Why the lack of stepped controls on medium pro level outboard gear?


ringmod

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#1
This is a general question about the lack of stepped controls on medium pro level gear. I'll use the RND Portico 5033 EQ as an example. I find it to be a very useful tool on the mix bus. One problem is trying to match them in stereo. They are responsive EQs, so a small amount of mis-match can make a big difference. In my case I am analog summing, so often times I need to return to a mix to make some adjustments. The original documenting of the Neve 5033 settings is hard to notate accurately, and then recalling those settings at a later date is tough. Taking a picture of the settings is what I've been doing but it is far from ideal. I understand the limitations of stepped controls for sure. If the EQ is quite sensitive then of course you would need many fine steps to optimally use it. I've used some API gear in the past that has had the problem where the steps are too large and I found myself wanting an in between setting. My question is why do the gear manufacturers opt out of finely stepped controls? Is it a big expense to use potentiometers with many steps? Is there a degradation of signal with cheaper stepped pots? Or is it more that consumer demand is just not there? My Smart C2 compressor utilizes many fine steps and it's not insanely expensive say like a Sontec mastering EQ I was checking out in a studio that also had many finely stepped controls.
 

zukan

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#2
I remember going through hell using the Oram Hi-def. I asked John if he could at least provide stepped controls for stereo matching.It's not a huge cost upgrade.
 

Squawk

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#3
The biggest pain in the butt piece of gear for me that isn't stepped is my Kush Audio Clariphonic, original version. It's an awesome unit, but it's trickier to match sides with it. Kush has a new version now, the "MS" Mid Side version with stepped controls. I think a lot of people were ditching their V1's, specifically because it wasn't stepped. It's not the type of piece that I would use as much on individual tracks, although I know some people do. I prefer it living on the 2 bus.
 

Paul G Cheeba

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#4
I think that unless you get really expensive stepped "switches" then it can be better to not have detents on pots. Unless they are regularly, perfectly calibrated then it's more likely to be out than in. Best thing to do is use a meter and a test tone and mark with a china graph pencil.
My Thermionic Phoenix drove me crazy being more out than in with no in between.
 
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#5
A lot of folks hate detented pots but the fact is they outlast even the most expensive rotary switches. An example: Elma 24 pos rotary switches (last time I checked) have a lifespan of 25000 turns. TT/BI Tech conductive pots we use have a lifespan of 100000 turns, and they cost a fraction of a rotary switch. Choice of 0, 1, 11, 21 or 41 detents. Plus rotary switches rarely come in PCB versions and hence it's a hassle to fit them in, not to mention their large size. Is it any wonder that a lot of manufacturers prefer detented pots?
 
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