Phoenix Audio DRS-2 by Sword in Hand
The Phoenix Audio DRS-2 is a high quality, fully discrete, class-a two channel preamp. It's one of my favorite sounding preamps, read on to find out why.
NUTS AND BOLTS:
Everything about this box is quality, from the switches to the finish, it feels very nice. It has all of the functionality you would expect of a preamp of this price. Input gain (stepped) and output controls, -20dB pad, 48v phantom power, phase reverse, ground lift, a high pass filter, and a high quality DI (with 1/4 input on the front).
Unique to this preamp are the dual XLR inputs (one on the front and one on the back) for each channel. You can use both at the same time, but it's more for the convenience of having a front panel jack. Definitely a time saver. It has Balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (1/4) outputs on the rear, as well.
I love this preamp. It's difficult describing the sound of a preamp, compared to others, because I feel that preamps are subtly different from each, for the most part. Although this preamp is definitely not ubiquitous, I liken the sound of this preamp to water. It's very smooth, natural, deep, wide, clear... something that is instantly 'correct' when you try it. It's got some color, but with some weight and character, as well. If you drive the input a bit, the sound starts to get a little more mid range bite, and the dynamic range feels a bit smaller. If you overdrive the input, it can add some interesting textures to the sounds source (not something I do regularly, though).
I like this preamp most on vocals, but it would sound great on overheads, acoustic guitar, and percussion. Honestly it would work well on anything, though. Those are just my preferences.
The reason this unit got a 9 for sound quality, and it's probably mine unit, are the noise levels on channel 2. I can hear a slight hum and a high noise level on this channel, compared to the channel 1. It's not something that I would be worried about, for most music, but anything with a super low noise floor, could be problematic.
If you're in the market for a great 2 channel preamp, you have to check this great sounding unit out.