TK Audio DP1 by muziqfreek
While my Cranesong Spider was away for repair recently i was kindly loaned (by alan at asapeurope - thanks dude!!) a TK Audio DP-1 to ensure we could keep on recording... and WOW! For what it costs per channel the DP-1 can stand head to head with some of the best out there costing much more!! Although this is the budget range that the designer makes, there's absolutely nothing cheap in the range of sounds it can make. Touted as having the preamp topology of pretty much any type of mic preamp in history (apart from tube based! lol) it mixes Lundahl Input Transformer magic with switchable Carnhill Output Transformers & Germanium Diode drive sections, a +30db boost for quiet sources and an Impedance switch for ribbon mics.. (and the usual polarity reversal and +48V) - well that's what the spec and the blurb say - with the manual thrown out of the window metaphorically speaking i just decided to delve in..
In use, the range of sounds this thing can make is ridiculous - i'm not one for falling for hype over products that claim to emulate this or that or whatever, 1950's to modern or not - but this thing is simply amazing.. output up, input on minimum needed for good level, its as clean, quiet and pristine as i need it to be, but the magic happens when you start pushing some buttons and cranking the input gain while trimming the output down.. whatever you're recording gets bigger & thicker, with more "cojones" and when it starts to break up and beyond it just sounds fantastic! (if you're into that sort of thing which i am which is nice! lol)
While I had the unit i recorded male and female vocals of varying types and styles, keyboards, some electric guitar and drums... I'd also borrowed an Audient ASP008 (thanks Keith at KMRAudio for that one!! cheers mate!) using the Dsub line in on the back for AD..but that's for a separate review! heh heh
On all of the sound sources recorded the DP-1 was impressive, it gave this cheap Ibanez electric gtr thru a no name amp sounds i'd never heard that combination produce before with the ribbon mic (equally cheap but fantastic Golden Age lollipop) in front of it...(purists note i'm not currently recording music that needs authentic guitar tones like a Tele/Fender Twin or Les Paul/Marshall combination - i have done so in the past and could see this preamp being incredibly useful for all gtr recordings) - For the female vocal, she sounded slightly "thinner" than usual on a clean setting, but with more input gain and the output transformer switched in was really really close to the Cranesong's sound.. On drum overheads in a 3mic setup (with one of the Audient pres as the front mic - damn i wish i'd had a second DP-1 for that that day:( ) it was childs play to dial in any number of drum sounds from clean to downright filthy dirty!! and with a second one on room mics... ferrrrgedaboudit...Finally as an instrument input on Bass.. solid and big without being wooly with any amount of growl you want from the germanium and lots of input gain but for Keyboards - OMG sell your REDDI's and all the other colourful/meaty DI's that you own now, this thing is insane!! (ok... so...maybe not a Ridge Farm Gas Cooker..but as that's tube based it's immune from this purge! lol)
Anyhoo - all this gushing love for the DP-1 has got to draw to a close.. in summary - this pre packs a lot of punch sonically (and certainly weighs a fair amount due to all the iron in the circuit path), is well designed and manufactured and is versatile enough to handle pretty much anything its required to do - the only thing i didn't get the opportunity to try it for was passive summing, something else i think it would be astounding at!! Good work TK!! i'm buying one as soon as i have the funds!!