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The Amek Pure Path Channel in a Box is a channel strip from the Amek 9098i console with a compressor section added, all in a single rackspace with built-in power supply. Designed by Rupert Neve, the Channel in a Box (CIB) is the first product in Amek's Pure Path line of interactive, rackmounted processors. Microphone Preamp Section
Starting at the left side of the CIB are the microphone and line input sections. The mic input circuit is called a T.L.A., or Transformer-Like Amplifier, because it behaves electrically just like a transformer by using a common mode rejection input coil. Input impedance is 5k ohms, and there is a rotary stepped gain setting control graduated in 6dB steps from 0 dB up to a whopping +72 dB. An additional mic gain trim control provides + or - 6dB fine adjustment. The manual states that the mic input can accept up to +20dBu levels without using an attenuator pad (the unit has none), so the mic input could easily double as a second line input. Additional switches in this section include those for phase flip and phantom power, and there is a small LED meter to indicate input levels in either Mic or Line paths. One quirk: You can monitor the output levels of both the Line and Mic paths, but you will have to find the Source button at the other end of the front panel in the Output section. The Source button reads the level before the output trim fader and indicates the level through the unit or, if you are using the compressor, the final makeup gain level.
Line Input Section
Line input impedance is 10 kilohms balanced, and a special floating transformer provides good low-frequency performance. A variable gain control allows for an 18dB input range, from -6 dB to +12 dB --I was unable to overload the line input, however. An internal jumper allows the Line input to be reconfigured as a balanced summing amp input, which turns the CIB into a mixing bus processor for summing balanced outputs from other Pure Path units or any other fully balanced gear.
Next in the processing chain are the high- and lowpass filters. Both filters are switched in and out together with the In/Bypass switch and, like the rest of the sections, can be switched into either the Line path or the compressor sidechain path. Both the high- and lowpass filters are 18dB-per-octave designs with ranges of 2.5 to 25 kHz (low) and 22 to 300 Hz (high). I found these filters worked smoothly with no stridency or ring.
To the right is the 4-band equalizer. It is probably more proper to view this section as two, 2-band equalizers, because Rupert Neve considers the LF/HF as a single equalizer in series with a separate LMF/HMF EQ, a design that is familiar to Focusrite owners.
The LF section operates from 30 to 300 Hz, with 18 dB of boost or cut. The Peak button toggles between shelf and peak curves with a Q of 0.7. Shelving is at 12 dB per octave. The Glow button, as I determined by listening and the manual shows graphically The LF section is switched between In/Bypass in tandem with the corresponding HF section. LED's indicate routing status of the LF and its companion HF section, which is located to the right of the LMF/HMF equalizer.
The LMF and HMF equalizer is a fully parametric design with overlapping frequency selection, adjustable Q factors of 0.7 to 2 and boost or cut of 18 dB for each section. Both sections have x5 buttons that multiply the indicated frequency settings by five. The LMF's frequency range is 20 to 200 Hz, while the HMF's frequency section covers 500 to 5k Hz.
The HF section's frequency range is 2 to 20 kHz. As in the LF section, Peak toggles between bell-shaped and shelving curves, and Q is fixed at 0.7. The shelf is 12 dB per octave, and there is a Sheen button that also broadens out the curve and applies a high-end gloss reminiscent of old hi-fi tone controls.
After the equalizer is the compressor section. All controls are continuously variable over an exceptional range. Ratio goes from 1:1 all the way to 40:1. Similarly, threshold can be set anywhere from -40 to +20 dB, while the attack control range is 0.3 to 300 ms. Release time also has a wide range, from 0.1 to 10 seconds. An "And Much More" button (marked &MM) changes the compression curve from hard to soft knee. Output or makeup gain is adjustable from -6 to +18 dB.
Pushing the Line switch flips the compressor to the Line path with line signal presented to the sidechain. Pushing the Key switch re-routes the sidechain to whichever path is not selected for the compressor. an LED VU meter measures gain reduction only.