Could this modern spin on a classic British trio be the perfect analogue front end?
Peter Rodriguez’s enthusiasm for vintage recording consoles, particularly those produced by Neve in the 1970s, eventually led him to start his company Heritage Audio. The brand have built a strong reputation with a line of products that are certainly inspired by the past, but whose design and construction is firmly rooted in the present. Their latest release, the BritStrip, is a vintage‑style mono channel strip comprising mic preamp, EQ and compressor sections, and its heritage is easily recognisable.
The BritStrip’s microphone preamplifier uses the same discrete, three‑stage, Class‑A circuitry of Heritage’s 500‑series 73JR, but adds a new input transformer designed in collaboration with (and manufactured exclusively for) Heritage by Carnhill. Transformer‑balanced XLR connectors handle both mic‑ and line‑level inputs, whilst the DI’s Class‑A JFET input circuitry is accessed via a pair of front‑panel quarter‑inch TS jacks, one for the incoming instrument signal, and the other a thru connection to pass the signal on to an amp.
The familiarly shaped dark red gain control has a range of ‑30 to ‑80 dB, in 5dB steps, while four buttons handle switching for the 48V phantom power, the ‑20dB pad, the line input, and the preamp’s two input impedances (a ‘normal’ 1200Ω and a Lo‑Z 300Ω option). A fifth button lifts the DI thru’s output earth, and the DI input is activated when a jack plug is inserted into its switching input socket.
The EQ section is a modified version of Heritage’s 73EQ JR three‑band module. Its high and low bands can be switched between shelf and peak responses, with shelf being the default. Each of these two bands offers three frequency options (10, 12 and 16 kHz in the high band and 60, 110 and 220 Hz in the low band), selected using the detented silver outer ring of its dual‑concentric rotary control. The bands’ undetented, grey‑knobbed potentiometers in the centre set the amount of cut or boost (±16dB) for the selected frequency.
The inductor‑based mid band features twin Vinkor‑style ferrite pot core inductors. A dual‑concentric switch and an undetented central potentiometer offer six frequencies (360 and 700 Hz, and 1.6, 3.2, 4.8 and 7.2 kHz), and this band can be switched between the default and a higher Q setting. The inductors give the mid band a proportional Q, with both the selected frequency and the amount of cut or boost (±18dB at high Q and ±12dB at the default Q) affecting the mid EQ’s bandwidth on either side of the chosen centre frequency.
The final EQ control, a switchable ‑3dB per octave high‑pass filter, is based around a single Vinkor‑style inductor and has its frequencies set at 50, 80, 160 and 300 Hz. This is followed by an undetented rotary output level control — effectively a post‑EQ ‘fader’.
Separating the EQ and compressor areas are six buttons, arranged in two columns. The top‑left button switches the EQ section in and out of the signal path and the top right, as in vintage designs, inverts the polarity of the output signal leaving the secondary winding of the output transformer. The other four buttons are dedicated to the compressor.
...it’s worth bearing in mind that the BritStrip was conceived as a Swiss Army Knife...