Recording - September 2014 - 14

API THE BOX

format DB25. Where applicable I will highlight some of them as we look at individual
sections. (Oh, and it's actually 110 if you
count the front-panel headphone jack.)
Input channels
Each of the four input channels on THE
BOX's left side is built upon one of API's
548B preamps, also found in the API
1608 large-format desk. The 548B is reminiscent of the API 212L, and is one of the
company's oldest and most respected
designs. It has from +30 dB to +65 dB of
gain and features a 20 dB pad, 48V
phantom power, and a polarity/phase
switch. Each channel also has a choice of
balanced 1/4" TRS line input (with a 6 dB
pad) or a self-switching 1/4" Hi-Z instrument input with +5 dB to +40 dB of gain.
Each input channel also features a -3 dB
@ 50 Hz highpass filter with a 6 dB/octave
slope, an 8-segment LED meter with full calibration that can be set pre- or post-fader, a
switchable insert section, and a full contingent of routing controls allowing said channels to be used during tracking or as an
additional four channels on mixdown.
Finally, any of the four channels can be
switched to make use of the aforementioned compressor, which I'll get to below.
550A 3-band EQ and 500 slot expansion
Channels 1 and 2 come preloaded with
one of API's famous 550A equalizers (see
apiaudio.com/550a.html). The 550A is a
discrete 3-band EQ with ±12 dB of boost
cut at seven selectable frequencies per
band. Not a true parametric EQ, the
550A makes use of a proportional Q that
narrows as each frequency is cut or boosted. The high and low bands can be
switched to shelf or peaking (bell curve)
and the 550A also includes a unique
switchable bandpass filter that rolls off
below 50 Hz and above 15 kHz.
Note that THE BOX's 550A modules are
hardwired, not removable. I do wish the
option existed to pop them out and swap in
other modules (as can be done on most
other API consoles), but they're powerful
and musical enough for hardwiring them to
be a respectable cost-saving measure.
Having said that, channels 3 and 4
offer empty 500 Series slots in place of
the 550A EQs; you can use any 500
Series module you wish-EQ, compressor, or even an alternate mic preamp.
[While any single-width 500 Series module will fit the slots, for warranty reasons,
API recommends only using modules that
are part of its VPR Alliance, which sets
standards for power consumption and so
14

RECORDING September 2014

forth.-Ed.] API sent me THE BOX preloaded with a pair of V14 4-band EQs
from its sister company JDK Audio. I
reviewed the 19" rackmount version of
the V14 back in April 2011, and it was
nice to get to play with a pair again.
I tried these slots with pairs of Chandler
Little Devil EQs (reviewed June 2010),
Louder Than Liftoff Chop Shop filters (April
2014), Daking Comp 500s (August
2013), and a new pair of Daking EQ500
module (review forthcoming). Each one
integrated seamlessly and worked flawlessly. Each 500 Series slot also has its own
alternate and independent ins and outs on
the rear panel, so you can get creative and
do some external patching if you wish.
Last but not least, each of the four channels
has two mono Aux sends, one stereo
Aux/Cue send, program bus assignment,
backlit mute and solo function buttons, pan
pot, and blue-capped 100mm analog fader.
Gimme sum
THE BOX's right side has the 16-channel summing mixer. To fit 16 channels into
the smallest possible space, channels are
staggered one atop the next in vertical
pairs with their white-capped 100mm
faders placed close together. The even
channels are on the top row and the odds
on the bottom. This did take me some
time to get used to; I kept accidentally trying to group and pan physically-adjacent
channels like 1 and 3 together.
The summing channels are much simpler
than the inputs, with only the mono and
stereo sends, program bus routing, pan
pot, mute, solo, and fader. However, each
summing channel does have two important
tricks up its sleeve. The first is that each summing channel has a switchable insert point,
allowing you to patch in your favorite EQs
and compressors of choice-turning THE
BOX into a fully functional high-quality analog line mixer. The second function is a
zero fader bypass button. Engaging this
control disengages the faders, locks the
incoming signal at 0 dB, and effectively
turns this section from a line mixer into a
fixed summing box where all levels are set
and controlled strictly in your DAW.

Mission control
The heart of THE BOX is its center section, where all channel buses, effects,
cues, soloed channels, and more, come
together and then get routed to the mains,
the control room, and/or your headphones. This section will take some getting used to if you have only ever worked
in the DAW world; it can be as simple or
complex as you need it to be.
This section offers a full-featured Control
Room monitoring/routing system with a
sum-to-mono feature, user-trimmable monitor
dim, cut/mute, and an alternate output control. There's a large black API-style knurled
knob for overall Control Room listening
level, while the Master mix has a single redcapped ganged-stereo fader. Control Room
and Cue sources can be selected from the
program bus or the four input channels.
This section also has Aux masters for the
mono and stereo aux sections, Cue trims,
solo controls with trim, AFL mode, and
more. There is full control over headphone
levels and routing with a choice of Main or
Cue mixes in the cans. You get a full-featured Talkback section that can be sent to
Slate, Aux or Cue mixes, each with its own
recessed trim control, along with a goodquality electret talkback mic in the face of
the console. This mic offers plenty of volume
and is one of the better built-in mics I've
used; since THE BOX is so big and solid,
you don't suffer through all the annoying
clicks and thunks that you get when pushing buttons on a small standalone monitor
controller that has a talkback mic.
This section may seem like no big deal if
you are used to mixing on a large-format
console. But in the world of DAWs, compact digital consoles, monitor controllers,
and minimalist rackmount summing mixers,
many of these features are a rarity. I can't
remember the last time I was able to have
this much control over talkback routing, as
well as control over solo levels and... oh,
wait, yes I can. It was the last time I got to
use a large-format desk!
Compressors
The compressor section on THE BOX is a
pair of API 527 compressors that can be


http://www.apiaudio.com/550a.html

Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
Recording - September 2014 - 10
Recording - September 2014 - 11
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Recording - September 2014 - 13
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
Recording - September 2014 - Cover4
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