I'm thinking about a tube preamp and I want to go "all the way." As always, there are too many choices. But the contenders are (so far): Fearn, Avalon, Manley, and Summit.
What I want is a pure preamp--not a channel strip or vocal processor. I can always think about a VoxBox later. But for now, just a preamp.
I'm recording stereo acoustic guitar and vocals, and the occasional drum kit. Mics include KM184s and G-T AM40s for guitar; AKG 414, A-T 4060, and Neumann TLM170R for vocals. I've been using a Peavey VMP-2 preamp for vocals until now.
The preamp will be used to supplement my existing Millennia HV-3. As a guitar player with 30 years' experience, I know that tubes make a difference.
Would somebody (who has used these products) care to rank the preamps I've listed in the first paragraph? BTW, another possibility is the Audio Upgrades treatment for my Peavey. Would that get me in the ballpark?
Thanks in advance for your input. I know this is all subjective but I need somewhere to start.
It kinda depends on your ultimate goals... but I'd suggest that you reconsider the Summit, and start to consider a Pendulum Audio MDP-1A... you may also want to consider investing in some other microphones as well...
Best of luck with this rather difficult decision!!
I have a Summit TPA-200 and a Manley Dual Mono. I wouldn't consider them to be sonically comparable. The Manley is smooth and open, while the Summit is dark and tougher sounding (pardon the terrible pro-audio colloquialisms). I use the Manley on drum OH and the Summit on snare and electric guitars. To my ear, the Manley works better for full range open sounds while the Summit likes mid rangey stuff. Between the Summit and the Manley, I would recommend the Manley for your purposes.
I agree with Fletch, I have a Pendulum MDP 1A . this is a magical piece. It makes everything put through it sound better. particularly OH's and acoustic guitar. Ths best acousic sound i have ever engineered is with XY BLUE Dagonflys into the Pendulum. The stereo image is superb and the sweet detail astonishing. It also makes sampled grand piano sound deep and wide especially when coupled with a Crane Song HEDD A/D. It certainly sounds great at 96 K into Alsihad HD. You will get a good deal at Mercenary give em a call.
Hmm...yeah I know..you've got the usual suspects, and I'm sure you wouldn't be interested in the absolutely beautiful, expensive, handbuilt, can't get them where you are tomorrow afternoon, tube mic pre's that I've got on my desk.
I was thinking of maybe buying Two - but that was before they arrived. Instead I'm going to be buying Eight.They're not cheap.
Which ruins my original plans, :( 'cos I was going to get some of those you've mentioned.
But you wouldn't have heard of these things I enquired about and was kindly sent a couple to demo ..and anyway...what do I know? You guys over there soughta control the pond anyway...
Still feels pretty weird crossing those other names of my list though.....(still gonna get some Telefunken...but later....)
'S funny...living where you are, you'd probably call the ones I've decided to buy as "esoteric high end".Same as we tend to call Manley here...(specially with Manley's imminent price rise...) Course... if you had the time.... I would say, stop. If you are interested in just a tube mic pre, nothing else, no EQ - just total quality front end input then check these out.
tut Erm..but I'm taking you away from the ones you've got on your short list.
I hate that...you put up a post like
"What about the Avalon AD2055?"
and some jerk comes along and says
"The Avalon is a piece of crap.."
"Manley is a load of garbage....
You should get the Frizzeld Burnet instead or your
mother will never talk to you again...."
Which has happened to me a lot on Forums.
So I'm not saying I wouldn't buy Manley or Avalon
-'cos I would, I love their stuff. Seriously. I was just about to...
I should post on the New Gear Forum here....
I just thought for anybody that's interested in something new - for all those SPAudio, Brauners, Soundeluxe, Neumann's, B.L.U.E.S, Audio-Technica, Rodes, Royers, Shure's and whatever mics you've got hangin' around waiting for something with enough high end class to come along....
Anyway, sorry....didn't mean to interupt.....
Hope you don't mind....if you're remotely interested...let me know..I'll be pleased to give you more info. But ....I'm not a salesperson, I'm
just trying to pass on something that any respectable GearSLut worthy of the name should
at least be aware of...even though the chances are you'll never ever touch one - but (sadly and frankly) that's your loss, not mine.
Gotta chime in for the MDP-1a... I love mine. It's an absolutely wonderful piece! I especially like the Pendulum on acoustic gtr but I've found it to be an incredibly useful tool on just about everything I've ever sent through it. The DI/ line amp section abso-****ing-lutely rocks!
You really do want to add this one to your list of possibility's. It's more than a serious contender.
Reading again through the responses to my original post, I'm struck by glowing (ha, ha--no pun intended) recommendations for the Pendulum MDP-1 preamp.
Especially compelling was Fletcher's message. He's steering me toward the $2200 MDP-1 preamp when he could've recommended the $3500 Fearn--he sells both. That tells me the Pendulum is something special. BTW, in answer to his advice about buying more mics, yes--just give me some time. I'm thinking about Royers, maybe some AKG 451s, MD441... the list goes on.
I've looked at the Pendulum web page and it seems to offer everything I want, at least in terms of what's visible from the front panel. If anybody could quantify the differences between the Pendulum and the Fearn (which was my front-runner to begin with), I'd be interested to hear about that.
Off topic, but I just wanted to add my two cents regarding tube preamps at the other end of the price range. Anyone hoping to buy into the tube game for around $500 would do well do pass on the "products" with little viewing windows and a single 12AX7 and take a good look at some mid-market real tube preamps from the old days. For example, an Altec 1566a that has been fully refurb'd can sound FANTASTIC on many sources and can be picked up for $200 or $300. These things are super simple and anyone who can pretend to read a schematic can fully understand how these things work, without much effort. If you need some assistance, Robert Payne at Vintage Loop has cleaned up a couple of my different Altec tube units for a very reasonable fee. For around the same price as a chip based preamp with a window, you can own a real tube preamp in top condition, that's all set to run another 40 years or so.
In your opinion (assuming you have experience with both), will an old Altec deliver the same performance as a new high-end tube pre? Some of these new products' claim to fame is their faithful reproduction of "vintage" sound, and in some cases using the same circuits!
Not that I need more variables to consider, of course...
In your opinion (assuming you have experience with both), will an old Altec deliver the same performance as a new high-end tube pre?
No, and you can't realistically expect a unit that sold for around $100 new to equal a $3000 box. But I'll put my refurb'd 1566a up against almost any $699 box with a viewing window and a single 12ax7.
I wasn't suggesting that anyone consider an old broadcast box instead of a top of the line new preamp. But anyone considering a cheap Guitar Center type toob mic preamp would do well to look at an old real tube preamp, even the less expensive models.
Hi Everyone. I think this is actually my first post to Gearslutz! Nice to see the same familiar "faces" from the other forums.
Actually, I'd put my old tube pres up against anything out there. The result? Different. RCA Ba-21's, Altec 458's, Langevins and say a BA6C all sound really funky and cool in their own way -like old guitar amps. For the most part they do not have that really crisp high end that everyone thinks they want but then complain about later when their digital tracks sound too shrill. They definitely give you a thick tubey middle. These units are one trick ponies so when you put something through them it either sounds great and suddenly your that cool hip guy with the esoteric gear or you just crash and burn.
I just recorded a female rock vocal with Mike and we initially put the girl through a BA6C using it as a mic pre and compressor on the way to Pro Tools. The mic was a Soundeluxe U99. We then tried a Langevin AM16 solid state pre moded for a more extended frequency response through a DBX 160. The differences were night and day but ultimately because the melody was quick and percussive we liked the bite of the AM16 over the big warm tubiness of the BA6C. Were it a slower song we'd have used the BA6C. Everything has it's purpose. Once you've got some standby's like a Neve or whatever then it's fun to go for the fringe.
Originally posted by vsl666 what do all those buttons do ?
that is not a mic pre but a measurement amplifier.
it was used to calibrate other boxes. it can be used as a mic pre but it doesn't have the same color as you might be used to coming out of a V76s or a V76/80 or 120.
I like the V76s the best.
and as far as those 'buttons' go:
Gain +6 dB increments
gain +1db increments
and then a continuously variable between 0 and +1dB.
the mic pre version has no fine gain control. and different input/output transformers.
does the vipre not count as a tube pre? suprised no one has mentioned it. i played with one recently and also got a demo, found it incredibly full of range. it would be my pick for a tube pre right now.
Originally posted by David R. Who has used one of these:...(image snipped)
Phoenix Audio DRS-2. Looks very interesting. I am lusting after the Requsite Audio box, that looks yummy too.
I have one of the pre-production units (DR2146) which is the same pre-amp minus the pad and the individual earth lift. On the DR2146 the "lift" is global and is found on the back. I really can't say enough good things about this mic amp. I've found an R-121/Phoenix combo on e-gtr to be a very special experience indeed. The Phoenix seems to enlarge (for lack of a better term) what you put through it in a very pleasing way... awesome pre!
...of course you do realize there's no tube in it...
wasn't vsl referring to stedel's pic? come on stedel, why not share w/the crowd here too?
hey i'm not stedel but i think i can help you out.
the unit in question is the peach audio pre, made in sydney aust. hand built, valve, class A, yada yada, all the rage and apparently all the big studios around town are clammering to get them.
from memory (and no i have not used one, just going by a magazine review) the controls are as follows from top to bottom in banks of 2:
gain course, gain fine,polarity,high pass filter, input selector (d.i. , mic w\transformer, mic transformerless, i think also maybe there is a high/low impedence or something as well), output selector (unbalanced, transformer balanced, transformerless balanced).
the modules slot into the rack as shown which also houses the power supply and there are plans for a compressor and maybe an eq from memory to slot into the same rack. (8 slots per rack).