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Combining a tube-based, Class A mic/instrument preamplifier; a smooth, VCA-based compressor; and a sweet-sounding, three-band parametric equalizer, the new Studio Channel delivers first-rate sound at every stage. Every aspect screams "pro," from the features and circuits to the Neutrik connectors and rugged, 1U metal chassis.

Superb preamplifiers are a specialty at PreSonus, and the Studio Channel's preamp stage is a fine example. Based on the award-winning BlueTube preamplifier, it uses discrete circuitry (no harsh-sounding op amps) and features a high-output 12AX7 vacuum tube that operates at 30V—roughly twice the voltage used by other preamplifiers in its class. The result is plenty of headroom, low noise, transparency, and huge tone. Switchable preamp gain and tube drive enable a wide range of sounds, from transparent and clear to edgy and overdriven. PreSonus also provides the small features that make a big difference: an 80 Hz high-pass filter to remove room rumble and unwanted lows, a 20 dB pad, and phase invert.

The parametric EQ provides sweet-sounding gain/cut for ultra-smooth highs, deep lows, and clear midrange. The midrange band has variable Q for controlling the width around the center point of the selected frequency, and the high and low-frequency bands can be set for peak/dip or shelving. The EQ is switchable pre/post-compressor.

PreSonus is known for its high-quality compressors, and the Studio Channel's compressor reflects this legacy. A fully variable, smooth, VCA-based circuit, it delivers ultra-fast attack and can tame the fastest transients and offers a complete selection of controls: ratio, threshold, attack, release, and make-up gain. From slap bass to snare drum to vocals, the Studio Channel's compressor allows you to record as hot as needed without clipping, giving you total dynamic control and musical results. A precision analog VU meter displays gain reduction and output level.

The Studio Channel sounds sweet, and so is the price: MSRP is $359 and street price $299.

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