Ark Console Overview
High Voltage - Discrete - Class-A - Modular - Configurable - Analogue - Console
Welcome to the home of the Ark console.
Priced as a small-to-medium format analogue recording and mixing console, the Ark has the features and attitude of a large-format console.
The concept and design of the Ark is the sum of the input from professionals from all over the world and from all parts of the audio industry.
The Ark has been designed - from the ground up - by this international team of audio professionals.
Every function, every feature, every switch and every knob has been questioned and discussed, with full respect for decades of recording technology, but also constantly keeping in mind that the best way to use an analogue console today may not necessarily be the way it was used in the past.
* To allow for different workflows and setups, the Ark is fully modular, fully configurable and fully expandable.
* For signal amplification and control, all new, high-voltage, discrete op-amp cards have been developed that eliminate crossover distortion while offering extended headroom, dynamic range, and improved frequency response.
* To allow full flexibility, the console has been split-up in 8-channel buckets, each bucket has been split-up in channels, and each channel has been split-up in separate sections. Each of these channel sections is available in different versions.
* The Ark is designed and hand-crafted in the EU and the UK
The Ark is available in a number of standard configurations or can be fully configured to your needs.
Ark - Concept (or how combining channel buckets builds any size console)
To offer maximum flexibility, the Ark has been split-up in:
• independent modular frames (buckets) consisting of Inline or Stereo channels
• input channels split-up in separate modules / sections
• different versions of the input channel section modules are available
The Ark is constructed using 8-channel buckets.
Each bucket is fully modular, and has either of the following:
• 8 inline input channels with multi EQ section
• 8 inline input channels with support for 500 or 51x modules
• 8 stereo input channels with support for 500 or 51x modules
• Empty input bucket ready for channel modules
• Master section with or without support for 500 or 51x modules
The 8-channel buckets can be put next to each other in any order you like.
The Ark is fully modular, but to offer extended configurability, each channel has been split up in separate modules / sections. Different versions of each of the channel section modules are available.
• The upper section of the channels holds input and routing modules.
• The middle section of the channels can hold 500 / 51x-series modules, or can hold modules which have been specially designed for the Ark
• The lower module section of the channels holds sends and faders.
Ark - Quality (or the sound of high-voltage, fully discrete, class-A circuitry)
When designing the Ark, we did not want to cut any corners, and took every single detail into consideration.
The Ark has been designed from the ground up, evaluating every single knob, switch, connection and function.
Even placement of the circuit boards, screws, and cable paths took hours of discussion and evaluation.
Not only to make sure she looks as good on the inside as on the outside, but mostly to make sure that the absolute best signal quality and the absolute best user experience are achieved.
The Ark is a fully Discrete, Class-A design.
As a result, the Ark’s performance is “off the charts” in terms of headroom, distortion and dynamic range.
This is being achieved by using high-voltage, fully discrete, class-A circuitry throughout the console, in combination with fully balanced master mix busses. In order to keep the audio as clean as possible, active circuitry is kept to a minimum, passive circuits are used where possible and there are no electrolytic capacitors anywhere in the signal path (so no re-capping necessary in the future).
For signal amplification and control, we designed high-voltage, discrete op-amp cards that eliminate crossover distortion while offering extended headroom, dynamic range and improved frequency response. These discrete op-amp cards are used throughout the console.
Fully balanced mix busses are more work and more expensive to implement, so most manufacturers (even the “famous” ones) use semi-balanced busses, at the expense of dynamic range. But because our aim is to offer one of the best analogue consoles currently on the market, we have chosen not to take the easy road, so in the Ark all Group and Mix busses are fully balanced.
Even so, and despite using only top quality components, painstaking design of both the electronics and the mechanical construction means we can offer the Ark at extremely attractive prices.
Ark - Input Channels (or how the Ark can be fully configured to your needs)
While the Ark has been designed as an inline console,
the Ark also offers stereo input channels and split-console functionality.
Each channel is made up of different channel sections:
* VU meter section
* Upper input channel section
* Middle input channel section
* Lower input channel section
* Fader section
This is not to confuse you, but to offer maximum flexibility so you can configure the Ark the way you want.
Input channel types:
Three types of input channels are available.
Two inline channels, and one stereo channel.
For practical reasons, all modules in an 8-channel bucket need to be of the same kind.
But you can of course have more than one 8-channel bucket, allowing different input module types to be combined in the same console.
Each 8-channel bucket has it’s own, specific modules (inline or stereo)
As standard, the Ark has inline input channels which have Mic, Line and DAW input
Each of these inputs can be routed through the small fader path, or the large fader path.
Unlike most other inline consoles, the Ark features two fully independent signal paths per channel.
Each of the signal paths has it’s own independent routing, insert, EQ, fader and auxes. It’s like having 2 channels in one.
The Direct Out of the channel is switchable between either of these signal paths (small fader or large fader output).
Colour and character are added in the middle input channel section, with either our own EQ or with 500 / 51x series modules.
The lower input channel section features up to 16 auxiliary sends, using our unique Aux Doubling Technology.
The Ark is assembled using 8-channel buckets.
A number of 8-channel buckets get combined to build the Ark.
Input Channel Overview
Each 8 channel bucket has its own VU meters, which can read Mic/Line input, DAW input or Direct Output.
Global Meter Select (on the master section) switches all input channel meters to read either the Mic/Line input, the DAW input or the Direct Out.
The meter sensitivity can be globally adjusted on the master section.
As standard, the meters read 0VU = +4dB
But to avoid the needle parking itself in the right-hand corner when working with “hot” signal levels, the meters can be switched to 0VU = +10dB
The VU meter page has more details
The upper section of the input channel holds the IP111 or IP115 input / routing modules.
Both are inline modules and are designed to effectively handle multiple sources, and offer extended routing options for each of these sources.
The IP111 has Mic, Line and DAW inputs.
The IP115 has Group, Line and DAW inputs.
All inputs have their own trim pot.
Any of these inputs can use the small fader or the large fader path which can be independently routed to 14 outputs, including subgroup 1 to 8, stereo master 1 and 2, insert send and direct out. (Each signal path has its own insert send and return)
Check the IP11x page for more details on these modules
The middle section of the input channels is where colour is added to the Ark.
Two options are available.
* Our own IP211, which is a 4-band inductive EQ / Hi-Cut filter / Lo-Cut filter / Swing EQ.
* Slots for 500 / 51x -series modules so you can add any brand / colour you like.
More details on the IP211 can be found here.
More details on the 500 / 51x slots are on the 500 page.
The lower section of the input channel holds the IP311.
It’s designed to offer extended auxiliary send options for the Large Fader and Small Fader.
The IP311 can send the LF and SF signals to a total of 16 auxes.
Check the IP311 page for more details
(Click any image to enlarge)
As standard, the Ark comes with high-quality 100mm ALPS K-series faders.
Optionally, Penny & Gilles faders can be installed.
Like all other switches on the Ark, the large [Mute] switch is illuminated, with light intensity controlled from the master section.
More info on the IP40x pages
The Ark is an in-line console with two completely independent audio paths per channel.
We call them the Long Fader and the Short Fader signal paths.
For the remainder of this document the signal paths will be referred to as LF and SF paths.
Each signal path has it’s own routing, fader and inserts; and each signal path can be used by any of the inputs.
Grey background areas of the control surface are associated with the Short Fader (SF) path and dark blue background areas of the control surface are associated with switches which effect the signal path.
Master and Group Outputs
Each of the signal paths has full, and independent routing to 2 master outputs and 8 subgroups.
Each signal path has it’s own inserts, for 2 insert send and returns per channel.
The Ark in-line architecture provides huge operational flexibility and power.
The block diagram below shows the SF and LF (short and long fader) paths.
Each channel features three positions where you can change (swap) the signal path.
The [IP Reverse] switch on the IP111 upper input module determines whether the Mic/Line(/Group) or the DAW input is used for a particular path. As default condition the Mic/Line(/Group) input feeds the SF path while the DAW signal feeds the LF path.
The [SF] switches put EQ’s and/or Auxes in the SF path. You can find these on the the Hi-Cut Filter, Lo-Cut Filter, Inductive EQ and Swing EQ, and per pair of aux sends. The normal position for all switches on the console is UP and with the [SF] switch in the up position EQ’s and auxes are in the LF path.
The [Direct Out LF] switch on the IP111 upper input module determines whether the Direct Output comes from the Large Fader or Small Fader output. The normal position for all switches on the console is UP and with the [Direct Out LF] switch in this position the Small Fader signal is routed to the Direct Output.
Combining the [IP Reverse], [SF] and [Direct Out LF] switches provides a huge amount of routing options, to give you full flexibility. Since these switches have a large impact on the signal path and your workflow, they are positioned on a dark blue background.
Note that there are no switches to change the signal path through the 500-series modules (if any are installed). We suggest to manually patch them in the LF or SF path by means of a patchbay.
Please refer to the block diagram below for possible routing options.
Large Fader and Short Fader can always be routed to either or both master outputs, and to all subgroups.
Ark - Master Section (or how the Ark becomes the centre of your universe)
Like the input section, the Ark master section is 8-channels wide.
It contains the following:
* Master VU meter section
* upper section with master controls for Group 1-8, Aux A 1-8 and Aux B 1-8
* main master section offering full control of speakers, talkback, etc.
* 8 multipurpose stereo (or mono) inputs which can be routed directly to either or both master outputs
* optional transport control
* producer desk with space for keyboard and/or trackpad
The middle master section can contain either:
* 2 rows of 8 slots for 500 or 51x modules (for a total of 16 modules)
* blank panels with room for iPad, FX controls, pedals or whatever you feel like putting there
* 1 row of 8 slots for 500 / 51x modules and our optional 8 multipurpose stereo inputs
* 1 or 2 of our 8 multipurpose stereo inputs ( for a total of 16 additional stereo inputs)
The master section has 6 VU meters, which read Left and Right of each of the master outputs, and Left and Right of the Solo bus.
The meter sensitivity can be globally controlled from the master section.
As standard, the meters read 0VU = +4dB
To avoid the needle parking itself in the right-hand corner when working with “hot” signal levels, the meters can be switched to 0VU = +10dB
The VU meters have LED lights installed, so no more non-functioning lights on the meters.
The Upper Master Section contains :
* Group master 1-8
* Aux master “A” 1-8
* Aux master “B” 1-8
The rest of the upper master section has blank panels for which we may find some good use.
Behind these blank panels are all the input and output amplifier cards. Full of Class-A, discrete circuits, and actually the heart of the Ark. It’s almost a pity these cards are hidden.
IP60x - Upper Master
There are 3 upper master modules, which are actually identical.
IP601 is the master for groups 1-8
IP602 is the master for auxes A 1-8
IP603 is the master for auxes B 1-8
Each of them has 8 master output controls, and AFL selection for each of the group/aux master outputs.
IP602 and IP603 serve as master outputs for our unique “Aux Doubling Technology”.
Check the Aux Doubling Technology page for more detailed description.
Each of the master bus outputs is routed to its respective output on the rear panel.
IP601 Group Master
Note that the IP601 is removed, when the IP115 upper input is installed and configured as Group Master.
The Middle Master Sections has room for two rows of 8 slots for 500 or 51x-series modules. (for a total of 16 slots)
If nothing is installed in the middle section, you get blank space which can nicely hold an iPad, remote controls or some effect pedals if you like.
Note that none of the 500/51x slots are “tied” to anything in the master section.
Actually the 500 slots are totally independent from the rest of the console.
They have their own I/O connectors on the back panel, and even have their own power supply.
Consider it two 8-slot racks which are installed in the Ark
This allows full flexibility, since you can use any 500/51x module (or chain of modules) anywhere.
Alternatively, either row of 500 series slots can be replaced by our optional IP516 module, which offers 8 additional stereo inputs to either or both of the main stereo masters.
Or if you really want to go wild (and don’t need any 500 slots), you can have two IP516 modules installed, for an extra 32 inputs to the mix bus.
The IP516 module can also be installed below the IP701 or IP702 main master module.
More info on the IP516 page
IP701 / IP702 - Master module
The main master module of the Ark offers an incredible amount of functionality at your fingertips.
Two versions of this master module are available.
They are mostly identical apart from the support for 7.1 surround.
The IP701 and IP702 feature:
* Global functions including lights dim, VU reading source, VU level, and Solo functionality
* Communications with Talkback and Listen input, both with auto function
* Two independent Cue mixes with routing from auxes, masters and CRM (all can be used at the same time)
* Two stereo Master output faders with switchable inserts
* 4 external stereo inputs (with doubled input for Ext 4 on the front panel)
* 4 stereo Control Room Monitor outputs
* Independent Trim control for each of the speaker sets
* Independent Trim control for Dim and Solo
* Talkback to Comms and Cues, with individually selectable Talkback Latch
* External inputs to L/R masters busses, group master busses and aux master busses
* One large, beautiful, handcrafted, wooden Control Room Master Volume knob
In addition to this, the IP701 module features surround monitoring
* One external 7.1 (or 5.1 or 2.1) input
* One 7.1 (or 5.1 or 2.1) Control Room Monitor output with independent Trim Control
* 7.1 routing from channels
Full details can be found on the IP701 / IP702 page
Bus, Aux and Master Inputs
Ark - Bus and Master Inputs (or how you can easily connect a side-car to the Ark)
The Ark master rear panel or patchbay holds all master connections.
But apart from all the inputs and outputs you may expect from the descriptions above, we also added direct inputs to the master busses.
Inputs to the master busses? Why would you do that?
Well, in our opinion, these inputs to the master busses can be put to very good use.
Here are a couple of scenarios we have in mind.
Connect an additional console or a sidecar
If you happen to own this exclusive sidecar, or have this extra console lying around (maybe one for all your synths), you can connect this directly to the Master busses of the Ark.
- Connect the master outputs of the other console to the master bus inputs of the Ark
- Connect the aux outputs of the other console to the aux bus inputs of the Ark
- Connect subgroup outputs of the other console to the group bus inputs of the Ark
You get full access to auxes, subgroups and masters from both the Ark and from your additional console or sidecar. It’s like both consoles become one.
Connect automated effect outputs from your DAW
Maybe you like to automate the effect sends in your DAW, but don’t really feel like using up input channels for this?
- Send the effect (aux) masters from your DAW to separate outputs on your audio interface
- Connect these outputs to the aux bus inputs of the Ark
You get full access to your hardware effects from both the Ark and from your DAW.
Connect mix outputs from your DAW
Maybe you have grouped and automated channels in your DAW, but don’t really feel like using up input channels for this?
- Send these grouped master outputs from your DAW to separate outputs on your audio interface
- Connect these outputs to the master bus inputs or group bus inputs of the Ark
You get full access to 2 stereo Master mixes or 8 Group busses from both the Ark and from your DAW.
We can’t wait to find out what other uses you may come up with.
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