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The API sound
Old 20th April 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

The API sound

In researching console options I keep coming across references to API console as having "that API sound". Having not used one, I have no idea what this sound is.

Is there an "API sound"? If so, what is it? Can you suggest a recording that sounds like a quintessential API recording?
Old 20th April 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
Fleetwood Mac “Rumours”.
Old 20th April 2019
  #3
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

There really isn't a quintessential API recording. Most of the early consoles were custom made so they actually sound quite different across studios. Consider Fleetwood mac rumors which is a small vanilla sounding record and compare it to the first 2 VH records which are HUGE colorful sounding records. You can see there is no correlation in the console used. In the end a record is the amalgamation of band and producers talent's captured in moments of rock fury. You could also consider the 90s Steve Vai records he owned a pretty famous API. But those records are pretty boring as well. A decent sounding API tracked record is Aerosmith Rocks.

In a nutshell API is tight and punchy and colorful.
Old 20th April 2019
  #4
Deleted be25781
Guest
Man the API sound, I would say early Van Halen. And these guys:




Last edited by Deleted be25781; 20th April 2019 at 05:41 AM..
Old 20th April 2019
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Yeah, those are ok records I guess

So then the next question.. To the extent that the API console had a part in the sounds of those records, how much do you attribute to the pre-amps vs everything else? If you recorded Rumours with API pres and then mixed down through a lesser console with the same engineer, would it have sounded different? Worse?

What do you think?
Old 20th April 2019
  #6
Deleted be25781
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
Yeah, those are ok records I guess

So then the next question.. To the extent that the API console had a part in the sounds of those records, how much do you attribute to the pre-amps vs everything else?
The sound of a good analog console is mostly the pres, but there is a lot more going on inside the console because of all the circuits that the audio is going through such as the master section. All of this has an influence on the sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post

If you recorded Rumours with API pres and then mixed down through a lesser console with the same engineer, would it have sounded different? Worse?

What do you think?

It would not sound worse, just different.

I guess you are saying that you want to buy a cheaper console with outboard API pres? You will get close but it won't be the same as going through the full API console. I have a few Neve 1073 pres, but it's not going to get me in the ballpark of mixing through an 8028.

You know a whole lot of that sound back then is also tape like MCI, Ampex, or Studers. Nice old mics and stuffy wooden rooms.
Old 20th April 2019
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darius1 View Post
I guess you are saying that you want to buy a cheaper console with outboard API pres? You will get close but it won't be the same as going through the full API console. I have a few Neve 1073 pres, but it's not going to get me in the ballpark of mixing through an 8028.
Exactly where I'm heading. I have a pile of top quality mic pres already, but I'm wrestling with a mixing console upgrade. Something full featured but cheaper, like a Trident 68, or blow the retirement on a 1608
Old 20th April 2019
  #8
Deleted be25781
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
Exactly where I'm heading. I have a pile of top quality mic pres already, but I'm wrestling with a mixing console upgrade. Something full featured but cheaper, like a Trident 68, or blow the retirement on a 1608
Blow the retirement and sell it again when the digital times turn around again at maximum profit? That would be a shot in the dark..

Very good candidates: Trident Trimix, a well maintained MCI JH600, Studer 900 series. Sound-Workshop C34, DDA AMR. 16/24 channel Calrec S2.

Out of these my pick would be the Studer or an MCI.

These are ranges from 3500 to 12000. Perhaps the new API The Box II? More adapted to modern day mixing.

The Trident 88 series are very nice but expensive. No idea what the 68 series are going for.

What's your budget anyway?
Old 20th April 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
 

A new 24 channel Trident 68 is around 15k. I'd be looking at ~35k-40k for a used, fullly loaded API 1608, so it's a big jump. On the other hand, getting the API pres would allow me to unload a pile of my existing outboard pres, so that would offset the cost and get me down to around 20-25k out of pocket. That's pretty much as high as I can go.

I am also considering The Box 2, but it means doing more in the DAW, which is not how I prefer to mix. Would you rather mix through TB2 and do all of your EQ and bussing in the DAW, or through a 24-channel Trident 68 with EQ on every channel and loads of routing options? Goes back to the question of how much does the console have an impact on the sound of the recording..

I hear you on the Studer or MCI, but I am NOT a tech guy and I don't have one near me, so the idea of picking up a 20+ year old console terrifies me. I also have limited space and power and cooling.
Old 20th April 2019
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
... or blow the retirement on a 1608
A dozen 512v's in a couple lunchboxes would do it for me. And I could carry half of it around in each hand.
Old 20th April 2019
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
A dozen 512v's in a couple lunchboxes would do it for me. And I could carry half of it around in each hand.
And then mix how? ITB?
Old 20th April 2019
  #12
Deleted be25781
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
A new 24 channel Trident 68 is around 15k. I'd be looking at ~35k-40k for a used, fullly loaded API 1608, so it's a big jump. On the other hand, getting the API pres would allow me to unload a pile of my existing outboard pres, so that would offset the cost and get me down to around 20-25k out of pocket. That's pretty much as high as I can go.

I am also considering The Box 2, but it means doing more in the DAW, which is not how I prefer to mix. Would you rather mix through TB2 and do all of your EQ and bussing in the DAW, or through a 24-channel Trident 68 with EQ on every channel and loads of routing options? Goes back to the question of how much does the console have an impact on the sound of the recording..

I hear you on the Studer or MCI, but I am NOT a tech guy and I don't have one near me, so the idea of picking up a 20+ year old console terrifies me. I also have limited space and power and cooling.
Yeah even finding a tech for these old babies will be hard.

I think I have the perfect candidate. You love Trident it seems. Malcolm Toft made the Ocean Audio Ark console, which is all modular.

You can put in 500 series modules in it, so all the flavors you want. But you have all this outboard gear already laying around.. Well you could possibly sell it and buy 500 series modules with that money to load it up? Sounds a bit crazy, but yeah it's an option. Just throwing it out.

I love the whole vintage look of it. Good basic modular design, and very very serviceable. Not sure about the routing and the capabilities, you will need to research that a bit. Check it out. Last one went for 10000. They pop up from time to time, they are discontinued, with a newer design already for sale. I like the older one more, and you can get these cheaper second hand.

Ocean Audio The Ark 516 | Reverb

Ark console

Old 20th April 2019
  #13
Deleted be25781
Guest
I would rather mix with analog eq's on the desk. The computer is my storage medium, I park the audio on it and nothing more. Occasionally tape. Mixing with a console is more of an intuitive thing. More hands on, I do better mixes this way than itb. But that's me, most people now look at analog consoles like pieces of museum artifacts.
Old 20th April 2019
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted be25781 View Post
I would rather mix with analog eq's on the desk. The computer is my storage medium, I park the audio on it and nothing more. Occasionally tape. Mixing with a console is more of an intuitive thing. More hands on, I do better mixes this way than itb. But that's me, most people now look at analog consoles like pieces of museum artifacts.
A kindred spirit..
Old 20th April 2019
  #15
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
And then mix how? ITB?
Yep.

On my own stuff (admittedly more songwriter demos than "records") I've used probably 95% API 512c. I like 'em.

API sent me a pre-release 512v to check out and I liked it even more -- more flexible -- hence my lunchbox fantasy.

When I say "more flexible," it's because the v has a second, trimmable gainstage in it, meaning you can deliberately overdrive the first gainstage which can sound great in certain applications. You can't do this with any other genuine API pre (see the CAPI range for alternatives) without inserting a pad or trimmer between the pre and the next stage. And that includes the 1608.

You may find this informative. As I said, on all my own DIY stuff, I use the 512c's almost always. But there's this internet radio show that I mixed every week until just recently, and I never used the API's for the music in that (they got used on the host and co-host). Those were always a combo of Buzz Audio, Avalon, Manley, and Yamaha 01V. So you can hear results from the same room and same engineer on two different batches of tracks. One is essentially all-API, the other is no-API.

One caveat -- my personal taste runs to the dry, while the "show sound" is quite a bit wetter.

My songs (all-API): Brent Hahn Songs | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Radio show tracks (no API):
Live Recordings from The Life Changes Show | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Old 20th April 2019
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
One is essentially all-API, the other is no-API.
That is informative. Very interesting..

BTW, really dig your songs Brent. Kind of Bottle Rockets-y..
Old 20th April 2019
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
BTW, really dig your songs Brent. Kind of Bottle Rockets-y..
Thanks.

I'm a hundred years older than those guys, but I've heard the Bottle Rockets comparison once before. Sat in with a band in my hometown and someone came up and said, "y'know, their bass player lives here and he was sitting over there in the corner but he just left." Brush with greatness. :-)
Old 20th April 2019
  #18
Gear Nut
 

So maybe the Bottle Rockets are kind of Brent Hahn-y!
Old 20th April 2019
  #19
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Will The Weirdo's Avatar
A Tribe Called Quest was all API for many years, bucking the SSL Hip Hop trend.

I would call the vintage API sound tight, punchy, & colorful and call the new API sound tight, punchy, and more clean-ish colorful. I love my API The Box mini console, hybrid mixing is the best of both worlds for me today.

FWIW, I'm a loooong time vintage Neve lover going back to my old Tech N9ne work and I have many thousands of large format SSL hours logged so it was ironic I ended up going API, but IMHO API is up there with the best, just has its own flavor.
Old 20th April 2019
  #20
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
In researching console options I keep coming across references to API console as having "that API sound". Having not used one, I have no idea what this sound is.

Is there an "API sound"? If so, what is it? Can you suggest a recording that sounds like a quintessential API recording?
Pink3 - Acustica Audio
Old 20th April 2019
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
...or blow the retirement on a 1608
No piece of music gear is worth blowing the retirement on IMO. If it's going to make you money, that's another thing.
Old 20th April 2019
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will The Weirdo View Post
A Tribe Called Quest was all API for many years, bucking the SSL Hip Hop trend.

I would call the vintage API sound tight, punchy, & colorful and call the new API sound tight, punchy, and more clean-ish colorful. I love my API The Box mini console, hybrid mixing is the best of both worlds for me today.

FWIW, I'm a loooong time vintage Neve lover going back to my old Tech N9ne work and I have many thousands of large format SSL hours logged so it was ironic I ended up going API, but IMHO API is up there with the best, just has its own flavor.
I'm tempted by The Box 2, but the lack of EQ and busses are the big concerns for me. Do you do all of your EQ ITB? How would you do parallel compression of a full kit with OTB compressors? Create a separate drum buss in the DAW and go out to separate channels on The Box?

I guess I'm also questioning at what point the console becomes moot. If it's not doing much beyond analog summing, is it doing anything for you over ITB?
Old 20th April 2019
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u87allen View Post
No piece of music gear is worth blowing the retirement on IMO. If it's going to make you money, that's another thing.
It was mostly a joke... If ~30k makes the difference in retirement, I've got bigger problems..

But your point is valid all the same, hence my struggle.
Old 20th April 2019
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
I guess I'm also questioning at what point the console becomes moot. If it's not doing much beyond analog summing, is it doing anything for you over ITB?
Speed, absolutely. Having all the faders and pans and EQ's right there, you can whip together the basics of a good mix really fast. Especially if you do it all the time and you're on your game.

But then come the questions of fine tweaking and recall. The answers being either an SSL or (sob) ITB.
Old 20th April 2019
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Early Chicago recordings were API, very different from Rumors, IMHO..
So like ANY recording what you do during tracking/mixing can/does have a BIG influence on the "Sound"..Eq, compression, Mics & placements ect...
Some records sound pretty dull compared to others on the SAME console...
There is NO doubt in my mind that 2" 16 vs 2" 24 made a very noticeable difference..the 525 compressor no doubt has a sound and is kinda limited on what you can get out of it...IMHO...
The first 3 (at least) Chicago records were done at Columbia in NYC with in house custom consoles. Mid period was Caribu ranch, which had the ill faded Olive (look that thing up...) for a short time then Neve 80 series.

What early Chicago records used an API?
Old 20th April 2019
  #26
Deleted be25781
Guest
Tony, tell him about your Neotek.
Old 20th April 2019
  #27
Deleted be25781
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
I guess I'm also questioning at what point the console becomes moot. If it's not doing much beyond analog summing, is it doing anything for you over ITB?
If you think the difference is worth it in this video, by all means get The Box. But it's mostly just a big summer.



Another option is the Speck Lilo, no eqs or pres though. But as you said you have a lot of outboard gear. I would make my own flexible setup with all the flavors.

Up to you man. Be wise.
Old 20th April 2019
  #28
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Will The Weirdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
I'm tempted by The Box 2, but the lack of EQ and busses are the big concerns for me. Do you do all of your EQ ITB? How would you do parallel compression of a full kit with OTB compressors? Create a separate drum buss in the DAW and go out to separate channels on The Box?
With the Box 2 you have those 8 channels you could throw any flavor 500 EQ's in and yes route stereo buses from your DAW into them. I EQ both ITB using Nebula/Acquas and some hardware. Every channel in the summing side has balanced inserts also so any hardware can be inserted there too. Master section also has an insert with the ability to patch another mixer into the main bus before the comp..... I plan to pick up an SSL Six to use as a drum submixer, with the SSL bus comp, then into the master PGM insert as I LOVE SSL on electronic drums.

All in all the Box is extremely flexible and able to be bent to different workflows without breaking the bank IMHO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Craft View Post
I guess I'm also questioning at what point the console becomes moot. If it's not doing much beyond analog summing, is it doing anything for you over ITB?
The speed of working on faders is to me an huge advantage (but the Box has the zero sum button too), and as it's a hybrid solution you still get everything the DAW can do into what analogue can do best..... glue with saturation. So while I love working in a DAW for automation, editing, recall, and high track count NOTHING beats driving a console stereo bus for analog saturation with a touch of analog bus compression to bring the mix together fast.

I also use the DI's on the Box for my hardware synths teamed with some DIYRE/HRK/LTL Colour modules for powerful color options OTB on the tracking side. IMHO today a quality console helps give you a strategic advantage over just ITB work and I want the best of both worlds now more than ever.

As always, to each their own.
Old 20th April 2019
  #29
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Will The Weirdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darius1 View Post
Yeah even finding a tech for these old babies will be hard.

I think I have the perfect candidate. You love Trident it seems. Malcolm Toft made the Ocean Audio Ark console, which is all modular.
@ Paul_G loves his Ark, maybe he'll pop in and give some feedback.
Old 20th April 2019
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darius1 View Post
Yeah even finding a tech for these old babies will be hard.

I think I have the perfect candidate. You love Trident it seems. Malcolm Toft made the Ocean Audio Ark console, which is all modular.

You can put in 500 series modules in it, so all the flavors you want. But you have all this outboard gear already laying around.. Well you could possibly sell it and buy 500 series modules with that money to load it up? Sounds a bit crazy, but yeah it's an option. Just throwing it out.

I love the whole vintage look of it. Good basic modular design, and very very serviceable. Not sure about the routing and the capabilities, you will need to research that a bit. Check it out. Last one went for 10000. They pop up from time to time, they are discontinued, with a newer design already for sale. I like the older one more, and you can get these cheaper second hand.

Ocean Audio The Ark 516 | Reverb

Ark console


I love mine. I paid 7k for it new empty. It worked as a line mixer before I filled it with 40 500 modules. I have half SSL eq, half GR Harrison 32. Then a bunch of comps, saturation, vogs etc. I even had a Neve/Bae sidecar built in to a new extension with 16 channels and a wood surround. I use a Wes Titan rack for automation which works like a charm, a Grace M905 for accurate listening and a TC Clarity M stereo for metering. From inexpensive beginnings it's a dream now.
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