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Phoenix Audio Ascent Two EQ

Dual-channel Microphone Preamplifier, DI & EQ
By Bob Thomas

Phoenix Audio Ascent Two EQ

Though a great recording front‑end, this versatile and characterful processor could just as easily find a home on your stereo mix bus...

Phoenix Audio's roots lead back to their foundation in England in 1996, as a service company specialising in pre-1980 Neve consoles. With ex-Neve designers David Rees and Shaun Leveque at the helm, it was almost inevitable that the company would expand beyond building the replacements for vintage Neve output stages that made their name, to creating their own range of Class‑A all-discrete preamplifiers. The first of these, in 1999, was the DRS-2 dual microphone preamplifier, and with the success of this and other new products came challenges and opportunities. Consequently, under new ownership in 2009, Phoenix Audio moved to a new manufacturing and distribution base in California's Costa Mesa, where they remain, while still maintaining their English roots and design heritage. With Rees and Leveque leading the company's circuit design from 1996 to the present day, Phoenix Audio have developed an impressive range of products, the latest of which is the recently-released Ascent Two EQ, a rackmount, dual-mono combination of Class‑A microphone preamplifiers, instrument DI and gyrator EQ.

It's Heavy, Man!

The first thing you'll notice about the Ascent Two EQ is its overall weight — the solid‑steel chassis and the linear power supply's toroidal transformer mean the whole ensemble adds up to a hefty package. Internally, the two sets of channel electronics sit on separate but identical PCBs, each dominated by three large, resin-encased discrete op-amps and an output balancing transformer. Internal construction overall is of an extremely high quality, as are the switches and other electronic components.

The Ascent Two EQ is a two-channel variant of Phoenix Audio's Ascent One EQ, and its red-anodised, Neve-ish knobbed controls are identical to those of its single-channel stablemate, as are the rear-panel I/O connectors. Each channel carries a large, switched, rotary mic/line gain control covering a range of -30dB to -70dB. That is followed immediately by a smaller, detented, rotary output level control. Above this sits the minimalist two-LED channel output level meter — one green LED (marked 0) is set to illuminate solidly at 0dBu (PPM 4), and the other, which is yellow and marked 8, turns on on at the US broadcast reference level of +8dBu (PPM 6), a level that's well below the Ascent Two EQ's +26dBu output...

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Published March 2019