Direct Out Modifiocation for Allen & Heath ZED Mixer

I recently acquired an Allen & Heath ZED 12-FX mixer to use for home recording and live mixing. This is replacing a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro that I have used for several years. I was looking to add a more channels and to improve on the EQ capabilities.ZED 12-FX Front Panel

For recording, I use a PC/Windows system running Cakewalk SONAR 8.5 with an M-Audio Delta 1010LT sound card. This gives me 8 input channels. I typically have recorded using the direct out capability on the channel Inserts of the Mackie mixer. By inserting a 1/4″ mono plug only half way (to the first click) the Mackie provides a direct out, without interruption of the signal through the channel. Unfortunately, the ZED mixer does not provide this capability.

I have performed this modification only on a ZED 12-FX mixer. However, it should be applicable to all mixers in the ZED series. There will be differences in the removal of the channel cards on some of the other ZED series mixers.

This article describes a modification to the mono channel of the ZED mixer to add a direct output function. This modification is not approved by Allen and Heath. As an unapproved modification, this may void your warranty.

The ZED Mixer INSERT

Schematic Diagram of the Insert from the Mono channel of a ZED Mixer
The diagram to the right shows the connections to the INSERT socket on the ZED mixer. Each of the three connections in the socket have contact closures to provide a signal path when no jack is inserted.

When inserting a 1/4″ jack into the INSERT socket, you can hear 3 distinct “clicks”. At the first click, the tip of the jack is contacting the sleeve of the socket, which is a ground connection.

At the second click, the tip of the jack is contacting the ring of the socket, which is the return connection. At this point, the signal is interrupted, and any input presented to the channel does not flow to the channel. An internal connection in the channel strip will now connect the tip and sleeve of the return connection.

At the third click, the tip of the jack is contacting the tip of the socket, which is the SEND for the INSERT. The ring of the socket is the RETURN.

Note that this modification is for the Mono channels only.  Allen & Heath does not provide INSERT connections for the Stereo channel on the ZED mixer. So, there is no simple way to create direct outs from the Stereo channels.

The Modification

As you can see from the schematic diagram above, when no jack is inserted the Send signal flows through the contact closures of the tip and ring connections. When a jack is inserted to the ring connection, however, the connection is opened and the Send signal no longer flows to the Return. ZED Insert Schematic with Modification

The modification I applied is to provide a jumper across the pins I have designated as 3 and 4. This provides a path for Send to Return when a jack is inserted to the second click. This also will place the Send signal on the tip of the inserted jack, providing a direct output to the channel. This is shown in the schematic diagram here.

When a jack is inserted all the way, the contact closure on the tip position will open, interrupting the internal signal path, and operating as a standard INSERT.

Tools and Skills Required

While the modifications presented here are moderately simple, they should not be attempted by someone who is not skilled in soldering electronics hardware. It should also be noted that this modification is not approved by Allen and Heath. As an unapproved modification, this may void your warranty.

Proper precautions should be taken to prevent damage to the unit from static electricity. A ground strap should be worn when working on the unit.

The following tools are needed:

  • #1 Phillips Head Screwdriver
  • T10 Torx Driver
  • 7/16″ Nutdriver
  • Soldering Iron
  • Flat Head Screwdriver

Opening the Mixer

Bottom of ZED 12-FX MixerThe bottom of the mixer is removed to access the channel cards. I use a thick foam pad in the table to protect the knobs as I place the mixer upside down. Remove the 12 Phillips head screws with the #1 Phillips head screwdriver. The bottom can be removed and set aside.

Remove the Knobs and Front Panel Connectors

ZED 1-FZ Knob RemovalFor each of the mono channels you are modifying, remove all the control knobs. Use the flat head screwdriver to pry the knobs up gently, then pull them off. Note that if you are modifying channel 6, you will need to remove channels 4 and 5 as well.

Use the T10 Torx driver to remove the 2 screws for the XLR connector. Use the 7/16″ nut driver to remove the nuts on the two 1/4″ connectors and on each of the rotary controls.

You do not need to remove the slider. This will stay in place for this modification.

Remove the Ribbon Cable

ZED 12-FZ Ribbon Removed
ZED 12-FZ Ribbon Installed
A ribbon cable connects to all the channel cards. Remove this from the mono channel cards to allow their removal.

Remove the Channel Cards

The channel cards can now be removed from the unit. ZED 12FX Chan6 Remove Step 1They each have wires connected to the slider which is still connected to the front panel. Be careful to not pull on these wires as the channels are removed.

ZED 12FX Chan6 Remove Step 2
ZED 12FX Chan6 Remove Step 3

It may be best to remove one at a time, perform the modification, and then return it to the chassis. Unfortunately, due to the mounting of the power supply, channels 4, 5 and 6 may require that the adjacent cards (lower channel numbers) also be removed.

Channel 6 is the hardest to remove. With channels 4 and 5 removed, pull it up slightly, and tilt toward the lower channel numbers.After the knob shafts have cleared through the front panel, rotate the card to bring the solder side upward. The images to the right show this sequence.

Apply the Mod

ZED 12-FZ Mono Channel Direct Out ModNow that you have the mixer disassembled and the channel cards removed, this is the easy part. Solder a wire across the two middle pins of the INSERT socket as shown in the photo on the right. Do this for each of the mono channels you wish to.

When the mods are complete, reassemble the mixer by reversing the steps.

Using the Direct Out

The direct out is an unbalanced signal. Use a standard 1/4″ jack and plug it in the INSERT socket only to the second click.

The direct out taps the signal after the input gain stages and after the 100 Hz high pass filter. It is pre-EQ. in my system, I use a recording snake to connect the 6 channels with direct outs to 6 audio inputs of my M-Audio sound card.

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29 thoughts on “Direct Out Modifiocation for Allen & Heath ZED Mixer

  1. amazing!!!
    i just purchased this piece of hardware and i thought it wouldnt really work with my echo audiofire 12… but it turns it will work! im so so happy…

    if i may ask… can the same mod be applied to the stereo channels?

  2. You can accomplish the Direct Output much safer and easier with a custom cable rather than with the unapproved modification which may void the warranty. Create a cable with TRS and TS jacks on its ends. Connect the tip and ring together inside the TRS jack. This will maintain the channel signal continuity when fully plugged in. Connect the hot wire to the tips on both jacks. When TRS plug inserted all the way, you get the unbalanced SEND signal on the other end of the cable (TS jack) while keeping the normal operation of the input channel. Good luck!

  3. Great idea! I have had a hard time understanding this mixer and maybe just because I am new at this stuff but this is interesting. I have had this mixer (zed12fx) for about a year now and still having difficulties with multitrack recording so wanted to see if I could pick your brain some if you have time?

  4. So making this mod to my ZED will allow me to use the EQ and faders when using the inserts for recording? I am assuming so but would like to make sure before I start.

    • The Insert point is Pre-EQ and Pre-Fade. So the EQ and Fader have no impact on the signal of the Direct Out. Since the signal is just tapped here, not interrupted, you can use the EQ and Fader to mix as normal.

      I hope that is clear.

      • Ok I got that, I am having a problem with my t10x3 though. The screws seem to be smaller than the t10x3 and the screw driver will not fit in the screws themselves, but up by the XLR input they work on those ones fine… any ideas?

      • Not with this simple modification. I was tapping into then signal chain at the insert point, before EQ and fade. Bringing a post-eq or post-fade signal back to the insert connector would form a feed-back loop.

      • i see so its not impossible but it need more work to be done right?
        i havent done any modifications on a mixer before
        but have some skills with soldering and electronics not much but i have done some things on synths… So i ll try to read search more about that so i ll be able to do so cause i need that eq is very nice that 4 band eq you know 🙂
        thanks for your answer! also if you could help me in the process in case i ll need some explanation lets say, it would be very nice!
        thanks again

      • I suspect you would be looking at some significant work. Unless you add a new connector for a direct out that was from a different tap point, you would need to rewire the channel board to bypass the insert connector, and then re-purpose it with the new post-eq/post-fade signal. Finding space to mount a new connector would certainly be a mechanical challenge.

        Another option you might want to consider is using the AUX outputs. The AUX1 and AUX2 are post EQ, and the AUX3 is Post Fade. It might be a simpler change to modify the AUX1 and AUX2 to be post-fade, but they did not provide modification instructions for that. If you can follow the wiring on the channel board, you could probably figure it out.

        You note a “4 band eq”, but the ZED series uses a 3 band EQ.

      • yeah i mean 3 band but the mids have something extra 😉 you know ! all the mono channels have it the stereo are simple 2 band eq! About the new tap point i m considering it this way as i see the shematics again! i ll keep you informed about the process if you want but now sure when i ll start it cause i have 2 synths to complete first !
        thanks for your answers mate !

  5. Nice post not looking to do this mod but the following and would like to know if you think it is doable? I have the Zed 14 and going from memory here I think aux 1 and aux 2 sends are pre eq and I would like to convert them to post so I can take advantage of the 4 fx send returns on my DP/4… I imagine it would be a case of cutting traces and running some jumpers to achieve this…

    To have the use of 4 fx sends would enhance my Live Pa set up…

    • The Aux 1 and Aux 2 sends are Post-EQ, Pre-Fade. The Zed Manual shows a solder link mod on the Mono channels to convert the Aux3 from Post-Fade to Pre-Fade. This is the only mod the seem to have available. This is also Post-EQ. I expect it could be possible to find a path to bring the Per-EQ signal to the Aux sends, but I expect it would take a bit of work.

      If you were ok with Post-EQ, Pre-Fade, I would expect the mod would be easier to figure out.

  6. Terry – I was trying to track down that Aux3 mod you mentioned above, but it is not in my Zed manual. Do you have a link? Or can you tell me which manual you saw it in? Thanks.

  7. Hi Terry,
    Thank you for your detailed blog.
    im running a very similar set up to the one you described, having 6 mono direct outs of my ZED 12 would vastly improve my monitoring situation, but what im really looking for is a mod that would enable my mono inserts as direct outs post Eq/fade.. is this possible ? To some, this may be extremely obvious to some , but im very new to re routing or modifying mixers.. Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

    thanks.

    • The change you suggest would be more complicated. The insert jack is in the pre-eq section. You would need to route all the pre-eq wiring off of the insert jack and then route a post-fade signal back to the jack. The block diagram shows a “wire pad” that is post-fade that could be a source for the signal, but you would need to test this to see if it is at a sufficient level to drive out.

  8. Looking for the service manual for an A&H zed10fx. I need to replace the Effects Channel Card and can’t seem to find an easy way to open up the mixer, Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  9. How moch work…
    You can use the israeli way to get direct out
    From the masters insert,
    Plug in the insert mono pl,
    half way (“one click”) in.

    • The point of the modification was to get a direct out that did not interrupt the channel operation. Pluging half way in gets the direct out, but also breaks the signal to the channel.

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