Softube's Console 1 offers a straight-forward and intuitive approach to computer based mixing. Nevertheless, the concept is new and unique and a few things may need to be cleared up. So here you go—questions and answers on Console 1!
What is Softube Console 1?
It is an integrated hardware/software mixer. The software part gives you a full-featured mixer channel strip that you can insert on any or all mixer channels in your DAW. The hardware gives you physical control of that channel strip, not just the effects settings but all aspects of it. Select channels, tweak the settings—complete your mix from beginning to end without using the computer mouse.
So it's a DAW controller?
No. The hardware doesn't affect any of your DAW's settings or functions. The software part of Console 1 lives within your DAW, and the hardware only controls the Console 1 software with its loaded effects. To get full control of your mix, we recommend that you insert the Console 1 plug-in on all the mixer channels of your DAW, and also use the DAW to set up all sends and aux buses the way you want them.
I don't get it. How can I mix without a mouse just using this small hardware unit?
Once you have the Console 1 plug-in inserted on all your DAW tracks, the tracks will show up in the Console 1 system. You can now select and control each of them from the hardware.
You'll get an overview of all the tracks's levels via the Console 1 meter bridge in the on-screen display, and you can select which track to work with by using the channel selector buttons on the hardware. Every time you select a track, you'll see the settings for that channel strip on the on-screen display and the LED:s around each knob and button on the hardware. Use the hardware knobs to tweak the settings to your liking. Then select the next track you think needs work, and tweak that.
What software effects are included?
With the purchase, the Console 1 software comes loaded with UK 4k for Console 1, a brand new Softube model of a mixer channel from a classic large-frame British console from the late 1970's. The mixer channel encompasses an equalizer, a compressor, a gate, a transient shaper and Drive—a model of the saturation you get from running the signal through the analog circuits, with adjustable intensity and character. There's a few nifty extras, too.
What is Dynamic Shaper?
It is a unique combination of an expander/gate and a transient shaper. This was not a part of the console we modeled for UK 4k, it's a Softube invention you will only find as part of Console 1.
What else is included in the software package?
The input section has sweepable high and low cut filters that can be set to affect the audio signal or the sidechain of the dynamic effects. There is also a polarity reversal switch and an Input Gain knob. In the output section, you have Pan and Volume knobs, plus Solo and Mute switches. You can change the order of the sections, if you for example prefer to put the compressor before the equalizer in the signal chain, and you can group any or all channels to tweak their settings simultaneously. Everything is controlled from the hardware and almost all functions have their own dedicated switches or knobs.
Does that mean I can only use the included software effects?
No. One unique and innovative aspect of the Console 1 software is that it works like a plug-in that can itself contain plug-ins. Therefore, you can customize each single mixer channel by loading any Softube equalizer or compressor into the corresponding section of the Console 1 software, and then control it from the hardware. Softube will also release more excellent models of high-end analog consoles for Console 1 in the future, that can be purchased separately.
But what about the plug-ins I own from other developers?
You can still use them just as you did before, insert them in your DAW and mix with the mouse. You can toggle on/off the Console 1 on-screen display with a dedicated button on the hardware, so just turn it off to see your DAW windows again. Console 1 adds to your workflow, it doesn't take anything away or lock you in.
So I can't use those within the Console 1 system?
Not currently. We'll see what happens.
How do I know what settings I have made?
The on-screen display gives detailed visual feedback on all settings and functions of the Console 1 system. The on-screen display can be set to different views and there is a dedicated toggle on/off button on the hardware. You can also have it automatically pop up as soon as you change a setting on the hardware. But the LED meters and rings around the knobs on the hardware also give you plenty of visual feedback, so it's possible to complete an entire mix without watching the computer screen at all. Working like this, you don't only get the sound of the classic analog console, you also get an analog-like workflow.
So how can you control settings on the other Softube plug-ins, that have controls that differ from the hardware's layout?
In most cases, this is less of a problem than you might expect. You'll be able to see the loaded plug-in's parameters in the on-screen display of Console 1 and you'll quickly get the hang of it. If you find it confusing, you can always insert the plug-in on the DAW's mixer channel and mix with the mouse just as you normally would. Using Console 1 does not exclude any part of your current mix flow—it just adds to it and improves it.
As a side note, Console 1 can actually add functionality to other Softube plug-ins. For example, the Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor does not have a parallel function built-in. But if you run it as part of Console 1, it's going to get that.
Can I control sends? Can I control the TSAR-1 reverb via Console 1?
You can insert the Console 1 plug-in on aux channels and the master buss if you wish. This will let you EQ, compress, set the output level, etc. But since activating sends and setting their levels are functions in your DAW, the Console 1 cannot control these functions (so, granted, there's a thing where you still might need your computer mouse). And no, you cannot control the parameters of the TSAR-1, it's simply too far off the channel strip sections of Console 1 in regards of controls and parameters. Same thing with our Amp Room plug-ins.
I only see 20 channel buttons on the hardware, is that the channel limit?
No, there are also page up/down buttons that let you flick through all your channels quickly. Just press Up once, and you'll see channels 21-40, etc. The limit to your channel count is how much your computer can take, just as with other plug-ins.
Is the Console 1 software and its effects DSP powered from the hardware?
No. All signal processing takes place within the computer. The hardware only controls the software and has no built-in processing power.
But this looks like it's going to take a lot of CPU power?
Not more than you'd expect from any other Softube plug-in, and we're well known for making plug-ins with a low CPU strain (with TSAR-1 reverb as a possible exception). When you first add the plug-in to a channel, all its sections are bypassed by default, and if you keep it like that, the CPU usage is barely measurable. But you still get pan, input level and output volume for that channel (as well as Solo and Mute), so we recommend that you create a mix template with the Console 1 plug-in inserted on all channels to get complete control of your mix from the Console 1 hardware.
Will there be latency in the system?
You do not need to worry about latency using Console 1. In this respect, there is no difference between the Console 1 system or any other plug-in: The signal processing induces latency, but all major DAW:s today have automatic latency compensation.
Can I copy settings between channels?
Yes, you can copy an entire channel strip setting, or select as many or few sections of the channel strip you would like to copy. Still without using your mouse.
What does the History button do?
It gives you access to an undo function. You can call up a list of the tweaks you have done and then revert to the previous state of your choice. Very few DAW:s offer this for plug-in settings—with Console 1, you do it directly from the hardware.
What plug-in formats does the system support?
VST, VST3, AU and AAX.
What operating systems does the system support?
MacOS only at the time of launch, Windows support will follow.
How do I connect the hardware to my computer?
By a standard USB connection. The hardware is USB powered, so it has no extra power connections.
Do I need an iLok to run Softube Console 1?
Can I run the Console 1 software without the hardware connected to the computer?
Yes. You can change the settings from a graphic user interface on the computer, that resembles the hardware unit. In this case, you will of course need to use your computer mouse.
Can the Console 1 effects settings be automated?
Yes, all the effects settings can be automated just like any plug-in in your DAW. However, you can not automate loading other plug-ins into the Console 1 software, the order of the effects sections et cetera.
What are the physical dimensions of the Console 1 hardware?
It's 427 x 186 x 52 millimeters, about 17 x 7.5 x 2 inches.
When will Console 1 be available for purchase?
After summer of 2013.
I have a question that hasn't been answered here, what do I do?
Send us the question via Contact Softube Support. We'll answer you, and put the question here as well if it's a good one!