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A Designs Pacifica

A-Designs Audio Pacifica

4.6 4.6 out of 5, based on 14 Reviews

High End Two Channel Preamp


12th January 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by creative.control

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

The A Designs Pacifica is a two channel preamp, replicating the sound of the well-respected, yet rare, “quad eight” preamps from the 1970s. It offers simple, but effective controls; each channel has a DI input (1/4 inch jack), gain pot, a 48 volt phantom power switch, a pad switch (20db) and a phase switch.

Although this may seem a little light on functionality I’ve found it works well in my studio, as I prefer having a simple gain stage to get signal into my DAW and don’t want to be playing around with a preamp for ages, when an artist is ready to start tracking.

I’m a big fan of keeping the signal as pure as possible when tracking, allowing for further manipulation in the DAW or outboard during mixing and the Pacifica is ideal for this purpose.

The Pacifica is a high end preamp and I’ve yet to dislike it on any source. I use it as my main preamp in the studio for vocals, bass guitar, kick, snare, acoustic guitars, I could go on.

The unit has a sound all of it’s own, it never gets pristinely clean, due to it’s Cinemag transformers, but what it does offer is a full sound that pushes an element to the front of a mix, offering punch and clarity in equal measures.

The Pacifica offers two sound flavours, by making good use of it’s PAD switch. With the PAD switch not engaged, the unit sounds quite clean and has actually a fairly flat response, with perhaps the mids ever so slightly tucked back and a nice open high end. With the PAD switch engaged it gets slightly more aggressive sounding, with the mids pushed backed a touch more and a slight bass and top end lift, I’ve found this is great for tracking kick, snare and vocals.

I should also mention the quality of the DI inputs; when tracking bass or keys through this unit, it’ll give the source a nice open 3D like sound, with a glossy high end sheen and extended low end.

If your looking for a high end 2 channel package, that is fairly priced, easy to use and dependable, I can highly recommend this preamp. It has a unique sound, so it may be worth renting one before buying to make sure you like the colour it imparts to the source. Hand built in California by A-Designs, the unit is very solid, the switches and gain pots are very high quality and just feel good to use.

12th January 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by adirondack

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

I also have this pre and generally agree with everything in this very accurate review. One thing I might confirm is that the amp does indeed provide some coloration and this may be a good or bad thing depending on what you are looking for. I use the Pacifica with a C414 and love the results. The Pacifica actually rolls off some high end with this mic. With my T193, I find the Pacifica's coloration too dark. In a nutshell, I find this pre thickens more than it accents any high end.

15th January 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by skindogdms

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
A Designs Pacifica

What a nice world we audio engineers, bedroom producers, and mixing engineers live in these days! There are so many tools we have access to in order to paint our audio landscapes. No longer do we just have to rely on red, blue and green (or yellow). We have cyan, magenta, brown, apricot, and so many more! I guess I'd classify tube, transformer solid state, and transformerless solid state as yellow, red, and blue respectively.

The Pacifica is RED. It's aggressive and you can get some real guts out of it when you engage its pad and crank the gain. It's been referred to as sounding like a mix between a Neve and an API. However, from my experience it acts and sounds much more close to an API. It is definitely quick with the transients. There were times where when paired with a bright mic and a bright-ish source the resulting sound could get a little piercing, which is something I never really experienced with my ADL 600.

It sounded great on guitars with a shure sm57 and great on vocals. Always having an aggressive-ish sound leaning on the side of almost harder sounding as opposed to my ADL 600 which has a punchy sound while not coming across too hard.

Conclusion: This is a great microphone preamp for those who have an arsenal of mic pre tools to play with - however, for my now bedroom studio, I had to sell this guy and keep the adl 600 since it plays well with more sources for me and my experiences...

22nd January 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by IGive'nTakeInfo

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
A Designs Pacifica

Cons: no trim knob. Personally not a fan of it's cream white color.
Pros: Great sounding mic, fast transient response, smooth top end, tight bass. I like this pre on acoustic guitars and toms/overheads. It really seems to love 421's on toms. Its also great on high hat with a shure sm7b. This is a piece of gear you should have in your rack. People love to say its a mix between the Neve color and the api color.

15th February 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by 2Loud

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

A designs Pacifica is one of the best solid state pres I ve had used, big fan of it.¨

Class A stereo pre with direct ins, and PAD, employing two Cinemag transformers in each path either pre or Di.

Pros:
Superb sound - very "big" and upfront, really dimensional and pronnounced.
The low end is pretty tight and extended - very sweet sounding.
Mids are smooth, higher mids and high end crispy and extended.

Can sound little bit bright and edgy with brightish sources or bright microphones - in some cases the high end can sound bit exaggerated, my bright Tlm103 hates it !


Definitely very coloured preamp in my opinion. Pad IN accents the colouration - lows and highs mostly. Personnally not my preference.

Works great on percs, excels on vocals and guits, loves horns, baselines etc. whatever you throw at it.

I really like its Di inputs which employ both transformers in a path /same as preamp/ for some real juice and dimension. The sound of it is just lovely - big and pronnounced. Great on keys, synths, drummachines, bass.

To me definitely on par with Great River Di /two trannies in the path too/
which is best Di implemented in preamp I work with on a daily basis so have long term comparison. Pacifica´s Di is simply awesome.

No metering /not a real cons/
One has to be carefull feeding the pre, since it distorts easily - and not in "supernice" way. So Pad is needed sometimes. There is 20 db of gain with the pot completely at zero position.

Personnally Id love stepped pots and output trim - but not a big deal.¨


Would not choose it as my only preamp, /but thats just a personnal preference, it simply can be the "only" pre/ Definitely keeper for years.

In my opinion - in this category - Pacifica is one of best out there.
If looking for the workhorse, characterfull and versatile preamp with great colour / texture / dimension - and you dig the sound - you will not regret purchase. The price is great, customer service legendary and built quality is on top.

Some say it is crossover between Api and Neve. I would not say, but as someone mentioned Id say its closer to Api with its mids and top end, but it doesn´t do the things Neve does in my opinion. Just my 5.

30th March 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by towerofpure

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

Overview

Question: So...What is it?

Answer: It's the Pacifica single space rack mounting, made in America (California), 11 lbs, dual-mono preamp with two direct inject Hi Z ¼ inputs on the front for instruments such as bass, guitar, keyboard, etc. The rear is simple and clean, a power inlet and a set of XLR inputs and outputs. Custom Cinemag transformers at both input and output. The front of the Pacifica is also simple and clean, two big red gain control knobs, two direct inject (DI) inputs. Each channel has a set of push-buttons for phantom power, a 20dB pad, and a phase invert switch. Cream facing, red and grey buttons, blue power on led and a lively red body.The build quality is excellent. 72dB of “Watch out ribbon mic” gain and a frequency response of 9Hz to 101kHz.

In Use

Question: Hmmm..., Ok, So what do I do with it?

Answer: Well... I can't tell you what to do with it, but I sure as heck can tell you what I do with it! Whenever I need full bodied, pristine, detailed audio with a hint of color, I look to this box. Guitar, Bass, Keys all sound awesome through the DI. Condensers, Ribbons, Dynamic microphones are all brought to life by this preamp. Headroom for days, don't worry about pushing the gain to hard, no stress, no falling apart, it can handle it. The pad buttons increase tonal flexibility, pad in being a little rounder/smoother, pad out is a cleaner sound and retains more of the transient information. I run the A Designs ATTY (passive stereo line level control ) after the Pacifica, this allows me to set the gain where I like it tone wise on the preamp and still control the input level into the DAW as not to clip or distort.

The Pacifica really shows it's worth at mix time. Everything that I track through the Pacifica seems to hold it's place in the mix, I place it and it stays, so simple and powerful. Stack and layer tracks until your heart's content, this preamp doesn't know the meaning of the words muddy or smeared.

Pros & Cons

Question: What are your favorite things that you like about the Pacifica?

Answer: It's ease of use, tank like build and excellent sound quality are the things that I most appreciate.

Question: Is there anything that you don't like about the Pacifica

Answer: Nope.

Summary

Question: How would you describe your relationship with the Pacifica.

A. Going Steady

B. Just a Passing Fling

C. One Night Stand

D. Serious Commitment

Answer: Well... we've been going steady for quite some time now (2 years), so this is no passing fling, definitely not a one night stand, I'd say this is serious commitment. If there was a short list of the best do it all and do it well preamps, I'm pretty sure the Pacifica would make that list. Preamps are often referred to as colors of sound, though it takes many colors to paint the world we live in, we're all entitled to our personal favorites. The A Designs Pacifica is one of my favorite colors, it does exactly what it is supposed to do and it does it well. I clearly see this preamp being an important part of what I do for years to come.

1st April 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by StoneinaPond

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

Much has been written about the Pacifica. It is not a newly released product that requires enlightening people as to its pedigree and performance. Described by many as possessing and combining the characteristics from three of the world’s best preamps, the Pacifica stands alongside all of them, and does indeed feature a great mid-range, glorious bottom and sparkling highs. Yes, the sound is as creamy as the faceplate color, and there is gain to spare, especially for use with ribbon microphones. These things one expects from a world-class preamp.

But in one particular instance it surpasses them. What is sometimes overlooked is the unit’s DI (Direct Inject) functionality. Other preamps often treat the Di circuits as add-ons without any thought as to their performance. With the Pacifica, the two inputs are routed through the input transformer, adding a depth and enhanced tone to the signal. Not only good for electric instruments, but also useful for synthesizers and other electronic gizmos, the DIs are a standout feature of the preamp.

Additionally, the wide bandwidth of the unit, well out of the range of human hearing, preserves the source material and caters to those that feel that extended frequency response is essential to capturing good and realistic audio, particularly for mix down. And for those that feel otherwise, well theirs plenty to spare on either end of their perception of the “20 to 20+” auditory spectrum. Yes, the design looks spartan with the single red gain control per channel, phantom power switch, pad and phase reverse selectors, but EQs and compressors are better suited to external processors. The Pacifica concentrates on what it does best. Delivering great sound.

On a personal note, I recently received a request from an old friend to record their very talented son. I knew his work and gladly accepted the task. But to make it even more interesting, I decided to record everything using just a single preamp, namely the Pacifica. There was not going to be any live drums, but all the other instruments were to be recorded with the preamp. All other processing was to be done during the mix. We used the great sounding Pearlman TM 1 tube microphone for the vocal and some Rode small condensers for the acoustic guitar. Both sources recorded beautifully. Electric guitar came through with an awesome tone and despite my rusty bass playing, that rocked too. Electric piano and synth strings came over smoothly with all the overtones intact.

The recording was a great success, pairing talent with excellent preamplification. I can safely say, that recording with only a single Pacifica is very doable using the variety of tone that can be derived from this one preamp. Careful microphone placement can in certain circumstances require little else on the capture side. (If you’re doing metal vocals you might want to stick a compressor in there somewhere. ) I’d even go to say that large projects could easily be recorded using no other preamps other than multiple Pacifica units, and the end result will not sound flat or boring. After all, that’s how records were recorded back when, using the preamps provided by whatever flavor of console was being used.

The Pacifica’s roots are firmly planted in what is considered the golden age of audio design with its Quad Eight heritage, but at the same time it is a thoroughly modern preamp. An all discrete design with custom output transformers, hand built in the USA, and housed in a heavy duty chassis, the unit can easily serve as the highest quality and single front end for any audio system. Yes, when pushed the preamp can impart color. Oh, but what glorious color. So, for those that have not had the joy of using one, hook yourself up with a good dealer or A-Designs themselves, and take the preamp for a spin. You won’t be disappointed.

11th April 2012

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by Backhousepro

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

The A-Designs Audio Pacifica is a two-channel, solid-state mic preamp that has received numerous glowing accolades by audio professional and amateur. It has been said by one notable user that it has “the depth of a Neve, the midrange of API, and the top end of a Massenburg. I’d say that the Pacifica has the depth, midrange, and top end of a Pacifica, since in my experience there isn’t another preamp quite like it. The unchallenged workhorse of my studio, I’ve used the Pacifica with every imaginable mic and on every sound source and have never gotten anything but a great sounding track that gives me exactly what I need to work with in a mix.

Fit and Finish
With boat-anchor heft and build-quality, the Pacifica sports a rich, cream-colored front panel with muted red aluminum knobs, plus red and gray buttons, paying homage to the colors of the Quad Eight console that inspired it. Its features are limited to just what an engineer needs to get the job done: phantom power, -20dB pad, and phase reverse. Plus, if there were a Nobel Peace Prize offered for customer service, it would be awarded to A-Designs’ Pete Montessi—no question.

Under the Hood
As mentioned above, superfluous features are eliminated in order to avoid putting components in the signal path that would compromise sound quality simply for the sake of dubious bells and whistles. Gain is a whopping, yet quiet (-128dB EIN) 72dB, which makes it a friendly port of call for itinerant ribbon mics. The Pacifica also has a pair of front-panel instrument inputs that are unique in the annals of DIs. For added richness, their signal is routed through both input and output transformers, which is why engineer-producers such as Grammy-winner Dylan Dresdow run keyboards through the Pacifica’s DIs for their ability to enhance the direct sound.

Its wide-bandwidth design (9Hz-101kHZ) minimizes phase shift in the upper harmonics past 20kHz*, which has a noticeable impact in the audible range. Because the Pacifica’s bandwidth is extended beyond 20kHz, it performs more transparently, with more realistic space and depth, and better-perceived realism. Instrument harmonies also are perceived to blend better. The Pacifica’s linear response down to 9Hz also minimizes phase shift in the low frequencies, which is the secret to a big sound and solid bass. And, as many reviews attest, the Pacifica is well known for its smooth, rich highs and solid lows. The Pacifica also features custom-designed, Cinemag input and output transformers, which are key to providing the “big iron” sound that has dominated popular music for decades. The combination of wide-bandwidth transparency and transformer iron are what give the Pacifica its special ability to provide realism with a little something extra. (Improving on reality is always a good thing.)

Pacifica in Use
I recently tracked rock vocals that needed to poke through a heavy mix. I used an AKG C414 XLII, which is designed to be bright and high-end forward. The Pacifica handled the exaggerated highs of the C414 beautifully. I got full-sounding vocals with detail, air, and presence—and not harsh in any way. It was just what I needed to make a soft voice poke through a heavy guitar-based mix. At the same session, I recorded an acoustic guitar solo using a pair of Neumann SKM184s (one on the neck, one on the body). The sound was incredible. I heard every detail plus the guitar had a presence that I didn’t get when I recorded the acoustic guitar rhythm track with the same mics through a True Systems Precision 8 (the Pacifica was handling other chores at the time). Don’t get me wrong; the P-8 is an excellent preamp. It provides a very transparent “what you hear is what you get” sound quality, which is fine for a track that’s going to be tucked in the mix. But I wanted something truly special for the acoustic guitar solo. The Pacifica gave me all that and more; or what I refer to as the “wow-sound.” The size, detail, and sense of space imparted to the acoustic solo made it jump out of the mix.

Adding to the Pacifica’s sonic palette, surprisingly, comes from its –20dB pad. Cranking gain and engaging the pad yields a sound much like the midrange-rich Chandler TG2. If you’re looking to add body to thin vocals or add emphasis to distorted guitars, the pad is rad—or like many storied engineers and producers, you might simply prefer the pad-in sound of the Pacifica.

Conclusions
Getting back to the Neve, API, Massenburg comparisons, I would have to say that the Pacifica takes its place among them in much the same way the Quad Eight Pacifica console took its place among the Neve and API desks of its era; it was less expensive and sounded every bit as good—even better to many ears. And that’s how I would compare the Pacifica preamp to Neve, API, and Massenburg preamps: the Pacifica costs less and stands up sonically to any of them—often quite favorably in my opinion.

Truth be told, I really don’t buy into the different-preamp-for-every-occasion way of thinking as much as I once did, because I use the Pacifica on everything: vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, drum overheads, percussion instruments, keyboards, you name it, and the results are always stellar. For multi-input recording, when I have to use the Pacifica along with other preamps, the Pacifica always gets used on the parts that will figure most prominently in the music.

My bottom line is this: If A-Designs Audio made a 24-channel desk with nothing but Pacifica preamps, I’d buy it in an instant and never think about preamps again—just making great-sounding records.


* A signal that’s 3dB down at 25kHz can show a measured in-band phase shift of roughly -50 degrees (10kHz!).

7th May 2013

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by lifesize

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
A Designs Pacifica

first off: i don't own one of these, and haven't used one. so what am i doing reviewing it? answer: i've watched probably 100 or more acoustic guitar reviews on soundpure's website, where they always use lynx converters, so the variables are guitar, mics, pres. couldn't help notice that when i really loved the sound, the pre was often the pacifica. picker was usually the same guy. i recommend potential buyers spend some time viewing these demos, maybe hearing what i mean. if/when i buy a new pre, it'll be the pacifica.

28th August 2014

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by Datolite

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

I bought an A Designs Pacifica mic pre about a month ago. It is now my "go to" mic pre for just about everything and now, I would like to get an A-Design Ventura then quite possibly my life will be complete!

  • 1
8th September 2014

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by Sacalait

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

I wont re-state what others have said about this mic amp because most of it has been my experience as well- just pure sweetness and professional sounding results from a mic pre! I've owned mine for about six years now and I'll never get rid of it. I WILL add that Peter Montessi is as awesome as his gear! You couldn't ask for a better quality individual to build your studio gear! ...user hint... stick a Reddi AFTER the Pacifica and drive the Pacifica a little hard and OMG!!!

15th October 2014

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by Tommyswami

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

I've used this pre amp on many insturments including vocals love it has a great sound on everything I've put through it I also really love the design it's made a real difference in my production I give it a

A+

24th February 2015

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by lifesize

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
A Designs Pacifica

over a period of 2 weeks laid up, i watched many videos from soundpure of a guy playing various acoustic guitars. each video, selling not only guitars but recording gear, announced the recording chain: mics, pres, always same a/d converters (lynx). most of the time when i really liked the sound the pre was pacifica.
it may not be as accurate as , say, earthworks, but to me it sounds best, at least on acoustic guitars.

6th March 2015

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by jmarkham

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
A Designs Pacifica

I've had the Pacifica for about three years now. It serves a very
useful roll in guitar and drum tracking.

Sometimes I run soft-synths out and back through just to add a little
color and "reality" to them.

The DI is good for keys.

The Pacifica is built like a tank, and if you are a fan of the Quad-Eight
sound, a really good pick up.

I think if more hip-hoppers got to know this box, you'd hear a lot more
of it. Adds some real grit/beef with the pad in.

Some metering (at least a clip LED) would be a welcome addition.

jeff

7th November 2016

A-Designs Audio Pacifica by Mike Avenaim

  • 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
A Designs Pacifica

Hey all,

Just wanted to chime in and let everyone know my current experiences with the A Designs Audio Pacifica. Its amazing!

I own a remote drum studio in LA. Ive played on tons of major records and am a huge gear nut. I care a lot about the quality of tracks im putting out, so the gear is always important.

I recently starting using the Pacifica on my Overheads. Its made such a HUGE difference to my overall sound. The preamp has really opened up my tone options and has made the spread of my kit sound much wider than it did before. Even with the same pic positioning. Its very warm and can be pushed to get the super crunchy 70s thing. It especially helps to have the ATTY on the output so you can control the input drive and get the tasty harmonic distortion.

Its very simply to use and its almost virtually impossible to pull a bad sound with this thing. I highly recommend it!

I've attached a raw audio sample of the Pacifica on my AKG 314 Overheads.

Thanks,

Mike.

Attached Files

pacifica raw.mp3 (2.25 MB, 2231 views)

 
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