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Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII Mic Preamp...Is it worth it?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII Mic Preamp...Is it worth it?

Want to upgrade my studio. Currently, I have no preamps, just good mics going into my audio interface. Looking for legit pre-amps, that can help me achieve a vintage, folk/rock sound.

Are these Golden age preamps legit, or am I just better off saving more money and buying a Neve 500 series, or something UA...or does anyone have any better suggestions on budget preamps that are worthwhile? I'm not looking for plugins, def working towards a more organic sound. I've been slowly building a home studio as I can afford to upgrade. I've thought about used gear, but I'm paranoid about buying something that expensive used, only to have it not work properly and still be out a substantial amount of cash.


My main focus is recording acoustic guitar and vox...but I'd also like to be able to add other instrumentation as necessary. Def can't afford more than a couple preamps, so I'll have to track things separately, unfortunately, but I;m trying to build up to having gear that allows me to at least make acoustic, radio quality tracks from home. I don't want to cut any corners that I don't have to, but I'm also on a def budget. Any suggestions?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 

I'm following this with interest, I'm in the same situation!
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
I picked up the MK III Plus four years ago. I'm no expert on preamps nor do I know what a real Neve sounds like, but I was pleasantly surprised how good the gap 73 sounded. It has a hefty weight to it when you pick it up. I've since upgraded to a more expensive Chandler pre but still use this one along side it if I'm tracking two sources. Definitely a different sound but still finds its place. If you don't know already, GA has a newer version 73 out called the premier. The reviews have been very good and still around the same price point. Hope this helps.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Thanks. been looking around at some of the Lachapell pre's that have gone on sale recently too. Wondering if that might be better option?
Old 1 week ago
  #5
i just got in the preamp game last year for my home stu, and i remember after all my research on here figuring that the top contenders for me were the GAP 73 pre, Warm Audio Tonebeast, and the WA12.

i really didn't like the sound of the WA12 in audio clips, it is a cool preamp, but if you want to add any subtle character to your signal it is a one trick pony, and not the sound i wanted to be married to for my rack.

so i was between the gap73 and the tonebeast. i went with the tonebeast for vain reasons, had more settings, rack ready, and i found it was highly regarded for a pre in that price range. i'm sure the 73 is great, i have heard a lot of awesome stuff, but i am so happy i have the tonebeast. so versatile, could run a lot of gain (useful if you ever use an SM7 or similar) and sounds spectacular. could be totally transparent if needed as well (to my ear at least). it also taught me a lot about pres and opened my eyes to what different transformers and op-amps might do to a signal... very cool and very useful
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
I've either owned or used 20+ preamps over the years including the original GAP Pre-73. After years of trying out various options I wouldn't get to hung up on preamps as they don't make as big a difference as you would expect until you get to seriously large projects where you are stacking around 20+ tracks recorded with the same preamp. There are other factors that will make a much larger difference to the over sound. The source, mic, acoustics of the room have a much bigger effect on the sound of the recording, even mic positioning etc.

I have a pair of Warm TB12's here which I managed to get a fantastic stock clearance deal a while back. I paid £379 each for mine which is a bargain and I find these to be excellent preamps that are capable of a subtle variety of tones. I upgraded the X18 opamps to the Hardy 990c+'s which have a slight extra clarity in the clean settings. Whilst the variety of the tone settings are subtle I can definitely hear them on solo tracks and the more tracks you add with this preamp the differences become more apparent. At this price range I find the TB12 be at the sweetspot for audio quality/build quality/features and price and I'm really happy with mine.
Here is a song where the Warm TB12's were used for most of tracks recorded :-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAJYa8GXJ_Q

Beyond the source, mic and acoustics, the next biggest thing I found that gave me a more "vintage" tone is adding a hardware compressor. I'm only using a budget Klark Teknik KT-2a but am really surprised at the performance of this compressor. My tracking chain now is source/mic, Warm TB12, Klark Teknik KT-2a or 76-KT into my interface. This is my favourite tracking chain I've owned (despite some of the previous preamps I had here to try cost more than £1000).

Another preamp that really stands out for me at this price range is the 500 series Cranborne Audio - Camden. Whilst you will need to buy a dedicated 500 Series lunchbox this preamp really does offer a much more noticeable variety of tones with excellent specifications. However, I would definitely recommend in investing in a high quality 500 series lunchbox that doesn't have excess noise issues which makes this a more expensive option!
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Here for the gear
I'll echo what dickiefunk stated about the relative subtlety of external pres. I've owned the Warm wa12, GAP pre-73 (mki & mkII), as well as the GAP PREQ-73 Premier. Had to sell off gear after a job loss so now that I'm getting back into recording I went back through old tracks to help justify a preamp purchase. Problem is.....some of those tracks I don't remember if I was using a pre or not. If listening doesn't reveal it, I'm on way too much of a budget to pay for an upgrade I can't hear. Unless you're cranking the gain the difference is marginal on a single track or two. At least with budget pres, I can't speak to a real Neve. May be worth it if using certain dynamic mics or ribbons though since those are gain hungry.

Now for mics....I can hear the differences better. Same with room acoustics. ESPECIALLY PERFORMANCE. That in my experience is the hardest part of recording. Not the sexiest answer I know.

I won't suggest any plugins since you're not interested, I'll just say that for a couple hundred bucks I can have vintage gear emulations of gear I could never afford. I've found this economical and effective enough. Are they perfect? Doubtful.

But I do get recordings that sound great to my ears and aren't frought with that digital edginess. I'm a solo folk singer by the way so I'm coming from a similar place.
Old 6 days ago
  #8
JAT
Lives for gear
The biggest difference I noticed between stock interface pres and most outboard pres is the transformers and other “goodies” the interface pres don’t include. Most interface pres are perfectly fine but don’t have as much gain as outboard pres and also tend to crap out quickly when driven, whereas outboards have higher gain and tend to saturate pleasantly before distorting. I was using an Original Komit compressor which combines a smoothies here comp with an old style diode limiter which really crunches. I spent half a day mastering a soft acoustic song, getting the vol up and consistent but adding a bit of hair from the limiter. Worth the time. It is the similar with pres. A transformer based outboard pre sounds and reacts smoother and thicker than a stark ic interface pre. And more gain means you can back off recording more, giving more room tone and air as welol as providing natural compression.

I haven’t used the golden age but the warm pres will get you there with a different, more classic tone. As does the isa one , which is more neutral.
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