Not so long ago, just about every bit of popular recorded music passed through a hardware mixer - even today, a fair few hits are mixed this way.
The mixers we’re talking about are so enormous that they’re more commonly referred to as desks or consoles. Each channel is represented by a collection of vertically oriented controls called a strip. As well as the bare basics like a level fader, pan knob and aux send knobs, a channel strip will also contain EQ features at the very least, and probably dynamics too (compression and perhaps gating).
Channel strip plug-ins are designed to bring all of that processing (and in some cases a specific sound) into our DAWs, offering EQ, dynamics and often more in one plug-in.
Here are some of the best examples of the channel strip currently available.
NEXT: iZotope Alloy
As the channel-focused sibling of iZotope’s mastering tool Ozone, Alloy boasts a similar sound, some shared features and low-latency operation.
Universal Audio Neve 88RS
A stunning recreation of the only pro desk brand that could really compete with SSL in terms of reputation, price and popularity in the top studios.
Waves SSL G-Channel
Part of the SSL bundle (which the price refers to), this comprises recreations of the two most ubiquitous channel strips in pop history.
Universal Audio SSL E Series Channel Strip
The UAD version of the SSL classic desk includes both Brown and Black EQ modes and runs on dedicated UAD DSP hardware.
Solid State Logic Duende Native Channel Strip
This recreation from Solid State Logic itself offers a genuine SSL sound inside your computer.
Softube Tube-Tech Classic Channel
Based on Tube-Tech EQ and compression units, this lacks some conventional desk features but offers a classic sound.
Wave Arts TrackPlug
Featuring a rather nice interface, this intuitive and feature-packed channel strip has a modern plug-in feel with a clear interface and layout.
URS Classic Console Strip Pro 2
This modern classic offers a huge range of vintage modelling algorithms to mimic the look, feel and sound of great old desks.
Team DNR MixControl Pro
Featuring a complete set of channel strip tools, this versatile plug-in is suitable for everything from dance to rock and features a great selection of presets.
Nomad Factory SC-226
Another vintage-style channel strip, this sweet-sounding plug-in is designed to add some classic warmth and character to your channels.