FiveFish Audio X-72 mk500 Mic Preamp by Magic Alex
I purchased this pre in November, 2012. I was moving out of the country and knew that in my new place of residence, quality audio gear is impossible to find. I had one empty slot in my Lunchbox...so that was reason enough!
My opinion is that any Class A pre sounds good if properly made. All this talk of colour is superfluous, as when everything is mixed together, nobody really notices the fine differences between pres. As long as you have Neve-ish for girth, API-ish for punch, and clean-ish for when needed, I'm set.
Well, this pre sounds no less in quality than my GR's, API's, and Forssell. I'm a big fan of the Shure 7B, which sounds awful if the pre can't drive it. My first test was with the 7B. I put the gain high enough to allow some red-lines. Bad pre's distort in a bad way on reds. The X-72 takes red-lines just fine. You can hear a sample of the 7B/X-72 here...
Next test was a TLM103. Again, the X-72 can compete with all the rest. It has plenty of gain, and output control, so finding your colour is your choice. Here's a TLM103 sample...
I purchased pre-made, so 'Ease of Use' is a 10. Plus, the controls are straight forward.
Sound quality gets a 9. I won't put it up there with the really high end stuff, but you won't be disappointed with the quality.
It gets a 9 for features, because I love pres with gain AND output. It makes the sound adjustable to my taste.
Bang for the buck is 10, no doubt. For any new 500 pre, $700 is the average cost. The X-72 is $495. I was scared to try the lesser priced ones, but that concern is dead now. FiveFish makes good stuff. If I were looking to buy 8 or more pres for multitracking, and my budget was tight, FiveFish is the best way to go.