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Grace M101 user review for low enders Single-Channel Preamps
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
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omtayslick's Avatar
 

Grace M101 user review for low enders

Hi all,

This is my first serious preamp, and I thought that perhaps others that are in a situation similar to mine would find these observations useful.

Before I aquired the Grace I already have been using the following pres: Digimax FS, DMP3, and ART proChannel.

For quite some time I have been reading every scrap of information about preamps that can be gleaned from these pages. (sound familiar anyone?)

Anyway, the comments ranged from "a new pre will make all of your mics sound better" to "don't bother, it's just a volume knob."

After using the Grace for 4 days I am firmly in the first camp.

Many of the reviews about the Grace 101 seemed to say it was "clinical" and "sterile" and has no warmth. Perhaps there is some difference between the original 101 and the M101 that I recieved, because that is not what I am hearing at all.

It is big sounding, open and clear, and to my ears----warm. This is an immediately noticeable improvement from the other pres in my arsenal. Not subtle at all. I have played A/B'd tracks for several people and some of them have actually said the word "wow!".

My goal was to take my acoustic guitar recordings and vocals up a notch in clarity. It has taken them up a notch in clarity and richness of tone.

It has also enhanced the performance of all of the mics I have tried through it thus far. Acoustic guitar with the SM81 is a thing of beauty, and my SM57 has become a different, better mic. In fact, dynamic mics in general are a whole new ballgame with the Grace.

As for comparisons to my other pres: The preamp that is closest in character to the Grace is the Digimax. But I mean general character-they do not sound the same. The Grace is bigger clearer and pretty much better in every way, and for the price difference it should be. The DMP3, while pleasant sounding , sounds fuzzy and lacks definition next to the Grace. The ProChannel is probably the closest to the Grace in quality level (but don't mis-understand, there's still a big difference between the 2) but a completely different beast from the others.

So.... If you are using bottom feeder preamps like I was, and are wondering if a new pre will elevate your sound, I hope these comments help you. My advice is take the plunge and move on up. Unless you have beans in your ears you'll hear the difference.

Tom
Old 28th December 2010
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

The m101 and the p-solo seem to keep coming up as the first ones to consider for serious high quality uncolored mic pre
Old 28th December 2010
  #3
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thatgtrguy View Post
The m101 and the p-solo seem to keep coming up as the first ones to consider for serious high quality uncolored mic pre
The Audient Mico is another one to add to this list.
Old 28th December 2010
  #4
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fzit0's Avatar
 

I was about to buy a grace but the words "sterile" and "cold" stopped me from doing so
Old 28th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
The Audient Mico is another one to add to this list.
Did you end up with the Mico? It seems like you were considering one once. For the price with good D/A built-in and it's funny phase-shifter, it's awfully attractive.

As for the M101, I'm with the OP. I've owned Behringer Xenyx boards (not bad preamps, actually), a DMP3, a VTB1, a couple of Soundcraft boards (my Spirit M8 has VERY nice preamps), an a whole slew of interfaces with built-in pre's (of which, the FireStudio Mobile with it's 70db XMAX preamps were the best).

The M101 is the one left sitting on my desk. It just delivers no matter what I plug into it. I'm never hurting for more clean gain even with finger-picked guitars and an SM7B. I like it as a DI, also. Everything just sound big and pristine. Obviously it's nice to have different preamps available, but if you only have 1 preamp, I think a clean one makes the most sense. And in the sub-$600/channel market, the best seem to be the M101, P-Solo, and maybe ISA One. Others really like the ART MPA II, but I have no experience with it, and I don't think it does clean as well as the others.

I don't consider the M101 clinical, but then I'm usually pairing with an SM7 or AT3035 anyway, and they're not bright to start with. I love my SM7/M101 combo.
Old 28th December 2010
  #6
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Boschen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fzit0 View Post
I was about to buy a grace but the words "sterile" and "cold" stopped me from doing so
I would substitute the word 'revealing' to describe Grace's pres.
They don't impart a lot of color, but rather seem to reveal the character of whatever you put through them. A sonic microscope, so to speak.

I've extensively used the m101, and also two 801's which I put into a permanent club install. The A1 there loves them, as do most of the visiting FOH engineers. The club has a wide mic selection, from Neumanns to ATs to Shures, and the graces really show up the differences, even monitoring on the house system's EAW NTs.

I'm not a dealer, but I do have a longstanding relationship with Grace, as they are in my town, and I worked in the studio next to them when they were a basement cottage-industry shop. The studio folded. In retrospect, I should have gotten a job with Grace, like one of my friends did.

PS - Grace is not very low-end. I dropped something around 10K for the twin 801s and a lunatec.
Old 28th December 2010
  #7
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PFRfan View Post
Did you end up with the Mico? It seems like you were considering one once. For the price with good D/A built-in and it's funny phase-shifter, it's awfully attractive.
I haven't got one yet but would like one. I know a few people that have one and also own preamps such as the DAV BG1 and Grace M101. The Mico appears to compare favorably to these.
Old 28th December 2010
  #8
a dealer talked me out of the Millennia pre(that's right, read it again) which i was already familiar with - said i should get the 101 if i wanted that kind of thing... holy ****e he was right!
Old 28th December 2010
  #9
Registered User
 

id just call the thing a rip off and look at the 5 dollar preamp circuit but thats me

grace = The SCA T15 basicly
Old 28th December 2010
  #10
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omtayslick's Avatar
 

I'm glad to hear that a lot of others are hearing what I'm hearing from the M101. I'm really impressed with this thing!

And PFRfan mentioned the DI. I forgot to put that in the review above. The DI shares all of the same attributes as the mic pre circuit.
Old 28th December 2010
  #11
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omtayslick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by doulos24 View Post
id just call the thing a rip off and look at the 5 dollar preamp circuit but thats me

grace = The SCA T15 basicly
I don't feel ripped off at all. Best money I've spent in a long time.
Old 6th January 2011
  #12
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by omtayslick View Post
I don't feel ripped off at all. Best money I've spent in a long time.
And in the end, that's all that matters! Enjoy your new preamp and congrats! Make lots of great music with it! thumbsup

Regards,
Frank
Old 7th January 2011
  #13
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omtayslick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
And in the end, that's all that matters! Enjoy your new preamp and congrats! Make lots of great music with it! thumbsup

Regards,
Frank
Thanks Frank!

And best wishes to you as well.
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