2014 has been a big year in terms of innovation for recording consoles and control surfaces. While some companies are increasingly making smaller desks more fitting of tighter studio spaces, other have gone back to a more analog way of life. Here are five unique desks and control surfaces that have pushed the art of recording and mixing forward this year.
1. Rupert Neve Designs - 5088 Limited Edition Shelford Blue Rupert Neve is truly an audio master who is always pushing forward, but his latest design harkens back 50 years to some of his prior work. The limited edition Shelford Blue console comes packed with Neve's original Shelford preamp and EQ designs that he created a half century ago. Slightly modified to fit today's recording rigors, these classic designs from Rupert have been put into a 5088 console for a sound that is both open and sweet.
2. API - The Box Console The phrase "In the box" has quickly become part of the lore of digital recording, but with API's new desk, the classic console makers have put a different spin on it. API's The Box is a turnkey studio solution for recording and mixing that makes both processes more simple than ever before.  Featuring the hallmarks of analog desks like preamps, a mix bus and monitor controls, the console goes one step further by smartly pairing down the controls into a smaller package.
3. AVID - Pro Tools | S3 Control Surface Avid has always had a reputation as being one of the best software makers in the world, but they have also been continuously building up the status of their control surface line. The Pro Tools | S3 is a true sign of that progress, as it follows in the footsteps of the S6, while still coming to the market with a much smaller price tag. With 16 channel strips and 32 custom rotary encoders, the S3 allows you to have 12 custom mixer layouts always at the ready.
4. Solid State Logic - SSL XL-Desk The XL-Desk from Solid State Logic is another new console for 2014 that looks to old analog desks as a source of inspiration. Perfect for use in DAW-based studios, the XL-Desk is a non-automated console that features 20 channel strips, four stereo channels and 100% analog signal path that keeps the recording the process more organic and simple. The desk also features an on-board 18-slot 500 Series rack that makes it even easier to customize the sounds coming straight out of your desk.
5. Trident - Trident 88 Console The latest entry into the world of consoles in 2014 comes from Trident, as the brand's new Trident 88 console is a completely customizable board. Starting with the base option of 16, 24, 32, 40 or 48+ channel desk, each console comes packed with the alotted number of Class A design micpres, which can also have a Lundahl transformer added to them. In addition, each channel, fader and connection are made to be quickly removable, which makes servicing and tracking much more time efficient.