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Art Tube MP- worth replacing tube?
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akgfreak00
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3rd January 2013
Old 3rd January 2013
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Art Tube MP- worth replacing tube?

Hey guys, this is my first post!

I'm recording vocals for my metal band in a couple weeks and about six months ago I bought an ART tube MP. I don't use it much because it gets a nasty hiss when you turn up the gains more than 50%. ...currently i'm using a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 firewire, mogami XLR's, and a Bluebird/beta52/57 (Going to test which mic works best). Usually the Focusrite pre's get the job done, but if I get a decent tube (suggestions?) and replace it, is it worth switching from the Focusrite pre's? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
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3rd January 2013
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akgfreak00
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3rd January 2013
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Thanks for the reply Cisco, I'm a huge fan of The Thong Song

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3rd January 2013
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I've got one of them and modified tube (chinese 12ax7 with an EH 12au7 for less gain and more clarity) and IC (stock opamp, i guess it was a 4580, with an ne5532).

the improvement with these changes, especially the opamp, is really huge: the pre becomes more detailed and bass frequencies are kind of solid now. well, the tone is still "muddy", nothing to do with high end suff, but now it is a bit better.

i don't know whether you'll like it more than focusrite pres (i think i would not), but since you already have one, maybe a test is worth. better to start with the opamp, the replacement costs 1$ and they have the same pinout. if you put a socket for the new IC you can also try with several alternatives, pinout is the same for most dual opamps.

and if you don't like it as a pre, try it as bass DI, i think that's the best application for the tube mp.

edit: don't know why an empty message was sent while i was writing this one.... :S
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3rd January 2013
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Tube really did nothing for me (swapped in a
JJ ECC803s, supposed to improve noise), but these are a starved plate design with terrible noise floor to begin with, so I wasn't expecting much.
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3rd January 2013
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I recently upgraded the tube in my ART Dual Tube Pre and wrote about it here. I definitely appreciated the difference.
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3rd January 2013
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These are different models though, and he's still going to get hiss... do what you will, but I would put the money into a better preamp (or buy a quality DI box instead) and stick with your interface pres for now.
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3rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
Cheap tubes are notorious for being hissy, especially cheap high mu 12AX7s. A low noise 12AX7 replacement like the 5751 may solve this problem for him. The 5751 is built to be low hiss as are other low noise 12AX7 substitutes like the 7025, 6072, and so on.
This is what I put in mine:
JJ ECC802s / Hi-Performance 12AU7 Gold Pin Preamp Vacuum Tube

It boasts noise reduction, but I didn't hear a difference between the stock and this one. I just think with the starved plate design that these low-end tube preamps use just never have enough juice for the tubes to actually do anything other than glow pretty
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3rd January 2013
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The Tube MP also has a reputation for being inconsistent in noise level from unit to unit. Some hiss more than others. How much is from the tube and how much is from mediocre manufacturing QC, I'm not sure.
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3rd January 2013
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Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
So you substituted one offshore tube for another and expected to hear a difference? Try a classic NOS RCA, GE Five Star, Mullard, Telefunken, or Amperex instead.
And I really don't think either makes a difference in a 50 dollar preamp.
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3rd January 2013
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Originally Posted by EricF View Post
The Tube MP also has a reputation for being inconsistent in noise level from unit to unit. Some hiss more than others. How much is from the tube and how much is from mediocre manufacturing QC, I'm not sure.
It's a 50 dollar preamp. I would bet on the latter.
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3rd January 2013
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It's a 12ax7. They're the most common type of tubes out there. Find a guitar player and ask if they have a good one you can borrow for a minute. If you can tell the difference, buy your own. If not, don't worry about it. If you can't find a guitar player willing to let you borrow a 12ax7, then buy a used one off of ebay. Sell if it if you don't like it and you won't be out much.

In my experience with 3 Art Studio MP's, yes a better tube will make it sound better. A better tube won't make it sound great, though. It's always going to be a pretty dark and gritty preamp. Still, that works great for some things. Use it for bass guitar, kick drum, or with any microphone with a harsh and piercing top end. They're not as bad as many people say, but no, they're not great.
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3rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Sound View Post
It's a 12ax7. They're the most common type of tubes out there. Find a guitar player and ask if they have a good one you can borrow for a minute. If you can tell the difference, buy your own. If not, don't worry about it. If you can't find a guitar player willing to let you borrow a 12ax7, then buy a used one off of ebay. Sell if it if you don't like it and you won't be out much.

In my experience with 3 Art Studio MP's, yes a better tube will make it sound better. A better tube won't make it sound great, though. It's always going to be a pretty dark and gritty preamp. Still, that works great for some things. Use it for bass guitar, kick drum, or with any microphone with a harsh and piercing top end. They're not as bad as many people say, but no, they're not great.
Well, mine was bought used, so maybe it's one of the flaky ones. I don't know, but if the OP finds it noisy, I wouldn't suggest sinking more money into it.

+1 to borrowing a tube and seeing if it makes a difference first.

Also, and I'm repeating myself, but the Tube MP is not the same as the Studio, Dual, etc. they are both at least twice as much retail as the Tube MP (with no vu meter). Apples to apple sauce comparison.
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3rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
It's a 50 dollar preamp. I would bet on the latter.
I'd say that's a pretty reasonable bet.
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3rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
LOL.

Circuits are circuits and all are subject to the electrical laws of physics, even circuits costing only $50. The tube has no idea what the price of the circuit is and won't suddenly become noisy just because the circuit is too cheap.
So you're saying that all the internals besides the tube is irrelevant to the noise floor of the preamp?
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3rd January 2013
Old 3rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akgfreak00 View Post
Hey guys, this is my first post!

I'm recording vocals for my metal band in a couple weeks and about six months ago I bought an ART tube MP. I don't use it much because it gets a nasty hiss when you turn up the gains more than 50%. ...currently i'm using a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 firewire, mogami XLR's, and a Bluebird/beta52/57 (Going to test which mic works best). Usually the Focusrite pre's get the job done, but if I get a decent tube (suggestions?) and replace it, is it worth switching from the Focusrite pre's? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
Here, check this out - watch in 720p for decipherable audio differences and use monitors or decent headphones. I found it rather interesting to listen to.

ART Tube MP Preamp Review, Part 3, Tube Change Comparisons - YouTube

Cheers!
#17
4th January 2013
Old 4th January 2013
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Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
YES, more or less. But instead of using the word "irrelevant" I would use "inconsequential" because that would make your statement a bit more accurate. In the big scheme of things, tubes and resistors are ALWAYS the noisiest components in any circuit. And of these two, tubes are an order of magnitude noisier than resistors. And it's very easy to minimize resistor noise by simply using metal film resistors which is what ART does. In fact even cheap metal film resistors have low noise, so hands down, a tube stands to be the noisiest device in the circuit.

And in case you are wondering, the third noisiest component would be any solid state devices used, but the Art MP uses modern opamps which for practical purposes are so low in noise that they are close to being noiseless. And capacitors are completely noiseless, unless they become leaky which is a way of saying unless they break their dielectric which shouldn't happen for many years

In sum, the noise in any Art MP is substantially coming from the tube. And the reason that the MP's noise varies from unit to unit, even when brand new, is that there exists a wide variance in the consistency and quality control of the tube. Even the best NOS RCA tubes will vary in noise from one to another, albeit less.
I'm not qualified to argue with you on the technical merits of the design beyond what I've read online. It's also possible that I'm 0 for 2 on tubes as far as Q/A goes, but at the end of the day, it's a $50, scratch that, $29 preamp; if all it took was a decent tube, every professional studio would have racks of them... but they don't, so surely something has to give here.
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4th January 2013
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Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
Even with the best tube available, an Art MP will come only to within 50% of what a good high end tube preamp will deliver. It's the law of diminishing returns. The first 50% costs you $50. The last 50% costs you $2000.

But with a lousy tube, you only get the first 25%.
Fair enough.

This conversation has piqued my interest enough to do some A/Bing with another tube/preamp (I have a Presonus TubePre with a Sovtek 12ax7 in there, I believe; I don't find it nearly as noisy as the MP).

I want to see if either preamp exhibits any more/less noise when swapping tubes. If I gain another usable preamp out of the mix, great, because right now my MP is collecting dust.

Should be interesting.
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4th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
So you substituted one offshore tube for another and expected to hear a difference? Try a classic NOS RCA, GE Five Star, Mullard, Telefunken, or Amperex instead.

Don't knock it until you try it.

JJ's tubes are very consistent and while they'll never be a Mullard or an RCA they certainly do a fine job.

In my experience they make better power tubes then pre amp tubes but anything with their name on it is leaps and bounds above Electro Harmonix/Sovtek/Groove Tubes/What ever the company feels like branding.

FWIW swapping the tube in the unit does make a difference, but it's not a much of a "night and day" thing.
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4th January 2013
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Originally Posted by eastsidetone View Post
Don't knock it until you try it.

JJ's tubes are very consistent and while they'll never be a Mullard or an RCA they certainly do a fine job.

In my experience they make better power tubes then pre amp tubes but anything with their name on it is leaps and bounds above Electro Harmonix/Sovtek/Groove Tubes/What ever the company feels like branding.

FWIW swapping the tube in the unit does make a difference, but it's not a much of a "night and day" thing.
That was my impression of the JJs as well and they get good reviews for quality/consistency (which is why I was skeptical the tube was the source of the noise on these units).

As for whether it's worth it, I could never get past the noise on mine to truly appreciate whether the tube made a difference or not as it certainly didn't reduce the noise level.
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4th January 2013
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I have a tube MP. I use it as a DI. I've used it with a few condensers and have have good results, but every time I try and plug a sm7 or 58..... Blah..... Noise. But hey I only paid $40 for the thing. Don't bother replacing the tube. It's a disposable pre.
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4th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastsidetone View Post
Don't knock it until you try it.

JJ's tubes are very consistent and while they'll never be a Mullard or an RCA they certainly do a fine job.

In my experience they make better power tubes then pre amp tubes but anything with their name on it is leaps and bounds above Electro Harmonix/Sovtek/Groove Tubes/What ever the company feels like branding.

FWIW swapping the tube in the unit does make a difference, but it's not a much of a "night and day" thing.
Retubing "can" be a night and day thing. I've gotten good results with SOME new tubes but the NOS RCAs tend to be the most pleasing to my ears. I stock up when I find them for a really good deal (think less than $1 each).

The retail price of a unit to me has no bearing on its worth. These cheaper units certainly can be nice flavor pieces to have lying around.
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