API’s Larry Droppa, president, and Jordan Shirks, engineer, unboxed The Box at Nashville’s Ben’s Studio.
NASHVILLE, TN—Mixing in The Box takes on a whole new meaning with the introduction of the small footprint, full-featured API The Box analog console. At a private demonstration at Ben Folds’ Ben’s Studio in Nashville, prior to cutting demo tracks for the 135th AES Convention, The AES Daily had a hands-on sneak peak of The Box.

Larry Droppa, API president, said the inspiration for The Box was 50/50 customer input and R&D development. For many customers, API’s highly successful 1608 console line filled the need for a smaller version of the company’s large format consoles, yet, explained Droppa, “There were enough people who said, ‘Great idea, but I’m not going to track 16 channels at a time…can you take the mic pres out?’ The other side was, trying to find a place in the market where we covered how people are actually working—a different range of customer, singer-songwriters, in their home studios, tracking thee or four tracks at a time.”

The Box feature list includes two input channels with mic/DI/Line preamp, HP filter and integral 550A EQ, two additional input channels that feature 500 slots for user-selected compatible modules in the EQ position, a two-channel fully featured API compressor (with Old/New, Hard/ Soft knee and Thrust circuitry, assignable to input channels or program bus), 16 summing inputs (20 during mixing), a two-channel program bus with master fader, insert and external input, one two-channel and two mono aux send/buses with center section master control, two-channel send/bus and headphone system, external monitor selection, main and alt (with trim) speaker selection, PFL/AFL and Solo-In-Place solo operation, talkback, rear-channel I/O with a combination of XLR, balanced 1/4-inch and 25-pin D-sub connections and an integrated power supply.

The Box covers the bases for essential features for the target customers, said Droppa: “We tried to build everything that you want to use or need to use in a fully featured console, in a more compact space. We’re not trying to compromise features or operability to just bring the size down.”

Sonically, the brand name says it all—The Box is built in the API tradition with 30-plus discrete op-amps and 18-plus transformers. It weighs in at 80 lbs., but is still a “big iron” desk— one engineer who tried The Box at the factory is reported to have taken mixes back and played them for the artist who commented, “Wow, that sounds like it was done on an old API.”

The Box will sell for $18,000 with the two 500 slots open—significantly less than half the cost of the base API 1608 small format console. It is in stock and shipping immediately.