The Obligatory Mixing Console (which will hereafter be referred to as an OMC), while not quite lumbering toward extinction, has nonetheless become increasingly irrelevant to the computer-based DAW recording process. Most of the input and routing functionality of the venerable mixing board can now be duplicated (and often improved upon) by audio interfaces, virtual software mixing "consoles", direct mic preamp connections, and the tactile, fader-laden hardware control surfaces that run the whole thing. All of which can be installed and operated in some very modest spaces.
We still, however, need to monitor and mix down to our various storage devices, which is why we need control room signal traffic management, in the form of the PreSonus Central Station. Imagine the monitoring section lifted from one of the OMC's mentioned above, and consolidated into a 1U rack box, and you'll have a Central Station.
This monitoring control center is crammed with dedicated switch buttons and individual volume knobs, and features both a S/PDIF and TOSLINK stereo digital input, each with 24-bit/192 kHz resolution, in addition to the 3 balanced stereo analog inputs. The main audio path is op amp and IC-free, minimizing the coloration and distortion often induced by such circuitry.
The balanced speaker outs of the Central Station will feed either power amps or powered speakers, and the Main and Cue sections offer independent input sourcing. The headphone section has two outputs and separate level control, and there is a Talkback section (just like an OMC), featuring either the internal condenser mic, or, optionally, an XLR input for use with an external dynamic microphone.
The Central Station metering, which provides a calibration tool button and Peak/Hold switching, offers readouts in either dB or dBfs, for accurate monitoring of both analog and digital signals in their proper reference modes. The overall layout of the unit is very clearly labeled, and it's various connective and operative possibilities, while highly intuitive, are logically and thoroughly documented.