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RC 500 Solid-State Channel Strip – $599 street
PROS: Super high quality, construction and sound.
There are tons of companies that offer quality preamps, so when a company like PreSonus releases a solid-state channel strip, it’s got a lot to live up to. Thankfully their RC 500 does that and more.
The RC stands for Robert Creel, who designed their fantastic ADL 700 preamp (which we reviewed back in August 2013) as well as the XMAX preamp. It’s a single channel, solid-state channel strip, with a preamp, compressor, and three-band semi-parametric EQ. Front and center is the VU Meter that can select between the compressor’s gain or the output level. It’s pretty much got everything covered: phantom power, a -20dB pad, and an 80Hz high-pass filter.
A preamp is only as good as its components. The RC 500 uses FET (Field Effect Transistors), which have been proven for decades to emulate the warmth of a tube, but keep the clarity and definition of solid state. These also work faster than tubes, giving a quick response, which is important in components like a compressor.
Speaking of which…the compressor is supreme, from subtle to slamming. Things never seem to get too squashed, and the RC 500 maintains musicality for anything running into it. Even when running direct guitar and bass signals, it doesn’t get in the way or over-process things (a nasty habit of crappy compressors).
EQ-wise, it follows the compressor – even pushing its limits, sound quality and signal clarity is maintained throughout. Boosting the signal brings in the frequencies desired, while not bringing in any unwanted hangers-on (again, a nasty habit of lesser systems we’ve tested out). Cutting doesn’t thin anything out, either. It works with the frequencies being manipulated, not against them.
At a street price of $599, it might seem slightly pricey at first, but trust us when we say it’s well worth it, considering the quality in construction, and of course the sound. This should be the first choice for anyone looking for a versatile preamp/single channel strip for any studio.
-Transformer-coupled, high gain microphone preamp with a Class A hybrid design
-FET-based soft-knee compressor using hybrid detection methods with switching relays for hard bypass
-3-band semi-parametric equalizer with switching relays for hard bypass
-48V phantom power, 80Hz highpass filter, and -20dB pad
-Front-panel instrument and rear-panel microphone and line inputs with Input Select switch
-VU meter with selectable output level/gain reduction display
-Analog insert with balanced send and return
-Balanced output on XLR and 1/4″ TRS connectors
-Internal toroidal power supply with IEC connector
-Rugged steel chassis