While at the University, my upper level training in audio engineering took place mainly on the API Vision console. With 5.1 capabilities, fader/solo automation and recall, along with DAW remote control, it is at the forefront of analog consoles. However, in an industry where the digital option provides such a powerful yet cheap alternative to the analog workflow, companies like API who pride themselves on the design of their discreet circuitry must continue to evolve to compete with the power of digital interfaces.
While API has achieved up to 7.1 mix capabilities along with a powerful digital component for automation and DAW remote, the size and price of their consoles is still overbearing. With the API Lunchbox as the budget recordist’s only hope for achieving the API sound, it might make more sense to simply buy the API Waves package (software plugins programmed to mimic the sound from API circuitry). However, now API has revealed The Box, a small format mix console meant for the home studio market. Albeit, the price at close to 20,000 dollars still dictates a market for professionals only. With the classic sound of a large format console and the same compression/equalization/routing capabilities (slightly scaled down), The Box will definitely expand API’s console market. The downside is that with only 4 preamps, it makes it difficult to record drums for anything more than a modest setup and even then you better be very confident with your placement. The 16 channels of summing allows for a pretty nice sized protools mixdown, though.
All in all, it’s a very powerful piece of gear for the size. Not to mention, any shortcomings can always be worked around by running more lower cost preamps parallel to the system for instruments that don’t require the warmth of API circuits.