0% Interest for 24 Months! Learn more »
(800) 222-4700
  • Español: (800) 222-4701
Microphone Month 5

ART Pro Channel Reviews

3.5 stars based on 12 customer reviews
  • d.j.
    from MI USA August 30, 2011Music Background:
    bass player live sound engineer

    live and in the studio

    I purchased my ART PRO CHANNEL to use in my live bass rig. I'm using it in front of a crown Xti 2000 power amp into a hartke hydrive 810. I have never been happier with my rig. To start with the tube pre-amp is brilliant. You can ad as much of the tube sound as you want. It can go from clean to fat and warm to down right dirty with no loss of gain or any unwanted noise.
    The compresser is tube or optical. It's vary musical, vary easy to dial in (thanks to the LEDs and nice big VU meters) and vary quiet even at extreme settings.
    The tube driven EQ is hands down the best I've ever used for boss. The range of control, low,low mid,high mid,and high. Its the first EQ I've ever had that I truly liked the way the highs sounded.
    Last thing to say about the PRO CHANNEL, it has two effects loops (pre/post compresser, pre/post EQ). I replaced a SANS-AMP RBI an APHEX 204 and a DBX 160A....sounds better, easier to use, less signal path, makes no unwanted noise, and cost under $200!

  • Rock Justice
    from Washington, D.C. Metro Area August 24, 2010Music Background:

    Super Value

    I own two Pro Channels. They really shine when used as the front end for direct recording of instruments (e.g. electric bass and it also useful for recording acoustic guitar). Everything on the Pro Channel works well. Yes, there are channel strips out there that will out perform the Pro Channel. Bear in mind, however, that those units also cost considerably more than the Pro Channel. Now that Sweetwater is selling these units for under $200, you'd almost be foolish not to have one or two of these channel strips available around your studio. It'll be the most useful $200 you'll ever spent.

  • Harmon Mix
    from Seattle, WA USA January 3, 2012Music Background:
    retired recording engineer

    don't base your sound quality review on a bad unit.... these are amazing sounding for cheap money

    for $150 used or $200 new (originally more like $450 a couple years ago) the art pro channel has a mic pres that somewhat resembles the sound quality of the famed art mpa gold. yes the mpa has high plate voltage and better components, but still this mic pre gives you some of that character, a somewhat mid-forward tone that slightly tames the highs in a pleasant way. It's not perfect, but it's a very nice change from the stale neutral sound from most affordable mixers/interfaces that people in this product's price range would be looking to upgrade from.

    The compressor(s) are both excellent, the opto comp being identical to that of the famed art pro vla stereo compressor which is used in many studios. worth the price of this unit alone just for the opto comp. routing is exceptional for such an affordable device and is better than many very very expensive units.

    I personally like the eq but yea it's definitely not subtle. great for fixing big issues or for DI work where instruments can often do with some stronger eq alterations than one would put on a vocal during the tracking stage. One cool thing is you can do clever patching to recording the pre-eq sound to daw while patching back into the eq and sending that output to a headphone mix on your board so your singer can hear a warmer or brighter tone without worrying that you are recording something you might not want in the final mix.

    metering is top notch.

    wish it was high plate voltage, it's not so don't push the tubes too hard unless you want the harder transistor style clipping you'll get from a starved plate device. It can be improved with certain tubes however which perform much more politely at these lower plate voltages. An easy mod but it does cost some bucks to get the most appropriate tubes (and takes some research).

    I use two of these in my home studio along with some much more expensive gear. these still get used frequently when I do honestly blind tests of the different gear I own. I still find I prefer the vocal tone from these channel strips over some much more sought after preamp/compressor combinations (I mean separate components!).

    How can you go wrong? don't be biased against this product because of it's price or because it's starved plate. starved plate is perfectly valid and won't cause any issues with sound quality until you start really pushing the limits of the unit. and the brand name isn't anything to sneeze at - I would put this gear at an equal to some of the nicer presonus pieces but in a very different type of sound category.

  • Peter Andrews
    from Wayland, NY USA January 11, 2012Music Background:
    Semi-pro vocalist, home studio owner/operator for 20 years, amateur producer/engineer...

    Just What The Doctor Ordered...

    I recently converted from good old analog recording on a fabulous old Tascam 70 Series 8-track reel-to-reel machine to digital recording with a basic Pro Tools/Mbox2 PC based system. Although I truly love most of what the digital domain has to offer I found all my good condenser mics were creating vocal recordings that were overly harsh and sterile and just too "accurate" for my taste. No matter how much EQ, compression or other processing I used I couldn't seem to get a nice "warm" sound that would compliment my mixes. After much research and asking some close friends in the recording business what I might do in my little home studio to get to where I wanted to be I decided a tube preamp might just get me there. After more questions and more research I decided to give the ART Pro Channel a try as it had all the features I was looking for and the price was about what I could afford. It didn't take long to realize that it was just what the doctor ordered. I recorded some vocals in Pro Tools right along side the ones that had been giving me trouble so I could toggle back and forth to listen and get a true comparison. The Pro Channel allows me to "dial in" a bit of added warmth and color and really kills the harshness that was my main problem. Then with a touch of EQ and my normal battery of effects I have vocals that really come to life and sit better in the mix and sound more "real" to me and are much easier to work with. I don't use the Pro Channel's EQ section much other than to add a bit of "air" during recording. I do take advantage of the tube compressor for just a little mild compression during recording (any heavy compression is done during final mixing) and I use the on-board low cut filter to kill any nasty rumbles down below vocal frequencies. I've found the tube preamp section to be most useful without getting up into the meter range that suggests "warmth" as the "clean" levels provide plenty of the warmth I'm looking for without a distorted sound. I think the "warm" levels might be more useful for bass guitar or other instruments that might benefit from a little subtle distortion but for voice the higher gain settings in the "clean" range seem to be plenty for what I'm trying to do. I'm currently using the Pro Channel strictly in my home studio but I'm seriously considering putting one in my live vocal rig as well. It would probably be just as useful there as in the studio...

  • BC Keith
    from Tulare CA December 28, 2011Music Background:
    Studio Owner /Engineer/Artist

    Step up mic pre

    The art unit is a great entry level mic pre . Perfect for starting out in the sonic world of microphone pre amp influences. It brings to the studio control and color that is not available in pre's that come in standard on hardware mixers . It's tube saturation ,compressor and EQ make it a great tool for the new studio owner. And would be a welcome addition to the more advanced user as well. The price is fantastic. A quality unit without compare at this price.

  • Spring Heeled Jim
    from Ground Control November 20, 2008Music Background:
    Master Jedi Musician/Engineer

    Very Nice

    The ART Pro Channel is a great bang for the buck piece of equipment. At first I didn't really know how to use it that well and thought that it was too loud. Over time I've learned how to get the sound out of it that I like and I must say that it's a great channel strip. Learn how to use the gain stages and for me if you keep the lead in the green you get a cleaner sound that well help keep noise down as you stack tracks.

    The optical compressor is very clean and smooth sounding. I don't use the tube compressor as I prefer the optical.

    I don't really use the eq because I don't necessarily like the sound of it. It's a little too dirty and unrefined sounding for my taste. The low frequency cut off on the left side of the unit can be very effective though.

  • Mike McCarthy
    from Philadelphia, PA June 9, 2007Music Background:
    recording hobbyist/pro musician

    good, solid sound from an affordable channel strip...

    I bought this channel strip about a month ago... it's the first piece of outboard gear that I've bought, and I must say, it sounds really good. I intern at a local studio, and we have a couple Avalon 737's, a UA 6176, plus an API "Lunchbox"... so those are really what I'm comparing the Pro Channel against.

    I really wanted an affordable, tube-based pre for my Pro Tools M-Powered rig... I am using a M-Audio ProjectMix I/O. The I/O's pre's sound good, but really lacked the warmth that I heard in the studio from the outboard gear there... now, I'm not going to tell you the Pro Channel sounds like the 737's, or the 6176... b/c they don't, but they sure sound close! Here is a short summation of each piece of the strip.

    The mic pre: quality sound. The tube-based pre sounds warm and punchy. I really like the low-cut filter here for rolling out those low frequencies, this is something that is not found on other, more expensive channel strips, and I use it alot. Also, the phase invert switch will work wonders for brightening up signals from condenser mics or from DI sources. Playing with this can give an acoustic guitar or a vocal track a whole new sound, and this is with both the compressor and the EQ bypassed.

    The compressor: wow, the one thing that I really like about the compressor is the OPTIONS. You have the choice between a tube-based or optical compressor, and both sound really good. I find myself using the optical compressor much more often b/c of its transparency and its musical sound. I've used it with great success on acoustic guitars, DI's for bass and electric guitars, and voice. I really like the aggressiveness of the tube-based compressor. This is where you get a "sound" of a compressor, and the Pro Channel definitely delivers here. I really like using the tube compressor on drums... kicks, snares... even overheads (for some nice warm levels). I found the tube compressor to be too unruly for the sources I mentioned above for the optical compressor, but it's really just a matter of taste.

    The whole point here is the Pro Channel lets you choose which one to use... very flexible.

    The EQ section: I might be saying this b/c I'm more of an EQ in the box type of guy, but I think the EQ section here is lacking. I find the controls not very user friendly, and the sound is too intrusive. There is just something that sounds un-natural about the EQ section compared to the pre and compressor, so I opt not to use the EQ section at all, it pretty much remains bypassed for me.

    I like the VU meter, but what's really more useful is the tube character/gain reduction LED's below the VU meter. You can look at the PreAmp output, or the Compressor out there with a switch, and it really helps you to find the sweet spot on the pre visually, and gives you a nice read out of the compressor's gain reduction... I really like this option, b/c I really don't "smash" things on the way in... I just like a nice, warm signal, and to let the compressor "kiss" the transients of the signal... unless, I'm doing drums, where I want a more aggressive compression.

    The unit is built well, solid, and the controls feel good. The one gripe I have here besides the EQ section is noisy pots! I don't know if I got a "bad" one, or it it's just the components ART uses, but I've noticed the Gain knob of the pre is noisy when you move it. At least it's not noisy when you record through it... but move the Gain knob when you're setting levels is embarrassing, b/c you're gear is making noise... clients don't like that.

    So besides those two things... the EQ and noisy pots, and think the Pro Channel is a great buy for someone looking to get their first piece of outboard gear, or for a pro that wants to expand their arsenal of outboard gear with a transparent compressor.. or a tube-based "personality" compressor. The price is right on this one too.


  • Steve
    from Miami April 21, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Good While it Lasted

    At first I thought this was the answer needs. It sounded good and was a workable replacement for a much more expensive tube mic-pre. Unfortunately it only lasted for about 8 months. Something went bad and now all we have is a nice buzzing low frequency tone generator. Oh well, I guess you have to pay a bit more to get better quality components that can hold up over time. That's the difference between this and the classics we all love. Replaced it with an LA-610...nice!!

  • mike
    from Central Coast,CA August 2, 2006Music Background:


    I had this channel strip and I really did not like the sound. I used it only on male vocal tracks and for me, it was difficult to get a nice warm sound even with a Rode K2.

  • Tavon
    from Erie PA January 3, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer / Musician

    a lot noisy

    I used this preamp with an AudioTechnica AT4040. I was getting a lot of static discharge noise. White noise that would fade out over time. I had the unit replaced and the new unit did the same thing. I used different cables, different mics. Could not get satisfactory results from this unit.

    Will be looking into a PreSonus Studio Channel since the PreSonus Eureka I had for a week sounded pretty good. Just want a Tube PreAmp with compression built in.

  • Studio DD
    from Smiths Grove, KY November 29, 2011Music Background:
    Producer, Recording Engineer, Session Player

    Way Too Noisy

    In the world of sound equipment, you get exactly what you pay for. The compression is useable, but there is far too much noise to use in a studio setting. This may be ok for guitar/bass rigs, but it's terrible for vocals or mic'ing acoustic instruments. Save your money and buy a better one.

  • Dave Turner
    from Spokane, WA June 1, 2005

    Unit works well

    You can spend a lot of money on a channel strip. I desperately needed something to improve my tracks, especially vocals but had a limited budget. This unit fit the bill. It's versatile in the fact that you can bypass the compressor and EQ and has 1/4" patches as well. The compressor has the option of optical or tube. All three sections are tube based. The LED meter is helpful for gaining warmth with the preamp. The manual is well written. Overall the unit has added the needed warmth to my vocals and I'm able to obtain a good signal w/o clipping. I can obtain a warm vocal with creamy smoothness. The vocals are then further enhanced with plugin effects. The unit made such an improvment on my vocals that I re-tracked all the vocals on all my prior projects. I haven't used it on instruments yet but will.

    I you need a pre-amp, compressor and EQ and like the warmth of tubes and have a limited budget, I would definitely recommend this product. Just price the lower end preamps and you'll see you get a compressor and EQ for not much more money. If you use a pre-amp you have to have a compressor because the signal is so strong w/o the compressor you have to trim it so much that it's ineffective. I'm glad I purchased it.

Questions about the ART Pro Channel?

Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.

Type your question below or call us at (800) 222-4700

Thank You!

Thank you for your request. A Sweetwater Sales Engineer will get back to you shortly. You can also call us toll free at (800) 222-4700, Mon-Thu 9-9, Fri 9-8, and Sat 9-7 Eastern.

Enter the Giveaway