The Aphex 230 Master Voice Channel

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The Aphex 230 Master Voice Channel sure packs a lot into a one space rack unit. Aphex likes to call this device the “Complete Voice Processing System”. The 230 is ideally suited for voice-overs, ADR, foley, on-air live programs, TV news/production, lecturing, live stage productions, houses of worship, and certain music apps.

The nuts? And bolts? Well, the 230 features: tube (12AT7/ECC81 dual triode) mic preamp, compressor, de-esser, noise gate, parametric equalizer (240Hz to 8kHz), aural exciter, phase flip switch, phase rotator, 24/96 A/D converter, +4 balanced and –10 unbalanced outputs, bass enhancer, AES, SPDIF and optical outputs, low jitter word clock output, word clock input, cough switch (soft mute), 48 volts phantom power, low-cut filter, 20dB input pad, peak or gain reduction meter, and rear insert jack.

When I opened up the box and looked at the Master Voice Channel, I immediately thought I should try this on something other than a voice. I was booked for a guitar session that night and I brought along this unit.

I initially used the 230 with a Shure 57 on a cranked Marshall cabinet driven by a Peavey 5150 and a Les Paul. This sound didn’t do it for me, so I put the 230 on a Neumann U87 that was used as a room mic for the Marshall cabinet. I used the pad and the mic pre and turned everything else off. It took me a while to get a handle on the gain structure of the machine, but in the end, the 230 worked pretty damn well in this situation.

A buddy of mine (Dana) was also wanting to make a voiceover demo for a while. The Aphex 230 master voice channel IS the excuse to start this demo. I set up several mics including a Shure 555, an AKG D 1000 E, and a 1960s Sennheiser broadcast mic. As he warmed up I got more familiar with the 230. Out of the three mics available, the AKG D 1000 E was the fullest and brightest. Dana has a deep booming voice and I engaged the compressor button and turned up the mic pre gain, which acts as the compressor drive adjustment, and varied the compressor release knob and the overall output gain for an appropriate setting.

This particular mic brought out a lot of sibilance in his voice, so I adjusted the de-esser to get the least annoying sound out of his voice but couldn’t quite get rid of all the sibilance. With a little dip in the right frequency with the equalizer I minimized the sibilance without changing the character of his voice. I noticed an elevated noise floor and decided to use the noise gate to quiet things down. In the end? This unit helped us accomplish what we needed to do.

The cough switch mute is something else I’d have never thought of putting in a unit but it is really useful. The talent can mute (you must provide foot pedal/hand switch) themselves when coughing or sneezing or whatever during, or in between, a performance. The phase rotator is another unique feature to the 230. When activated, the phase rotator reduces the amplitude of asymmetric peaks making the signal more symmetrical allowing the signal to ride through compressors and limiters louder.

I think under more delicate situations specialty devices such as separate mic pres, limiters, equalizers, etc. would be more appropriate, particularly in some musical applications. It really is difficult to do so many things flawlessly in a one-rack space unit. But the Aphex 230 is a toolbox for processing the voice. This is a really nice “all in one” box.