This month, Robin Ashley President of Phoenix Audio stopped by Front End Audio for a day of product training and review with the team. We took a deep dive into the entire product line and learned what makes Phoenix Audio stand alone.
First off, Robin explained how each Phoenix Audio product uses the same Class A transformerless input stage and all-discrete, DSOP-2 output stage with custom wound DB694 transformer based on head-designer Dave Rees's renown TF1 amp which he developed for use in vintage Neve modules. This allows for a clean, transparent capture of the entire frequency spectrum at the input stage and then the ability to color and saturate the audio to your hearts content at the output stage.
Also, each Phoenix Audio 500-series module includes a built-in power supply with 24v step-up transformer which allows their 500-Series modules to sound exactly the same as their 19" rack gear – putting an end to the 19" rack gear sounds better than 500-series debate.
Overall the signature Phoenix sound (which is provided by all Phoenix Audio products) is one I describe as “like and hourglass”. It has an open and airy smooth top end, a tight punchy and balanced mid range, and a dimensionally big bottom end – all tied together with a silky rich transformer saturation that is very pleasing.
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The Phoenix Audio preamps are very unique. They carry that Phoenix tone that is ever present in all Phoenix products, and are perfectly balanced with fidelity. The DRS-8 MKII is a perfect front end for any studio, where you want continuity in your audio, regularly record drums, DI instruments, as well as do analog processing of tracks, and summing. With it's ability to accept line level, you can process prerecorded audio through the preamps, adding more life and character to the music. Then you have all the features and function of a microphone preamp and instrument DI (these are particularly stellar on synths/keys). The Ascent pres are born from the DRS line, but with the main improvement of a more powerful power supply, providing more headroom, for the mono and dual mono platforms.
The Phoenix Audio Nicerizer summing mixers carry the signature Phoenix sound, with a lot of features that make it stand out. Both the Phoenix Audio Nicerizer Junior Summing Mixer and Phoenix Audio Nicerizer 16 MKII Summing Mixer have pan pots, level boost and drive, a direct headphone monitoring ouput, metering, stereo width control on the master out, inserts on the master out, a parallel aux output, and over all output level. The main difference between the units is the inputs. The standard features balanced DB25 inputs, and the MKII offers 16 XLR inputs.
The Phoenix Audio Nimbus Direct Box was built upon the popular DI section of the Phoenix Audio Ascent mic preamps. It’s a high-fidelity microphone direct box with a super high impedance of 10 MEG OHM. This means that you can capture everything without the loss of tone and valuable frequencies. Many DI’s are low impedance by comparison to the Phoenix Nimbus. With the Nimbus, you’re able to drive the output gain to get some color from the built-in transformer. It’s such a a nice DI box, Phoenix Audio named their two-channel version the Phoenix Audio Nice DI Direct Box! Both units have a thru output which is very handy. The Nice DI Direct Box would be a great tool for getting some analog color and depth on your overall mix!