AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier 500-Series Channel Strip
The AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier 500-Series Channel Strip was designed by ear, manufactured by hand by recording engineers, for recording engineers.
The AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier (ACA) is just that - Abso-frickin'-lutely AWESOME - period. When you call two and a half years of development on a product "Awesome Channel Amplifier", it had better be just that. It is. All debunkers are welcomed.
What is The AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier, exactly?Well, the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier is lots of things:
- A Mic Pre - Perhaps the most musically responsive preamp you've ever heard
- A Line Level Amplifier - The same magic of the preamp is happening to +4dBu sources, too. Add some Awesome AwTAC magic across your mixes with a pair.
- A Three Band EQ Features a three frequency selectable Baxandall high-shelf and low shelf and an inductor based 10-band mid-range. Think of a hybrid between a Pultec and a Helios EQ - only more flexible. It's light, extremely musical, and way effective.
- A Kick-Butt Direct Box - Guitars, basses, electric pianos, lap steels or anything else with a pickup that needs an amazing high impedance input to shine.
- A Mixer - LCR Mix Bus linking to additional Awesome Channel Amplifiers when used with the Purple Audio Sweet Ten Rack. Plus, AwTAC's single-space Panner Module links with the ACA to add a wholly separate mix-bus. Hear for yourself what a truly AWESOME analog mixer can do for your music.
- A Double-Wide 500 Module - Hey... there's so much to this thing that it's a seriously badass Wide-Load. But what would you normally get in two slots? A preamp and an equalizer? The AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier gives those and much more capability, as you can see.
The Awesome Mixer - "Don't make a fuss, just get on the BUSS"The AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier features a passive Left Center Right (LCR) mix buss (selectable only between LCR only - just like most consoles up to the late 60's, no pan pot). A benefit to it's double-width footprint in the 500-series format, AwTAC utilized the otherwise unused I/O jack connections behind the equalizer side for implementing the mix buss. Using a standard XLR cable, you can connect one Awesome Channel Amp into another Awesome Channel Amp and you suddenly have a mixer - SNAP! Keep in mind - this is ONLY using Awesome Channel Amps - NOT the AwTAC Awesome Panner Summing Module. That's a wholly other mixer and adding that mix buss doesn't negate this LCR mix buss. You dig?
The LCR mix buss's audio level is set at mic level and this is just the same as within all of the sonically delicious classic consoles with a passive buss. After all of the Awesome Channel Amps are patched / chained together, AwTAC has devised a special (awesome if you will) breakout cable that plugs into the standard XLR jack and delivers the Left and Right buss to the mic pre"?s of your choice. This obviously sets you up for a myriad of tonal choices when both tracking with multiple mic"?s mixed to a mono source (there are still *some* people that track guitars like this, right?) and mixing your stems (or tracks) from your DAW.
Choosing Your Power Supply RackEvery 500-series rack currently on the market will support the mixing functionality of the Awesome Channel Amplifier! So, if it has male and female XLR jacks for the I/O, you can use that rack to build a mixer out of Awesome Channel Amps. So yeah, its a MIXER. And an amazingly good sounding one at that.
A Mixer Based Upon 1970 Design Is WAY MusicalAwTAC's mission has been and continues to be to provide all of the basic elements necessary for you to make a fully functional mixing system with 500-Series racks... Your very own AwTAC Awesome Console! With your very first Awesome Channel Amp, you're already well on your way to making the full blown mixer. Because what AwTAC did with the Awesome Channel Amp is to incorporate exactly everything your signal would have encountered in line in the typical console design from around 1970.
Amplifier StagesWhen you plug a microphone or line level signal into this unit, with the unit engaged, that signal passes through 6 (that's SIX) amplifier stages, two transformers and an inductor. Each amplifier stage is carefully tuned to be complimentary to the amp before and after it. AwTAC carefully tuned this unit so that whatever you put into it comes out bigger, rounder and better. It's not just a mic pre and an EQ thrown into a box with a label put on it. It's the result of carefully building a system that works in a complimentary fashion to make a really big, really good sound- just like every good mixing console should. When you hear a pair in stereo, you'll hear the difference for yourself. The proof is in the pudding!
The Best Construction Possible for the Best Possible SoundThe Awesome Channel Amplifier is made with discrete transistor through-hole component topology, just like they built them in 1970, by hand, with passion, because it just sounds good. There are no chips, IC"?s or any surface mount parts in this box. No expense was spared with the switching in this box. Every single switch and connector contact is gold plated for maximum life and conductivity. This no compromise, high quality approach to connectivity is comprised of: Grayhill Rotary Switches with gold plated contacts, Neutrik gold plated Jacks, Sealed Relays with gold plated contacts, Pin Headers with gold plated contacts, and Gold plated Toggle Switches. The Printed Circuit Board itself, which carries audio in and out of the Awesome Channel Amplifier has gold plated contacts on its card edge contacts.
AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier 500-Series Channel Strip Features
- A Double Wide 500 Module -
- A Mic Pre - A wonderfully soft yet detailed front-end to the preamp
- A Line Level Amplifier -
- A Three Band EQ A three frequency Baxandall high and low shelf and an inductor based 10 band midrange.
- A Kick Ass Direct Box for guitars, basses, electric pianos, lap steels or anything else with a pickup that needs an amazing high impedance input to shine.
- A Mixer -
What We Think - AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier Review
Our journey with the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier begins at AES NYC 2011. There was something that really caught our eye about the Awesome Channel Amplifier. First - this thing is visually stunning. Nothing else looks like it. So, we were immediately drawn in. There were a couple of these mounted in a Purple Audio Sweet Ten 500-Series Rack along with a Purple Audio headphone amp, some Beyerdynamic DT990Pro headphones, and a simple Shure SM58 plugged into the first channel.
Donning the headphones and simply speaking into the SM58, we were absolutely stunned by what weheard. It was immediately clear that the ACA was EVERYTHING wehad been looking for - but nobody had been making. See, most mic preamps are just that - they are JUST a preamp stage and maybe a DI. The classic albums that we all listen to over and over again, that we revere for their sound quality (And we are talking about sonic VIBE here; not twizzled and tweezed, sliced and diced, quantized, and boring-ized, bland-ulated, and too painfully 'perfect' to listen-to, audio), were recorded using a recording desk/console/mixer; devices which are a series of circuits which manipulate and amplify the signal as it travels down the channels and through buss amplifiers to where it was assigned to go. The AwTAC is a CHANNEL AMPLIFIER; meaning - it is a channel with various stages of discrete op-amps (no IC chips - this is VERY important and results in a signal that retains a distortion-free integrity throughout the frequency spectrum; a truly audiophile image of the sound being amplified). So, the audio has a wide-open design; lots of highway and open road for the audio's signal to travel through. And no surface-mount component compromises. The AwTAC is the real deal; built like it ought to be built - and it sounds like it ought to sound as the result of that and excellent vision and design.
So the effect is that each Awesome Channel Amplifier is a complete component of a mixer that you can build with the help of the Purple Audio Sweet Ten 500 Series Rack. Actually AwTAC gear usually shown with the Sweet Ten because of it's build quality and additional routing capabilities. But the Awesome Channel Amps will work perfectly with any 500 Series Rack with XLR I/O. All you need is a cable which we provide with any PAIR of Awesome Channel Amps which plugs into the buss output of the last channel in line. Since it's a passive (mic level) mix buss like the great sounding consoles from around 1950-1970, you'll need to amplify this signal. Obviously another pair of AwTAC Awesome Channel Amps would per exactly what you should use, but any stereo preamp will work, too.
Dave Raphael is an Awesome dude, too. Talking with him, it is immediately clear that he is driven by a passion that is indicative that he has been in my shoes in looking for 'that sound' and not finding that which will get him there in any new (or even older) gear. Necessity is the mother of invention. Dave's a great engineer and photographer and has built many vintage circuits. However, the results of some of the fabled designs left him wanting. Teaming with his design partner, Jens Jungkurth, they forged the Awesome Channel Amplifier. And even in our initial conversations back in 2011, Dave's mission and system was very clear - He's out to build gear that MOVES people. AwTAC is gear with some serious soul. It has magic in it. And you should try it. This is perhaps one of the most over-the top reviews that I've ever written in regards for my praise for a product... and it's not for nothing or because I think that Dave is a cool guy. This piece of gear flat-out slays. Again - You should try it.
Here's a perfect example of how Awesome the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier is; A customer made an appointment and came into Front End Audio one day to purchase a 500 Series preamp with a budget of about $500. Though we had pre-orders in for them, the preamp he was after hadn't quite started shipping from the manufacturer yet. So, as we were in our studio talking about gear, he asked, 'What's something cool that you've been using?' So, I showed him the AwTAC and told him a little about it. I played my bass through the DI and also played him a vocal clip of an ADK Z-MOD 67-L fed through the AwTAC. He immediately went home and sold a bunch of stuff on eBay. Returned 3 days later and purchased the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amp. He called later that week to rave about how incredible it sounds.
The Awesome Channel Amplifier is a piece that sounds so good that you're almost afraid to tell anyone about it - like it could be your secret weapon. So, try it for yourself in your own studio and find out why I sound like a raving lunatic who can't stop talking about the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier! We have a pretty strong suspicion that you'll be a raving believer, too."
- Front End Audio
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