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Softube Console 1

Softube Console 1

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 6 Reviews

Console 1 is not a DAW controller, or even a plug-in controller. It's a separate hardware/software mixer that works in tandem with your DAW.


1st March 2015

Softube Console 1 by Ted Krotkiewski

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Softube Console 1

I just revisited my old GZ thread I started about Softube´s “Console 1” when I bought it 1 year ago.
You can find it here: Softube Console 1 WOW!!!
There´s a lot of happy users just like me, but I was still surprised about the amount of doubters it was out there not seeing what this thing does. Many have looked away from the Console 1 because it can only do a few designated things while there are other “Controllers” that can do everything. I bought the Console 1 for just that reason.
Im working as a producer and a Mixing engineer just loving the stuff to death so I thought it was time to give this product a review and explain how this little thing changed a lot for me in life.

(Console 1 = “C1”)

CONCEPT:
The Console 1 (“C1”) is a software analog modelling mixer with a digital hardware controller controlling the C1 software. When buying the C1 package you get a model of one of the most famous consoles ever built, The “SSL 4000 E”
The Console 1 is a standalone software that works flawless with any major DAW.
By putting a C1 Channel Strip on any channel in your DAW it automatically shows up in the C1 Software where it sums it up together with all the other C1 channels.
From the C1 controller you can control all of these channels individually without having to look at the screen.
Every channel is individually modifiable which means that you can change the default SSL Eq and Compressor to any of Softubes other EQ´s or Compressors. If you have both the “4000 E” and “9000 K” models installed you may use the different sections from each model. For example if you like the sound of the 4000 E model but like to have the 9000 K dynamics section on a specific channel, you may build your own SSL channel for that individual channel by combining the best out of the two models.
As all of the commands in C1, changing plug-ins inside the console is very easy. just hold down the “Shift” button and press any section you want to change and a list comes up on your computer screen with all the compatible plugins to choose from.

WORKFLOW:
The Console 1 is not for everyone. It suits people that wish to achieve an analog type of workflow and sound, but still being 100% ITB.
It is not a traditional DAW controller. It is not intended to be. This is a large format mixing console in a very intuitive smart little desktop design.
I would dare to say that this is as close one can get to using a real SSL 4 E (or 9000 K) desk being ITB.

What first caught my attention to the “Console 1” was not only the sound. It was the way it made me work. The way it forced me to really Listen and feel instead of “looking at the music” and being disturbed by all the technical information there constantly is on a screen.
I reach for the "Console 1" in exactly the same way I would reach for a real mixing desk. I use the console channels for balance, Eq & dynamics and the sound. I insert all my other plug-ins as usual but think of them as they were hardware units in my rack that I patch in to the desk.
The knobs are there in front of me. I feel them without even looking at them. I press the channel I want to go to and boom. Hands on directly, nothing comes between my intuition and my execution.

To quote mixing engineer Jack Joseph Puig: When you play the guitar you don´t want to look at your fingers and think of where to place them every time you change a chord, You need to feel it.
I believe that our intuition is the most important feeling we have. One may call it spiritual guidance, another may call it Gut feeling. This feeling is a realtime reaction on the present and is always telling us where to go next if you know how to listen to it.
This feeling is what makes great records in the end and Console 1 helps me doing just that. Great records.

The beauty of the C1 is when you have a full mix project of let´s say 50+ channels and you want to just dig in and touch a little here and a little there on different channels very quickly without loosing focus on the music. Just as you do on a real console. Massaging the music as ONE energy of sound instead of channel per channel with a mouse.

THE SOUND:

When it comes to pure console emulation Im not interested in comparing this one to the others out there as it´s insignificant to me.
What matters to me is if it moves me or not. If it help´s me achieve what I hear in my head.
So… Do I like how it sounds? Ohh Very much Yes! As always, it´s very hard to explain a unit´s sound in words but a few very popular words comes to mind: Extended low end, Punch & More “glued”.

Softube took this one much further than just creating an exact replication of a channel strip. To start with, they added their own “Transient Shaper” which is a great sounding one. Before having the C1 I only used transient enveloping tools for rhythmic stuff or room mic´s etc. But having it at hand on every channel makes you just wanna try it on everything. I often end up using it on the least excepted stuff such as strings, vocals etc.
It can be musical and breathe life into stuff like nothing else. My 1176 with “all buttons in” mode has seen a lot less work since I found the Transient shaper.
Another great feature they added is the “Drive” function. This is where this thing turns into a beast. A big part of the famous classic “SSL sound” is when the desk is getting driven hard and it starts to bend and glue things into place.
Softube say that the character of the added saturation precisely matches that of the original desk.
I find the “Drive” to be incredibly musical. You can push it really hard into distortion but still have the punch fairly intact or in some cases even punchier depending on where the attack is frequency wise on your material.

You can change the sound of the distortion and it´s behaviour with the “Drive Character” knob. By turning the knob left it gets more bass heavy and thick sounding with scooped mids and less punch/transients cutting through. Great for taming harsh sources! It sounds a little bit more clean or “hifi” as the high mid and top end feels more intact when boosting. When turning it clockwise it gets a lot dirtier in a more classic way. Much more mid forward with lots of punch. (Thats where I end up most of the time)
The drive function turns the C1 “Channel strip” into an extremely versatile distortion box worth half of the price alone.
The EQ performs exactly as it is advertised to do. Classic SSL 4000 eq that I bet no one could ever tell apart from an original.
I don't own the Waves SSL bundle anymore but without direct comparison I find the top end to sound much smoother on the C1 compared to the waves SSL plugin.

DOWNSIDES:
Although this thing is everything I wished for there is still a few things that Isn´t quite there yet.
The biggest and most discussed downside is without question that it does not Auto track channel names and order of the channels in the DAW. For example, as soon as you make a change in the DAW let´s say moving at track from ch:15 to ch:3 that change doesn´t follow inside the C1 software. (except Pro Tools 11 that has implemented this in their new release)
So, unfortunately In order to get the different DAW´s communicate with the C1 software fully It is down to the DAW manufacturers to make their their respective DAW fully compatible with the C1 software.

However this has not bothered me much. It is a time consuming “error” that can give you a hard time if a lot of channels gets reorganised when being in the middle of a session, but what the C1 gives in sound and workflow (when organised) is unbeatable and nothing else comes close on the market.

Another downside is that you can only load Softube manufactured plugins inside the C1.
I do understand that it must be a hell of a job making all the different plugins out there compatible but I would love to see a future where Softube cooperate´s with some other companies to make the C1 even more versatile.


CONCLUSION:

After 1 year of use I´m so happy and confident with this thing. I´m not only mixing faster, I am mixing better because it forced me to listen. When starting a mix It makes me paint a picture of the song in 20 mins instead of before when it took me 2 hours just to get the fundamentals right.
If this thing saves you let´s say 1 hour per day when mixing, thats equal to 7 hours per week. That´s almost one extra working day a week or even 48 days a year!
Thats not a bad investment for business!

I´m running the Console 1 together with an Avid Artist Mix to get my hands on faders and an SSL SIGMA on the end summing it all together.
The Sigma is supposed to be exactly equal to having a 32ch SSL DUALITY console but without the actual channels (eq, dynamics etc..) Since the Console 1 gives me the missing channels, paired with the SSL SIGMA I now more or less have a real mixing console but in a different appearance.

The price of the Console 1 is about 800 € in Europe and 999$ in US.

Maybe this helps someone out there deciding...
Good luck.
//Ted Krotkiewski

Last edited by Ted Krotkiewski; 5th March 2015 at 07:14 PM..

  • 3
23rd August 2015

Softube Console 1 by dume41

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Softube Console 1

I’ve owned the Softube Console 1 for almost a year now. I’m still as happy with it today as I was when I bought it. I use it every single day, for at least three hours, usually closer to six.

Hardware:
The hardware is built more solidly than any piece of digital kit I've ever owned. It is rock solid. The knobs have a perfect amount of real resistance, and won't be slid round accidentally. The selector buttons have a satisfying click that lets you know you've completed your button press. If I have any complaint, it's that I would actually like the LEDs to be brighter.

Some have asked for a deluxe model with built in screens. That would be lovely in the future. For now, I use an external monitor dedicated to the Console 1 at all times.

Track Selection:

Apple responded pretty quickly to the name transmission request, and In Logic X, all of the Console 1 strips adjust dynamically to the names I write on the track in logic. When I’m mixing on the Console 1, I just look at the screen. All of the hardware buttons are the same place on the deck as they are on that screen. Selecting a track highlights it on the screen, and it’s easy to feel your way around to the track you’re looking for.



Latency:
I've experienced no specific latency, and knob turns have always functioned as expected. Turning faster does move the dial along further than slower. And because it's a digital knob, appropriate use of the 'fine' adjustment button works very well for dialing in precise settings.

Conclusion:

Console 1 is a plug in and specialized hardware controller package. I don’t want, or need, it poking around in Mackie Protocol mode and ruining actual DAW controllers.

The Console 1 has replaced my Liquid Mix and Duende Classic hardware, given me much faster more reliable bouncing, and provided a unified mixing environment I only need to leave for specialized compression or equalization. I love the workflow just as much as the sound of this plug in. In fact, all I really need is more of the same. Since swapping my Apollo for MOTU’s new AVB line, I am really missing the Neve and API sound of the UAD emulations. In addition, I wouldn’t mind a very precise, virtually colorless strip for mastering. Something along the lines of Fabfilter Pro, Powercore MD3 or UAD Precision Mastering Line. Then I’d be able to go completely native.

Either way, I wouldn't trade my Console 1 or go back to mousing my comps, eq's filters and saturation plugs. For me the value has ben terrific (US $750 brand new from an eBay Store). When I consider what I've gotten in workflow savings, and the what I paid for previous solid versions of these plugs from UAD and Waves, I feel I've gotten a bargain with the hardware controller.

Softube: from a satisfied customer who is ready to spend more money with you: Neve and API plugs should be your top priority. Followed by proprietary transparent ones.

  • 2
31st January 2016

Softube Console 1 by crille_mannen

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Softube Console 1

Just after a couple of hours of testing i knew this product was for me. The ease of use and first and foremost the sound! It just blew SSL duende and the waves one out of the water. It is the best ITB eq/comp I've tried. My mixes sounds much more musical then before and they have replaced many of my bred N butter eq/comps I've used before. The saturation is also the best I've tried not the smear-orama you get from VCC.

It would have been awesome if they would have inclouded a masterbus channel with the stereo compressor. And asking additional for the 9k channel is a bit sneaky.

The only downside is that PT doesn't automatically name the tracks so setting up a session takes some time but you can solve that with a template.

Super product!

  • 1
11th July 2016

Softube Console 1 by Strelok

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Softube Console 1

Sound quality:
The 4k EQ is pretty much rock solid and is my go-to eq since ive got the console 1. It sounds good and is very versatile. While the dynamic section does certainly the job there are still alternatives that perform better at a lower price tag, nothing too fancy here. I wouldnt use the 4k Dyn for Mixbus duties. Furthermore the stock 4k drive isnt something im very happy about since it flattens things way to fast and tends to sound a little bit too smeary to my ears. Thats not the glue i would want like on a Mixbus for example. The Class A drive section sounds way more pleasant to my ears.

Maybe i was expecting too much regarding the sound quality but one can probably get away waaay cheaper by purchasing different plugins from other manufacturers and still get comparable or even better sound quality.

Ease of use:
While it certainly is easy to use it still misses some features like auto naming tracks or track selection following. While these features are already implemented for Studio One, i highly doubt that less popular DAWs will get the same love, since these features were requested from day one and still were not been implemented.

Features:
External sidechain for gate or the dynamic section and parallel dynamic processing are things that i would miss the most. Its very powerfull to be able to reach for a sinlge knob and adjust things like that. Further more the layout (EQ -> Dyn, Dyn ->EQ) can be instantly changed via a single button without any need to search for a channel in the daw and then rearranging the plugins.
It is also possible to load different plugins from (only) Softube. You want to use your FET? Sure no problem. Simply load the FET into the dynamic section and there you go. However some plugins miss certain parameters when loaded into C1. For example you wont find the lookahead funktion on the loaded FET.
You also get the shape section which gets used on every mix i do. There are always things that need gate, less sustain or more attack.

Bang for buck:
So the sounds isnt anything exceptional and this thing is still rated with 5* you ask? YES! Console 1 brings the most crucial parts of workflow from a real console and this is exactly the reason why i consider this product worth every single penny.

Additional information:
This thing is build like a tank. Truly a high quality piece of gear.

Summary:
If you are looking only for superior 4k SSL sound there maybe other (way) cheaper alternatives out there. However, if you are looking for a EQ, Shape and Comp-controller that forces you to use your ears, while having access to several workflow enhancing features, then the Console 1 is for you.

  • 1
9th March 2018

Softube Console 1 by JHTorch

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Softube Console 1

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF A NEW USER

Since I started working with computer-based DAWs in the late 1990's, I had been looking for an inexpensive yet professional solution to being able to control plug-ins like hardware. Digidesign/AVID had their various (and usually very costly) control surfaces but if you weren't a Pro Tools user, the available products were very limited until Mackie came out with the its universal controller. For me, while not perfect, Softube's Console 1 is as game changing for the Mackie MCU -- and you can use it with Pro Tools too.

I have only spent a few hours with it as of this writing but I feel as if this piece is so easy to use, I KNOW that I will spend quite some time happily using the Console 1 until I get the SSL Matrix 2. In sum, I heartily recommend this to anyone who is "sitting on the fence" about it and certainly to anyone still mixing with just a mouse and keyboard.

What is Console 1 MkII? In a nutshell, it is a virtual SSL 4000E console plug-in available in your DAW combined with a compact hardware channel strip that can control of your virtual console's channels that pass audio signals. Unless your DAW is "Console 1 ready" you cannot use it to control your virtual faders, panners or sends. Happily, except for Pro Tools and Logic, all of the major commercial DAWs implement all of the available features on the Console 1.

If you use any UAD compressors or EQ's, you will be able to use Console 1 to control many of those pieces such as UAD's Manley Massive Passive EQ or their dBx 160 VU compressor. Softube promises to add to the rather ample list of UAD plugs that can be controlled. However, it appears as if the list may be limited to UAD's (and Softube's) dynamic processors. If you want to use Console 1 to control a reverb or delay, you're still going to have to use your mouse or trackball for the foreseeable future.

The Hardware

The Console 1 unit itself is surprisingly solid and very comfortable to use. It also includes useful metering and lighting indicators that help you get around the unit in key respects. If you have other hardware compressors in your studio, the Console 1 is not going to any WOW-factor contests but no one is going to mistake it as a toy. From the hardware, you can control the all of the parameters of your channel strip and move from channel-to-channel without looking at your computer screen. This includes controlling the channel's input gain, high and low pass filters and the order of the dynamic processor chain. You can also copy & paste channel settings and create groups of channels to have the same settings in one go. If you mix live drums that were multi-miked, you will love the Console 1.

A big plus for me with the hardware is that I can control the first 3 sends of a given channel using the Drive, Character and Pan knobs, respectively while holding down the Console 1's shift button. it would be nice if you latch/unlatch the shift button for this alternative function but that's being a little picky as I was using my trackpad to control my sends previously.

A couple of features that were not on the original SSL 4000E is the parallel wet/dry knob for compression and the "Drive" module, which consists of "drive" and "character" knobs. Basically, this module adds nice harmonic grit to the signal path.

In sum, once you get the hang of the hardware, which does not take much time, you will quickly be able to make tweaks to your EQ, filter, compression parameters with speed and ease.

The Software

Software installation was the most cumbersome part of my install and use. After unboxing and connecting the Console 1 to my Mac, I went to the Softube website as instructed but got into a bit of an "install loop." It seems as if Softube geared the installation instructions/procedures for someone who does not have a Gobbler account. (In addition to Gobbler, you will also need an iLok). I ended up just downloading and "manually" installing the software.

Once installed, I took imported some drum parts consisting of two mics on the kick, two mics on the snare, one hi-hat track, two tom tracks, an overhead mic and stereo room mics. I inserted an instance of Console 1 on each channel and I was able to get a punchy sounding preliminary drum mix with ease. I only needed to look at the screen in using the gates on the kick and snare channels. Otherwise, very much like working old school.

Sound-wise, I would say that the Softube's SSL 4000E, particularly the EQ is closer in sound and behavior to my hardware SSL 611EQ than the UAD and Waves SSL 4000 models. So, if you love the SSL 4000E or SSL's 500 series re-creations, this is probably the closest in the virtual world. I am very impressed.

The hit on the CPU in Cubase 9.5 for 11 channels was fine, though it was a little higher than I wished for on my mid-2014 MacBook Pro with 16 GB of RAM. So I may have to reshuffle my plug-in habits and rely more on my UAD cards for delays, modulation effects and reverbs (though I typically use UAD's Lexicon 224 for reverb) and Cubase's freeze option.

One disappointment in using UAD plugs within Console 1 is that the original faceplate of the plug does not show. You simply have a skeletal graphic to show do just like the EQ's and Compressors within Console 1. Another disappointment is that I could not load UAD's SSL 4k or other UAD channel strips to be controlled by the unit. I imagine that this is a limitation of corporate politics between UAD and Softube rather than technical. But it is a disappointment nonetheless.

Softube offers three other emulated consoles (at an additional cost): SSL 9000 k and a Neve (not by name) and a Summit channel. I did not try any of the demos so I cannot speak about them. However, I do plan to demo them as time goes on.

Final Thoughts

Even if you LOVE mixing with just a keyboard and mouse (is there anyone who really does??), I recommend taking a look at the Console 1. It is actually a rather unique hardware/software product. However, if you find yourself from time-to-time find yourself feeling more like a programmer than a mixer, getting the Console 1 is really a no-brainer at a very attractive and even astonishing price. When Softube first released the product, it was double the current street price of $500. Honestly at that price, it would be more of luxury for many users.
For myself, if it were still a grand, I would have opted instead for an API 500 module instead as I have a Tascam DM-3200 for basic fader and pan control, mutes and solos, arming tracks and transport control. And while the DM-3200 can be MIDI mapped for plug-in control -- it takes time of trial-and-error, saving profiles, etc., etc. So I toiled away with the mouse or trackpad for my plug-ins. Yes, I am reasonably quick with it but it was always a chore. I'll still have to use the mouse and keyboard for delays for example, but in those instances, I usually type in the delay time anyway and ride or mute the fader. But I also love to automate my sends and having a physical knobs to do that is heaven.

Go for it!!! No matter how much you charge for mixing, you will make your money back in no time.

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