In the world of music production, software has become the go-to for recording and mixing music. However, sometimes it’s nice to add some analog gear into the mix. That’s where the 500-series modules come in. These compact and affordable units can be essential tools in your home recording setup. While they may not have the same high voltage capacity as traditional rack gear, they still offer a range of features and functionality that can enhance your recordings. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best budget 500-series modules available, including the Midas 502 V2, the Fredenstein Artistic Compressor Plus, the SSL SiX Channel, and the SPL TDx. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these modules are worth checking out to elevate your recordings without breaking the bank.
Choosing the Best Budget 500-Series Modules
When it comes to music production, we’ve become so exclusively reliant on software that it becomes difficult to know where to start in the analogue domain. Let’s take a look at some of the best budget 500 series modules that can become essential tools in your setup.
The 500 series format does not have the high voltage capacity of 19-inch rack gear, which puts a ceiling on the headroom and dynamic range you can achieve with these units. However, 500 series modules still provide a compact and comparably affordable solution for recording and mixing.
Planning your setup
If you’re just starting out with 500 series gear, it’s important to plan your setup according to your workflow and give yourself enough room to upgrade, as you may want to swap out or acquire additional modules in the future.
Selecting the right 500-series chassis is essential, as you might require D-SUB or digital outputs, and there is a wide range of casings available.
Selecting the right chassis
Choosing the right chassis for your 500-series modules is a crucial step in building your setup. You’ll want to consider factors such as the number of slots available, the power supply options, and any additional features that may be important to you.
Some popular options include the Radial Workhorse, the API Lunchbox, and the Rupert Neve Designs R6. It’s important to choose a chassis that suits your specific needs and provides enough flexibility for future expansion.
Midas 502 V2
The Midas 502 V2 is a great intro to modules. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something to give your SM7B that extra juice it needs on the way in. The front panel is clearly laid out, with input and output monitoring, so it’s easy enough to use even as a beginner.
In addition to its user-friendly design, the Midas 502 V2 is equipped with HP and LP filters to isolate the signal, and a TX switch that introduces vintage-style harmonics and saturation. Overall, it’s a great preamp module for the price.
More from Midas
For more options from Midas, you can check out their other modules available on their website.
Fredenstein Artistic Compressor Plus
If you need to level vocals, bass, or guitars on the way in, the Artistic Compressor Plus is a great value solution. It’s an 1176-style FET compressor with gain-reduction metering and an adjustable sidechain filter that also has an external mode.
The mix knob lets you control the degree of processed signal you want, and these modules are also stereo linkable which makes them even more versatile. Easily one of the best-value compressor modules in this price range.
More from Fredenstein
Check out Fredenstein’s website for more information on their Artistic Compressor Plus and other modules they offer.
SSL SiX Channel
Our pick of the bunch is the SSL SiX Channel, a complete 500-series channel strip modeled on the SiX range of desktop mixers. You get a mic pre, EQ, compressor, and DI, all in one very well-priced module.
Both the preamp and compressor have LED metering, and the two EQ bands are switchable, providing shelf or bell functionality. Although it might be limited compared to high-end channel strips, the SiX Channel still gives you an excellent front end for the price.
More from SSL
Visit the SSL website to explore more of their 500-series modules and channel strips.
With the endless transient processor plug-ins available, maybe it’s time to get some analogue hardware for shaping your drums, percussion, and acoustic guitars. The TDx front panel gives you attack, sustain, output attenuation, and mix controls.
This means you can add an aggressive bite to the sound without processing the entire signal. Overall, an excellent mixing tool to add to your 500-series rack for music production.
More from SPL
For more options from SPL, you can visit their website and explore their range of 500-series modules.
In conclusion, selecting the best budget 500-series modules for your home recording setup requires careful consideration of your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for preamps, compressors, or EQ modules, there are plenty of options available that provide excellent quality at an affordable price. Take the time to research and compare different modules to find the ones that suit your workflow and help you achieve the sound you’re aiming for. Happy recording!