George Massenburg Labs GML 8302 by DanDan
George Massenburg is a recording legend. He has engineered and/or produced some of the finest recordings. He is sometimes credited with inventing the Parametric Eq. He has also been designed some of the very best analogue gear, the GML 8200 Parametric Eq, 8900 Dynamic Range Controller, and the 8300 Preamp. His MDW software Eq manages to surpass his analogue one, to my ear.
The 8300 Pre comes in 2 or 4 channel versions.
The 8304 appears as a simple black panel with 4 gain knobs, four overload warning LEDs and a Power LED. The PSU is separate, small, very heavy, and has no power switch. It has sharp edges which find a way to nick your hand in the recesses of racks where it hangs out, as it has no rack mounting option. The outputs are transformerless and dangerous. Most modern outputs can be safely unbalanced with one leg tied to ground. Not this one, such a connection will short out and fry the output stage.
Continuing on the inconvenient cuss theme, the phantom switches are at the back and there is no Phase Reverse or HPF. Worst of all the gain steps are 5dB, which is a pain in use. (The Mark 11 has just appeared, which removes some of these operational inconveniences.)
Despite all of this cussedness, I believe, and have done for decades, that this is one of the best pieces of audio equipment on the planet.
Many say it is neutral or has no sound, in a positive sense.
I beg to differ. Some time ago, I was recording some low bass synth.
It was a Windham Hill project so we had all sorts of high end gear.
The synth was connected to the line inputs of the board. However we had a couple of GML pres lying idle so popped them in line.
The bass sound suddenly became alive, had a personality.
This fabulous LF richness is a hallmark, it pops up on every source.
From Kick to String Bass, to rich Male Voice tone.
The Mid is simply perfect, no comment.
The HF is similarly perfect, although this does make it appear sweet in comparisons with other transistor designs.
I am constantly amazed at how this Pre is omitted from lists of best gear, shootouts, etc. I have recorded pre shootouts here. In blind listening tests the GML simply walks all over everything but the old German V series.
The valve powered V76 is regarded by many as the best mic pre ever.
Trust me, there are two. We are talking only legends here.