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We’ve Only Just Begun

Let’s take a dive…

Join me as I take a deeper look at some of the audio equipment in Studio A at Capital University. I have recently taken a journey back to finish what I’ve started and obtain my degree in Music Technology.

What is Music Technology? Well it essentially breaks down to more than music, but everything audio and it’s many applications in a facet of different industries including the music industry.

I have selected 3 Pre-Amps, 2 compressors and 1 EFX channel strip to research and review for you. Hopefully you learn something along with me and if you are interested in music, especially as a fellow musician or engineer, may it shed some future light on your sessions!

Without further ado, let’s begin!

The Pre Amps


A Brief History

In November 1998, David Deardon and Gareth Davies formed Audient. The 8024 design was made to make the path of signal flow easy on the user. With each channel shares a tilt at the with the meter bridge, using color-coded surfaces to clearly indicate input and out, Audient’s aim was to have an intelligent new design mix with the characteristics of a classic acoustic console.

The ASP8024

So ASP stands for Analogue Signal Processing and so happens that the number 8024 is a reference to the consoles 80 inputs and 24 outputs. The ASP is also available with the 36-channel configuration or 24, 48, or 60 channels as well.

The Features The ASP8024 specifically has an in-line design. These means it has two faders per channel strip and includes 24 bus outputs on top of having a stereo bus compressor. Fader Housing allows for fader automation systems which I imagine is pretty handy! It uses a “bucket” system which groups channels by 12. The advantage of this is a channel is in need of repair you can unhinge just that portion and still use the rest of the board. However, the downside compared to newer modern consoles is they can usually operate still while one channel is removed for repair.

It’s frame is sturdy and the power supply is noted as being extremely quiet. This is due to it using a convection cooling instead of fan(s). The Meter Bridge is the portion you see in the picture above that is tilted. It features two meters: A 20-segment peak-reading bar graph and a three-segment meter.

The input controls for the ASP8024 has low cut, phase, phantom, insert and mic/line buttons. Interestingly enough no pad and it’s gain runs from 6 to 60 dB. Then from the mic-pre it hits the short fader and can route to the buses and aux sends while the longer fader is meant to monitor the track returns from your tape machine or audio system.

A neat trick is before the EQ section, there is a feature that allows you to use the Long Fader Source switch to let the longer fader feed into the short fader. Why would you do this? Well it would allow you to use the bus outputs as extra effects sends during mix down!

The Sound

Noted to be very transparent, but there is an undeniable warmth, especially in the mid-range it seems, but not in a bad or extreme way. Also noted it added an air quality at the top end with extremely accurate recording results. It seems this analog warmth is welcomed and with it being able to be achieved with very little noise seems to be somewhat of an achievement.

Another feature before we move on is the cool feature of the onboard compressor in the middle of the console. It is a dedicated stereo compressor. One of the articles I read suggested that this compressor is a real way to see how your mix would sound on the radio (essentially pre-mastering) as well as managing the headphone mix that your band hears in the studio.

What would you use this for?

Honestly just about anything. It’s a console, yes, but it’s pre-amps alone are probably worth it thanks to its transparent sound quality and slight warm, harmonic colorization. Also seems worth the price coming in at around 30k in a range of consoles that come in at 20-well over 100k+ in price. You could record a whole band if not an orchestra with this beast!

UA 2-610 Pre Amp

A Brief History

The UA 2-610 Pre Amp was highly appreciated by engineers since Universal Audio had closed 30 years prior to it’s release. Billl and James Putnam are the two awesome engineers who decided to relaunch Universal Audio in 1999. After their first coupe releases, UA then announces it’s UA 2-610 model, the company’s first original analog design.

The Features

The UA 2-610 pulls inspiration from the ‘60s-era UA 610 recording console. The console was the first modular console design. The UA 2-610 tries to reserve the timelessness of that era and the UA 610 console, but adds more technical features of today like a higher-quality power supply, phantom power, and an enhanced EQ Section to name a few.

Offers a generous amount of mic, line and instrument I/Os that allows for more creativity and is not simply just proving mic signal preampfification. There are line inputs for each channel on the rear panel in addition to the mic in/line out. The UA 2-610 happens to be transformer balanced on XLRs. Also included detachable AC cable socket as well as some 1/4-inch high-impedance jacks for guitar, bass, or any other electronic instrument on front panel.

The Sound

The UA features a 5-position rotary switch that allows for you to choose which input you want to use whether that be mic/line/DI. Mic and DI inputs have two switch positions with varying input impedance. This does in fact change the sound. Can make things sound more open and focused with the right setting. The Gain control is also a 5-position rotary switch. Turn it clockwise and any negative feedback is reduced and gain increases while adding pleasing harmonic distortion. The opposite happens when turning it counterclockwise providing a cleaner sound.

What would you use this for?

Seems to me like you definitely want to try this piece of equipment out when recording vocals. The reviewer claims there is such clarity and lushness, with a nice full sound that it is sure to amaze. Looks like it would sound great with guitar and bass amongst other instruments and sounds. It is analog so you are going to definitely get that warm, lush sound.

Focusrite ISA Two Dual Mono Pre Amp

A Brief History

So before the Focusrite ISA Two came ISA One. The ISA One helped bridge the gap between inexpensive and the more expensive channels strips with a high-quality preamp with a digital output. So the ISA Two offers not just one, but two quality preamps with it’s design, however they omitted the digital output that came with the ISA One. Helps with price, but the reviewer says it comes at a loss.

The Design

Along with the others in the ISA range, the ISA Two uses a Lundahl LL1538 input transformer on each channel. This design allows for it to be tranparent and add some warmth as well. Also the ISA Two offers a 60dB gain range and is shiftable up to 20dB, with a whopping 80db when using the two controls together, plenty of gain is offered on this pre amp. This almost eliminates the fear of noise at least with the pre amp itself.

The Sound The Lundahl LL 1538 input transformers mentioned earlier provide a cleaner-sounding transformers. Per Lundahl himself explained to reviewer that it is not coloration they aim for with their transformers but they are rather striving to create one of the cleanest-sounding transformers while providing “true galvanic isolation.”

The happens to still be a slight coloration of sound. Reviewer mentions a pleasant thickening and warmth similar to classic Neve preamps like the 1073.

What would you use this for?

You could definitely use this for vocals and I imagine since it’s pretty transparent as well, guitars, bass, keys would be the primary things you would use this for.

The Compressors

Joemeek oneQ2 Channel Strip

A Brief History

Joemeek “Q” series has been pretty popular and highly regarded. This series takes advance of the solid-state Burr Brown pre-amp. This allowed for an extremely clean sound most would consider neutral. However, the creators were finding out most users were leaving the ‘IRON’ (transformer-coupling) switch on the Mic input to add color. So essentially the Joemeek oneQ2 Channel Strip was made to upgrade the mic transformer to Cinemag, a top-quality transformer as a permanent transformer. The goal is “pure vintage Meek.”

The Design

Designed with a “remixed” front end; With Paul Wolff helped with a 10db increase in headroom as to lower the noise floor. Contained within are seven analog processors in one single channel unit. These include in order a mic preamp/Input section, Joemeek’s featured signature optical compressor, Meequalizer (if you are going to name things after your name, better go big or go home!), a De-Esser, Enhancer, Master Fader and A/D converter. Any of these sections can be fed into the signal chain at the touch of a button.

This design takes advantage of the Burr-Brown OPA2134 op amps which allows the input Gain to range from 18dB to 60dB for mic and Line inputs. The Cinemag transformer It also uses a Nissei VU meter to switch between measuring the preamp’s output, its gain reduction, and final output. The Cinemag is inline for mic input, but can also be used for line level processing when you toggle the Iron switch. Now features the 80z, 12dB/octave high pass filter on mic, line and 1/4 instrument input. Also they upgraded the 1/4 instrument inputs operating range from 0dbB to +40dB.

The mic preamp allows up to +24dBu with a -20dB attenuated pad. The input section features a +48-volt phantom, polarity flip, line/mic button and a rear panel unbalanced TRS send/return insert jack. The A/D converter has several options which include AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and Lightpipe TOSLINK digital output connectors and BNC connectors that allow for an external Word clock in/out.

The Sound

The Joemeek is designed to keel all the color and quirks of the original, but with an intent to clearly give the user more operational range, control and reliability. The Cinemag Transformer helps rounds out the low frequencies “in a clean, polyunsaturated way.”

What would you use this for?

Wouldn’t necessarily use this over the other two in wanting to add warmth of analog however, it gives you so many options that you are able to carve out the exact tone you want with virtually anything, especially vocals and guitars. Seems to be particularly great with things that may need de-essing. Like I said vocals and guitars are awesome on this thing!

DBX 160a

A Brief History

Considered an industry standard and is definitely one of the most widely used racks.

The Design

Features a one-channel, one-rack-space unit and operates only at line level. Does NOT work well with guitar or bass plugged straight in. Gives you basic controls such as threshold, ratio, output level as well as a button to toggle between a hard-knee and soft-knee setting. “The bypass button is not a "true bypass", but it sounds clean and has no problems. There is also a button marked "slave", which goes with a jack on the back marked "link"; these allow you to make a stereo pair with another 160A, where the knobs of one control the functions of the other.”

The Sound

Sounds similar to the older DBX 163X. The noise level seems to be low and that’s always nice. They consider the compression quite smooth and free from any unpleasant artifacts. Very punchy sound but during heavier compression settings, the lowest lows and the high end can have a rolled off or choked sound. Alwmost as if the highs are being stalled, but this seems to be common in all DBX models.

What would you use it for?

You would use this on a wide use of applications including just about anything you want to add punch too. So vocals, drums, guitars can really get a boost since all of those use a lot of mid-range frequencies.


Lexicon MPX1

A Brief History

This brand is discontinued so didn’t find much other than the website that originally sold it. Will dive deeper when I get the chance.

The Design

Lexicon focuses on superb sonic quality. The MPX1 aims to give you an easy, top level control over a lot of complex functions on top of giving you visual feedback to let you know exactly where you are at all times.

Comes with six primary types. This includes pitch, chorus, EQ, Modulation, Delay and Reverb which combined give you a total of 57 effects with 200 presets. Features an easy to use preset library to quickly find programs designed for different applications. Also includes a tap tempo control if you want. Also a certain BPM can be dialed-in the unit as well.

The Sound

This varies per effect. But we all know what reverb and delay sound like but I’d just stress that since this is considered vintage, there may be some warmth effect but I’m not sure if that exactly means an analog warmth effect, or at least one as good as it.

What would you use it for?

This is great for whenever you want to run any audio through a singular or effect or a combination of effects. Main focus was for guitarists and and home studio application. Still can be used with a wide variety of effects choices for a variety of different instruments and sounds.


In Conclusion

Still with me? Haha, figured I might have lost some of you reading this, but if you made it to the end, good for you! Hopefully this gave a bit more insight on the design behind these awesome pieces of equipment. I know I did! Stay tuned for more posts and I may still test these out myself and update the post with audio examples of before and after application of each piece of equipment.

Thanks for reading!



Audient ASP8024

By David Ogilvy Published: 09/01/2001

Universal Audio Model 2-610

By Michael Cooper Published: 12/01/2001

Focusrite ISA Two

By Matt Houghton Published: 07/2012

Dbx 160A

Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ


Lexicon MPX1 Multi-Effect Processor from 1996


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