Softube’s Console 1 was an intriguing offering when it came out, but I suspect some people balked at the price – and simply didn’t know what it was or what it was for. Now, at five hundred bucks, the audience should be bigger. And Softube are working on making the “what is this anyway?” story clearer.

So, what is it? Let’s back up.

First, imagine a big mixing desk – like a big Solid State console.

Now imagine what that console would look like a computer accessory. Obviously, you’d want it to be a whole heck of a lot smaller, and you’d want it to work with software. The need for lots of physical faders is eliminated by making things work in software form, and then having them in software would let you use the console functionality seamlessly in your DAW.

What you’d want to keep, of course, is the sound of the console, and the feeling of being able to control things with your hands.

console1_software

Well, that’s the Console 1. It isn’t an audio interface. It isn’t a DSP platform like Universal Audio’s – everything runs on your computer CPU, natively. It’s physically just a big box with knobs and LEDs and such. But the package combines a bunch of software models of console sound with that high-end control surface. Then you use your existing computer hardware and interface to complete the studio.

The control surface itself is high-end, made of steel, literally. It feels terrific in my brief hands-on sessions; I do want to review this thing (now more than before, but more on that below). And it looks nice enough (thank you, Sweden).

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You also get a model of the Solid State Logic SL 4000 E console and everything that entails – so the bundled software includes its onboard compressors, EQ, and so on – as produced in combination with SSL themselves. And maybe that’s all you need – SSL model, control surface, done.

The new list price: US$499. This is nowhere near as affordable as something like Harrison MixBus, but that doesn’t include controller hardware.

More likely, though, you’ll mix and match your own plug-ins. Softube provide their own software which you can use with any DAW, and there’s integrated support both for Cakewalk SONAR and and the up-and-coming Presonus Studio One. (Anyone considering the Windows switch, here’s an ecosystem that might make you not look back – with apologies to Apple’s Touch Bar, the Console 1 looks more like what I’d want to mix on.)

Softube also supports their own ecosystem of models, all of them running natively on the CPU – including Chandler Limited, Fairchild, Teletronix, Tube-Tech, and Abbey Road Studios.

I want to see more full DAW integration – Cubase and Logic being obvious options, though Studio 1 and SONAR are a good start. But since it’s the plug-ins your controlling, that’s really key to making the Console 1 worth it.

And apart from the price break, the deal maker I suspect is the addition of UAD powered plug-in support. That’s a perfect combination: what holds the Console 1 back is plug-in support, and what holds the UA solution back is the lack of hands-on control.

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Softube doesn’t support everything of UAD’s, but there’s a lot – including crucial channel strips, the Fairchild and Harrison models, the Pultec (you got me there), Teletronix, and 1176 and 610 lines.

So now, pairing an Apollo Twin with a Console 1 makes for a pretty complete home mixing solution, one that sounds and behaves like a high-end studio but has a cost in reach of a lot of individual producers.

In fact, the hands-on Console 1 mapping of the UA 610-B, plus the Unison modeling of the 610-B on the Apollo Twin means you can plug in these two pieces of gear and have a complete experience. The complete list is now in an updated Q&A (ignore that 2013 date — the UAD stuff was announced just last week).

So, I’m eager to test this, absolutely. What I love about this is that it lets you recreate an entire console workflow in a totally different context. And that in turn means you can apply that sound and behavior to music and musical genres that never got into those studios.

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Softube has more work to do here. The value of the Console 1 is totally dependent on expanding compatibility and integration. And I also think they’ve more to do to tell the story to a broader audience of producers beyond the usual studio pros and press.

But it looks really promising with these updates. Maybe you think I’m crazy and you’ll stick to your native plug-ins and mouse. But stay tuned for that review.

Console 1: Q&A

Softube Console 1

  • Frank

    God, i wish you would finally replace that non readable font on the front page.I don’t have the slightest idea why you would insist on using it, all i can say it’s a real pain to find out what actually is written there.It’s too thin, it smears, has inconsitent weights that makes it really hard to read it.For instance the “five” in “five hundred bucks” looks/reads as “live” or “tive”.Awful.Whatever.It’s your site and you won’t listen to me anyway because hey, why should you.

    • Doug

      Good Lord Frank, I wish you would be more consistent with your use of punctuation. You use a single space after a comma, yet you use no spaces after a period. It makes for a difficult read. I haven’t the slightest idea why that would seem to make sense to you.

      For instance, I can’t tell if “it.For” is the end of once sentence and the beginning of another, or if that’s some weird pseudocode function call randomly placed in the middle of one single sentence. Terrible. My day is ruined.

      • Frank

        1) Google “Tu quoque”.
        2) I’m from Germany and at least here correct grammar doesn’t allow for space after a period while it’s mandatory after a comma.
        Simple as that.

        • > I’m from Germany and at least here correct grammar doesn’t allow for space after a period while it’s mandatory after a comma.

          first time I hear about that.

          • chaircrusher

            Ich geGooglete darĂ¼ber und fand nichts!

        • Doug

          (1) Google “Tuque”.
          (2) I’m from Canada and we like tuques.

          Logical fallacies aside, I just find it humorous when someone takes the time to criticize something and then close out with a statement that brings into question whether or not it was worthwhile to present the criticism in the first place.

          All in good fun sir.

    • Doug

      Good Lord Frank, I wish you would be more consistent with your use of punctuation. You use a single space after a comma, yet you use no spaces after a period. It makes for a difficult read. I haven’t the slightest idea why that would seem to make sense to you.

      For instance, I can’t tell if “it.For” is the end of once sentence and the beginning of another, or if that’s some weird pseudocode function call randomly placed in the middle of one single sentence. Terrible. My day is ruined.

    • Florian Krause

      Related to this: I cannot seem to find the link to the RSS feed anymore.

    • Polite Society

      Front page looks fine to me. Do you have zoom enabled or something? Sounds like bad resampling/aliasing.

  • wow

    I had held back on this because I was worried about how committed to it they would be over time. The UAD tie-in might be convincing enough….

  • Robin Parmar

    I like the idea of a console strip controller, but it will only fly if it’s a generic controller that works with the DAW I actually own. All this plugin-specific stuff is just a nightmare that can really only be adopted by those starting out with a clean slate without hardware or software commitments.

  • Klemen Kotar

    I want it even if I rarely mix in my home studio. It’ll complement Faderport 8 nicely đŸ™‚

  • Martin Wheeler

    Not sure how this can provide “an entire console workflow” or even a “pretty complete home mixing solution ” without having any faders ? I can certainly see the attraction of having a standardised channel strip with dedicated hardware knobs, and the price seems very reasonable, and Softube certainly make some great sounding stuff … but surely a major part of the console workflow for mixing (as opposed to mixing with a mouse) is mixing with long throw faders. IMNSHO if Softube got their act together re the major DAWs ( come on, this has been out for like 4 years and still only fully supports Sonar and Studio One ? WTF ? ) and stuck a half way decent lomg throw fader on there, they’d have a winner, even at the original price. Which ( pure speculation alert) makes me wonder if this price cut on what is, in DAW terms, now quite an old product, isn’t an effort to get these old models out of the door before they do exactly that and maybe more besides. That being said, for someone starting out, this plus their Volume 1 bundle is some pretty major bang for just under a thousand bucks. Just add fader.

  • zozo

    The inclusion of UAD plugins coupled with the price drop make the CONSOLE 1 a significantly more intriguing proposition. While I would stop short of calling it a complete home mixing setup, the ability to have tactile control of UAD’s low latency plugins is transformative.

    I wish SOFTUBE would demonstrate the workflow with supported UAD plugins. For instance, how will a the API 560 be mapped to CONSOLE 1’s hardware?

    I can only assume that the API’s 10 EQ band faders will be mapped respectively to the… 10 EQ knobs in the CONSOLE 1’s eq section. This is a big jump from mousing around and controlling one parameter at a time but the knobs no longer correspond to what they are labeled as controlling on the hardware.

    I always wished UAD would address this on their own, via an iPad app, MIDI support or a dedicated controller but this is at least a step in the right direction.

  • Ultimately, it will only deal with compression and EQ plugins? It begs the question, how many compression and EQ plugins does one need? Softube has never demonstrated the workflow or potential workflows with the various DAWs, or has it? It seems tempting but I can see that you would be juggling mouse, screen, DAW mixer and console in any mixing effort. It could get quite confusing and defeat the purpose. Then again it may not. I think I’ll sit this one out until better integration, if it ever appears, comes.