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Cooper CS-104 - Current Opinions


Isaac Brooks
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Hi,

I'm currently looking at options for a 4 x input stereo mixer. I currently use an SD 302 in front of a 702T. It's a combo that I'm very happy with for the majority of my work (mostly interviews, voiceover work, SFX gathering, and the occasional dramatic exercise, although nothing too large scale, obviously). I really only got a mixer initially to ride levels on a mono track, usually using a single, boomed mic. But the interface has been invaluable to me for its great metering, limiters, etc., and the SD has never hiccuped. I've grown into it happily. 

I do occasionally find the need now for more inputs, now that the work has become a bit more complex, with wireless systems now more available, and even the occasional two-boom setup. I'm also simply curious about the sound quality provided by other top shelf work horse units. I was recently helping someone who was managing dialogue on a Cooper CS-104 and was treated to a set of cans during a few takes, and I was impressed with the sound that I suspect the mixer was providing. Really clean but steeped in character when booming. The rest of the kit/mixing approach was pretty familiar to me, so this is why the CS-104 caught my attention. He was a big fan of it, and from my research I'm fairly familiar with what it offers in it's unmidified version(s). 

I'm looking at a CS-104 currently that is in really good condition and that comes with some cables and a bag. It has peak meters. But with the recent slump in enthusiasm for the separate mixer / recorder paradigm, in favor of the recent combined mixer/recorder offerings from Sound Devices and others, the 442 and other once prohibitive options are super reasonably priced. Can anyone speak to the integrity of the Cooper as a workhorse whose sound and robustness is worth the trouble of owning a discontinued unit? Is it simply dumb to pick one up when the 442 is now so havable? Build quality, ease of use, and sound are definitely my top three requirements. I'd be interested to hear about how this mixer works for those who have to make a bag setup work for just about everything, and who want to get as much original dialogue on set as possible via boom and a few wireless units. 

It's been awhile since I've attempted to post here, but needless to say the info from this group has been very helpful to me in recent years. I know the post is long but I just thought I'd provide some background and see what advice folks can offer a young guy trying to maximize a modest setup. Thank you so much in advance. Isaac

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Thanks, all. Much enthused. 

Jack, that's quite the brick, especially pictured next to the Shure. Looks in good shape. Let me know if it's up for adoption ;) suddenly. 

Anyone had the on/off switch break? I hear that can be a problem. Cold weather or humidity issues? Also, what have been your uses for it other than ENG? And pairing with recorders and/or mics. Thanks again. 

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If I were buying again, I'd look for one with peak meters over VU, certainly. I'd also want the direct out option (or budget for the mod from Vark Audio). In that configuration it will function very much like the 442.

It has a world class sound; I use mine occasionally as a front end preamp for voice overs (chosen over 442/633/Maxx for this application). 

The rest of the time though? It is sitting in my personal museum of gear. Integrated mixer/recorders like the 633 or Maxx have become the workhorses in my world. 

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442 is that Ford Crown Victoria... been around forever, everyone (gov) uses it, and is pretty reliable.  When it does need service, it's no big thing, parts are available and easy to maintain.  Michigan... Wisconsin, same thing right?  (with a little research, actually they were made in Ontario)

I'm not going to make a CS-104 car analogy, because I can't think of a car manufactured in California and thinking of something bigger than a Crown Vic that's not a road boat is difficult... there's certainly no wrong reason to go with a CS-104, but there are a lot of right reasons to go with a 442, especially given that its being shed off by many mixers as a backup these days, which is a shame, as it's still my #1 Sound Devices Hall of Fame winner.

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1 hour ago, Tom Visser said:

I'm not going to make a CS-104 car analogy, because I can't think of a car manufactured in California and thinking of something bigger than a Crown Vic that's not a road boat is difficult... 

If I'm not mistaken, Tesla makes its cars in Fremont, California.

Never having owned one, I'm not qualified to say whether Cooper was the Tesla of its day. But based on reputation, it doesn't seem too far of a reach.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I really love how good the pre-amp sounds on that mixer (CS104). 

Chanced upon using the mixer where I was employed before I freelance.

From my memory, the only problem was this one time where the fuse burnt

(probably some fault with the 12V SLA we were using, but that was a simple fix).

 

Sound wise I'd rate CS104 > 664 > 788T

(but this is all from memory, I haven't had a chance to do a 1-1 comparison now that I don't have access to that CS104).

 

To this day I wish they made something similar to the Kortwich VCP series (2-3-4 compact preamp) 

So I can use Channel 1-6 Line In on my 664 and that Cooper sound on Channel 7 & 8.

 

If you do get the CS104 I'd suggest getting that Vark Audio 1-4 Direct Out to further expand the power of that mixer. 

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  • 1 year later...
  • 5 months later...
On 12/21/2015 at 8:56 AM, Nathaniel Robinson said:

If I were buying again, I'd look for one with peak meters over VU, certainly. I'd also want the direct out option (or budget for the mod from Vark Audio). In that configuration it will function very much like the 442.

It has a world class sound; I use mine occasionally as a front end preamp for voice overs (chosen over 442/633/Maxx for this application). 

The rest of the time though? It is sitting in my personal museum of gear. Integrated mixer/recorders like the 633 or Maxx have become the workhorses in my world. 

please let me know if you decide to sell your cooper 104, if you even still have it.  thanx

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