Golden Age Project PRE-73 by mequaz
I am a firm beliver in being focused on the end results. Sure it would be great to have "XYZ" or "123" but most of us cant afford that. And Lets not kid oursevles if you have a wife,a kid or two and you have a spare $1500, buying the $1500 preamp may not be the first thing you do. So you look for something that can give you that "xyz" sound with out "xyz" price tag.
The Golden Age Pre-73 does just that. I have had the honor of working with avalons, neve, and my personal fav UA pres. (like i said personal fav ) so i know how to refrence the quality of it. Im not saying its gonna be 1:1, no not what im saying. But for 350 brand new you cant beat it in that price range PERIOD. Its warm, and sligtly dark but in a good way. Yes its colored, so dont expect wire with gain. Now im not some super audio guru so my review comes from MY EXPERIENCE. I used it with 3 mics, MXL v67g, MXL Genisis, and CAD E100s. Unfortunalty i like it so much on the CAD i didnt give it much time with the other 2. LOL. The CAD is an awesome mic and its very honest and before i was just going straight into my m-audio fast track. It was cool, nothing to yell about. But once I added the Pre-73, YEAAAAAAA (young jezzy voice)
I only do vocal tracking in my studio. Im a hip hop aritst and i do work with r&b singers so there are not a lot of times where im gonna be working with acoustic insturments. Now as far as male vocals go this thing is def the truth. Of course having the 48v phantom power(using a condensor mic) engaged and going into the CAD E100s then into the GAP-pre73 it was warm, detailed and sounded full. I had the input switch set at about -70 and the output knob set to a little below half, while adjusting with the input dial on the interface so i dont get clipping. Now as you turn the output you do get me more color and that gave my vocal some Density that wasnt there before. It wasnt harsh. It was neveish. Not 100% like a neve but i was completly satisfied with the results. I read SOS mag's review on this and it was described as sounding "rounded". I can agree with that. Not like it cuts things off. But thats what makes SSL, and Neves, what they are. Now that diffierence is not night and day. However if you have worked on the high end stuff just know its not gonna have that "fast" preamp sound. Moving on: I then stacked my vocals, and for the first time in my home studio i understood why some say they are almost plugin free. Everything just fit. My voice wasnt brittle and this thing added to the flavor of my mic. Now keep in mind mic and pre-amp combos differ greatly. So RESULTS MAY VARY What works for me and mine wont work for you and yours. But for my voice with the CAD mic the GAP Pre-73 worked for me.
Next i tried female and vocals and i started off with similar seetings only this time i wanted to use as little output dial as i could. SO i set the "mic/line" switch to about 70 and just enough of the output pot to have a good signal going in. Once again warm full and had a forward mid range. The ability to control the amout of color is also a very usful thing while tracking, HOWEVER turning the mic/line switch while tracking is not recommended. Yea that noise was def un-appreciated.
Now i have been raving about how this things sound and all because like i said, im a results driven person. Noone listens to thier fav song and says: Wonder what kinda preamp they used. they just turn it up. And it sounds great but Pre 73 has its downers. First it has no high pass filter switch. Now granted 2 out of my 3 mics do, and yea its easy to just add a HPF in Reaper, but thats a feature that the big boy preamps have. Not a deal breaker, also the knobs are like the Neve that its modeled after. Which is great however, it can be confusing. Takes some time to get familar with this. Most of us who are in this price range are used to turn the knob right and your adding more signal. But once again a lil learning curve no big deal. No switch or dial for impedance either. Not something thats a deal breaker either but in comparison to pres that are highly regarded as "pro" that could be a difference maker.
Despite its short comings im a fan of this pre. Its a good pre. I wish i could have given it a 8.5 on sound quality because it gets your right in the leauge. You may not be in the all star game but your def pro! (even the last guy on the bench in the NBA was a highschool standout! and if the neves are kobe, this thing is at least a good lamar odom or ron artest) YES, there are mods for it, (yea ill be modding mine!), but that doesnt mean its not great out the box. Behind a great mic, quality cable into a decent converter and you will def achieve a high quality vocal sound. So my personal conclusion: If you have 500 to spend on a preamp give the Pre-73 some major consideration especially if you want color. Its def worth your hard earned dollar, and you can save the rest of the money and take your woman somewhere nice for a change.