Having had access to a Radial 500 Series Cube for the past month or so, it has been extremely handy to be able to throw together a compact recording signal path that can go anywhere. For those of you that don’t know the Cube, it’s a great idea that allows for up to three 500 Series modules to be installed and supplies power and output routing for them. It is capable of being mounted within a desktop for a fixed channel strip in a studio, or will happily travel with you so you can have access to your favourite modules anywhere in the studio or on the road. Having been spoiled with an SSL G-Series Bus compressor last month, I got some pretty cool toys to try out this time around too. Installing the modules is fairly simple. They extend a small PCI style card from the rear which is seated into the caddy firmly, and then four screws hold the module in place. The Cube supplies two inputs and two outputs per module on the rear panel. XLR connections are used for the main pair with TRS connections on the second allowing for multiple outputs on certain modules, or various patching configurations. Most importantly, internal routing can be engaged so your signal flows from one module to the next seamlessly should you wish to use them in a serial fashion. A microphone preamp, compressor and EQ can be combined to make a customizable channel strip. There are all sorts of tools designed for specialty audio needs that Radial produce for the 500 series. Let’s take a look at a few.
This device is one that is not very common, but it’s so handy. I can think of countless times over the years where the EXTC Reamp would have solved all number of problems in recording setups, but I never had one at hand. It allows you to incorporate guitar effects into your recording path. How many times have you thought, “if only I could patch a favourite reverb pedal in line with a microphone”, and when you do so, it just sounds like rubbish. Let’s face it, guitar signals and line levels were never really intended to be mixed up, but there are plenty of cool guitar effects that would work great in a recording setup, all that’s needed is a bridge. That’s what the EXTC Reamp does. It unbalances the line level from the desk and matches the impedance for the send into the effects pedal and then returns the signal back to its original line level on the way out. It doesn’t seem like much, but all the magic really happens inside and if it goes unnoticed, then you can be sure that it is doing its job right.
The PhazeQ is yet another Radial design that takes a rather complex issue and simplifies it almost to the press of a button. When recording with two microphones, the PhazeQ allows you to flip the phase of one to achieve alignment between the two signals. The result is a fuller sound where both microphones work together with each other to deliver a result rather than taking away from one another when joined in the mix. On top of this, or rather, below it when looking at the orientation on the rack, is a low pass filter that can be brought in to remove high frequency artefacts. This really makes a difference when using two microphones at different distances to the sound source. What I found was that engaging the filter didn’t seem to audibly achieve much at all, even when wound in fairly critically. But, when you disengaged it, it suddenly became very evident that something was now not quite right. The same goes with the phase adjustment. Often the problem cannot be heard until it’s removed and the result speaks for itself. Once the correct phase alignment is achieved, with the PhazeQ offering the ability for a full 360 degree phase flip, you are able to blend between the dry and wet signal to find a place where the microphone’s sound fits within the mix and the best result can be achieved before going to tape.
Q4 CLASS-A EQ
As far as EQ modules go in Radial’s 500 Series, this is by far my favourite. It is a fully discrete four band Class-A EQ that really does add to the sound and bring life and warmth to your signal. Like certain EQs found on popular large format mixing consoles, this has a true character of its own that it imparts on the signal as it is passes through. A low and high shelving filter allow you to curtail the extremes of the EQ range with as much aggression as you need, but it’s within the two sweep-able mid-range filters that this unit delivers so much character. The Low-Mid filter operates from 300Hz up to 2.4 kHz and the High-Mid filter runs form 1 kHz up to 8 kHz, leaving a nice crossover point between the two to work with should it be needed. Both have the option of a wide or narrow Q curve, so you can use them for a soft, general colouration to the sound, or really hone in on a specific frequency if you need to. It can be very aggressive if you want to really abuse their +/- 12Db range, but they can also be very musical if you use them subtly. With all the scope that these offer in such a compact module, Radial have really put together a brilliant EQ section that would complement any signal path.
For more information visit www.ambertech.com.au.
Hits and Misses
So many options with a range of modules
Compact and portable recording solution
High quality components
A fourth slot in the rack would be nice
Radial Workhorse - EXTC-500
Circuit type: Solid state with transformer coupled effects loop
Power requirement: 60mA, ±16VDC
Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz ±1.5dB 20Hz ~ 10kHz ±3.5dB (-8dB @ 20kHz) THD+N: >0.005% 0dB output >0.002% 0dB output
Maximum input: +26dBu +20dBu
Effects Loop i/o Send 1/4" output Receive 1/4" input
Connector: Unbalanced ¼" Unbalanced ¼"
Impedance: 1.5k Ohms 10K Ohms
Radial Workhorse - Q4-500
Circuit type: Discrete state variable class-A
Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Maximum input level: +21dBu
Maximum output level: +18dBu
Input impedance: 20K Ohms
Output impedance: 150 Ohms
Power requirement: 80mA
Radial Workhorse - PhaseQ-500
Circuit type Discrete Component Class A
Frequency Response 20Hz~20KHz
Maximum Output +17dBu
Input Impedance 3.4K Ohms
Output Impedance 110 Ohms
Power requirement 50mA
Shipping Size 9 x 6.5 x 2 (inches)
Weight 1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg)