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Mastering Channel Strips and Tube Warmer

A preamp in a mastering chain ?!
While some of them can add warmth and color simply by passing through, others have little more to offer, like channel strips. In both case, they can be a great asset...


Manley Voxbox Combo

Manley Voxbox Combo

Manufacturer: Manley Labs
Official Website: www.manley.com

Suggested retail price: $4600 (USD)
Price through this link: $4140 (USD)
Savings: 460 USD



Description:

Manley has the reputation of making excellent high end equipments, and this is one of them. Even though this equipment was designed as a high end preamp, one would not be surprised to find it in a mastering rack. The quality of this unit is simply astonishing. The Manley Voxbox is what we call "Channel Strips" these days, and therefore can be used as a tube warmer, an equalizer as well as a compressor. Even if designed as a preamp, the unit has a line-in input so there is no level problems.

Its compressor design is based on a blend of the Variable MU Compressor Limiter with the opto-isolator approach of the Manley ELOP Limiter. Both equipments are very popular in mastering. It compresses the signal before it hit the tubes without side-effects on distortion nor frequency response which translates into a very smooth sound.

What is surprising about this unit is the fact that it contains so much features, without compromising quality on any stage. The VoxBox contains an equalizer, a compressor, a de-esser and limiter. This is pretty much what one would need at the mastering stage... Of course, since this equipment is single channel, you will need two of them and you can "stereo-link" them.


Avalon Vt-747Sp Stereo Compressor Eq

Avalon Vt-747Sp Stereo Compressor Eq

Manufacturer: Avalon Design
Official Website: www.avalondesign.com

Suggested retail price: $2900 (USD)
Price through this link: $2595 (USD)
Savings: 305 USD


Description:

Avalon is a highly respected gear manufacturer. The 747sp is a model that has been around for more than 10 years and is still regarded as one of the best sounding equipment in the world. This channel strip has been heard on thousand of high quality records.

Here again, the channel strip was not originally intended for mastering, but it finally ended up there. Many mastering engineers fell in love with the warm sound of this machine. The 747sp offers a very transparent opto compressor thanks to a minimal signal path and 6 bands of program equalizer that delivers optimal performance. The compressor simply sounds great and covers a wide range of possibility from soft compression to hard knee limiting. Finally, the VT-747SP features twin signal path which gives you the choice between a tuby sound or a more classic Class A discrete transistor sound. A great palette of color can be reached with this equipment.


Millennia Stt-1 Origin All-In-One Recording Front End

Millenia Stt-1

Manufacturer: Millenia Media
Official Website: www.mil-media.com/

Suggested retail price: $3409 (USD)
Price through this link: $3068 (USD)
Savings: 341 USD


Description:

Millenia is the manufacturer of the critically acclaimed NSEQ-2 mastering EQ. This suggestion is doing no harm to the NSEQ-2, the Stt-1 is simply another possibility. This channel strip has the same quality eq than the NSEQ but also offers a compressor as well. This unit is a great sounding one.

On the downsides, since it is sold as a preamp, it is a single channel. However it is sold with a proper line-in input, so it can be used to in a mastering chain without any problem.



D.W. Fearn Vt-2 Dual Channel Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamplifier

D.W. Fearn Vt-2 Dual Channel Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamp

Manufacturer: D.W. Fearn
Official Website: www.dwfearn.com

Suggested retail price: $4300 (USD)
Price through this link: $4300 (USD)
Savings: 0 USD


Description:

In this era of cold digital mixes, having a tube warmer (or a tuber) in the mastering rack is a plus. At that point, as well having one of the sweetest sounding ones ! D.W Fearn is a company that sticks to the idea that a good preamp must be handmade. Well, it seems that Mr. Fearn has won his bet since his very recognizable red units can be found everywhere in the world.

Many mastering engineers have a line-in version of this preamp in order to simply pass the signal through it. The result is simply amazing: It is like if all the high frequency were alive and shiny. It feels like the tube distortion is "playing" in the stereo field. It is a feeling that is kind of hard to describe. You must hear by yourself.



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