The 500 Series Thread

Anyone with experience working on a Black Lion Audio Patchbay Rack?

I’ve been very tempted by the 560 EQs, especially as mentioned above for tracking… I’ve also heard that the Purple TAV is a nice alternative in the graphic dept.

I got a lunchbox to add some more character pres to my setup, and got pairs of API 512v and BAE 1073MPL. It’s as far as I’ve allowed myself to go with 500 stuff, seeing how pricy a habit collecting studio gear can be, but so far I can say that having those two flavors for both tracking and running stuff back through later has been way worth it.

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ohhh yeah. I have/had a stereo pair of:

  1. 15ips tape saturator mk1
  2. lotl pentode
  3. tm79
  4. ctx transformer mk2

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with each of them in separately. i got rid of he tm79 because it was more of a distortion unit than color. the pentode is very subtle but has some top end sheen thats very nice. the ctx transformer is tricky, its sweetspot is just before it breaks up but its breakup sounds bad so its better on material with less dynamic range that could stand some warmth. tape saturator is the least subtle with a noticeable low end bump. like @taylor12k said its not “Markus Fischer” tape saturation, much more subtle.

At first i was using only one module at a time. the results were VERY subtle and i considered selling all of them. However lately ive been using all 3 slots at once and bringing in a more noticeable amount of color into the material, this has breathed some new life into the modules.

currently im considering trying out the lotl royal blue as a possible replacement for the ctx. the modules i think helped me uncover very that i dont prefer the “api sound”. maybe ill like the “Neve sound” better?

The lotl modules do seem better designed and higher quality than the diyre ones.


My current rack is: DIYRE Color Palette, SSL LMC+, TK Audio TKilizer. All stereo.

My 2 cents: The SSL Six has ruined my 500 series rack for me. If i could do it again with hindesight i’d run a SSL Six and either a lotl silver bullet or SSL Fusion on the main insert.

That being said that suites my own needs which are different than most. 500 series was a great intro into hardware. i especially like it because its harder to get ground loops since all the modules share a power supply. in terms of audio quality the power supply isnt where any quality is gained, but can certainly be lost. when running 19” racks you can have vastly different power supply qualities and can make for some annoying problems to run down.

I think it does extremely well and am mostly happy with my workflow. Its taken quite a bit of time to learn each module and when and how to use them. The LMC+ has a pretty high learning curve but is incredible at what it does. Nothing else is like it. Im not a huge fan of the frequency centerpoints of the TKilizer but it has a very broad Q so it really doesnt matter that much. I just like nice round numbers.


Could you elaborate a bit on this? I am kind of halfway into building up a single channel 500 rack, but I am intrigued by the flexibility a good small mixer could provide instead.

So far I have a Great River MP-500NV preamp, IGS One LA optocompressor. Currently building a Hairball FET compressor and browsing around for a suitable EQ to finish it off. Six slots in total. Very happy with how it sounds so far, although I think I could probably do with a better sound interface (Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 at the moment).


I like it but find it rather sensitive to input, so it tends to go from no compression to lots with a slight increase of input, but it sounds good and having the wet/dry is a big plus, for me.


Completely agree. Done! DIYRE Colour Format Thread


I have read this elsewhere. Maybe the trimpots on the stereo version (which is the one I would be interested in) help with this issue. The type of music I make is rarely heavily compressed so all or nothing would not work too well for me and I would have to make ample use of the mix knob otherwise.

Could you elaborate a bit on this?

Of course! Remember though this is just given my personal workflow and the material on I work with normally. I was building stereo channel strips with my 500 series and the Six just has great channels on it. It just made the 500 series redundant so it was relegated to 2 bus duty. 1 or 2 19" stereo racks units combined with the Six would probably have been a better route to go but what I have works well enough and it was better money wise to be able to build it incrementally.

With that said I work with a ton of stereo material. I rarely work with drums/percussion which is where I think that having a use case specific mono 500 module makes a ton of sense. I spend more time in M/S mode than L/R, most people have mono tracks and can control their stereo image with the pan knob. Specifically with drums that need aggressive compression is where my gear(Six) tends to fall short. All my gear is super gentle and specifically picked for it’s ability to fix problems rather than shape sounds. I’d much rather shape sounds closer to the instrument with a guitar pedal or synth setting.

I think if I worked with mono acoustic sounds(single mic) more my 500 series would prove invaluable. The ability to mix and match mono modules into the ideal channel strip for a given source would be a massive advantage. If you are building channel strips with your 500 series then I think the Six can be something worth exploring. If you need a silver bullet piece of equipment for specific material, then 500 series can’t be beat when it comes to cost effective high quality hardware.


I have the EQP-500s and I like it a lot - one of the “secret weapons”.

Yeah the 500 series, i grew up with it!

Oh not that 500? I’ll see myself out


Thank you for your thoughts! You’ve given me something to think about and I appreciate hearing your perspective - I’ll have to think through what I want out of this setup and how it fits together with the rest of my gear :slight_smile:

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A question about powering things. I know lunchboxes have different options (cable for i/o, and merging buttons, stuff like that) but if you could start over with 500 what’s a good beginning lunchbox?

I’m inclined to like these two, though I’d like to stay below $300 for power:

I actually really like the SIMPLE TRS i/o on the back of this two-space one - I might get it for the one 500 module I’m thinking of right now and just keep as a spare power supply for when I grow beyond two:

There’s only four modules in 500 I really see myself getting - is it foolish to think of a Neve branded lunchbox? Obviously half the price is in the name itself - or would this be a smart “buy it once” option?

I just don’t know what power concerns to have with 500 at all. I care very little about DAW implementation - all of this would be used analog with no computer, just want input and output for each module.

TLDR: What’s a good starter case and what sorts of power considerations? And apologies if that’s already discussed upstream in this thread, I didn’t see it if so. Thanks for any thoughts!


Yes, seconding the lola, it’s really a wonderful preamp. I’ve never tried it with electronic instruments, though, just with microphones (I don’t own one but one of my collaborators does and we’d never hesitate to mic anything with it!)

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Power with 500 series has been tricky, since there is a nominal “standard” spec (which all “VPR alliance” modules need to conform to) that determines the maximum amperage draw, but there are some interesting modules that are not VPR compliant and draw more power. There’s certainly been plenty of situations over the years where people found that their rack either wouldn’t work when a particular module was installed, or that when it was filled up all the modules were noisier than expected. If you look at the amperage draw of the modules you have in mind, and they’re all on the low-ish side, I imagine it’d be less likely to matter quite as much. Regulation (within the rack/power supply) is more critical here than in eurorack world, and some of the more expensive racks provide per-slot regulated power (which should isolate the bad vibes from one module interfering with neighboring ones), but that costs more. Of the ones I’ve used that are currently on the market, the API racks have been reliable*, the WesAudio and Cranborne and BAE ones are excellent too.

*totally reliable with VPR-compliant modules, but might have problems with the non-compliant high power draw ones


For a starter case I would highly recommend the Radial Six-Pack

Price is nice, used even better, and it has DB25. Eventually add a Redco TT Patchbay and you are golden.

Great for setting up a 2 channel mastering / warming chain. Made in Canada, rock solid.


also would highly recommend any of the CAPI products (preamps etc)if you are DIY inclined. Also their 11 space 500 rack kit is a great deal.


As painful as it is, I think paying for a good case is worth it for 500 series. I snagged the RND R6 because the connectivity and the power meter. It’s just nice to know how much “power headroom” there is especially when swapping out colour modules. I think it’d be something bugging me in the back of my mind if I didn’t know.


Thank you so much, @Gahlord @makamqore @alley_cam and @hankyates !

This is all so helpful, particularly with the product links!

@hankyates mentioning the Neve power consumption might be the right way for me to go. I had similar anxieties with eurorack which was calmed with a Joranalogue Test 3:

The Test 3 lets me know peaks and average mA on each rail and I feel very comfortable with my eurorack stuff now. It’s amazing how variant the actual power consumption is on something compared to its modular grid info.

Having something like that integrated into the box itself would be very useful! Most of what I’m looking to purchase will be pultec and neve, too. Will probably get a Neve 10 space and mellow out with it for five years of 500 series purchases, particularly to what @makamqore is saying about power draw, too.

I like the i/o on the back of the Radial!

The most urgent interest in 500 is a good de-esser for vocals. Seems there are two terrific ones in 500, the DBX 520 and the Empirical Labs DerrEsser 500. I’m liking the ‘set and forget’ aspect of the 520 - it’s listed at 75 mA, so I figure any power supply that can do 125 mA should be good headroom for the one single module. Will probably go cheap with the two-space bento just to get my introduction to the format and then upgrade to the Neve boxes later.

In terms of “what could GO WRONG” - here’s a funny single space unit on Amazon:

I’m not going to get that one, ha, but in terms of DIY can you just buy a power connector and TRS i/o for a single 75mA module like the DBX?

Thanks all, this was really helpful.

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not having any first hand experience maybe I should just keep quiet on it, but I feel like if you want pretty straight forward, and especially dbx stuff, I’ve seen good deals pop up here and there on dbx 900 series racks. not nearly as many options and the patchbay wiring isn’t as fancy as modern lunchboxes… but if you hunt around might be possible to pick up a rack with quite a few modules for the price of a good 500 case.


@slowsounds: Yeah, I don’t know anything about the DBX 900 format beyond what I’ve been learning about the 520 being based on it. It looks like a 1990s power standard of some sort? I do see a few DBX boxes loaded with modules. Have you worked with the 900 stuff? (Sorry if this derails the conversation)