My first channel strip and how to connect it

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51 years 4 months
Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 09/15/2005 - 19:02

I recently purchased an API 3124 and couldn't be happier. I finally have that kick drum sound I've been wanting. Now I want to get something that's dedicated to recording vocals so I'm thinking about a channel strip. The primary mic that I'll probably use is a Lawson L47. I've heard good things about the following strips but wanted to get your opinion:

1) Universal Audio 6176
2) Avalon 737
3) Avalon 747 (basically a stereo version of the 737?)

Now for my connection question. How do I connect the strip (and my API) correctly to my Mackie 24-8 that I use basically for collecting signals for the headphone mix in the studio? I currently use the outputs from the API and plug these into the 1/4" balanced inputs of the Mackie. I turn the gain all the way down on the Mackie but I would think that I'm still going through the Mackie preamp. Should I be connecting some other way? A friend told me to partially insert the 1/4" cable but I haven't tried it yet. I take the signal from the Mackie channels (outputs on back of mixer) and route them to the MOTU 828 MKII for processing on the PC. The vocals still sound a little thin so I thought I might not be connecting my external preamp to the Mackie correctly. I'm sure that the cleanest approach is to come directly from the API into the MOTU but I really need that signal in my Mackie board for the headphone mix.

Thanks a lot in advance. This forum just an amazing amount of help for beginners like myself.

Try and get the Mackie out of the signal chain if you can. You are right, you should go from your pres straight to the MOTU.

Hopefully the MOTU has direct monitoring.

So you connect the line outs of your pres to the line ins of your MOTU, then the line outs of the MOTU to the desk. The MOTU records the signal, and the direct monitoring fees straight thru the line outs of the MOTU to your desk. This should be a software setting.

Hope that helps, lmk,


The Avalon 747 is not a stereo version of the 737.
Before buying a channel strip and paying for the features that it has, make sure you need them.A channel strip is aPre,EQ & Compressor. Ive found that I never use the EQ on the way in because I want to keep my options open, likewise not everybody wants to compress on the way in (though I generally do). So it may be a better idea to focus on better quality less features.Just a thought :wink:

We had a 737 in our studio for a couple of projects. I personally wanted to get a 747 and then use an outboard mic pre to feed it, as we could use the 747 on our many stereo keys/synths...
Anyway, the 737 was OK, but it was easy to "over-do". In other words, multi-tracking several times with it, even using very different settings, tended to "over-color" the mix. Too much of a good thing, so to speak. We ended up selling it to my ex's boyfriend :wink:
I would think that a classy mic like the L47 would also benefit from the API, no? The Lawson should provide you with all the "tube" you can use..How about that new API strip? We have a "lunchbox" and I love it with my new Lawson AIR for the VO's we do. No tube, but very nice.... :)

I don't know your system, but here is how I hookup my "strip".

I run the strip's AES/EBU output directly into the LynxOne's AES/EBU input(Research said AES not SP/DIF was the most used professionally.). Then I run my Mackie into AND out of the LynxOne's analog inputs. On the Mackie I also have my synth(Keyboard) and any other inputs - other mics too. I use the Mackie as a "speaker controller", as well.

All that said, when I bought the stuff(Pretty much all at once), I made sure I had a "direct" input from strip to sound card - nothing else "in the way"....

As stated above though - at some point I will replace the strip with a "plain" mic preamp of(I hope) excellent quality. I, too, find that I really don't want to use the strip features as often as the software features - later - for effects. I will also replace the LynxOne with a LynxTwo A(4 analog i/o) and will use the Lynx internal converters for everything(they are just fine.). The Lynx also has an AES/EBU and SP/DIF port so I can still use my old strip, or anything else digital I might acquire. Further, I will then use the "other" pair of analog outputs to run to the amp/speakers(Or powered speakers) - sted going through the Mackie. Though I will likely need to get a seperate - high quality - attenuator for same.

Nothing wrong with strips! Just that, once "adjusted" and recorded from, you're done. Harder to make changes later in the mix - NOT always a problem! Just the way it is. If your strip can do all you want, prior to hitting the computer, fine! Actually VERY fine! But, for me, it is too often better to record as "pristine"(No nuttin' added) as possible, then add/subtract in the mix, if needed.

A fine mic, suited to the purpose, a fine preamp a fine recording space and of course a fine talent will assure that few changes will need to be made anyway...

Always avoid as much circuitry as possible for recording/playback.


As far as connectivity is concerned, since the units you listed are ALL "only" analog balanced, you will need to 'Y' out of the strip and take that to the (2) destinations. One split of said 'Y' would go to the MOTU, the other would go to the Mackie to be mixed for the phones. That way, you aren't putting the analog output of the strip through unnecessary signal processing. You should probably consult the manufacturer of the strip as to what "load" the output would like to "see". In the case of the Avalon 737, I made a cable up that plugged into the XLR line out at one end, and then it split out to (2) terminations: (1) was an XLR that went to my Neve Melbourne's channel monitor input (it is an ancient "split-monitor" configuration) so that we could mix it through the monitors without going through a line channel on the desk. The other split was a 1/4" TRS plug termination that would go to the Layla (later on a Tascam DM24 mixer). I had no problems with "loading" the output and affecting the sound of the Avalon. But if you go with the UA, I have heard that their output trannies are more sensitive to load I said, check with the manufacturer. May just be a nasty rumour by some schmuck at Avalon!!! BTW, Avalon lists their pin-out polarity on the back of the unit so you can properly wire your cables. Wish that they all did that!

We sold ours (737). I think that they suffer from "users' fatigue". It is very easy to over-do the "tubeyness" of it in the mix. No matter how I tried to process different tracks with widely varied settings, it was real easy to "muddy up" a mix with "too-fat" tracks. I get much cleaner results with a great SS pre like API and Grace, even The Brick. It sure was pretty in the rack,though, and it did make my Strats BIG! Now it's an API lunchbox... :)

I was out of touch for a while because of business but came back to this post to find a wealth of information! Thanks to everyone that replied and I can't wait to try the recommended connections and listen to the results. Also, I ended up purchasing a Universal Audio 6176 channel strip so that adds another new toy to the box for experimentation. It should be here by middle of next week so more fun awaits. Thanks again!

Wise choice on the UA6176. I have one which I connect to an Apogee PSX-100SE then into the Lynx AES input. I also have a Millennia Origin which is another very fine channel strip if you decide to upgrade or change.
Have fun with your new "toy"... isn't it great to add new gear?