For any recording artist, good sound quality is a necessity. As you well know, it is impossible to achieve the required sound quality without the right equipment, and this is why you need a channel strip. A good channel strip can elevate your audio output by a lot, but a great one, a great one will shoot you up to stratospheric levels, producing sound fit for the gods. But this presents a problem, how do you know what channel strips qualify as great? How do you sieve the chaff from the wheat and choose a channel strip that is the perfect blend of functionality and affordability? Well, that's where we come in, we have put in the work and done the research to come up with a list of some of the best channel strips in 2021, along with a summary of some of those features that earn them this title.
Channel strips are some of the most wonderful pieces of equipment man has ever invented. They are capable of providing a sonic experience that rivals anything the sirens of Greek mythology can offer. Exaggerations aside, any channel strip is likely to noticeably improve your audio output, but the best ones, elevate your sound in ways we cannot even begin to put into words! But how do you find these almost magical items? How do you make the right choice from the many models available on the market today? Yes, it can be a daunting task, but with expert guidance, anything is achievable. This buying guide will provide you with the guidance you seek.
What Is A Channel Strip?
A channel strip is a device that amplifies the output of a microphone or any other audio output to a line-level to be integrated into some other system. Typically, there’s a visual indicator that indicates audio level. A channel strip usually includes a microphone preamp, some form of audio equalization, a compressor, a noise gate, and a de-esser, to help remove high-frequency distortion from cymbals and other instruments.
What Are The Advantages Of Using A Channel Strip?
It improves sound quality and delivers a clearer and more accurate signal with less distortion and more detail and character.
It offers more gain or headroom.
It reduces noise.
What Factors Should I Consider Before Choosing A Channel Strip?
With channel strips, as with anything of any importance, it is important that you make the right choice to reap the benefits offered to the fullest. To make this choice, especially with the multitude of models available on the market today, there are certain features you must consider. Here, we run through the most important of these features in enough detail to give you the knowledge you need while being concise enough so as not to bore you.
One of the first things to consider when choosing a channel strip is how many inputs you'll need. Channel strips come with at least one mic input and a fine line output, but these models will not give you the flexibility to record vocals and instrumentals at the same time. For this, you need at least a dual input channel strip.
Switchable Transformer Feature
The switchable transformer feature lets you select the impedance that works for you, this is especially useful in cases where you need to match the output and input impedance of the microphone and channel strip respectively.
This is another important feature to consider when choosing a channel strip. You want a unit that offers you as much headroom as possible.
A low-cut filter, also called a high pass filter, aids in getting rid of unwanted bass sound making it so your audio output is clearer. This filter eliminates all below 150Hz removing any low-end noise from your output. You should go with a preamp that offers this feature especially if you plan to record rap vocals.
Pay attention to the features the unit offers. Most channel strips include a microphone preamp and an audio equalizer. But the best units include additional features like a compressor, a noise gate, and a de-esser.
How Much Does A Channel Strip Cost?
Channel strips come with many different specifications and offer different features and all of these influence how much the unit will cost. Channel strips can cost anything between $150 and $7500.
Channel Strip FAQ
Q: What is the difference between a preamp and a channel strip?
A: A preamp is an electronic amplifier that prepares a signal for further processing while a channel strip consists of different processing tools including a preamp, EQ, de-esser, and more!
Q: Are channel strips worth it?
A: Yes, channel strips are a very effective way to improve your audio output. They allow you to amplify the output of an audio device to line level, for better mixing results!
Q: Why should I buy a channel strip?
A: Channel strips improve audio output quality, reduce noise and offer more gain. They allow you to handle your entire mixing workflow (EQ, compression, and gate, etc).
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.