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GAP-73 vs. ART Pro MPA II for "warmth" Single-Channel Preamps
Old 25th December 2010
  #1
Gear Nut
 

GAP-73 vs. ART Pro MPA II for "warmth"

Hey guys!

I'm in the market for a preamp for my microphone, a Shure KSM-27. I was almost 100% convinced of getting a GAP-73 because of all of the amazing things I've heard about it, but I wanted some feedback before I commit.

My microphone (a Shure KSM-27) has a very bright sound--a slight frequency-boost in the high frequencies. It's definitely not a "dark" sounding mic--it's clean, but not dark.

I sing tenor/baritone, and yet I have a very full-voice--my vocal teacher at college describes it as the "perfect, full-voice for broadway/opera." My voice is not thin in the slightest, but very full (even when I sing high notes in tenor).

With my KSM-27 (going through the pres on my interface), I feel like it doesn't give my voice justice--it sounds somewhat bright, and not as "warm."

My question is this--will the GAP-73 do my voice justice? Or will I need something with a different kind of warmth, such as the ART Pro MPA II? I only have $300 in my budget to spend (the rest of the budget is going towards other studio equipment I need for a full-featured setup). Will getting a tube-pre be better suited for my voice, or does the GAP-73 warm up the signal enough to sound good with my voice?

I have some old clips from a studio I recorded at 3 years ago when I was a sophomore in High School. The engineer (who was a college student) was running my vocals through an Audio Technica mic (either a 2020 or a 2035, not sure which one) and then going through an ART MPA Gold. I thought the combination sounded somewhat decent, some of these clips might give you a sense of what my voice sounds like and what kind of pre I need). There are only one-minute clips of each song on the website.

Izzy Wignall Music Myspace on Myspace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Videos

Also to note, I do NOT plan on recording anyone else in this setup--for the most part (unless I record a duet-solo here and there), this setup is strictly for my music--so, the fact that the ART is more versatile isn't a "pro" in my decision-making process! Also, I don't necessarily need two pres at all--I only need one for the time being to record vocals.

Thanks guys! And Merry Christmas!

~Israel Wignall
Old 25th December 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
I haven't used either, but i'd sooner by the GAP pre73...its a common myth that tube pre's are the only warm pre's...the GAP is still pretty warm, i'm in the market to buy one at the moment...probably wouldn't look twice at the ART though...thats just my opinion though.

Also note, my main mic pre at the moment is a UA 710, thats got a tube and a solid state preamp that you blend between. The solid state side is just as warm as the tube side...just different. The tube will be a bit softer, and the solid state more punchy, on this particular piece the tops are rounded a bit, which i like....just threw that in there to show that warmth doesn't necessarily have to mean tube...

Hope that helps...my voice is generally too bright with most condenser's anyway, so i just use an sm7b, works wonders...but you need a lot of gain for one of those...so i'd go for the GAP pre73 first...
Old 25th December 2010
  #3
I checked out your songs and it sounds fine as is. Work on getting your vocals even better than what they are! Don't stress about the gear!
Old 25th December 2010
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Nelson89, thanks for the input!

Chris Lago,
Hey! Those recording were done at a studio I recorded at years back--it wasn't my gear. Right now I have a Focusrite Pro24, but not microphone pre with color. And yes, those are old recordings from when I was in High School--I've been working on the vocals with private lessons and such for the past few years, my vocals have improved Thanks for the input! Btw, I checked out some of your songs on your myspace--good job, I really enjoy what I heard!

Something else I've been looking at--have you guys ever heard of URS Saturation, or SPL TwinTube? I know that getting good hardware is usually much better than plugins, but would these possibly give me a warmer sound from my Focusrite Pres? Should I even invest in a preamp, or could my pres sound warm with plugs? Do any of you guys have experience with saturation plugins?

Thanks!
Old 25th December 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
Ummmm....some plugs are actually pretty good...its always much easier to get warmth from a pre though. Some of the nomad factory stuff isn't too bad if you actually use it right...other than that i just use my UAD plugs. URS have a few good plugs, i tried out some of their neve stuff and that, but just seemed a little harsh compared to the UAD, however the URS Classic Console Strip pro was pretty decent once you get your head around it. (its actually much easier to use if you know how to use some of the hardware its emulating), its pretty in depth...but thats on special for $299.99 right now. Haven't used the URS saturator, don't have a need for it so yeh...
Old 25th December 2010
  #6
RiF
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RiF's Avatar
GAP-73 vs. ART Pro MPA II for "warmth"

I have the URS Saturator for a year now and I am liking it less and less. But the reason might be that since I am using more outboard gear, I dislike pretty much all of my plugins. Especially all those wannabe-analog type of plugs. They do not replace the subtle and musical mojo of nice (not all have it) analog gear.


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Old 25th December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
Funny how I reach for a tube pre when I want "sparkle", higher harmonics.. and solid state pres with xformers when I want beef and warmth.

I think the natural compression and usually some sort of roll-off on the highs of certain tube pres
give the imho totally wrong impression that tube pres/gear are warmer than solid state ones..
If you think about it, the most colored, beefier, and warm pres are all solid state: 1073, 512c, Chandler, etc..
The "vintage style" tube pres ala Telefunken or old UA610 is what people tend to see as tube pre,
but they aren't all like that, that a specific kind of tube pre. Modern tube gear is mostly much cleaner
with even higher harmonic added, not much in the way of "warmth" if not for few models.
Old 25th December 2010
  #8
Gear Addict
 
fzit0's Avatar
 

GAP-73 vs. ART Pro MPA II for "warmth"

Buy the GAP PRE 73.. i have both the gap and the art pro mpa 2 and the gap is in a level that the art pro simply cannot reach.. Since I bought the GAP my pro mpa is sitting lonely..
Old 25th December 2010
  #9
I'm voting for the MPA PRO II; I really like how it sounds on vocals, guitars and drums; for $300, it's the best value and best sound that you'll get for a pre-amp until you start to spend much, much more.
Old 25th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivmike View Post
I'm voting for the MPA PRO II; I really like how it sounds on vocals, guitars and drums; for $300, it's the best value and best sound that you'll get for a pre-amp until you start to spend much, much more.
Have you tried the GAP pre73?
Old 26th December 2010
  #11
Gear Nut
 
metalmatt's Avatar
 

Yes get the Gap 73, I have the fully modded one for $600 but the standard $300 gap 73 is fantasic as well. The gap will add the warmth that you are looking for along with added depth to you vocals and soooooooooooo much more that i can't explain and that you just have to hear for yourslef to believe.
Old 26th December 2010
  #12
Gear Nut
 
metalmatt's Avatar
 

And those who hate on the Art pro MPA II after you upgrade the stock tubes with lets say $100 or more tubes it will blow alot of pres out of the water!
Old 26th December 2010
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Retinal View Post
Funny how I reach for a tube pre when I want "sparkle", higher harmonics.. and solid state pres with xformers when I want beef and warmth.
I have and like both of these pres and this pretty much describes how I think of them when considering what to use when. (both of mine are stock, BTW)
Old 26th December 2010
  #14
Gear Addict
 
fzit0's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson89 View Post
Have you tried the GAP pre73?
I bet he hasn't. tutt
Old 26th December 2010
  #15
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fzit0's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalmatt View Post
And those who hate on the Art pro MPA II after you upgrade the stock tubes with lets say $100 or more tubes it will blow alot of pres out of the water!
Don't tell me that, I'm selling mine.. Does it really make that much of a difference?
Because stock it sounds good until you try something better.
Old 26th December 2010
  #16
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dickiefunk's Avatar
I had an ART MPA Gold which I upgraded the tubes to NOS Telefunkens.
I really liked the tone of this preamp but found it too noisy for any serious recording.
I replaced it with the PRE73 and have to say it's considerably quieter!

Bizarrely according to ART the MPA Gold and Pro MPAII have an EIN of -130db!? Mine was the noisiest preamp I've tried.
Old 26th December 2010
  #17
Changing the tubes on an MPA Gold to NOS Mullards makes this an entirely different (in a better way) preamp. It seemed to me unusable with the Chinese tubes but pretty good with the Mullards. But, my Altec 1612a (solid state with transformers in and out) beats it by a mile as far as both warmth and clarity. These come up on e-bay pretty regularly for cheap. Cheaper than a GAP, better components and you get a built in FET compressor as well. The biggest surprise however was when I recently got a Bellari 533 tube pre and switched tubes to NOS Sylvanias. Wow! Many posters on this forum described the Bellari pres as really dirty, gritty etc. etc. I got it to use as basically a "dirt" box. Wrong! This pre is the warmest, most detailed, quietest pre I've ever used and is now my main pre for vocals, guitars, you name it. The Bellari has transformer balanced input (like the GAP) and full 240 volts on the tubes.
Old 26th December 2010
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson89 View Post
Have you tried the GAP pre73?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fzit0 View Post
I bet he hasn't. tutt
Let me put it this way: after I bought the MPA II and began to use it, my desire for a great sounding pre-amp vanished; after all, I now own a great-sounding pre-amp. When I find something that works for me, I don't need to keep looking; I get busy recording.

Perhaps someday I'll have the opportunity to fool around with a GAP 73; at the moment, I have no desire to do so as I am quite happy with the great sounds that I achieve with the ART.

Another thing: the idea of buying gear, based on its "popularity" with posters on this site, only then to spend a bunch of cash to have it modded seems a bit silly to me. Save your money for something better instead of modding it.

To the OP: my experiences with the ART MPA II have been wonderful, this is why I've recommended it; try as many pre-amps as you can and then enjoy making music!
Old 26th December 2010
  #19
Gear Addict
 
fzit0's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivmike View Post
Let me put it this way: after I bought the MPA II and began to use it, my desire for a great sounding pre-amp vanished; after all, I now own a great-sounding pre-amp. When I find something that works for me, I don't need to keep looking; I get busy recording.

Perhaps someday I'll have the opportunity to fool around with a GAP 73; at the moment, I have no desire to do so as I am quite happy with the great sounds that I achieve with the ART.

Another thing: the idea of buying gear, based on its "popularity" with posters on this site, only then to spend a bunch of cash to have it modded seems a bit silly to me. Save your money for something better instead of modding it.

To the OP: my experiences with the ART MPA II have been wonderful, this is why I've recommended it; try as many pre-amps as you can and then enjoy making music!
I LOVED the art pro mpa II until I bought the gap pre(stock-not modded), the difference is night and day !
I felt like the 300$ I had spent on the art were thrown in the trash !
I actually couldn't justify the money that one would spend modding the gap, it sounds the same to me.
the best advice is to try them all with the mic you will be using !
but sometimes it's impossible to do it
Old 26th December 2010
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I had an ART MPA Gold which I upgraded the tubes to NOS Telefunkens.
I really liked the tone of this preamp but found it too noisy for any serious recording.
I replaced it with the PRE73 and have to say it's considerably quieter!

Bizarrely according to ART the MPA Gold and Pro MPAII have an EIN of -130db!? Mine was the noisiest preamp I've tried.
my own experience with the stock tubes was that i got no problems with noise until i ran my sm7 (original, not sm7b - so even lower output) thru it for vocals on quiet passages. but in retrospect, that wasn't the best mic for that application anyway - it forced me to drive the pre really high (input practically all the way up).
Old 26th December 2010
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivmike View Post
Let me put it this way: after I bought the MPA II and began to use it, my desire for a great sounding pre-amp vanished; after all, I now own a great-sounding pre-amp. When I find something that works for me, I don't need to keep looking; I get busy recording.

Perhaps someday I'll have the opportunity to fool around with a GAP 73; at the moment, I have no desire to do so as I am quite happy with the great sounds that I achieve with the ART.

Another thing: the idea of buying gear, based on its "popularity" with posters on this site, only then to spend a bunch of cash to have it modded seems a bit silly to me. Save your money for something better instead of modding it.

To the OP: my experiences with the ART MPA II have been wonderful, this is why I've recommended it; try as many pre-amps as you can and then enjoy making music!
I am in total agreement that once you find something that works for you, it's important to set the focus on creating music. But I do have to say that the people modding the GAP aren't doing so because it's necessary, they're doing so because it sounds slightly better to them modded. I think anyone who's bought one agrees that its a great deal in it's stock form.

Two years ago everyone on here was saying to buy the MPA unit. Now everyone is saying to buy the GAP. The truth is, they're both great units. And they both sound markedly different. You could make great records with either. Or with both.
Old 27th December 2010
  #22
Gear Nut
 
metalmatt's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fzit0 View Post
Don't tell me that, I'm selling mine.. Does it really make that much of a difference?
Because stock it sounds good until you try something better.

Yes, They do make a huge difference. the stock tubes aren't bad but after upgradeing mine it was smooth, more detail, extended low end, the list goes on and on the Art Pro MPA II with upgraded tubes is a master piece that even big studios that i have been in use them! You can't go wrong with either the ART or The GAP IMHO Hell get both if you can!
Old 27th December 2010
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Silent Sound's Avatar
I agree with most people that either preamp would be a good choice. I agree with Retinal:
Quote:
Funny how I reach for a tube pre when I want "sparkle", higher harmonics.. and solid state pres with xformers when I want beef and warmth.
They're just different kinds of warmth. Warmth, after all, is an extremely vague term.

But the reason I'm posting is because after all of these recommendations, no one has suggested that maybe a better mic is what you need. Personally, I wouldn't grab a KSM 27 for a baritone, not as a first choice anyway. Like the OP said, it's a somewhat bright mic. So it maybe a better idea to find a warmer mic instead... although a good mic and a good preamp together would be best.
Old 28th December 2010
  #24
Registered User
 

funny I have a gap 73 and I have no idea about this warmth thing your talking about i dont hear it, but what I can say is it will make a bright mic even brighter I compared them with my pres in the fast track pro and if your using a crappy pre now that has this unfocused low end once that goes away a bright mic will sound even brighter
Old 28th December 2010
  #25
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivmike View Post
Let me put it this way: after I bought the MPA II and began to use it, my desire for a great sounding pre-amp vanished; after all, I now own a great-sounding pre-amp. When I find something that works for me, I don't need to keep looking; I get busy recording.

Perhaps someday I'll have the opportunity to fool around with a GAP 73; at the moment, I have no desire to do so as I am quite happy with the great sounds that I achieve with the ART.

Another thing: the idea of buying gear, based on its "popularity" with posters on this site, only then to spend a bunch of cash to have it modded seems a bit silly to me. Save your money for something better instead of modding it.

To the OP: my experiences with the ART MPA II have been wonderful, this is why I've recommended it; try as many pre-amps as you can and then enjoy making music!
Thats cool man, its always good when you get a piece of gear that gets you the sound you're looking for. Keep with it, after all its all about sound, and at the end of the day the only ears you can trust are your own. I hope i didn't come across argumentative or anything at all, hard to convey tone on this thing...
Old 28th December 2010
  #26
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by doulos24 View Post
funny I have a gap 73 and I have no idea about this warmth thing your talking about i dont hear it, but what I can say is it will make a bright mic even brighter I compared them with my pres in the fast track pro and if your using a crappy pre now that has this unfocused low end once that goes away a bright mic will sound even brighter
It depends how you use it. Whats your particular setup that gets you these sounds?
Old 28th December 2010
  #27
Registered User
 

Quote:
Whats your particular setup that gets you these sounds?
what do you mean it depends? there isn't a chain it's not rock science
preamp fixed gain low trim gain to a good level into any line input vs stock preamp of either my fast track pro or my tascam dm24 monitoring through sennheiser hd 600s
Old 28th December 2010
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson89 View Post
Thats cool man, its always good when you get a piece of gear that gets you the sound you're looking for. Keep with it, after all its all about sound, and at the end of the day the only ears you can trust are your own. I hope i didn't come across argumentative or anything at all, hard to convey tone on this thing...
Not to worry....I know that GS is a place where we all get super-excited about a piece of gear that gives us thousand dollar sounds for hundreds of dollars. I wasn't offended by what you said; I am (like you, I suspect) passionate about my choices.

The GAP was something that I had considered; its lack of availability in my area (one store stocked it and was constantly sold out) was a decider for me; the ART unit was in its box, waiting to be purchased and after a quick test at the shop with the microphone that I was planning on using (Apex 205 ribbon) I was sold.

If anything, I would start to look at stuff like an Avalon pre for a future purchase, but that's a long way away. Unless I get one super-cheap
Old 29th December 2010
  #29
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MadGuitrst's Avatar
I recommend a used Joemeeek VC6Q.
Old 29th December 2010
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by doulos24 View Post
what do you mean it depends? there isn't a chain it's not rock science
preamp fixed gain low trim gain to a good level into any line input vs stock preamp of either my fast track pro or my tascam dm24 monitoring through sennheiser hd 600s
Oh, the only reason i say that is because with stock pre's they're generally one knob gain, but the pre73 you gotta play around with both knobs to get the sound you want, increasing the gain and decreasing the output to get a warmer sound. But you know, can't argue with your ears, if you're getting better results with the stock pre's, keep using the stock pre's.
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