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Golden Age Project PRE-73

Golden Age Project PRE-73

4.15 4.15 out of 5, based on 21 Reviews

A solid, warm preamp, that def exceeds epectations


13th December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by mequaz

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

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.

14th December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by kelvyn

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Golden Age Project PRE-73

This review is for newbies with no technical knowledge (like me except I'm an oldbie).

I decided a long time ago that I am going to compose songs and not be a technician. So I read a lot of reviews/forums/magazines about equipment to get the lowdown on what's hot and what's not. I bought a microphone I had heard was good (Brauner VM 1) and a Focusrite ISA 430 producer pack... So far so good, everything sounds great... But! The singer whose album I'm producing doesn't sound so good with this combination. So.. Back to the reviews section of Gearslutz. Read lots about lots of reaaaaaallllly expensive mic pres (bearing in mind my already substantial outlay) and it looked like mortgaging the wife until I stumbled across the GAP - Pre 73 MKII. Great reviews/great price... worth taking a risk I thought. Ordered, delivered and plugged in... EUREKA! What an amazing sound. I'm not going to bore you with technical details (cos I don't know any) the simple fact is... You plug it in and it sounds really amazing, it's built like a tank and extremely easy to use. The results are two very happy people (me and the singer and maybe the rest of the world when the albums finally done) and a very relieved wife.

20th December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by s12512

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Golden Age Project PRE-73

Gona keep this short and sweet. at our studio we have a few vintech x73's, and also some 573's (500 series version). i have a gap73 at my house and a couple at the studio. this thing doesn't just sound good for the money. it sounds good period. the vintechs do have a little more mojo but if you are gona spend $300 on a pre, you'd have to be crazy not to check this out!! i've done 2 full records on one of these for vocals this past year. the vocals came out great with it. nice and full. plenty of body. Definitely a fantastic purchase!

20th December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by taylorsparks

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

What first turned me on about this pre amp? I received some stems to mix for a client, once i heard the bass i immediately turned on my macbook and emailed the engineer who tracked the record. "What did you use to track the bass? Neve pre and an SVT ampeg?" He chuckles and says: "No man , GAP73! I just used the D/I and a Fender Jazz Bass." Im sure you all could imagine what i did next.. I log onto Ebay.com and find an authorized dealer and purchased this fine pre amp .

What am i doing with it now? Recently I have used this pre with my LA2A on the past three records that I have done this past month. Im wondering if I will ever NOT use it? Doubtful

22nd December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by crypticglobe

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Golden Age Project PRE-73

Best character pre "bang for the buck" out there. Sure all the "Neve-Alike" pre's sound slightly different... but so do all old Neve Pre's! This little guy has all the "stuff" I turn to this style of pre for... and for a LOT less money. They make really big "expensive" sounding recordings possible for a lot less money. Hard to go wrong here!

My only complaint is that I wish that would put their entire series in 500 series format... but it looks like that is possibly starting to happen.

23rd December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by bryan k

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

A "best bang for buck" for sure. This thing can be warm and crunchy when dialed in just right. Its not a "transparent" sounding pre, its meant to be colored....and it is!

Sounds great on Vox and Guitars, and has high enough output for Ribbon mics.

There may be some "quality" issues. My 1st unit came with a non-functional "phantom power" switch. My 2nd unit that I received that had a blown LED light (not a big deal).

Quality seems to be hit or miss. But for such a cheap price and a great sound....its hard to complain.

30th December 2011

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Rob Coates

  • Sound Quality 1 out of 5
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 1 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 1 out of 5
  • Overall: 1.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I have a different view of the GAP Pre73. It's a murky, muddy sounding basic preamp in an ugly little red box. Way over priced and overhyped. Discrete, class A blah, blah, blah...so is a used Shure M67 that you can get for 30 or 40 bucks. Come to think of it, the Shure M67 also has transformers in and out and discrete wiring, and while sounding cloudy it still sounds better to my ears than the GAP.

1st January 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Radiogal

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

Normally I use the Amek consoles´ clean amps. They are awesome and the Amek console gives me 44 of these pre amps to work with.

For colouration I have some GAP PR-73 in the studio. I do use them sometimes to record mic signals and line signals (DI) when I want the GAP colour printed during recording.
I truely love recording bass thru these!

But most often I use the PRE-73 for reamping and sidechaining. Especially Lead Vox !
I patch them in and try out both the Line DI and Mic I/P positions to get the desired effect. It´s a great tool that really makes a difference.

As a result of that I´m considering buying two more.

4th January 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by LG22886

  • Sound Quality 3 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Golden Age Project PRE-73

So I was curious about buying a PRE-73, so I borrowed one from a co-worker. Used it on vocals, tried some reamping with it as well, and this is what I have to say...

Wow great tone, very Neve-ish I loved it, except i didn't find the preamp very useable in a professional situation. It's so freakin' noisy. My suggestion would be to have the guys at zenpro to mod it, but than you looking at something like 600 for the preamp, if you got the eq to go with it it's another 300, and if it has the same noise issues as this one, i'd suggest a mod too, but I don't think they offer it. Although I really did thing the tone was great I feel I'd rather get a Vintech, or I hear BLA's coming out with a 1073 preamp as well. So overall it's cool for an entry level recordist, or a hobbyist, but professionally speaking I couldn't touch it even as a second of third preamp unless it was modified.

10th February 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by mahasandi

  • Sound Quality 3 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I have owned both the stock.version and a fully modded version with upgraded caps and x formers.

I do agree the value is here. Its a classic design and the price is downright from china, well and it is.
The stock version is where its at.
While I felt the fully modded version did outperform the unmodded it was not night and day more towards different.

Also I did not do the power supply mod which I feel would be a good idea.

The downside of the cheap parts,
A woolier low end.
However this little pre makes friends, it holds its own against much.more expensive pres.

After months with this pre its short comings did appear, but
Nothing in the way of dont use it,or you couldnt get a good result
With this pre.

I sold mine but will have to pick up a pair again, really fun.

Also the DI has a warm lo fi vintagey sound really cool

28th February 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by fostario

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I've had the PRE-73 for a couple of years now in my home studio using it as a better alternative than the standard pres in my Profire 2626, which runs through ADAM A5X monitors. Just so you can judge from where my opinion is coming from, I've studied sound engineering for 3 years, and have been working in a good quality studio of late, but I would still say I lack the experience of having hundreds of sessions under my belt.

With LDC mics, it definitely offers a warm, clear signal path which certainly flatters my vocals a little, and low-z switch makes recording with a ribbon mic a breeze. The DI input is good too, I've done A/B tests in the past with a guitar and also a bass and there was notable extra depth using the PRE 73 over the 2626. The PRE 73 is also capable of some warm, usable analogue clipping with judicious balancing of the gain and output knobs.

I remember reading about the gain section of the pre in the manual or a forum somewhere,

Low Output/Higher Gain = Warmer Sound
Higher Output/Low Gain = Cleaner Sound

A fairly obvious observation, but it is true of this pre and I find it an usable and effective way to vary the tone.

The one thing I'd say though, is that the PRE 73 wasn't the £200 game changer that I was hoping it to be (with all the hype it gets). It has improved my signal quality yes, but by a modest amount, as there's plenty of other factors which will affect the recording quality.

28th February 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Magpel

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I have recorded extensively with the Golden Age 73 preamp, both stick and with transformer upgrades. I Recently did some recordings in which the pres "in the running' were a few of these (modded at this point), a rare Bryston two channel preamp, and even rarer Gates tube pre that really looks like somehting a radio operator in a foxhole might use...and in fact I think that's about what it is...and it sounds great. The a Great River one channel model and the pres on an Preaux Toulez HD rig.

Well, in my opinion, the Great River smokes most things and it is the one I iwll have in my composing/overdub facility someday. But the the GAP.

Lacks the strong three dimensional quality of the Great River, is a little wooly but in a pleasing way, very satisfactory on lots of vocals. I tended to prefer a faster sounding pre on acoustic guitar, but I was pretty pleased with the GAP on cabs, both with dynamics and ribbons.

If I weren't so dead set on grabbing one of those GRs when the time is right, I would no doubt snag one of these for their pretty incredible price. I guess my feeling is that the sort of colored character of the GAP is a bit redundant with the Peavey VMP-2 tube pre I currently use, but we rode these things hard and they were an invaluable part of this CD we made.

28th February 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Freeloader

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I've owned two of these Golden Age preamps since last summer and I have to say that they've served me very well.
While I haven't been able to compare them to actual Neve Pre's, I have been in studios where my drums have been tracked through 1073s and the few recordings I've made of my kit at my home studio compare favorably to recordings I've made at some of the best studios in the Massachusetts Area.

Paired with a SM7b on a tenor saxophone, we were able to get a lush sound that the saxophonist said was the best he'd ever heard himself sound.
I've also put an SM57 infront of an Epiphone Valve Junior through this thing and it sounded divine.

For the price, I have to say that there are few preamps on the market that accomplish what this thing does. For my use, I didn't see the point of getting the mods offered by companies like ZenProAudio, simply because it sounds great to my ears in its stock form. I've also run two Cascade Fatheads (version II with the Lundahl upgrade) and was pleasantly surprised at the detail and character that I got out of my overhead sound. My recent acquisition of a Cloudlifter CL2 has also enabled me to track acoustic guitar with my ribbons and again, I'm very pleased with the results.
I especially like the grit I'm able to dial in when I mess with the input and output gain levels and I find myself using these two pre's far more often than my ISA 428 and UA La-610.

Hope that helps. If $350 is all you have to spend on your next preamp, this is the one you should buy.

28th February 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Devs1980

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

What a fantastic pre. The sound is warm, can be fuzzy, definitely full fat. The output control allows the user to dial in exactly the right amount of drive, which you can't with an original 1073. Oh, and did I mention the price? You've got to consider it! The pre amp offers up to 80dB of gain, with phantom power, a DI input, and switchable low impedance which can offer a useful change in tone, depending on the microphone being used. I personally love using this pre amp at every stage of the recording process. Snare drums can sound huge with a bit of drive from the Pre 73 on the top snare mic. Guitars sound incredibly full, and heavyweight through this. Vocals can really benefit from a bit of warmth, especially through a a high quality dynamic mic like an SM7. I don't have an original Neve 1073 with which to compare the Pre 73, but I find it compares well to my SCA N72s with Carnhill transformers (an upgrade option for the Pre 73). The fact the Golden Age Project have designed the unit with user upgrades (to transformer as well as electrolytics and other on-board components) is a great step forward, to my mind, for relatively low cost far-eastern manufactured units.

6th March 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by thepatient03

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I was really pleased with the preamp when I got it for a number of reasons.

First, until pushed to extremes, it sounds incredibly similar to an actual 1073, which is to say it has that warm mojo that the 1073s are known for historically.

Second, the featureset is great, with polarity, DI, and phantom power on the front, plus great IO on the back with quarter inch, as well as XLR ins and outs.

I found the difference between the built in pres in my presonus firestudio, and this astonishing, especially when using a mic that requires more gain, such as a Shure SM7b.

The true reason I bought this though, is that it makes a great platform to play with a bit of modification. Next step with this bad boy is to replace the stock trafo's with Carnhill transformers, and hopefully take this preamp to the next level.

Overall, in terms of sound, features, and ease of use, I'd probably call this preamp the best deal going!

It may not be able to model dozens of preamps, like some digital pres, but the golden age does one thing; gives you some real mojo, and it does it incredibly well.

16th March 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by aeroc

Golden Age Project PRE-73

I purchased 2 of these units.. one fully modded (about $700 but I just checked the ZenPro site and they're offering a hefty discount on the mod) and one stock at $350. The full mod is definitely worth the money in terms of bang-for-the-buck. I would break it down as follows. If you want two channels of versitile, high quality pre's, there is no better way to go than the GApre73. So if you have:
$700 / 2 Channels stock
$1000 / 1 Stock, 1 modded
$1200 / 2 modded (as long as Zen Pro is offering the discount)

I've worked with a lot of high-end preamps and I would put these head to head with anything and would choose them in many cases over more expensive units. They have a wide range of tonal possibilities from very clean and safe to more aggressive thickness. They are also suitable for any type of mic. Also makes a great DI. I've been recommending these to everybody I know who makes music even if they don't use mics very often. It's a great front end and should be a part of everybody's setup regardless of their budget.

Coincidentally, the place I purchased the units, zenproaudio.com was one of the finest customer support/purchasing experiences I've ever had. Highly recommended.

17th March 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by ldbrecords

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

This product is awesome.

1. Sound Quality
We used to work with builtin pre's in lower end audio interfaces. This has opened a whole new world for us. It was bought at the same time as a Neumann tlm103. So we went from no character to lots of character over night. The Pre-73 runs pretty sweat and clean at low gain, and adds a fair amount of grit at the -50db point (on vocals). This is great for some things, but more often than not we run below the gritty point. On OH's though, they do a lot to give some depth an overly bright signal.
The last few steps of gain are totally unusable.

2. Build Quality
The housing is very solid however we have 2 in the optional rack mount - this is not well built. Massive sag in the middle.
Everything feels great and nothing has broken yet! Even survived a leaking roof.

3. Features
DI in the front is very useful.
Stepped gain is backward. And has off points, just like the original Neve.
Output level is forward and not stepped for fine control.

4. Bottom line
For an inexpensive unit - its incredible. Would recommend to anybody looking to add a little more pro to their home studio.

16th July 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by kev2288

  • Sound Quality 2 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Golden Age Project PRE-73

I bought this pre primarily for male vocals. Mics were sm7b, adk tc 67 au, and sterling audio st66. While it did color the signal, for me the sound was just not right. The pre took away from the intelligibility of my vocals and they just sounded dull. I don't record drums/bass but I can see where it would be useful for that purpose. I much preferred the stock pre's on my RME babyface over this preamp on my voice. I let my wife noodle around a little bit on it and, while the gap was better on her than me, we still preferred the babyface pre's. What's nice about this pre I think is that it let's people get a budget introduction into the Neve sound. Right for the price.

3rd October 2012

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by TheRealRoach

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

So, there have been a pair of these kicking around the studio for a while but never got around to trying them because I already had my regular go to in service mid-record for an artist, a Focusrite ISA220 (no slouch).

One evening we were just recording some quick scratch vocal ideas (female vocalist) so I thought I'd patch it in. Right away I could hear an improvement over the ISA preamp for this singer. It was bringing out the velvety highs of the 70s U87 she was singing into, without becoming over-active in the lowmids as can be problematic with 87s.

Sources recorded through the Pre-73 required less EQing, less compression, less work, to get them to sit happy in a mix.

Bonus: Driving the input can yield some pretty dirty overdrive. I've found that I like to set it pretty hot, so that only the loudest notes will start to crunch. Nice sweet spot.

What could have improved my scores: Sound quality can definitely cross the line into "too hyped" depending on your mic selection and source instrument. Easy to use: once you get to know it and understand it's overdrive threshold and characteristics, very easy. Quite full featured, but why no high pass filters?

18th August 2013

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by kubo

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

The Golden Age Project Pre73 MKII is like a good cheap red wine, low in price but high in flavour. It boasts a nice red paint job to match and has a solid build quality. Speaking of colour, this pre gives you just that. The GAP73 is more of an artist’s palette than a white paint can, allowing you to dial in various hardwired brush strokes.

Pressing the power button was like a porthole to another world. It was like stepping into a Narnia-esque wardrobe. Inside lay what I only heard in my dreams: that pounding punch on bass, that smooth ever-present vocal, that gain-driven electric guitar ready to run you over.

The GAP73 is labeled as a Neve 1073 clone. I would say that the GAP73 is more of the court jester, poking fun at the pompous king Neve 1073 for being so ostentatiously expensive. Sure, King Neve 1073 reigns highest, but the jester GAP73 just makes the common folk (project studio enthusiasts), feel free to record just as beautifully without emptying their pockets.

I was on the hunt for a magical pre like this, the elusive white whale hidden within the sea, and just like Captain Ahab himself, I found her (only she didn’t kill me with her fierce jaws and blubber-infused weight). Luckily, I can live to enjoy the bellowing sounds of her intricate circuitry (pardon the innuendo) and happily sail along the sonic sea.

However, I hear the Warm Audio WA12 is a whole other beast. A potential Moby Dick that I hope to reel in some day soon…

15th March 2014

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by Dr.Banzai

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Golden Age Project PRE-73

Bought a used Pre-73 recently, after reading lots of reviews and thinking about what I really need to take the home studio up a notch.
Just for reference I'm a life long musician, mid 80's graduate of IAR and have dabbled in studios ever since. Home studio is built around a Roland VS2000 (don't laugh, it works! ). Sometimes I mix in it, sometimes I dump it into Logic X. But the mic pre-amps always suck so here we are... Mics are a mix of nice (414B, 421, RE20 etc) and homebrews (modded Apex & MXLs, surprisingly nice. microphone-parts is my friend!)

So I really like the overall vibe of it. I don't hear the "dark... sounds bad" thing at all. It can be a little woolly, but I think that's why it's such a great bass DI. Ran the P-bass into it the other night and was really impressed. I usually don't like DI tone. I rolled off below about 80Hz, added a touch of compression and bingo.. cool bass. That's really the only button I miss on it: a low cut. Some of the mics have them (RE20, 414, etc) but for the ones that don't, esp the cardioids I miss it. My old, cheap & overly bright Stewart mic pre even has one. So a "4" in features. I mean what's easier to put in than a HPF?
Otherwise it has everything you need really. Super easy to use ("5"), good looking, power switch on the front (score!).

Very nice on vocals, and fingerpicked acoustic. Didn't like strumming as much. Might need to try other mics though. (SDC should fix it) Fingerpicking with the modded MXL (using the 990B kit and an RK47 capsule) close up was amazing. Super sensitive; you can hear everything. (good and bad!) Hmm. Time to practice?

There is plenty of gain, although I do wish it was a bit quieter. Ok, I wish everything was quieter. But it's able to slam the VS so I can keep the pre's as close to "off" as I can get them.
And that's key.

The nice round tonality is just the thing to give my mixes some extra class. Sounds great, nicely priced and well built. Definitely a "5" in bang for the buck from me. I'm keeping it!

11th February 2016

Golden Age Project PRE-73 by philsaudio

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Golden Age Project PRE-73

Golden Age Project (GAP) Pre73 MKIII purchased from B&H Feb 2016

1) The red power indicator light....wow you could tell the PRE 73 is getting power if you are using it outside in the sun.

2) Slick 4 sided box without feet. Each side has two threaded screw holes so there is something to grab onto when mounting it in a rack.

3) By the way the box is 8.8” wide 1 5/8” high and 10' deep with connectors, switches and knobs protruding adding to the overall depth of the unit.

4) The output pot is smooth but not indented or detented. Certainly at this price range it should be IMHO.

5) The gain control is a switch. It feels like the tuner on our old black and white TV 50 years ago. Each step is a clunk/click. A drastic difference between the feel here and on the output knob. Plus the gain switch makes an audible snap when operated. When mine is changed from 50 to 55dB there is a loud electrical crackle/pop in the signal path. This pop is half the reason I am exchanging the unit at B&H.

6) The HPF and “AIR” equalizer switches are three position toggle switches center off.

7) Phase switch definitely changes the low end of the mic. This is the other half of the reason I am exchanging this unit.

8) There are three inputs, Instrument, Line/TRS and Mic/XLR combined in a two-in-one jack. The input is selected with switches and buttons on the front panel. There appears to be no audible crosstalk from the unselected two inputs when using the third.

9) There are both XLR and TRS outputs. Plugging and unplugging a TS ¼” plug into the TRS jack does not affect the level on the XLR. I would love to know if they are buffered and how they share the output transformer.

10) Now here is a little blurb from the cut sheet, the only document that comes with the unit.

“The output transformer used in the Pre 73 MKIII is made for having an ideal load of about 600 ohms. The input impedance of most modern units is 10Kohm or more. The PRE 73 MKIII therefore has a 600 ohm output termination resistor that is engaged by the jumper (JP1) located just behind the XLR output jack. The termination resistor will lower the output level slightly and make the frequency response flatter in the upper range, it will also roll off the upper frequency range earlier. Remove the jumper if the pre 73 MKIII feed a unit with 600 ohm input impedance of if you want to add som (sic) level in the upper range.
This seems like an invitation to open the box up if the next device in line has 600 ohm input.



Maybe I am a little hyper critical considering that I never saw or turned the switches on a real Neve preamp; so maybe some of the things I find undesirable are just because the designer is keeping true to the original.
Got the replacement unit
  1. B&H replaed the unit above no questions asked. No shipping cost to me.
    • The replacement unit had the same loud pop in the signal path when changing from 50-55 dB gain.
    • Depressing the phase switch changes the tone. Looking at inspector with a pink noise source it rolls off some top end and reduces the level of the signal about 3.5dB.
    • I think I am going to exchange this one and see if the third one is a charm.
Final Synopsis.


Thanks to the professional SLUTZ here (kidvybes) I found out the following:

1) The pop I hear when switching from 50-55 dB is due to another gain stage being switched into the circuit. This is a remnant of the old Rupert Neve design and a "feature" left over from the original design. The gain switch on the MKIII does not have the off position found on the originals.

Here is a link to another person having the same issue on another brand and much more expensive NEVE clone. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/9664687-post9.html

2) Regarding the level and sound changing with the phase/polarity swap I have no explanation for this. Fortunately I actually like the option it gives me in tone so that is not a problem.

3) This unit has an "AIR" switch that boosts the signal outside of the audible range (30 kilocycles) at two levels and off. I certianly do not hear the difference this switch makes but younger less damaged engineers may. I personally would not flip a switch I can not hear except on the FUNK LOGIC.

4) I got this unit so I could get more color into my DAW. My A&H Mixwizzard 3 16:2 gets plenty clean but I want color so I got this. And I wanted more gain for my Apex 205 ribbon.
  • I believe the way this unit is configured the output pot is before the output transformer.
  • I insert the output of this preamp into the mix wizzard insert return jack and then record the channel from the MW direct output jack into the DAW
  • If I adjust the level so I am not blowing away the input to the DAW the output knob is at 6-9 o'clock
  • The end result is I get distortion from the transistors but the output transformer is driven lightly and not saturating.
  • I want to saturate the output transformer so this is a bummer.

5) My final action is I will return this unit to B&H and get the DLX version.
Here is a review of the PRE 73 DLX https://www.gearslutz.com/board/revi...ght=pre+73+dlx

This is why....
  • It has a different rotary gain switch which selects between line and mic inputs and has an off spot where the unit pops due to the extra stage being switched in.
  • It has a multiple frequency high pass filter which I would find more useful than a 2 frequency high pass and and air switch in the ultra sonic range.
  • The instrument input has configurable active very high impedance and 100kohm impedance inputs.
  • You can configure the instrument to not only change high impedances but to use or not use the input transformer (but why?)
  • It has separate transformers for line and mic input
  • It has the switchable 4 freq + off rotary pad switch on the output side of the output transformer so saturating the output transformer is now possible.
  • The range of the output pot can now work over the entire travel of the pot since the rotary pad switch will lower the level by 0dB, -7dB, -14dB, -21dB and -28dB which will allow me to adjust the output pot through its entire range and prevent me from blowing the input to the next stage away.
  • The 810 ohm termination resistor across the output transformer can be switched in and out from outside the box instead of having to open the box.
  • The gain knob selects between the two (vs one) XLR-1/4" line and mic connector inputs on the rear.
  • It has a ground lift on the mic input (just in case)
  • But it did cost a little more but I believe the additional features are worth it.

Some pictures of the MkIII and the DLX internals
The easy way to tell if you are looking at the III or the DLX is the MKIII has the open brown switch and several boards inside. The DlX ha Blue switch and the single unified PCB

The MKIII internals....look a little less advanced and cheaper build than the DLX which I feel is an older MKII








These are from the DLX. Note the single PCB, Audio does not go to the front panel switches which just control the yellow relays. It has two input transformers and you can bypass them if you like for the DI input. And the cincher is the attenuation after the output transformer for extra saturation.





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