Sometimes a piece of gear comes along that looks kind of cool and you look at the modest price and you think,
“What’s the catch?” Most of the time, there are several catches. But not this time…
By Larry Hall
The Aphex 230 Master Voice Channel is a whole bunch of tools in one rack space. It is tempting to just look at it as a tube pre-amp but that would be a mistake. It also includes dynamics processing and parametric EQ plus an insert point – in short, everything you need for a real vocal channel. In addition to an analog out you get three flavors of digital outs as well.
The front panel is an sound guy’s dream. Look, ma, no menus! Just some buttons to engage or bypass the 230’s various functions and real, honest-to-God knobs for making adjustments. The layout makes the function pretty self-evident and it is real easy to use. I don’t think I ever cracked the manual.
I was so blown away by the 230’s overall performance and punch, that I finally brought it to work at a gig mixing front of house for a pretty famous pop singer. She was kind enough at sound check (yes she even showed up) to let me test it on her channel so I could hear the difference between the 230 and the digital console I was using.
Remember all of the warm fuzzy love you used to get with a good analog console? Well, it is back, but with a lot more headroom and deep rich tone and texture. Did I mention you get a sweet EQ, and all of the other cool Aphex toys such as an Aurel Exciter, Big Bottom, Gate, Compression, High Pass? Basically all of the REAL channel strip stuff in a high dollar unit except the 230 is surprising affordable. Big bang for the buck!
By the end of sound check I really needed one for all 40 of my inputs.
I was so impressed with the one unit, that I bought five more to use with an old school R&B vocal group that I work with weekly. It is at the point where I literally don’t want to do a gig without them and they are now the preferred vocal processor on my rider. At a recent gig, another sound guy asked what was so great about the 230s. The timing was perfect because the show was coming to an end and the five singers – all on 230s—were leaving the stage as the keyboard player walked them off.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary “insert name of famous old school R&B group here.”” Same mic model through the same system but the singers had sounded fantastic and it sound like the announcer was talking into the mic through a couple of blankets. No explanation needed. So, now I own six of them. And I am planning on buying at least 5 more this year for our rental stock.
The Last Word
I recommend the Aphex 230 for everything from your home project studio to a major studio. From big tours to little bar bands. This will make your home studio sound real, and your “million dollar” PA sound like, well, Um… 1 BILLION DOLLARS! Ok maybe not that good but pretty close. What the audio world needs is MORE 230s!
Aphex 230 Master Vocal Channel
What It Is: Vocal magic in a box. Tube pre, compressor, gate, de-esser, EQ, Aural Exciter and Big Bottom
Who It’s For: Anyone who wants their vocals to sound great
Pros: Simple layout, awesome sound, reasonable price
Cons: You’ll want one for every channel
How Much: $799 Online