Nashville mixer legends Harrison have been focusing on the digital side of things lately, with the development of their large film-mixing digital consoles, and, more recently, their Ardour-based Mixbus software. This year’s Musik Messe, however, saw the company launch a brand-new analogue desk, called the 950M.
Harrison say this new console was designed for use in DAW-based studios, and the deep keyboard and mouse shelf along the front reflects this, as does the flat surface along the top, which is intended to support computer screens and/or smaller studio monitors.Harrison 950M
The 950M is available in three different frame sizes: 12-channel, 16-channel and 24-channel chassis are available, with widths of 26, 32 and 43 inches, respectively. The desk is fully modular, and can be configured with either mono mic/line input modules, or stereo line input modules, or a combination of both (in groups of four of each). Both types of input module feature full-throw faders, channel solo and on buttons, four aux sends (which can be configured individually to operate pre- or post-fader, on a per-strip basis), various input select switches (mic/line for the mono strips, and left/right/mono switching for the stereo strips), plus a three-band EQ section. The bands are all fixed-bandwidth, with frequencies set at 100Hz, 4kHz and 10kHz. Harrison call these ‘Tone’ controls, and they appear to be better suited to gentle tonal shaping rather than radical or corrective EQ’ing — presumably, Harrison reckon that more extreme equalisation is better performed inside your DAW.
Both the mono and stereo input modules feature bypassable high- and low-pass filters (set at 100Hz and 10kHz, respectively), with the remaining controls comprising gain, pan (or balance, on the stereo line strips), insert-point bypass, phantom power (on the mic channels), and mix-bus routing.A bird's-eye view of the 950M's modules.
Unusually, the 950M features two independent stereo mix buses: a transformer-balanced one, and an electronically balanced bus, for a choice of vintage saturation or modern fidelity. Each of these has its own fader on the master module, as well as its own individual bus compressor (the controls for which are limited to threshold and release). The master module also houses the four aux master knobs, plus routing switches for the oscillator and talkback mic (these can be sent to either of the two mix buses, and/or the auxes).
The oscillator and talkback functions are accessed from the monitor module. The oscillator’s frequency can be set to either 10kHz, 1kHz or 100Hz, making it useful for both tape-machine biasing and level optimisation, while the talkback mic has its own level control, and is engaged via a latching switch. The monitor module also features a control room level knob, a headphone output (with its own independent level control), plus a monitor mono-sum and mute switch. Monitor sources comprise auxes 1-4, mix bus 1 or 2, plus an external stereo source.
Features, as we can see, are plenty, and the studio output section further echoes Harrison’s high-end heritage. There are two studio outputs (Studio A and B), each with their own volume, mono and mute controls, and source-select switches (these outputs can be taken from the auxes, either mix bus or the external stereo input). Finally, the talkback mic can be routed either, neither, or both studio outputs.
The final module houses the console’s VU meters: there are four in total, for independent metering of the left and right outputs of both mix buses.
Harrison say that the 950M is based on the company’s own classic designs, like the 32 Series (a favourite of Bruce Swedien), and that it has been built to offer “the highest possible performance in analogue mixing console design”. All switches and modules, for example, are gold-plated, while all of the desk’s components are through-hole mounted, for a more robust connection than surface-mount devices. The summing buses are carried by socketed PCBs, rather than ribbon cables (which are less reliable and can fail after a number of years), and all inputs and outputs, including the insert points, are balanced.
The 950M looks like it’ll be a serious bit of kit — so it should come as no surprise that it carries a serious price tag. UK pricing was unavailable at the time of writing, but in the States, the frames are expected cost between $8800 and $13,600 (depending on whether you opt for the 12-, 16- or 24-channel version), with modules priced at around $1000 a piece.