Universal Audio 710
this is a bit of a strange beast of a preamp. On the one hand, it has versatility and options; plenty of useful options like Pad, phase, etc. and then there's the "Blend" option that allows a tube to make its way into the circuit (more on that later). But on the other hand, for me, it's just not all that versatile...
The blend control can allow for some great tonal possibilities. when i record sax, i put it on the tube setting which adds a lovely bit of old-school warmth which compliments the sound of the sax very nicely. when i DI a bass in, i put it on the transformer setting, which gives it a bit more of a solid punch. This is a fantastic pre when you find the right instrument / application for it. It really adds something to the signal, and in the best possible way. It's the 710 and the Daking mic pre One that are my go-to pres for recording Sax and acoustic guitar.
It's very easy to use and to get a good sound. I do a lot of remote saxophone session work and most of the time i end up using the 710 with the dial set to "Tube". The best way to describe the sound is clear and defined, but with a slight underlying warmth below the surface that makes the instrument easy to mix, but also a soft fatness. For female vocals, it can tame / round off any harsh top end (including that from a hyped microphone) and give a nice clear mid. The same goes with guitars, both acoustic and electric.
I have only a couple of gripes. the first is that the bottom end is not always particularly tight and can be a little unwieldy when compared to more high-end pres such as Daking's. but this is very subtle and is unlikely to cause any problems. The other problem is that if recording something classical, or something that needs to be very clean, such as violin, bass drum or even overheads, it seems to dull them a little. There isn't really much of a sparkle to this pre and the sound can feel like it has a ceiling, rather than an open top.
Overall, this pre has a great versatile sound, almost "vintage" on the tube, and very solid and modern on the transformer... combining these is a fantastic feature. If recording bright sources that may need a bit of extra warmth, or looking for a good bit of character, this is a great pre to try out. I have this on channel 1 and is my first port of call for most sources and can span many musical styles and feels.