Published by mastermix on 11th April 2012
Harrison Lineage 8 Channel Mic Preamp
As soon as I heard about this unit, I was intrigued. Four vintages of Harrison preamps in a 1RU package? Sign me up! After I saw it in person at AES I decided to take the plunge if the opportunity arose. At $2795 list, that's about $350 per preamp, which is a great deal in my book.
In my case, this unit will supplement the 24 onboard pres in a Yamaha DM2000VCM, which are perfectly serviceable pres but they have been described as being sterile. I wanted some different flavors so the Lineage fit the bill.
After building the DB-25 breakout cable, I installed the unit into a open rack space in the Argosy rack where the console resides and connected the I/O into the existing harness. It is a hefty piece. Build quality is solid, the switches feel good though the gain pots have a little bit of wobble to them.
On the front panel from left to right are the four vintages of preamps:
Channels 1 and 2 are the current Trion console's pre design. These are Lundahl transformer balanced inputs which have some interesting features. Besides the obvious input gain, phantom power and pad(-20dB) there is a button labeled "Fix". This button switches the input gain to a recessed trimpot which presumably would be used for a calibrated input gain. Additionally there is an "Inst" button which switches the Instrument input circuitry. There are also front panel combo inputs with associated switches that allow connection of an XLR or 1/4" DI input. Very convenient for tracking instruments or mics in the control room.
Channels 3 and 4 are "reminiscent of" the 32c/MR Series console pre design. These are parallel discrete inputs. Controls are an input gain control, phantom power and -20db pad.
Channels 5 and 6 are "reminiscent of" the Series 10/950 console pre design. These are single discrete input stages with an op-amp driven reference. Controls are an input gain control, phantom power and -20db pad.
Channels 7 and 8 are "reminiscent of" the Series 12/LPC console pre design. These are single discrete input stages with dual driven output stages with FET compensated headroom. Controls are an input gain control, phantom power and -20db pad.
All pres have signal overload LED's which illuminate at +18dB(max output +24dB), and all outputs are electrically balanced via a DB-25 connector. In retrospect I did find the lack of polarity reversal switches on the pres a bit strange, but that can be rectified in different ways before or after the unit if need be. Detailed specs are available in the product information link.
First tryout was a session of voice students with piano accompaniment. The piano was miked with a Rode NT4, which went to the Trion preamps. Vocals were miked with a Beyer MC740, which went to one of the 32c/MR Series pres to a Gain Brain for some light compression going the the DAW. All of these sources were then connected to the DM2000VCM via input insert points, then out to the DAW via ADAT lightpipe.
All of the pres were extremely quiet. The Trion pres captured the full range of the Kawai grand piano, very natural sounding with no EQ, though the resultant signal took additional equalization well. There was tons of gain available… while I did not have to pad the pre, the gain structure was such that I did not have to add very much in this case(spec is 70dB without pad with a EIN of >127 dB). The 32c/MR preamp revealed all of the nuances of the various vocalists(almost 20) for better or worse, but isn't that what a pre is supposed to do? Input gain of course varied by vocalist but the range covered them all without going to extremes.
I am quite satisfied so far, I am looking forward to trying the Lineage on some additional sound sources, especially drums and instruments that can utilize the DI inputs.