Spend a million dollars on every world famous compressor, mic pre, and EQ ever made, or - buy a Liquid Channel? The choice is obvious. All of the best are in this box! If you can't find the compressor you are looking for jump online and download 100 more amazing presets. The Liquid Channel represents the leaps and bounds music technology has made in the past 50 years. You can even run ribbon mics with this.
Just what I needed
Since I am an independent record company and studio owner, and I am in the Air Force and I have moved around and deployed a lot, I tend to be of the mindset that you buy something that will, by it's very nature, expand your potential. This is one of those products. The unit has what "today's producers" need, a multitude of options. I am glad Focusrite used vintage components to base the emulations on but I am glad they came up with there own names, even if it was due to copyright/legal issues. Every mic pre and compressor are different and I personally wanted "different". If you want the real thing, do like most large recording studios and stock up on the real mic pres and compressors. If you want real world options, get this product it will not let you down and if you can't use it in your recordings, stop making music! Along with the Liquid Mix, this is a great product, tons of options at your fingertips. You'll run out of ideas before you run out of uses. I thank Sweetwater for being the awesome company it is and for stocking this unit, thanks to your company and many like it for helping my company compete.
Why I love it
I have only had my Liquid Channel for a few weeks, but here's why I love it so far
Very simply, as a musician who has played with Grammy artists BUT only possesses very intermediate-level engineering skills in my own project studio, this unit serves me perfectly. Here's why...
1. While I love my actual Avalon 737, the Liquid Channel instantly gives me a huge range of preamp/compr models to mix and match w/o the enormous outlay of $$$
2. The "Session Saver" button is just what I have wished for. I have screwed up perfectly good vocal takes in the past (while recording myself) by clipping. This feature will reduce your gain (not compress) if it sees clipping (or possibly potential clipping - I have to review manual). Truly a session saver
3. The settings are recallable if saved. I have already labeled various settings as "YadaYadaSong Verse" and so on. I can do back a month later and have the same settings if needed. LOVE this!
As for whether this thing truly has a billion perfectly convoluted models of great hardware preamps is beside the point for me. These other features are perfect for my situation
Great performance, very flexible and versatile unit. Instead of pay what if worth for only one comp of it's type, pay it for 40 of them plus the ones that can be download for the Focusrite website. If you have the $$ buy it!!! Another recommendation from my sales engineer!! Andrew!!
Focusrite has got it right...
Forget about the fact that this unit models so many of the classics (40 of 'em!). Forget that you get the warmth of tubes and/or the precision of transistors. Forget the hype if you must (tho this unit has earned it). This unit is worth every dollar you spend solely due to the rich pallet of sound you can use, modify, or flat-out create. It's about the music, campers -- and the creativity you glean from this is worth much more than what you pay...
Strip off all of the bells and whistles and digital convulution technology and that's where I start my review. The analog circuitry of the preamp is great. It's clean - the noise floor is so low it's unbelievable. It has a fantastic dynamic range. Add in the bells and whistles and this is a very versatile piece of equipment. I don't care if it doesn't sound exactly like some other piece of analog gear (but i'll bet that most engineers would be fooled in a blind shootout) - what this offers is an endless palette of options for recording and mixing. I'm not really fond of the EQ - i'd rather do that in my DAW, but the rest of the unit is really top notch. In addition to tracking, i use the line input to access the compressors for mixing. Best preamp i've ever heard - no, but dang good, and the most versatile one i've EVER used. It's worth the money.
Easy to use.
This channel strip is very easy to use, and it offers a great flexibility.
It is totally recommendable for anyone as a first high end channel strip.
i am using a 414 with a C-12 capsule so i will preface my comments with the distinct possibility that the mic is the weak link in the channel. The interface is clumbsy but once you get your presets for your mic- the storing process is pretty idiot proof. I have found the unit to be a bit dull, which actually could be related to the mic- but to get that nice air- there is quite a bit of Eq necessary. i have also noticed it tends to sound a bit crunchy- but as part of a low cost substitue to a rack of neves and a 2254- the P/E ratio on this guy is pretty flawless- I believe the value of this unit is greatly enhanced by the quality of mic you use- it certianly wont make a cheap mic sound great- but if you have a warm mic with plenty of top end- this unit will sparkle.
Broken after 1 year
I enjoyed using this unit for a year or so. FWIW, I tended to avoid most of the emulations and just use it as a clean preamp after a while. Then it broke, just out of warranty. Spat out noise instead of audio. DIdn't register sound from a mic. Focusrite ignored my emails when they found out I was out of warranty; Not "ask these guys, we like them," but TOTALLY ignored me. Finally I was able to get them to tell me where to go on the phone. Spent $100 just shipping the unit within my own state for an estimate. Waited 2 weeks: $350 for the repair. What can I do? OK. 3 months later the repair is done. They put in a custom built A-D converter. Why couldn't focusrite sell them one? Why didn't focusrite repair it themselves? WTF? $350 plus $100x2 for shipping = $550 I'm spending after 1 year of use. OK unit, but I will never buy a Focusrite again. I will remember that I'm buying a company, not just a product, and Focusrite does not stand behind their products. Such a shame. Sweetwater, Paul Allen, I just spent another $1,000 today on a main gain from you, will you post this negative review of mine? I'm going to watch, and I'm going to lose faith in you as a company if you don't. I wish I had something nicer to say but Focusrite did me wrong. I will write a positive review of my new MainGain if I like is as much as I think I will...
The models this unit offers out of the box are absolutely astounding. The sound is amazing. I was skeptical when i saw the price and the promise, but this unit lives up to the hype.
My favorite model â€śout of the boxâ€ť is the Avalon 737 â€“ (referred to as the Silver 2). If you know what the Avalon sounds like, this thing will NOT disappoint. If you donâ€™t know what the Avalon sounds like, try to imagine that sound that youâ€™ve spent hours EQing, tweaking, compressing, buying tube emulation plug-ins, etc looking for. Thatâ€™s the sound. I can only describe it as the magic wand you wave over vocals to make them come aliveâ€¦ not that itâ€™s only for vocals ;-)
But isnâ€™t this a review about the liquidchannel? You could pick the Avalon up for 2 grand. Why spend the extra money on the liquidchannel? Well, mostly because the Avalon is only 1 of 40 classic pres that this thing emulates out of the box. Then there are all the classic compressors and the downloadable models of more classic pres and compressorsâ€¦ itâ€™s enough to keep any engineer entertained for a long, long time.
The â€śLiquidControlâ€ť software - available as a free download from focusrite.com - allows complete control of the LiquidChannel from a software interface that mimics the face of the unitâ€¦ complete with all the knobs and their LED indicators and level meters which you can use to monitor the performance and adjust the unit in real time - without needing to physically look at the unit. This is awesome if youâ€™re using it as a front end to your DAWâ€¦ the software allows you to transfer new models (downloadable from focusrite), save sessions, save custom configurations, and recall them all with a couple of clicks.
My only gripe if i had one would be that it only offers AES as far as digital i/o, and Iâ€™m running it with a digi002â€¦ which obviously doesnâ€™t accept AES, only SPDIF and ADATâ€¦ So for now, iâ€™m stuck on the purely analog pathâ€¦ but with Pro Tools in low-latency monitoring mode, i can barely detect any latency at all.
TRUST ME. I could not give a more ringing endorsement for this unit. It is truly astounding and well worth every penny and then some.
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. The manufacturer called me back from England on a question!
The Focusrite Liquid Channel is a single channel modeling microphone preamp, compressor, and EQ. By themselves, these may not seem like much to write home about (or justify a $3000 price tag). But the Liquid Channel is much more than just a channel strip that tries to be like another channel strip through digital processing or physical duplication. Rather, it has managed to become the best of both worlds through digitally controlled physical changes in the analog section to accurately and flexibly mimic the behavior of certain preamps and compressors.
When I tested the Liquid Channel, I used a Neumann TLM127. I wanted to test four things: Overall sound quality, emulation accuracy, diversity, and ease of use. To test the emulation accuracy, I recorded a spoken word passage through an LA-610, and again through the Liquid Channel set to an M610 through an 1176. I then made a composite of the two to see how apparent the difference was. The Liquid Channel was so close that I lost track of which was which. I had to scrap the first composite and make a new one from the original tracks. It really was that spot on. To test the diversity, I recorded a different spoken word passage through a Manley/Distressor combination. Then I recorded the same passage through an SSL/DBX combination. While I was recording, I was thinking that this would be perfect for an overdub facility that needs a wide range of sounds. The difference was night and day, and the unit itself didn't seem to have its own signature sound. The unit couldn't be easier to use. To select a preamp, you push "preamp select" and to select a compressor, you push "compressor select." Its just that simple. Any combination can be saved and recalled. This is another huge relief for overdub facilities who have regular clients and don't want to keep dialing in that killer sound that they had a month ago.
The Focusrite Liquid Channel is not just the best choice for somebody who wants a wide range of high quality sounds and easy recallability. It is the only choice for somebody who wants this caliber of sound combined with this much diversity. I have never used anything like it.