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API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

API Audio A2D

4.85 4.85 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

The answer to your mbox blues.


8th January 2012

API Audio A2D by People Mover

  • 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
API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

When I started doing home recording, there were many issues and problems that I was just flat out unaware of because my ears and experience had not yet reached maturity. Kind of like when someone starts out drinking wine. . . the reds all taste the same. Until you drink more, and more. You begin to notice different tannins, aftertaste, sweetness, hints of the casks, etc. The same happened to my hearing as I progressed in my work at home. I began noticing things that I hadn't noticed before. Revelations were beginning to happen often. The biggest revelation I had was the purchase of an API A2D pre-amp/converter.

This revelation happened on a couple of levels. First of all, it revealed to me the truth about my mbox 2 pro. A truth that was well known in many circles, and on the Gearslutz board, a truth considered to be as evident as the sky being blue. The truth is that the mbox 2's preamps and converters are not very good. Nothing will make this truth more obvious than to hook up an A2D into your rig.

The curse of all pre-Pro Tools 9 users is the ball and chain known as the Digidesign hardware. However, the dirty secret to get around this problem on non-HD systems is the s/pdif input (at least on the mbox 2 pro's and 002, 003s). Brilliantly, API recognized this. What they did was put 2 of their world renown 312 mic pres and an on-board analog to digital converter in a single rack space unit, along with a host of other fabulous features to catapult your dumpy little mbox rig into the serious engineer's playing field.
Those features include:

API 2510 and 2520 Operational Amplifiers
20 Segment LED metering on both analog and digital sections
Mic and Instrument inputs
Polarity, phantom power, input pad, 2:1 transformer routing
Mic/Line switches
Six sample rate choices
Sync to external Work Clock with feed through BNC
External Super Clock input
Ability to be slaved with other A2D units
Insert point provided between analog and digital sections

The big winner of these features is the 2:1 transformer routing. This switch knocks down the signal 10 db on the back-end so you can hit the transformer that much harder to get that signature API saturation. This switch really made its mark on me when I a/b'd it against the mbox.

I plugged a Fender P-bass into a splitter with one end going into the DI of the mbox, and the other going into the a2d. I brought both tracks into a session and recorded a simple bass line. This is the moment when I realized the difference between top level and entry level gear. The API track had so much more depth and punch. The low end was extended, it was full without being muddy. The sound just jumped out of the speakers. The mbox track was dull. It had no punch, no presence, no warmth. It was cold, boring. At this moment I knew I had made the perfect purchase. I immediately went back to the mixes I was working on, and started sending them through these 2 channels. All of my mixes made a marked improvement. I could go on and on about all the improvement my work has made.

I also do a lot of VO and ADR work, and the API 312's really shine. However, I'm going to skip that review, because I'm sure that the prior review of the 3124 will pretty much cover the same ground.

In addition, the API a2d is a steal for the price. They have a street/ebay/craigslist value of around $1600. $1600! for 2 classic API pre's AND the conversion! In addition there are insert points before the A/D stage, so you can use other outboard pres or gear and use the API conversion.

I believe the A2D is truly the answer for those home-based studios and engineers that can't afford to jump into an HD rig or Apogee or Lynx converters. Besides, if you are still working on Pro Tools LE/m-powered 8 or earlier, you have no options. You are in digidesign hardware purgatory. Thankfully, the API A2D came along and set me free.

29th February 2012

API Audio A2D by jpoole689

  • 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
API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

This pre gets more use than any other piece of gear in my home studio. Rock solid construction (USA made!) useful metering and sounds GREAT on everything. I prefer it slightly to my pacifica, as it seems a little more forward sounding. I use it through my Digi 002 via SPDIF so it bypasses the 002 signal path. I use the A2D's word clock to sync my apogee AD8000 converters, its rock solid. Super versatile piece of gear, you can use the pres or converters standalone. It's also dead quiet so it's my only choice when recording acoustic guitars in the control room.

If you don't need the converters or clock, the you can get 4 channels of API for about the same price, but in my digi setup, the SPDIF outs and clocking really added to the utility of this unit.

10th March 2012

API Audio A2D by peaksofvalleys

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

The amount of connectivity on this piece of gear really makes it a swiss army knife in the preamp world. The intended way is to hook it up via spdif or AES into another interface, but you can also bypass the converters and just use it as 2 preamps. Or you can bypass the preamps and use another set of pres with the converters on the unit. There is an insert point for connect compressors/eq to the unit as well. Inputs include either an xlr mic or a hi-z 1/4 inch on.

The pres sound great. They aren't clean, but they aren't really thick/warm with character either. I guess punchy/precise are descriptors I would use. The stand out feature for me is how you use both the gain of the pre (with or without the 2:1 button) and the output of the converter to tailor the sound how you want. With 2:1 off, the gain low, and the digital outs fully open this pre sounds pretty darn clean to me. But with the 2:1 off, the gain cranked, and the digital outs set low you get a fuller, thicker sound. I happen to like the clean route better for most material.

Another feature that is actually a highlight for me are the meters. I just really like the meters on this unit. They are very clear, the response is great, and it's just very helpful when setting a level.

The unit price is either expensive or cheap depending on how you look at it. If you don't need the versatility or the converters and just need good pres, then this unit would seem pretty expensive. But the amount of connectivity on this thing, if you need a versatile pre, is just unmatched.

19th October 2013

API Audio A2D by musicandstuff

  • 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
API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

Why did I buy?

I have a Lynx Hilo and have an 8 channel ADAT convertor and wanted to utilise the last two inputs of SPDIF to get 12 ins. I also needed two more preamps, and have always wanted a good quality 2 channel DI. This box had all three things in one, so it seemed like an easy choice

Ease of use?

So simple, it integrated in with the HILO so easily. Plug and play. The metering is great, little API knobs and buttons all easy to access. It has lots of flexibility, and you can dial up a nice clean tone or dig in and get something a little dirtier with ease.


Tone?

I have the CAPI VP26 to compare to it (in the API vein), and also Cranesong Flamingo and Burl B1, Neve 1073dp, Buzz Elixir, Buzz MA2. I hear it as slightly brighter / more hifi than the CAPI. I think of the Cranesong as a super hifi sounding circuit with a little more attitude than the straight clean that the Buzz MA2 delivers. The API A2D is between the CAPI and the Cranesong in character. It is not brighter than the CAPI in an ugly way, the CAPI just feels a little softer, a little more 'vintage' vibed. I think the A2D sounds excellent. It certainly sounds how API is always talked of sounding to me. Slightly mid forward but otherwise clear, punchy, fast. I would certainly recommend API 512s if this is how they sound. It also distorts in a nice way if you crank it, a good crisp drive that can be used to dirty things really nicely. Like a good overdrive pedal.


Build quality and price?

Price wise it is value for money. I paid (2nd hand) the same for this as two second hand API 512 pres would cost, so I feel like it is a top deal. Even its list price is really reasonable. It is well built, looks good, so no worries from the looks of it. It is 5 years old and it has not had a single issue with frequent use.

I would highly recommend this product.

14th March 2014

API Audio A2D by QJStudios

  • 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
API A2D Preamp with Digital Output

Picked this guy up for $1400, not only my first truly professional preamp but also an amazing converter. Paired it up with a Blue Dragonfly for some rap vocals and it really helped smooth out the signal but still have it cut right through the mix. Awesome!

 
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