Softube Console 1 Review: The Console 1 is an hardware/software device that builds upon the success of Softubes large native plugin collection by increasing workflow with a physical desktop mixer panel. All DSP is handled by the hosts CPU whilst the Console 1 provides a desktop control solution to work with the on screen plugin. Whilst it works well, the Console 1 appears to be quite costly.
Over the years, Swedish plug-
The Console 1 comes packaged with the hardware controller, a USB 2.0 cable, and a code to download the software. Along with the code are instructions on how to set up, download, install and get started with the Console 1. The plug-
The Console 1 was initially only supported by Max OS X but now it is also available for Windows platforms. Common requirements for both are: screen resolution 1280x800 or larger, 1GB RAM and 900MB hard disc space, VST, VST3, AU or AAX (Pro Tools 10.3.7, 11.2.1 or higher), USB 2.0 connection and an iLok License Manager.
To run the Console 1 software you need Mac OS X 10.7 or higher or Windows 7/Windows 8.1 or higher. The DAWs that support automatic transfer of track names and numbers are: Presonus Studio One 2.6, Cubase 7.5, Nuendo 6.5 and more recently, Ableton Live 8.4.1 (AU only, for this functionality track names are required to start with “#”). The Console 1 does not support AAX DSP.
Installation of the Console 1 plug-
The Console 1 is not like most control surfaces on the market as it does not use any variation of MIDI to control your DAW and plug-
Once the Console 1 is plugged into your computer, it loads up its own separate, unique GUI layer that pops up taking over the whole screen, showing all the parameters available to you. This can be resized to a more uniform scale to be in line with your other plug-
Slowly getting accustomed to the Console 1 meant that over time, the need to reach for the mouse or the keyboard dwindled as all the controls can be accessed from the hardware. It also isn't necessary to have the GUI open all the time as there is some visual feedback on the hardware, although not in as much detail as the plug-
Along the top of the hardware itself is a series of buttons labelled 1 to 20, these are used to switch from one channel to the next. The channel that is active here is the channel that the controller will be assigned to and not the active plug-
The console strip that the Console 1 is based on is an SSL 4000 E studio console and this comes as the default. The three modules within this can be swapped out for any of Softube's other EQ and dynamics modules however, this feature was not tested as we do not own any other Softube plug-
Delving deeper into the Console 1's modelling of the SSL 4000 E, we found that there some differences in the functionalities between the software and the original hardware. For example, the Shape module does not have a 'fast attack' option nor is the 'range' knob present on the SSL 4000 gate. The Console 1 model also replaces the original hardware's 'Expand' and 'Gate' modes with 'soft-
The EQ model is based off the E 424 EQ module which was developed with Sir George Martin for his SSL console at AIR Studios. This module was known for its tonal, aggressive controls with steep filtering. This EQ design is what SSL continue to use on their E-
The stand out feature on the Console 1 is the compressor. With the inclusion of a mix knob, it enables the user to achieve quick parallel compression without the need for any additional channels; this feature was not present on the original consoles. This SSL channel compressor truly is remarkable. Its versatility can be pushed to the limits and it can tame any signal incoming. With a slow attack and a low ratio, this compressor can become completely transparent. On the other side of the spectrum, increase the attack and the compression becomes very aggressive. Mixing drums on the Console 1 is highly satisfying as the flexibility means that you can get your drum bus sounding as smooth or as punchy as you wish.
Softube have even gone as far as to try to emulate the harmonics and the non-
Starting off with Softube's Console 1 was a very 'different' experience and left us feeling slightly confused as to why they had gone down this route of making a console that only controls its own application. As time went on, utilising the Console 1 with every project and every mix, the more it became a necessity. Despite the initial sessions being rather 'fiddly' and confusing, this is a product that gets better and better over time. Once you have passed the initial hurdle of creating a template with the Console 1 plug-
A lot of mixing these days is done 'in the box’; constantly staring at a screen and the never ending tweaking with a mouse and keyboard can get tiresome. With the Console 1 this feeling changes. It becomes more like mixing on a real console. You don't seem to notice the screen much as you get used to switching from channel to channel on the Console 1 hardware and, most importantly, using your ears instead of visual queues on how the mix should sound.
Softube’s Console 1 is a breath of fresh air when it comes to mixing, even though it is still essentially a plug-