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Company Spotlight

AES Pro Audio

AES Pro Audio is a company which restores, refurbishes and custom-creates vintage Neve and SSL consoles, sidecars, modules and outboard units for sale to producers, home recording ventures and commercial recording studio facilities. It is based in the United Kingdom and is the brainchild of former record label executive, Michael Stockdale. AES Pro Audio is a company that features an incredibly talented engineering team of both Neve and SSL experts and develops products that are custom-built to the needs of their clients around the world.

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Pictured above is a Neve VR60 Legend console that has been restored and refurbished by the fantastic team of professionals at AES Pro Audio for a recording studio in Vilnius, Lithuania. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

In the recording studio landscape of today, digital audio workstations have become the staple for doing the work of music recording. However, the vast majority of the recording studio facilities today— whether we are discussing large-scale recording studio facilities or home recording studio ventures, still have analog consoles at their core. One company has provided more vintage analog consoles to the recording studio landscape than any other— AES Pro Audio. AES Pro Audio restores, refurbishes, and custom-creates vintage Neve and SSL consoles for large-scale recording studio facilities and home recording ventures around the globe. A quick trip to their website will provide you with information about the consoles that they have available for purchase— either Neve or SSL. The company has also restored other vintage console models, including rare and vintage EMI consoles for their customers. The sound of analog is still highly-prized in the world of music recording and most serious recording studio facilities still have the desire to possess an analog console. With that said, there is no company in the world that knows more about vintage analog consoles and can fully customize them for their clients quite like the amazing team at AES Pro Audio.

AES Pro Audio is the brainchild of Michael Stockdale who is a former record label executive. In 1982, he began selling recording equipment such as microphones and outboard gear and in the process, started a small business. But, after being asked if he could supply an M3 24-track analog tape machine to Logo Studios in Wales, he made the decision to go into the business of supplying recording studio facilities with equipment and later to offering full custom installations. Though he loved the recording technologies and equipment that he was marketing and selling to his growing base of customers, he was not an engineer or a technician by trade. Throughout the 1980s, he recruited and developed a group of technical wizards that have since formed the core of the fantastic engineering team at AES Pro Audio.



 

In 1990, his business began to step into a different direction. He began traveling all over the world to source vintage Neve consoles that could be refurbished and restored for sale to the finest recording studio facilities in the world. His travels took him throughout South America, Southeast Asia, across both the United States and Europe— and after the conclusion of the Cold War, into the heart of what had once been behind the Iron Curtain— to find vintage Neve consoles. After the fall of the communist bloc, he was able to source twenty-two vintage Neve consoles from Romania, along with loads of vintage classical microphones, and even an original EMI valve console which had the serial number 001. His continued travels through Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, and the Balkans, brought even more vintage Neve consoles and classical recording equipment into the fold. His company restored and revived each of these classical vintage consoles and gave them a new life in recording studios around the world where they have become the backbone of the sound of the popular music that we have come to love and to cherish.

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A vintage EMI console was both found and lovingly restored by the fantastic professionals at AES Pro Audio. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

As the 1990s gave way to the opening of a new century, his business continued growing despite the fact that digital audio workstations were beginning to usher in a new revolution that would lead to the development of home studio ventures popping-up around the world. AES Pro Audio also began to carry a new line of classical consoles and vintage products from Solid State Logic. The company had always created custom-built equipment for their clients, but with smaller control rooms the need for smaller footprint consoles has become much more pronounced and his engineering team has more than risen to the new challenge— offering a series of both vintage Neve and SSL mini consoles that clients from all over the globe are now purchasing to be able to continue to have the classical sound of analog in their recording studio facilities. The company is humming with activity, though most of the Neve consoles that they are now marketing are Neve VR, or VR Legend desks, rather than the 80-series desks of the 1970s. The company sells a tremendous number of SSL desks, from the classical E, G, and J-series of consoles— some of which date from the early 1980s, much like their Neve counterparts. If you order a desk from AES Pro Audio, you are purchasing a console from a company that has done more to preserve classical analog console technologies than any other and that offers tremendous customer service at great price points. Your new console will be customized fully to the needs of your facility by a team of expert technicians who are the best in the business. It is one of the best deals that you can find in the music recording industry— anywhere in the world.

 

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An SSL 4000G+ console that has been restored and refurbished by the amazing team at AES Pro Audio for  SAE Paris, France. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

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The amazing engineering team at AES Pro Audio restores and customizes a Neve console for a client. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

If you have the desire to purchase a console, whether it be a classical Neve or an SSL, or even a vintage unit that they may have in stock, AES Pro Audio will custom tailor it for the needs of your recording studio facility. Though you need to check the website for availability, the company regularly customizes Neve VR, V3 or VR Legend consoles which come in frame sizes that are based on twelve-channel buckets, so you can purchase Neve desks in the following sizes: a 24-channel mini VR, V3 or VR Legend; a full 36-channel; a full 48-channel; or even a full 60-channel VR, V3 or VR Legend console. They can also customize Neve VR, V3 or VR Legend consoles which are even larger, such as those that have 72-channel frames. Though AES Pro Audio rarely sees an 80-series Neve console come down the pike, when they are able to restore and refurbish one, the company turns to Blake Devitt, a freelance engineer and technician. In 2013, the company created a custom EMI/Neve console that was made into an extraordinary and incomparable 72-channel desk for The Church which is the legendary London recording studio facility owned by Grammy and Academy Award-winning producer, musician and songwriter, Paul Epworth. The restoration and refurbishment of the classical Neve consoles has been handled by both Neil McCombie and Gareth Connor who are also freelance technicians. Each console is fully stripped-down to its bare elements and all of the components are checked, recapped, and switched, if necessary, to make certain that the desk you receive is a work of art. The new power supplies for their consoles are much more energy efficient and are made by M-Powered, a company that has been created by another legendary engineer, Malcolm Toft, who at one time spearheaded Trident Audio Developments. When you purchase a classical or vintage Neve console from AES Pro Audio, you are essentially receiving a brand new console that has been recreated from the ground up, and their exceptional performance has earned them clients in recording studio facilities around the world.

 

AES Pro Audio, also sells classical and vintage SSL consoles in a variety of models that are also fully customizable for their clientele. In fact, the company offers more SSL console models than Neve, and these restored and refurbished desks have found homes in famed recording studio facilities around the world. The company offers the following SSL console models: SSL 4000E, SSL 4000G, SSL 4000G+, SSL 8000, SSL 6000E, SSL 6000G, SSL 6000 G+, SSL 9000J and SSL 9000K. An SSL console can be customized into frame sizes that are based on eight-channel buckets, so you can purchase SSL desks in the following frame sizes: a 16 channel-mini, a 24-channel mini, or a 32-channel mini. They can also customize any of their available SSL models into much larger frame sizes, such as the following: a full 40-channel; a full 48-channel; a full 56-channel; or even a full 64-channel frame sized console can be created for your recording studio facility. Their SSL consoles also come available with the extremely efficient power supplies that come from M-Powered and can also be outfitted with the new Tangerine VCA automation system that is offered by THD-LABS a fantastic company based in Canada, so no longer do clients have to worry about using computer systems that have long been obsolete, and there is an added plus to this system— it allows you to be able to write automation data straight into your digital audio workstation— so, it gives you the ability to work in the box, but with a classical SSL console. Though the power supply and the new automation system, of course, have nothing to do at all with the sound of the classical desk, both give it upgrades which allow it to work seamlessly in the recording studio landscape of the 21st century, and clients have taken notice. The freelance technicians who handle the chores of restoring and refurbishing the SSL line of consoles for AES Pro Audio are both Peter Higgs and Gareth Connor. AES Pro Audio sells, restores, and refurbishes SSL consoles to clients in major recording studios and home recording venues around the world— and recent clients include: Sir Elton John, Rocket Music, Quentin Gilkey (Dr. Dre), Stuart McCredie, Matt Mainhard, Jan Reynolds, SAE Paris (France), Commercial Music Inc. (Barbados), Keerthana Studios (India), Mix Masters Melbourne (Australia) and K.A.D. Productionz.

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This is a custom designed SSL 4000G+ mini console for a client in the USA. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

And it does not stop there for AES Pro Audio, in terms of what the company can provide for its clients around the globe. Recently, the company has also created sidecars— both Neve and SSL units for clients that contain 12 and 8-channels respectively. These sidecars are built for clients that work with a digital audio workstation, but who wish to have access to the sound of an analog console. The company has also developed console channel strips that can be used as outboard gear for your studio rack from their Neve VR, V3, or VR Legend line-up of classical consoles and these units sound superb. The company sells, restores and refurbishes vintage Neve and SSL gear, plus, also can provide clients with console parts and components. With their incomparable line-up of customizable consoles, outboard gear, and parts— combined with their impeccable customer service and possessing the most knowledgable staff in the world, AES Pro Audio has been the go-to company for the acquisition of a classical analog console for almost forty years.

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This is a classical Neve console that has been refurbished and restored by the amazing professionals at AES Pro Audio for a client in Denmark. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

There is no doubt that the music recording landscape has changed dramatically just in the first two decades of the 21st century, but if there is a company that has positioned itself to meet the new challenges— it is AES Pro Audio. As recording music increasingly occurs in home recording studios and small commercial recording studio ventures, the company has adjusted accordingly, while at the same time, offering an array of new choices for all of its clientele. AES Pro Audio now sells more mini-consoles than ever before, and, in fact the mini-SSL console range is their most popular offering. And clients are buying both smaller SSL and Neve consoles from AES Pro Audio, whether they have a home recording studio venture, or even if they are a large-scale recording facility. In fact, during my interview with Michael Stockdale of AES Pro Audio, he noted that a major London recording studio facility had just given him a call and during it, had inquired about down-sizing their classical Neve console. Though downsizing is a trend in major recording studio facilities, conversely, he noted that both small and home recording studio venue owners often come to him after having the opportunity to hear the larger-than-life sound of a classical Neve or SSL analog console in a major recording studio facility and want to know how they can bring that sonic quality into their production workflow. While he still supplies large-scale consoles to major recording studio facilities, it is the mini consoles (both Neve and SSL) that have become the hottest selling items from their offerings. In our interview, he noted that only on occasion does he sell a console which has more than thirty-two channels, but that he is very busy working on the development of consoles that fall into both the 16 and 24-channel range— in both the Neve and SSL console lines, as well as sidecars and channel strips— items that are relatively new offerings from the company.

There is no question that the larger-than-life sound of a vintage Neve or SSL console will always be prized by those who love to record great music. AES Pro Audio and the companies that it partners with in the development of its product offerings have brought these classical consoles into the 21st century and enabled a younger generation of engineers, producers, and recording studio facility owners to be able to use them as a major tool to continue the production of great music in tandem with their digital audio workstations. In fact, if you are thinking about developing a home recording studio and you know that you are going to be consistently busy with a wide array of clientele who will demand the best in sonic performance and the larger-than-life sound that only a classical analog console can provide, then you should call upon the company whose knowledge, expertise, and experience for almost forty years has made them the trusted leader in this market. AES Pro Audio is a remarkable company that is keeping the sound of the classical analog consoles which were the centerpieces of the recording studio facilities that recorded the popular music that we have come to know and to cherish both alive and well. One glance at their satisfied high-profile clients who have been their customers from around the globe for almost forty-years in the business of providing the best console offerings to their recording studio facilities will tell you that AES Pro Audio is a company that is truly in a class by itself.

 

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Pictured above is a vintage Neve 8036 console that has been painstakingly restored and refurbished for a client in Oslo, Norway. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

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Pictured above is a classical SSL 4000 G+ console that is about to go through the process of being restored and refurbished for a future client. Image courtesy-- AES Pro Audio.

Special Note—

If you wish to purchase either a classical Neve or an SSL console, or if you are interested in learning more about their fantastic product offerings, please visit their website for further information at— www.aesproaudio.com.

Special Thanks and Acknowledgement

I want to take a moment to thank Michael Stockdale of AES Pro Audio for his generosity, time and support.