The Audient ASP4816 is a 16-channel, 48-input small-format mixer with up to six selectable aux sends, inserts and dedicated DAW returns; 8 sub-groups with switchable inserts, 16 main output buses, classic Audient summing, VCA bus compressor, and a high-quality master section with mono, dim, phase, and comprehensive monitoring.
Not everyone has the space, budget, or demands for a large-format console, but that doesn’t mean we can easily live without the flexibility, efficiency, sonic benefits, and the ample connectivity they have to offer. DAWs do a pretty good job of putting a studio into compact space, but when it comes to offering a musical approach that ties our physicality into an ergonomically effective music-making device, the DAWs fall short. The answer? Audient’s ASP4816 mixer. The ASP4816 is a small-format mixer with a versatile array of connectivity, as well as signal conditioning, routing, summing, processing, and monitoring capability. Designed by Audient founder David Dearden, whose console design experience includes desks for MCA, Soundcraft, Midas, and DDA, the 48-input Audient ASP4816 features 16 of the same preamps found in its parental unit, the ASP8024-HE, as well as the 4-band split-able EQ and 16 short faders that offer multi-functionality, including additional trim for record-input fader riding, parallel processing, and separate high and low shelf or parametric midrange EQ processing, a mix-gluing stereo bus compressor, and much more.
Audient ASP4816 key features:
- 16 Audient mic preamps/48 inputs
- Four-band split-able EQ
- 16 short faders with flip function, 25 x 100mm long-throw faders
- Mix bus compressor
- 16 record buses
- Eight subgroups/inserts
- Six auxes, 2 cue sends
- Inline architecture
- Four stereo monitor outputs
- Comprehensive monitor control
Audient console mic preamplifiers
Preamps are the frontline for taking the low output of microphones (after converting an acoustic wave to an analog voltage) and amplifying it to a usable level. Some designers, such as David Dearden believe that the preamp should preserve the integrity of that analog voltage as much as possible for the most realistic capture of a sound source. Since all electronics add some form of coloration to a signal, some designers endeavor to make that coloration musically desirable, which mostly comes from custom-transformer designs. However, to Dearden, such preamps can be “one-trick-ponies,” since coloration (which is actually distortion*) increases with track count and once recorded, can’t be removed. (Troublesome if you find it inappropriate to the musical genre.)
Dearden’s approach to preamp design is focused on transparency, allowing the captured signal to remain as true to the sound source as electronics will allow. To achieve this, a transformerless design is preferred. However, the real trick to designing transformerless preamps is to not only ensure that transparency does not equal sterility, but also to provide the same galvanic protections that transformers offer. Dave Dearden’s preamps are among the few “ponies” that can perform that trick. Audient preamps not only allow you to make decisions on what you’re actually hearing, but also give you the option of adding color as desired.
The Audient ASP4816 mic pre is an all-discrete, high-grade op-amp design that delivers low noise, low distortion, and high common mode rejection (CMMR) at all gain levels, which is part of the secret of Audient design (a tricky thing to do without transformers). According to designer Dave Dearden, “A successful mic pre doesn’t just have to amplify a low-level signal up to something more usable. It must also be protected against an external attack such as static, phantom power, and radio frequency interference (RFI). This is where component choice is vital, especially the low-noise transistors and even passive elements such as resistors and RFI filters.”
Audient mic preamp features:
- Clean, punchy, and musical character
- Flexible topology; design-optimized gain range between 0 - 70dB gain
- Low noise floor, 30,000 times quieter than the signal level
- Wide bandwidth to preserve transient detail
- Transformerless, RF-immune input stage for detailed resolution
Audient is the only company that uses the same Class-A mic pre design throughout their entire product range. There is no upsell or down-market “based-on” preamps. When you buy Audient, you’re getting full-on Audient sound, whether you’re in the studio with an Audient console, or on the road with an iD4 interface.
*PAD Pro note: Anything that alters a waveform (in this case, its analogous voltage) from its original form counts as distortion. For example, a circuit that enhances high-frequency harmonic content via amplification or by compressing and feeding it back into the input signal counts as distortion, since we are, in effect, distorting the natural shape of the waveform. In audio, we have two main types of distortion: the kind we like, and the kind we don’t.
ASP4816 4-band parametric “split-able” EQ
David Dearden had one design philosophy: “Move the microphone first and you need less EQ”, thus the ASP4816 equalizer has been designed with this approach in mind. The ASP4816 will encourage you to work harder to get it right at the source. The payoff is less phase shift and more open-sounding results, turning the EQ into a more powerful creative tool rather than a corrective one.
ASP4816 features the same classic David Dearden 4-band console equalizer found on the flagship ASP8024-HE, which is something unique among console EQs. Offering two dual-band equalizers that can be split individually to the short (SF) or long (LF) fader paths, the ASP4816 provides all input channels with tone control adjustment. Most 4-band console EQs can only be moved entirely to the short or long fader “inline” signal paths, but the ASP4816 is unique in that you can split the EQ in half or use it as a standard 4-band EQ on a single path for more traditional operation. For example, in split mode, you can “ring out” a snare mic to tape with the dual mid bands while using the dual shelving stage on the short fader tape return to EQ another source on playback—talk about flexibility!
The low- and high-frequency shelves
The passive sounding low-shelving EQ features 50Hz and 100Hz switchable frequencies, while the gentle and smooth high-frequency shelving EQ features 10kHz and 18kHz (AIR) both with ±15dB gain range.
The shape of these filters is classic with a small dip at the corner which means they do not get harsh or too muddy. The circuitry is very pure, with only one op-amp per band, thus they sound very much like early passive EQs despite being active. It’s best to describe these EQs as tone controls with a response that works on well-recorded sources or even sub mix stems (due to their clean, simple signal path). These are not aggressive LF/HF controls.
Low mid-frequency and high mid-frequency parametric EQs
The dual mid-bands are fully parametric and offer unusually large ranges so that they can provide double duty as both normal LMF/HMF controls or extra LF/HF bands if required. The real trick lies in the fact that these are also a minimal signal path design and offer a tight, punchy sound that can carve resonances and add edge without sounding overly processed.
Tight and surgical or broad and musical
The LMF band offers a sweepable range of 50Hz to 1.5kHz and can be used to EQ bass or kick drum fundamentals or easily scoop resonances in snare drums or boxiness from a vocal performance with adjustable bandwidth control and ±15dB gain range. The bandwidth or “Q” adjustment for both mid bands can create a subtle bell or a narrow, sharp surgical move in either band with a range of 0.6 to 3.7.
The HMF band offers an enormous sweepable range of 450Hz to 20kHz and can easily create a bell type air boost or become a surgical mid-band for corrective use when required. For example, it can get low enough to act as a “box-removal" band on a kick drum, leaving you the LF/LMF bands to work in tandem on the source below 450Hz to do some real bass enhancement. Plus, you still have the HF shelf to add air or presence. Alternatively, you can reach towards 8-16kHz and add great sparkle and shine.
A powerful sound-shaping tool
The mid-bands are the perfect compliment to the smooth shelving EQs, and in total there are only 3 dual op-amps in the entire 4-band EQ, meaning that it sounds very natural and musical without the grit or grain found in many state-variable EQ’s that use 10 amplifiers or more.
Combining the LF & LMF in an overlapping fashion can effortlessly add point to the bottom end of a kick drum with the LMF band, while using the LF shelf to taper subs below 50Hz, or alternatively, you can combine the two to create the famous “boost & atten” trick of 50’s passive EQs by boosting the 50Hz LF Sub-band and cutting with the LMF around 250Hz. Grab hold of the unique ASP4816 EQ and hear what it can do for you.
Multi-functional short faders
Above the 16 long-throw faders and pan controls is a row of 16 short faders. Herein is where a great deal of the ASP4816’s flexibility resides. The short faders can be used to monitor signal coming from and going to the record busses, which enables them to be used for fader rides going in (we know you’ve been dying to make a “riding the short bus fader” joke, so go ahead, get it out of your system, we’ll wait . . .). This exceptional feature (now you’ve got us doing it) enables you to do much more.
The short faders can act as a B section, providing an additional 24 inputs, and when used in conjunction with the channel EQ split function, can control high- and low-frequency shelves, or the parametric midrange section. This feature can come in real handy for cue mixes, when you need to boost bass and highs for a vocalist, for example, without affecting the recorded signal. The short faders can also act as a secondary trim control for the preamps when sending the signal to tape.
You can also use the EQ with the short faders and send the equalized signal to the record busses. Initially, you can monitor tape out through the long faders, like an old-school workflow, and apply EQ, which has no effect on what’s going to tape. If you like what you’re hearing, you can switch the EQ settings from the long to the short faders to commit to tape, and hear no difference while still monitoring tape return via the long faders. You can also bus effects into tape or disk on the same channel, as in the case of a snare with plate reverb as a single instrument sound, or record the effect onto different channels for greater control during the mix.
The copy button on each channel takes what’s happening in the long faders (tape return) and copies it to the short faders, which in turn go to the routing bus. Essentially, what this means is that you can build a separate mix, send it to outboard and have it return through the eight stereo group returns for parallel processing. For example, you could have a separate drum kit mix in the short faders specifically created for a compressor with less kick drum so low frequencies don’t pull down the entire kit. And since you can apply EQ to the short faders, you can tame cymbal wash going into the compressor, or control transients so that the compressor doesn’t punch holes in the drum mix responding to hard transients. In essence, the short faders give you up to 24 channels of parallel processing.
VCA Bus Compressor for finished record feel
Apply a finished sheen to your mixes with the ASP4816’s VCA bus compressor. Designed in the spirit of some of the most classic bus compressors of all time, this circuit features great stereo imaging, density, and a mid-forward bite with smoother make up gain compared to the original.
The 2:1, 4:1, and 10:1 ratios also adjust the threshold for different program levels. The 2:1 ratio is designed for lower threshold smoothing, whereas 10:1 is designed for higher threshold peak limiting on hot program material. By design, the higher ratios result in slightly less compression until you adjust the threshold.
Bass Expand—don’t let the bass drag you down
The ASP4816 bus compressor is outfitted with Bass Expand, which is a sidechain high-pass filter set to 350Hz with 6dB/octave roll-off. This awesome feature gives the bus compressor a completely different personality. Instead of reducing compression just on kick drums and extreme low end, the higher frequency choice allows the entire low and lower mids of the mix to breath, sounding more natural and relaxed.
A beautifully illuminated gain-reduction meter makes it easier to dial in subtle compression and achieve that perfect “needle bounce” mix glue. Along with its impressive looks, the meter is finely calibrated for accuracy below 8dB—perfect for your 2-bus.
Complete monitor control section
The ASP4816’s provides a full-featured monitor control section that offers artist communication, talkback control, source selection, and loudspeaker control with a short passive signal path for incredibly clear and accurate monitoring.
*PAD Pro tip:Some engineer-producers will advise you to resist the urge to get on the talkback mic unless necessary. However, one of the worst things you can do is have dead silence after the DAW or tape stops rolling on a take. Nothing makes a singer more insecure than silence after a take, which in their mind tends to translate to “Oh god, I suck.” After the take, even if you have to reach for it, get on the talkback mic and let them know how they’re doing, or what comes next. A talkback mic used properly can prevent hours of therapy. Just don’t talk the talent’s ears off when they’re ready to roll.
With an impressive array of connectivity options, the ASP4816 offers the versatility of a large format console in a smaller footprint. Whether you're bringing in your D/A outputs, effects returns and other line sources, or using the buses to record 16 channels of audio straight into your DAW via your converters or as 16 additional FX sends or parallel feeds, the ASP4816 provides ultimate flexibility for the modern studio.
Providing an old-school large-format console workflow in a small-format frame, the ASP4816’s inline architecture allows you to mix as you go. By using the long and short faders you can create separate record and monitor balances on one channel strip, while being able to access the console’s split-able EQ and aux sends, enabling you to “get it right going in.”
The ASP4816's thoughtful design allows it to be plugged directly into the wall, which eliminates the need for a noisy external power source or a machine room. The onboard PSU allows the ASP4816 to be installed quickly into any studio and making it one of the most efficient small-format recording consoles available.
After years of listening to what Audient users want in a small-format recording console, not to mention the use of clever circuit board design, the ASP4816 gives you the versatility and sound of a large-format recording console in a small and affordable package—a perfect analog console solution for even the smallest of studios.
5.1 surround sound mixing
Whether you’re working on film scores or simply mixing in 5.1, the ASP510 surround sound monitor controller will integrate seamlessly with your ASP4816, providing you with an efficient, powerful, and intuitive 5.1 surround sound workstation—using only one connection.
ARC is Audient’s creative hub. ARC features a comprehensive range of software and offers from some of the industry’s leading innovators. If you own any current Audient product all you have to do is register your product and take advantage of these great Free offers.
ASP4816 included software:
- Cubase LE
- Cubasis LE2
- Two free courses at Producertech.com ($20 voucher)
- Eventide Ultrachannel and Ultraverb (over $450)
- 10 free masters at LANDR ( Over $120)
What the pros are saying about the ASP4816
I'd prefer to have an audient console in my studio than the money equivalent of several fancy vintage rack boxes. I like the audient. I really like it. It's a powerful tool. — Pete Townshend
Audient was founded in 1997 by David Dearden and Gareth Davies. Dearden started his career in 1968 as an assistant to David Manley (original founder of Manley Labs) and later became a junior maintenance engineer for Advision Studios, which led to work with studio designer Eddie Veale, building a custom console and private studio for John Lennon’s Imagine sessions, as well as studios for George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Gus Dudgeon (Elton John, David Bowie), and Chris Squire of Yes. Dearden met Audient co-founder Gareth Davies while the pair were working at Soundcraft. Upon hearing of a possible financial downturn for Soundcraft, they decided to jump ship before the pinks slips arrived, founding DDA (Dearden Davies Associates) consoles in 1980.
Not only did David Dearden design DDA’s most highly regarded consoles, (many of which are still in use), he also designed consoles for Midas after Klark Teknik took over DDA (now you know why older Midas live-sound consoles were being used in studios for their preamps). After his tenure at Midas, Dearden and Davies teamed up once again to resume doing what they did best, founding Audient with the goal of creating high-quality, cost-effective pro audio consoles and outboard.
For recording and mixing done the way it should be, the Audient ASP4816 delivers larger than large-format functionality in a smaller footprint—providing a comprehensive nerve center for professional and project studios. For more information or assistance integrating an ASP4816 into your facility, call or chat online with your PAD Professional today.
Audient ASP4816 specifications:
- Mic input to Mix output: <+0,-0.3dB 20Hz-20kHz @6-40dB gain
- Line input to Mix output: <+0,-0.3dB 20Hz-20kHz @0dB gain
THD and Noise at +20dB Output
- Mic XLR input to any output: <0.005% at 1kHz
- Line input to any output: <0.005% at 1kHz
- Tape input to any output: < 0.003% at 1kHz
- Mic EIN (20-20kHz, 150R source): <-127.5dBu
- Bus noise (no inputs routed): <-93dBu
- Bus noise (36 inputs routed): <-78dBu
Crosstalk and Mute Attenuation at 1kHz
- Short fader Mute: >90dB
- Long fader: >90dB
- Mute Mix assign: >90dB
- Bus assign: >90dB
- Min gain: 70dB
- Max gain: 75dB
- Mic: >+21dBu (min gain)
- Line: +30dBu (min gain)
- insert return: >+21dBu
Maximum Output Into 2k Ohms
- Mix output: >+26dBu
- Bus output: >+26dBu
- Aux output: >+26dBu
- Insert send: >+20dBu
- Monitor, Studio, F/B outputs: >+20dBu
- Dimensions (W/D.H approx..): 43" x 39" x 14" (1090 x 995 x 355 mm)