Last year I made the decision to offload all my rack gear and switch to 500 Series format. My requirements had changed and I needed my hardware to match my desired workflow. 500 Series is basically a format that provides standards for sizing, power and audio connectivity. You buy a Series 500 chassis and load it with appropriate modules. The modules require the chassis and can not work independently.
When I originally built my studio, I cared only about single signal recording (guitar, vocals, percussion etc) so I built a high quality mic preamp and compression path to reflect the single signal workflow. My newer music, being predominantly electronic, would obviously benefit from a stereo configuration so I set out to design a new outboard rig to accommodate.
Since 2008 I had been using a Cranesong Trakker which was exceptional but only offered a single channel compression. To upgrade to two of the units would have been cost prohibitive and I also wanted to try something different in a non rack format.
I also owned two JLM Audio preamps in a single rack unit being the TG (primarily for guitar tracking) and Dual 99V (everything else). Being non matched devices they were not going to be suitable for stereo tracking. So I sold all that and managed to build the system below.
- Sidekick 500 Chassis - provides power and all IN and OUT signal routing for 8 modules
- 2x JLM Audio Dual 99v Mic Preamps
- 2x JLM Audio LA500A Compressors
The Series 500 chassis is just next to the left monitor and is standing vertically. Very space effecient.
I am overwhelmingly satisfied with my choices. JLM Audio is an amazing company with superior products and service, and are priced reasonably given the level of quality they provide which is up there with the best in the world. I have used JLM gear since 2008 and it has never come close to letting me down or limiting my possibilities. On the day of receipt I was able to get Joe Malone from JLM on the phone and discuss the design and working details of the devices which was good fun. He makes time for amateurs like me in between servicing exponentially bigger names.
I am seriously considering two of their FREQ500 modules next to provide stereo matched parametric EQ with up to 12db cut or boost per frequency.
The below photos show the Sidekick chassis and the two Dual 99v Mic Preamps and two LA500A compressors. If you want to hear the LA500A pair as a stereo master out compression pair take a listen to Grandiose Delusions. I absolutely slammed this track to see what would happen and am pretty happy with the results.
All four units fully mounted
The four 500 Series units waiting to be mounted in place
All four units, front shot. Dual 99V preamps on the left, LA500A compressors on the right
The inside of the case with 4 spaces free... Nature abhores a vacuum
Dual 99v Preamp close up
Series 500 vs standard Rack unit (that is the original TG and Dual 99v upside down)