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SPL Frontliner:

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The SPL Frontliner tube channel strip for recording studios and audio mixing includes a tube microphone preamp, tube saturation control, de-esser, a semi paramteric EQ with filters, a compressor, and more.

SPL's Frontliner comprises the same discrete, hybrid semiconductor/tube preamplifier design like the GoldMikeMK2. The compressor module is based upon the Kultube providing a full set of classic controls. SPL also integrated the Kultube's highlight, a signal-dependent automation of attack and release parameters which can still be influenced manually. With this option, manual and automatic control can be merged to always find the best settings.

The EQ section provides two semi-parametric filters for low and mid bands as well as a bell filter delivering a silky and smooth top end. This filter set offers a perfect frequency first aid kit and is rounded off with a Tube Saturation control.

In contrast to semiconductors, a tube does not clip from a certain level, but approaches its limits by increasingly producing harmonic distortions. The sound effects from saturating a tube can often be used to improve the audio signal. The sound results resemble tape saturation effects and increase the density and perceived energy in a very pleasant way.

The task of a channel strip is relatively complex. There is not one specialized device for one job, but a unit that combines a lot of technology for the preamplification and processing of audio signals. That is why especially the Frontliner benefits very much from SPL's innovations for targeted, efficient work. The SPL De-Esser, for example, performs highly complex processing, but can simply be adjusted with one single knob. The straight and clear front panel design also supports fast and safe operation.

In the last years SPL have been busy with modular concepts. One result is the RackPack series: a RackPack frame hosts up to eight 3U high modules for free placement and (inter-) connection.

But SPL have also transferred the modular idea to the Frontliner. Each Frontliner module disposes of its own inputs and outputs. Sophisticated switching options allow you to integrate Frontliner's modules into a studio environment as if they were stand alone devices. You can also group modules in any combination and you can determine inserts at each module's input.

If you imagine the Frontliner modules as analog plugins, the additional value suddenly becomes apparent: this channel strip also is a versatile analog processing station. With one single unit, DAW based studios benefit from a first-class recording front-end and have access to high end analog processors for the main signal processing tasks.

Maximum input level

  • Microphone input @ 13dB gain:
    +9dBu
  • Line input:
    +22dBu
  • Instrument input:
    +11,5dBu
  • De-Esser input:
    +21dBu
  • Compressor input:
    +21dBu
  • EQ-/Tube Saturation input:
    +21dBu
  • Maximum output level:
    21,5dBu

Gain control ranges

  • Microphone input:
    +13dB to +68dB
  • Line input:
    -20dB to +10dB
  • Instrument input:
    +6dB to +43dB

Frequency range (-3dB)

  • Channel strip:
    10Hz to 50kHz
  • Microphone preamplifier:
    <10Hz to 50kHz
  • Line preamplifier:
    <10Hz to 50kHz
  • Instrument preamplifier:
    <10Hz to 50kHz
  • De-Esser:
    <10Hz to 140kHz
  • Compressor:
    <10Hz to 180kHz
  • Equalizer/Tube Saturation:
    <10Hz to 60kHz

Common mode rejection

(@ 1kHz, 0dBu input level and unity gain)

  • Microphone preamplifier:
    >80dB
  • Line preamplifier:
    >75dB
  • Instrument preamplifier:
    >75dB
  • De-Esser:
    >75dB
  • Compressor:
    >75dB
  • Equalizer/Tube Saturation line:
    >75dB

Total harmonic distortion

(in %, @ 1kHz, 0dBu input level and unity gain)

  • Channel strip:
    0,03
  • Microphone preamplifier:
    0,03
  • Line preamplifier:
    0,03
  • Instrument preamplifier:
    0,03
  • De-Esser:
    0,002
  • Compressor:
    0,007
  • Equalizer/Tube Saturation Line:
    0,01

Signal to noise ratio (A-weighted)

  • Microphone preamplifier (VU=30dB):
    -91,5dB
  • Line preamplifier:
    -94,7dB
  • Instrument preamplifier:
    -95,5dB
  • De-Esser:
    -97dB
  • Compressor:
    -97dB
  • Equalizer/Tube Saturation Line:
    -91dB

Dynamic range (unweighted)

  • Channel strip:
    110dB (microphone input > main outputs, @ 30dB)
    112dB (line input > main outputs)
    112dB (instrument input > main outputs)
  • Microphone preamplifier (@ 30dB):
    110dB
  • Line preamplifier:
    114dB
  • Instrument preamplifier:
    105dB
  • De-Esser:
    115dB
  • Compressor:
    115dB
  • Equalizer/Tube Saturation Line:
    112dB
  • E.I.N. microphone preamplifier:
    -127dBu
    (@ 68dB gain, Rs=150Ohms, 20-22kHz)

Power supply

  • Two toroidal transformers
  • Audio transformer:
    20VA
  • Transformer other currents:
    15VA
  • Fuses:
    230V AC
    50Hz: 315mA/120V AC
    60Hz: 630mA
  • Voltage selector:
    115V/230V
  • Power consumption:
    29W

Dimensions and weight

  • Housing (W x H x D):
    482 x 88 x 261mm (Depth with controls and sockets)
  • Weight:
    5,7kg/ca. 12,57 lbs (w/o converter & I/O transformers)

Note: 0dBu = 0,775V. Specifications are subject to change without notice.

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