anybody think a S/H peavey valve mic pre VMP-2? can hold its head up in this company? two channels so definitely going to be under $500 per channel, maybe even catch a whole unit for under $500....
Yes absolutely. I have one with handpicked NOS Mullards from Bowie and it is every bit as good as my Daking and ua 4-710d pres. It actually beats the ua in the sound department and edges the Daking because it has an onboard tube EQ.
The Daking is obviously a little cleaner and HiFi (just a little though after swapping tubes in the VMP) and probably just a hair "leaner" if you get my meaning. The differences are pretty subtle despite what you may think after reading threads like these. Well kept VMP-2's seem to be going somewhere in the $600-$800 range.
[EDIT] The VMP's line outs sound noticeably better than the xformer coupled XLR outs. I tested and confirmed this on my unit and the difference is drastic. so make sure to use the TRS outs!
The Black lion Auteur belongs on the list. About $500 for two channels.
Now if you open this up to 500/channel, Then the Vintage maker M12 is a great API 4 channel clone for about $1200. I also has 2 channels of DI. The Vintage maker Never clone is over 500/chan, but also great bang/buck.
I also just noticed a Grace 801 that did not sell on ebay for under 2K w/ 8 channels.
I was never a fan of the GAP. Poorly made in my opinion. The WA12 on the other hand was amazingly good for the price. I now have the Tonebeast, the WA-76, the PEQ and the WA-2a. Warm is making some great sounding, well made stuff at reasonable prices.
Almost every single poster is saying he or she has found a favorite preamp within the suggested criteria. The fact that they are a number of different preamps is enlightening. Some like it hot, and some do not. Some like preamps with hair and some like them smooth and silky.
The two most mentioned preamps are the GAP 73 and the ISA One. I happen to own both. I expected to love the GAP 73, but after trying it on many sources with many different settings, I did not love it. I don't dislike it, and I use it occasionally. It's a "hairy" preamp that sounds a little wooly to me. It's not the sound I'm after. But it is the sound that almost half the responders like, and I respect their choice. I've heard things from some of them that I like a lot.
The ISA preamps are simply more to my taste. I understand why the "hairy" crowd find them boring. They don't do anything dramatic to the source. But to me they do a subtle enhancement of most sources that I respond to. That's apart from all the choices and features they have. If you don't like the basic sound, the extras are unimportant.
So... To the poster, try those two preamps. I can almost guarantee that one of them will go very far toward the sound you want, and put you into a genre, smooth or hairy, where you will find your preamp.
They are hard to find, but if you get a chance grab a ADK AP-1. Very clean, very easy to use, and if you want you can switch out the op-amps and transformers to customize the pre-amp for the instrument or mic that you are using for that recording. Very nice.
I love this thing.
And it has a "direct" input right on the front.
Larry Villella over at ADK came up with a winner. I have no idea why they don't make these any more.
New? Warm WA12. Used? Well, I paid under five bills for my Warm TB12s, which are a fair bit more versatile sonically.
'Course, used is a whole different animal. I wound up paying a hundred bucks for my Yamaha M916 desk, which works out to... $6.25 per channel, before the cost of a third of a can of contact cleaner sprayed into the thing to get things up and running. It sees regular use alongside "better" gear, particularly for drum tracking.
The GAP Pre73 MK III "PLUS" is $499 and the "Plus" designates that it comes pre-installed from the factory with two Carnhill transformers. That's the cheapest Neve-style preamp that I know of that includes two name-brand transformers. For an extra $100 at $599, I decided to go Seventh Circle Audio N72 over the GAP Plus. The N72 is excellent and the best pre I've personally used.
The Seventh Circle Audio A12 (API style, like the Warm Audio) is only $399 pre-installed in the one-shot chassis (CineMag input/output transformers, and choice of output transformer: steel, nickel, or 50/50): https://www.seventhcircleaudio.com/products/PC01
The Warm Audio WA12 also uses two Cinemag transformers at $449
The Warm Audio TB12 ToneBeast can be found used for $400-500
The ISA One does use a Lundahl transformer, but only one, and it's still a very clean pre overall not heavy transformer coloration. It's clean, accurate, and sure perhaps boring (which can be good) but it's a step up from most interface pre's like Mackie Onyx or Presonus Xmax. Also all the added features are really nice, the headphone amp is INCREDIBLY beefy and sounds great.