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Allen & Heath ZED-428

Sep 3, 2009 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

An analog console gets advanced digital features.


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Allen & Heath’s DuoPre preamps come from A&H’s PA series, and they exhibit a clever two-stage design that results in dead-quiet operation with great fidelity. Line-level inputs are plugged directly into the second stage of the preamp, which I found to really reduce noise when using the line input. As stated before, the console’s 4-band EQs are lifted directly from A&H’s GL2400 console. I have always been a fan of Allen & Heath’s EQ; in my estimation, it’s a principal feature that would steer one toward the brand. I’m happy with the complement of six auxiliaries—considering the likely applications for a console of this size, six should typically be plenty. Far and away, the most forward-thinking feature of the console is the USB implementation. It really is nice to be able to easily move signals to and from a computer without even thinking about it. An obvious use for this is to record the stereo mix from the console directly with a digital audio workstation, and A&H bundles Cakewalk’s Sonar LE for this purpose. Another obvious use for the USB interface is for playback from a computer. A not-so-obvious application for the USB interface is as a send-return effects loop. I have more than a few effects plug-ins on my computers that I love, and the ZED-428 presents a highly simplified way to implement them into live mixes or the recording process. On my wish list for future revisions is the capacity to simultaneously send all four of the console’s groups via USB to the computer. This requires more interface horsepower, and it would increase the price of the console, but it would be a powerful feature in my opinion.

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Allen & Heath ZED-14 review from Electronic Musician

Allen & Heath ZED-14 review from SVC

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As is, the USB implementation is powerful and useful, and the signal-flow layout of this console is robust and practical as well. The preamps are dead-quiet and sound great, as does the EQ in this console. For any user who has the need for a console that exhibits more sophistication and quality than other consoles in the same price range, this is one I can strongly recommend.


John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and he provides high-quality podcast-production services.


PRODUCT SUMMARY

  • Company: Allen & Heath
    www.allen-heath.com
  • Product: ZED-428
  • Pros: 4-band EQs from the GL2400 console; clever signal-routing possibilities; USB interface.
  • Cons: Simultaneous routing of all four groups via USB to computer would be nice.
  • Applications: Live sound, recording.
  • Price: $1,799

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Analog headroom: 21dB (from nominal—0Vu)
  • USB I/O headroom: 14dB (from nominal—0Vu)
  • Frequency response: Mic in to mix L/R out, +0.5/-1dB 20Hz-20kHz (30dB gain)Line in to mix L/R out, +0.5/-1dB 10Hz-30kHz (30dB gain)Stereo in to mix L/R out, +0.5/-1dB 10Hz-30kHz (30dB gain)
  • Total harmonic distortion: Mic in to mix L/R out 0.004% (0dB gain, 1kHz, +10dBu out)Mic in to mix L/R out 0.041% (30dB gain, 1kHz)Line in to mix L/R out 0.005% (0dB gain, 0dBu, 1kHz)Stereo in to mix L/R out 0.003% (0dB gain, +10dBu, 1kHz)
  • Noise: Mix noise, L/R out, 16 channels, -90dB (-86dBu), Ref. 4dBu, 22Hz-22kHzMix noise, L/R out, 24 channels, -89dB (-85dBu), Ref. 4dBu, 22Hz-22kHzMic pre EIN @ max gain -127dBu



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