ART Pro Audio Tube MP/C by weave
I have had mine for a few years at this point - and I like it.
The unit is housed in a very rugged metallic case with a dull black finish. All knobs feel solid, all buttons feel solid, three different sets of meters - one for warmth, one for gain reduction in the compressor section, and one for output level.
The preamp section consists of a stepped gain knob that allows up to 40dB of gain, a button that gives another 20dB of gain when engaged, and a low cut filter which provides a cut of -3 dB @ 70 Hz, 6dB/Octave - which is a very nice feature for such a low priced and portable unit. There is also an instrument input, allowing you to use this unit as a di for a guitar or bass. When I use the unit, I find I have plenty of gain for most of my microphones, and unless I really try to crank it hard, noise levels are very manageable.
I find this preamp a very capable unit - it can do clean sounds when you are moderate on the gain, but you can dial up the gain and send the unit into “warm” tones (and keep your levels optimal by adjusting the output level before it leaves the unit). Warm is provided by the starved plate 12AX7a vacuum tube gain stage. Some replace the stock tube. I haven’t.
As for the incorporated optical compressor, with minimal controls - in and out button to bypass the compressor, a threshold knob, a slope button which gives you a choice between limiting ratios and compression, and a speed button for selecting fast or slow reaction times. Fairly effective, after a bit of fiddling.
Additionally, an output level knob to work your output levels, a phase invert button, a button to put the unit into -10 or +4 line level modes, and on the rear of the unit, a 48 volt phantom power button.
It does use a wall wart, so get out a silver sharpie and write on the wall wart what it goes to. When buying small units like this used, the number one thing I see is so many people have lost the wall wart power supply or send the wrong one.
Quite full featured at this price point. Lately I have been playing with a Tascam DP008Ex 8 track digital recorder and use the MP/C to optimize my levels going in, as the unit is only 16 bit. Keeps the signal strong and consistent.
As I said, I like it very much after having it for many years and wouldn’t hesitate to pull it out. In fact, I just bought another.
A very good unit for a portable rig, or a beginner wanting to mess with some outboard preamp and a simple compressor.
ART Pro MP/C Tube preamp and compressor/