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Ultimate Hardware Channel Strip? Channel Strips
Old 25th July 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
Ultimate Hardware Channel Strip?

I've been looking at the Portico II and am wondering if it is, in fact, the ultimate outboard channel strip. Are there any serious contenders with at least pre/eq/dynamics?
Old 25th July 2010
  #2
Gear Addict
 
la grange's Avatar
 

pendulum audio quartet 2.
that is my ultimate or the first one the comes to mind anyway

Oli
Old 25th July 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 
DarkSky Media's Avatar
Not to disparage the Portico II - not in the slightest. But I would think there are quite a few other products out there that could at least be put forward for comparison, if not as contenders for the "ultimate" title.

For example the Aurora Audio GTQC, the Millennia Origin STT-1, the Manley VOXBOX, the Universal Audio LA-610, the AMS Neve 8801, the Grace Design M103, the GML 2020 might all be worth a look - and various others besides.

You might look at (and listen to) all these and more and still take the view that for you, the Portico II is "it". You won't really know until you do some serious leg work.
Old 25th July 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
Cool suggestions (UA 6176 doesn't have eq though)! I was just thinking that the Portico II could be the ultimate channel strip in that you could use it for tracking, then strap it (linked to another one, obviously) on the master buss for the eq + compressor. Since many Gearslutz have already expressed their love for the Portico 5043 compressor and 5033 eq in this role, it seems like the Portico II could earn the "ultimate" title.
Old 25th July 2010
  #5
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptyman View Post
Cool suggestions (UA 6176 doesn't have eq though)!
Actually, I suggested the LA-610, not the 6176. However both of them do have EQ:

High and Low frequency shelving EQ

...but admittedly not as comprehensive as some of the others mentioned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emptyman View Post
I was just thinking that the Portico II could be the ultimate channel strip in that you could use it for tracking, then strap it (linked to another one, obviously) on the master buss for the eq + compressor. Since many Gearslutz have already expressed their love for the Portico 5043 compressor and 5033 eq in this role, it seems like the Portico II could earn the "ultimate" title.
Good thinking. Although, to be fair, a number of the others might work well in both roles also.

The Portico II looks to be a very impressive offering (and the rest of the Portico line is certainly right up there), but it's going to be up to you to decide whether for you and your music it is the 'ultimate'.
Old 25th July 2010
  #6
Gear Maniac
Oops - sorry about the UA mixup.

FWIW, I already own a Portico 5015. The pre on its own is very good while the compressor is incredible. Combined, they are great (the compressor makes the pre sound even better somehow). Adding the 5033 eq seems like a no-brainer to make an unbeatable channel strip (for those of us who don't have the $$$$$ for the full 5088 console!)
Old 25th July 2010
  #7
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the fxs's Avatar
 

i got my PORTICO II a few weeks ago...
it's my first "real" channel-strip.
really needed one good channel, and i was also thinking of the TUBE TECH MEC 1A.
a few years back i had a focusrite trackmaster, which was more of a low end mastering channel strip with eq, multi band comp and so on.
at that time i didn't know anything about eqing, side chaining and all that, and the focusrite (or let's say myself) ruinend my music.
...
so for the last few weeks i've been tracking and mixing with the PORTICO II on various sources and material.
it took me a while to get into it and i'm still not a master of it.
but i can can tell you this thing is great!
everything comes out pretty clean, tough you can color things with the eq and the silk mode very nicely.
the preamp is simply amazing and the eq is very clear. from subtle to radical... your stuff will always sound fine.
it took me a while to get the comp really working. i was used to my 1178, which is a totally different thing.
but i think i'm getting there, and i really like the comp now. especially the parallel compression thing is just so useful to me.
most of the time i find myself using the silk mode also.
i really adds that extra flavor to your signal.
...
i don't know if that's helpful to you,... but thumbsup+1 for the PORTICO II here!
Old 25th July 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 
tapehiss's Avatar
Portico II looks fantastic.

As mentioned above, the Pendulum Quartet II, which runs for $4.6K, does look great.

But I thought I'd mention the Quartet, which is $3.2K and great..... tube unit..... with a De-esser (like the Portico II also has)..... is great, and is the only unit of the 3 mentioned so far that I've used.


I also have a Summit MPC100A, which is great, but not much mention around here... Tube pre / tube comp.... Jensen xfmr.... Great unit.... best for Bass DI!!!!!!!! nice with ribbons.
Old 25th July 2010
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Fern? Forssell? Midas? There are no shortage of cool channel strips. And doesn't a 500 rack emulate multiple channel strips of your own selection?

would anyone be content with a single box for all their front end and final mixing duties? Same mojo on the compression apply to both situations? And what about those two independent compressors....

For me, the two tasks generally require different tools.

Bill
Old 25th July 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Fern? Forssell? Midas? There are no shortage of cool channel strips. And doesn't a 500 rack emulate multiple channel strips of your own selection?

would anyone be content with a single box for all their front end and final mixing duties? Same mojo on the compression apply to both situations? And what about those two independent compressors....

For me, the two tasks generally require different tools.

Bill
Well, this IS Gearslutz after all, so I don't disagree with the buy-it-all-to-build-it approach, though I am intrigued with the simplicity afforded by a pair of ultimate channel strips for critical front-end and back-end recording + mixing duties. And yes, since the Portico II offers a range of sounds in both the pre and compressor sections, I do think a talented user should be able to be content. Unless they're a Gearslut, of course...
Old 13th August 2010
  #11
Gear Addict
 

I was looking at the api 7600

a lot say it has that sound

looks very modular (linkable to another or several others, bussable, etc)

workhorse for

tracking
mixing
why not mastering

?
Old 13th August 2010
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Old 13th August 2010
  #13
Gear Head
 
Jamie_72's Avatar
 

Quote:
As mentioned above, the Pendulum Quartet II, which runs for $4.6K, does look great.
Used a Quartet last week ! Loved the sound and build.
I'm looking into channel strips myself , the Quartet is a contender but a little out of my budget unless I can find a cheap used one.
Old 12th May 2011
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Bumping this,

Any new thoughts on this side, anyone?
Old 12th May 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
A short signal path is the best for audio.
Old 12th May 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 

+1 for the GTQC. I'm by no means a channel strip expert, but I have a fair amount of other high-end, front-end gear and can't imagine anything topping the GTQC as an all-in-one package. I've had it for a couple of years now and I'm still amazed at how big and beautiful everything is that comes out of it.
Old 13th May 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 

I don't own any all-in-one boxes, but if I were in the market, the ones I'd be demoing would be:

(as others have recommended)

Buzz ARC-1.1

API "the channel strip"

Pendulum Quartet II

Portico II

These 4 units all are quite different from a design perspective and I'm sure one will suit your personal esthetic better than the others...

Try before buy.

Z
Old 13th May 2011
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Tanio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie_72 View Post
Used a Quartet last week ! Loved the sound and build.
I'm looking into channel strips myself , the Quartet is a contender but a little out of my budget unless I can find a cheap used one.
Tested the quartet too. Definitely a contender.
Some time ago I was in the same 'quest for' a channel strip.
Found that a pre+eq combo was the best solution. Kept comp for another quest. Tested a lot of gear.
On the $2.5k/3k range, the best choices were:
GML 2032, ultra-transparent, finest ss EQ.
Then had a Preq-1 tube strip built by QES Labs, warm tube sound, and very musical Pultec eqp-1a style EQ.
They did work for me.
Old 13th May 2011
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
MattiaS's Avatar
 

Well... I have 2 Poritico II.... But before buy them I'd take advantage of one of my trips to the States to check some units before buy... I was needing another pre amp flavor, EQ and compression... and after a lot of listened I bought the Protico II...

Such an amazing unit... probably you could buy another Channel Strip and be happy with it... but listen to me (or read to me)..... You can't go wrong with a Portico II... believe me...

You are in the States... Call to Vintage King or Mercenary Audio and Test Some units... But I can bet that the Portico II would be in your final 3 options..

Old 13th May 2011
  #20
Gear Addict
 

API has a few really good ones. the pre/eq/compressors are awesome.
Focusrite ISA-110/430/220 are cool.
Neve 10xx series
EMI
Old 14th May 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
 
True North's Avatar
 

I have owned a few and the only one I kept has been the Tube Tech MEC-1A

I have never heard or tried a Quartet II Mercenary Edition but that is the other channel strip that I have wanted.
Old 14th May 2011
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
+1 for the GTQC. I'm by no means a channel strip expert, but I have a fair amount of other high-end, front-end gear and can't imagine anything topping the GTQC as an all-in-one package. I've had it for a couple of years now and I'm still amazed at how big and beautiful everything is that comes out of it.
Waow this sounds awesome... So I went on the website... More thrills.

Care to elaborate on the "everything that comes out of it"?
Old 14th May 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pat38 View Post
Waow this sounds awesome... So I went on the website... More thrills.

Care to elaborate on the "everything that comes out of it"?
I use it for about 80% of all lead vocal recording, and have used it extensively on kick, bass, acoustic guitar and voiceovers. If I had a pair of Aurora pre's I'd likely use it even more often. I don't think I had a clear understanding of "big" until I got the GTQC. It has a perfect combination of defined mids and extended lows and highs, and the tracks I record with it always sit comfortably and easily in the mix, no matter how thick. I'm sure there are a number of other killer channel strips, but I'm also sure the Aurora belongs amongst the best.
Old 14th May 2011
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
bewareofdogs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattiaS View Post
Well... You can't go wrong with a Portico II...
Yes, it's solid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanio View Post
Tested the quartet too. ....Then had a Preq-1 tube strip built by QES Labs, warm tube sound, and very musical Pultec eqp-1a style EQ.
They did work for me.
Among tube options, the preq-1 is a strong contender. Really really nice!
Old 15th May 2011
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
I use it for about 80% of all lead vocal recording, and have used it extensively on kick, bass, acoustic guitar and voiceovers. If I had a pair of Aurora pre's I'd likely use it even more often. I don't think I had a clear understanding of "big" until I got the GTQC. It has a perfect combination of defined mids and extended lows and highs, and the tracks I record with it always sit comfortably and easily in the mix, no matter how thick. I'm sure there are a number of other killer channel strips, but I'm also sure the Aurora belongs amongst the best.
Thks Sean.. What is, or how would you qualify your experience with the compressor module?
Old 15th May 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pat38 View Post
Thks Sean.. What is, or how would you qualify your experience with the compressor module?
It's extremely flexible, switchable between opto, FET and combo modes, so it's always possible to get workable settings. My impression is that it's fairly transparent, but I don't think I've ever used it separately from the preamp so I can't be sure of how much sonic signature it might be adding. I do know it has its own transformers in and out, and Geoff says it most closely compares to a Red 3, if that helps. I opt for an 1176 when I want something clearly more aggressive, and a CL1B for its smooth sound (particularly on females), but the GT compressor would definitely suffice as a go-to option.
Old 21st July 2011
  #27
Gear Nut
 
Adkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkyGoldstein View Post
A short signal path is the best for audio.
Not always true, it depends on what you're looking for...
Old 22nd July 2011
  #28
J-K
Gear Head
 

+1 for the Buzz ARC
Old 22nd July 2011
  #29
The Retro strip looks like it would be pretty dang nice, and not even crazily expensive as such things go. A vari-mu comp, Pultec style EQ, and pre-amp all in one.
Old 21st October 2011
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
M.o.T.s's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emptyman View Post
I've been looking at the Portico II ...?
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