TrueDIY Tech: Channel Strips on a Budget

Ever feel that something is missing when you’re tracking vocals, guitar, or piano?  Maybe the vocals sound dull on your mic-preamp or the high end of the acoustic guitar sounds brittle?  While a mic preamp itself may give you a great representation of the actual sound of a vocalist or an instrumentalist, it isn’t always exactly what you want.  It’s time to learn about channel strips.

A channel strip is just another mic preamp, but with all the bells and whistles.  This means you begin with a preamp, usually move to a compressor and an equalizer, though not necessarily in that order.  Because of all the features found in this single unit, channel strips are cost effective and useful in home studios.  The Presonus Eureka is a great channel strip that will get you started on the road to recording the next pop vocal.

The Presonus Eureka Channel Strip

The Presonus Eureka is exactly what you would want and expect out of a channel strip for the price of $500. Clean and offering some awesome customization tools, the mic pre is equipped with 48v phantom power, +20db boost, a line input jack in the front of the unit, a high pass filter, and a phase reverse button.  Also, the mic pre has adjustable knobs for gain, impedance, and saturation.  The saturation knob is awesome due to the fact that it allows you to drive the preamp hard to get that warm “tube” sound, like the preamps before the digital age.

While the compressor in the Presonus Eureka will not be as useful as Universal Audio 1176 or other standard compressors, it will allow you to adequately keep control over your tracks.  The compressor is most useful in just barely tapping your signal to keep it from clipping or distorting.

Above all else, the EQ is what impressed me most.  For being a $500 unit, the EQ is clean, precise, and great in conjunction with driving the saturation on the mic pre. You can drive the saturation hard on a vocal, and then use the EQ to clean up any muddy frequencies in the signal.  Also, don’t forget to set the compressor to just tap the high transients in your signal!  This setting will give you warm but clean vocals.

Do some research on channel strips before buying (as you should with all gear).  The Presonus Eureka is a great starter channel strip for learning how to build your sound outside the computer in a time where everything is done in the box (computer).  If you’ve used a Eureka in the past, please let me know what you thought of it and if you have any questions concerning this channel strip!

For more information, check out the Presonus website.


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