In addition to our range of products we offer major services including refurbishment of mixing consoles, custom design of bespoke products and computer aided design of printed circuit boards.
We undertake the refurbishment and customisation of analogue mixing consoles. Calrec and Neve consoles are a speciality, but our extensive experience in the professional audio industry makes us the ideal choice for a wide range of other consoles from other manufacturers.
The work involved can range from as little as operational test and minor repairs to a full recap, operational test, technical performance test, strip and clean of knobs, buttons and custom electronic enhancements. All work is documented and a written report supplied with the console upon completion.
Ideally we like to undertake the work at our premises so that we have access to our full range of test equipment and stock of spare parts, it is the most time-efficient and cost-efficient way of undertaking console work. This is the ideal way to approach a console project where the console is being sold or a studio being built.
Sometimes it is necessary to work at a client's site. We do this for console manufacturers who naturally have all their own test equipment and jigs as well as stocks of components. Virtually all studio schedules and installations preclude the removal of a console for major refurbishment, in which case site work is necessary. Typically, modules are worked on in small batches so as not to disrupt normal operations. Performance testing of refurbished modules is carried out in periods of downtime between sessions or broadcasts. This method of working is time-consuming, costly, and good planning and liaison between all parties involved is essential for efficient project management.
Recent Refurbishment and Customisation Projects
In Neve VSP60
A very interesting console indeed. It started life as a standard VR60 (V-Series with Recall & Flying Faders, 60 channel, built around mid 1990s). The owner's facility was mainly post-production, so 60 mic inputs were far too many, 56 mic inputs were modified to be line inputs, resulting in the channels becoming "dual line-input". Furthermore, the processing of 6-channel surround sound required extensive customising of the routing and monitoring systems with the installation of the VSP (V-Series Surround sound monitor control Panel). It is believed that the owner eventually upgraded to Neve's DFC digital console.
The VSP60 became destined for a music recording studio. This required the undoing of the second line input and reverting it to being a mic input, as originally manufactured! Sounds simple enough, but reality was different - an extremely long lead time for the mic input transformer, plus the obsoleting of the relay used for padding the mic input. A custom input stage was researched and successfully implemented with a Lundahl transformer, exactly the same model as used by Focusrite in their Forte console, ISA116 remote mic amp and ISA110 modules. A small PCB was designed to mount the Lundahl transformer, new type of pad relay and associated components. The new PCB's connection pins were positioned to exactly match the connection pads on the Neve input module PCB, resulting in a very neat and electro-mechanically robust plug-in assembly. Electrical testing showed that the frequency response performance of both sine and square waves was better than the original, distortion was comparable, noise was 1 dB or so lower, and the gain was 2 dB higher. All in all a very good result. Much of the operational testing of the console was carried out by a freelance associate who is a professionally trained classical musician and recording engineer. He could find no audible problems with the GJC Designs mic amps.
Another "recording" facility that was customised-out for post-production work was the ability to switch the Channel Monitor path between Group and Tape return. Reversing this customisation would have given a really elegant solution but the work and time involved was too costly, and so a custom Group/Tape switcher was designed and installed in the console.
A 48-channel mono plus 12-channel stereo console co-owned by GJC Designs and Oliver France Sound.
This console has an interesting history, starting life at B-Sky-B, it also served time with facilities provider Roll-To-Record where it did a couple of tours of duty on Big Brother before moving to Cactus Television where it was installed in the Richard and Judy studio. When it was replaced by a new Calrec console in 2002, Oliver and Gareth purchased it to refurbish and eventually sell. Progress has been slow, but steady. It has been fully recapped, new fader module facias have been made and the console is presently undergoing preliminary tests to clear any residual faults prior to full performance and technical tests. It will be offered for sale with a patchbay. Multitrack routing and monitoring can be customised into the frame - one of the joys of the older Calrec consoles is the flexibility of customisation available! The console and patchbay system should be completed during the first quarter of 2007.
When contracting for Calrec in the 1990s, Gareth was a member of the design team that created the T-Series so this refurbishment was like coming home! The refurbishment work was undertaken at Calrec's premises (conveniently less than two miles from GJC Designs and an 8 minute walk from home). The project was to test, repair and re-align all audio cards after recapping.
A very nice little console which only had minor works undertaken - cosmetic cleaning, repair a small number of faults, decypher the wiring of an undocumented 32-way monitor source selector. Finally, carry out a full test, then document the results and the monitor source selector.
Neve 51 Broadcast Console 48 Channel
The console was split into 2 x 12-channel buckets for Tracking / Pro-Tools rigs. The remaining 24 channels were configured as a small music recording console. It can only be surmised that there had been little maintenance carried out for several years as this was a very unwell console! It required a full recap ........ every single electrolytic capacitor was changed. There were numerous switch failures where the latching mechanism had failed or the switches were noisy when operated. Many of the control knobs had broken top caps. Most of the compressor/limiters had failed. The leatherette armrest and meter bridge trims were worn and damaged. All of these problems were attended to on all 48 channels. The end results were very pleasing, with the 3 consoles ending up looking good and performing to high specifications.
The photos show how the console started off when it was presented for refurbishment, how the work progressed until finally the console was almost ready to leave with only minor trims to be installed by the commissioning engineer.
Neve 51 Broadcast Console 16 Channel
A basic refurbishment project as the console had been well looked after. Capacitors were changed where necessary and where known trouble spots exist, cosmetics were attended to and full test and performance work undertaken. GJC Designs undertook part of the commissioning of the console and customised balanced Group Inserts into the console circuitry and external interface.
Computer Aided Design Services
The in-house CAD package used for all our design work is Seetrax Ranger XL. For what we do, we find it particularly fast, efficient, user-friendly .... and it is stable. We encourage new clients to have their designs done on Ranger but if a client has a preference for another CAD package, we are usually able to reach agreements to work within the requirements of the client.
We are listed on the Seetrax website as a Design Bureau as well as being able to provide training on the Ranger XL platform:
Design complexities can range from simple single-sided boards to fine line multilayer boards with surface-mounted parts on both sides. We have good working relationships with several PCB manufacturers and we are able to oversee the whole design process from schematic to PCB hardware.