best bang for the buck on tube powred mic pre-amps, and compression
emanuel gears
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#1
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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best bang for the buck on tube powred mic pre-amps, and compression

can anybody tell me the the least expensive tube powered mic pre i can buy that won't make me frown? Tube powered Compression? Any opinions about ART pro audio?
#2
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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Cheapest I used that was OK was TLA Ivory series - I had the 5051. Liked it a lot esp on DI.

Do a search on starved plate and then avoid them like the plague.
RTR
#3
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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For a cheap tube powered mic pre I would look at the Art mpa gold, I like it a lot, I have also heard good things about the GAP73!!
#4
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTR View Post
For a cheap tube powered mic pre I would look at the Art mpa gold, I like it a lot, I have also heard good things about the GAP73!!
How did you get from 1990 to now and still get confused about what's a tube pre and a transformer balanced solid state one(GAP73)...?

This here is a cheap tube pre (2 channels, one EF86 based, one 12ax7) that sounds great! Started life as a Roberts 770 tape machine...lovingly modded by RodC on the TapeOp board.....you can find his build thread on there if you search for "the boris"....dunno if he'd make any more, but he is a stunning human being and should he decide to build one for you then all I can say is you'd get a frighteningly cheap and excellent/authentic sounding not in any way starved or shoddy pre........one that'll make you throw TLA and ART stuff in the bin!

I was selling one of my two a while ago, but luckily changed my mind in time.....these are staying with me! ;-)
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#5
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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I own the ART MPA Gold as well as a pair of Electro Harmonix 12AY7 preamps.

The Electro Harmonix is really a wonderful preamp. The MPA gold (I have it with a pair of good telefunkens) has yet to prove to me how special it is. I haven't tried it enough to judge properly.

If you're patient you can find the Electro Harmonix 12AY7 preamps on ebay for under $140 per channel. New they cost $189. They are a barebones preamp without any fancy colorful lights or buttons, but they are in a much higher league than the MPA gold IMHO.
#6
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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If you're looking for a great inexpensive tube compressor try the Bellari RP583. I picked one up for next to nothing and find it very useful. It's dual channel as well (stereo linkable even!).
#7
27th July 2009
Old 27th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soul&folk View Post
I own the ART MPA Gold as well as a pair of Electro Harmonix 12AY7 preamps.

The Electro Harmonix is really a wonderful preamp. The MPA gold (I have it with a pair of good telefunkens) has yet to prove to me how special it is. I haven't tried it enough to judge properly.

If you're patient you can find the Electro Harmonix 12AY7 preamps on ebay for under $140 per channel. New they cost $189. They are a barebones preamp without any fancy colorful lights or buttons, but they are in a much higher league than the MPA gold IMHO.
+1...so true.

The EH 12AY7 is special and has a sound and character unrivaled in that price range, seriously. A totally different sound than the ART unit. It's tight, focused, a little dark, with a slight roll-off in the high's which adds to it's discreet analog feel and it's not hyped anywhere in the spectrum. It accels with acoustic guitar's wind instruments, male vox and toms. It doesn't sound fantastic with every single mic (but no mic pre does really), doesn't give you a lot of gain for dynamic mic's or ribbons. Just make sure if you order a Whirlwind Little Imp to go with each unit you buy to help you interface with your equipment. Trust me, just do that. The little imp is pretty much a necessity I've found, but that's just my experience, not everyone's. The EH totally loves the MK012 mic's. One of the other cool things about the EH is it leaves a small footprint on your sound canvass leaving so much space for other instruments, allowing for better separation in your mixes.

The ART MPA is more open (not huge, but open), warm, and versatile. Nothing really "special" as mentioned above, but extremely useful. Easy to swap out tubes and tubes are like...the first plug-in. Makes it easy to change the voicing. It's reliable and trouble free, quality construction.

Same goes for the ART Pro VLA I and II for compression. Hard to beat for $299 or less. I'd recommend (on the cheap) a Behri compressor but they're so hit/miss because of QC...you just never know what you're going to get with them unfortunately.
#8
27th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Just make sure if you order a Whirlwind Little Imp to go with each unit you buy to help you interface with your equipment. Trust me, just do that. The little imp is pretty much a necessity I've found, but that's just my experience, not everyone's.
I remember reading on the TapeOp forum (written by the designer himself) that a passive DI turned backwards is how to turn this mic preamp into a tube DI for bass guitar and other line in needs. It sounds though that you mean more than that. Can you elaborate on how the imp has helped you with this preamp?
RTR
#9
28th July 2009
Old 28th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
How did you get from 1990 to now and still get confused about what's a tube pre and a transformer balanced solid state one(GAP73)...?

This here is a cheap tube pre (2 channels, one EF86 based, one 12ax7) that sounds great! Started life as a Roberts 770 tape machine...lovingly modded by RodC on the TapeOp board.....you can find his build thread on there if you search for "the boris"....dunno if he'd make any more, but he is a stunning human being and should he decide to build one for you then all I can say is you'd get a frighteningly cheap and excellent/authentic sounding not in any way starved or shoddy pre........one that'll make you throw TLA and ART stuff in the bin!

I was selling one of my two a while ago, but luckily changed my mind in time.....these are staying with me! ;-)
I was not saying it was a tube pre..I was just saying that I heard it was good..get over it idiot!!
#10
28th July 2009
Old 28th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTR View Post
I was not saying it was a tube pre..I was just saying that I heard it was good..get over it idiot!!
lol......ok, ok....only teasing about, no need to lash out mate

The man WAS asking for suggestions of tube preamps however........
#11
28th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soul&folk View Post
I remember reading on the TapeOp forum (written by the designer himself) that a passive DI turned backwards is how to turn this mic preamp into a tube DI for bass guitar and other line in needs. It sounds though that you mean more than that. Can you elaborate on how the imp has helped you with this preamp?
There are a lot of interfaces out there that claim to have balanced xlr inputs (m-audio Delta 1010LT, for example) but they're not "truly" balanced; they're "electronically"/"internally" balanced. For one reason or another the EH pre doesn't like this kind of arrangement and as a result displays grounding issues, hissing noises, "squealing", etc...it's very ugly, LOL. You can find tons of threads complaining about this issue; I've complained about this emphatically. Put a $14 Whirlwind Little Imp at the end of your xlr output cable before hitting your interface or mixer and the problem is resolved.
#12
28th July 2009
Old 28th July 2009
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+1 on the ART MPA Gold. I'm currently using the line outs on a Digital MPA, which is the same thing, just has digital out option...I've got some JJ Tesla ECC83 tubes in there, and it's beautiful! Takes a good moment or two to get accustomed to the different options and sounds of the unit, but I love that it has so many!

I'm looking to pick up an MPA Gold, as well as a VLA II in the near near future. I love to stick around 3-$350 for individual equipment buys...there's a lot of great stuff out there.

I guess the best thing to keep in mind is changing out those tubes. JJ's are consistent production and always sound decent. I used to use them in my amps, but now upgraded to some NOS tubes...In my opinion, it's not worth it to put Mullards, or Telefunkens in a Prosumer box like an ART...The circuit's only using 1 tube per channel, which isn't very much, but still is running decent voltage on that 1 tube. Good buy!
#13
28th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
There are a lot of interfaces out there that claim to have balanced xlr inputs (m-audio Delta 1010LT, for example) but they're not "truly" balanced; they're "electronically"/"internally" balanced. For one reason or another the EH pre doesn't like this kind of arrangement and as a result displays grounding issues, hissing noises, "squealing", etc...it's very ugly, LOL. You can find tons of threads complaining about this issue; I've complained about this emphatically. Put a $14 Whirlwind Little Imp at the end of your xlr output cable before hitting your interface or mixer and the problem is resolved.
I must have been lucky then. I bought 2 of these, one new and one used, and neither of them have any issues. I did read that I need to be aware that the outputs are balanaced so I bought 2 short cables that are balanced XLR to TRS and that's what I use from the xlr outputs of each to the 1/4" inputs of the interface and I haven't experienced any of those issues.
#14
28th July 2009
Old 28th July 2009
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similar to the TLA Ivory, the older HHB Radius stuff. Same designer, different branding and distribution. I use the 4 channel Radius 10 for lots of things.
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