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500 Series

It can be argued that the home recording revolution happened when some bright spark realised they could break up a mixing console into its constituent parts and sell these bits as 'outboard'. That allowed users to record in more locations other than the traditional studio. It also allowed a much richer sonic palette to be available to engineers and producers.

Apart from the major recording studios the console is now, more often than not, a hub for connecting outboard to. In many cases, there is no console at all, just racks of analogue processors, convertors, patchbays and a DAW.

A smaller but similar revolution happened a few years ago when, the bright things at API, decided to open up their very popular 500 series format to the industry. Whilst the 500 series in concept is actually taken directly from their console line, this has led to, not quite a replacement, but certainly an augmentation from pure rack processors to power supply-less modules. Because the power is already provided, and because the modules themselves are small these modules are much cheaper than their rackmount brothers and sisters. Now you can have a Neve mic-pre, an 1176 style FET compressor and API EQ all in the same housing for a fraction of a cost these processors would cost as rack units. This has opened up serious recording to even more people, and once again, increased the sonic palette available.

Pretty much every processor and style of processor is available for the 500 series. High-end mic-pres, tube mic-pres, tube compressors, even Fairchild compressors. All sorts of EQ, parametric, graphic even Pultec circuits. Then there are filters, headphone amps, de-essers, even convertors available in this format.

The 500 series format does have some disadvantages though which will mean it certainly won't completely replace traditional rack outboard. There is a power limit, which is part of the deal when using a single power supply to power so many processors. So the units can often underperform compared to their rackmount counterparts. And due to their size, they often have to compromise on the internal circuitry or indeed features.

So, there are compromises to be made. However, these compromises are for the most part accepted due to the fact they are much less expensive than comparable rackmount units, and are often used as additions to already well stocked racks. With thousands of empty 500 series slots out there, this looks set to continue for some time now. 

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Items found 262

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