SAN JACINTO, Calif. — I was 17 years old when I got into radio in 1979.
The station was a small local operation in Washington state. Its console looked like a 1950s Navy surplus radio console … utility gray sheet metal construction with Bakelite knobs so big you could use them for stools. The switches were clunky and the dual VU meters were aged to a rustic orange. Adding to the ambience were shelves full of LPs making the studio look like an antique store.
From that day, I knew I wanted to be a part of radio.
My training was simple: “Here, sit down. This one is your mic, and these are your turntables. No dead air. See ya.”
Today, radio stations are far more complicated, with network satellite downlinks and digital remote systems and studios. It is great to see Arrakis Systems design a console that can handle the complex tasks of routing and recording but keep that simplicity of use to operators.
The Arrakis ARC-15 is our newest acquisition at Mt. San Jacinto College’s Eagle Radio Network. Finding a 15-channel radio console in the $3,500 price range seemed too good to be true. The ARC-15 has a neat, modern look to it with a textured gray and black color scheme. It fits into any studio design and is built as rugged as its forefathers. The channel faders are silky smooth and have an impressively straight fade slope to them, keeping the mixes smooth and consistent.
I also like the way Arrakis designed the control surface, separating the mic faders from the rest of the channels. The ARC-15, like its more expensive cousins, has a dedicated channel for the telephone hybrid, or it can be switched to a normal line input. The USB input connecting the Arrakis automation software works seamlessly unless you use the Arrakis Bridge. You can’t connect both to the automation computer at the same time. However, leaving the bridge connected to the computer via USB and using line out of the computer for audio gives you greater flexibility for audio control for cue channels and audition.
The low power consumption on the ARC-15 is impressive too.
Connecting the ARC-15 console to your studio equipment is much easier with standard, balanced XLR mic inputs and RJ-45 line inputs. The program outputs are balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA connectors. The line inputs on Channels 6 through 15 use the RJ-45 connectors making it easy to install into larger studio operations.
How does it sound? The Arrakis ARC-15 is transparent. Its 20 Hz–20 kHz frequency response makes it competitive for the digital broadcast market, especially if you are using studio-quality condenser mics as we do.
A problem I have had with other consoles is that while they are built like a tank they often sound like one too. They tend to have noisy gain structures or narrow dynamic range. Not so with the ARC-15. It broadcasts crisp, clear audio even when we have to push the gain all the way up for some of our lower level inputs.
Over all, this is a great console for small to medium-sized radio stations. The simple design makes it easy to use for lesser experienced operators yet maintains the power and quality expected by seasoned professionals.
For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at (970) 461-0730 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.
Radio World User Reports are unpaid testimonials; they are intended to allow equipment users to explain why they chose a particular product. Radio World Product Evaluations, by comparison, are paid articles written by a contributing reviewer, usually an engineer.