500 series modules are catching on like wildfire in pro, project and even home studios for good reason. They provide a huge variety of audio color and options in a world dominated by DAWs that are digital, super clean and pristine. It’s great that today’s recording systems are so low noise and cost effective but they just don’t quite provide the vibe that existed in the big studio days of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. A huge analog mixing desk with lots of transformers in it provided a lot of non-linearity and as a result: tone. But, those desks also cost hundreds of thousands, or even over a million dollars. The great thing about 500 series is that it brings back the sound of the classic multimillion dollar studios and gear but at a price that’s reasonable and in a small form factor that can easily be integrated into today’s recording rigs.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with 500 series, it’s a compact rack standard popularized by API. Originally conceived for their modular consoles, API later introduced rack enclosures which they called the “lunchbox.” One of these 500 series enclosures houses usually 3 to 10 modules and includes an integrated power supply. Someone who owns a 500 series enclosure can fill it with whichever modules tickles his/her fancy from a variety of 500 series designers. 500 series has allowed engineers and producers to put together custom modular channel strips and/or front ends for their recording system that they can take wherever they’re working and retain a signature sound.
If you’ve never looked into 500 series modules, there is a world of choices out there and lots of exciting sounds to be had. We here at Meris are very excited about the format and new sounds that we can bring to it.