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Old 24th October 2010
Lives for gear
Silent Sound's Avatar
Preamps are overrated in my book. In today's market, just about any preamp can get you good, if not great results. I started on a pair of ART MP Studios, and still use them (rarely). They have a rounded fuzzy sound with a dull high end, and occasionally, that's what I need (like on a kick drum or bass in a sparse composition where I want a mandolin to stand out).

I'm not trying to say the MP Studio is on par with a 1073, but the gap between them isn't immense. As it's been said before, if you want a 1073 sound use a 1073. It's not necessarily better or worse than the ART MP Studio on a given source, just different. I will admit the 1073 is way more versatile, and if I was given a choice between the two, I'd probably pick the 1073 99% of the time. But if I didn't want an aggressive sound to punch through the mix, but rather just add some dirty background low end, I'll grab the ART.

The point I'm getting at is Preamps are tools. You use the proper tool for the job, and it makes the job easier. Great preamps can versatile tools analogous to screwdrivers and pliers. Not so great preamps are more like torx drivers; they won't get used often, but if you need one, you need one.

Most preamps have a unique sound all their own. Most engineers who have been in the business a while, develop a preference for certain preamps, because they become familiar with that sound. Other pres that sound similar, fall short to their ears and are thus deemed inferior to the standard. Truthfully though, tastes are always subjective, and the increased fidelity of some high end preamps are going to be lost on 99% of the consumer sounds systems currently out there.

I think a lot of these posts about "this preamp is the best" and "that one's no good" is just some people trying to defend their conspicuous consumption. No preamp, I don't care how good, comes with built in engineering experience or skill, even though many low enders and some high enders seem to think so. You put a monkey in Abbey Road and I'll give Bruce Swedein a hand-held tape recorder and we'll see who records a better song and who gets poo all over the console.