Hot on the heels of the 400B, the 800B was launched in early 1984 to replace the ageing 800. This time it was decided to split the applications and market two separate products to the recording and live industries, the 800B being the live version and the Series 1600, launched later that year, covering the recording side. In fact, the products differed only in name and the fit of application-specific modules: they were really the first example of focused marketing.
The 800B was the first console to really establish Soundcraft as a market leader in the serious PA Hire and theatre sound markets. Two versions were available -House and monitor -expanding the facilities of the 800 to a full 16 busses, with 8 subgroups and 8 Aux sends on the Front-of-House, and 8 sends plus 4 Auxes and stereo mix on the Monitor version. On the dedicated PA input, the 8 Aux sends were accessible on individual pots, rather than the previous practice of using 4 pots and shift switching; this was a radical step forward in the number of busses available, and reflected the ever-increasing complexity of live sound systems. Another innovation was the output module: this was available in two versions, one had an effects return, the other had a matrix output to enable a further 8 mixes to be created from the 8 groups. An EQ section could be flipped from the Group path to the FX return or the Matrix section. In its heyday, the 800B was a common sight in many mid-range PA Hire companies’ inventories, as well as permanently installed in many theatres, the matrix option proving invaluable for controlling sound in these multiple speaker environments.
The monitor version was often found providing stage sound on the top rock and roll tours of the day.
The 1600 was the recording partner to the 800B, using the same chassis, but different module fit and incorporating an optional patchbay with multitrack interface. The 1600 fitted into the range between the 400B and the 2400, the frame design showing a family resemblance to that of the 2400.
The 1600 catered for 8 or 16 track recording with its 8 busses and 16 built-in monitor returns, but could also handle 24-track with the addition of the good old 24-track monitor module, which could also double as an effects return.
A patchbay version was added to the range and marketed as the ‘1600 Producer’ -this was successfully sold as the ‘Producer Package’ by dealers such as Turnkey, with the 380 and 760 Series tape machines from the sister company, Soundcraft Magnetics.