500 SERIES MODULES AND HR-500 POWERED RACK
500-Series compatible, application-specific microphone preamplifiers plus 500-Series Pultec-style EQ
The A-Designs Audio 500 Series comprises the four 500 series-compatible preamps, including the P-1, EM-Blue, EM-Silver, EM-Gold, and EM-Red, each specially voiced with a specific task or sound in mind. Also a highly respected member of this exclusive family is the EM-PEQ, a Pultec-style equalizer designed to bring the sonic dessert to your lunchbox. These units are not only a perfect fit for an API “lunchbox” physically, they also meet the precise power rating requirements necessary to function perfectly from the moment you plug them in.* To further guarantee that your A-Designs 500 modules work out of the box, A-Designs is one of a very few manufacturers that make their own 500-Series powered rack: the A-Designs Audio 500HR.
Custom transformers—the secret of A-Designs 500 series sound
In order to achieve the quality of sound that brings a smile to your ears, a profound understanding of electronic components and how their inherent qualities affect sound is essential. Transformers hold a singular position in circuit design due to their ability to affect timbral quality. Apart from the utilitarian task of electronic isolation for noise-free operation, the alloys used for the transformer’s winding along with the number of windings, will impart a distinct sonic quality. For example, nickel-wound transformers provide a more transparent sound with an airy high end, while steel can impart a thick “Neve-like” midrange or low-end “API growl.”
To give each preamp in the A-Designs Audio EM-Series its own unique character, each has custom-wound transformers that employ proprietary A-Designs alloys that have been ear-tested to produce just the right sound for the right application. But that doesn’t mean that the EM-Series preamps are one-trick ponies—far from it. What it does mean is that decades of collective experience between A-Designs Audio and highly respected audio professionals who beta test A-Designs products have taken guesswork out of finding the right preamp for the job. Think of each of the EM series preamps as the ruler of a specific domain in the frequency spectrum. For example, the EM-Silver rules the lower frequencies thanks to its steel-wound transformer, making it a perfect choice for bass or kick drum, while the EM-Blue’s nickel transformer provides the clarity and highs needed to bring out the “crack” on snare drums.
With various combinations of EM-Series modules you can create a lunchbox dedicated to recording drums, channel strips with Pultec-style EQ, or simply have a preamp for all seasons in one convenient location.
Let A-Designs Audio’s EM-Series 500 modules be to be your guide to a world of color and sound that will inspire both you and your recordings.
The P-1 has the highest fidelity of all the A-Designs Audio 500 preamps, capturing the mojo of its older and larger sibling, the extremely popular Pacifica. While not an exact replica, it sounds as close to Pacifica as is possible for its smaller size. It has a big low end, slightly forward midrange, and extended highs. If you’re a fan of Quad Eight or API, you’ll love the A-Designs Audio P-1.
The P-1 shines on vocals, instruments, room mics, piano, and on instruments with sharp transients, such as drums and various percussion instruments. And if you’re building a lunchbox with drum recording in mind, a pair of P-1s is a superb choice for overheads when you want to capture the entire kit along with the sizzle of the cymbals.
Equipped with a nickel custom-wound output transformer for accentuated highs, the EM-Blue is the brightest sounding of the EM Series. It produces a much more airy, top-end-present tone than its EM-Series brothers and sisters.
Many aspects of recording can be counter-intuitive, and in many cases, you’ll want to pair opposites. For example, when used with a dark-sounding microphone or an alto vocalist, the brighter EM-Blue can produce a heavenly sound. You will also find this pre useful for providing a crisp “crack” when recording a snare drum. And if you use the DI you just might fall in love with what an electric guitar sounds like going thru its nickel transformers. As with all of A-Designs’ 500-Series preamps, the EM-Blue has a -20dB pad that enables you to get down and dirty with an electric guitar. Just switch in the pad and crank the gain for a slight growl.
The A-Designs Audio EM-Red is the “mid-forward” preamp of the EM family. Its sound derives from the combination of an A-Designs proprietary input transformer featuring a unique winding, and a 50/50 steel/nickel-wound output transformer (also a proprietary A-Designs alloy). The EM-Red has the extra kick you need when you have a mic that lacks present mids (such as the mid-scooped Chinese capsules), or if you want to bring an instrument forward in the mix.
The upfront mids of the EM-Red make it ideal for drums, guitar, bass guitar, and acoustic instruments. In fact, you will find the EM-Red particularly useful when recording acoustic guitar with a condenser microphone. It’s also great for bringing out the resonance and character of rack toms and floor toms.
The A-Designs Audio EM-Silver has a darker tone than the P-1, EM-Red, and EM-Blue. Its sound is based on a custom-wound steel output transformer, which makes it an excellent match for ribbon microphones since steel transformers were widely used in the early days of recording and broadcast. It was the combination of steel transformer and ribbon mic that gave broadcasters and singers that “voice of god” sound that has defined vocal recording and the amplified spoken word for decades.
The EM-Silver is a great preamp for bass guitar and keyboards. And in the world of percussion, it’s a great choice for kick drum. For brighter sound sources, the EM-Silver is the preamp of choice when you want less top end or a vintage-type sound. For a true vintage sound, use the EM-Silver with ribbon mics, or on modern, brighter condensers to smooth out top end. If you like vintage Neve, you’ll love the EM-Silver.
The EM-Gold’s combination of EM-Silver and EM-Red transformers make for the perfect sounding floor tom. It’s also the preamp you should reach for when you want that speaker-moving, low-mid thump from heavy guitars. The EM-Gold is ideal for fattening up thin-sounding sources; on mics lacking low mids or upper bass warmth; and mid transients, such as percussion and drums. It also shines on vocals, bass, and even drum machines. If you’re going to move air (the secret of a big sound), go for the Gold—the A-Designs Audio EM-Gold.
EM-PEQ 500-Series Compatible Equalizer
A 500-Series module that captures the essence of the classic Pultec EQP-1A sound
One of the most venerated equalizers of all time, the all-tube Pultec EQP-1A has been cherished by recording and mastering engineers for its almost magical ability to improve the sound of nearly any signal running through it. Now, after considerable research and development, the A-Designs Audio EM-PEQ has captured the essence of the highly revered Pultec EQP-1A and placed it in the compact and popular 500-Series form*—with no compromise in sonics or build quality.
Along with modern performance enhancements, the A-Designs Audio EM-PEQ meticulously maintains the EQ-section design and control layout of the original Pultec EQP-1A, as well as its wonderfully smooth musicality. It also has the same frequency settings and inductors that made the Pultec a must-have for capturing the bottom end. Makeup amplification is achieved through the use of the same discrete Class AB amplifier found in A-Designs Audio’s immensely popular solid-state Pacifica mic preamp—putting a slightly unique and modern twist on the classic design of yesteryear.
The EM-PEQ’s controls attenuate high band at 5k, 10k, 20kHz; vary bandwidth AND boost mid to high band at 3k, 4k, 5k, 6k, 10k, 12k, 16kHz; and boost or attenuate the low band at 20Hz, 30Hz, 60Hz, or 100Hz. Boost and attenuation range from 0dB to ±10dB.
Additional features of the EM-PEQ include a nickel-core output transformer, gold Grayhill rotary switches, Wima caps, and a true hard-wired bypass. Plus, instead of using common off-the-shelf chokes, A-Designs uses a custom tapped inductor, wound to the original values as the original Pultec. Along with the classic EQ circuitry, layout, and exceptionally musical sound of the classic Pultec, the EM-PEQ offers fully balanced, noise-free performance and modern impedance specs for easy operation and fast studio integration.
In the world of pro audio recording, there are two types of equalizers: those that you don’t want to hear in action (“surgical or corrective EQ), and those that you do (“color, or character” EQ). The EM-PEQ is one you most definitely do. Unlike any other 500-Series equalizer, the A-Designs EM-PEQ sits on the extreme end of the “character” bench. It focuses on “correcting” that which cannot be fixed by so-called surgical EQs: the enhancement of tone and musicality.
The EM-PEQ is also available as the EM-EQ2, a 2-channel, 2U rackmount version offered at the same price as two EM-PEQs and a 500HR power rack. Whether you prefer to work with the 500-Series form factor or standard rackmount format, both the EM-PEQ and EM-EQ2 are identical in both sound quality and functionality.
* The EM-PEQ is an approved API™ VPR Alliance product and may also be used in Brent Averill Enterprises racks, and the 2-bay A-Designs Audio’s 500 HR power supply/rack. The EM-PEQ requires 48V to operate. Please check your power rack for this feature before purchasing an EM-PEQ.
• The first and only Pultec-style equalizer in the 500-Series format
• Three-band EQ with the same control layout as original Pultec
• Fully balanced, noise-free performance and modern impedance specs
• Same frequency settings and inductors as original Pultec make it a must-have for capturing bottom end
• Excels at tracking, mixing and mastering—a truly magical EQ!
• Perfectly compatible with API lunchbox (or A-Designs 500HR rack)
• True hard-wired bypass
• A-Designs proprietary-wound tapped Inductor
• A-Designs proprietary nickel alloy output transformer
• Quick and easy studio integration
• Wima capacitors