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OK, so exactly how much do you want one of THESE?

This surely is a mixing console to desire, to long for, to yearn after, to pursue until you have one in your very own studio. Or does it leave you absolutely, deathly stone-cold?

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The console in question is a 48-channel Wunder Audio Wunderbar. I came across it after receiving a recording of speech made with Wunder Audio's replica of the mighty Neumann U47 - their CM7, priced at a mere $6495. I hear a lot of recordings of speech and I'm not impressed by something that is merely impressive. But this one stood out in a wonderful combination of naturalness and the sound of a great mic.

Anyway, it's not the mic I'm writing about, it's the console. I cut my recording teeth on a Neve 8014 mixing console back in the 1970s, and although I significantly under-appreciated it at the time, I certainly appreciate the memory of it now.

The Neve 8014 had already become a small console by the time I started using it. Later, during the 1980s and 90s, consoles grew to an enormous size, and became equipped with every bell and whistle anyone, absolutely anyone, could possibly want.

Although I graduated to a larger Neve console, my feeling was and still is that although large-scale consoles have their place, a more compact console that has exactly the right facilities is much closer to being a musical instrument, rather than a piece of technical apparatus.

So with the old Neve, as well as the sound, there were the preamps with nice chunky gain controls, superb EQ, aux sends and the usual pans and faders. And that was pretty much it. No in-channel compressors or gates, no automation. Nothing, in fact, to get in the way of the music.

And the faders...

Just faders. No routing buttons muddled up among the faders to get in the way of my flying fingers. I hate that.

Now, as much as I would like to have such a vintage Neve console of my own, I've already spent too much time in my life maintaining equipment and I absolutely love the fact that there's no such thing as a scratchy pot or noisy channel in Pro Tools (perhaps someone should develop a plug-in!).

So if I ever buy an analog console again, I want a brand new one.

But there never seems to have been anything on the market that suited me quite as much as that old Neve. Well not until now.

I only have the picture to go on, and some information from the Wunder Audio website, but this console looks like it's exactly what I might want. (If I can ever afford it.)

But then I have to ask myself why I would want it?

Is it because of a feeling of nostalgia? A 'back to the old days' thing?

Or is it a genuine reason of getting my hands on the hardware rather than operating by mouse?

(Control surfaces don't do anything for me I'm afraid - just my personal preference, I know a lot of people like them.)

But I can say something for sure... when I look at this console, I feel excited. Very excited.

So over to you...

Does this console generate similar feelings of excitement for you? If not, which console would?

Or perhaps the whole business of mixing consoles leaves you totally stone cold.

However you feel, we would like to hear from you. Comments below please...

By David Mellor Tuesday December 28, 2010
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