Oct 25, 2010

Radial Engineering is about to release its much delayed and long anticipated lunchbox frame, the Workhorse 5000. The unit houses and powers up to eight analog modules of the popular 500 series ‘lunchbox’ format. However, it differs from its competitors by including a master section with analog summing of all 8 channels, master and auxiliary outputs, and headphone monitoring. Radial, known for its bulletproof DIs and interfacing devices, will also be producing its own line of modules for the Workhorse 5000, all of which will be compatible with other manufacturers’ lunchboxes.

The inputs and outputs of all 8 modules on the unit are accessible using XLR, 1/4”, or D-sub 25-pin connectors, so you can use whichever type is most convenient for you. There is also an OmniPort 1/4” connection for each channel – a new addition to the 500 series format that Radial hopes other manufacturers will embrace as a way of making lunchbox modules more versatile. The OmniPort can be configured to serve as a key input, pedal control, or even a tuner output for a DI.

The summing section includes individual level, pan, and on/off controls. This feeds a master section with level controls for master and aux stereo outs as well as two headphone sends. Analog summing is also accessible directly using a D-sub input on the back of the Workhorse, meaning the unit can function as an analog summing box without even using any of the modules.

What else could you ask for in this unit? How about insert jacks for the master outs and the ability to link with multiple workhorse units or additional sources? Why not! Just for good measure, also throw in switches for stereo linking of channels, plus additional switches that allow you to internally route each output to the summing bus, or feed the next module (at this point, there’s not much room left on the unit for the company logo). It’s clear that the design team at Radial wants you to know that lunchboxes aren’t just for housing and powering your 500 series modules anymore. The multiple connection options and the inclusion of a master section on the Workhorse makes it easier for those who work ‘in the box’ to add some analog goodness to their signal path.

Radial will be releasing seven modules in the 500 series format, and they have plans to increase this lineup to a total of 24! The first batch will include versions of their well known JDV and JDX DI boxes, as well as X-Amp and XTC units for re-amping applications. The Phazer will provide line level phase adjustment, the Komit is a compressor/limiter, and the PowerPre is… you guessed it, a mic pre. All of Radial’s modules will have price tags of $300 to $500, and they will be backward-compatible with older lunchbox frames. The Workhorse itself has a target retail price of $1,299 and a target street price of $999 – considering the versatility of this unit, that gives you a lot of bang for your buck.  Mike Bauer

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