This is a one rack-space device that, as its name suggests, operates as a complete input channel, featuring a mic pre, high and low pass shelving, EQ and compression. And since it was designed by Mr. Rupert Neve, you can guess that it sounds pretty damn good! At first I was a bit skeptical - $3000 for a box like this seems a bit much. Why wouldn't people just spend the money on individual components for more flexibility? After using this for a while I can see I was kinda wrong. You have a great mic pre, and with all the EQ and compression you can put amazing sounds to tape right away. Then, while you're mixing, you can route stuff back into it and take advantage of the EQ and compression all over again. I started using it all the time. The EQ can precisely dial in some insanely deep low-end on bass and kick. It can also bring out mids and highs in a very dramatic but musical way. The compressor is as fast or slow as you could need, able to tame a wide variety of troubled signals. There's even a mystery button "&MM" that instead of supplying you with M&Ms does something really cool to the compression circuit that I can't quite explain but enjoy. My final verdict is that, yes, it is a lot of money but I don't think you could purchase individual components of this quality without spending a lot more. The real clincher is that it sounds really good - there's a feeling of musicality that Mr. Neve is famous for - something beyond circuit design and science that just makes your recordings sound better. (

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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