New SQ5 or used GLD-80?

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    Profile photo of MarkScrivener

    The prices of old GLD-80 consoles keep coming down. The best deal I’ve found so far places a GLD-80 plus Dante card, plus stage box at about the same price as a new SQ5.

    The SQ5 doesn’t need Dante to multitrack record, and if 16/8 is enough (usually plenty for small bands), the SQ5 can go onstage in the monitor position and you can use mixing station for FOH.

    The GLD combination does provide a few more deployment options and is a nicer surface (bigger screen, better scribble strips, more FX, etc), but it is obviously out of production with limited support/repair options. The SQ is new, has a warranty, is more compact and transportable, and can link to another SQ without adding interface cards.

    So if your application was only small bands, and the desk wasn’t being rented out, which would you pick and why?


    Profile photo of mfusa

    I think, what I heard you say, is that in your particular scenario, the GLD and SQ5 would be the same net price. In that case I would go with the SQ5. Remember, these things are essentially computers with internal parts that wear (motors, fans, CPUs, SSD drive logical wear). Would you want a circa 2013 Mac Pro or a 2024 iMac?

    Believe me, I’m a huge GLD fan and run both these consoles but my GLD has been in for service at least twice since I’ve owned it so I’d really hesitate to pick up a used one unless it were maybe 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of the SQ or someone well qualified had completely refurbished the GLD and put a new SSD in it.

    As you said, the GLD is a better board in a lot of ways and, when I mix on the SQ, there are things I am longing for like I have on the GLD.

    The marketing folks have done a good job giving us an affordable and well capable board with the SQ but still making us want an Advantis if we’re approaching that type of need or budget.

    Profile photo of MarkScrivener

    Thanks mfusa. I’m in 100% agreement with everything you said – I really like the GLD, but an older board would have to be way cheaper to make sense. The problem is that it both is and it isn’t. You can find a GLD-80 for a little over a grand these days. If you don’t need to multitrack record and already own a compatible stage box then that might be a good deal. But throw in an M-Dante card so you can multitrack and a stage box and you are at the price of an SQ5.

    The thing that bugs me most about the SQ5 are those tiny scribble strips. My X-touch has nicer scribble strips, and the only nice things I have to say about it are it’s cheap and gets the job done. Like you, plenty of other things I prefer on the GLD, but the scribble scrips are my biggest concern.

    Aside from longevity and repairs, the offline editor is my biggest concern about the GLD. I have to change my display settings to run it, and even then it is pretty clunky. What happens when I have to update to the latest OS, will it still run? The SQ editor/remote app is way nicer.

    Advantis is a big improvement, but way beyond my budget for this project.

    Honestly, what I want is a D-live like architecture (processing in the stage box, surface is control only – no audio has to be passed back), but only 48 channels – more SQ/GLD like. The QU-SB effectively does this with the remote app, though with a lower channel count and not the same level of processing as an SQ, plus you have to roll your own surface with software. Not sure why we can’t have an SQ rack with a control only surface.

    Profile photo of mfusa

    All good points and I’ve heard people asking for a SQ like rack mixer before so we will see 😀. Trade-offs and compromises abound I guess. We all have to figure out what the sweet spot is for us in our unique circumstance. Good luck in your choice.

    Profile photo of MarkScrivener

    Actually if A&H just made a CDM24 that was priced similar to the SQ5 I’d go that route. From what I can tell the CDM32 is about double the cost of a SQ5. Using an app and a midi fader surface is fine by me. I will never even come close to the channel capacity of the D-live, hence an “SQM24” or whatever they want to call it would be ideal.

    Profile photo of SQuser

    I loved working with the GLD (mostly a 112) for a few years.
    It is much more comfortable to use than an SQ.
    In my opinion, it has many operating advantages:
    – 8 encoder EQ (avoid band switching)
    – display of encoder positions
    – 1 encoder per channel
    – more extensive channel displays
    – decent level displays per channel
    – mix buttons
    – 2 encoder comp
    – better USB handling
    – better show and scene management
    – best headphone amplifier I know.

    … and only a few disadvantages:
    – only 4 XLRs (if you might need more, e.g. for microphone receivers on the FOH)
    – larger and heavier
    – only 48 kHz (if you want 96 kHz)

    If you buy a used one these days, you should look for one that has been used as little as possible – and if possible, a second one as a donor for spare parts such as faders and buttons.

    Despite everything, I decided to go for an SQ (-6) because size and weight were the most important things for me.
    I can do everything I need to do with it – with the best sound quality – just not as comfortable.

    > So if your application was only small bands, and the desk wasn’t being rented out, which would you pick and why?
    For sound reinforcement for the same band every time, where everything is similar, an SQ would always be perfect.
    For use at events where everything is unknown, e.g. with several different acts that you don’t know beforehand, and where you have work under time pressure, the GLD has clear operating advantages.

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