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Audient Black Box BB4 Voice Channel
Old 15th February 2011
  #1
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Audient Black Box BB4 Voice Channel

Hello fellow slutz

I've come across a second hand Audient Black Box BB4. It is configured as a "voice channel", it has a Black series preamp module, an Black Eq module and a Black compressor module and finally the ADC of the Black series in it.

I want to use it mainly as a front end for my synths and then for recordings mostly of female vocals and acoustic instruments, violin, hand percussion, santur, saz, bouzouk, oud, lute, these type of instruments.

I have an AKG 414B-ULS-TLII mic, a Rode NT2, a M-Audio Sputnik and I'll be buying also, after a while, a pair of MC930s, a Rode K2 etc.

Anybody has used the Audient Black series? Do you think it will be good for my uses? I found little information about the Black series, doesn't seem so popular around here I guess!

I thought that the transformer and extra harmonics of the preamp would be really good for synths, the quality of the eq useful for the voice and instruments and if you add the ADC, which is supposed to be really transparent and accurate, then it is worth the asking price (900 euros).
No idea how is the Audient compressor.

I'm using my RME FF400 for recordings now. I also have an ISA 430mkII Producer pack (which I love).

I have heard the Mico and I'm not crazy about it, it sounded quite thin and a little nasty actually, but the Black preamp is supposed to be way better and warmer, being transformer based.

Please share any information or experience you might have using the Black series. It seems like a good solution for me for not a lot of money and I thought it might complement my 430mkII well.

Any comment welcome

Thanks!
Old 21st February 2011
  #2
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Come on guys! No-one has ever used the Audient Black around here, then?!...
Old 21st February 2011 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Head
 
alecness's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'm interested as well. Audient caught my eye a while back with the ASP008. Curious what people think about the Black Series. Anyone?
Old 21st February 2011 | Show parent
  #4
TRW
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Excellent tools, value for money, innovative features, the fully discrete design is incredible if you see the schematics. I often wonder why these are not more popular. Effectively the discrete design in here is as good as IMO anything Rupert and the like conceived. OK so people will have differing preferences and I'm not saying these are similar to popular discrete designs but they are clever as hell and you have to respect the engineering in them.

The preamp is musical and has cool HMX flavour for thickening and harmonic colour, wonderful on electric guitar and synth. The pre is solid on everything. The Line input works as a zero field transformer and has a super hifi tone. HMX therefore useful at mixdown.

The compressor is very smooth but capable of grab.

The EQ is sublime and as good as many other discrete units that cost a lot more. Fully discrete mosfet designs by two British audio unsung heros (Dearden & Stride). You may find the frequency choices on the bottom band a touch limiting for all work but the mids and top are sweet. Unique enhancer and lf compression also very unusual and clever.

The AD I didn't try too much. Seemed good.

Bottom line, I am posting because the line never really took off but if you got to see what was inside and how clever the circuitry is, fully discrete modules as good as this should cost 3 x the price.

Try them, you will either love them or like them, but I doubt you will hate them. They are good tools.

-T
Old 22nd February 2011 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Hey I have a BB4
In mine i've got a PRE, ADC, and two compressors,
I bought mine mainly as a tracking box for similar reasons you're stating,

Basically I love audient gear now, the black series is nothing short of FANTASTIC, everything is pure class and top quality,

PRE: Is clean and quiet but very detailed, it's flexible though and you can warm it up with the HMX function (this doesn't work on everything but sometimes you'll try it on a random instrument and it will make it sing)

ADC: WOW, I actually can't believe they make such a great ADC for 500bucks, I use this ADC over my Aurora A/D whenever I can (EG when I'm only doing a stereo source). Can't recommend it enough.

COMP: Again very very flexible, and sounds fantastic, I've got no hesitation using this one on a lead vocal, it's just lovely. I've still barely scratched the surface with this one.

EQ: haven't used it but I'm sure it's amazing.

I can't believe how good this gear is for the price, if you buy this (without knowing exactly what you're hoping for in your head), I'd be very surprised if you're not extremely happy/blown away,
Can't recommend Audient highly enough!

Cheers,
Old 22nd February 2011 | Show parent
  #6
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thank you guys! I was sure somebody here must have used Audient black before!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysw ➡️
I can't believe how good this gear is for the price, if you buy this (without knowing exactly what you're hoping for in your head), I'd be very surprised if you're not extremely happy/blown away
What I'm hoping for in my head is actually to find a cheaper alternative to buying a Lunchbox full of modules! I don't have a lot of money to spend right now and even if I suspect in the end I might buy a small Lunchbox (with say an Avedis MA5, a Great River Pre and possibly an A-Designs P1/or Safe Sound Audio P501/or LaChapell 503s/or Juggernaut 500) I think to buy a preamp/eq/compressor/ADC AND rack case for this price, if the quality of the Audient is comparable to the Lunchbox preamps I'm considering, then this is obviously the right choice for me!

Now may I ask, have you compared or heard in real life any of the above Lunchbox preamps and do you think the Audient is at the same league soundwise?
I am very pleasantly surprised to read the Black ADC sounds better than the Aurora!
Could the pre have the same "expensive" and "rich" sound quality of the 500 series preamps I'm considering you think?

Keep the comments coming!
Thank you all!
Old 22nd February 2011 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega ➡️
Thank you guys! I was sure somebody here must have used Audient black before!



What I'm hoping for in my head is actually to find a cheaper alternative to buying a Lunchbox full of modules! I don't have a lot of money to spend right now and even if I suspect in the end I might buy a small Lunchbox (with say an Avedis MA5, a Great River Pre and possibly an A-Designs P1/or Safe Sound Audio P501/or LaChapell 503s/or Juggernaut 500) I think to buy a preamp/eq/compressor/ADC AND rack case for this price, if the quality of the Audient is comparable to the Lunchbox preamps I'm considering, then this is obviously the right choice for me!

Now may I ask, have you compared or heard in real life any of the above Lunchbox preamps and do you think the Audient is at the same league soundwise?
I am very pleasantly surprised to read the Black ADC sounds better than the Aurora!
Could the pre have the same "expensive" and "rich" sound quality of the 500 series preamps I'm considering you think?

Keep the comments coming!
Thank you all!

Hi mate, my pleasure, I do whatever I can to spread the word about great gear,
I got my bb4 initially purely for the ADC, and this was because I was looking for a great ADC to track through, I got the BB4 because I liked the idea that I might be able to expand it down the track (I was originally looking at the audient MICO, and could have cared less about the pres just wanted the ADC).

I was pretty skeptical about the price tags, but my dealer urged me to try it and all I can say is, I got back on the phone to him straight away and order the PRE and two compressors,
The only thing now is I wish I bought the TEN space chassis instead

I have never heard any of the other 500 series units, but personally I see this as an easy way to get into the 500 series game,
Beauty of the audient stuff is that you can buy a 500 series adapter for your bb4, which will allow you to put any 500 series unit into your audient rack,
That's what sold me on it, because I thought I might like to buy a few API or something down the track.

I hesitate to say the ADC is "better" than the Aurora though, maybe I should rephrase, (to my ears), sounds more focussed and deep, so I choose it over my Aurora when I'm tracking mono or stereo sources.

Again not too sure about your comparisons to the 500 series because I don't own any,
But then again I DO own expensive vintage preamps, and I would happily choose my BLACK PRE, along with any of my "magic" pres,
It's got that clean and clear broadcast quality to it that cuts through the mix, but you can dirty it up with the HMX,

If you're looking for something with "character" this might not be perfect for you, but it's certinaly able to stand up against stuff I've got that's 5 times as expensive.

all I can say is I love them, they are pro!
Old 22nd February 2011 | Show parent
  #8
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks again!

May I ask you which other preamps you've got? I want to use the Black pre for synths (using the harmonics circuit) and acoustic instruments (different jobs) which need some warmth but also clarity and detail. The extra harmonics might work also on violin or santur or even female vocals for example but of course I can only guess.
I'm looking for rich, professional, expensive sound.

Also as money is tight right now, I thought to buy an extra black pre and swap out the black eq module when I need to track stereo and then pull out the second pre module to put the eq back in place. Do you know if this is done easily, or it is hard to install a module? Is it for example similar to adding a PCI card to a computer? Or the modules are fragile and hard to install in the frame?

Lastly, do you by any chance have anything that you've tracked using the black pres or compressors you could upload here, or post a link to a myspace page or similar?
What do you usually record using the black pres?
I can't find samples of the black series, except a male voice on mp3 which had dropouts and sounded a bit dark in general and a bass synth which sounded incredible, by the way, with the added harmonics...
Old 22nd February 2011 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega ➡️
Thanks again!

May I ask you which other preamps you've got? I want to use the Black pre for synths (using the harmonics circuit) and acoustic instruments (different jobs) which need some warmth but also clarity and detail. The extra harmonics might work also on violin or santur or even female vocals for example but of course I can only guess.
I'm looking for rich, professional, expensive sound.

Also as money is tight right now, I thought to buy an extra black pre and swap out the black eq module when I need to track stereo and then pull out the second pre module to put the eq back in place. Do you know if this is done easily, or it is hard to install a module? Is it for example similar to adding a PCI card to a computer? Or the modules are fragile and hard to install in the frame?

Lastly, do you by any chance have anything that you've tracked using the black pres or compressors you could upload here, or post a link to a myspace page or similar?
What do you usually record using the black pres?
I can't find samples of the black series, except a male voice on mp3 which had dropouts and sounded a bit dark in general and a bass synth which sounded incredible, by the way, with the added harmonics...
Hey mate,

I typed a long response then GS timed out and I lost it,

Basically I'm using some vintage stuff like Neve/API/Calrec,

Black PRE works fantastic for acoustic material, because of the low noise, and I would pick it for many acoustic instruments over my vintage stuff,

Cards are pretty easy to pull out/put in, but once you've got 3 in it's hard to get the last one in, but you'll know when you've got it right cause they don't power on otherwise,
FWIW, I would get pretty annoyed pretty quickly with having to swap out the cards on a regular basis.

The PRE is amazing for the money, it's definitely IMO, high end and stands up there with all my stuff that's 5 times the price to my ears.

I pick it more for stuff that needs a clean sound, like quiet acoustic instruments, but I always muck around with the HMX on synths and samples, it's fantastic value,

TRy contacting the boys on the Audient site, they're REALLY helpful and a great bunch, service is fantastic.


Cheers!
Old 24th February 2011 | Show parent
  #10
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have the Audient Black EQ and Compressor loaded into the Clipalator gear test page on my site now.

I have to say, I've had a loaded BB4 in here and thus far have spent the most time with the compressor. That thing blows me away and I think it deserves extra kudos above what has been mentioned here, in many ways.

The "Overcomp" mode is brilliant for maximum loud output, when you really need hot tracks that stick to the ceiling and stay LEVEL...there isn't much on the market that can touch this circuit. It gets very aggressive, but as far as tone is concerned if you don't want a crunched up, wild sound...you simply engage the "Smooth" circuit and it takes the edge off. Between these two features, I'm just not sure that much else on the market is capable of such hardcore leveling and a relatively smooth tone at the same time.

Other standard features on the unit are just very well selected (ratios, attack and release times, which can be extremely FAST by the way) and easy to dial in stuff.

The bottom line is that it can do stuff you likely have not experienced before. I don't have 2 comps here to link, although I doubt they would create such a killer unit and not have them link well.

The EQ I find to be hit and miss in ways, not a "bad" design but it pays more attention to a few niche type features and less attention to having say, more frequency points available. This can EXCEL on some sources, but you can't approach it like a standard EQ that is for sure.

I need to spend time with the pre, seems VERY promising in features and having the variable hi-pass and HMX is nice stuff. Separate line input feeds mean those features might be nice on a final mix, with those compressors too.

I'm thinking a BB4 rack with 2 pre and 2 comp is a strong combo for tracking and then mix elements. Lot of serious control there. It would be priced for around what people are paying for nice stereo compressors already.

War
Old 27th February 2011 | Show parent
  #11
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thank you for your replies, both Andysw and War.
I'm really starting to believe the Audient Black being really pro and probably up there with the 500 series modules by other manufactures.

I've listened to some of your audio examples War and I must say the compressor sounds really nice and diverse, I liked it on the female vocal and cello but on the other hand the Eq didn't really sound very special. My connection is very slow right now, I'm not at the studio, and I've only listened on AKG earplugs on my laptop, but it seems to me the eq is average sounding, nothing to write home about.

The compressor though sounded great. If the preamp is on the same level with the compressor, then I guess I should buy the BB4 for sure.

Does anyone have any samples recorded with the Black pre? This would help a lot!

Keep the comments coming guys!
Appreciate it!
Old 28th February 2011 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega ➡️
Thank you for your replies, both Andysw and War.
I'm really starting to believe the Audient Black being really pro and probably up there with the 500 series modules by other manufactures.

I've listened to some of your audio examples War and I must say the compressor sounds really nice and diverse, I liked it on the female vocal and cello but on the other hand the Eq didn't really sound very special. My connection is very slow right now, I'm not at the studio, and I've only listened on AKG earplugs on my laptop, but it seems to me the eq is average sounding, nothing to write home about.

The compressor though sounded great. If the preamp is on the same level with the compressor, then I guess I should buy the BB4 for sure.

Does anyone have any samples recorded with the Black pre? This would help a lot!

Keep the comments coming guys!
Appreciate it!
I'd have to agree with War, the comp is amazing, and the link function works as it should so long as the units are side by side.

I didn't bother with the EQ, but having said that I haven't heard it either, I just didn't need it and couldn't sacrifice the space.
I have a pre 2 comps and an ADC,

omega, I might be able to record you something with the PRE at some stage this week,
PM me if I don't get back to you soon, just busy at the moment.

Old 28th February 2011 | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Hi all,

Great to read some really positive comments about the Black Series on here, it's always nice to see!

For the original poster I can suggest this YouTube video of Audient user Gareth Johnson. It should give you an idea of what you can do with the Black Series, albeit as a guitar channel rather than for vocals. It's from a manufacturer point of view of course, but we have tried to get across a faithful representation of the Black Series sound through the YouTube compression...

Old 30th March 2011 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I just bought Audient!

I just got the BB4 + ADC + Word clock

this will be my chain
electronics Titan/AKG Solidtube -> Blue Robbie -> ADC & Worldclock -> Delta 66 (ouch) -> Nuendo 5

Ill post a song in maybe 2 weeks, it hasnt arrived yet!!!!
Old 31st March 2011 | Show parent
  #15
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edva's Avatar
 
26 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Way to go!
Old 1st April 2011
  #16
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva ➡️
Way to go!
Haha I ended spending A few hundred more than I budgeted, but I got the adc + time machine + bb4
Old 7th April 2011 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Audient Black Vocals

this is my chain
SE Electronics Titan -> Blue Robbie -> BB4 ( Time Machine, ADC) -> SPDIF into TC Electronics Triple C -> Delta 66 -> Nuendo 5


gearslutz.mp3 is 320
the lead.wav is 44 32bit

everything is dry
beat is by Jeepz (pynkhouse.com)


EDIT:
Theres some slight compression on the lead vocals going in,
its split into 3 bands with the cross overs at 80 hz - 10k
everything under 80 has 6:1 ratio with the threshold at -40
and the other 2 bands are set at a ratio of 6:1 with the threshold at -3
Attached Files

gearslutz.mp3 (1.87 MB, 1293 views)

V1 LEAD_15.wav (8.17 MB, 1593 views)

Old 3rd August 2019
  #18
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soundmodel's Avatar
 
Would you recommend the BB4 instead of GAP EQ-573?

Looking at an affordable 500-series EQ with Neve/API style.
Old 6th August 2019 | Show parent
  #19
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel ➡️
Would you recommend the BB4 instead of GAP EQ-573?

Looking at an affordable 500-series EQ with Neve/API style.
The BB4 is a proper pro gear. The Gap is budget semi-pro gear.
The BB4 is 4 modules in a proprietary case/power supply, not API500 compatible.

If you want budget Neve+API preamps, I d buy second hand a BAE 312a+an Avedis MA5 with the 4slot Heritage Audio lunchbox.

If you have found the BB4 for a reasonable price, go for it. It's not Neve nor API, but it sounds great, and you get a complete package.
Old 6th August 2019 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega ➡️
The BB4 is a proper pro gear. The Gap is budget semi-pro gear.
The BB4 is 4 modules in a proprietary case/power supply, not API500 compatible.

If you want budget Neve+API preamps, I d buy second hand a BAE 312a+an Avedis MA5 with the 4slot Heritage Audio lunchbox.
I was looking for EQ, not just preamp.

Also, I would question your idea about Gap being "semi-pro". Having owned a Comp-2A, I thought it was "flawless". So I don't see a "semi-" here.
Old 6th August 2019 | Show parent
  #21
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel ➡️
I was looking for EQ, not just preamp.

Also, I would question your idea about Gap being "semi-pro". Having owned a Comp-2A, I thought it was "flawless". So I don't see a "semi-" here.
Yeah, I didn't want to say enthusiast, so I used semi-pro, just trying to be polite.

Don't forget this is the High End forum though.
If you really think you can get a pro level Neve style preamp+eq (or API) for the price of (any) GAP, you need to think again.

Even GAP themselves are using a different brand name for their other, (higher end) equipment (Golden Age Project clearly defines and targets project studios rather than Pro ones.)

I m not saying you can't use the GAP, many people were using Mackie preamps back in the 90s.
It just doesn't belong in the same league as any other high end gear discussed in this particular forum.
As I mentioned before, the Audient is in a different league though.
Old 27th August 2019 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel ➡️
I was looking for EQ, not just preamp.

Also, I would question your idea about Gap being "semi-pro". Having owned a Comp-2A, I thought it was "flawless". So I don't see a "semi-" here.
Still using my BB4 with comps and pre all these years later, I’ll likely never sell, they rock!
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a discontinued line,
Also if you’re looking for “that” sound (Neve) you won’t get it from the Audient Black pre,
Audient is very modern with heaps of headroom,
But the harmonics feature on it allows you to get s more coloured vintage sound while maintaining an open and modern signal.
I dig them a lot and I’m always surprised at how much I like the pre and forget why I don’t use it more, not a go to for vocals or bass, but definitely on guitars, snare drum or acoustic instruments.

The comps are absolutely killer!

Cheers!
Old 27th August 2019 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega ➡️
Yeah, I didn't want to say enthusiast, so I used semi-pro, just trying to be polite.

Don't forget this is the High End forum though.
If you really think you can get a pro level Neve style preamp+eq (or API) for the price of (any) GAP, you need to think again.

Even GAP themselves are using a different brand name for their other, (higher end) equipment (Golden Age Project clearly defines and targets project studios rather than Pro ones.)

I m not saying you can't use the GAP, many people were using Mackie preamps back in the 90s.
It just doesn't belong in the same league as any other high end gear discussed in this particular forum.
As I mentioned before, the Audient is in a different league though.
I would question this a bit.

We live a time where a lot of good "replicas" appear. This is related to cheapening and broadening of availability of components. It seems that "getting near same quality at a fraction of $$$" is a phenomenon of this time.

-> It can be expected. It's not necessarily yet realized.

I belong to the "camp" which thinks that high-end gear is too expensive and that producing gear that's "affordable to everyone" is a nice idea from perspective of music/culture.
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