Tech 21 QStrip

Channel strip / preamp

  • High-quality channel strip / preamp for acoustic instruments or bass
  • 3 different operational modes
  • A very high impedance input handles piezos as well as low impedance signals equally well
  • The XLR output is capable of driving power amps and can be lowered to 20 dB to, ex., accommodate mic inputs on mixers
  • Jack output can be increased by 10 dB to drive power amps or tube amplifiers
  • Phantom power via XLR
  • Controls for: volume, low, mid 1, mid 2, high, shift 1, shift 2
  • Input: 6.3 mm jack
  • Output: 6.3 mm jack or XLR with phantom power
  • HPF suppresses unwanted frequencies which can occur with direct connections
  • LPF can be used as a speaker simulation
  • Power supply via 9V battery or AC adapter (not included)
  • Robust metal housing
  • Suitable power supply: Thomann NT 0910 art. 409939 (not included)
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4.9 / 5.0
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Really secret sound weapon!

vitaliistep, 03.07.2018
I love this box, it's extremely versatile and musically sounding!
The knobs are precise and smooth, but without snap to the middle position. Anyway it sounds quite neutral with knobs at about a noon position and this is good.

Build quality is decent, but not perfect: XLR output is a bit misaligned, soldering quality is average, internal board is thin and a bit bent. And I think it's a shame for such price!

Strange manufacturer decision that when you power-on pedal it's always in the ON-state, so it doesn't remember its last state before power-off. According to the support it's normal behavior and you can switch it to default ON or OFF-state by re-soldering some elements on the circuit board! I don't think it's quite elegant and intuitive solution :) Also ground lift is cable dependent: if your cable has
ground pin connected with shield of the plug (I think most of them does), you can't use ground lift and this is also normal behavior according to the manufacturer support :)

But sound and feature-wise it's very good, especially it shines when you feed it with a bit hotter input signal allowing MOSFET elements to add a bit of tube-like saturation.
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Good DI box with EQ but without vintage mojo

Wernie, 30.07.2018
I was looking for a DI box with EQ function for my guitars on stage and in the studio. The Q-Strip is a DI box with a semiparametric EQ. The manufacturer claims to make available in the compact housing of a high-quality DI box the EQ of a high-quality mixer channel with the sound of a vintage console. It should also allow a speaker simulation. The Q-Strip is crafted perfectly in the USA and equipped with high quality components, so that the relatively high price is justified. From real studio equipment, the device differs considerably in size, weight and purchase price, but as expected in the sound. I see the main advantage in the compact dimensions and the very practical combination of several functions. The main drawback to professional equipment is the noticeable noise in weak signal sources, which would have been avoidable, and - due to price - the absence of a transformer at the DI output.

The signal first goes through a switchable high-pass filter that lowers frequencies below 45 Hz with 12dB / octave. Then it goes into a low center filter with adjustable center frequency from 40 to 700 Hz. The quality of the filter is not changeable (Q = 1). The following high center filter goes from 300 - 6000 Hz and thus overlaps the other a little. Then follows the usual Baxandall filter for bass and treble (? Kuhschwanz?). The filters have a wide control range of + / + 18 dB. At the end of the signal chain is still a switchable low pass with 3000 Hz cutoff frequency. This should help to imitate the drop in height of conventional guitar speakers when used as a speaker simulator. Finally, there is a Gain control to compensate for the volume change that comes with the EQ.

The input has a parallel output for looping through the signal eg to a guitar amplifier. Also, the output is available in duplicate: Once as a balanced XLR jack with line or microphone level (switchable), as well as unbalanced jack with instrument or line level (switchable). In normal position of all controls and switches, the gain is 1 (= 0 dB). What the otherwise very good English manual conceals, is the maximum undistorted output voltage. Since the device is operated with 9 volts, this is just under 3 volts RMS. This is less than half the output voltage of standard studio equipment, which is internally supplied with 30 volts and usually create at least 7 volts RMS. If one overrides the Q-Strip, he acknowledges that with extremely harsh distortions.

The technology: Internally, the device uses six TLC 2262-type Micropower CMOS operational amplifiers, which provide low power consumption of just 5 mA. Thus, the operation with a 9 volt block for a long time is possible. The device also works with 48 volt phantom power. I think that the CMOS chips should provide for special vintage sound, an advertising promise. In fact, the device sounds largely neutral and even a bit harsh compared to my Studio EQ, a TL-Audio (EQ1) tube device. Of course the device has no True Bypass because of the DI function. In bypass mode, all controls are disabled, only the internal gain adjustment (Mic / Instrument / Line) is retained.

I first tested the Q-Strip with different guitars (single coil, humbucker, piezo active and passive). It turns out that the control range of 18 dB is sufficient for almost every reasonable bending of the frequency response and is almost too large for minor changes. You have to turn very sensitively on the small buttons, which is a challenge on stage. For example, with an acoustic guitar, you can easily eliminate the body resonance by turning up the low-mid control fully and then setting it to maximum feedback with the frequency knob. Then turn the center control back until it no longer couples. A strat can be set to sound like a Les Paul or a jazz guitar. However, what only works approximately is the use as a speaker simulator. A loudspeaker box does more with the signal than just changing the frequency response.

Actually, the Q-Strip would be perfect as a DI box for guitar. Tech 21 recommends it especially for passive piezo pickups because of the input impedance of 4.7 MegaOhm. Unfortunately it turns out that with low input levels (single coils or passive piezos), the noise of the input stage becomes annoyingly noticeable even with a slight increase in high frequencies, especially when recording directly into the console. There is a point deduction to the sound.
With little extra effort one could have built in a FET pre-stage, which is 12 times less noisy. On the stage, however, with sufficient external preamplification, such as in the Einschleifweg an amplifier or behind appropriate precursors, distortion or other pedals, the noise is hardly noticeable. All other features are impeccable in relation to the price and make the device thoroughly recommendable. However, one should not necessarily expect, for example, the sound of a Neve channel strip.
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Phone: +49-9546-9223-20
FAX: +49-9546-9223-24
Phone: +49-9546-9223-30
FAX: +49-9546-922328
Offers include 24% Greek VAT and are valid as long as stocks last. Shipping costs to Greece are 20 EUR, free shipping on orders above 298 EUR. Please click here for international Shipping rates. We do not accept liability for typographical errors or inaccurate information of any kind. *RRP = manufacturer's / distributor's recommended retail price in Germany
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