6 Must-Use Classic Analog Consoles For Your Mixes

Posted by Rob B

We are so used to working with touch-screens, keyboards and controllers of all kind these days that we nearly forgot what it all comes down to. This week is all about big knobs, large faders and great sounds!

6 Must-Use Classic Analog Consoles For Your Mixes

The visual element has become, for one reason or another, the main output source for nearly all major industries including, you guessed it – the audio industry. Isn’t that quite puzzling? I mean, why would you want to use your eyes more than your ears when it comes to working with sound? It simply doesn’t make sense.

In recent years however, we have seen an upsurge in analog consoles; people are slowly realising the value of not having a screen in front of them, reinstating one’s reliance on sound rather than sight. From industry big shots to the rather boutique and obscure entries, we’ve selected our top 6 classic consoles you should definitely run your mixes through. This article is part 1, where we'll look at the top 3 consoles, with more to follow next week!

 Part I

SSL 6000E

The market leaders for over four decades when it comes to designing and building consoles, Solid State Logic (SSL) has changed the way records were being made from as early as 1979 with the introduction of the 4000E series console.

The 6000E series features six mix busses and the classic E series EQs with low and high shelving options, which can be switched to bell curves. A very popular option for mix engineers dealing with rock, pop and hip-hop, it has been used by everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Tupac Shakur and has shaped the sound of recording history since its introduction.

Originally intended for the broadcasting industry, the 6000E series soon became popular for its indistinguishable tight and punchy sound and the legendary high end SSL sheen, as heard on numerous records. 

Neve Amek 9098i

Tony’s 9098i is one of only 13 in the world and brings with it a hefty bag of history. Having originally been installed at Olympic Studios in London, it now resides in Sonic Lounge’s studio A – Tony’s elegant facility based near Columbus, Ohio. Yes, this is not just another board, but rather the board; countless records have been cut on this fine piece of musical engineering, the last of which was U2’s No Line on the Horizon.

Built to serve great music, the Rupert Neve designed Amek 9098i is considered by many to be the pinnacle of large format consoles. Featuring pristine preamps and outstanding EQs, it impresses in every possible way. Mr. Neve himself added his musical touch to the EQ section – glow, a broad boost on the LF shelf and sheen, a similar stroke on the HF shelf. The dynamics section is nothing short of astonishing either – Amek’s very own Virtual Dynamics is present in both channel and monitor paths, offering three gates, two compressors, one dedicated limiter, one dedicated expander, two expander-compressor combos and even an auto-panner – yes, we know this last one has little to do with dyanmics but it is such a brilliant feature to have already built-in.

Tony’s 9098i has been described as having a ‘warm bottom end, shimmering highs, amazing width, depth and size’. What’s more, this particular board has received a few upgrades throughout the years including 28 channels of outboard mic preamps, EQs and compressors from the best names in the industry or as Tony describes, ‘a collection of modern and vintage pieces that will bring out the best in your music’. 

Neve 8078

The last of the 80 series, the Neve 8078 is a hand wired analog console found in many top tier studios including Ocean Way, Blackbird, Electric Lady and Sound City. They are a rare breed of consoles, with only a handful still in existence, one of which resides at Oscilloscope Laboratories founded by Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch and film executive David Fenkel.

This model has made rock and roll history with the likes of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album and Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. It is built like a tank yet it is possibly one of the most musical sounding consoles ever built. Everything about it has been designed to the highest standard, from the channel strips to the look and feel of the unit – it is simply a work of art; an elegant combination of clever engineering, aesthetic considerations and most importantly, sonic qualities.

We are all too familiar with the openness of the Neve sound, the musicality of the EQs and the subtleties of its dynamics. Despite it needing little to no introduction, for the more gear orientated fans, Dave Grohl provides one of the best stories of this legendary piece of recording history in his 2013 documentary ‘Sound City’.

Watch this space for part two, where we discuss even more classic consoles, including a boutique Eastern-European rarity.

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