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Hey All,

My name is Eric Valentine. I am a record producer and studio owner in Los Angeles. I am starting to spread the word about A new company (Undertone Audio) and custom console we are building that will be available for purchase next year. Here are some details, back ground, etc.

This console project started over 4 years ago. I decided to do this after really accepting how dissatisfied I was with the Neve 88R and realizing I had access to an inconceivably brilliant audio electronic designer. A gentlemen named Larry Jasper who had worked for Quad Eight and GML (in addition to doing many many other custom designs for boutique products out there), had been helping maintain and modify some of my gear. The guy was just never wrong and knew everything about every single piece of gear I owned. I just decided **** It lets try to make the ultimate no compromises best sounding analog console ever built. We spent the next 4+ years endeavoring to do that. We started completely from scratch, designing our own amplifier block (our version of a API 2520 or Neve BA183). Larry came up with a Pure Class A single ended amplifier block that has the efficiency of a Class A push pull design. That amplifier has allowed us to incorporate more features without giving up sonics. The sonic character is reminiscent of a Class A EMI TGI console.

There are a few things that are unique about it. The first thing is the Equalizer. I decided that if I am going to have 60 of one particular EQ sitting in front of me it better the best choice at least 90% of the time. The equalizer we came up with I believe is one of the most flexible and musical EQs I have ever used. It has features that have never existed in an analog equalizer before, yet is still all Class A single ended gain stages through out. In its basic form it is a 4 band parametric EQ. All of the 4 bands are individually bypass-able, so bands that aren't being used don't add any additional amplifier noise. Instead of having a button for either peak or shelf type EQ there is a potentiometer. This makes it possible to blend between a peak or shelf shape. All 4 bands have this feature. The Q control has a wide range of adjustment approximately .3 - 10. The Q control is active all the time weather you are using a peak shape or a shelf shape. This makes it possible to achieve pretty much any curve or slope you could possibly want. It has a notch mode that allows you to completely cancel a particular frequency. It also has an "All Pass" mode that allows you to do variable phase adjustments or flip the phase on a particular slice of the frequency spectrum. We decided to do the boost or cut switch instead of having the more common detent at 12 O'clock. That approach effectively doubles the resolution for boost and cut adjustments.

The console has the usual compliment of 24 multi-track buses and 6 aux sends. The mix bus is a bit unique in that we decided to use vacuum tube amplifiers for the mix bus path. The concept is that tubes are better at handling dense complicated signals, the same way tube guitar amps tend to sound better when playing chords on guitar. There is also a tube output amp for the Control Room Monitor output. The result is a beautifully detailed, open and relaxing sound. I have found it to be easy on the ears when working long days mixing.

The other unique feature is how the console interacts acoustically in the room. One thing that I have always wrestled with over the years, is how the work surface of a mixing console effects the accuracy of near field monitors. Having a vast flat metal surface sitting directly under your near field monitors is not good. It causes dramatic comb filtering anomalies that do a pretty good job of destroying the accuracy of the 1K-5K range. We have come up with an acoustically transparent work surface for the console that almost totally eliminates this problem. My NS10s actually sound like they are just sitting on stands. In addition, the frame and any where possible we designed the console so sound Wavescan pass through it. It is as open as it could possibly be and minimizes its effects on the main monitors/ subs etc.

I stripped this thing down to the essentials for making records. There's no attempt to accommodate dub stages, film mixing, broadcast or whatever. This is a console is for making music. The console itself is a physically manageable size and a 60 channel configuration runs off of one 20 amp circuit. The 60 ch 88R I owned was connected to 80 amps of power.

So now I'm curious to see if other people will respond to the sound and features of the console the way I have. We will be showing a 24 channel version of the console at AES 129 in San Francisco, booth 1341. The company is called Undertone Audio.

Here are some pictures from the installation to check out:

Here is a picture of the 60 ch. Black finish console during installation:

Here is a close up of the EQ section:

Here is a section of gold finish modules:

Here is part of the gold master section:

I would enjoy hearing any thoughts or comments!

Eric Valentine