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Old 23rd December 2002
Gear Maniac
cram's Avatar

I've checked out both hybrid designs extensively, the "Starved Plate" design, and the hybrid "Tube on the Output" design. Neither obviously, sound like a real Class A tube pre. "The Starved" plate design is basically a distortion box that I have found unuseable on most sources. However, I do like it on bass guitar.

The "Tube on the Output" design is much more sonorous and flexible, again IMHO. Even though in this design you have the tube running at 200v plus, it is still there as an effect. I think the trick is to understand that these are "FX pre-amps" and should be treated as such.

Oddly enough I have found that differing tube type dramatically alters the sound in "Starved Plate" designs. You would think that since the tube is operating at near failure voltages it really wouldn't matter much. But it does. I'm sure an EE could tell me why. Differing tube type alters the sound in the "Tube on the Output" design as well, but to a lesser degree.

I've tried both the ART Tube MP and dbx Mini Pre with the new GT 12ax7c's and they definitely sound better. The new GT12ax7c is rated down to 40v, so it is within spec of these units.