Sunday, October 25, 2015

3 new products from Fredenstein Professional Audio.

Fredenstein Professional Audio (FPA) recently announced 3 new and interesting additions to their product line that caught my eye. The MixCube, the Bento 6 I/O and the HD REFERENCE Professional Stereo Microphone Preamplifier with COMMANDER Remote Control. 

I like the features of all the units especially the BENTO 6 I/O which would make a great addition to a mix rig. The built-in 14 channel mixer with AD/DA converters enable the full integration of your 500 series modules with access and routing setup recall via a USB or AVB connection to your DAW. There's also the compressor LINK feature which allows you to link up to 3 pairs of compressor modules.

From FPA's Facebook page:

The MixCube:

The Fredenstein MIX CUBE is a compact answer to the question of mixing in the box or mixing out of the box with a solution born of thinking outside of the box.

The MIX CUBE is a high quality digital controlled analog mixer that can be configured as 8X2, 16X2, 24X2 or 32X2 while only needing about 6.3” (16cm) by 6”3 by 6.3” inches of desk space.

It features a front to back balanced audio path with a fully discrete output stage. The MIX CUBE can be thought of a remarkably compact, extreme performance, purist analog mixer for the digital age.

Each of the channels has gain control in ½ dB steps, pan, cut and solo. Any set of channels can be controlled by one of four fader groups. The master mix also has gain control, balance and cut. Presets can be easily saved and recalled.

The 4 Fader Groups provide a convenient way of controlling multiple channels. For example, one could assign 10 drum channels to Group 1, (indicated numerically below the channel and with a color change) and adjust the level or mute or solo just the drums. Also, in the Audio Menu, all channels can be increased or reduced by 3 dB or 10 dB steps. One can easily find the optimal level to drive the mix buss and outboard processors.

The MIX CUBE also has MIDI ports and a USB port to allow full remote control. For example, a low cost moving fader MIDI controller can provide a traditional tactile interface for the MIX CUBE. Alternatively, A DAW can control the MIX CUBE via MIDI or USB and provide a fully automated mix in the analog domain while the digital to analog converters operate at their optimum levels.

The MIX CUBE has a 4.3” 480x272 pixel full color TFT graphics display that clearly shows levels, pans, groups, etc. 3 Encoders and 3 buttons give the engineer quick access to any control.

The Mix Cube also has a built in peak output meter, with 64 segments from -44 to +20 dB. Naturally it is referenced to the professional +4 dBm standard, so the range is actually -40 to +24 dBu with an additional clip indicator at +28dBu.

  • Inputs are industry standard DSub 25's and the outputs are XLR3.
  • Maximum Input / Output +28 dBu
  • Frequency Response -0.5 dB 10 Hz – 80 kHz
  • THD & N .006%
  • S/N Ratio (8 channels installed, all unity gain) 110 dB
  • S/N Ratio (32 channels installed, all unity gain) 104 dB
  • Crosstalk (adjacent channels panned L & R) 100 dB @ 1kHz, 83 dB @ 10kHz

The Bento 6 I/O:

The Fredenstein Bento 6 I/0 adds digital IO, a 14 channel mixer and a high resolution color TFT display to the successful Bento line of 500 Series carriers. Now one can plug in a DAW with a USB cable and access any chain of analog modules that may be in the Bento rack. Alternatively, with MAC or Unix based systems the Bento 6 I/O also has AVB connectivity which uses ethernet 100BaseT wiring and is suitable for longer distances than USB.

New for the Bento 6 I/O are multi-channel analog to digital and digital to analog converters. There a 6 AtoD converters corresponding to the 6 slots plus 8 DtoA converters corresponding to the 6 slots plus 2 extra that can be used as a mix output or for any other purpose. The new color display is 360 by 240 pixel and is 2.6 inch in size.

Each 500 series module can be fed by the normal XLR analog input, the Aux XLR analog input, or the output of the module directly to the left or from the corresponding DAC channel. Each module's analog output goes to its XLR output like a conventional carrier and also goes to its own AtoD channel. This suggests that it is easy to use the BENTO 6 I/O fully analog, fully digital, or anything in between, plus being able to chain several modules to create your own custom channel path. All analog routing is done with high reliability relays.

Additionally there is a 14 channel digital mixer that can mix any combination of the 6 AtoD and 8 DtoA channels. You could think of them as 6 processed analog inputs and 8 channels from the DAW and still have the mixer output feed DAC #7 & #8 for headphones. Each of the 14 channels has level, pan, mute and solo control plus the mix buss has level and mute controls.

The converters are 24 bit and capable of 44.1K, 48K, 88.2K, 96K, 176.4K and 192K sample rates. The Bento 6 I/O utilizes asynchronous data transfer for low jitter. It accepts word clock IO on BNCs and provides user select-able 75 ohm termination. The Bento 6 I/O also runs a self test routine to confirm all power rails are fine at power up.

As with other Bento racks, there is a flexible LINK feature that can be set up for 3 different pairs of compressors, anticipating that “link” circuits from different companies probably won't be compatible. One can link up to 6 compressors from one company for surround. And in common with the Bento 6D, the Bento 6 I/0 can display control settings numerically of various compatible Fredenstein modules like the F604, F605, F606 and F607. Presets can saved and recalled, which is a nice bonus.

The Fredenstein Bento 500 Series Carriers have earned a reputation for frankly being a bargain considering how solidly constructed and well engineered they are. The power supplies are over specified, clean and proven winners for low radiated hum and noise. The Bento 6 I/O carries on this tradition of offering great price plus adds another huge set of useful features and modern high tech functionality.

HD REFERENCE Professional Stereo Microphone Preamplifier and COMMANDER Remote Control:

The HD REFERENCE Microphone Preamplifier can be described as unique, revolutionary, and among the best performing mic pre's of all time.

Well almost unique. The internal topology was first introduced in the 500 Series Fredenstein HD PRE which features the new current mode, true class A, zero negative feedback, 100% balanced circuit that uses 54 discrete premium transistors for gain. The HD REFERENCE goes a step further with 72 transistors and a +/- 24 volt power supply. The HD REFERENCE is also designed to be remote controlled (or not) and offers 1 dB gain steps shown clearly on the front panel.

Technical performance can only be described as extreme or exceptional. Extreme low noise (EIN - XX dB), exceptional low distortion (.XX% at 60 dB of gain), extreme bandwidth (-3dB down at 900kHz) and is can deliver +30 dbu at the outputs. And while it sports the holy grail, grand combination of high end specifications, The HD REFERENCE also out-performs typical tube pre-amplifiers in the area of smooth transition into saturation, due to the absence of negative feedback and the fast recovery inherent in the topology. In other words, it goes from pristene to 3 dimensional through rich and then power house depending on how hard one drives it.

Features include 1 dB stepped gain from 0 dB to +64 dB (using high reliability relays) indicated with a large 7 segment LED display. 3 high pass filter frequencies, 3 impedance settings, phantom power and polarity switching. Details like, automatic muting while phantom power is changing, to prevent thumps and damage to monitors is built in. There are also a pair of Direct Inputs for instruments with low noise discrete JFET inputs (2 meg ohm) and 0 to 40 dB of gain.

And then by adding the COMMANDER remote control we can reap the benefit of keeping the mic pre close to the mic, while still keeping control of all the features the HD REFERENCE provides. By keeping the cable between the mic and the REFERENCE HD short, we can preserve the fragile mic level signals and send a robust line level signal any reasonable distance to the converter, console or compressor. The Commander and REFERENCE HD connect with a standard mic cable. The COMMANDER additionally has a “LOCK” button that can prevent tampering at the remote preamp.

I will update this post with pricing etc. when more info is available (probably after AES this coming weekend). 

In the meantime visit their Facebook page, website and their North American Distributor Studiologicsound.