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The PreSonus RC 500 combines the custom-designed FET compressor and semi-parametric EQ circuits found in PreSonus' highly lauded ADL 700 tube channel strip with an ultra-low-distortion, high-gain, solid-state Class A preamplifier design that delivers consistent, repeatable, transparent, detailed audio. A balanced analog insert allows you to add external processors. The result is a top-of-the-line yet very affordable channel strip for professional recording engineers and recording musicians, with a sound that is reminiscent of classic, vintage solid-state preamps.
- Transformer-coupled, high gain microphone preamp with a Class A hybrid design
- FET-based compressor using hybrid detection methods, with switching relays for hard bypass, fully variable attack (0.5 to 10 ms), release (30 to 500 ms), and threshold (-25 to +20 dBu) and a fixed ratio (3:1).
- 3-band semi-parametric equalizer with switching relays for hard bypass
- +48V phantom power, 80 Hz high-pass filter, and -20 dB pad
- Front-panel instrument and rear-panel microphone and line inputs with Input Select switch
- VU meter with selectable output level/gain reduction display
- Analog insert with balanced send and return
- High grade components: film capacitors, 1% tolerance resistors, and very low-distortion op amps
- Internal toroidal power supply with IEC connector
- Steel chassis
- Master output control
- Balanced output on XLR
The Compressor: Fun with FETs
The RC 500's FET (Field-Effect Transistor) compressor includes fully variable attack, release, and threshold controls, as well as bypass controls. The compression ratio is fixed at 3:1. This combination provides lots of flexibility without giving you enough rope to hang yourself!
User tip: The input-gain stage can be driven harder with a lower threshold to emulate higher compression ratios. You can make the RC 500 compressor pump if you want to. The compressor has a "soft knee" compression curve and can be hard-bypassed.
As noted earlier, this compressor design is also found in the ADL 700 and has drawn rave reviews. For example, Hugh Rabjohn (Sound on Sound, August 2013) remarked, "The compressor is accurate and responsive, and very good for managing the normal dynamic excursions of most vocal performers, subtly but firmly."
FET-based compressors such as the one in the RC 500 use transistors to emulate a triode tube's operation and sound. This type of compressor generally provides a faster attack time and better repeatability than the optical compressors that are more commonly found in channel strips in this price class.
A Smooth, Refined, Musical EQ
The RC 500's 3-band semi-parametric EQ was designed by Robert Creel to match the preamp and compressor. It combines isolated filters and optimized, per-band Q to provide subtle signal-shaping without harsh artifacts.
This EQ employs the same circuitry as the 4-band semi-parametric EQ in the ADL 700, which has received rave reviews: "The EQ was designed with musicality in mind," comments Chris Grainger (Mix, January 2013). Resolution magazine's George Shilling (March 2013 issue) found that, "The EQ is smooth and refined.... [It] is more than powerful enough for general use but is pretty forgiving, and the low end can be huge (without wooliness) in Peak mode."
All three bands have Gain (+/-16 dB) and Frequency controls and fixed Q (0.5), and the mid and high bands have overlapping frequency ranges. The low and high bands are switchable between shelving and peak. The EQ can also be hard-bypassed.
Yes, of Course It Has That!
Of course, you get +48V phantom power, polarity inversion, and a -20 dB pad. And there's more! The RC 500 provides a -12 dB/octave highpass filter with a frequency threshold set at 80 Hz. Use this filter, instead of the equalizer, to remove unwanted low frequencies from your source signal. For example, the 80 Hz filter can be used to reduce the "boominess" or "muddiness" of a vocal and to improve the overall clarity of the signal.
A large, backlit, dual-mode analog VU metering enables monitoring of output and gain-reduction levels. A master level control adjusts the overall output from -80 to +10 dB.
It's easy to make connections with the RC 500, too. Rear-panel XLR mic and line inputs and a front-panel 1/4" instrument input accept a variety of sound sources, managed by a handy Input Select switch. You get balanced outputs on XLR and 1/4" TRS connectors as well as a balanced analog insert to patch in your favorite boutique processor to get a different sonic flavor.
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- Input Impedance:
-- Microphone: 1500 OHM
-- Line: 1 k OHM
- Instrument: 1 M OHM
- Maximum Input Level
-- Microphone (-20 dB Pad out) : 0 dBu
-- Microphone (-20 dB Pad in) : +20 dBu
-- Balanced Line: +18 dBu
-- Instrument: 0 dBu+
- Gain Range:
-- Microphone (-20 dB Pad out) : +20 dB to +70 dB
-- Line: -20 dB to +15 dB
-- Instrument: +5 dB to +50 dB
-- Noise Floor: (all inputs, minimum gain) -102 dBu (A-weighted)
-- Microphone Equivalent Input Noise: (EIN; 20 Hz - 20 kHz) -125 dBu (A-weighted)
-- Frequency Response : 10 Hz to 25 kHz,
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- Shipping Weights and Dimensions
- Base Item
- Shipping Weight: 10 lbs