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BEST Budget Home Studio Channel Strips
Old 19th May 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

BEST Budget Home Studio Channel Strips

I am a 15 year old that records, produces, and engineers hip-hop music in my home studio.

I want to up my game with channel strips, preamps, etc., and I figured this was the best place to take advice from rap/hip-hop engineers alike.



I have been looking at the PreSonus Studio Channel, and I think that it is a great budget option to run into my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, which I love.

However, I have also heard that "all-in-one" channel strips (ones with EQ, compressors, and more inside of one strip) are not the best option, and I want the best bang for my buck.



Any recommendations for a $500 budget?

Thank you!
Old 19th May 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
I owned the PreSonus Eureka for several years. It was the non-tube earlier version of this preamp. This preamp appears to be essentially the same preamp as the Eureka except that it has a real tube instead of the tube emulation the Eureka has. That is good, because the only function I did not like about the Eureka was the fake tube saturation, which sounded false and cheap no matter how I adjusted it.
The compressor is serious and pro quality, and so is the EQ. The preamp is console quality. I used it mainly for vocals and bass guitar. You will have a package that can give you pro results.
So why did I sell my Eureka? I eventually moved up to some preamps I liked better, and to EQ I liked at least as well, but those new boxes were way above the price of the PreSonus for just a bit of improvement.
My main problem with the unit was that I am many multiples of 15. I had difficulty getting the unit positioned where I could read the meter and see the labeling with bifocals. I also kept touching a second EQ knob when adjusting another knob. The controls are very close together. It drove me crazy in a way that a fifteen-year-old person with nimble fingers won’t experience.
I think it’s a good buy.
Old 21st May 2019
  #3
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
I personally think the greatest bang for your buck of all time is the SSL SiX. It's a $1500 unit that just became the heart of my already high-end project studio. You can find one used for about $1350.
Old 21st May 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lando Calrissian View Post
I personally think the greatest bang for your buck of all time is the SSL SiX. It's a $1500 unit that just became the heart of my already high-end project studio. You can find one used for about $1350.
Lando, come back to Earth!
The OP is fifteen and looking for a good BUDGET channel strip. Your recommendation could equal or exceed his entire studio investment.
Space jockeys... sheesh!
Old 21st May 2019
  #5
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Lando, come back to Earth!
The OP is fifteen and looking for a good BUDGET channel strip. Your recommendation could equal or exceed his entire studio investment.
Space jockeys... sheesh!
Haha! You’re right. I DO live in the clouds after all. I overlooked the word budget and forgot what it was like at 15.

In that case, I’d go with an Apollo Twin and use the unison plugins.
Old 23rd May 2019
  #6
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishyhooks View Post
I am a 15 year old that records, produces, and engineers hip-hop music in my home studio.

I want to up my game with channel strips, preamps, etc., and I figured this was the best place to take advice from rap/hip-hop engineers alike.



I have been looking at the PreSonus Studio Channel, and I think that it is a great budget option to run into my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, which I love.

However, I have also heard that "all-in-one" channel strips (ones with EQ, compressors, and more inside of one strip) are not the best option, and I want the best bang for my buck.



Any recommendations for a $500 budget?

Thank you!
What I'd ask, is what exactly are you wanting to achieve with a channel strip?
Old 24th May 2019
  #7
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Lando, come back to Earth!
The OP is fifteen and looking for a good BUDGET channel strip. Your recommendation could equal or exceed his entire studio investment.
Space jockeys... sheesh!
Though I am not a fan of putting something 3x the budget, in this case, it makes some sense. I have not used the SSL but it offers both better quality, but also does far more. You will not re-buy, plus it allows expansion. It's like asking for the best monitors for $300, there really isn't a good answer other than raise your budget. You can get a decent but not amazing preamp for $500, but very few are happy with $500ish channel strips. They may enjoy the preamp, or compressor, or eq, maybe 2 of the 3 at best, but it will have a weak link.

I am not familiar enough with the SSL to say it doesn't have negatives, but SSL has a standard I trust more, it seems like a good solution IMO. Honestly, the best thing I ever did for myself is stop buying strictly budget gear, some pieces offer an insane bang for the buck but most really reflect the price point.
Old 24th May 2019
  #8
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
Though I am not a fan of putting something 3x the budget, in this case, it makes some sense. I have not used the SSL but it offers both better quality, but also does far more. You will not re-buy, plus it allows expansion. It's like asking for the best monitors for $300, there really isn't a good answer other than raise your budget. You can get a decent but not amazing preamp for $500, but very few are happy with $500ish channel strips. They may enjoy the preamp, or compressor, or eq, maybe 2 of the 3 at best, but it will have a weak link.

I am not familiar enough with the SSL to say it doesn't have negatives, but SSL has a standard I trust more, it seems like a good solution IMO. Honestly, the best thing I ever did for myself is stop buying strictly budget gear, some pieces offer an insane bang for the buck but most really reflect the price point.
Yes, the lasting investment of the SiX was the reason for my recommendation. You'd be able to back-burner the preamp/compressor hunt for a long time.

If you can only swing $500...

I started my gear journey nearly 18 years ago. The best purchases were the inexpensive staples that I still record with today.

Examples:

Shure SM57 Dynamic Mic - $99
DBX 160A Compressor - $199

I can't really think of a cheap preamp that I'd use today, but the cheapest one that I would work with is:
Studio Projects VTB-1 Preamp - $199
Old 24th May 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
Though I am not a fan of putting something 3x the budget, in this case, it makes some sense.
If that kind of thinking made sense, I would be driving a sensible Lamborghini and parking it in the underground garage at my sensible Lake Como mansion.

Recommending something more than three times the budget for a fifteen year old’s entry channel strip is not connected to the value of the dollar in the real world. It IS living in the clouds.
Old 24th May 2019
  #10
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
If that kind of thinking made sense, I would be driving a sensible Lamborghini and parking it in the underground garage at my sensible Lake Como mansion.

Recommending something more than three times the budget for a fifteen year old’s entry channel strip is not connected to the value of the dollar in the real world. It IS living in the clouds.
I didn't catch the 15 year old part. However, this used to be a place where professionals talked to other professionals so I forget.

That said, no $1,500 piece of equipment is the Lamborghini of anything.

On that note, I have taken an interest in the SSL because of what it does at it's price point.
Old 24th May 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rd Degree View Post
no $1,500 piece of equipment is the Lamborghini of anything.
Sennheiser MD441U $900
Earthworks 1021 $1,400
AKG K812 $1,499

Each, in their category, of a rare quality somewhat comparable to Lamborghini and very far from a mom van.
Blanket statements work best if they are actually about blankets.
Old 24th May 2019
  #12
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Sennheiser MD441U $900
Earthworks 1021 $1,400
AKG K812 $1,499

Each, in their category, of a rare quality somewhat comparable to Lamborghini and very far from a mom van.
Blanket statements work best if they are actually about blankets.
I don't agree but I understand your point.
Old 27th May 2019
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Man when I was 15 I couldn’t even afford a distortion pedal.

Get two art tube mp preamps and a small Mackie mixer. Spend the next five years getting started recording and learning eq.
You don’t need to start out with anything high end, very few of us have.
Old 27th May 2019
  #14
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenmean View Post
Man when I was 15 I couldn’t even afford a distortion pedal.

Get two art tube mp preamps and a small Mackie mixer. Spend the next five years getting started recording and learning eq.
You don’t need to start out with anything high end, very few of us have.
Yeah, this is why I was asking what exactly he was wanting/expecting from investing in a channel strip—there might be much better ways of spending that cash, depending upon what he's actually doing/wanting to do.
Old 31st May 2019
  #15
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He is asking for a channels strip. To me this implies an EQ and compressor.

ART Pro Channel II I think is the best item out there under $500 that is a full channel strip
Old 31st May 2019
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishyhooks View Post
I am a 15 year old that records, produces, and engineers hip-hop music in my home studio.

I want to up my game with channel strips, preamps, etc., and I figured this was the best place to take advice from rap/hip-hop engineers alike.



I have been looking at the PreSonus Studio Channel, and I think that it is a great budget option to run into my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6, which I love.

However, I have also heard that "all-in-one" channel strips (ones with EQ, compressors, and more inside of one strip) are not the best option, and I want the best bang for my buck.



Any recommendations for a $500 budget?

Thank you!
Hi fishyhooks! Welcome to Gearslutz

I'd bust my whole 500 on just a preamp...IMO that's the important bit, sonically. If it has a high-pass filter that's good. Not tried the Presonus Studio Channel but it looks good and a good buy. If you have your heart set on it, then go for it; if you don't like it or it doesn't suit your purpose, then just trade up later.

Whatever you decide on please let us know what works for you and consider writing a review as it'll help other 'slutz.

Best, Arthur
Old 31st May 2019
  #17
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Stone View Post
Hi fishyhooks! Welcome to Gearslutz

I'd bust my whole 500 on just a preamp...IMO that's the important bit, sonically. If it has a high-pass filter that's good. Not tried the Presonus Studio Channel but it looks good and a good buy. If you have your heart set on it, then go for it; if you don't like it or it doesn't suit your purpose, then just trade up later.

Whatever you decide on please let us know what works for you and consider writing a review as it'll help other 'slutz.

Best, Arthur
Thing is, I'm not sure he's even recording anything with a mic (which is why I was asking).
Old 31st May 2019
  #18
Gear Addict
I presume the (being the genre you're recording) that the only stuff you'll be tracking (recording) is vocals - I presume everything else will be sampled and synth based. So I'm struggling to understand why a channel strip is particularly important. However you might find the Drawmer MX-60 useful, Mic-pre and DI, gate, de-esser, EQ and compressor in one unit, it also has a couple of sound flavour options called something like "tube sound" - sometimes having options like this will just click with a particular vocalist. This is why I also like the cheapo Art TPS II - which has lots of switchable voices, so for rock and rap vocals you can just flick through them (don't worry about what they're supposed to be) until you hit a gem. With rap and hip hop vocals it's nearly always about the character of the vocal not the ultimate sound quality. As has been mentioned before in the thread the ART Pro Channel II is great value and sounds good.
Old 2nd June 2019
  #19
Gear Head
No love for the Golden Age Pre 73?
Old 2nd June 2019
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petesasqwax View Post
No love for the Golden Age Pre 73?
Not from me. Maybe some friendly “like”, but no love. Owned one for about five years. It was sold long ago and is not missed. There is nothing basically wrong with it. It has a lot of gain and seems well built. I have found certain “color” pres with good reputations sound a little less clear on the top end than I would like. The Golden Age is one of those.
Old 2nd June 2019
  #21
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
Not from me. Maybe some friendly “like”, but no love. Owned one for about five years. It was sold long ago and is not missed. There is nothing basically wrong with it. It has a lot of gain and seems well built. I have found certain “color” pres with good reputations sound a little less clear on the top end than I would like. The Golden Age is one of those.
Interesting - it used to be the Pre that would get regularly mentioned in these sorts of threads but I've never personally used one.
Old 2nd June 2019
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petesasqwax View Post
Interesting - it used to be the Pre that would get regularly mentioned in these sorts of threads but I've never personally used one.
Absolutely correct. I bought mine because of all the hype at the time. I couldn’t spend enough for a Neve or one of the pricey clones. In many decades in (and sometimes out of) audio I still haven’t ever recorded through a genuine Neve pre.
Old 2nd June 2019
  #23
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atma's Avatar
I think the GAP 73 is by far the best sounding "vintage" styled pre in its price range, however, it's not a channel strip.
Old 2nd June 2019
  #24
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma View Post
I think the GAP 73 is by far the best sounding "vintage" styled pre in its price range, however, it's not a channel strip.
Agreed, but the OP stated: "I want to up my game with channel strips, preamps"
Old 3rd June 2019
  #25
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by petesasqwax View Post
Agreed, but the OP stated: "I want to up my game with channel strips, preamps"
Oh, you're right—for some reason I was assuming he wanted an all-in-one package channel strip (w/ a pre).
Old 9th June 2019
  #26
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With a budget of $500, I'd be tempted to just get a used Studio Projects VTB-1 and an Aston Halo. Then go ITB for the rest of it-for now.

The VTB-1 BTW (IMHO) is several notches above the low cost (though fine) channel strips mentioned here. Definitely superior to the Mackie Onyx pre's FWIW (that are OK).

AKG P120 (black) is somewhat of a sleeper, for vocals. Under $100.

Airwindows is worth investigating...
Chris
Old 10th June 2019
  #27
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
SM57 > VTB-1 > dbx 163x

A solid workable choice for budget rap vox.
Old 10th June 2019
  #28
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
With a budget of $500, I'd be tempted to just get a used Studio Projects VTB-1 and an Aston Halo. Then go ITB for the rest of it-for now.

The VTB-1 BTW (IMHO) is several notches above the low cost (though fine) channel strips mentioned here. Definitely superior to the Mackie Onyx pre's FWIW (that are OK).

AKG P120 (black) is somewhat of a sleeper, for vocals. Under $100.

Airwindows is worth investigating...
Chris
why an aston halo? $300 seems a little superfluous for a reflection filter; you can get a massive GIK portable isolation booth for 25$ more, though for basically nothing you could just stock up on some U-Haul blankets to hang behind the mic.
Old 11th June 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lando Calrissian View Post
SM57 > VTB-1 > dbx 163x

A solid workable choice for budget rap vox.
With this set up, plus a Halo...
I'd be cool.

Sennheiser 835, is an excellent alternative too.
The "Gik stuff", if you have the space, would be even better. (Vs. Halo)
Chris
Old 3 days ago
  #30
I got a model 215 art and a presonus eureka and a joe meek ThreeQ as well as a vtb-1 and an Apollo as my interface im learning and new and have found steals on all my items in places across the web.. .be patient and test out items after researching!!! I bought all i named off above for ----550$!!!!!! Not at once but total i spent 550 .. patience and i will say the art model 215 and all abive have characteristics i like of course as.deep as.my voice is its kinda hard to screw up that but some studios would and is why im learning to engineer now!!!!! But all choices mentioned above are fine but if you only got 500 get you a Shure ksm 44 used and a art or eureka and call it a day until working up more cash promise you will not regret the shure for rap vocals period and no the ksm32 by shure is not the same regardless i have owned both in the 6 months of buying mics so far I've owned 13 and all weren't hugh priced some to my pockets were (u87) but u can also trust the p120 comment!! Very underrated and usable vocals microphone and ive.had a Sterling st66 that is decent tube i love my voice on it so its all trial and error realistic wise my man !! Enjoy
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