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a rather cheap tube preamp which is still great... Single-Channel Preamps
Old 20th August 2007
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

a rather cheap tube preamp which is still great...

I wonder which preamp that I can by used for about 500$ (more or less) is available out there, and that will give me great results with my TLM103 ? Is there anything that is an entry level pro make of a preamp ?
Old 20th August 2007
  #2
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bexarametric's Avatar
 

Solo 610. I have the LA610. For the money it has a "pro" sound. If you could spend a couple hundred more, try the Chameleon Labs 7602. It is unmatched at the price point. It's a Neve 1073 remake that has gotten great reviews and praise on these boards. It also has an EQ built into it (just another reason why you should get it).

Chameleon Labs
Old 20th August 2007
  #3
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bexarametric's Avatar
 

Also, see if you can try before you buy. The only opinion that matters is yours when you are spending money. I gave you recommendations, but they may not be your particular taste.
Old 20th August 2007
  #4
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lowfreq33's Avatar
 

+1 for the 7602.
You might also look on ebay for a TLAudio or HHB Fatman 2 (they were re-badged halfway through the production run, but electronically they're exactly the same). They usually go for about $250-$300. No EQ, but a pretty decent compressor onboard. Different from the Neve type stuff, but actually pretty similar sonically to the solo 610.
Old 20th August 2007
  #5
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Andrew Kinsey's Avatar
 

Sebatron VMP Series.

This is one of my favorite valve preamps, it absolutely pisses on alot of other units that we sell that cost as much as twice the price.

The VMP's also have three pad settings and basic EQ.
Available in single, dual, and quad channels.

Old 20th August 2007
  #6
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Another vote for the solo 610. I have an M610 and love it, so much more full sounding than anything I've used before.
Old 21st August 2007
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

So the solo is basically a single M610 channel ?

I found a rather new LA-610 for sale for about 1000$. Is that reasonable ?
Old 21st August 2007
  #8
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lowfreq33's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gilwe View Post
So the solo is basically a single M610 channel ?

I found a rather new LA-610 for sale for about 1000$. Is that reasonable ?
The solo doesn't have the high and low shelving eq.

That's a somewhat reasonable price (new it's $1400 I think). But there are people on here who are REALLY into analyzing UA products, so there may be some revision or something you should check for.
Old 21st August 2007
  #9
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True North's Avatar
 

Seabtron is good

I know a full time working engineer who, beleive it or not, swears by the TLA Ivory series.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks guys,

I locate two preamps for sale which might be of an interest -

DBX 386
TL Audio Ivory 5001

Both are sold second hand for about the same price.
I don't have any experience with those two brands,
should I expect a big difference between them, for the favor of the TLA ?

The DBX seems like a better practical choice (more fearues, like digital out...), but I got the impression that the TLA should sound much better... On the other way , having a quad mic pre is cool - will allow me to run a mics and instruments simultaneously... But which should sound better?

Am I right about this ? Keep in mind I'm not going to use the stock tubes,
I have some great NOS 12AX7 to use in them.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 

TMA2 from HDB Audio it's a real pure tube-design (not a fakey hybrid-design like most others) even the meterings are tubes as indicator tubes ("magic eye") known from old tube-radios. It has input- and output-transformes max gain is only 35dB but should be enough for a TLM103. Price new is around 500 bucks which is a real bargain. The sound is sweet and warm with a shimmering top end. I like this pre together with an U67 on vocals. Not sure if it's availiable in the U.S. though.

Andreas
Old 22nd August 2007
  #12
Electro Harmonix has a footpedal style tubepre wich is not too expensive.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #13
Gear Nut
 

I used to do some work at a guys place that had a TLA C1 as his main pre (with a TLM103 for vox). I was never very happy with the sounds I got using that pre. It worked, but wasn't anything special.

At my own place, I picked up the ElectroHarmonix 12AY7 tube pre after reading much hype about it on another site. It's a good pre for the $$. I haven't used it extensively, but so far I prefer it over the TLA pre I've used.

I also own 2 of the Chameleon Labs 7602 units, and have used them a lot on different sources. The pre is pretty good sounding on it's own, but as everyone else says, the eq is amesome. It also has a HPF and an output attenuator too so you can drive the mic pre harder.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #14
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underworld's Avatar
 

Another really inexpensive tube preamp that I kind of dig is the Bellari RP 220. It's a bit noisy granted - but I believe it's actually a high-voltage tube circuit and it has a nice "grit" to it .... it's by no means a transparent pre - it definitely adds color .... but it's kind of cool sounding. I believe there are several mods you can do to improve the unit as well .... I sold mine a while back when I moved up to Manley - but I do miss it on occasion.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Ok I got the PA5001 finally. I tested it using my favorite 12AX7 tubes - a set I got with the name "Lewis & Kufman" printed on them; should be a rebrand of some high quality make, 60s, NOS, tested it against a Millenia HV3. The Millenia sounded like a pre should sound - very detailed, warm. However, the PA5001 sounded nice, definately fatter like a tube pre should. I actully liked the coloring/fattening effect on my voice, and took it for 450$. I know it is nothing like the "golden" pres, but for 450$ I'm not sure I could have done much better...

One thing I did notice - well... it seems the TLM103 is not that great like I thought... I think there's much more for the pre you're using than the mic itself (tested it through an Avalon M5).
Old 22nd August 2007
  #16
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

s20 you can have 2 preamps for around 500.00 ebay. The 103 mic you have, well thats just not a fav of mine, but a s20 might tame some the harshness down that a 103 gives off.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #17
Gear Nut
 
mcollinge's Avatar
 

The Brick?
Old 23rd August 2007
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

One thing I must note about. I read many comments about the TLA 5001 and 5050 being a crap. I tested different tubes tonight. I used the "Lewis & Kaufman" I mentioned, General Electric, RCA, Some good sounding unbranded ECC81 and the stock Sovtek. The difference, just as you may expect, was huge. When using my the best sounding tubes (Lewis&Kaufman) the 5001 sounds just beautiful ! fat, warm, smooth, in many ways it sounds just the way I expected. At the same time, using the Sovtek (I knew it was crap but I was curious to see ho much...) the unit sounded like crap - the same way many describe it. I wouldn't touch it if I were to use only Sovteks in that unit ! This is nothing near being a surprise to me, but I thought it might be a good step to note about it. The tubes have a huge effect on the sound tube-based amps and preamps produce. Today we can expect almost any tube pre and amp to come with crappy chineas/russian tubes, so first thing to do whenever testing or using such a unit it to place your favourite tubes in it.

Just my 2 cents.

BTW, I realized the TLM must be a very good choice after all
The PA5001 smoothens its top quite nicely actually !
Old 13th March 2010
  #19
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El Nino's Avatar
Besides vocals, what other instruments have you tried it on? Would you suggest any other tubes besides L&K?
Old 13th March 2010
  #20
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uhhh this is from 2007. post fail

Old 13th March 2010
  #21
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gilwe View Post
The tubes have a huge effect on the sound tube-based amps and preamps produce. Today we can expect almost any tube pre and amp to come with crappy chineas/russian tubes, so first thing to do whenever testing or using such a unit it to place your favourite tubes in it.

I know the above post is long in the tooth, but since this thread is revived I'll avail myself of the opportunity to set the record straight.

While it's understandable that a lot of people come to the conclusion that the tube is responsible for the tone a the circuit, it's not actually true. How big of a difference the tube makes to the sound of a given circuit has to do with the circuit itself. Sometimes a tube swap is night and day; sometimes, it makes no meaningful difference.

I learned this when I first got the chance to play with an all-tube preamp designed by a tone freak in australia, David from the now-defunct Peach. Anyway, that preamp was hands-down the most euphonic, detailed, musical pre I'd ever used before or since, and it was loaded with... stock Sovtek 12ax7's.

I asked if the designer had ever tried other tubes in there, he said he had and they didn't matter. This was confirmed by other users who had tried replacing the stock tubes with various coveted NOS ones, and were surprised that the preamp sounded slightly different but no better or worse.

On the other hand, dropping a Mullard in my old U99 was like a revelation, so every circuit is different.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 13th March 2010
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
El Nino's Avatar
Total fail. More like a wipeout. But, at least I'm not starting a pointless thread!



Ummmmm, TLA 5001 tube suggestions? Upgrades? Anyone? Are they worth the effort or, not?

Old 13th March 2010
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
El Nino's Avatar
thumbsup

UBK thanx for the info. I am not familiar with the TLA 5001 at all. Would love to know if there are any available upgrades? Not just tube options. I have tried the TL Audio dual valve before. It was just ok.

Also tracked drums for a full length on the TL Audio VTC at Millbrook Sound about 3 years ago. The outcome was great.

The 5001 looks appealing. I already have some pretty nice pre's (Vin, BAE, API) and am looking for some "bang for the buck" tube mic pre's. 4 in a box would be great.
Old 13th March 2010
  #24
Solo/610's show up fairly regularly in the for sale area here, for around that $500'ish dollar mark.
Old 13th March 2010
  #25
Old 13th March 2010
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
El Nino's Avatar
Thanx again. Will definitely check both out. Would still love to hear about the 5001 w/ upgrades.

No one?

That thing must really............

Suck.
Old 13th March 2010
  #27
Gear Addict
I just got a blue robbie for $450 on ebay. I've heard it's quite good... maybe not particularly "tubey" though.
Old 13th March 2010
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Nino View Post
Total fail. More like a wipeout. But, at least I'm not starting a pointless thread!



Ummmmm, TLA 5001 tube suggestions? Upgrades? Anyone? Are they worth the effort or, not?

Just when you thought you failed, you have actually sailed. Sail on while the wind blows.
Old 13th March 2010
  #29
Gear Nut
 
Peter H. Boer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Nino View Post
thumbsup

UBK thanx for the info. I am not familiar with the TLA 5001 at all. Would love to know if there are any available upgrades? Not just tube options. I have tried the TL Audio dual valve before. It was just ok.

Also tracked drums for a full length on the TL Audio VTC at Millbrook Sound about 3 years ago. The outcome was great.

The 5001 looks appealing. I already have some pretty nice pre's (Vin, BAE, API) and am looking for some "bang for the buck" tube mic pre's. 4 in a box would be great.
The 5001 can be modified. Mine was upgraded with better tubes, better caps and and with an upgraded tranny so that the plates get fed a higher voltage.
Different class of pre-amp after thatheh

Check with machinator who did the mods to mine
Old 13th March 2010
  #30
tl audio..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J View Post
I used to do some work at a guys place that had a TLA C1 as his main pre (with a TLM103 for vox). I was never very happy with the sounds I got using that pre. It worked, but wasn't anything special.
same here. i was recording some keys on an album, and wintessed our female lead vocal being recorded with a C800 into C1. ouch, what a brittle, unmusical and thin sound. the "producer" continued using it as front for bass d.i. and miked guitar amps. the cumulative effect of this was pile of crap. iirc only the compressor's GR and make-up sections are tube, the mic pre isn't.


i do have to say the original ivory channel wasn't bad as DI instrument front end.. i liked its 4-band eq on rhodes and guitars. tho i was never sure if i'm actually sculpting an already nice tone, or just compensating for the deficiencies of the pre. truth is probably somewhere in btwn. would love to try their classic series EQ2 tho, as an coloured eq option. supposed to be a bettered version of the semi-paramteric eq found in ivory1 channel.

id go 5001 over dbx386 in any case. really didn't like the latter at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J View Post
I also own 2 of the Chameleon Labs 7602 units, and have used them a lot on different sources. The pre is pretty good sounding on it's own, but as everyone else says, the eq is amesome. It also has a HPF and an output attenuator too so you can drive the mic pre harder.
interesting. would love to try that eq.

ps do you know anything about the carnhill options? keep reading how big of a deal is it... does the tone get bigger/hairier ?


back on topic, along the lines of ubk's post: has anyone tried mullards or some NOS german stuff into Sebatrons? any revelations?
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