The Tube-Tech MEC-1A is one of my all time favorite pieces of outboard gear. This is a very high end recording channel that features a tube preamp, equalizer and opto compressor.
Here is an overview of the different sections.
The microphone preamp sounds wonderful and is very warm and full. It is a dual tube preamp that will deliver a gain range of +20dB to +70dB. There is a switchable -20dB pad, phase reverse switch and switchable +48V phantom-power. The high pass filter has a 20 Hz and 40Hz switch and can also be bypassed. I use the DI input a lot. This is a great preamp for bass.
The EQ section has a high and low shelving filter and a gain range of +/-15dB and includes six switchable frequencies. There is a band filter that has a gain range of +/-20dB and twelve switchable frequencies with a bandwidth control also the EQ section has a bypass switch.
If you are looking for a lot of EQ options this is NOT the piece of gear for that. It has a great sound and a very clean EQ but only a single switchable band filter, however the frequency range is very wide from 40Hz to 10 kHz and good bandwidth control so you can get very specific frequencies. This is great for vocals where you need to boost or cut just a little to get a clean sound. I usually boost a little 1kHz and use the 40Hz high pass filter for sweet sounding vocals.
The optical compressor has the standard controls for ratio, threshold, attack and release and the attack and release can be switched from manual to fixed. The compressor can be pre or post EQ and the section has a bypass switch. The Tube Tech compressor sound is legendary because it is so warm and has a great sound.
Here are some specs:
Number of Channels Single Inputs 1 x XLR
1 x 1/4″ TRS Link
Outputs 1 x XLR
1 x 1/4″ TRS Link
Frequency Response 15Hz to 80kHz, -3dB Noise <-82dBu, gain @ 20dB (22Hz-22kHz)
Preamp Gain Range Mic: 20dB to 70dB
DI: 10dB to 60dB
Maximum Output >+26dBu Input Impedance Mic preamp: >1.2kΩ
DI input: 1MΩ
Phantom Power +48V
Compressor Threshold Range Off to -20dBu Ratio 1.5:1 to 10:1 Attack Time 1 mS to 100 mS Release Time 60 mS to 2 S Slope Not specified by manufacturer Sidechain For linking multiple units only
I use this channel path mostly on electric bass and vocals. You can also link these for multiple channels which would be amazing for piano or a room sound for an orchestra. I love the sound I get with a U87 and this Tube Tech on vocals. If you are looking for a great channel strip for single instrument recording and you have the budget I would seriously recommend the Tube Tech MEC-1A I love it!