, to make even the most basic repair on the the Ghost (see picture), requires part technician/part acrobat with a little structural engineering mixed in. Definitely not a task for the timid or faint hearted do-it-yourselfer.
The Ghost with the most
The Soundcraft Ghost today, nestled among the old and new.
The Medieval Racking Technique
The smart thing is to test everything before putting it back together.