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Nominate your favourite (non-500 series) mic preamp under $500
Old 4th August 2016
  #1
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Nominate your favourite (non-500 series) mic preamp under $500

Nominate your favourite mic preamp under $500


Recording acoustic sounds starts with a microphone...and a preamp!

Audio interfaces often come with great preamps built-in, but the importance of a good standalone unit still remains, be it for an alternative tone, a sonic upgrade or simply because we need more recording channels. It's always great to have a trusty preamp (or two) at our sides and it's even better if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg! With that in mind we'd like to ask:



What's your favourite (non-500 series) mic preamp (under $500)?

Simply post your favourite!

Thanks!

PS: Check out our previous member gear polls and participate in more nominations!
Old 6th August 2016
  #2
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WARM Audio WA12
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Old 7th August 2016
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Hmmm...under $500 is hard. I like my dbx 386 with NOS tubes. Has a nice sheen. Very underrated pre. I definitely use my GAP73 MKII on a lot of stuff e.g. (gritty) bass, snare top, keys. Just got a Daking Mic Pre one but haven't put it through the paces yet. I'm expecting big things from this pre.
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Old 7th August 2016
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Another vote for Warm Audio WA12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Just got a Daking Mic Pre one but haven't put it through the paces yet. I'm expecting big things from this pre.
Ah great pre amp, but it actually comes in above $500 retail,unless someone gives you a 20-30% back hookup. Which is not as common as it used to be.
Old 8th August 2016
  #5
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Studio Projects VTB-1 with OPA 2134 opamps.
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Old 8th August 2016
  #6
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Focusrite ISA One. Ignoring the extra DI preamp and headphone amp, just as a single preamp it is my favorite. Silky, clear, slightly enhanced by the Lundahl transformer.
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Old 8th August 2016
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GAP73 and Foccusrite ISA One
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Old 8th August 2016
  #8
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If we include stuff that has been out of production a while, it would be the Presonus MP20.
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Old 8th August 2016
  #9
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Yes the ISA One is another excellent option. The ISA One offers more for your money but I'd give the WARM WA12 the edge regarding audio quality! I owned a modded Presonus Eureka, GAP Pre73 and VTB1 with upgraded opamps and tube. The Eureka was my pick of those. The PRE73 was a mk1 version and had issues with hum. It sounded pretty good but I found the WARM WA12 sounded thicker and smoother which I preferred. Maybe the PRE73 DLX is a noticeable improvement over the original mkI which would be a contender!? The modded VTB1 was ok but not as clean as the ISA One, Eureka or WA12 at higher gain settings. The modded Eureka that I owned had upgraded opamps and I found this preamp was possibly a fraction cleaner at higher gain settings than the ISA One. The channel strip features were surprisingly useable aswell!
Old 8th August 2016
  #10
If you can find one used, our current favorite in this and some other price ranges is the DBX 576. It's nice to have different tubes because they will change the tone with the Mullard NOS tubes being more wooly and the lower cost ones more articulate. It has a great, old DBX compressor built in. One piece I'd never sell for just the right vocalis.

Spoke with one of the designers, years ago and all the talk of "starved plate" design was part of the sound using 70-80% of the available rating of the tube just made the unit sound better and it does. Also like the sound of the limited EQ and limiters.
Old 8th August 2016
  #11
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WA12
Old 8th August 2016
  #12
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the warm wa12 is the stuff!!
Old 8th August 2016
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKeefe1032 View Post
If you can find one used, our current favorite in this and some other price ranges is the DBX 576. It's nice to have different tubes because they will change the tone with the Mullard NOS tubes being more wooly and the lower cost ones more articulate. It has a great, old DBX compressor built in. One piece I'd never sell for just the right vocalis.

Spoke with one of the designers, years ago and all the talk of "starved plate" design was part of the sound using 70-80% of the available rating of the tube just made the unit sound better and it does. Also like the sound of the limited EQ and limiters.

Is the 576 and the 386 of the same heritage only one with the limiter and EQ? If so this makes sense. I am always surprised at how Hi-Fi and silky smooth my 386 sounds on vocals. I have NOS tubes in mine as well.
Old 10th August 2016
  #14
JAT
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Can't go wrong with either the WA12 or ISA One. The warm is, well, warmer, ie. thicker, while the One makes things sound bigger, more modern. The Warm, however, is the more varied sound to standard, ic interface pres, giving you a wider pallet.
Old 10th August 2016
  #15
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Wa12
Old 10th August 2016
  #16
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No longer made, but Otari MX5050B preamps are nice. And you can often find two (maybe even with a working tape transport!) for under $500.
Old 10th August 2016
  #17
dkr
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+1 for the Focusrite ISA One
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Old 11th August 2016
  #18
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JLM Baby Animal
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Old 11th August 2016
  #19
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Daking Mic Pre One (used) and Focusrite ISA One.
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Old 11th August 2016
  #20
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Goldmike 9844
Old 11th August 2016
  #21
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The Daking mic pre one, ISA One, Pre73, and WA12 are all excellent. I prefer the Daking on drums and bass, ISA on el gtr, GAP plus on ac gtr and vox, whereas the Warm (and Daking) are great all rounders. If I had to pick just one I think it'd be the Daking. Mostly though I don't have a favorite, only different ones I like differently for different reasons... These are really tough questions
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Old 14th August 2016
  #22
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Under $500, that's very tough.

Under $5 is way easier:

Realistic STC 35
2 x Vintage "lively" mic pre's with gorgeous overdriven-transistor distortion,
$4.99 at goodwill (if you see one, grab it!)
Old 14th August 2016
  #23
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TnC ACMP 73
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Old 17th August 2016
  #24
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The Focusrite TrakMaster, original version, without that useless VU meter.
Old 17th August 2016
  #25
Dot
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The Daking is $599. That busts the budget here.

For actually under $500, the Focusrite ISA One.

We've tested and evaluated over 100 preamps over the years, and for a long time I recommended that people stay away from these "middle ground" preamps in the $500 range. I often recommended the cheaper Project Studios VTB-1 and the Rane MS-1b—both of which are under $200.

The ISA One is an excellent preamp, and totally hangs with any of the other slightly colored preamp on the market. It is a "high end" preamp in every sense of the word.

It's by far the one I recommend people buy as a first single-channel preamp. IMO, it's the best general-purpose single-channel preamp on the market at any price.
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Old 17th August 2016
  #26
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So how would you break down the Seventh Circle stuff? The N72 kit is $329. You'd need the single chassis (399) or rack (499) which would bust the budget but if you already had that it would be less than 500. Or second hand would likely be less. And although it's not 500 series, it is modular.
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Old 17th August 2016
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dot View Post
The Daking is $599. That busts the budget here.

For actually under $500, the Focusrite ISA One.

We've tested and evaluated over 100 preamps over the years, and for a long time I recommended that people stay away from these "middle ground" preamps in the $500 range. I often recommended the cheaper Project Studios VTB-1 and the Rane MS-1b—both of which are under $200.

The ISA One is an excellent preamp, and totally hangs with any of the other slightly colored preamp on the market. It is a "high end" preamp in every sense of the word.

It's by far the one I recommend people buy as a first single-channel preamp. IMO,

I got my Daking for $450 used. So it's still in reach for many. They are built like tanks so not to worry purchasing them second hand. I second the vote for the Rane MS1b. Great budget pre. I don't own an MS1b but have used them extensively when I did corporate audio and I'm willing to bet that they don't sound much different then the Daking or the ISA.





Quote:
it's the best general-purpose single-channel preamp on the market at any price.

Just for a little perspective, ISA is a great pre (good recommendation) but if you are looking for something other than vanilla flavor, it's not the pre you want.
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Old 17th August 2016
  #28
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GAP Pre-73.

Out of production nominee: Rane MS 1b
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Old 20th August 2016
  #29
The Warm Audio WA12 is $449 at Sweetwater... not sure why anyone is stating that it's more than $500... and it's my first choice. Second place.. you guessed it... Focusrite ISA One. (Seems like great minds think alike on this topic).
Old 20th August 2016
  #30
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mackie onyx blackjack - 2 channel = £89

DBX GoRack - 2 channel = £70
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