Legendary Audio has announced the launch of the new Gold Channel pedal board for live vocalists, designed to emulate the sonic characteristics of an iconic microphone paired with a noted console’s channel strip.
The Gold Channel is the combined R&D effort of veteran mastering engineer Billy Stull—referred to by Rupert Neve as a man with “golden ears”—and circuit designer Kevin Burgin, who spent a decade working for Rupert Neve Designs and was instrumental in the creation of the celebrated 5088 console.
Engineered to rest on the stage floor in front of the singer and work with any standard dynamic or condenser mic, the Gold Channel has a high-quality preamp stated as having a THD plus noise spec of 0.0007 percent (measured at 1 kHz, -20 dBu input, +30 dB gain). No transformers are utilized in the preamp stage and every circuit has been designed from the ground up.
A notable feature is the unit’s “Legendary Microphone Sound” control, which can be blended as desired into the vocal signal path with a rotary dial. “The best microphone I ever heard in my entire life was a Neumann U47 first owned by my friend, Norman Petty, who used it to record Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings and many others,” Stull explains. “I had the privilege of owning that exact mic for a number of years myself and know its sound intimately, and we’ve been able to accurately replicate the subtle nuances of its tone. In fact, when Kevin and I finally felt that we had nailed the sound of that ‘Holy Grail’ mic during the Gold Channel’s design, we put on a Buddy Holly record and both got choked up in hearing how similar our result was to Norman’s original recordings from more than 60 years ago.”
The Gold Channel also incorporates Legendary Audio’s proprietary “I.C.E.” (In Case of Emergency) processor designed to reduce or eliminate distortion in specific frequencies, control sibilance, tame vocal-chord over-modulation and quickly suppress feedback. I.C.E. can add low, mid, or high-frequency vocal enhancement in the manner of a frequency-specific dynamic EQ, joined by variable limiter that can control unwanted or unpleasant vocal tones. For example, if a singer’s vocal performance gets distorted when they “bear down,” I.C.E. is designed to engage at the specific problematic frequency and smooth the tone.
“Billy’s I.C.E. is the most exciting new analog product to hit the pro audio world in years,” states Burgin. “I.C.E. can remove transistor distortion in even the most expensive condenser mics, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a circuit and its potential as I have been about this one.”
Stull originally created I.C.E. as a plugin for Sonic Studio, which continues to offer the product. “I.C.E. worked so well as a digital plug-in when I invented it a few years ago that I knew I wanted to bring it to the Gold Channel, but in an analog version, which is the opposite path of most cases,” he notes. “Normally, the digital plugin is a clone of some piece of analog gear. But this was the first time, to my knowledge, that someone took a successful digital product and re-engineered it in analog form—and it absolutely blew us away.”
Additional Gold Channel amenities include a high-pass filter to eliminate rumble, plosives, mic handling and stage noise under 110 Hz, a sweepable three-band parametric equalizer, and a professional-grade compressor designed to help contain wild dynamics and enable intimate “breathy” vocals and other enhancements.
Two effects loop circuits (HI-Z unbalanced and LO-Z balanced) are controllable via an included dual-button footswitch, allowing the singer to take control of their own effects onstage. For example, one effects loop could bring in reverb or other ambience, while the second could route to an echo effect that might be turned on and off at various points in a song.
Gold Channel is housed in a purple powder-coated aluminum chassis measuring 17 by 8.5 by 3 inches (W x D x H), with sloped control panel and heavy-duty feet for tabletop or stage use. Rear panel output connections include an XLR for main output, as well 1/4-inch jacks for monitor and headphone outs, while switches for +48-volt phantom power, ground/lift, line/mic level (main output) and a power switch round out the backside controls.
“Our new Gold Channel gives the serious vocalist that wants to go ‘all in’ with his or her career the best possible ‘golden voice’ wherever they perform, be it a concert hall, nightclub, church, or a broadcast, home or professional recording studio,” Stull concludes.
The first production run of the Gold Channel is now complete and has been limited to 30 pieces, which are sold directly from the manufacturer for $4,395 USD. An optional flight case is also available.