What do you get when you combine the UA 610B tube mic preamp and the 1176LN compressor? The 6176, of course. Beyond the mic pre and compressor, the 610 section also boasts simple low and high shelf EQs-not terribly versatile but musical in the right ways for some material. See John's review of the 610 preamp in Tape Op #27 if you wish. It's a "character" pre-not transparent but with a "tube-y" sound and a tendency to distort pleasingly if driven hard. Note also that UA added a 15 dB pad to this version, something that came in handy at times as I used it with "hot" mics like my Soundelux E47. The 1176 compressor should be well known to all, and in tests the one on board here sounded identical to the standard UA reissues of this classic. I ran this box on album sessions with vocals, room mics and various other instruments for weeks. I was always pleased with the results but in some cases pined for a solid state pre or a tube compressor. I almost don't see this so much as a "channel strip" but as a couple of really great pieces of gear in one box. The Join switch enables this option easily, especially if you have both sets of ins and outs wired up to your patchbay. The bottom line is that the 6176 has a lot of character, with neither section being timid about its sound-if this is what you desire, it's a great tool. If you're looking for a "straight wire with gain and limiting" device, look somewhere else! Personally, I wouldn't mind a pair in my rack. ($2495 MSRP; www.uaudio.com)

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

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