Retro Instruments Retro Powerstrip

Mono Tube Channel Strip with Class A Mic Preamp, Passive EQ, and Variable-mu Compression
5/5 2 Write review Item ID: RetroPowerstrip
Retro Instruments Retro Powerstrip image 1
Retro Instruments Retro Powerstrip image 1
Sweetwater Savings: $658.00 MSRP: $3,700.00
Special Order
Special-ordered from Retro Instruments and usually arrives to you within 1-2 weeks. Please note: special orders cannot be canceled or returned.
Note: While most of the items we sell ship for free, this item does not qualify for free shipping due to special circumstances.

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Retro Instruments Retro Powerstrip
Special Order

Definitive Tube Channel Strip

Think of a tube preamp that rekindles your romance with your mic collection. Now imagine caressing your signal with a sought-after vintage tube equalizer and massaging it with a legendary British variable-mu valve compressor. Lastly, picture a 2U device with all this sonic wonderment built-in. Sweetwater has good news - this superb tube channel strip is a reality: the Retro Powerstrip. Brainchild of Retro mastermind Phil Moore - who is renowned for designing amazing-sounding tube gear, the Powerstrip imparts its inimitable aural enchantment to everything you pass through it. Put a Retro Powerstrip in your rack, and you'll be in love.

Retro Powerstrip at a Glance:
  • Enough gain for any mic in your locker
  • Classic American tube EQ
  • British variable-mu compression
Enough gain for any mic in your locker

You can think of the Retro Powerstrip as your classic-studio-in-a-box: a channel strip that gives you the magical sound of a vintage tube console, a Pultec-style tube equalizer, and a British-vibed tube compressor - all in one compact 2U rackmount chassic. The Powerstrip's transformer-coupled Class A preamp has enough gain for any mic in your locker - yes, even your prized ribbons; and its instrument input is a nice modern touch. The Powerstrip may well be the best-sounding DI you've ever used. This splendid preamp even rocks a balanced line-level input. And the sound? Pure magic - at once characterful, supremely detailed, and gloriously euphonic.

Classic American tube EQ

Retro Powerstrip's passive Pultec-style equalization looks, feels - and sounds like the sought-after classic. It even includes the classic boost and cut frequency selections: LF Boost/Cut at 20, 30, 60, and 100Hz; HF Boost at 1.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16kHz. You can switch the highpass filter between 40 and 90Hz, and it also delivers peaking LF boosts with alternative tonal characteristics, which can be a welcome compliment to vocals and acoustic instruments. Want to A/B what the EQ is doing to your signal? Just flip the bypass switch.

British variable-mu compression

The compression circuit in the Retro Powerstrip is of the venerable British tube variable-mu variety (think: vintage EMI) The circuit includes six switchable attack/release time constants and a 4-position-selectable side-chain filter switch with Off, 90Hz, 250Hz, and Comp Out (bypass) settings. Need more gain reduction? No threshold control is provided, so you simply dial up your input level. With the compressor in bypass, the input control still controls the input gain. It's a simple, classic setup, and it works. Exceedingly well.

Retro Powerstrip Features:
  • Transformer-coupled Class A tube microphone preamplifier with phantom power
  • Pultec-style passive EQ with authentic feel, controls and equalization curves
  • Classic British-style compression using a variable-mu tube design
  • Front panel 1/4" instrument jack
  • Rear panel XLR mic and line inputs and line output
  • I/O is fully floating transformer-balanced to eliminate ground-induced hum and noise
  • Interstage-coupled Subsonic Highpass Filter
  • LF Boost settings: 20, 30, 60, and 100Hz
  • Complementary LF Cut settings at 20, 30, 60, and 100Hz
  • HF Boost settings: 1.5kHz, 3kHz, 4kHz, 5kHz, 6kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12kHz, 14kHz, and 16kHz
  • Complementary HF Cut Settings at 5kHz, 10kHz, and 20kHz
  • Six selectable compressor attack/release time constants
  • 90/250Hz compressor highpass sidechain filter
  • Easily recallable 100-position knob scales
  • The compressor and equalizer can be independently bypassed
  • Phase reversal switch
  • Front-panel meter zero adjustment
  • IEC power inlet with 120/240VAC 50/60Hz power mains standard
  • Ability to use current production and new-old-stock tubes
  • Tube enthusiasts have many options and tonal variations
  • Tube changes require no alignment
  • The instrument input loops to a rear panel jack for stage amplifier
  • Rear-panel line-level XLR out and low-level balanced output for processed stage amplifier
  • Design minimizes tube heat generation
  • High-stability components used throughout
  • Steel chassis built to last
  • Hand-crafted in Retro's Northern California factory
Record the magic - with the Retro Powerstrip!

What Does "Special Order" Mean?

A special-order product is one that we don't normally keep in stock. We order it from the manufacturer as soon as you order from us. We have great relationships with all the manufacturers we carry, so we can get your special order to you as fast as or faster than anyone else. Remember that special orders are non-returnable and non-cancelable, so make sure the item is right for you. A Sweetwater Sales Engineer can help you decide — call (800) 222-4700 for assistance!

Additional Media

Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Tube
Number of Channels 1
Phantom Power Yes
EQ Yes
Compressor Yes
Analog Inputs 1 x 1/4", 2 x XLR
Analog Outputs 1 x 1/4" (Hi-Z), 1 x 1/4" (Thru), 1 x XLR
Rack Spaces 2U
Height 3.5"
Width 19"
Manufacturer Part Number Retro Powerstrip

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
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Vibe For Days!!!!

I have had this unit for over a year now and can't say enough good things about it. Retro Instruments does not cut corners and this box is no exception. It's killer on vocals, bass, drums, acoustic guitar...everything. It's definitely super flexible and once you get used to the compression presets you will find yourself going to this box very often. It's has a lot of headroom and is very clean like good tube gear is supposed to be. My favorite gain setting on a lead vocal is to set the input at 1-2 and use the output volume to dial in the level. So clean, bug and beautiful. The pultec eq is spot on and slick. The low end boost:cut trick works like a charm and dialing in a little air on vocals and acoustic guitars is a snap. I liked the Powerstrip so much that I bought another.
Music background: Professional

Oh, my Golly!!!!

Here is a kind of short, and VERY subjective review, based on my having just received this unit from SW, and recording one vocal track (my own) over the past 40 minutes. SEVEN STARS. I am a hard man to impress, but oh, my golly! Straight out of the box, into an SM57 (closest mic to hand), I just wanted to ensure the device worked before racking it up. So I plugged in the SM57, switched out the compression and eq, fired it up, and... BOOM! Sound like I have never heard come out of a 57 before. I switched in the compressor, and BOOM! Better sound still. My SW Sales Engineer, Delvin Wolf, had been discussing Quality pre-amps for a long time - I knew the sound I am after (Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, 1957), but not quite sure how to get there. Delvin and I covered a lot of ground in assessing lots of different units' strengths. I was literally stuck in "analysis paralysis" - willing to spend serious money on a serious preamp, but knowing I could only do that once for my project studio. Yes, my end sound would be determined by the preamp, but also by the mic. I have some nice mics, thanks to SW, but I still wasn't where I wanted to be. Enter the Retro Powerstrip... With. Vari-mu compressor (Belafonte had a Fairchild 660), lots of gain, and a Pultec EQ (which I have never used before), it seemed -spec-wise, as if it fit the bill. And you can't deny the looks - like it came straight out of the same era. The design ethos appealed to me on both the technical and aesthetic fronts. I took the plunge. Fast forward to an hour ago. I flipped the EQ switch on. WHAM!! Just like the sound I wanted, gobs of gain, Godlike flexibility over the sound of my voice. And this via a SM57! :) Giggling,, I fired up Sonar and cut a track. I can't wait to try this beast in som of my other mics. Reviews said "the Retro Powerstrip will make you fall in love with your mic collection" and "the sound will bring a smile to your face every time you hear it" . Absolutely, positively true. I am now past the point of prevarication. With this preamp, and my mic locker, if I don't get stellar vocal recordings, it's MY fault, and not the fault of my equipment. The heat is on. I'll post more in several months, after our relationship has blossomed. If you're on the fence, get off it. In your heart, looking purely at the specs and "curb appearance" of this unit, you'll either feel it or you won't. But if you feel it, you absolutely will not be disappointed. Solid, sexy, flexible, and sounds like a dream.
Music background: Seasoned, opinionated, multi-instrumentalist / vocalist / producer / engineer

Sweetwater Advice

Alex Campos

This tone machine brought major warmth and life to just about any signal I threw at it. From here on out, the Powerstrip will be in all future tracking and mix sessions in some way, shape or form.
See also: Retro Instruments, Retro Instruments Channel Strips