The 6 Coolest Consoles of AES 2015

This weekend marks the 139th convention of the Audio Engineering Society, or AES. Droves of studio pros, platinum producers, students and engineers from every corner of the audio world gather in the Javits Center on the Westside of Manhattan to share new technologies, techniques and innovations. Of the many ideas and items showcased, nothing has the power to turn heads quite like a world class studio console.

Today's consoles are varied and specialized, yet there's an undeniable penchant to bring the classic analog designs that have filled control rooms for decades into a modern space and building paradigm. Of the many consoles on display, here's a look at six of our favorites.

Tree Audio Roots Console

The brainchild of two longstanding wizards in the west coast studio industry, Tree Audio has been producing handmade consoles since 2007, picking up a TEC Award and the admiration of Flea, Pete Townshend, and Herbie Hancock along the way. Their flagship eight-channel Roots console is a hybrid design which sports an all-tube EQ and limiter on each channel, tube-regulated power supply, four 500 series slots for customizing your signal chain, and a discrete stereo buss built upon the beloved Inward Connections 690 amplifier. Two different eight-channel expanders and a standalone rackmount version of the input module are also available.

 

AMS Neve BCM10

AMS Neve turned a lot of heads as they unveiled their new spin on the classic BCM10 sidecar, and with good reason. The new BCM10/2 Mk2 comes loaded with a choice of discrete 10xx input modules and 1272 buss amplifiers and can be ordered in 10, 16, 24, and 32-input frames. Direct outputs have been added to the Mk2, the most common modification to the vintage BCM10, and a pair of 500 Series slots and a more contemporary center section bring this vintage favorite into the modern age.

 

Purple Audio MFTwenty5

Founded in 1997 just a stone’s throw from AES and currently operating out of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, Purple Audio has grown from an NYU student’s endeavor in Queens to an impressive operation in the historic Marion Hose facility where it currently resides. Taking a leap forward from their usual signal processors, their new MFtwenty5 takes advantage of the growing trend toward modularity and 500 series gear, essentially offering a framework for you to configure your own console. The base unit provides discrete summing for 10 stereo inputs, which can also be utilized in mono, with a transformer based stereo output. Expansion options to add faders, metering and two 10-unit 500 series racks allow the MFtwenty5 to be utilized as a standard summing mixer, project studio console, sidecar, or a component for larger systems.

 

Rupert Neve Designs 5088

The originator of the voltage-saturated transformer sound, Rupert Neve’s status as a god amongst gods in the audio world has been cemented through the years by his revolutionary innovations in console design. The 5088, Neve’s first console design in over thirty years, is built with custom transformers paired with every input and output on the console and high-voltage discrete op-amp cards designed by the man himself. The Shelford Series 5088 seen here is loaded with modules that call upon Rupert’s past designs, with inductor-based equalizers reminiscent of the classic 10xx modules.

 

API Vision Console

A heavyweight in the audio industry, API has been in the game since 1968 and is the main provider of broadcast consoles for the likes of NBC, ABC and CBS. Their Vision console, billed as “the only analog console ever designed from the ground up for surround work,” takes the iconic sound of API’s mic pres, equalizers, and dynamics processors heard on countless landmark recordings and mates it all with unparalleled flexibility and powerful automation. The Vision console can be built with up to 64 individual channels and features resettable buss assign and switch automation for each channel, plus simultaneous surround and stereo mixing.

 

Solid State Logic (SSL) L300 / L500

Oxfordshire, England’s Solid State Logic is swinging for the fences in the Live Sound console market with the new V3 versions of the L300 and L500 consoles. These compact digital powerhouses offer a metric ton of I/O and bussing, an intuitive control surface, and the quintessential sound of SSL’s processing. The new V3 software introduces 40 new features including Dante integration, new 5.1 and 4.0 audio paths with multichannel fold-down options, and a plethora of other updates to make these formidable sound reinforcement desks even more compelling for large venue installs.

 

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