ART Pro Audio Pro Channel by jbr101
The Pro Channel is ART's low cost offering for a mono preamp/channel strip.
The unit carries four sections: Mic PreAmp, Compressor, Equalizer and Output. It boasts a selectable view analog VU meter and an LED meter for output and gain reduction.
On the back of the unit is a balanced XLR input and an unbalanced 1/4 inch input, as well as balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4 inch outputs.
The unit is easy to operate, with all of the controls logical laid out in sequence of use. The Mic PreAmp section boasts knobs for gain control, low cut and preamp output adjustment, as well as buttons for selectable gain level (normal and +20 dB0, phantom power and phase inversion.
The compressor allows for threshold, ratio and output adjustments. The user can also select between fast/slow attack time, fast/slow release time, select what type of compression to use (either tube or optical) and a compressor bypass.
The EQ section is a sweepable 4 band EQ that has can be adjusted via selector buttons to change frequency ranges.
While some may view a low cost unit such as the Pro Channel as "cheap", simply due to its low price. Don't let that fool you. The unit is quite versatile: going from acoustic guitar (which it seems to excel at) to distorted guitar (more on this later) to bass to vocals to drums, all with equal gusto.
The compressor takes some getting used but once accustomed to it, it is really useful. Punchy drums are easy to come by, bright rhythm guitars are a breeze. The option of tube or optical compression is handy when deciding on the overall sound.
The 4 band EQ is a dream to work and is musical without being harsh. It allows for sculpting out your sound without getting overcomplicated.
The unit was designed to handle whatever you can throw at it. ONe of the things it may not have been designed for but seems to be pretty adept at is tube distorted guitars. Yep, these things make one deadly fuzz box.
A single Pro Channel can create a pretty heavy distorted guitar with all that toobie goodness going on. Want one HELL of a toobey distorted guitar? Cascade one Pro Channel (just under clipping) into ANOTHER Pro Channel (just under clipping) and hang on to your pants! The result is the "Make God Go Deaf" setting. The guitar player will fall over in astonishment at how heavy the guitar sound is. You, as the engineer will LOVE the side effect that working this way has - NO AMP HISS. Yes, you heard that right. No amp hiss right up in your grill. How many sessions have you sat through and had that amp his/hum, just gnawing away at you. Other than the guitar player banging strings there is virtually no hum or hiss from such a high gain setting. It really makes doing heavy guitars a great experience for everyone.
The ART Pro Channel is a seriously great box - sounds great and easy as heck to work with. The tube vibe is well worth the price of admission. The fact that you can turn it into a great fuzz box is gravy. I liked the box so much I bought a second one.