Wrensilva’s M1 console: a $10,000 music machine made from $4000 worth of raw materials
Today, in its long sliver of a factory facing a North Park alley, Wrensilva audio produces, in the words of co-founder Scott Salyer, “the best console ever built” for playing music. “Nobody’s ever done anything like this before. It’s not just a credenza with some gear in it. We worked on the electronics for two years” before starting on the piece of furniture that would house them. “Our circuit board is made here, our pre-amp, our phono pre-amp, the speakers…. We made a decision at the beginning to make it as much our own as we could.”
That beginning began back in Ohio, when a young Salyer started wiring studios and making microphone pre-amps for his band. “That’s where I got the bug for electronics. You turn a knob and it does something and it sounds good — that’s pretty cool.” He attended the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, “and six months later, I had a basement recording studio.”
But beyond a properly soldered patch bay, “I had a leather couch; it was awesome. I always thought that a recording studio has to look cool. It’s all part of it. The band I was in, they’d come in and trash it, and they’d make fun of me for making it look cool. I was, like, ‘You guys don’t get it.’ It’s visual, too. I need to see all that gear looking gorgeous to get inspired.”
That’s why, when he moved to San Diego in 1998 and built “this little studio on Florida Street to record the band I was with at the time, I built a console for myself.” A sort of wooden frame, “to make his newer, smaller gear look like part of a big mahogany console. There’s nothing like leaning up against that puffy leather armrest.”
Salyer listens more than he plays now, but Wrensilva’s M1 consoles are the culmination of that tech-aesthetic fascination: a $10,000 music machine made from $4000 worth of raw materials, wherein every element contributes to the overall experience, from the numerous gaps and pads in the construction that separate (vibrating) speaker from (sensitive) record needle to the internal monitor crossovers that compensate for the low speaker height. “I stayed up a hundred nights obsessing over those; there are a zillion ways to screw them up,” to create discord between woofer and tweeter.
“And I’d be in here with [wife and co-founder] Debra on Friday night and all day Saturday, swapping out volume potentiometers. There were times when I thought, Oh, God, I really want this two-dollar one to work, but I couldn’t live with myself because it just didn’t sound good. We’d have our reference songs, put stuff on for an extended time. Your ears know when something is not right. They start to feel fatigued. The closer it is to right, the more you want to turn it up. Debra has a great ear. I’ll change the tiniest little thing, and I’ll wait, and she always notices. When she starts dancing, it’s, like, ‘Yeah, it’s right.’”