With the exception of a few small, custom manufacturers, only two mainstream companies still make large format analogue consoles to order:
- NEVE 88R
- API Legacy and Vision
However, several established companies have introduced small analogue consoles that recognise the needs of modern recordists and studios by integrating the following features:
- Compact footprint
- Limited numbers of inputs
- Expandable (in some cases)
- No machine room required
- Cooler running
- Note… none include a patchbay as standard but we’re happy to quote on patchbays and general installation/commissioning
Chief amongst these are:
Fully discrete to offer a full, ‘warm’ well-defined sound, the 1608 accepts up to sixteen 500-series EQ modules with eight groups, eight auxiliary busses, analogue (VU) metering, comprehensive patching on the rear and D-Sub connections for ease of installation.
These desks offer optional expansion in 16 channel blocks (up to 96 inputs) and moving fader automation. They are simple to use and offer a musical ‘classic’ sound quality. The power supply is relatively compact but has inbuilt fans although we can modify to live outside the control room if required.
We’ve supplied standard versions to leading artists such as Calvin Harris and expanded desks to commercial studios such as Kore, where they’ve proved a great success. Possibly a little expensive in relation to the facilities but offer undoubted quality and a great, classic ‘vibe’.
API Legacy AXS
Large format analogue recording console available in 32, 48, 64 and 80 channel formats with onboard or remote patchbay. Traditional sonic excellence with modern facilities and automation. Fitted with 550A and 560 500 series Equalisers and 200 series Mic Pres and Dynamics on each channel as well as a 2500C bus compressor.
SSL (Solid State Logic)
Undoubted market leaders for forty years in console design and manufacture, SSL offer three exceptional consoles aimed at different areas of the market:
A simple ‘in-line’ console with 24 busses, four mono and one stereo auxiliary (as on the classic 4000 and 9000 series), ‘superanalogue’ mic pres and EQ as standard, four mono and one stereo auxiliary send, moving fader automation and total recall, bargraph-style digital metering, 5.1 capability and DAW control. Clients can expand a basic twenty-four channel desk by the addition of multiple 24 channel expansion units, each of which has its own built-in power supply and D-Sub connections, making installation a piece of cake and negating the need for a machine room. Well thought out and extremely powerful, we’ve now sold over a dozen new and used Dualities around the world and rate them extremely highly. Software updates can be downloaded online and cards swapped for ease of servicing (with excellent aftersales support from SSL). Sonically superb, the Duality has become the console of choice for leading commercial studios, producers, colleges and artists worldwide.
Since inception ten years ago, the AWS900 has proved a great success with producers and musicians around the world, offering twenty-four inputs with excellent mic preamps and EQ, eight groups (with returns), four mono and one stereo auxiliaries, moving fader automation with total recall, four stereo returns, accurate metering and DAW control. We’ve now sold over forty new and used AWS900’s and all have proved reliable and popular. Without doubt an attractive option for professional users worldwide.
The very latest addition to the SSL range of fully professional consoles, the XL is built to the same exacting standards as its big brothers and offers eight mic preamps and a buss compressor as standard, four mono and one stereo auxiliary send, four stereo groups/masters, and slots to accommodate up to sixteen 500-series EQ, mic preamp or dynamics modules, enabling the user to choose flavours to suit his or her style (from classic API or Neve discrete to the latest new kit on the block).
Although lacking automation or recall, the XL can be used with outboard automation such as the SSL Sigma and alongside a DAW controller such as the SSL Nucleus to provide similar facilities as far more expensive consoles. We’ve had clients ‘trade down’ from AWS900’s which offer more facilities than they need but still require to superb SSL sound, centre section facilities, compact but sturdy footprint and well-designed signal path architecture. Destined to become a great success in years to come.
Was/is the brainchild of David Dearden after he left MTA, Mr. Dearden has a rare grasp of the requirements and workflow of recording engineers and his desks have always combined extremely musical EQ with great ergonometric, the layout and facilities required to record music.
Audient feature professional facilities at a budget price by reducing manufacturing costs in a number of ways. For example, inputs come in blocks of twelve rather than being fully modular and let’s face it, knobs and switches aren’t the most glamorous in the business, although components are of a high quality.
The Audient ASP8024 – the Heritage Edition. is an in-line design, available in a variety or 24 buss formats, from fifty six to one hundred and fifty two inputs, with or without patchbay and with or without central DAW control. It features a whole host of powerful routing functions, powerful four-band EQ on every channel, fantastic 12 auxiliary sends with additional 2 cue sends, 4 stereo returns, a stereo bus compressor, and a very comprehensive centre section. Quite uniquely for an analogue console, the desk boasts a dedicated switchable insert point for both the mic/line and for the tape return paths.
More recently, the company introduced the excellent ASP4816 – an in-line console we helped them bring to the market, aimed at a high quality, sub ten grand analogue desk, designed for producers and smaller studios. It’s hardly surprising that this has been such a success and bought quality analogue recording within reach of a larger market. It features a whole host of powerful routing functions, 40 faders in a compact frame, powerful four-band EQ on every channel, 16 buses, 6 auxiliary sends with additional 2 dedicated cue sends, 4 stereo returns, a stereo bus compressor, and a very comprehensive centre section. Like its big brother, the desk boasts a dedicated switchable insert point for both the mic/line and for the tape return paths.
A great modification on the Audient ASP4816.
I’ve recently put together a new studio. I’ve had a couple of studios over the last 20 years and I’ve been lucky enough to work in some “big” studios with world class, Grammy winning engineers on a few of the classic large format consoles. Most of my time is spent writing and recording my own material (when I’m not playing live) and my own studio has always been primarily a tool and creative space for my own work and amusement. When I started to plan the new studio I wanted it centered around a good analogue console, something worth plugging in to. A few folk suggested digital consoles and I certainly see the benefits but that’s just not me, if I was going to do that I think I’d be plumbing straight into the DAW. The multicore connecting my live room and control room is old school analogue and nothing goes digital until it hits my Mac running Logic Pro via an Orion Antelope. (The Antelope was a fantastic suggestion from my kit guru Adam Crowe at Funky Junk… he’s a legend.) My budget was modest but not entirely restrictive and Adam pointed me towards the Audient ASP 4816. He knows how I work and that I like to have everything at my finger tips and ready to go rather than faffing around with patch bays. The 4816 gives me a plethora of switchable inputs and routing options. The pre-‐amps are clean and true. The physical footprint of the console isn’t prohibitive in a room that can’t accommodate bulkier consoles. What’s more it looks great and a console is always a lovely visual focal point in a studio.
You can read up on new gear all you like but it’s not until you get it under your fingers in your own working environment that you really figure out how it will truly integrate into your workflow properly. I’m a musician and a writer, I need the kit to be as simply functional as possible so I can concentrate on composing, playing and tracking without being slowed down by gear. The ASP 4816 has a lovely feature allowing you to route the long fader to the short fader, which is a great help to me. I can use the long fader for setting the level sent to the DAW and the short fader for my monitoring level whether that’s from the live room via the long fader or the return from the DAW. I can mess with the monitoring all I like and not affect the record levels. However the short fader is post fade, which is fine, but in my ideal world it would be pre fade so the monitoring level and recording level are independent. Here’s the great thing: a small modification on the circuit board allows you to do this. Tom Waterman from Audient (another hero and a man of infinite patience) very kindly made this mod and it’s made a significant difference to my workflow. I’m fairly certain there’s not much on the market at this price point with these sorts of features. The Audient ASP 4816 is exceptional. Straight forward and easy to navigate, sounds great (the EQs are quite a treat) and is intuitive and comfortable under your fingers.
The service from Audient is very personal, I can’t thank Tom enough. If you’re looking to buy a “small large format” console you should very seriously consider the ASP 4816 and look into some of the small but significant options that are available and easily over looked… and talk to Adam at Funky Junk, what he doesn’t know about kit isn’t worth knowing.
Both Tom and Adam are great company to sit and have a cup of tea and a chinwag with too.