Correction: I incorrectly stated that Euphonix themselves collaborated with UA; instead it is Euphonix co-founders and veterans of the company Scott and Rob Silfvast. I apologize for the error. In a way, this is even better; they represent some of the individual design vision behind Euphonix. See Scott Silfvast’s ideas at the end.

This weekend is the high-end AES audio show in San Francisco, meaning we get to ogle beautiful gear with serious-looking VU meters and drool-worthy audio quality. Universal’s new modular “desktop console system” is at the top of the list on both counts, and it’s actually geared at the project-sized computer music studio.

Universal Audio has an intensely loyal following for its DSP plug-ins and vintage-style preamps and hardware gear. (Quite a few CDM readers are big fans of their UAD-1 platform, a PCI DSP card that supports some terrific-sounding plug-ins.) But they’re likely to get a lot more attention for this move: they’re teaming up with Scott & Rob Silfvast, two of the original founders and ex-executives of Euphonix, who are best known for their high-end Pro Tools controllers and large consoles, the kind of things you usually only see in big studios.

The collaboration here is intended to bring console features to project studios: instead of big studios and big budgets, think small spaces and more modest wallets. The Desktop Console System (DCS) is a modular, “micro-console” product line. Got one machine running SONAR and just want a high-quality mic pre? This could be for you.

Whether or not this particular product is of interest to you personally, I think it’s telling that this product is getting unveiled at AES. Conventional wisdom is that, with the downfall of big studios, high-end audio gear sales should be suffering and the Audio Engineering Society shows, geared at high-end users, should be shrinking. Instead, the opposite is happening: AES is packed, and there are new opportunities for boutique audio makers like UA. The shift to more project studios and computer-based recording with less outboard gear could actually mean an opportunity for high-end audio gear makers, if audio dollars become less centralized (more individual users instead of fewer big studios).

The first products in the line are a remote preamp (dual pre and cue mixer), ideal for improving the signal chain from a small studio space, and a monitor master (speaker cue and cue controller).

Here’s how UA describes the features of the new products:

Key Features Of DCS Remote Preamp (Dual Pre & Cue Mixer):

  1. Dual Mono Or Stereo transimpedance Mic Pre/DI
  2. Mid-Side (MS) Recording with decoded monitoring
  3. Headphone amp with 3x Cue mix, Reverb & EQ
  4. Digitally controlled analog signal path via DCS-Link�
  5. Remote up to 300′ from base station via CAT-5 cable

Key Features Of DCS Monitor Master (Speaker & Cue Controller):

  1. Mixing/monitoring/recording premium-quality “console master section”
  2. 100% digitally controlled analog signal path via DCS-Link� interconnect
  3. Five stereo inputs (three analog, two digital) and five stereo outputs
  4. Features such as mono sum, dim, mute plus L/R solo, phase and swap
  5. Flexible talkback & Reference grade 24 bit 192 kHz DAC

These two modules are due at the beginning of 2007; pricing TBA. More modules will follow.

If you just want some more analog hardware / VU meter pr0n, head to this link:

Universal Audio analog gear photos

Normally the quotes you see in press releases are pretty meaningless, but Scott Silfvast succinctly describes what the idea of these units is:

” By collaborating with UA, we have combined heritage, sonic excellence and our joint industry experience to design a modular series of desktop studio products. The DCS products uniquely take the best features and working methods of large-format consoles and allow these to be easily integrated into today’s more compact DAW-based studios.” said Scott Silfvast, Product Consultant and co-Founder of Euphonix. “Each DCS unit provides a unique solution for the DAW-based studio that helps to interface the analog part of the studio – humans, mics, instruments, headphones, speakers etc with the computer.”