Black Lion Audio Ships Eighteen Channel Strip

Chicago mod-shop Black Lion Audio have announced this February that their Eighteen rack-mount channel strip is now shipping. For fans of strips featuring buttery smooth high and low ends with a solid punchy midrange, this is good news indeed…

First announced at AES New York in 2019, Eighteen is Black Lion’s first foray into the channel strip market and combines a Cinemag powered preamp with a passive ‘Pultec-style’ program equaliser.

The Black Lion Audio Eighteen Channel Strip, front and rear panels

At the heart of the Eighteen’s sound is Black Lion’s beautifully designed BLA1831 discrete op-amp, a custom recreation of the vintage 1731 op-amp – with a few secret sauce BLA tweaks – capable of exhibiting the classic Melcor sound. One BLA1831 resides on the input gain which offers a maximum of 35B, and one on the output combining to 70dB of max gain across the strip.

The unit boasts a Cinemag input transformer, custom cinemag output transformer and even a custom Cinemag inductor on-board. As with many Black Lion Audio’s vintage homages, the Eighteen includes certain tweaks to allow the strip feel at home alongside modern equipment. In this case special measures were taken to design the channel with a far lower noise floor compared to vintage Melcor preamps. In this regard, Eighteen offers all the tone and far less of the hassle.

Will Betts and MusicTech Magazine were lucky enough to catch Black Lion founder Nate Bierdeman to get a closer look at the unit first hand - watch more below:


The Eighteen’s equaliser section is also packed with vintage vibes straight from the industry’s favourite program-style EQs. Two unique settings are available for extra flexibility, a CPS potentiometer for specifying ‘cycles per second’ and KCS for KHz per second.

Eighteen will land at selected BLA dealers for demo in the coming weeks - to find your nearest retailer, check out Eighteen on our site or get in touch!

  • Posted on 27 February 2020 by Roy Brockington