First Impressions: Retro Channel Mic Pre, EQ, Compressor

July 14, 2009

This new channel strip inspired by the Telefunken V72 mic preamp, Teletronix LA-2A compressor, and Pultec equalizer,  sounds great with guitars. If you have tens of thousands of dollars to invest in vintage studio gear, you may want to purchase the three classic processors that served as inspiration for this unit. Otherwise, you may find that you can get much of the same power and vibe with the Retro Channel for the relatively low price of $1,795.

I haven’t fully put this unit through its paces (a full review will appear in the pages of GP), but after hearing that David Torn and Eric Johnson had been plugging guitars into theirs, I tried it with Gibson and PRS electrics and a Taylor acoustic, direct into a mixer channel and also in front of several amplifiers set to clean tones, and loved the way it sounded. The preamp dished up anything from a little hair to luxurious overdrive, compressed sounds ranged from a enhanced shimmer to serious squash, and the EQ’s boost and attenuation capabilities let me shape tones subtly or radically at will. And, as with the gear the Retro Channel seeks to emulate, simply running your instrument through this unit, almost regardless of how the controls are set, imparts vibolicious warmth and added responsiveness.

I’m looking forward to going deeper, and using the Retro Channel with various types of microphones (a +12dB switch gives you the extra juice needed for use with ribbon mics), and as an outboard processor while mixing, but my first impressions after spending half an hour playing guitars through it are very positive.

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