It’s time to open up about those empty spaces in our 500 Series racks – it feels like a sickness inside you, doesn’t it? Every time you see a shadowy gap or blank panel in your rack, it mirrors the emptiness inside of you. It was during a time when I was feeling particularly vulnerable about my own 500 Series rack when Eric Cline from Bleeding Ear Audio & Recording (B.E.A.R.) emailed me: “So I made a thing and people seem to like it. A review would be super rad.” Seriously, that’s exactly what he wrote. It turns out this “thing” Eric made is simply a balanced 500 Series Tie Line Panel that’s been waiting to fill that lonely slot in your grieving chassis. Eric was formerly a Senior Tech for a company that serviced SSL consoles. Currently, he’s an Electrical Engineer at Analog Devices, does freelance wiring work, and runs B.E.A.R studio in Lowell, Massachusetts, with a few friends.

The B.E.A.R. module simply connects front-panel XLR jacks (mounted on a black PCB faceplate) to the rear connections of your 500 Series rack, allowing easy access to whatever those slots are wired to. Note that the input is a combination XLR/TRS jack – handy! It seems to pass audio with no discernable signal loss. Though the Tie Line Panel can be viewed as a simple studio convenience that isn’t necessarily glamorous, it’s an irrefutably useful tool that seamlessly integrates into my little mix room’s complicated (yet reliable) routing system. Errant rack gear that comes in for review purposes (or online binge buying) can now be easily and instantly put to use. No one wants to fumble around with cables and a flashlight behind the back of their rack setup – it just kills the creative mood while adversely affecting productivity. Plus, you never know what you might pull loose monkeying around back there!

Eric can be there for you like he was for me, and is ready to help fill the blank void in your rack with a “thing” that is more than rad: It serves a purpose – isn’t that what we’ve been looking for all along? He assembles these units himself in Lowell, and the ridiculously low price includes USPS flat rate shipping. Eric, you should start charging at least $50 for these panels!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More