Modern music, and that includes EDM and nearly all other genres, has gone through a push-pull relationship with the past. In modern times, producers strive for the most convenient, quick, and lightweight digital technology, be it a laptop and a USB device for DJing or an iPad, but long for the past. Classic synth sounds making their way onto house tracks is one clear example, as is pop’s romancing the 4/4 dance floor beat, as if it were 1992 all over again. The love for everything nostalgic but packed into modern technology’s convenient digital package embodies Focusrite’s Liquid Channel.
As a mic pre and compressor in a single 192kHz 2U, The Liquid Channel transposes the classic front-end technology and sounds into a user-friendly modern format. Particularly, the setup removes the need for excess patching, improves sound “fluidity,” and is considered overall more reliable in a studio setting.
Even with the capability to sound vintage (and there’s more than one option for this), Liquid Channel won’t be mistaken as any second-hand or repurposed equipment anytime soon. Essentially, it’s all modern, down to the USB connection. So, for the modern recording studio, what does it offer?
The mic pre and compressor uses an innovative two-part process, beginning with dynamic convolution techniques with very fast SHARC chips. Level-dependent impulses responses are then applied to all parts of the audio, and the feature further assists with re-synthesizing a compressor’s sonic tendencies and replicating subtle but nevertheless crucial sounds.
Aside from this aspect, the second half of Liquid Channel’s innovative sound process includes a preamplifier, which mimics the sounds and reactions of classic microphones. Fueling this feature is an analog front end, making the preamp change its impedance and path to another transformer or electronic while staying transparent in its signal path.
However, aside from how the sound is created, The Liquid Channel doesn’t just give producers a choice of a generic “modern” or “vintage” sound. Instead, it comes with 40 classic mic pres and 40 classic compressors, and far more can be added or downloaded through the USB feature.
As far as operating The Liquid Channel is concerned, the device includes a fully-digital, easy-to-use front panel. The producer, in keeping a certain sound or setting in mind, can save all parameters into one of 99 user memories, which allows all session setups to be referenced in minutes. A new digital EQ also allows the device to fully integrate with the “liquid” channel strip.
To show its modern format anymore clearer, The Liquid Channel is equipped with a USB connection port on the rear panel. This feature lets Liquid Channel operate with any software that keeps track of emulations and surplus user memories, and additionally offers the option of remote operation.
Ultimately, though, the love of “vintage” sounds may soon pass, be it in EDM or any pop genre. But, in the present, you can’t get any closer to classic emulation while staying within modern convenience than Focusrite’s Liquid Channel.