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ART Voice Channel

Test & Review

Are you setting up your own recording studio, and you want to complete your equipment by purchasing a preamplifier? A versatile, feature-rich preamp that can accommodate microphones, instruments and other line-level devices? Opt for the ART Voice Channel preamplifier. It is a very versatile Class-A tube preamplifier, as it is well suited to recording in both analog and digital environments. Discover through this article our complete test on this preamp from ART.

Test and review of the ART Voice Channel preamp

🎤 by Kevin Jung

Summary of the Test 👇

Microphones, headphones, a mixing console, a sound card, a power amp, monitoring speakers, a vinyl turntable, musical instruments... You already have almost all the equipment necessary to set up your recording studio. registration . But you are missing a key element in your sound recording chain: a preamplifier .

The gain generated by the preamp integrated into a mixing desk or sound card rarely exceeds 60 dB . However, microphones (especially ribbon and moving coil ) require more. Hence the need to invest in an external mic preamp .

In addition to amplifying the audio signal, this type of device offers you several adjustment options to optimize the quality of your recordings . The question is which microphone preamp to choose.

In this article we will draw your attention to the tube preamplifier . The latter is indeed renowned for its ability to bring clarity and warmth to sounds .

But what about the other features of the Voice Channel preamp? What does it offer in terms of features? Are its dynamic processors efficient? Is it an easy device to use? What about its manufacturing quality? To answer these questions, what better way than to test the preamp? Here is the complete test of the ART brand Voice Channel.

ART Voice Channel preamp review
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Focus on the ART brand

Created in 1984, the ART (Applied Research and Technology) brand offers a wide range of products . Among other things, you will find microphones, equalizers, power amplifiers, power solutions, mic preamplifiers and much more in its catalog.

Among the best preamps from ART, we can cite in particular the DJ Pre II phono , the Digital MPA II or the Pro VLA II . It remains to be seen what the value of the ART Voice Channel which is the subject of our test is.

ART Voice Channel Preamplifier Overview

The ART Voice Channel is a versatile preamp that can accommodate microphones, instruments as well as all kinds of line level devices. It offers an analog-to-digital converter . This is a feature-rich mic preamp: in all, there are 27 adjustment knobs .

This preamp has an impedance adapter, a device that will be useful when using a low impedance microphone ( like the Sennheiser E835 for example). It offers a dynamic section which consists of a compressor, a de-esser, an expander and a gate (more details on these options a little further down).

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The ART Voice Channel also offers an EQ section . The latter helps you in particular to obtain a “ professional ” sound by attenuating or increasing the frequencies (treble, mids, bass) of the audio signal.

With its entirely steel housing, this preamp is rather robust. Moreover, according to the manufacturer, this device was designed for continuous use . The Voice Channel is much lighter than the Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic 8-channel preamp , weighing only around 2.7kg .

To optimize the longevity of the preamp, it is recommended to allow approximately one minute after a cold power-up before turning it back on ; while the tube circuit heats up and stabilizes. Furthermore, its internal power supply should only be connected to a mains supply corresponding to the indication on its rear panel.

The different sections on the front panel of the ART Voice Channel preamp

The front panel of the ART Voice Channel is divided into 4 sections:

  • A preamp section
  • A dynamic section
  • An EQ section
  • An output section
ART Voice Channel preamplifier
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Focus on the options offered in each section.

Preamp section

The preamp section of the ART Voice Channel features the following:

  • An INVERT switch to reverse the polarity
  • Phantom power to operate condenser microphones as well as certain types of microphones that require it.
  • A low-cut filter : a switch used to reduce low frequencies. It also eliminates wind noise and rumble while maintaining the natural character of the sound.
  • A PAD switch : this feature is used to reduce the preamp gain level by up to 20 dB. This feature is useful when applying high output microphones to balanced XLR or T/R/S inputs. In fact, this attenuator pad helps prevent clipping.
  • A high impedance unbalanced input to accommodate instruments : when this is used, the microphone preamp turns off automatically. The same goes for the pad.
  • A gain potentiometer : this option allows you to adjust the gain from 20 dB up to 60 dB.
  • An impedance adapter : this allows you to adjust the impedance from 150 ohms to 3000 ohms depending on the source used.

By the way, you can also discover our complete review guide on the Universal Audio Solo 610 preamplifier . This guide presents: an overview of the preamplifier, its technical characteristics, testing the preamp with a bass guitar, with vocals, and with drums; the sound quality of the preamplifier, as well as our opinion on the Solo 610 preamp from Universal Audio.

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Dynamic section

This section will be useful for perfecting the sound rendering. To do this, you just need to the elements offered there wisely

  • An expander/gate : The expander is the opposite of a compressor. While the latter crushes the dynamics, an expander will instead expand the signal. So, once the expander is activated, the strong signal will come out even stronger. Likewise, a weak signal will come out even weaker. As for the gate, it works in the same way as the expander, except that it acts on the extreme settings . It cuts the sound below the treshold.
  • A de-esser : this is a function that allows you to overcome excessive sibilance . It's a kind of compressor, except that it only acts on the range responsible for sibilant frequencies. To reduce these, simply use the Voice Channel de-esser.
  • A DE-ESSER FREQ control which determines the high frequencies on which the de-esser function will act. For example, if you want to reduce only the highest treble, turn this control all the way clockwise. Simply perform the reverse action to deactivate the de-esser function.
  • A RATIO switch to set the amount of gain reduction between the input signal and the treshold. This control turns the compressor off completely when you turn it all the way counterclockwise.
  • An ATTACK switch to choose the reaction time of the compressor to reduce the gain when the signal level increases. The ART Voice Channel offers you a reaction time varying from 0.25 to 100 milliseconds .
  • A RELEASE switch to choose the reaction time (from 0.1 to 3 seconds ) of the compressor to increase the gain.
  • An LED indicator showing compressor/limiter gain reduction
  • A voltage switch to operate the Voice Channel at 2 different plate voltages . Two adjustment options are then available to you: “Normal” to give warmth to the input signal; “High” to increase the bandwidth and overall gain level.
ART Voice Channel package
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EQ Section

On the front panel of the preamp, there is also a semi-parametric equalizer . Depending on your preferences, you can position the latter before or after the dynamic section. Here are the elements that make up this section:

  • An EQ POSITION switch to choose the positioning of the equalizer (before or after the dynamic processing block)
  • 4 bands including “ Low ”, “ Mid 1 ”, “ Mid 2 ” and “ High ”. Each band offers a control range of up to 15 dB .

Output section

This section has the following elements:

  • VU meter : This is an LED indicator that displays the signal level output from the preamp stage. This device will be useful for detecting peaks. This will make it easy for you to regulate the gain, thus avoiding saturation which could harm the sound reproduction.
  • An OUTPUT LEVEL control to increase or decrease the gain
  • A SAMPLE RATE/DITHER button to choose the sample rate for AES/EBU and S/PDIF outputs

The elements on the rear panel of the ART Voice Channel preamplifier

On the rear panel, we find:

  • A mic/line input
  • A microphone preamp output
  • A 6.35mm jack
  • An S/PDIF output jack
  • WORDLOCK entries
  • An ADAT input jack
  • An S/PDIF output jack
  • An AES/EBU output jack
  • A USB socket
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Another interesting guide : Warm Audio WA-412 preamp test and review . You can discover through this guide: the excellent manufacturing quality of this preamplifier, its sound quality, our various vocal recording tests with the preamp, as well as its technical characteristics and our opinion on its quality in general.

Focus on the sound quality of the ART Voice Channel

The ART Voice Channel is equally suitable for recording and digital environments . This is a Class-A which delivers a gain of up to 60dB .

This preamp has an integrated dynamics processor : a device allowing it to effectively combat cuts. Furthermore, equipped with ART lamp technology, this device gives warmth, precision and transparency to sounds. In addition, with this preamp, eliminating background noise remains child's play thanks to its multiple settings.

The ART Voice Channel de-esser will certainly delight singers and sound engineers looking for perfection. In fact, it is extremely effective . It gets rid of unwanted sibilant frequencies while keeping the natural character of the voice .

combi-jack/XLR input jacks that can accommodate two mic signals. If you plug a jack into the front panel input, it will have a high impedance that matches the instruments perfectly. If the jack is connected to the rear panel input, this will have a lower impedance which would be suitable for line level devices.

This preamp provides incredible performance on demanding instruments such as acoustic guitar, electric guitar or drums thanks in particular to its EQ function. The latter is a frequency processing allowing the cutting or highlighting of frequency bands.

ART Voice Channel preamp
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Technical characteristics of the ART Voice Channel

  • Preamp type: Class A tube preamp
  • Frequency response: 12 to 100,000 Hz analog
  • Dynamics processors: compressor, expander, de-Esser, gate
  • 4-band semi-parametric EQ (pre or post compressor)
  • Semi-parametric equalizer
  • Sampling frequency: 44.1 to 192 kHz
  • Switchable power supply
  • Variable input impedances
  • Attenuation pad – 20 dB
  • 192 kHz 24 bit sound card
  • Analog outputs, all digital formats (USB, etc.)
  • Switchable pre/post compressor for signal transfer
  • Digital connectors: ADAT Lite-pipe/AES/EBU/S/PDIF/TOSLink
  • USB connection to PC or MAC
  • Preamp output: 6.3 mm jack
  • Insert: 6.3 mm jack
  • Analog ports: microphone/line/instrument in jack/XLR combo
  • Rack size: 19 inches – 2U
  • VU meter
  • Number of microphone inputs: 2
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 889 x 483 x 233
  • Weight: 2.7 kg
ART Voice Channel
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Our Overall Opinion

Overall Sound Quality

4,9 /5
4.9/5

Value for money

4,5 /5
4.5/5

Global mark

4,7 /5
4.7/5

Our opinion on the ART Voice Channel preamp

Acquiring the ART Voice Channel would be a good deal for audiophiles looking for quality sound reproduction.

In terms of sound quality, the Voice Channel sets the bar very high. It has nothing to envy of ordinary preamps. At this price, it seems difficult to obtain a device delivering the same performance as the ART Voice Channel

It notably offers a number of features intended to improve the quality of recordings. Compressor, de-esser, noise-gate, expander, everything is there to control the dynamics of the sound.

Being a tube preamp, the ART Voice Channel provides plenty of detail. This is a device that is easy to handle. By using its many features, you can easily give clarity to the sound.

Although the 60 dB gain is not the highest on the market, it is more than enough for the majority of microphones. Moreover, it offers an impedance adapter to adapt it to dynamic or ribbon microphones.

Last interesting point: this preamp offers flexible digital connectivity. Among other things, it supports ADAT Lite-pipe/AES/EBU/S/PDIF/TOSLink inputs.

Let’s recap a bit about the pros and cons of the Voice Channel preamplifier.

Most :

  • Excellent value
  • Feature-rich
  • Impedance adjustment
  • Efficient dynamic compressors (De-esser, compressor, expander, gate)
  • Ease of use

The lessers :

  • Lots of options, but lack of neutrality

Our verdict on the ART Voice Channel preamp: it is a versatile and quality device that we recommend without hesitation.

ART Voice Channel Demo

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