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Review: Arthur Format48 Modular Console From Schertler

Taking the latest innovation in console design out for a test drive...

By M. Erik Matlock November 14, 2016

The Arthur Format48 console from Schertler

Earlier this year at Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt, I saw an abundance of new products from every corner of our industry. There were a few that captured my attention and begged for me to rip the credit card out, slash my way through the crowd and claim some new treasures. Yeah, I still get a little emotional over new gear.

When I met Drago from Schertler, we talked about the new products they were introducing. The guitar amp collection was very distracting. Beautiful cabinets, although I never got to hear one. Near the end of our meeting, he took me to the new Arthur Format48 modular console and explained the concept and design. It’s like a LEGO set for audio engineers. Each console is assembled from a selection of input and output strips.

As a “retired” audio guy with delusions of opening another recording studio, the thought of an ala carte analog console definitely appeals to my wallet. Something that I could work on small projects to start with and then expand/change later seems ideal. It’s almost like they’ve found a digital-style solution for the analog people. Something to give us a degree of bragging rights in customizing our consoles like those digital whippersnappers.

Individual modules.

According to the company website: “All circuits are simply built using single, discrete class A electronic components and pure high-voltage DC amps (with not one capacitor in the signal path), offering 30 dB headroom and low noise, as well as unparalleled stability, warmth and transparency.” It goes on to say that the design includes “electronic circuitry that is totally free of negative feedback (NFB) from input to output” to produce “ultra-fast response and a natural attack.”

Most manufacturers tend to claim that their products have some special “mojo” that makes them superior. So I admit that I have a tendency to brush off such claims until I can put the products through their paces.

Building It Up
For this review, the company provided console modules that included an instrument channel, four microphone channels, one stereo channel, and a master section with one auxiliary module added. For most project studio startups, this seems like a good starting point to grow from.

Microphone input module

The individual modules can be selected and ordered like menu items. Simply choose which modules you want to start with and the helpful online configurator will even show you what your finished console will look like. It allows you to scroll through a menu like you were ordering a pizza. Pick out your base requirements for a power supply option, master section and those attractive wooden side rails—and then add the inputs as needed.

Options include microphone input, stereo input, the oddly named Yellow instrument input, auxiliary strip and master L/R module.

The microphone input module offers a single XLR input that is switchable between balanced mic and line level signals from -70 dBu to +25 dBu. The entire setup for mic/line signal management is actually pretty impressive with several options for accommodating various input types. The section includes a +15 dB boost, fixed 100 Hz high-pass filter, phase button and a unique “resonance filter” to selectively notch out problem frequencies. A 1/4-inch connector is also included which switches between direct out and insert modes.

Auxiliary section module

Each feature is accompanied by a lighted button that changes color to show the selected mode of operation. A very nice addition, especially in a live environment.

The EQ section offers three-bands including high (5 kHz to 20 kHz) and low filters (20 Hz to 300 Hz) with a parametric midrange, adjustable from 250 Hz to 3.2 kHz. There’s also a button to turn the EQ section on or off to compare changes.

The aux section is where we see what appears to be this concept’s first real limitation. Project studios as well as smaller churches and venues might be just fine with only three aux sends, but larger shows and tours can probably continue the search for that perfect desk. Each one is switchable between pre and post-fader, which is a very nice addition.

And honestly, I’ve installed enough systems to know that about 80 percent of the churches and clubs out there can run just fine with three auxiliaries. Maybe we will see a future module to address this, but for now it is what it is.


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About M. Erik

M. Erik Matlock
M. Erik Matlock

Senior Editor, ProSoundWeb
     
Erik worked in a wide range of roles in pro audio for more than 20 years in a dynamic career that encompasses system design and engineering in the live, install and recording markets. He also spent several years as a production staff member and team leader for the largest non-denominational church in central Georgia, and served as an author for several leading industry publications before joining the PSW team.
http://erikmatlock.com

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Chris says

What were the other two consoles that blew you away?

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