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A-Designs Audio P-1

A-Designs Audio P-1

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

The one stop shop for all your mic pre needs

25th November 2014

A-Designs Audio P-1 by terraamb01

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
A-Designs Audio P-1

A Design's P-1 is the luxury sedan of their 500 series mic preamps. It is built around the same basic architecture as the rack mounted Pacifica preamps. But don't let the smaller package fool you, these are NOT dumbed down Pacifica's. The P-1 provides its own mojo and is by no means a weaker sibling to its big brother.

The P-1 is built like a little tank. Powder coated front, Solid buttons and a metal dial that feel nice and resistant. In short, it's built to last.

The P-1 is about as simple to use as one could hope to get.
A di patch, 48-volt phantom power button, 20dB pad button, a Phase switch, and an gain knob. The unit switches over to DI automatically when you jack in. Very simple to use, so you can get down to business.

The P-1 shines all around. It's really that broad. There isn't anything that I've run through the P-1 that hasn't come out the back side sounding brilliant. Thanks to the custom wound transformers, the P-1 is very forward sounding, but not harsh. It has a flavor not unlike an API, but to my ear, its a little smoother and warm sounding than an API. There is acute detail, but theres also punch and heft! Starting with an acoustic guitar (mic'd with a Miktek C5 small diaphragm condenser) i was immediately struck with the clarity and presence, with just a hint of color that warmed up the sound very nicely. Same with hand percussion. Everything was there, the high frequency taks of the drum, bold ring out on the transients, and even a little air moving on the low mids. On bass (di) the P-1 held its own remarkably well. Not muddy at all, the P-1 had heft and boom but managed to stay tight and controlled sounding. Likewise, vocals (mic'd with a Charter Oaks E700 LDC) were detailed sounding and warm and open. Combined with a BAC 500, the P-1 is a force to be reckoned with on just about everything i could throw at it.

The P-1 isn't an API. It's not a Neve. It's not a Millennia. It's its own beast. Bright but not brittle, punchy but not boomy, warm without being dull sounding and just a touch of color, the P-1 shines with just about every application. It's a great mic pre for any 500 series arsenal, a workhorse that will make just about anything you play through it sound better than it really is.

6th March 2018

A-Designs Audio P-1 by limbs

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
A-Designs Audio P-1

I bought this preamp used for $500, and it has become my benchmark in terms of price and quality. Out of the box, the thing is built like a tank - absolutely heavy. The Cinemag input and output transformers are cited as the cornerstone of the sound, and boy do they sound fantastic.

I've read that this preamp resides in the realm of "hi-fi" but I find my John Hardy's are much less biased - they're cleaner and clearer. However, the midrange of the P-1 is among my favorites. It is my go-to DI, and presents a wonderful midrange for bass guitar, vocals, guitars, and and synths. I often find myself goosing the midrange eq on these instruments in order to get them to have more definition, but the P-1 gives me a sweet, smooth growl upon listening. If you're making music outside the realm of symphonic and jazz, i.e. rock, pop, hip hop, folk, basically anything that calls for a little midrange color, the P-1 could very well be the answer to your question. Operation is dead simple, with a single knob.

Preamps are difficult to describe in terms of sound, but when you listen for yourself on decent monitors, the differences are stark. They just kind of emphasize different parts of the spectrum, and depending on the source and genre, it can either be perfect or totally uncalled for. The P-1 seems to taper off the top end in the most pleasing way, a little like a ribbon mic, but less pronounced. I've found that transformer preamps and ribbon mics are better suited to DAW recording, as the DAW captures too much of that upper spectrum.

I can enthusiastically recommend the P-1 to anybody currently in the 500 series format and struggling with the tones of their digital recordings. With a simple SM7, the P-1, and a nice analog compressor (distressor, daking, 176) you have yourself some beautiful, immediate, smooth vocals out of this basic chain, and it's not that picky about the vocalist. I haven't been able to do that with API, Daking, John Hardy, RME, or other full-bandwidth preamps.

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