Choosing a Channel Strip

Channel strips are the most efficient tools in the mixing world, providing all your basic processing, EQ, compression, gating, and often saturation control, in one easy-to-manage unit. This is one of the big advantages of using channel strip compared with having five plug-in windows open simultaneously to manage and make adjustments on all these separate plug-ins per each track.

Choosing the right channel strip for a mix can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, with so many quality and interesting sounds easily available in the analogue emulated world.

I personally take the approach we use to have when we only had the analogue ones, which is pick the one you like the most and stick with it. When you buy a $50k console you use that one on all your recording and mixing job. The advantage is that you get really good at using that particular one console and also you develop your signature sound. And these are the two things that count the most. 

My Channel Stip of choice is the SSL E-Channel from the famous SSL 4000 console E.

“The classic sound of the SSL 4000 is expansive, punchy, deep and assertive character that has made it an industry standard of modern recording. The SSL 4000 is famous for being the console employed on more Platinum-selling records than any other.”

“The classic sound of the SSL 4000 is expansive, punchy, deep and assertive character that has made it an industry standard of modern recording. The SSL 4000 is famous for being the console employed on more Platinum-selling records than any other.”

In this second era of analogue emulation, we have plugins that are a visual reconstruction of the analogue counterpart which sound as good as the hardware version. Plus with the full recallable functionality offered by the DAW. Mixing in the box is almost a must if you want to meet the new standard of the industry by delivery fast great sounding mix, offer to clients the chance to keep making changes to the mix while keeping costs low.

The Universal Audio, Waves, BrainWorx, Softube, SSL and many others make their own plugin version of the E-Channel. My favourite one, which I use on every channel and on every mix I do, officially released and approved by Solid State Logic, is made by Softube that works in conjunction with Console 1 (hardware controller).

There’s something that I particularly love with this version is in the Drive and Character section of that channel strip that makes me get the sound I want extremely fast, with the huge plus of keep using my hands to work on sounds like if I were using a real SSL console.

My second favourite is the BrainWorx one followed by the Waves and UAD version which are also extremely good.

Another thing I often do I add, to all my mix bus groups and mix stereo out, the Waves NLS Non-Linear Summer. This works as a summing mix that emulates three different vintage consoles, the Neve, the SSL and the EMI. By using this summing mix I can get the flavour of other consoles, by adding their unique harmonic distortion, frequency response and noise.

If I what something different from the E-Channel, I usually go for the Scheps Omni Channel by Waves.
Designed with Grammy-winning mixer Andrew Scheps (Adele, Jay Z, Metallica). 

This is a really flexible channel strip worth checking it out.

There are some other really good emulations of hardware channel strips, for example, the API, Neve, EIM that incredible. Find the ones that work better for your stile can be a long but really rewarding journey.

A channel strip is a good starting point but more than often I add another compressor or eq if I’m looking for a particular sound or if I need more than one compressor or eq to do the job.

But this is a discussion for another day.

Let me know what’s your favourite channel strip and let’s compare notes.

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