Buzz Audio Elixir by natpub
I've written a rather lengthy review for this unit previously here on GS a few years back. I think it was even quoted in subsequent advertisement for the product. I was really stoked then about this pre, and still love it. I use it on every session for something.
The Buzz Audio Elixer is a 500 unit, single slot, solid-state, Class-A, transformer-based, high gain microphone preamp. The unit boasts somewhere toward 70 dB of gain, which is great for weak ribbons and dynamics like SM7.
The Elixer is loaded with cool features too. Stepped gain settings on the main big knob is the first great item, making setting recall a breeze! It has an awesome DI that sounds great on pop or country Bass and really lovely on clean guitar, especially sparkling passages for Tele or similar. The box defaults to the DI when a 1/4 plug is in, saving any hassles switching things back and forth.
The unit has a 20dB pad that is switchable from the front, as are all the switches, and uses left/right toggles that are very sturdy and give a satisfying assurance when switched. The lit peak-meter is bright, easy to see, and serves its purpose well.
The other switches include the impedance switch (which really helps with some mic selections), phase, +48v phantom Power, and a very useful mute/unmute switch right up top. It does sometimes get confusing with all the switches which setting they are on since there are no on/off indicators, and the direction for the OFF settings is kind of counter-intuitive (OFF is to the right, rather than the typical left-hand position of most OFF settings on US-made items. I'm not sure if this is an Aussie thing or not? I know their water goes down the drain the opposite direction, so maybe this too? ).
As for sound, the Elixer leans toward the cleaner end of the spectrum. Even with the beefy Lundahl output transformer, there is a huge amount of headroom before any saturation sets in. That said, you can crank the gain and start to get some very nice soft-sat that comes in toward the high end. Using the pad can help manage this. Even then, there is nothing I would call breakup or crunch--rather, a smooth even gloss that turns into a nice soft fur up top. The low end is rich, yet defined throughout.
As time has gone on, I found the Elixer was best used on sources needing a clean, yet mildly euphonic presentation. This included acoustic guitar (AMAZING!), mandolin, acoustic piano (I only have one unit, so was not able to really do a stereo thing, I was just grabbing a quicky mono piano track, but it sounded good), soprano female vox, strings, flutes, etc. I think you see where this is going. In all, the Elixer is built like a tank, has been problem free for going on 5 years, and makes itself irreplaceable on a daily basis for a number of uses. I got mine through Atlas, and while I never needed it, it was clear all these years that both Atlas, and Tim at Buzz, were always there backing up the unit, always ready to provide instant customer service at the drop of a hat. Highly recommended!