Chandler Limited Little Devil Pre Amp by guitar4982
About 6 months ago I purchased the Chandler Little Devil preamp for my Radial Cube.
I purchased it not owning any other coloured pres at home but having extensive experience in the studio with many other pieces of gear and also being a huge fan of the Chandler TG2.
I wanted something a bit different and unique and took a gamble. After 6 months of use I can say I'm thrilled with it.
This mic pre can take the harshness out of absolutely anything. Different combinations of feedback/gain will add to the THD you're hearing, which thickens up and smooths over the sound considerably across the full frequency spectrum. I've found it to give me the smoothness and heft of a Neve but also wakes up the lower and upper midrange and livens up signals considerably.
This preamp can be clean-ish, but I do not recommend it for sounds that require a degree of harshness to them (such as the more agressive dubstep synth sounds). I've found it wonderful on drums, analog synth, bass, lead electric guitar and vocals.
The bright switch makes the preamp bright but smooth and open. Very useful for percussion and pretty much anything that you want to sit further back in the mix. Although not used everyday it's a great option to have.
I recently took it to a mix session to experiment with vocals recorded in less than ideal conditions and in the producers words it saved our bacon by livening up the recorded vocal considerably whilst adding heft and warmth.
There is a secret sweet spot for distortion on this pre - after it begins to distort but before it self oscillates, which can be a lot of fun!
Ease of Use
There is a learning curve on this device for inexperienced users, hence why I waited so long to write the review. The feedback knob loops the signal back onto the input transformer which changes the behaviour of the gain knob due to the higher output. With no metering this can be tricky but ultimately very rewarding and worth practicing to get right. At least there is plenty of headroom.
If I'm working with an unfamiliar vocalist I'll use one of my super transparent pres with metering and run it back through later - same end result.
This is truly a swiss army knife of preamps and has a ton of features.
Gain/Feedback - Already discussed but can go from lightly coloured (basically the original signal but smoother and de-harshed) to a not so subtle, livened up thickened supersized version of your original signal.
Mic/Line Switch - Switches between mic level and line level signals, great for colouring the overall mix.
Impedance Switch - Designed for mics with different impedance but I've actually found this to be a useful creative tool. On high impedance, a signal is more "weighed down" dynamically. It has more heft in the bottom end and lower mids and is great for agressive vocals and sources where you just need something to sit in the one place. Creatively speaking I find low impedance is most appropriate for everyday use when running a signal back through it.
Mic/DI - Switches between mic input and DI input on the front.
Bright - Adds a high shelf. I do not use it to add "air" to sources as it is quite bright in the upper mids and lower highs as well, but I put it to great use on kick drum on a heavy metal mix and on acoustic guitar which was recorded using a chain that was too dark to my ears. Also useful for adding complexity to things like overheads, strings etc.
Low Cut - Adds a low cut, very useful when running the unit on high feedback as the bottom end can get out of control (totally source dependant though).
Output Knob - Attenuates the output which allows you to get pretty much any colour you want without overloading your converters.
Phantom Power/Phase - Standard stuff
Bang For Buck
I think it's amazing bang for buck because although it's priced at the higher end of 500 series pres, it gives you way, way more tonal options and value.
A fantastic unit for someone looking to limit their outboard gear at home and wants a multitude of useable options. This pre is incredibly versatile and although it is not intended to replace the classics you may actually find yourself using this piece more than anything else. Lately I'm reaching for it in mixes more than compressors or EQ as it is great for retaining the original integrity of a performance whilst still tonally shaping it to fit in the context of a mix.
It is definitely a high end, professional piece of equipment that is very creatively and sonically rewarding.