I recently purchased my Softube Console 1 on eBay. I couldn't really justify any other way to get this item, but now as I considered how to spend my money, I weighed out all the reasons I'd buy it, regardless of the money part of the equation. Here's what I came up with in terms of some basic recommendations for those out there considering this purchase in no particular order. I've also included a short video after with a verbal "monologue" to accompany this.
1. It is an SSL 4000e Emulation
Tons of great albums have been made with this console in numerous major recording studios. There are other emulations out there, of course, and many sound great, but the Console 1 has been brought up many times as one of the most authentic. It's all a little bit lost on me, since I've never used one of these consoles, or really ANY console, so the comparability to the real thing is something I can't really evaluate. I know that others who DO have experience with them say it's a good emulation, and I like the sound it adds to my tracks, so that is good enough for me. The old phrase "if it sounds good, it's good" definitely applies here.
2. It is price comparable to other similar options
A few other examples of popular SSL 4000e (and other variations) are around that sound great and are in the same league as this, such as:
a. bx_console 4000 E from Brainworx - $349
b. Universal Audio SSL 4000 E Channel Strip - $299 (plus the cost of the UA hardware at $799, though it's hard to compare this part, since it comes with a number of other emulations)
c. Solid State Logic SSL Console Channel Strip - $329
So, let's assume that the hardware that comes as a part of the package with Console 1 is worth $250, using the lower-quality Behringer BCR2000 as a comparison at $200 new. That puts the software part of the package at about $300 - right in the middle of the pack above.
3. The Hardware
The software is cool, sounds great, and all of that, but what really makes the package work is the integration with the hardware. It is a solid piece of equipment and while it doesn't do any of the processing, and isn't made to be a general control surface (like the Faderport 8, for example), it integrates so seamlessly with the DAW and the plugin, it makes each one more useful and valuable. For example, just selecting a track and turning a knob instantly brings that control of the plugin into focus for immediate work.
4. The On-Screen Display
It's one thing to have a pretty GUI on a plugin. It's another to have a fully-function, made-for-purpose video overlay that automatically springs into action to assist in visualizing your work. Mixing with your ears is good advice,but being able to do that while still allowing your eyes a little bit of the action while not requiring them to makes this very versatile. The OSD is very attractive, has sharp graphics that look like vectors, since they scale so well, and gets in and out of your sight without hassle - unlike hunting around for an on-screen knob and controlling it with a mouse, only to have to move it or minimize it while you search for another track's version of the same.
5. The Portability
I primarily use Presonus Studio One these days, but I still watch the developments on Cakewalk by Bandlab. I have added the Console 1 to both DAWs and it really behaves the same in either one. The integration is nearly the same if not exact. This makes the "meat and potatoes" of mixing the same between the two, so the reason to choose one or the other isn't this part of the equation. Cakewalk has the Pro Channel and Studio One has the Fat Channel. Both are useful but are different from each other and each has so many variables, it's hard to get consistency and stop with the analysis and just get down to really KNOWING one console channel. Neither of the companies allow their plugin to be used in the other DAW, so there isn't a way to make that part common between the two DAWs. Console 1 does that.
It might not be for everyone, and it might be hard to justify the cost, but the Console 1 is a great sounding and very well integrated piece of hardware and software that allows you to access the sound and control of one of the most iconic mixing consoles that studios had in place that most of us couldn't afford to visit, let alone own. I hope that this quick 5-point rundown helps you make a decision about whether this is something useful for your recording arsenal!