(first published in CX Magazine – June 2015)

A fantastic new channel strip arrived here at The Mill a couple of weeks ago – which I’ve been giving a damned good flogging ever since…

The Canadian made MA-PEQ is an all-discrete, transformer-less single channel mic preamp and passive program equaliser housed in a single rack unit.

Combining a high quality, powerful sounding preamp with GKL’s own interpretation of the legendary Pultec PEQ-1A – without the valves – the MA-PEQ is a simple to use front end for recording or, at line level, mixing.

For anyone familiar with the functionality of the original Pultec PEQ-1A, the solid-state equaliser on the MA-PEQ is relatively simple to use, identical in every way to the original, apart from the addition of a handy 6dB boost switch on the top-end (the original had attenuation control only up high, which many engineers have found frustrating over the decades).

The GKL MA-PEQ channel strip has an all-discrete signal path, is quiet as a church mouse in slippers, and possesses +/–30V DC power rails that provide extended headroom for the balanced line mono output.

This is a high-quality unit. While it may look simple and uncomplicated, it gets the job done quickly and efficiently. The only frustrating absentee is the dearth of any kind of legending around the bandwidth control knob on the midrange filter. Simple broad and narrow Q symbols would have done the trick.

The +68dB preamp stage is an uncomplicated beast: phantom power and 20dB pad switches reside just to the left of the main stepped gain control. This solid rotary switch is a Grayhill, and gain divisions are in 4dB steps, which is nice. Other companies use 6dB increments, which can often be a tad crude. Beside this is a secondary rotary switch, the mic/line/boost control. This provides… um, a 6dB boost for both mic or line inputs, undermining my previous comment about the crudity of the scale. Oh well…

The only other control on the whole unit is a hard-bypass switch for the EQ on the far right. This is good for A/Bing your EQ settings or removing the EQ circuit from the signal path altogether if you’re only using the preamp stage.

Finally, there’s an eight-segment LED-style VU meter, which works pretty well, offering some fairly basic information about the nature of your gain structure at the output. I say basic only because, here again, there’s no information on the faceplate about what the eight segments represent or measure. Why GKL hasn’t, at the very least, written –32, 0 and +28VU (clip) beside the LEDs I will never know. Seems like madness that this information should be restricted to the pages of the manual.

Anyway, that’s it. There’s nothing more to this unit.

As with anything we buy in pro audio, we all look for value in some form or other. With the MA-PEQ, the value is in the quality, not endless options and added features. A good test of such a unit is whether you would use it often enough to justify its cost, but while I can’t say I’ve bought it, I have used it every day since it arrived.

The GKL MA-PEQ is well built from quality parts and gets the job done. If you need a decent, uncomplicated outboard preamp/EQ in your setup, this is well worth checking out.


Price: $2285

Mixmasters: (+618) 8278 8506 or www.mixmasters.com.au