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Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III Review

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III Review  ·  Source: Softube

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Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III marks the third generation of the popular plugin controller. And this time, Softube has completely overhauled the hardware. For example, the new version of the channel strip boasts two high-resolution displays for an even greater level of control over your mixing and mastering plugins. In addition, this new update finally brings support for native plugins from Universal Audio and FabFilter. I had the opportunity to test Console 1 Channel Mk III in my studio.

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Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III – Quick Facts

  • Hardware controller for native plugins by Softube, Universal Audio UADx and FabFilter
  • Console-style workflow in your DAW without having to reach for the mouse or keyboard
  • Remote control for essential DAW functions
  • Two high-res displays for parameters and graphs
  • 27 touch-sensitive knobs with LED rings and 58 buttons
  • High-quality effect plugins included
  • Expandable with more plugins
  • VESA mount, can also be rack-mounted
  • Dual USB-C ports
  • Runs on bus power or the included external power supply

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III – A better overview for a better mix

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III
Tactile control for a better mixing workflow · Source: Softube

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III represents the latest generation of the popular channel strip controller. In combination with the Console 1 Mixing System, it offers a tactile mixing experience that feels like you’re working with hardware. You could almost leave your computer screen switched off altogether to concentrate on what matters most: the sound! Console 1 gives you full control over your tracks and the most important plugins. This new version even includes two small screens that provide an overview of the most important data and parameters at a glance. Along with the new hardware, Softube released a big software update for Console 1.

The developer was kind enough to provide us with the Console 1 Channel Mk III controller for this review. I tested the controller and software with various plugins in my studio.

Unboxing Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III

The unboxing experience is very Softube-like. Upon opening the rather stylish box, you’re greeted by a green cardboard panel that says “Your dream console is here.” Underneath it are the controller, a quick start guide, and a little box with USB cables and the external power supply.

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What caught my eye immediately is that the controller is larger than its predecessor. Thanks to the rubber feet, it sits securely on the desk and stays put. However, the new form factor also has its downsides. It not only means that I need to make more room on my desk – I’ll also have to ditch my custom wooden frame for the previous-generation Console 1 Channel (Mk I) and Fader (Mk I) controllers. Instead, this new version will require a whole new mounting solution in my studio – especially in anticipation of the soon-to-be-released Console 1 Fader Mk II.

Anyhow, let’s connect the Console 1 Channel Mk III controller to my Mac Studio via USB-C and get started.

Control FabFilter and UAD plugins with Console 1

With the latest update, Softube has once again expanded the Console 1 Mixing System with many cool new features and add-ons. Most importantly, it now supports native FabFilter (e.g. Pro-Q 3, Pro-L, Pro-C) and UADx plugins in addition to Softube’s in-house effects. And that’s without having to build complex effect chains and custom controller mappings! Of course, you’ll need to purchase licenses for any 3rd-party plugins you’d like to control separately.

Console 1 FabFilter
Console 1 now supports FabFilter plugins · Source: Softube

The Console 1 Mixing System includes equalizer, compressor, and shaper sections, as well as a gain reduction meter for visual feedback while working with FabFilter and UADx plugins. The software mirrors the basic layout of the hardware controller, which makes for a quick and intuitive workflow. Just trust your ears while mixing and mastering! It just works, regardless of which plugin you insert in each slot. FabFilter and UADx support is available as a free update for all Console 1 users. Here’s to great product support!

UAD plugins
Console 1 with UADx plugins · Source: Softube

In addition, Softube has added two new tools in the tape/preamp section of Core Mixing Suite, which emulate the sound of analog consoles and tape recorders on each track of your DAW. The new Core Modern and Core Vintage preamps add a touch of analog warmth and saturation to your signals before they hit the filter, shape, EQ, compressor, and drive stages.

The Core Modern preamp offers a smooth high-end boost while adding subtle saturation to enhance the upper midrange. In contrast, the Core Vintage preamp produces a more rounded sound with subtle compression and harmonic saturation at higher gain levels. This puts a nice palette of various sound signatures at your fingertips – in addition to the effects already included in Console 1 Channel Mk III.

Console 1 Channel Mk III: Put the fun back in Mixing

Like the previous model, the new Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III controller sports a thoughtfully designed user interface. And because the controller is now even roomier, tweaking the knobs is even more fun. The carefully optimized layout ensures an intuitive workflow – even with third-party plugins.

DAW Controller
New screens and LED rings for a better overview · Source: Softube

The EQ and compressor sections have designated knobs for the most important parameters of these effects. Some may have wished for even more controls, but at the end of the day, those are usually unnecessary – 99% of the time, the existing knobs get the job done just fine. And the two small high-resolution screens are a very cool addition. Among other things, they can display EQ graphs and VU meters. Very helpful for a smooth mixing workflow!

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III: Conclusion

To me, the Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III is THE only controller on the market that can really replace a mixing desk – just like the predecessor. It feels just like working with an analog console – except that it fits on your desk and doesn’t get hot. In combination with the associated software, the controller now supports FabFilter and UADx plugins in addition to Softube’s own. Awesome! The hands-on workflow sometimes makes me forget that I’m sitting at my computer. I think I could actually switch off my monitor and still be able to mix. In this way, Console 1 makes it easier to focus on what matters most: the sound.

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As a die-hard FabFilter Pro-Q 3 user, it goes without saying that I’m a big fan of this update, as it allows me to use my favorite EQ in a whole new way. Using the knobs to manipulate the EQ curve feels fantastic. You can freely fill the slots of the Console 1 Mixing System with your favorite tools by Softube, Universal Audio, and FabFilter to create your own custom channel strip.

There’s hardly anything bad to say. I think the Console 1 Channel Mk III controller is a worthwhile upgrade for any studio – big or small. Sure, it’s a bit pricey, especially compared to the older version. But considering the improvements – both in terms of hardware and software –, I think the price is justified. If you like to work “in the box” but don’t want to miss out on a console-style workflow, this is hands-down one of the best solutions you can get. Even if you own a mixing desk, Console 1 can be a great addition.

The only thing missing is the upgraded Console 1 Fader Mk II controller, which the manufacturer has already announced is coming. Exciting!

  • Console 1 Channel Mk III
  • Console 1 Channel Mk III

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III: Price and Info

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III is available at Thomann* for $879 / £844 / €966.

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Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III
Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III
Customer rating:
(8)

This includes the Console 1 Core Mixing Suite consisting of: Softube Tape/Preamp, Transient Shaper, Vintage and Modern EQs, FET Compressor Mk II, Bus Processor, OPTO Compressor, and a specially designed drive algorithm.

The Console 1 Channel Mk III controller features a robust aluminum and plastic housing. It weighs 1.8 kg / 4 lbs and measures 435 x 45 x 219 mm (17.1 x 1.8 x 8.6 in). It has a VESA mount on the bottom and can be rack-mounted. There are two USB connectors on the back – one for the computer, the other for daisy-chaining the next USB controller.

The box includes the serial number for authorizing the hardware. Furthermore, the Console 1 Channel Mk III comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, two USB-C cables, and an external power supply. You can download the software using the free Software Central app. In addition to this, you’ll need a free iLok account (or dongle). The software comes with numerous helpful presets.

More information about Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Hardware controller for native plugins by Softube, Universal Audio UADx and FabFilter
  • Console-style workflow in your DAW without having to reach for the mouse or keyboard
  • Remote control for essential DAW functions
  • Two high-res displays for parameters and graphs
  • 27 touch-sensitive knobs with LED rings and 58 buttons
  • High-quality effect plugins included
  • Expandable with more plugins
  • VESA mount, can also be rack-mounted
  • Dual USB-C ports
  • Runs on bus power or the included external power supply

Cons

  • none

Videos about the new Softube Controller

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Note: This review by Marcus Schmahl was originally published in German on gearnews.de. Translation: Lasse Eilers

*Note: This post contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!

Softube Console 1 Channel Mk III Review

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