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SPL Frontliner

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Modular recording channel strip with De-esser, Comp and EQ
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Channel Trip.


Our preceding recording channels Track One and Channel One have already been successful units by combining fast and easy operation with high processing quality. These channel strips particularly benefit from previous developments for single processors: the DynaMaxx compressor/limiter delivered the essentials for the respective channel strip stage, the unique SPL De-Esser is also available as a single, dual-channel unit – and the preamplifier modules were also derived from existing products.

The development of new units in the last years inevitably evoked the wish to conceive a new channel strip which would benefit from our latest achievements.


Now the 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. We 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 band 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 Frontliner concept

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 a 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.


  • Three separate, individually optimized inputs for microphones, line signals and instruments.

  • Discrete semiconductor/tube hybrid preamplifier to combine the advantages – high dynamic range and low noise operation of semiconductors with the musical qualities of tube sounds (appealing top end, beautiful spacial impression). Discrete construction is based upon single transistors instead of integrated circuits (ICs) from industrial production and ensures a higher level of optimization.

  • 250 volts tube circuits in the preamplifier and for tube saturation stages.

  • High-grade operational amplifiers from Burr-Brown at critical positions.

  • The SPL De-Esser applies the method of phase cancellation for reducing sibilants. This innovative approach works much more neutral than traditional compression methods – a unique method for unobtrusive results and extremely fast operation.

  • The compressor is operated by SPL’s double VCA drive circuitry. A differential stage eliminates side effects and the half load per VCA dramatically reduces THD.

  • The operational amplifiers for the compressor circuitry meet military specifications. Therefore the regulating voltages are extremely precise – a precondition for high signal processing quality.

  • Selected condensers for the EQ filters with pleasant sound characteristics. Especially with vocals, amplified frequencies are not sounding too bright, and on the other hand reductions can tame harsh sounds without sounding dull.

  • Central star ground wiring scheme minimizes influences that could affect the ground paths. The audio ground is separated from the ground of the remaining equipment. This leads, in the truest sense of the word ”clean”, to considerably improved tonal quality.

  • The power supply is built around two toroidal transformers, one for the audio voltages and one for the other supply voltages (tube heating, LEDs, micro controller etc.) Mutual interferences are excluded and lavishly over-dimensioned capacities ensure absolutely stable supplies for all audio circuitries.



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)
Channel strip: 112dB (line input › main outputs)
Channel strip: 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:
(@ 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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