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FOCUSRITE LIQUID CHANNEL PRE-AMPLIFIER COMPRESSOR

FOCUSRITE LIQUID CHANNEL PRE-AMP/COMPRESSOR

  • Product Description
  • Product Video
  • Product Accessories
  • Warranty

The Liquid Channel transports classic front-end processing into the digital age, removing the need for endless patching and adding fluidity and reliability to the studio environment. Quite simply, The Liquid Channel is every mic-pre and compressor combination in history, inside a single 192kHz 2U device.

This is achieved through a unique two-part process. Firstly, the use of dynamic convolution techniques is applied, utilising lightening fast SHARC chips applying unique level-dependant impulse responses to every sample of audio. However, whilst this is more than sufficient to identically re-synthesise a compressor's sonic behaviour, in order to replicate precisely every subtle nuance, the pre-amplifier must physically match the way in which the classic unit interacts with a given microphone. The Liquid Channel's solution to this problem lies in its vast analogue front-end. A pre-amp with the ability to change its impedance and vary its signal path to either transformer or electronic, perfectly replicating the interaction characteristics of the original, whilst remaining entirely transparent within the signal path.

The Liquid Channel can therefore replicate precisely the sound of any classic mic-pre and compressor. With entirely digital front panel controls, all parameters can be saved in one of ninety-nine User Memories, meaning that entire session set-ups can all be recalled at the touch of a button. A brand new digital EQ is also available, providing a comprehensive and truly ‘liquid" channel strip.

A USB connection on the rear panel links to a software application enabling the archiving of both replicas and surplus User Memories, as well as providing remote operation of the unit itself. The Liquid Channel comes complete with forty classic mic-pre's and forty classic compressors but is infinitely expandable, since the USB port also facilitates downloads of further replicas from a dedicated website; www.ffliquid.com.

Finally, to account for variances in amounts of second order harmonic distortion (usually perceived as warmth) from one pre-amp to the next, a dial is included to permit control over this value. This essential feature ensures hardcore vintage enthusiasts are satisfied, bringing total control over every sonic attribute.
Essentially, The Liquid Channel provides an unlimited supply of vintage sonic performance for the price of one unit, with all the added benefits of digital processing and control.

"Liquid Technology is the final product of two years pure research into what makes an analogue box sound exactly the way it does. The results of this research have enabled us to develop a hybrid system of analogue and digital technology, capable of recreating every sonic attribute of any classic processor. Focusrite has a history of manufacturing high performance equipment, and of making that technology affordable to all those at every level of the recording industry. The Liquid Channel goes further and makes the obsolete, the priceless and the historically significant, available to everybody for the first time."

Robert Jenkins – Director of Product Strategy – Focusrite.

Key Features

  • 40 microphone pres and 40 compressors
    The Liquid Channel comes loaded with forty classic mic-pre and forty classic compressor emulations, with an expanding library online.
  • Best of both worlds
    The Liquid Channel fuses cutting-edge analogue design with lightning fast SHARC DSP to deliver the finest pre-amp emulations possible.
  • Digital Head, Analogue Heart
    The Liquid Channel uses an analogue pre-amp front-end to match the input impedance and signal path of the device being emulated before applying dynamic convolution for amplification characteristics.
  • Global Recall
    100 Programme Memories allow you to save every parameter, whilst the file format provides easy transfer of these settings to other Liquid Channel users.
  • Remote Control
    Free software application LiquidControlallows comprehensive remote operation and archiving facility of emulations and programme memories.
  • 192kHz ADC/DAC as standard
    The Liquid Channel features the finest conversion paths possible, ensuring the audio is unaffected whilst dynamic convolution is applied in the digital domain.
  • Not all vintage units are born equal
    So the 'Harmonics' dial lets you account for variance in vintage originals, or use levels of 2nd, 3rd and 5th Harmonic distortion creatively.

FAQ's


Q: What kind of technology is used by Focusrite in the new Liquid Channel product?
A: The technology involves dynamic convolution techniques and a new liquid pre-amp which together emulate vintage pre-amps and compressors.

Q: What is Dynamic Convolution?
A: The Convolution process has been defined as: 'The term given to the mathematical technique for determining a system output, given an input signal and a system impulse response.' What that means is if you know what is coming in to your system, and you can control your system?s impulse response, you can define the system's output. In other words, you can emulate a compressor's sound, (or even a mic-pre's sound if you add a suitable analogue mic-pre hardware circuit.) Put another way, Focusrite have found a way to accurately emulate the way in which any classic compressor or mic-pre ever made affects sound.

Q: How is this different from modelling and other 'simulations' we've seen and heard before?
A: Modelling looks at the way a device works and then relies on the generation of code to try to emulate the typical way in which a device would respond, usually in a certain limited set of situations. Convolution, on the other hand, records data about the way a device behaves and then emulates that. To use a simple analogy, it's like the difference between sampling and synthesis; if you want a REAL violin sound triggered from your keyboard you sample a violin, if you want a modelled sound which recalls the real sound of a violin, synthesis will generate a similar violin-like waveform.

Q: So why have modelling devices never succeeded in nailing the way a compressor or mic-pre responds?
A: The problem with a compressor is that it is a dynamic processor. That is, it is reacting to changes in input signal, and varies its response according to those changes. The problem with a mic-pre is similar- it is constantly interacting with whichever microphone is feeding signal to the pre, and it is the combination of pre and microphone that characterises the sound. Dynamic convolution plus liquid hardware enable these phenomenally complex interactive relationships to be emulated.

Q: So what does the impulse response/convolution process involve?
A: A while back, Focusrite set about driving a huge set of impulse responses into the best collection of vintage and modern compressors and EQ's ever assembled. The impulse response device they used for this process is called, with good reason, 'The Replicator'. This mysterious black box outputs an impulse (a very narrow (time-wise) voltage spike of amplitude which contains an infinite number of frequencies.) The impulse spike is sent to the device you wish to emulate. By measuring the output of the device itself, Focusrite's R and D team were then able to calculate what the device has done to the spike, hence calculate the aspects of the device that relate to frequency- and time-related parameters; frequency response, distortion.

Q: So The Liquid Channel can emulate the sound of any compressor and any mic-pre ever made? I pay once and get the sound of all my dream processors in a 2U rack space?!
A: Yes, and more. Once you have The Liquid Channel you can mix and match the sound of your dream pre's and compressors into user memories to set up and recall any combination you want.

Q: That's science fiction!
A: It was science fiction, now it's science fact. Welcome to a new world of endless possibilities

Q: How on earth can one machine deal with the sheer weight of calculations required to produce ALL those responses for every group of parameter settings of ALL those mic-pre's AND compressors?
A: Good question. It took the world's fastest audio-implemented SHARC chip technology to be able to crunch the mind-boggling numbers. That, and a huge number of patient hours emulating the sound of the classic units from audio history.

Q: So everything is pre-programmed?
A: No, all the convolution programming has already been done for you, but of course the impulse responses have to process the audio in real time inside The Liquid Channel.

Q: Does The Liquid Channel allow me to emulate my own choices of pre and compressor
A: No, that's pretty specialised stuff and best left to the Focusrite R and D team, but the unit ships with a huge range of pre's and compressors ready to go in the box. You can make up your own combinations and store them in user memories, with or without EQ:

Q: How many compressors and mic-pre's do I get in one unit?
A: The unit ships with emulations of 40 of the classic mic-pre's from history, as well as emulations of 40 of the world's finest compressors.

Q: Are there user memories in addition to these?
A: Yes, the mic-pre and compressor 'building blocks' can be combined into 100 user memories; all parameters including mic-pre gain, EQ and compressor settings etc are also stored within the user memory of course.

Q: What if I want the sound of a specific mic-pre or compressor, which isn't one of the chosen devices?
A: Focusrite plan to make the sound of further pre's and compressors available as downloads from this website. A free piece of application software will be available that will allow you to download extra pre?s and compressors via the web to your PC or Mac. You can then load the sound of the pre?s and compressors that you crave into The Liquid Channel via the USB port on the rear panel (fitted as standard.) You can also save user memories and/or mic-pre and compressor emulations externally to your PC or Mac, and even edit the unit remotely via USB! All parameters will be editable on-screen remotely, even mic-pre gain settings for example, and can be transferred from session to session in e.g. a Pro Tools folder.

Q: What if I should overwrite my classic compressor by mistake?
A: No problem; you can always reload a back-up set from your PC or Mac, or download the original factory settings from www.ffliquid.com

Q: How can convolution emulate the interaction of mic-pre and microphone?
A: On its own it can't. You need a separate analogue circuit to be present and to work with the convolution engine.

Q: So why do mic-pre's present such a problem?
A: Mic-pre's have always had to connect to the source microphone, but it's an interactive system that isn't 100% efficient. Mic. amps have been designed since 1920's to suit a huge variety of different types of mics.- passive carbon dynamics, then coil-based designs, then valve amplifiers, large diaphragms, phantom powered condensers etc. Hence, different vintages and types of mic. amp, will vary dramatically in terms of the way that their input was specifically designed. For example, the range of electronic/transformer front ends that have been used over the years exhibit a wide-ranging set of impedances, and this is why an analogue front end needs to be included. If a specific mic. is not being loaded by the analogue circuit just as it was by an original vintage device, then the sound from that microphone will be different.

Q: So there's no real mic-pre standard?
A: Exactly. Take a transformer for instance. It has two coils of wire, the 1st coil generates a magnetic field, and this then passes into the 2nd coil- which in itself is not a fixed transfer mechanism, there?s a lot of variation in transformers. What impedance appears at the input of the pre is also a key factor- when you connect a mic. it has an output impedance of its own. The two sides (mic. and pre) react, and frequency-related level can vary wildly as a result. Capacitances also interact as both microphone and transformer have capacitances that vary, so HF roll off may occur for example, or you may get an HF peak (The famous Focusrite ?airiness? typified by the ISA range for example,) Older mics. designed for broadcast applications often roll off at e.g. 12kHz, since before 1970 few people cared about HF matters. (Designers used to just roll off at c12kHz to filter out problems above this threshold.)

Q: So how do you design one mic-pre circuit that can reproduce all the variables within this wide range?
A: The only way to accommodate the full range of different designs is to allow huge flexibility in the resistance and capacitance parameters in a custom transformer designed specifically for that flexibility. Hence, The Liquid Channel physically changes analogue circuitry as well as using dynamic convolution technology to create mic-pre emulations.

Q: What about electronic or tube microphone pres that do not include a transformer?
A: The Liquid Channel's transformer is auto-switched out when an electronic transformerless mic-pre is chosen by the user (this is indicated on the front panel). Focusrite has built in the variations required to reproduce the vagaries of a range of electronic mic-pres. The capacitance and resistance are then varied in the circuit, and Dynamic Convolution technology is used to emulate the full range of electronic pre's. Tube emulation is also covered 100% - this is taken care of by the Dynamic Convolution process. Whatever artefacts were present in a classic vintage tube piece are also present in The Liquid Channel.

Q: So this is really a hybrid technology that allows total control over the key aspects of the sound of analogue pres and compressors?
A: Yes, the sound of every opto, and every VCA compressor, every transformer-balanced, electronically balanced (including tube pre's) can be emulated, because each device's response has been calculated.

Q: Why is it necessary to have additional circuitry for the mic-pre and not the compressor. Surely, if the convolution DSP is as thorough as you say, there should be no need for further processing
A: As mentioned above, the interaction between the individual microphone and pre-amp, is a key factor in the sound of the pre as a whole. (The ISA 428 and 430 MK II have switchable impedance values that the user can implement to specifically tailor the character and response of the device for this very reason.) By including a 'Liquid' pre-amp circuit containing a flexible signal path (transformer or electronic) and variable impedance value, The Liquid Channel can mimic that of the classic mic-pre to ensure that the interaction with the microphone is close to the original. This issue isn't something that affects a compressor but the DSP processing required is nonetheless immense. The user's ability to affect the threshold and ratio of the compressor means that there are additional responses needed for the side-chain to account for the numerous variations in character (types of 'knee', presence of 'over-compression' etc.)

Q: Is the transformer the traditional Focusrite Lundahl transformer. Or another famous brand like a Jensen, should be no need for further processing?
A: No, it's a brand new custom precision-wound FF 'Liquid' transformer, designed and built in the UK by Focusrite's R and D department to be extremely flexible; transparent or coloured as required. But remember, you don't have to think in terms of the sound of just one classic transformer or mic-pre design. Now you can have them all?

Q: Other products like the Focusrite ISA 428 allow you to vary the impedance. Is the microphone pre in The Liquid Channel doing the same thing?
A: Yes, but with traditional products your choices are pre-defined, and generally speaking relate only to impedance. With The Liquid Channel all aspects of a mic-pre's performance are being emulated.

Q: If I connect different mics to the plethora of mic-pres that The Liquid Channel offers, will each of the mics sound different?
A: If I connect different mics to the plethora of mic-pres that The Liquid Channel offers, will each of the mics sound different?

Q: What about interaction between the mic-pre's and compressors
A: The Liquid Channel's dynamic convolution DSP is separate for both the pre-amp and compressor. That is to say, the device acts exactly as the separate units would, with the same signal leaving the mic-pre and entering the compressor. So, interaction is identical to the hardware equivalent without the extra cost/size and weight/plugging in required but with all the reliability of a first class digital audio device.

Q: What about EQ?
A: Focusrite's R and D department in England decided that a truly liquid channel strip should also include a flexible EQ: So they created a brand new digital EQ, modelled on the curves of the fabled ISA110. This EQ is a single Focusrite British EQ design that is the perfect complement to the range of mic-pre?s and compressors available.

Q: Will the EQ sound exactly like an ISA 110's EQ
A: It's based around the 110 design, but since it doesn't use convolution technology it won?t be exactly the same. If you want the original sound of a Focusrite EQ unit with the same classic analogue footprint as the Focusrite's of the 1980's, buy an ISA430 Mk II or an ISA220.

Q: Why is there no tube? If the transformer is required in the analogue circuit how come a tube is not also required?
A: The dynamic convolution process handles the tube characteristics. However, there are additional benefits to using transformers over and above their warmth; better CMRR and the transformer's direct impact on the connected mic. directly for example. This latter point is why we need a transformer in circuit to emulate the mic-pre- the interactivity with the mic. is key for a transformer in a way in which it is not key for a tube.

Q: Are there any audible (distortion) differences between applying an 'HG' emulation versus using a regular level emulation and then adding 2nd/3rd/5th order distortion via the dedicated encoder afterwards?
A: Yes. At full gain on an old mic-pre. you may have 60dB of gain at 1k but only 40dB at 10k. Distortion is affected in a similar way. 3rd order harmonic distortion is reduced at low gain, so this may be present when using an HG emulation, but not present if you just add 2nd order distortion after the fact. This is one reason why we include HG settings.
There are also differences re: different loadings on the transformer occurring when driving high gain in at the front end, hence mic. interaction changes occur. For example, HF roll-off etc may change.

Q: Why do we only use one set of impulses when creating the emulations? Surely we need to emulate all combinations of threshold, ratio parameters etc?
A: Dynamic convolution, using a single set of impulses, accurately emulates the sound of the signal path at all frequencies/levels. However, the FF Liquid process is actually more complicated than this.
After emulating using convolution, we then measure the compressor curve at different ratio/threshold positions. Then we measure the attack and release characteristics, as well as the RMS vs. Peak detection of the side-chain signal in order to see if it discriminating more towards peak or RMS. (If you put e.g. a drum kit thru a peak-detecting compressor such as a Focusrite) the compressor side-chain will follow the curve of the signal that's coming in and compress in a manner that follows that curve. An RMS compressor will compress the signal against the average level and ignore the peaks. Hence a drum kit is smoothly compressed by an FF piece, but an RMS unit will result in attacky/toppy compression with many transients which have more energy/are less smoothly compressed.

Q: Can you route the digital input into the mic-pre's?
A: Yes, you can route the digital input to any of the the mic-pre's, or only via the transformer, or directly to the compressor in the digital domain.

Specifications

Converter performance
Sample rate: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz
Bit depth: 24-bit

ADC
SNR: 120dB measured with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass A-weighted filter
Frequency response: +/-0.05dB between 20Hz ? 22 kHz
Maximum input level: +22dBu
THD+N: 0.00035% (-109dB)

DAC
Dynamic range: 116dB measured with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass A-weighted filter
Frequency response: +/-0.05dB between 20Hz / 22kHz
Maximum output level: +22dBu
THD+N: 0.0007% (-103dB)

Jitter
Internal clock: < 20 pico-seconds
AES digital output: < 200 pico-seconds
External clock: < 1 nano-second
Analogue and digital path

Mic pre
Gain range: +6dB to +80dB, switched in 1dB steps
Frequency response: variable, set by pre-amp chosen
THD+N at analogue out: 0.001% measured with a +4dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
THD+N at AES digital out: 0.0005% measured with a +4dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
Mic noise: EIN = -126dB measured at 80dB of gain with 150 Ohm source impedance and 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
Noise at analogue out: -92dBu measured at +6dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
A-weighted filter
Noise at AES digital out: -119dBFS measured at + 6dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
A-weighted filter
Maximum input level: +16dBu
Input impedance: variable, set by preamp chosen
CMRR: Transformer: 123dB @ 60dB of gain
Electronic: 102dB @ 60dB of gain

Line input
Gain range: 10dB to +10dB, switched in 1dB steps
Frequency response: 0dB +/-0.1dB between 20Hz and 20kHz
THD+N at analogue out: 0.001% measured with a +18dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
THD+N at AES digital out: 0.0004% measured with a +18dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
Noise at analogue out: -92dBu measured at 0dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
A-weighted filter
Noise at AES digital out: -120dBfs measured at 0dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
A-weighted filter
Maximum input level: +22dBu
High pass filter
Roll off frequency: switchable between 75Hz and 120Hz, frequency measured at 6dB down point, 12dB per octave roll-off

Harmonics
Distortion range: 0 to 15 where 15 (maximum) = 10% of 2nd-, 20% of 3rd- and 10% of 5th-order at 0dBFS (level-dependent distortion)

Compressor
In 'As Original' mode the parameter ranges will be the same as on the original unit being emulated. In 'Free' mode the parameter ranges are as follows:

Threshold range: -40dB to 20dB switched in 1dB steps
Ratio range: 1:1 to limit
Attack range: 0.1ms to 2.5s
Release range: 0.1ms to 2.5s
Make-up gain: -20dB to +20dB switched in 0.5dB steps

EQ

High Shelf
Frequency range: 200Hz to 20kHz
Gain: +/-18dB

Mid Band
Frequency range: 100Hz to 10kHz
Gain: +/-18dB
Q: variable between 0.8 and 2.5

Low Shelf
Frequency range: 10Hz to 1kHz
Gain: +/-18dB

Weight
8.6kg
19Ibs

Dimensions
484mm (W) x 85mm (H) x 270mm (D)
19" (W) x 3.5" (H) x 10.6" (D)
2U rackmount


* IMPORTANT INFORMATION: FOCUSRITE, the FF logo, LIQUID TECHNOLOGY, LIQUID CONTROL and the LIQUID logo are trademarks of Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. DYNAMIC CONVOLUTION is a trademark of Sintefex Ltd. All other product names, trademarks, or trade names are the names of their respective owners, which are in no way associated, connected nor affiliated with Focusrite or its LIQUID CHANNEL product and which have not endorsed Focusrite's LIQUID CHANNEL product. These other product names, trademarks, and trade names are used solely to identify and describe the third party products the sonic behaviour of which was studied for the LIQUID CHANNEL product, and to accurately describe the functionality of the LIQUID CHANNEL product. The LIQUID CHANNEL product is an independently engineered technology which utilises the patented process of Dynamic Convolution to actually measure examples of the sonic impact of original analogue products upon an audio stream, so as to electronically emulate the performance of the original product studied. The result of this process is subjective and may not be perceived by a user as producing the same effects as the original products studied.

Rather than creating a similar sound to vintage units, as with modelling devices, Liquid Technology samples their sonic behaviour. This is achieved through Dynamic Convolution; the application of a unique, level-dependent set of responses to an audio signal. These measured responses, sampled at numerous levels and with every possible setting combination, are applied to the input stream on a sample-by-sample basis for accurate emulation.

However, Mic-pre emulation can't be achieved with software alone. Hardware is required in addition to account for the physical interaction with the microphone. Mic-pre's have always had to connect to the source microphone, but it's an interactive system that isn't 100% efficient. Mic. amps have been designed since 1920's to suit a huge variety of different types of mics.- passive carbon dynamics, then coil-based designs, then valve amplifiers, large diaphragms, phantom powered condensers etc. Hence, different vintages and types of mic. amp, will vary dramatically in terms of the way that their input was specifically designed. For example, the range of electronic/transformer front ends that have been used over the years exhibit a wide-ranging set of impedances, and this is why an analogue front end needs to be included. If a specific mic. is not being loaded by the analogue circuit just as it was by an original vintage device, then the sound from that microphone will be different. The is no real mic-pre standard. Take a transformer for instance. It has two coils of wire, the 1st coil generates a magnetic field, and this then passes into the 2nd coil- which in itself is not a fixed transfer mechanism, there's a lot of variation in transformers. What impedance appears at the input of the pre is also a key factor- when you connect a mic. it has an output impedance of its own. The two sides (mic. and pre) react, and frequency-related level can vary wildly as a result. Capacitances also interact as both microphone and transformer have capacitances that vary, so HF roll off may occur for example, or you may get an HF peak (The famous Focusrite 'airiness' typified by the ISA range for example,) Older mics. designed for broadcast applications often roll off at e.g. 12kHz, since before 1970 few people cared about HF matters. (Designers used to just roll off at c12kHz to filter out problems above this threshold.)

Consequently, The only way to accommodate the full range of different designs is to allow huge flexibility in the resistance and capacitance parameters in a custom transformer designed specifically for that flexibility. By including a 'Liquid' pre-amp circuit containing a flexible signal path (transformer or electronic) and variable impedance value, The Liquid Channel can mimic that of the classic mic-pre to ensure that the interaction with the microphone is close to the original.

The transformer used is a brand new custom precision-wound FF 'Liquid' transformer, designed and built in the UK by Focusrite's R and D department to be extremely flexible; transparent or coloured as required. Hence, The Liquid Channel physically changes analogue circuitry as well as using dynamic convolution technology to create mic-pre emulations. For electronic or tube microphone pres that do not include a transformer, the Liquid Channel's transformer is auto-switched out. Focusrite has built in the variations required to reproduce the vagaries of a range of electronic mic-pres. The capacitance and resistance are then varied in the circuit, and Dynamic Convolution technology is used to emulate the full range of electronic pre's. Tube emulation is also covered 100% - this is taken care of by the Dynamic Convolution process. Whatever artefacts were present in a classic vintage tube piece are also present in The Liquid Channel. The sound of every opto, and every VCA compressor, every transformer-balanced, electronically balanced (including tube pre's) can be emulated, because each device's response has been calculated.


* IMPORTANT INFORMATION: FOCUSRITE, the FF logo, LIQUID TECHNOLOGY, LIQUID CONTROL and the LIQUID logo are trademarks of Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. DYNAMIC CONVOLUTION is a trademark of Sintefex Ltd. All other product names, trademarks, or trade names are the names of their respective owners, which are in no way associated, connected nor affiliated with Focusrite or its LIQUID CHANNEL product and which have not endorsed Focusrite's LIQUID CHANNEL product. These other product names, trademarks, and trade names are used solely to identify and describe the third party products the sonic behaviour of which was studied for the LIQUID CHANNEL product, and to accurately describe the functionality of the LIQUID CHANNEL product. The LIQUID CHANNEL product is an independently engineered technology which utilises the patented process of Dynamic Convolution to actually measure examples of the sonic impact of original analogue products upon an audio stream, so as to electronically emulate the performance of the original product studied. The result of this process is subjective and may not be perceived by a user as producing the same effects as the original products studied.

Your Thoughts

"Since moving to computer based recording only 3 /4 years back i've become lazy and used to software instead of hands on twiddling knobs, so I came back to the studio and connect the Liquid channel via the Usb connection and installed the on screen display for it, well what can I say.... a world of difference, I can flick through different pre-amps and compressors as singers and musicians are warming up, and I can here a world of difference! to be able to save different settings to disk as been a god send, especially for me. playing many instruments as I do writing for clients, sat at the desk with the headphones on, I just click the mouse and load in different presents for acoustic guitars, different settings for percussion etc...without having to move from the microphone position to physically twiddle with the dials.

Sorry for the long winded email, once again thank you for the advice, I just can't wait to get the Liquid Mix setup."
Mike Frankland - Castlegate Studios

"i am having the greatest time with me liquid channels, really getting some great sounds and studio bookings are on the up."
Steve Honest - UK

"I purchased two units and have found that the quality and use is wonderful. I use the AES outputs to bypass my 2408/3 digitally and have an audible quality improvement. Simple to set up, stunning models and really good support."
Brian Mikiten - USA

"I want at least two of them. It's an incredible value considering what's inside the box.
"Overall, it's very powerful technology that will eventually take over how front end processing takes place. While there is a little room for improvement in regards of total functionality / usable value (separate analogue and digital I/O for each stage), this is a phenomenal first step. Lastly and most importantly, it sounds great!"
Alan Moon - Sweetwater

"I own several of the units depicted in the LC. I found its models to be nearly 100% accurate to my perceptions of what they sound/behave like??The basic character of the other boxes seemed dead on to me.

Overall I would give it an A+"
David Stewart - Sweetwater

"I found the liquid channel to be very much a buy two and you're done type box (unless you need more than 2 channels simultaneously at which point, just add as needed) I am wanting two of them for myself.

Also, 1.5 or .8 or whatever it takes to switch between replications is much nicer than the couple of minutes it can take in the physical world otherwise to compare various preamps."
Alexander Jenkins - Sweetwater

"The D/A and A/D conversion in the box is seamless. There is no sensation that you are listening to anything other than an analog box and I mean that as the highest possible compliment. The sound is brilliant and the control pinpoint on each and every replication. The controls on the front of the box are so logically laid out that is is impossible to not know how to operate this gear. Once again I mean that as a high compliment. The build quality is typical Focusrite: A listen confirms what your eyes and fingers have already told you-- that yes indeed your money has been well-spent."
Greg Baum - Sweetwater

"Sounded Great! Please put it on the points program as soon as possible!"
Dan Van Amerongen - Sweetwater

"Just wanted to share with you guys that I got a GREAT solo violin sound yesterday using the Blue Mouse microphone and 'AP3124' microphone pre with a 'TTEC LCA2B' comp set to 20:1 ....Yum!!"
Lee Shephard - Massive Attack - May 2004

"I was in the room with Tetness for the shootout today. Here's my take:

If you've got the $$$ for piles of the the "real thing" then great. If you don't, then go for a Liquid Channel and never look back. There wasn't a repro in the bunch where we said "Oh this sucks, it's obviously a digital repro, blah blah blah".

As a practical matter though, for the price of a vintage Neve you get that plus 39 other choices (with more to come via download) that just might sound as good or better on your source in your room on that day.

On things like vox, ac gtr, and standard percussion (shaker, tambo, clave, etc...) it was a matter of VERY minor degrees of preference. Like Tetness said, in a mix there might be no practical difference. Who gives a rip about a track in solo. The LC version could possibly sit in a track better.

I see this as an INCREDIBLY practical tool for the project studio operator, and indie-freelance-producer-engineer guy who could use a huge variety of tones in a single package at a relatively reasonable price. In my setup if I had, say, 12 channels of different pre's, 10-11 would be going unused on a typical day. I totally do the "basics elsewhere, overdubs here" thing and at the end of the day could see the usefulness of this box.

40 different total crap pre's could cost you $4000 plus. Then, where the hell would you put them, and try and setup a patching arrangement for a shootout like we did today , much less deal with it on an actual tracking day.

So anyway, totally worth the $$$ if you're inclined to take massive versatility and ease of use over exact replication of the original (and who's to say that our representative samples today were any more representative than any other vintage piece)? Talk about practical and easy to use, while Tedi was singing I was patching through pre's on the fly. We auditioned 40 pres on him in about 10 minutes!!!! And, like he mentioned, some of the models (Helios, Manley SLAM, Millenia) totally knocked our socks off. We didn't have originals to compare to but didn't care considering the sound.

It's much like the plug-in vs. outboard (and honestly, the sonics are probably in a similar vein). Yeah, the big boys will always stick to the real thing, but as a practical matter I can hardly afford 1 or 2, much less the 20 or 30 that a plug allows me to use on my session. Same thing in this case.

If you're one of us who doesn't lose any sleep over using a Fairchild plug rather than the original, then you'll love the liquid channel.

My $.02, or $3700 in this case."
Gsharp, Gearslutz user, June 2004

"This thing is amazing, I've just got the best vocal sound I've ever had!"
Steve Robson - Northern Sky (Busted) - June 2004

"Mic pres A/B'd... 1073, Vintech x73 "1073 clone", 6176 (2610 and 1176 combo), 3124... Pre amp replicas "right on, amazing!!!!!

The EQ was great. "Nice!" No break-up or artifacting when maxed-out gain stages were applied."
Charlie Clouser ? June 2004

"I loaned it to a trusted engineer friend of mine and he used it on scratch vocals with an RE-20 with a screamer vocalist. I called him last night and he was very impressed. It was 1073 front end and 33609 compressor. That's one convert.
Lynn Fuston - June 2004

"Yesterday I did an A-B test with the Liquid Channel and a bunch of new and classic gear (Red 1, VTT1, 737, 1176, 33609, 165). We found that the preamp in the Liquid Channel is excellent by itself, the preamp replicas are very accurate in general (sometimes we needed to dial in some harmonics to make the match perfect but that's about all we could find). The compressor replicas are fantastic. We could not hear any difference at all when A-Bing after we'd matched the controls and levels. Brilliant stuff."
Ivo Witteveen - Reviewer for Interface Magazine - July 2004

"Well I generally don't do this. I rarely hear anything anymore that I am impressed enough with to take the time to write anything or don't consider myself enough of an authority to garner any credibility to what I say, but...

Lynn was gracious enough to let me try the Liquid Channel the other day on a tracking session I was doing. Since I only had one channel I was limited to what I could use it for. I wasn't sure what I was going to find so I just stuck it on the booth scratch vocal with an RE-20. Buddy Mullins from past work with Gaither Vocal Band, Sunday Drive and Mullins Family Band was the producer for his family's reunion album. The first one I have done for them since 1996. Have done over 25 projects for them in the past 30 years.

At first the unit is awe inspiring and I wasn't sure if I was going to have to take a crash course or dig into the manual which I did not have time to do. But, after watching the great light show and a boot up procedure, it all came pretty easy. I dialed through the pres and selected a replica of the Neve 1073Hz Version. Then I selected a Neve 33609 Comp. I made some basic adjustments to what I thought I might want just on the fly.

When he started singing I turned and looked to see how far he was from the mic. He was about a 10". An RE-20 Is not supposed to sound like that at 10" to a foot. I looked at the LC. It was compressing pretty heavy, but I could not really hear any pumping. It was like you were riding gain on the vocal. I had NEVER heard that microphone sound like that.

I later tweaked a bit of EQ in just for fun, but it did not need it...

Later in the week we decided to do a REAL vocal on a song with Buddy's Dad and Mom. I put his dad Roger on an 87 through the LC. Geez, I never heard THAT microphone or any 87 sound like that. Pretty much same settings. I was wishing I had two, one for mom. I was beginning to wonder just 'what the heck' was going on inside this thing.

I called my friend Chuck Surack at Sweetwater and asked if they had tried one. He was like "YES, isn't it awesome"? He said they were planning on putting in one in their new control upgrade to Digi ICON. I told him he was gonna want more than JUST one. He said everyone was raving about it.

So there it is. Just a first impression. I haven't had a chance to use it anymore and quite frankly am afraid to. I just don't have the extra cash to fork out for 2 of them right now. Could not be happy with just one.

But, this is one pretty amazing box.

I did not have time to go through the other XX number of pres and comps that it replicates. But it is a bunch. Maybe soon if Lynn will let me have it back...

Try one. See if I am just nuts or you agree.."
George Cumbee - Pres Audio Creations Inc. - July 2004

"The 1073 was interesting. I had the same reaction as George....I haven't heard that microphone on my acoustic sound like that before. Sometimes the top on a 4040 can get a lil "eeky" but this really smoothed it out. Very usable.

Then I tried running a lead vocal through the cl1b emulation. I must say this was very nice. I didn't torture it...it was only hitting about 3-5 db of reduction, but boy it lassoed the sound nicely. I'll "pop vocal" pummel it later for fun."
Kevin Perry - Chameleon Music, Nashville - July 2004

"Whelp,
Here I am sitting with the Focusrite liquid channel. It was sent to me for review.
I wanted to hate it. I cant. It is really good. You will be able to read a full review in TapeOp soon, but for now lets just say: This thing is amazing.
I really wanted to hate it for a bunch of different reasons. The interface, the idea that it is modelling a bunch of stuff I have that is some of the most sought after pieces of gear on the planet. I am not allowed to make direct comparisons to classic pieces of gear by name, but this thing certainly does a great job. I had it up against some British made compressors of great fame, and the modelled versions are astoundingly good, and the fact that this thing sells for mid 3000 mark, and manages to do what a single channel of some 3000 to 16 thousand (!) dollar compressors do.... Amazing.

I have to say, if you can get over the idea of soft keys and knobs and digital in general, you would have one of the most powerful tools available today.

You name it: put one classic pre into another classic compressor. The analog front end coupled with models of classics is a great idea. It works well.

I ran program through it today, and it actually does a bunch of different 'tricks" really well. Even when (obviously) compared to the thing it is "pretending to be" is right there in the room.

This is a frightening, exciting, easy, scary,angering, embarrassing, great piece of gear.

This one is going to make some waves in the industry, because it will make people whine and bitch, or sing its praises, or refuse to use it, or whatever, but waves nonetheless."
Joel Hamilton - TapeOp Forum - July 2004

"Just a quick mail to say thanks very much for the liquid channel, which is now firmly installed in studio 2.

Today it had the rare experience of being listened to by me, Richard, Simon, Andy, and two new techs Alex and Tom, all at once, and we all think it's great. It really does sound very good indeed and the modelling really works.

Probably the first time I've seen all of the technical department simultaneously very impressed without the presence of cricket or drugs. Actually there was cricket now I think of it.

Anyhow - nice one, cracking product which we'll be sure to introduce to many clients."
Rob Kelly - Strongroom - August 2004

"Well Cambridge is over again for another Year. Great festival this year everything went smoothly apart from some shit lorry knocking over one of my delay towers but hey ho all was well in the end!!!

Focusrite Liquids are GREAT!!!! We had one engineer turn up and asked if we could put his Avalon 737 into the system I told him no need we can emulate the 737 with the Liquids. He said OK. It work out great he loved it, he got the sound he was looking for and possibly a bit more.

I would love to put one out on a tour but we do not have anything at the moment. Ange Jones (Paul Weller) was my FOH man at CFF and he loved them as well and would possibly like to try them on the next tour in the Autumn."
Pete Hughes - Canegreen Ltd. - August 2004

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