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SPL Gainstation 1:

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Single channel microphone and instrument preamplifier

The SPL Gainstation 1 is a single channel microphone and instrument preamplifier for recording studios and mobile recording, with an adjustable tube stage and extensive additional shielding.

Lifeless or dynamically lacking signals are often over-processed with EQ, compression and other effects in an attempt to compensate for an often an extremely tedious process in the digital domain that doesn't always produce the desired results. So it's extremely important to ensure the highest recording quality.

To this end, the GainStation 1 employs technologies that not only satisfy test equipment, but also - and most importantly - the user. Components and circuits were carefully chosen and designed on the basis of extensive measurements and listening tests.

Another important goal in designing the GainStation 1 was that the case itself should optimally adapt itself to modern production environments. It was to be as compact as possible, allowing easy transport and ergonomic placement in virtually any situation. A free-standing case which does not need to be rack-mounted has several advantages: not only are the inputs and outputs always easily accessible, but the unit can also easily be placed on top of an amp, outboard rack or even some keyboards, on your desk next to your laptop, or in direct proximity to a microphone to allow for maximum operational comfort and minimum cable lengths.

Main features

  • Custom-designed and built, fully discrete, class A op-amps (no off-the-shelf stuff here). The GainStation's op-amps feature 60-Volt operating voltage - twice as high as most common op-amps - for an incredible dynamic range
  • An extremely high amplifier slew rate of 200 V/microsecond, ensuring clean transmission of high-frequency signal portions and rapid transients with virtually no clipping
  • An almost entirely DC-coupled signal path, making signal-degenerating condensers unnecessary
  • An optimized layout guarantees the shortest possible signal paths, while generously proportioned grounding surfaces ensure low impedance and maximum shielding
  • All switching functions are handled by encapsulated relays with gold-plated contacts
  • All resistors are within 0.1% tolerance and were selected after extensive listening tests
  • A no-compromise power supply with extensive additional shielding and seven separately wound and regulated voltages. The power supply is of primary importance to audio quality; its importance should not be underestimated
  • A tube stage utilizing premium MKP foil condensers and a select 12 AX7 LPS tube for clear, dynamic audio

This cutting-edge technology ensures that signals recorded with the GS1 have more presence and substance and will easily cut through a mix even at lower levels. Extremely low-frequency signals are tight and transparent with clear intonation. Percussive transients are interpreted more precisely, which leads to a clearer rhythmic content and in turn a more solid rhythmic performance and perception.

A bassist using the GainStation 1 as a preamp will immediately notice that he hears and feels what he is playing much better, which leads to improved playing and a better recording. The track will have more punch and dynamics, greatly improved presence and almost palpable detail. In short, the instrument sounds incredibly authentic and alive. Beta-tests with the GainStation 1 showed that all instrumentalists enjoyed playing more and in many cases were truly amazed at what their trusty instrument was capable of.

Given this improvement in the input signal, one is much less inclined to equalize and compress - in many cases you will probably find that you can do without additional processing, which not only saves an enormous amount of time and processor power, but also has an extremely positive effect on the final result. The GainStation 1 itself offers effective sound-shaping capabilities at recording, most notably via the tube stage, which can be completely bypassed or continuously added to the preamp circuit, allowing everything from extremely subtle "warmth" to a very noticeable tube saturation effect. The integrated limiter can be used to protect an internal or external AD converter from clipping, or for example to add punch to drum tracks, which in turn reduces or in many cases even eliminates the need for subsequent compression. Put simply, the more tracks are recorded with the GainStation 1, the more solid and transparent - and easier to mix - the entire recording will be.

Technical Specifications

  • Frequency response
    • Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB, +/- 0.5dB:
    • Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB, +/- 3dB:
    • Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain 1dB, output level 0dB, +/- 0.5dB):
  • THD+N - 20-22kHz, +25dBu Out
    • Clean Gain 24dB, Tube Gain off, output level +6dB:
    • Clean Gain 23dB, Tube Gain 1dB, output level +6dB:
  • Noise - 20-22kHz (A-weighted)
    • Clean Gain 10dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB:
    • Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB:
    • Clean Gain 60dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB:
    • Clean Gain 20dB, Tube Gain 10dB, output level 0dB:
  • EIN - 20-22kHz (A-weighted)
    • Clean Gain 60dB, Tube Gain off, output level 0dB, 40 Ohm:
  • Dynamic response (20-22kHz, A-weighted):
  • Common Mode Rejection (Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain off, 1kHz, Input -30dBu, output level 0, w/o transformer):
  • Maximum Output Level:
  • Max. Input Level (Mic Input, Hi-Z Input):
  • Input Impedance (Instrument input):
  • Output impedance:
  • Slew Rate (Clean Gain 30dB, Tube Gain off, Output Level +6dB):
  • Phantom power:
    48V +/-2V
  • Power consumption (w/0 AD-Converter):

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