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Lindell Audio 503 Power, 6X-500, PEX-500, and 7X-500 Review

lindell audio 500 series review

TL;DR:

Lindell Audio 503 Power, 6X-500, PEX-500, 7X-500 Review: Lindell Audio, the affordable analogue outboard brand, has created these 500 series units with exceptional performance.


Review Preface:

Founded in 2010 by Swedish record producer and longstanding Gearslutz moderator Tobias Lindell, the Lindell Audio mission has always been to produce outstanding affordable technology ‘by engineers, for engineers’. However, please don’t be fooled by the price point, Lindell Audio’s creations are wonderful machines that undoubtedly hold a ground of their own amongst the elite, and certainly punch well above their weight.


Within this feature we shall review what we call a ‘fully loaded’ 503 Power system, which includes the following four products; the 503 Power (500 Series three slot power distributor), 6X-500 (500 Series microphone preamp with two-band high/low variable ‘British EQ’), PEX-500 (500 Series three band passive EQ), and the 7X-500 (500 Series FET based compressor). This review shall discuss the synergy of a ‘fully loaded’ system, unboxing, build quality, and features collectively. Sound quality and performance shall be disseminated towards the end of this review.


Why 500 Series?

Before we begin, I would like to discuss the uses of an affordable 500 series system following the purchase of the power supply system. For producers 500 series modules offer a great deal of flexibility. Long gone are the days of paying through the teeth for these modular systems, instead following the purchase of a multi-slot system, (such as the 503 power, 506 power, and 510 power) a user can gradually build up a mono system without paying for expensive isolated power circuits and heavy machined casework on standalone units. Ultimately it is much easier to transport a full rack for on-location recording and represents better value for money (in Lindell Audio’s case), so much so that a Lindell Audio 500 series unit costs around the same as the plug-in equivalent; a massive bonus!


lindell audio 503 reviewUnboxing, 503 Features, and Build Quality:

Arriving in unremarkable black packaging, our first observation is that the 503 power distributor and individual 500 series modules could benefit from additional packaging and a desiccant inside the box to further safeguard the units during shipping. Inside currently each of the modules are wrapped in a protective opaque bag and placed in a simple black box with a square wedge of foam alongside the transformers to inhibit rattling, no warranty or specification sheets are included. This is the same for all the 500 series modules (ie. 6X-500, 7X-500, and PEX-500), however the 503 power does have additional padding provided by the free black neoprene ‘Lindell Audio’ branded carry case. This carry case is a snug fit for the 503 power and includes the shoulder strap that can be easily untethered, and provides a zip locked front and back panel for easy ‘on-the-road’ access. The carry case is a welcome addition to the bundle and I see no issues with its function, however, aesthetically speaking, I would have preferred if the logo was more subtle.


Designed in Sweden and made in China is, in effect, how Lindell Audio manages to competitively produce these brilliant units for the current retail price; approximately a 65% reduction in comparison with current series 500 modules. However, don’t be fooled, China has become a major player in the Pro Audio market within recent years, and observation of the internal circuitry is both positive and testament to attention to detail. In fact Lindell Audio are so confident that they have released high resolution images of the circuitry on their website for prospecting users to assess. Upon close examination I can confirm that our received unit closely match the images published and I can validate that the workmanship, surface mounted components, gold plated PCB tracks, discreet amplifiers, and hand custom hand wound transformers are present and surprisingly good. Like many other 500 series modules, the PEX, 6X, and 7X do not come in an encased closure. Instead each modules PCB sits on a raised steel platform that does need care when inserting into the power unit, but this goes without saying.


Casting our eyes over the external design, the 500 series modules have a somewhat yesteryear appearance with a brushed aged gold aluminium faceplate and fine screen-printed white text details. Unfortunately the potentiometer markings on the faceplate offer no meaningful measured increments other than a vague numerical system. Other tactile parameters include black potentiometers, traditional chrome flick switches, and illuminated push buttons. Beginning with the potentiometers, the knobs themselves are formed from premium black aluminium and deliver a beautiful buttery smooth resistance to the fingers that I would consider perfect. Likewise all of the chrome flick switches snap into place well and the frosted push buttons depress easily. These frosted buttons illuminate when active, and thankfully appear modest as to not become stick out like a sore thumb when in use.


Now, turning our attention to the 503 Power, it has to be said that this has the weight and appearance of a tank. Made from a 3.5mm solid aluminium shell, the 503 could easily withstand the stresses and strains of transportation. On the rear of the unit there are three white label gold plated XLR inputs, three white label gold plated XLR outputs, a standard kettle lead power input, an easily accessible fuse bay with spare fuse slot, ventilation grille, and power on/off flick switch. Unfortunately unlike the 506 or 510, the rear of the unit does not provide a power indicator, although the odds are that you are unlikely to focus your attention to this area.


Detailed specifications of the 503 state that it is operational between 90-240v, has an overload and short circuit protection, a ‘discreet’ PSU, and the most ridiculously overkill amount of power per slot; 800mA to be precise. If we consider that, on average, most 500 series modules will only require something around the 250mA mark, I can reach no other conclusion than to suspect that Lindell Audio have decided to make their 503 future proof and capable of handling very thirsty (and rare) 500 series modules.


lindell audio 6x reviewLindell Audio 6X-500 Features and Performance:

The Lindell Audio 6X-500 is a high gain transformer based input/output balanced preamp combined with a dual, low and high, passive EQ module that is modelled upon the classic Pultec design. This design is capable of accepting ribbon microphones thanks to the whopping 65db’s of gain. Other notable features include a polarity reversal switch, phantom power (+48v) input, and a five stage LED VU meter. Unfortunately this VU meter is only to be used as a guide and is not traditionally labelled. Moving back on to the Pultec modelled EQ, individual potentiometers provide +/- 10% to the selected low frequency (30Hz, 60Hz, 100Hz) and high frequency bands (6kHz, 10kHz, 16kHz).


As a preamp the 6X is possibly what I would call ‘transparent’, but it is like a two-headed beast. On one side you have this sharp bite that grabs a hold of the instrumentation, squashes it ever so slightly, and pushes it to the fore. This effect is created when you really push the pre and it can be especially useful when recording kick drums, snares, toms, male vocals, and grungy overdub guitar tales because it compliments the complex grungy vibe without presenting any crunchy distorted artefacts in to the mix. On the other side, when used gently, you still have the transparency that you do when pushed, but this time you have more fat added into the mix, which tends to make the sonic soup creamier. This works better for female vocals or bass guitars because they still appear to fall on a level playing field with more subtlety, although it still feels very focussed.


In terms of the included Pultec style EQ on the 6X I have to say that I like it… a lot. I have always been a fan of ‘old skool’ Pultec’s and I have to say that the sound definitely feels familiar with a gentle, musical, and predictable outcome every time. Opposites attract, and if you pair the transparent forward sound of the preamp with the thick buttery qualities of the Pultec style EQ you have the most beautiful relationship. Just like the original, the EQ on the 6X is as easy as selecting the frequency band and turning the potentiometer… There is literally no experience needed to craft the tone that you are looking for, all you need to do is trust that Lindell Audio has put together a fabulous unit and in a few moments you will have a great sound.


lindell audio pex reviewLindell Audio PEX-500 Features and Performance:

Just like the EQ circuit incorporated into the 6X-500 design, the PEX-500 is also another interpretation of the legendary Pultec EQ and operates on a dual channel three step high frequency (at 30Hz, 60Hz, 100Hz)/low frequency (6kHz, 10kHz, 16kHz) passive basis. On this unit there is no metering, simply a power LED indicator, but there is a true hardware bypass switch to use you 500 series as a channel strip or for A/B’ing. Unlike the modest EQ on the 6X, the PEX-500 has two additional potentiometers for boost and attenuation on the low and high bands, and finally a pot to shape the Q of the input high frequency EQ. For the high frequency the assigned Q width potentiometer is able to shelf the upper frequencies, unfortunately the low frequencies do not have the same luxury. This is a desirable feature and I’m surprised as to why this rendition would not include this possibility.


Above we briefly touched upon the characteristics of the Pultec style EQ’s and now, yet again, there is a very similar approach. This time you can change the Q from shelved to maximum ‘boost’. In practice the boost works as anticipated and provides a smooth transition from ‘narrow to wide’. Overall the performance of the PEX is very satisfying with a dreamy, liquid gold, ever so slight shimmery treble performance in both cut and boost, whilst the lows don’t appear to break formation. In summary, the PEX surprisingly manages to maintain a composed transient experience whilst adding a round plumpness that rarely sounds woolly.


lindell audio 7x reviewLindell Audio 7X-500 Features and Performance:

The 7X is an FET based single channel compressor limiter unit that is styled upon the classic 1176. On the faceplate you will find twenty LED’s to highlight gain reduction in 1db increments, a true bypass green illuminated push button, and dedicated potentiometers for the input signal, output signal, and wet dry mix for parallel compression. Flick switches are assigned to fixed attack times (slow, medium, fast), release times (slow, medium, fast), compression ratio (marked at 4 to 1, 12 to 1, and the infamous 100 to 1 that, in other words, was created by locking all ratio buttons down on the 1176), and finally a high pass side chain switched in either 100Hz, 300Hz  or Off positions on the toggle switch


In use we have found the 7X is a very usable compressor that still retains some of the original charm and ‘improves’ the capability. Being able to mix some of the original signal with the old adds a nice character. Additionally I found that the side chain high pass filer worked well at all settings, I just would have liked if this was a little lower between 220Hz – 260Hz instead of 300Hz.


Unlike the original, the 7X does not rely upon a continuous attack release depending on the input/output. Instead the user will have to select between slow, medium, and fast. This methodology is a different take on the original and the compressor does work well with drums and vocals, although its yesteryear performance can become a tricky on the upper frequencies due to the fact that they become indistinct with the wrong settings. Otherwise, the 7X does sound familiar and has an ability to lift a troublesome instrument to the correct depth without any horrid pumping.


Review Conclusion:

Lindell Audio has set out on a mission to provide 500 series units to the masses. Modelled upon pro audio legends, the 6X-500, PEX-500, 7X-500, and 503 Power are units that successfully complete their goal and prove that 500 Series units can be both premium in performance, and affordable. The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Lindell Audio 6X-500, PEX-500, 7X-500, and 503 Power with a brilliant four stars.


Edd Harris

Edd Harris - 28th April 2014

US RRP: $1199.80 | UK RRP: £919.80

Four Star Award
Lindell Audio 503 Power, 6X-500, PEX-500, 7X-500 Review
4/5 stars
Lindell Audio 503 Power, 6X-500, PEX-500, 7X-500 Review: Lindell Audio, the affordable analogue outboard brand, has created these 500 series units with exceptional performance.

Editors Rating: