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Classic API VP312

Classic Audio Products Of Illinois VP312

4.75 4.75 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Pros Best deal in pro audio Cons None

7th February 2012

Classic Audio Products Of Illinois VP312 by mahasandi

  • 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
Classic API VP312

This preamp sounds incredible.
This is the 70's api sound.
Mid range punch without any harshness in the highs.
I prefer this pre to the modern offerings from API.
At lower gain this pre is remarkably clean and detailed.
It has low/no noise at full 60db gain.
When driven the output knob is fully variable so you can achieve
various shades of saturation.
The tone, which must be heard, is very rich harmonically.VERY RICH HARMONICALLY said for emphasis twice....
Punchy transient response is here in spades.

I have not used the VP26 which is quite popular on GS.
I have owned a Bae 312a which is a great pre, however I prefer the VP312, its overall tone is more similar to vintage API 312 I have heard.Though I prefer the BAE 312a to modern API 512c.

The unit has mute polarity and pad.I would have prefered a hpf,
but the features included are useful.
This unit can be purchased as a kit or assembled.
There are 2 versions one with DI
one without.
I have the non DI version so cant comment on that yet.

If your handy with a solder gun
and have the time crazy cheap.
To buy fully assembled still crazy deal, and to my ears the best sounding 500 pre yet YMMV

15th March 2012

Classic Audio Products Of Illinois VP312 by monkeyxx

  • 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
Classic API VP312

I love the feature set of the VP312 and all of CAPI's modules, specifically the output attenuator, which comes in handy very often. The kits are very easy to build, even for a novice I would think. The op amps are a little trickier to assemble, but not difficult for someone with moderate experience. Another great thing about Jeff's kits is you can customize them yourself to some degree, and Jeff is happy to give advice.

I have found the VP312 to sound great on drums and electric rock instruments, and vocals. The sound is somewhat dirty from the EA input transformer, which lends itself to sources that like that kind of excitement. It's not my first choice for acoustic guitar, but it's not "bad" there either. The midrange is very present and detailed, but it's not so edgy like on the 512c/3124+, it's more blended into the rest of the tonality. The high end is open and clear, and the low end is clear and accurate, not hyped. Fast transients will come through nicely. On my last project I used a pair of these on drum overheads and the sound was spectacular. Compared to the VP26, this VP312 has a lighter and airier tone, which I find to be generally more versatile. The VP26 can be useful when you want to tame the top end on things, where the VP312 will tend to bring out those frequencies more. I've briefly experimented with op amps but in the VP312 and other API type preamps I've owned I've found the GAR2520 to sound wonderful and it is my default and baseline choice.

Another thing I've done is modify the VP312 by using a Cinemag input transformer, and adding DI circuitry similar to the 3124. This required adjusting the zobel network as well as adding a DC blocking capacitor between the op amp and transformer. The resulting preamp is a thing of beauty and will be my general purpose preamp of choice. It's very similar to the 3124+, but with the better GAR2520 op amp and the vintage style output transformer, it's got a nice sort of slight vintage vibe to it as well, while still having the clean bright and present midrange and fuller bass, compared to the stock VP312, and a certain kind of rounded sheen that I associate with modern API preamps. I posted a picture tutorial with sound samples here

In addition to being great sounding preamps, the VP series are an incredible value, and I'm looking forward to CAPI's EQ's on the horizon and their other cool 500 series modules like the Missing Link. I'm 100% sold on this company. The anodized face plates wear very easily, and look cheap, but, silk screening is expensive, and I'm sure the savings have been passed on to us customers. I'm a fan of spending on the things that matter the most. Although, maybe, a silk-screened face plate option at extra cost might be a thing a lot of people would go for. I also really, really don't like the cheesy colored knob insert stickers that come with these kits and always leave them off. In fact the first time I found the CAPI website I clicked away because the modules were cheap and looked it. I'm glad I went back though because now the price is one of my favorite parts of this equation. Ten gold stars for CAPI!

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