I did try various things, I did not try transformers however. First of all, I replaced all electrolytic capacitors with newer low-ESR devices. I replaced the coupling capacitors with at least 5 times the value of the originals. This tightened up the bottom end a bit, but was not night and day.
I also took a whole channel strip and replaced all the original opamps (TL072, NE5532) with high performance opamps. In my opinion NOT worth it. I couldn't notice any significant difference between two channel strips, one with original opamps, and one with the high perf. Noise floor was basically the same as well.
What actually helped most was a thorough cleaning of ALL contacts, connectors, etc. Start with the XLR and jacks on the back. Use one of those sets with round metal brushes that will go INTO the plugs. Use some contact cleaner. Then clean the internal connectors, pots and switches. Especially the switches can get dirty, leading to scratching sounds, intermittent connection and noise and distortion.
The thing that made most difference was the cleaning. Even though my 800B had been cared for properly (looked clean and without scratches) and very few of the pots were scratchy, it was still a good "upgrade"
It will not take that long, and it is definitely cheaper than replacing opamps, and doing other mods.
This is a verification and justification of Back to the Basics.
Cleaning all contacts and connections is THE Foundation of good audio.
Start with a (reasonably) well designed console and give it a good thorough cleaning, bringing it back as close as possible to original specs / operation and this will be at least as valuable as all the cork sniffing "high end mods" that are meant to hotrod an already great console.
Not to say that improvements cannot be made by spending much more time and money, but are those (last 1 or 2% of) results really worth all of that to you? As many will say, there are other places in the recording chain where those efforts may give a lot more of a payoff.
I am in a similar situation with a gorgeous Soundcraft Delta 8 console that was obviously very well professionally cared for.
After much research and reading of various advice and forums, what was just written in this recent post will be my guideline for "mods" and upgrades.
A few years ago I purchased a Soundcraft 600 Series board from an engineer / producer / musician who had worked at many of the pro studios in and around Manhattan.
Asking him about any mods or upgrades to the board, he had this to say;
Never did any. The designers of these consoles were some very bright engineers and created these mixers to sound really good when new.
While working in lots of studios with many other much higher end boards, I can easily say that the 600 Series is a very good sounding console.
Obviously it all depends on what one is looking to accomplish, but there have been plenty of brilliant record albums created on a lot less (not that this is an excuse not to use the best that you can),
The Basics will always hold true.
A good, clean signal chain makes for the best audio and dirty contacts and connections (OR miles of cabling between equipment and patch bays) can degrade audio in even the the best of components.
Thanks again for your post.
Thanks so much for the update!
Great input. I am starting with the cleaning side (knobs, pots, switches, faders, contacts) and the chassis rust.
I have been hesitant to buy into the IC swapping, but will be re-capping some channels for sure to listen for the difference before proceeding.
As for mods, I like the idea of having different colors, and since there are 32 channels, i can get away with having 8 channels being mod'd up, some with transformers, maybe even using DOA's on a couple channels if i can fit them in.
I do hear great things about the Ciletti grounding mod, but in reality, this board is already amazingly quiet. I did my first recordings with it last night using 2 channels to mic up a piano and didn't hear any noticeable noise on the playback. Dang those pre's sound good!
Thanks again for the info.
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