The bigger your pro audio system grows, the more channels of audio you've got to route... and the greater the need for a channel strip in your setup. Their job may not be glamorous, but it's certainly important, and one of the cool things about channel strips is that, depending on which models you put to work for you, there are plenty of ways to add utility to the mix. For example, channel strips have the built-in amplification needed to boost signals to line level. Moreover, most models even include a microphone preamp so you can push some juice to your condenser mics and other components that need a phantom power source.
Beyond the basic functions common to every channel strip, there are many models offering added benefits that can really make a difference in your pro audio configuration. Check out the Avalon VT-737SP Pure Class A Mono Vacuum Tube Channel Strip and the PreSonus Studio Channel Tube Channel Strip for instance: these models are based on real vacuum tubes. That gives them the ability to inject vintage-quality warmth into the signal, just like classic guitar amplifiers. And it's only one example of the specialty features you can find in channel strips.
If a rack-mounted channel strip is a bit on the large side for your needs, then no sweat - you can go for something a little more compact, like the Solid State Logic X-Rack VHD Microphone Preamp, Radial Engineering PreMax 500 Series Channel Strip or Avalon V5 Pure Class A Mono Mic-Line Pre-Re-Amp & DI. On the other hand, if you're equipping a professional recording studio and in need of something truly world-class, the D.W. Fearn VT-15 Vacuum Tube Recording Channel and Manley VOXBOX Combo are all the proof you need that, sometimes, bigger really is better.
With so many channel strips in this section to choose from, the first question you'll want to ask yourself is "how high-end a unit do I really need?" There's no sense investing in a high-end pro unit for a home hobby studio, and on the flip-side, you don't want a channel strip designed for casual use if you're an industry-leading recording engineer. Matching the right model to your situation is the best way to choose - and don't forget to check out the top-selling and best-rated models to help inform your decision. Sometimes, your peers are the best resources to factor into your choice.