The Vintech Audio X81 is a high end channel strip that features a microphone preamplifier and a five band EQ (including a high pass filter). The microphone preamp is modeled after the Neve 1081 as it has a similar look and has basically the same make up as far as I know. The unit has both XLR connections and a 1/4 inch input in the front for using this a DI. It is a rack mountable piece of gear that will take up a single rack space. It also requires a separate power supply made by Vintech.
Using the Vintech Audio X81 isn't too hard at all as it is quite user friendly. If you have any experience with any Neve board, this is quite similar to them no matter what the model really (this is a 1081). Even if you don't specifically have experience with a Neve board, these are pretty much the basic parameters that you are going to see on any channel strip. You have a knob for gain, which is the red one, and then you have four dual layered knobs that control both frequency and gain of a differenent band. There is also a knob that control the high pass filter and a knob that controls the overall output level. Since everything is pretty straight forward, I don't think that a manual is necessary.
The sound of the Vintech Audio X81 is outstanding. This is pretty much an exact match of the Neve 1081 and is made with all class A circuits. The mic pre has an absolutely killer tone as it gives you an extremely full bodied and rich sound. The EQ is quite clean and does exactly as it says it does. It is definitely suitable for applications and genres of all types as it is simply a great sounding channel strip. In my opinion Neve consoles are the best ever made and Vintech has done an outstanding job here emulating that sound.
I first used the Vintech Audio X81 a few years ago and of course was impressed right away. I was expecting it to have a great sound since it is essentially a channel strip from a Neve 1081. I can't say that I really have any complaints whatsoever about this channel strip as it is a great all around choice for professional engineers and studio owners looking for a great single channel mic pre/EQ combination. The price isn't cheap but when compared to an actual Neve, this is quite a deal. I would definitely recommend checking out the Vintech Audio X81 if you are looking for a top end channel strip.