Lately I’ve been thinking about outboard devices for recording & mixing mastering, I seek for a good compressor & EQ and my plan lean toward to the 500 series.
Still unfamiliar with it, hope lines users here can shred lights on, especially when deal with modular level, is this format suits the purpose? Also I think some of you are using stuffs like Tape Emulator by Rupert Neve.
I’m interested in it as well but haven’t taken the plunge. At our studio I’ve wired up a TT patch to deal mic signals/console/UAD 4-710. I’m really inclined to get a BLA PBR-8 because it looks plug and play to our setup. Seems much cheaper to have 8 channels of high end mic pres than to have 8 1U, 4 2U, etc but I suppose that depends on the quality of supply to the case. I don’t really think it would help with modular levels unless the pre had a pad or that you’d have output gain to trim the signal to prevent clipping on your A/D but you’d probably still clip the input stage.
i’ve got a bunch of 500 modules both in a couple different lunchboxes and my console… happy to answer any questions.
the RND 542 tape emulator is an interesting beast. i tried the original 5042 many years ago and found it way too subtle… but over the years i’ve come to realize it’s because i didn’t really know what to listen for. it is subtle for sure, but not when you know what to listen for. a decade+ in mastering has taught me the benefits of stuff like that and now i really would like a pair of 542s.
don’t expect marcus fischer style tape degradation from them tho! it’s like a high end, clean tape machine.
I’m curious if anyone in the lines community is working with the Colour-series: the chassis is provided in kit form by DiyRE, and you either buy or solder up colour cards (eqs, compressors, tape sims, etc) that you can put in series to get an analog effect chain. The front panel basically gives you one knob per card, so say if the 2nd card was a tape sim you’d just be dialing in how much of that card’s effect sound is part of the module’s output in general.
It seems fun in concept, and brief demos I heard at the AES show seemed to sound fine (always hard to tell at trade shows though). It—at least hypothetically speaking—could make for an interesting “after the mixer” effects chain for synthesists before hitting interface/converters. What’s appealing to me in this application is the reduced interface.
I think one of my main questions with the 500 series stems from seeing several pedal manufacturers move their designs into the 500 format… which makes me wonder if I would be investing my time into a form factor more than a set of tech and designs I can’t get in pedal format.
In general I’d look to use it for tone shaping and tracking synths, drum machines, samplers etc… so I don’t need preamps and tech that’s designed to capture mic’d sounds.
Happy to hear from peoples’ experiences with 500, I’m on the edge of jumping in… but like with pedals the breadth of boutique options has actually held my at bay because I don’t want to dive into a GAS rabbit hole.
I preordered the color duo rackmount stereo preamp colour palette thing (looks like they’ve got a handful left right now if anyone is interested https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/products/colour-duo?variant=37259450155181 ). Excited about it…I’ve thought about the format before, both with the color palette euro module and the 500 series ones, but this felt like a good combo of things to round out some of the things I have. I’m building a couple jfets, colourupter optical comp distortions, distortastudio op amp clippers, and the smash comp lofi compressors.
I’ve also got some longer term plans to see if I can make an adapter board for my exi[s]t (i.e. mannequins rip clone) cinnemag transformer board plus an opamp gain stage to get it to work well with the format.
I’ve really enjoyed the DIYRE podcast and YouTube videos, I feel like I’ve learned a lot of random things about classic pro audio designs. And they definitely have some of the most detail build instructions for their diy stuff…I’ve built a couple of the reamp boxes which get the job done well.
So one of the things that I think 500 will give me better options for is the ability to submix drums+drum+bass into a unit that overdrives and EQs in some interesting and dynamic way that makes for a new overall sound that would be pretty hard to replicate in digital stuff (at least I have hard time getting this kind of interesting dynamic behavior out of plugins).
having a compressor or two involved would be a potential path to this, and in general I know I can do a lot of this in Euro rack, so I still wonder what exactly kind of circuits can a 500 series provide that are interesting points to start experimenting with.
Been extensively using Series 500 for the past 8 years.
I owned 2x 542 (Neve Tape Emulator) and I thought they were alright. In terms of coloring, I liked better the Elysia Karacter (which can act as both stereo or dual mono) which is still currently serving me well especially on drum busses
Another great value for money module is imo the API 505. I have got 2 of these and I use either as stereo input (although they cannot be internally linked) for synths, or with Eurorack: The Noise Engineering BI sounds glorious when fed through it.
I agree, a dangerous and great thread!
I have a wesaudio titan rack, and two of their modules, the dione (VCA comp) and the prometheus (discrete pultec eq). The very awesome thing about wesaudio stuff is, that they are remote controllable with plugins from your daw (vst, vst3 etc) and because of that offer “total recall” which is fantastic for me because I tend to work on multiple songs at once. The modules either connect thru usb from their respective front plates or from the back of the titan via usb for all modules and even ethernet/network, which is what I do/use. Happy to answer question! (not affiliated with them, just very happy with the products and service) .
Also have 2 colour host from hrk, the c544, which can host 4 colour modules each. Still pretty new and therefore still experimenting. As colour modules I got the LTL Mass Drivr, the LTL Royal Blue, HRK Soviet tube (will get an exchange, hums a lot) and the HRK Sputnik Germanium Saturation.
Will answer other questions in thread directly.
The one thing I realized very quickly after working with the 500 stuff: I should have done this ages ago. Getting the sound I want and more is so much easier and rewarding than using plugins. I probably could have saved myself lots of days (and money) by not looking for another, better comp eq plugin etc or trying to work with them.
Oh and also SoundonSound had a 500 special in November, can heartily recommend that!
Forgot to mention my use cases:
mixbus / mastering (dione and prometheus)
sound shaping (the colour stuff), thinking of using it instead of e.g. Decapitator
I appreciate the insightful comments and questions here. I like the idea of 500 series but I’m always a little uncertain how useful it is for working with eurorack or other synths (e.g. Buchla or rack synths) rather than vocals/drums etc
It really depends on many factors, firstly on what you define useful
I think maybe in your post you were referring specifically to Pre-Amps: I personally like running synths through pre amps for the same reasons I would run other instruments (like a guitar or a mic): they can add interesting coloring, subtle saturation, more definition, depending on what instrument and pre amp are being used in the chain.
I have a pair of NEVE 517 that sounds great on a multitude of audio sources: lately I have been using it a lots on pads, with the signal gently overdriven (from an Iridium).
Drum wise, my DFAM is locked in on one of my API 505 into a API 527.
One 500-series module I have used and like a lot is the CAPI VC528. I guess technically it’s derived from the “line input” from 70s-era API consoles, but is ultimately a different circuit (two discrete opamps, two transformers). If you find that you feel your recordings sound “thin” and need a bit of “thickening” after you’ve recorded them (adding saturation plugins, for example), building a pair of these is a comparatively cost-effective way to get a sound that is a bit more like “it was recorded on a big console.” I’ve used these in the past both on acoustic recordings and on ones featuring analog monosynths. That said, it (should) go without saying that not all recordings benefit from that kind of an extra analog input stage—especially when you want the kind of clarity digital can impart and not the “smear” of yesteryear.
I too was tempted by the TX5C deal. It would be cool to have a 500 series compressor with sidechain capabilities and there are no easy DIY options available for that. I’ve just sold some gear and ordered a Prophet 10 though, so I need to chill out for a bit.
Early in the pandemic I went a little nuts and built a bunch of the nicer DIY 500 kit stuff (17 modules!) from AML, CAPI, JLM etc. It’s all very nice and professional sounding and useful for actual recording with mics, but it’s not super transformative for recording synths in the same way that pedals and tube amps are. The best by far for synths are the Analog Allstars EQP1S solid state pultecs. Those can consistently make a sound much different and always better.
I have had a TX5c for about 3 years
I thought it was pretty good especially on guitar, plucked sounds and snares, which have all a pretty short attack in common. I did not really like it with synth basses (which was the main reason I purchased it in the first place). I absolutely hated the UX/UI on it and I only recently traded for a Neve 511 (and acquired a API 527 for synth bass compression duties)
Well, one advantage of all-work-no-play living (and not being able to spend money on bars and restaurants for the last 9 months…) is that I’ve got a decent budget for gear, so I took the plunge. Grabbed a Cranborne ADAT chassis, a Karacter and an Nvelope, looking forward to testing them out on a variety of sources
I’ll be keeping an eye on reverb for some of those API modules, I know from the plugins versions that I like what they do… but man are they expensive if I’m thinking about getting a set of them.
Good to see here lines ppl have such many responses on this topic.
I’d limit myself a 6 slots rack (cannot afford more even I’ll get it one after one), I will get either API 500 6B or Rupert Neve R6, still deciding which. Also tend to aim at major brands like API or SSL, so I can sell it easily when I have to.
I’m thinking of either one of:
same unit of pre x 2, EQ x 2, compressor x 2
For that I can deal with stereo (drum machine, stereo synths), and process the recorded tracks
one single pre x 1, two different EQ, two different compressor, tape emulator, etc.
For that it could be more versatile, but no stereo processing for mastering purpose