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Focusrite Liquid Channel Strip
[FR-LCS] The Liquid Channel :: Complete channel strip solution with onboard Liquid Pre technology
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Focusrite - The Liquid Channel

Revolutionary Liquid Channel Strip

  • The Liquid Channel transports classic front-end processing into the digital age, removing the need for endless patching and adding fluidity and reliability to the studio environment. Quite simply, The Liquid Channel is every mic-pre and compressor combination in history, inside a single 192kHz 2U device.

    This is achieved through a unique two-part process. Firstly, the use of dynamic convolution techniques is applied, utilising lightening fast SHARC chips applying unique level-dependant impulse responses to every sample of audio. However, whilst this is more than sufficient to identically re-synthesise a compressor’s sonic behaviour, in order to replicate precisely every subtle nuance, the pre-amplifier must physically match the way in which the classic unit interacts with a given microphone. The Liquid Channel’s solution to this problem lies in its vast analogue front-end. A pre-amp with the ability to change its impedance and vary its signal path to either transformer or electronic, perfectly replicating the interaction characteristics of the original, whilst remaining entirely transparent within the signal path.

    The Liquid Channel can therefore replicate precisely the sound of any classic mic-pre and compressor. With entirely digital front panel controls, all parameters can be saved in one of ninety-nine User Memories, meaning that entire session set-ups can all be recalled at the touch of a button. A brand new digital EQ is also available, providing a comprehensive and truly ‘liquid’ channel strip.

    A USB connection on the rear panel links to a software application enabling the archiving of both emulations and surplus User Memories, as well as providing remote operation of the unit itself. The Liquid Channel comes complete with forty classic mic-pre’s and forty classic compressors but is infinitely expandable, since the USB port also facilitates downloads of further emulations.

    Finally, to account for variances in amounts of second order harmonic distortion (usually perceived as warmth) from one pre-amp to the next, a dial is included to permit control over this value. This essential feature ensures hardcore vintage enthusiasts are satisfied, bringing total control over every sonic attribute. Essentially, The Liquid Channel provides an unlimited supply of vintage sonic performance for the price of one unit, with all the added benefits of digital processing and control.

    “Liquid Technology is the final product of two years pure research into what makes an analogue box sound exactly the way it does. The results of this research have enabled us to develop a hybrid system of analogue and digital technology, capable of recreating every sonic attribute of any classic processor. Focusrite has a history of manufacturing high performance equipment, and of making that technology affordable to all those at every level of the recording industry. The Liquid Channel goes further and makes the obsolete, the priceless and the historically significant, available to everybody for the first time.”

    Robert Jenkins – Director of Product Strategy – Focusrite.

    Liquid Pre Technology

    Rather than creating a similar sound to vintage units, as with modelling devices, Liquid Technology samples their sonic behaviour. This is achieved through Dynamic Convolution; the application of a unique, level-dependent set of responses to an audio signal. These measured responses, sampled at numerous levels and with every possible setting combination, are applied to the input stream on a sample-by-sample basis for accurate emulation.

    However, Mic-pre emulation can't be achieved with software alone. Hardware is required in addition to account for the physical interaction with the microphone. Mic-pre's have always had to connect to the source microphone, but it's an interactive system that isn't 100% efficient. Mic. amps have been designed since 1920's to suit a wide variety of different types of mics.- passive carbon dynamics, then coil-based designs, then valve amplifiers, large diaphragms, phantom powered condensers etc. Hence, different vintages and types of mic. amp, will vary dramatically in terms of the way that their input has been designed. For example, the range of electronic/transformer front ends that have been used over the years exhibit a wide-ranging set of impedances, and this is why an analogue front end needs to be included. If a specific mic. is not being loaded by the analogue circuit just as it was by an original vintage device, then the sound from that microphone will be different. The is no real mic-pre standard. Take a transformer for instance. It has two coils of wire, the 1st coil generates a magnetic field, and this then passes into the 2nd coil- which in itself is not a fixed transfer mechanism, there's a lot of variation in transformers. What impedance appears at the input of the pre is also a key factor- when you connect a mic. it has an output impedance of its own. The two sides (mic. and pre) react, and frequency-related level can vary wildly as a result. Capacitances also interact as both mic and transformer have capacitances that vary, so HF roll off may occur for example, or you may get an HF peak (The famous Focusrite 'airiness' typified by the ISA range for example,) Older mics. designed for broadcast applications often roll off at e.g. 12kHz, since before 1970 few people cared about HF matters. (Designers used to just roll off at c12kHz to filter out problems above this threshold.)

    Consequently, The only way to accommodate the full range of different designs is to allow huge flexibility in the resistance and capacitance parameters in a custom transformer designed specifically for that flexibility. By including a 'Liquid' pre-amp circuit containing a flexible signal path (transformer or electronic) and variable impedance value, The Liquid Channel can mimic that of the classic mic-pre to ensure that the interaction with the microphone is close to the original.

    The transformer used is a brand new custom precision-wound FF 'Liquid' transformer, designed and built in the UK by Focusrite's R and D department to be extremely flexible; transparent or coloured as required. Hence, The Liquid Channel physically changes analogue circuitry as well as using dynamic convolution technology to create mic-pre emulations. For electronic or tube mic pres that do not include a transformer, the Liquid Channel's transformer is auto-switched out. Focusrite has built in the variations required to reproduce the vagaries of a range of electronic mic-pres. The capacitance and resistance are then varied in the circuit, and Dynamic Convolution technology is used to emulate the full range of electronic pre's. Tube emulation is also covered 100% - this is taken care of by the Dynamic Convolution process. Whatever artefacts were present in a classic vintage tube piece are also present in The Liquid Channel. The sound of every opto, and every VCA compressor, every transformer-balanced, electronically balanced (including tube pre's) can be emulated, because each device's response has been calculated.

  • • 40 mic pres and 40 compressors
    The Liquid Channel comes loaded with forty classic mic-pre and forty classic compressor emulations, with an expanding library online.

    • Best of both worlds
    The Liquid Channel fuses cutting-edge analogue design with lightning fast SHARC DSP to deliver the finest pre-amp emulations possible.

    • Digital Head, Analogue Heart
    The Liquid Channel uses an analogue pre-amp front-end to match the input impedance and signal path of the device being emulated before applying dynamic convolution for amplification characteristics.

    • Global Recall
    100 Programme Memories allow you to save every parameter, whilst the file format provides easy transfer of these settings to other Liquid Channel users.

    • Remote Control
    Free software application LiquidControl™ allows comprehensive remote operation and archiving facility of emulations and programme memories.

    • 192kHz ADC/DAC as standard
    The Liquid Channel features the finest conversion paths possible, ensuring the audio is unaffected whilst dynamic convolution is applied in the digital domain.

    • Not all vintage units are born equal
    So the 'Harmonics' dial lets you account for variance in vintage originals, or use levels of 2nd, 3rd and 5th Harmonic distortion creatively.

  • Specifications

    Converter performance
    • Sample rate: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz
    • Bit depth: 24-bit

    • SNR: 120dB measured with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass A-weighted filter
    • Frequency response: ±0.05dB between 20Hz ? 22 kHz
    • Maximum input level: +22dBu
    • THD+N: 0.00035% (-109dB)

    • Dynamic range: 116dB measured with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass A-weighted filter
    • Frequency response: ±0.05dB between 20Hz / 22kHz
    • Maximum output level: +22dBu
    • THD+N: 0.0007% (-103dB)

    • Internal clock: < 20 pico-seconds
    • AES digital output: < 200 pico-seconds
    • External clock: < 1 nano-second
    • Analogue and digital path

    Mic pre
    • Gain range: +6dB to +80dB, switched in 1dB steps
    • Frequency response: variable, set by pre-amp chosen
    • THD+N at analogue out: 0.001% measured with a +4dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
    • THD+N at AES digital out: 0.0005% measured with a +4dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
    • Mic noise: EIN = -126dB measured at 80dB of gain with 150 Ohm source impedance and 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
    • Noise at analogue out: -92dBu measured at +6dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
    A-weighted filter
    • Noise at AES digital out: -119dBFS measured at + 6dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
    A-weighted filter
    • Maximum input level: +16dBu
    • Input impedance: variable, set by preamp chosen
    • CMRR: Transformer: 123dB @ 60dB of gain
    • Electronic: 102dB @ 60dB of gain

    Line input
    • Gain range: 10dB to +10dB, switched in 1dB steps
    • Frequency response: 0dB ±0.1dB between 20Hz and 20kHz
    • THD+N at analogue out: 0.001% measured with a +18dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
    • THD+N at AES digital out: 0.0004% measured with a +18dBu 1kHz input signal with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter
    • Noise at analogue out: -92dBu measured at 0dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
    A-weighted filter
    • Noise at AES digital out: -120dBfs measured at 0dB gain with 20Hz/22kHz bandpass
    A-weighted filter
    • Maximum input level: +22dBu
    • High pass filter
    • Roll off frequency: switchable between 75Hz and 120Hz, frequency measured at 6dB down point, 12dB per octave roll-off

    • Distortion range: 0 to 15 where 15 (maximum) = 10% of 2nd-, 20% of 3rd- and 10% of 5th-order at 0dBFS (level-dependent distortion)

    In 'As Original' mode the parameter ranges will be the same as on the original unit being emulated. In 'Free' mode the parameter ranges are as follows:

    • Threshold range: -40dB to 20dB switched in 1dB steps
    • Ratio range: 1:1 to limit
    • Attack range: 0.1ms to 2.5s
    • Release range: 0.1ms to 2.5s
    • Make-up gain: -20dB to +20dB switched in 0.5dB steps


    High Shelf
    • Frequency range: 200Hz to 20kHz
    • Gain: +/-18dB

    Mid Band
    • Frequency range: 100Hz to 10kHz
    • Gain: +/-18dB
    • Q: variable between 0.8 and 2.5

    Low Shelf
    • Frequency range: 10Hz to 1kHz
    • Gain: +/-18dB

    • 8.6kg
    • 19Ibs

    • 484mm (W) x 85mm (H) x 270mm (D)
    • 19" (W) x 3.5" (H) x 10.6" (D)
    • 2U rackmount

    Software System Requirements


    Operating System
    • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (all versions) or Windows Vista (32 bit versions only)
    • Pro Tools 7.1 or higher (only if using the Liquid 4Pre TDM / RTAS plugin)

    • Windows XP compatible PC (Pentium© 4 1GHz or higher recommended)
    • Network card supporting ethernet 10Base-T, 100Base-TX, or 1000Base-T

    • 1.0 GHz Intel or compatible
    • 2.0 GHz Pentium© 4 or Xeon recommended

    Memory (RAM)
    • 256MB or more
    • 512MB or higher recommended


    Operating System
    • Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.11 or later) - OS Version subject to change
    • Pro Tools 7.1 or higher (only if using the Liquid 4Pre TDM / RTAS plugin)

    • Apple Mac Power PC G4, G5 or Intel Mac (any)

    • G4/800 MHz (minimum)
    • G4/1.5GHZ or higher recommended

    Memory (RAM)
    • 256MB or more
    • 512MB or higher recommended

    Operating Systems

    Compatible with:

    Mac 10.4
    10.4.11 and above only. Mac 10.5
    Mac 10.6
    32-bit kernel only. Windows XP
    Service Pack 2 and above only. Windows Vista

    NOT Compatible with:

    Windows XP - 64bit
    Mac 10.3
    Windows Vista - 64bit
    Windows Windows 7
    Windows Windows 7 - 64bit

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