PreSonus ADL 600 by skindogdms
I'm going to avoid the techincal to get on with the emotional. First, though, here's a list of preamps I've heard in action and specifically paid attention to (non A/B): TubeTech, Manley VoxBox, Cranesong Flamingo, Langevin Dual Vocal Combo, Cranesong Spider, Avalon 737sp, ADL 600, Pacifica, 1084 & 1073, Sytek 4ch BurrBrown - then there were the cheapo ones like Aphex 207, 002, Fireface 400, Focusrite Saffire 6 - These are the ones I have a memory of.
Now, I've come to realize that it's much easier to hear the differences with a proper monitoring environment. While I could hear subtle differences in "consumer/prosumer" environments, it was never enough for me to choose one over another. However, I could hear drastic differences in "professional" environments which made it more apparent how one pre would be an obviously better choice over another for a given situation.
Working with the ADL 600 is a pleasure because it has many tonal abilities by playing with the gain structure, the -20dB pad, HP filter, and impediance switch. It's for sure an undeniably properly designed preamp with its own character unlike the corner cutting cheapo pre's that always seem to be degrading some part of the original source. One thing it seemed to work particularly well with were ribbon microphones and the Shure SM7b. When compared directly with my Pacifica, which I had used extensively along side the "Presonus", the ADL 600 had noticeably more headroom, less noise, and clarity with high end extension. In my particularily small setup situation, having come from a larger full band recording setup, I've found that the ADL 600 is more versatile for my needs.
There will always be situations where "Pre A" will work better than "Pre B" on a source, let's say a female vocal - but then "Pre B" will work better than "Pre A" on a different female vocal. However, as much as I enjoyed using the Pacifica there were too many sources where it sounded a little harsh/peaky and/or thin - whereas I have yet to find a source where the ADL doesn't at least good/appropriate on.
When the gain is cranked, for instance on a vocal, holy cow there's some nice sizzle and punch with a U87ai. Acoustic guitars, with the trim all the way up and gain all the way down, sit really well inside a mix - but do the opposite and "hello there mr. acoustic guitar!"
Overheads: depending on placement of microphones can either pick up a full representation of the room with a full bodied tone of the kit, or a up close and peronal perspective on what the kit sounds like when actually playing it.
Heavily Distorted Guitars: It works, but I wasn't super thrilled with it, that's where the Pacifica came in. Again, it's appropriate enough but there are other pre's that are a better match.
Lightly Distorted Guitars: Sweet! Crank the gain, peel back the trim - nice and juicy.
Mic'd Rhodes and Leslie: Mmmm, I want to eat you.
Kick drum and Snare drum up close: Full and round with good midrange detail.
Bass Guitar D.I.: More of the same, full and round with good midrange detail. I could clearly hear note changes with a cheap bass on the E string, where some lesser preamps it wasn't as well defined.
Conclusion: This is a properly and well designed piece of audio equipment. Seems as if anything you run through it will at least sound pretty good if not great. Always leaves me feeling as if the sound is clear and full, with no gaps or harmful accentuations. Tube and transformer design, so I'd assume there's some thickening going on.
Strike against its value:
I'M SOO CONFUSED? Why does this have such horrible resale value?!? (2200 new, and lucky to get $1100 for it) This thing is a heavy beast with its quality craftsmanship, sounds great on almost anything (never horrible on anything), three tubes per channel WITH transformers on the input and output!
Well, I have it and I have no reason to rid myself of it, except that I don't like the concept of potentially having to replace tubes, uggghhh!!! It just stinks, I could have purchased this for just over $1000 used instead of $2000 new. Making warranty and replacement tubes seem like an extra $1000 (this is how I view used vs. new gear value).
P.S. I think, perhaps, resale value is sometimes in correlation with its profit margin... If this is true, and resale value being important to the consumer, perhaps if companies were less concerned with profit and more concerned with value - when larger companies are able to design a great piece of gear while taking advantage of their ability to keep costs low, they should then pass those savings on to the customer and not price it with the competition, but blow away the competition by offering a similarly great design but at a much reduced cost. (I only KNOW this happens sometimes because I worked retail and saw some companies profit margins vs. others - and yes, there seems to be quite a correlation between profit margin and resale value)
P.S.S. (I do not know what the ADL 600's profit margin is, and this may not be the case, but just my observation of other companies.)