PreSonus Studio Channel Tube Preamp Review
For an extremely versatile preamp that will enrich either your project studio or live set up equally, the PreSonus Studio Channel is a channel strip featuring Class-A vacuum tube microphone/instrument preamplification, a variable VCA compressor, and a 3-band parametric EQ, complete with VU metering in a sleek tight design.
These features will allow you to breath life into virtually anything passing through it, and to get you sounding great right off the bat—all at an incredibly affordable price. If you’re currently using the stock amplifiers from your mixer or interface, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised how the same sources are transformed through the PreSonus Studio Channel.
Its Class A preamplifier features a high output 12AX7 vacuum tube offering tons of headroom and big tone. A Gain knob regulates input gain of the XLR Mic input at (back panel) and the 1/4″ Instrument input (44 dB of variable gain, from +10 dB to +54 dB, front panel), and a Tube Drive knob controls how much of the input signal is routed into the tube stage.
These controls offer a wide range of sounds, from transparent and clear to overdriven for some added bite. Tailor the signal to sit perfectly in your mix with a -20dB pad, phantom power, a 80Hz by 12dB highpass filter, and polarity reverse.
Whether your using it on a snare drum, vocal, or bass guitar, the PreSonus Studio Channel’s VCA-based compressor will tame the fasted transients with full musicality. The compressor section comes stocked with all the essential compressor parameter controls as well as EQ-pre-comp (In) or EQ-post-comp (Out) and a GR>Meter that will selects whether or not the VU meter will display the compressor’s gain reduction or the Studio Channel’s output level.
The 3-band EQ offers two rotary controls for the High and Low bands, and two for the mids. This midrange band is fully parametric with variable bandwidth thats fully sweepable from 0.7 to 2.5, while the high and low frequencies are semi-parametric—each band getting its own gain control of -10 to +10dB. This EQ can be conveniently selected as pre- or post-compressor to tweak your sound to your liking, and bypass each stage independently for full control. Create peaks or shelves in the frequencies as you wish.
The blacklit VU meter is bright, displaying the amount of gain reduction or overall output monitoring. All rotary controls are tastefully coloured (green pushbuttons, white rotary pot knobs, orange VU meter and associated two knobs) and feel sturdy and prepared for years of heavy use on the road or in the studio. The Studio Channel’s professional-looking metal chassis is a sleek midnight blue and handles like much higher-end gear than what such a low price would typically suggest.
With a separate XLR mic, balanced ¼-inch line, and unbalanced ¼-inch instrument inputs and balanced XLR and ¼-inch outputs, you can connect the PreSonus Studio Channel to almost any recording interface, amp, or P.A. If you’re looking for the next practical step up from a budget mixer or interface, this is surely the most bang for your buck.
PreSonus Studio Channel Specifications:
- Class A vacuum tube microphone / instrument preamplifier
- Tube gain and tube drive
- Variable VCA compressor (threshold, ratio, attack, release, make up gain, auto, soft)
- Three-band parametric EQ
- Precision analog VU meter for gain reduction and output
- EQ Pre/Post compressor switch
- 80Hz highpass filter
- 20dB pad
- Phase invert
- Rugged metal chassis
- Ultra-low-noise design