Inward Connections
  Tree Audio 500 by Inward Connections

As a result of the recent explosion of "500 Series modules", Tree Audio (a division of Inward Connections) has developed the world's first fully customizable "500 Series" recording console, the Tree 500.

The idea was to provide a frame for the various 500 series modules available, allowing a virtually endless combination of flavors. Three tiers of 500 series slots can be used for any 500 series modules. One idea was to use the top tier for mic pre/line input, the middle tier for EQ and the bottom tier for compressor/limiters. Each channel would have all the necessary features of a world class console but with the ability to sculpt the sound you are looking for on a channel to channel basis.

Key Features
  • 12 or 24 channel
  • All discrete Inward Connections SPA690 amp blocksTree 500 Audio Console
  • Custom wound output transformers
  • 4 groups (busses)
  • 1 stereo buss
  • 4 mono aux sends (pre/post)
  • 1 stereo aux send (pre/post)
  • Inserts on stereo buss and groups
  • Stereo in place solo and channel mute
  • 6 Master aux level controls
  • Source select : stereo buss - 2 track 1 - 2 track 2
  • 3 speaker select options plus sub
  • Master Mute, Left mute, Right mute
  • Mono, Dim with dim level control
  • Headphone amp selectable to stereo buss or aux 5L/R
  • Built in oscillator with +4 alignment and external output
  • 100 mm faders
  • Slots above the center section can be used for EQ/COMP modules for the 4 groups and Stereo Buss
  • Aux stereo input on back panel
  • Remote talkback
  • Two heavy duty power supplies with double the required current for the input modules and 500 series buckets.
  • Dimensions: 50" wide, 35" deep, 20 1/2" tall
Optional Features
  • Meter module - shows VU with an analog meter, Peak Program with a LED bargraph (-30 to +18) can look at the input or output of each channel

Additional modules and options will be available soon

Tree 500 Audio Console


Input Modules

The channel input modules are full featured. From the mute and solo buttons to the 6 sends (4 mono, 1 stereo) with pre/post switches, these are sonic masterpieces featuring the Inward Connections SPA690 all discrete amp blocks with custom wound direct out transformers. The modules also contain 4 groups, stereo buss and pan in/out switch. The channel level fader is a 100 mm type with excellent feel.
Master Section

6 aux masters, 4 group master sends with mute, and a stereo buss master. Four groups and stereo buss have easily accessible external trim controls. You can select between stereo buss or 2 track 1 and 2 track 2 return. Talkback can be assigned to any of the aux sends for complete communication. Large premium quality monitor level control, 3 speaker selects and additional sub select add to your monitoring choices. Monitor master mute as well as individual left, right mute and a mono sum and dim control with level complete the master monitor module. The last module in the master section contains a headphone amp, again using the Inward Connections SPA690 for an unparalleled headphone experience. You can listen to either the stereo buss or assign it to aux 5L/5R to set up a headphone mix. This module also contains a switch that defeats the solo in place for the external stereo aux 1 and 2 returns.

Also included is a unique oscillator section which has a 3 frequency select switch with level control that can be assigned to the 4 groups and the stereo buss. One unique feature is a switch that bypasses the oscillator level control that sends a fixed +4db oscillator signal that can be used to align the 4 groups and stereo buss.

All master modules use the Inward Connections SPA690 blocks and custom wound transformers on all outputs.
Rear Panels

The rear panels have been designed like a traditional patchbay, the console can be used right out of the box. All XLRs are gold plated. Each of the tiers is normalled to the one below providing seamless integration of all 500 series modules. The top-tier has a female XLR for microphone input and the jacks below are all TRS except for the direct output at the bottom which is male XLR. The console can also be used as a full-featured summing mixer with no 500 series modules fitted.

The center rear panel has all of the features one would expect, stereo buss and group outputs are on male XLRs. All of which have TRS inserts for outboard gear or 500 series modules that can be used in the 2 center section tiers. All speaker outputs and aux master outputs are male XLRs. 2 track 1 and 2 are female XLRs. Additional features include talkback remote, oscillator out as well as 2 external aux inputs on the back panel for bringing in additional mixers etc. 2 military grade power supply connectors complete the center back panel. These rear panels are all hinged for easy maintenance.
Master Meter Panel

The master meter panel in the center section contains large vintage style meters for the stereo buss and mid-sized meters for the groups.

Tree Audio will be offering individual meter modules that can be plugged into the top tier that will be comprised of an analog VU, and an LED bargraph for Peak Program
(-30db to +18 db). Switches on these modules will allow the user to look at the input or output of each channel as well as an off switch for the LED bargraph.
Aux Returns

There are 4 modules for aux returns in the 2 tiers above the center section These will consist of 2 returns per module (total of 8 returns) with level and pan as well as solo and mute for each return.

The Tree 500 chassis is constructed of high grade 1/8th inch aluminum. Steel cross members tie the whole chassis together. The bottom of the frame has three 3/4" by 3/4" by 1/8 " thick aluminum square tubing for additional stability. All panels are finished with a process called anofaxing, a cross between anodizing and screening, which means the writing will never rub off. The side wood panels and arm rest are high quality oak with a black satin finish. The top and side beauty panels are polished aluminum giving the overall console a unique elegant look.
The Evolution of Tree Audio

In the late 1990s, Steve Firlotte of Inward Connections and Ian Gardiner of Boutique Audio and Design began working together. They soon discovered Steve's expertise in electronic design complemented Ian's mechanical design and fabrication skills. Their first major recording console project was for Danny White of Sixteen Ton Recording in Nashville, Tennessee. This hybrid tube/transistor console was such a success they then built other custom consoles for clients such as Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Daniel Lanois and other major artists.

Over the next few years, Steve and Ian discussed starting a console design company together. Late in 2007, the two began Tree Audio as division of Inward Connections.
Ross Hogarth "So often the pro audio world chases the ideals and designs of the past but overlooks the innovation, build quality, and attention to detail that made legacy pieces as opposed to disposable or trend chasing units. The Tree Audio 500 is the culmination of a design rooted in the best aspects of the last 60 years of audio engineering with modern advancements that make it usable in today’s studio environment.

From The 100% discrete design and custom wound transformers at every turn to the 40 point detent countersunk pots and massive faders, every component in the console was hand chosen with no regard for cost – the only consideration was quality. And I can say that, as a proud owner of something I intend to pass on to my children, sitting behind this modern work of engineering art is only a minor pleasure of owning it.

After selling my hulking Neve console, a lot of my favorite aspects of the 500 are ownership issues that some don’t consider when purchasing a console – It doesn’t get hot at all..after hours of mixing on it it can still be more than cool to the touch, I have had over 26 modules slotted in it and it only drew 1.4 Amps, I can turn it off when I am not using it and on when I am, I can switch out the 500 modules with any combination of mic pre, eq, de esser, or compressor I choose, and these perks ultimately make the studio work better and thus make the mixes better. I never would have thought that a hand built, borderline custom console would exceed the build quality of existing consoles but it does in spades. Each knob is solid with the right amount of resistance underhand, the monitor pot is perfect. The feel of these things mattered to me. The wood, the chrome, the etching. I expected it to sound good but I never expected it to be designed so beautifully.

Now for the sound. In short, it sounds like you would expect a console built from the finest components would: Fan-fu**ing-tastic. The headroom is through the roof and you can push each channel individually or the summing bus as hard or light as you want to draw out different and beautiful colorations. The stereo spread is enormous and, though it lacks the routing options of some other consoles, the short run straight wire approach ,in my opinion makes it sound that much bigger. The console allows me to make the mixes I want and isn’t intrusive when I don’t want it to be. I need to up my AD chain now to properly capture the rich, warm nuances of my mixes. The only question now is what to fill the 88 slots with!"

Christopher “Thes One” Portugal
Piecelock70A Studios, PUTS, Los Angeles

© 2008 - 2009 Inward Connections