Radial Engineering has created a number of top quality, very sturdy devices that are incredibly useful and innovative. The Workhorse 500 merges two different ideas into one. First, it offers eight different 500 Series card slots, but it also has an eight-channel mixer with main, panning, and more. The entire unit is rackmountable and actually fairly affordable.
But the Workhorse 500 is more than just a 500 Series rack and more than a mixer. In fact, it has plenty of little features and differences that truly set it apart from other devices. One example is the Feed switch included in the I/O section of each card. This takes the output from one unit and internally transfers it to the input of the adjacent card. You can also have the module feed the mixer internally. Each module also features a ¼ inch TRS Omniport. This provides extra abilities depending on the function of the module. For example, it can become an instrument input if you’re using Radial PowerPre.
The mixer is a very clean device that has a nice, solid design and operates with very low noise. Each channel features an on/off switch, confidence meter, panner, and rotary level control. The control feeds into the main output bus, volume control, and monitor bus. The Workhorse works very well with both Radial 500 Series modules and modules by other manufacturers. Unfortunately, not all of the third-party devices make use of the added feature set on the Workhorse (the Omniport, for example), but some do.
Despite any small issues with third-party devices, you’ll find that the Workhorse 500 is definitely a great device for multitasking and combining all of your 500 Series modules (and others) into one device. It’s got a lot of features and it sounds really nice. It retails for $1,600.