PreSonus in Baton Rouge, La., has unveiled the RC 500 channel strip ($999.95 street price), which combines a low-distortion, high-gain, solid-state Class-A preamplifier with the same custom-designed FET compressor and semi-parametric EQ circuitry found in the PreSonus ADL 700 tube channel strip. The RC 500, expected to ship in September 2013, is designed to produce transparent, detailed audio that is suitable for a wide variety of applications, and reminiscent of classic, vintage solid-state preamp designs.
The newest member of the PreSonus family of preamps/processors, the RC 500 was designed by PreSonus engineer Robert Creel, who also designed the PreSonus XMAX preamp, the ADL 700, and many other PreSonus analog circuits.
Creel's new microphone preamp features a Class-A hybrid input stage with discrete transistors and the latest-generation, low-distortion operational amplifiers. PreSonus states that the design maintains the sonic qualities of Class-A and benefits from the repeatability in performance of the operational amplifier.
Compared to a tube preamp, this solid-state preamp is said to offer better definition at the edges of its frequency response range. Reportedly, high frequencies are crisper and low frequencies are tighter, producing a transparent, musical signal that retains the "airiness" of a room and provides a more three-dimensional result than a tube mic preamp can deliver.
The RC 500 has 48-volt phantom power, polarity invert, and a -20 dB pad. In addition, it includes a 12 dB/octave highpass filter set at 80 Hz.
The RC 500's FET (Field-Effect Transistor) compressor complements the new solid-state preamp. Controls include fully variable attack (0.5 to 10 ms), release (30 to 500 ms), and threshold (-25 to +20 dBu), as well as hardware bypass. Ratio is fixed at 3:1.
FET compressors use transistors to emulate a triode-tube sound. This type of compressor generally provides a faster attack time and better repeatability than the optical compressors that are more commonly found in channel strips in this price class.
The 3-band semi-parametric EQ combines isolated filters and optimized, per-band Q to provide subtler signal shaping without harsh artifacts. All bands have Gain (±16 dB) and Frequency controls, with overlapping frequency ranges between the midrange and high bands and fixed Q (0.5). The low and high bands are switchable between shelving and peak.
Both the Compressor and EQ sections feature a relay bypass.
Rear panel XLR mic and line inputs (with front panel Input Select switch) and a front panel ¼-inch TS instrument input accept a variety of sound sources. Dual-mode analog VU metering enables monitoring of output and gain-reduction levels. A master level control adjusts the overall output from -80 to +10 dB.