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Channel Strips, let's talk.....
Old 14th January 2003
Lives for gear
Oldone's Avatar
Channel Strips, let's talk.....

I have been noticing that the M-Audio Tampa mic-pre/compressor and the Focusrite Voicemaster Pro are picking up some awards and strong reviews at SOS and other places. Any thoughts on these units or perhaps the Mindprint stuff?

Anybody happy with their channelstrip?

Also, where do you buy Mindprint here in the US. Can't locate a dealer yuktyy
Old 14th January 2003
Gear Addict

I am of the opinion the cheap channel strips are a false economy if you're looking at growth towards having a stable of good, moderately priced gear. I'd rather go component by component and be able to swap out pieces of my chain as I'm able to (not replace, since anything I would buy would be for the long haul, not a stop gap fix), and have an end result of the geometric multiplication of possible permutations of my input chain. That and being able to use the stuff at mix down.

There are ways that channel strips save money, but the lack of flexibility isn't worth it to me when we're talking about "for the money" processing quality. When we talk about a higher level of gear, I don't have these issues.

Old 14th January 2003
Gear Maniac
cram's Avatar

I agree whole heartedly with Bear. I'd rather have the flexibility of separate components, rather than an all-in-one box. I have a couple different brands of "channel strips" in my kit, and they just gather dust anymore. Ebay time?

Somebody likes 'em, I keep seeing new one's introduced at every trade show.
Old 14th January 2003
Lives for gear
toledo3's Avatar

Don't put much stock on those end of year awards. A lot of those pre's have a lot of functionality, but at the end of the day...are poop.

The whole thing about getting good's pretty subjective. It's really about getting "familiar" tones. Find out what people use to make albums you like. That's the only way you are going to get those particular "colors."
Old 14th January 2003
Gear Head
JoHoozaFats...'s Avatar

well, contrart to popular opinion, i am in your same raft...

$$ dictates what i need to get, not necessity necessarily.

in trying to acheive the fabled tube, i did a lotta reading online, read peoples opinions of certain products, and narrowed it down to a couple of pieces.

i was a/bing everything to an avalon 737, as this is what everyone was freaking over for a while, but i went with a summit audio mpc-100a. pre, comp, mono unit with 1 tube. it was ok, but i exchanged it for a mindprint (sam ash only) and i'm sitting on this for a little while.

the advantage of this is it's 2 channel, so u can run your mixes thru it, and the pre is pretty nice. for $1600, this aint a bad deal. too bad it's borderline tacky.

i went with it bc/ of an associate that works there was tellng me of people who came in and exchanged their avalon for it... he was saying its really nice, yadda yadda.. i'm gonna futz with it some more today and track drums and vox to it..

will keep ya posted
Old 15th January 2003
Lives for gear
XHipHop's Avatar
second hand focusrite green channelstrips are pretty nice for the money.
Old 15th January 2003
Gear Guru
Drumsound's Avatar
Originally posted by JoHoozaFats...
but i exchanged it for a mindprint (sam ash only) and i'm sitting on this for a little while.

the advantage of this is it's 2 channel, so u can run your mixes thru it, and the pre is pretty nice. for $1600, this aint a bad deal. too bad it's borderline tacky.
i'm gonna futz with it some more today and track drums and vox to it..

will keep ya posted
Please tell us how you like the Mindprint. I have one of their 2-channel comps that I really like. Did you get that new 3-space guy?
Old 15th January 2003
Gear Head
JoHoozaFats...'s Avatar

yeh. i got the 3 spacer. the DTC. dual tube channel. the tube is only in the comp, everything else is solid state.

i didn't get a chance to play with it today, but will use it for overheads and voz and mastering for a couple tracks tomorrow.

i'll keep y'all posted.
Old 15th January 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I saw the Mindprint deal in ScamCash a few weeks ago and it's got all the right stuff and the price is decent. Too bad it looks so damn ugly. Maybe if you couldn't see the tubes. I don't know, I tend to shy away from tube gear that lets you see the tubes. I'm not a huge fan of the channel strip concept unless it's really cheap or you can patch into different sections. I know that my Meek doesn't get used as much as it would if it were a seperate preamp and compressor. The Symetrix 528's are also pretty cheap on the used front and highly usable.
Old 15th January 2003
Gear Addict
mdbeh's Avatar

I've heard the Mindprint single channel and thought it was pretty good.

The Langevin Dual Vocal Combo, which has a limiter and simple EQ, is in same range and really nice. I've been very happy with mine.

I thought the "channel strip" thing was kind of stupid before I got it, but I have found it really convenient when tracking vocals. I can often get the sound I want quickly without messing around too much, though of course it's not right for everything.

And like other people have said, you can't take magazine awards and reviews too seriously--gotta hear the stuff yourself.
Old 16th January 2003
Gear Maniac
JRE Productions's Avatar


FWIW, I find the channel strip idea is great/quick for vocals.

I do not like it for recording instruments. With instruments I have a more pre-concieved idea in my head od how it should sound and know which gear to grab to acomplish this.

With vocal I find its more like dialing in a nice sound. Although most channels strips either have nice pre's and crappy comps, or vice versa.

Joe E
Old 16th January 2003
Lives for gear
alanhyatt's Avatar

Channel Strips serve their purpose. The market is very diverse with all kinds of budgets. Many use them, many don't. What ever works for what you need to get done is the right choice.

Results is the key, so if its a channel strip, or components...who cares if it works.
Old 16th January 2003
Gear Head
JoHoozaFats...'s Avatar

whats FWIW?
Old 16th January 2003
Lives for gear
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar

FWIW= For What Its Worth
PMSL= Pissing My Self Laughing
CBF= Cant Be Fucked

In regards to the general vibe of channel strips in the budget range of prices, obvious sonic compromises are made to bring them to market @ such attractive prices. They are being marketed completely @ the home user who is toying with the idea of the 'novel' concept of recording their own music @ home.. GASP!!!!!!....... to bad we have to record shitty bands tho.. PMSL!

A lot of 'reputable' manufacturers have budget ranges available and many of the novice users read glossy mags and see the heritage of those brands and think that they are getting a product with some degree of 'THAT' sound and heritage, which in my opinion turns out to be mere marketing and puffery.

There is usually a dman good reason why QUALITY audio gear costs.. and im sure we all have a decent idea of why it does cost so much.

Suffice to say some budget gear offers exceptional value for money and can garner truly professional results..... in the right hands!. Conversely some of the 'budget' gear from these manufacturers can sometimes offer a different flavour or vibe which is diametrically opposed to what a particular manufacturer or brand received its reuptation for.. which could end up being a funky addition to any engineers sonic pallette.... i mean we are all searching for different colours are'nt we? It merely comes down to what it sounds like and if the gear will truly be what you need, require or if you can see it being or adding a certain 'thing' to your productions... but use ya ears and let them work it out for yourself.

However if you are planning on letting this(being a gearslut) be your primary vice then seriosuly consider buying QUALITY pieces of kit that are easily patchable and offer a degree of sonic fleixibility..

Old 16th January 2003
Lives for gear
subspace's Avatar
Here's what I like about channelstrips;
You get an example of each type of processing that company offers for the price of one of their stereo processing units (on average.) Likewise, you're only paying for one power supply, usually one input transformer, one output transformer, etc. The downside of this is if the units' sound relied on the interstage transformer coupling and they're removed in favor of direct coupling internally (usually.)
There are some examples where the sum may be greater than the parts. The Pendulum Quartet has separate in/ outs on the back for their mic pre/DI, EQ, and compressor/de-esser sections. Their sound doesn't rely on transformer coupling, so you're not losing anything compared to the stand-alones, rather you gain the option of using an output trannie that isn't present on the individual units (both flavors of output are provided.) Also, for the cost of one of the stereo stand-alones, you get the added EQ section.
The Universal Audio 6176 looks like it makes sense as well. The 610 mic pre was a half empty box and the 1176 circuitry can be fit in a smaller enclosure than the original appearance one. If the individual in/ outs sound the same as the (not-actually-original) originals, it looks like a good unit. Time will tell.
From the Avalon VT737SP unit on down in price, you find a lot of channelstrips that never existed as separate units. I think this is where you find a lot of stuff that wouldn't stand up as separate components, and they try to bolster the unit from a functions per dollar stand-point. One exception is the Langevin DVC, which is indeed the stereo mic pre/ EQ unit and stereo EL-OP limiter put into one chassis with a single power supply. For close to the price of the EL-OP limiter alone, it's a bargain (if you dig the originals.)
Old 18th January 2003
Lives for gear
gyraf's Avatar

I've been thinking quite a lot about these questions, specially when designing a channel strip of my own, the Gyratec II:

From a technical point of view, the channel strip seems to be a good idea, at least when we're talking "real" tube devices at reasonable cost.

The cost of the power supply and the cost of getting in and out of the box - the input and output transformers and associated tube circuicy - far exceeds the cost of any stage in between.

So if it's possible to add functionalities like filters, compressors and EQ at a quite low cost a piece, it's hard not to do so.

So what, if the combination is often used to perform just a single of it's possible tasks - you got the options quite cheap anyway. And more often than not, you'll find yourself using all of it.

Think of it more like an advanced channel on your desk instead of as an "effects" device..

Jakob Erland
Gyraf Audio
Old 19th January 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
But the problem for most people (at least myself and people that work at my studio) is that most of the stuff on a channel strip won't get used all that much. I cut three songs with a band today and used four channels of EQ across 13 tracks. Now let's say I was using 13 channel strips to cut those tracks I'd have extra junk in the signal path plus if I own the strips I've spent extra dough for stuff I'm not using all the time.
Old 19th January 2003
Lives for gear
Oldone's Avatar
The Focusrite Voicemaster Pro has the ability to take the EQ, Compressor, Harmonics, Tube Sound, etc. in or out of the chain or to bypass all effects and use the micpre alone. It's a little different than some others I've seen. It also has an effects loop for tapping other processors into the chain. As well, latency monitoring section for vocalists to monitor their voice sound pre computer. Digital out etc. It's also class A.

So, the genre seems to be expanding a little towards the project based studio.

What I would like to see however, is a Great River mic pre, RNC compressor, Pultec EQ, de-esser. That would be a killer chain. Actually I should just go buy all that.
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