Is 500 Series Gear Worse than Rack gear? Rapid-Fire Q&A #1

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  • ℹ️ Published 3 years ago

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In this series quick and easy to understand answers to the most common questions about recording mixing and mastering, David replies subscribers questions.
In this video, 500 series gear vs 19" Rack gear

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💬 Comments

Just to add, some modules do indeed have less headroom when compared with their rack counterpart. Neve is one manufacturer who openly admit the difference in headroom - albeit only 3dB difference... but there is still a measurable difference.

Author — Pete


I deal with the 500 series question every day. It's nonsense. The 500 series is how API BUILDS THEIR CONSOLES. It was a format INVENTED to BUILD large format consoles. Then someone figured out you could make these 500 lunchboxes and 500 racks and the 500 series modules explosion happened. There are probably thousands of 500 series module choices now. It's awesome.

Headroom is basically about voltage. API consoles and many others run on rails that are +16/-16 volts. Those are the voltages in the 500 series too. The only difference is packaging. I just finished building 16 SSL 9000 preamps in the 500 series. They run on +16/-16 also.

That said, Neve gear runs on +24, so when people move Neve modules into the 500 series, they have to deal with the voltage differences, and that can be done in a couple of ways. But if it's done well, and there's plenty of current available (modern 500 PSUs should be fine), there is no difference in headroom or quality.

Author — Richard Wielgosz


You sir are +48dbu of logical, unbiased infomation. Thanks a ton for all you do!

Author — Stephen Alcaide


Having just started on the 500 series journey (10 slot API lunch box and three modules thus far) this was really useful and helpful. Thank you.

Author — High Peak Recordings


Very informative, thanks for the info. I was actually on the fence about the 500's. Just got pushed over. Gonna be fun.

Author — David Camarda


Great topic. I’ve seen this on Gearslutz as a topic and it’s scared me off 500 series but good to hear a more complete and updated answer.

Author — louderthangod


dope backdrop! thanks for covering this topic. i bet most of us here were waiting for someone to cover this based on their experiences using both. awesome! best audio advice channel i've seen here lately

Author — Demode


Thanks for that video. Though for Millennia preamp you have less juice with the 500s than with the rack one due to the lower voltage (24v vs 16v) of the lunch box. 4dbu more on the output and 3dbu for the input. That said this is the only difference!

Author — Manivels


i agree 500 is better as is more affordable, and ive had several 500 mic pres, but none sounded better than my 1073n and that was with a tiny psu unit, strange, i thought it was down to transformer size, what do i know im a drummer lol, but all in all the api stuff is spot on, 560 eq killer on guitars, and the second hand market get some bargains, a good 500 series vca compressor on the back end of your da and then to a recordable cd unit, will get pro results for under a 1000, its good enough to beat the plugin debate and leave you feeling satisfied with the purchase

Author — ssyne


Thank you for this video cause I’ve been curious on this subject, your the best David!

Author — M.R.O. The Viking


I really love the fact you say "serious" instead of "series"... it's one of those endering things you end up loving when someone is fumiluar.

500 serises is so good... make sure you have a really good lunchbox and you'll be fine...

I love the idea of creating my own console with easy complete mix and match esactly what I would want... that's avbig dream to do that properly one day...

The term toy is a bit vauge also... bucause that would be a toy for me... a 500 serises console but it would be used for professional use... I will just be having so much fun from it like a toy... if it doesn't sound very good then it isn't fun... so maybe I want the gear to be toys... toys I love and appceaite... in that context Lego wouldn't be a toy to me, it would be boring and usless... just to 360 the table on that remark... forums are definaly a hide out some narcsisitic bla bla blas... it's also where you might find the real good advice... so just learn to negogate between good and toxic people

Author — d


Like the format, David! And the first topic. Thanks for sharing your formidable knowledge.

Author — cortical1


Always interesting content, this channel is a pleasure to watch.

Author — Kira Barsmith


Thank you so much for reply to my question David, I'm about to test my new custom console with 8 ch passive summing mixer with double 500 module insert per channel made by Livio Argentini a former api employee! Thank you so much!

Author — Francesco Putortì


Thank you so much David! Any chance to see you making new mix from scratch video series?

Author — Astrarivm


I am praying for a studio tour, especially the treatment aspects!!

Author — vin karume


Thanks for the vid as always! Do you know much about the IGS Audio Panzer 500 and it's quality? Glenn Fricker has this and says it's been solid for him so that has been on my shopping list for when I finally decide to dive into 500 series, because they are a very fair price compared to an actual API lunch box for example.

Author — Diesel Dungeon Studio


No 500 series are not toys. The new Neve BCM console and all the API's have 500 slots in them as standard. There are some manufacturers making cheap ass 500 units that you should probably stay clear of.. but like most things in life you pay for what you get. Buy a Radial or API rack with good quality PSU and you'll be fine.. 500 is here to stay. If your looking for a well priced exceptional pre.. check out the new Neve AMS 88RLB

Author — RAD Official


The 500 series are great, most big studios have some. Are they the same as full dedicated units, in a lot of cases of course not! They werent created to be the same! BUT it doesnt mean they arent great or not worth having. The conversation shouldnt be about one VS the other. It should be about how useful they are or if they sound good. A lot of 500 series are very cut down versions to start off with, take the Shadow Hills 500 series. It not the same, it could never be of course but it doesnt mean it isnt still a good unit. Some of the 500 series pieces of gear sound great! Definitely worth having.

Author — Curtis Gabriel


Tell us what modules you have, why and what order are you using and for what pls.
And what other modules would be ideal to have? Do you plan to expand the rack with other 500 series?
Some are very expensive tho'. There is also a little Shadow Hills compressor. Cute heh? Is it good?
Are the compressors good enough compared with Never, Chandler, Distressor 19"?

Author — UnknownHumanoid