PreSonus RC500 Solid State Channel Strip
The PreSonus RC500 Solid State Channel Strip features a remarkable solid-state design that delivers a vintage vibe reminiscent of the classics! The RC 500 combines the custom-designed FET compressor and semi-parametric EQ circuits that Robert Creel developed for PreSonus’ highly lauded ADL 700 tube channel strip with his new ultra-low-distortion, high-gain, solid-state Class A preamplifier design, which delivers consistent, repeatable, transparent, detailed audio.
A balanced analog insert sends the source signal out of your PreSonus RC500 before the compressor, EQ, and Master Gain stages and returns the signal directly to the compressor stage, allowing you to add external processors. The result is a top-of-the-line, yet very affordable, channel strip for recording engineers and recording musicians, with a sound that is reminiscent of classic, vintage solid-state preamps.
PreSonus RC500 Solid State Channel Strip Features
The Gentleman Magician
- Transformer-coupled, high gain microphone preamp with a Class A hybrid design
- FET based compressor using hybrid detection methods with switching relays for hard bypass
- 3-band semi-parametric equalizer with switching relays for hard bypass
- +48V phantom power, 80 Hz highpass filter, and -20 dB pad
- Front-panel instrument and rear-panel microphone and line inputs with Input Select switch
- VU meter with selectable output level/gain reduction display
- Analog insert with balanced send and return
- High grade components: film capacitors, 1 percent tolerance resistors, and very low-distortion op amps
- Master output control
- Balanced output on XLR and 1/4 inch TRS connectors
- Internal toroidal power supply with IEC connector
- Steel chassis
Design master Robert Creel came up with a new design for a very special solid-state preamp that uses a Class A hybrid input stage with discrete transistors and the latest-generation, low-distortion operational amplifiers. Everyone at PreSonus who heard his prototype was so blown away by its transparent, detailed, clear sound that the new preamp immediately became an in-house legend. Creel’s superb preamp became the heart of the RC 500, named ‘RC’ in Robert Creel's honor.
The Compressor: Fun with FETs
The RC500 mic preamp’s FET (Field-Effect Transistor) compressor includes fully variable attack, release, and threshold controls, as well as bypass controls. The compression ratio is fixed at 3:1. This compressor design is also found in the ADL 700 and has drawn rave reviews. For example, Hugh Rabjohn (Sound on Sound, August 2013) remarked, ‘The compressor is accurate and responsive, and very good for managing the normal dynamic excursions of most vocal performers, subtly but firmly.’
FET-based compressors such as the one in the RC 500 use transistors to emulate a triode tube’s operation and 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.
A Smooth, Refined, Musical EQ
The PreSonus RC500’s 3-band semi-parametric EQ was designed by Robert Creel to match the preamp and compressor. It combines isolated filters and optimized, per-band Q to provide subtle signal-shaping without harsh artifacts.
This EQ employs the same circuitry as the 4-band semi-parametric EQ in the ADL 700, which has received rave reviews. ‘The EQ was designed with musicality in mind,’ comments Chris Grainger (Mix, January 2013). Resolution magazine's George Shilling (March 2013 issue) found that, ‘The EQ is smooth and refined…It is more than powerful enough for general use but is pretty forgiving, and the low end can be huge (without wooliness) in Peak mode.’
All three bands have Gain (±16 dB) and Frequency controls and fixed Q (0.5), and the mid and high bands have overlapping frequency ranges. The low and high bands are switchable between shelving and peak. The EQ in the PreSonus RC500 can also be hard-bypassed.