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Is the API VP26 right for me?
Old 5th July 2010
  #1
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Is the API VP26 right for me?

No 500 rack yet, but I like the idea of one. Seems future-proof.

Anyway, looking for a pre to use with an SM7b for rock vocals, and an i5 on guitar cabs. A touch of character would be nice, and I like using things that are off the beaten path. I hear the VP26 is a bit more sweet and round than the typical API offerings, which is good cause I've been concerned that API might be a bit too edgy for me.

Thoughts?

Edit:

8 months later, yeah, the VP26 slays. Apart from some gooey tube pres, and maybe some Neve flavour, this is the only pre I will ever use.

So to answer the original post.

Q: Is the API VP26 right for me?
A: YES! A thousand times yes. It's right for everybody.
Old 5th July 2010
  #2
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Nice!

So it has enough clean gain for v.o. or finger picked acoustic guitar?
Old 5th July 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klauth View Post
YES...thumbsup it has it's own, "API' ish" color though. I've only used the red dot op amps so, that's the vibe I'm in love with, when it comes to the VP-26. you can't beat the sound, build or price. EVERYTHING about this pre is, TOP NOTCH... I've been crucifying mine with drums and metal guitar and it just keeps me... heh If you want, clean, clean... I'd get something else, maybe an Elixir? the real beauty of this pre is... it's sound(and the mute switch ~klauth.
Nice! Yeah, I want a bit of colour. It's for vox and el guit, so a bit of heat and an extra helping of harmonics to get things a bit more forward in the mix is good.
Old 5th July 2010
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
Nice!

So it has enough clean gain for v.o. or finger picked acoustic guitar?
With the right mic, yes. Some opamp combos may be better than others here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klauth View Post
YES...thumbsup it has it's own, "API' ish" color though. I've only used the red dot op amps so, that's the vibe I'm in love with, when it comes to the VP-26. you can't beat the sound, build or price. EVERYTHING about this pre is, TOP NOTCH... I've been crucifying mine with drums and metal guitar and it just keeps me... heh If you want, clean, clean... I'd get something else, maybe an Elixir? the real beauty of this pre is... it's sound(and the mute switch ~klauth.
+1,

the VP26 has enough character to sound pleasing (never strident) and has a forward but deep sound but its still fast & detailed enough to use on delicate sources as well. I use it everywhere, kills on toms(I mean KILLS), kills on acoustic and electric guitar, kills on rock vocals, cello, bass, rhodes, piano, synths, hell, One of our assistants like to run them hot in parallel for drums and vocals too. they break up in a sweet way when you pummel the input.

other than our vintage neves which are totally different, these are my favorite preamps in the studio.
Old 6th July 2010
  #5
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Running hot, parallel on drums = neat! Few things bring me more satisfaction than smashing drum bus in parallel.
Old 6th July 2010
  #6
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we are going to have 4 of these land at the studio by the end of this week.

ill check back in and weigh in with my opinion after i have had some time with them. from what i am told by some trustworthy sources, these things are great sounding units.
Old 6th July 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
we are going to have 4 of these land at the studio by the end of this week.

ill check back in and weigh in with my opinion after i have had some time with them. from what i am told by some trustworthy sources, these things are great sounding units.
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh snap.
Old 9th July 2010
  #8
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ok, so we tested the VP 26's yesterday briefly alongside my dakings and aurora gtq2.

we did not have a lot of time to get very scientific, but we did a quick acoustic gtr and vocal test with all 3 pre amps and the VP26's are very nice sounding indeed.

all 3 pre amps had their own character that was exceptionally pleasing. they were all a little different with the daking seeming to have the most hi fi top end and the aurora having the most color and low mid cream. the VP 26's were somewhere in between and had an unmistakeable character that was also VERY pleasing. i could make a great sounding record with any of these pre amps and we were pleased to hear that the VP26's stand up to our other pre amps. at around $285 per channel unassembled i think they are easily one of the best bang for your buck mic pre's out there.

my partner bought the kits and built 4 of them using the red dot op amps.
the directions that are provided are excellent and the units feel nice when assembled.

we will put them into use this week and see how they work on drums and other things, but i have no doubt that they will sound great.

+1 for classic audio products of illinois VP26's.
Old 9th July 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
ok, so we tested the VP 26's yesterday briefly alongside my dakings and aurora gtq2.
Thanks for reporting your findings!

I think the Aurora GTQ2 is my ideal preamp, based on what I've read.

As far as richness/harmonics/character, you would say the VP26 hangs in there, just is a different flavour?

How was noise? Is is an acceptably quiet pre?
Old 9th July 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
...How was noise? Is is an acceptably quiet pre?
Hey guys,

If I could interject some info here. I have some test results that were compiled by an industry friend, fellow manufacturer and owner of an AP. heh

I have really never published these specs since they are sometimes referred to as only "numbers on paper".

Anyhow, these results are from a VP26 with a gar2520 DOA. The SL-2520 would be basically identical on paper.

Gain = 25.5 to 60.1 min to max of gain pot
Input Z = @1khz = 1K ohms, PAD engaged 1k5 ohms
EIN = -119dbu with 150ohm input terminated... real noise is better than -98 dbu
CMR = >100 dbu measured only at 1Khz
Current Draw per rail = 23.3mA up to 28.1mA, but with 600 ohm it reaches 50.5mA (well below the VPR 130mA guidelines)
Headroom = +27.4dbu and +25.8dbu with 600 ohm load
THD+N @ 40db / 1khz = 0.008%
Freq Response = -3db from 14hz - 38.9khz


Cheers, Jeff
Old 9th July 2010
  #11
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Old 10th July 2010
  #12
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So where would this fit in if I already have a API512c and a great river pre in my lubchbox? I really love the 512c on instruments like guitar, bass, synths and drums and my great river only gets work on vocals(sm7b), acoustics and room mics. I like the thought of a api that is colored and rounder drool :P
Old 10th July 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
Thanks for reporting your findings!

I think the Aurora GTQ2 is my ideal preamp, based on what I've read.

As far as richness/harmonics/character, you would say the VP26 hangs in there, just is a different flavour?

How was noise? Is is an acceptably quiet pre?
The traditional Neve (GTQ) and API type of sounds are about as far away as you can get on the sonic palette. The GTQ2 is big, round and is an ideal vocal preamp. The traditional API sound is much more mid-forward and in your face, more suited for drums and other percussive instruments.

There are situations where I prefer an API, but 95% of the time I track vocals with my GTQ.
Old 10th July 2010
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
The traditional Neve (GTQ) and API type of sounds are about as far away as you can get on the sonic palette. The GTQ2 is big, round and is an ideal vocal preamp. The traditional API sound is much more mid-forward and in your face, more suited for drums and other percussive instruments.

There are situations where I prefer an API, but 95% of the time I track vocals with my GTQ.
This was my understanding; I just didn't know if the VP26 was a different beast when compared with the "standard" API sound.

I'm thinking that something more Nevish might make for a better "all rounder," if I can only pick one channel.
Old 10th July 2010
  #15
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These pres are the best pres I have used. I 've used pretty much everything in production and classic neve and other classic gems from the different studios and my personal gear selections. I say they are the best because of how many times they win over other pres. They sound amazing on almost everything all the time. A few time we have decide a different pre was better for the job but they never sound bad.

In fact we used them on a recent project that a friend of mine was producing and Mark Endert is just now mixing. Mark basically flipped over the vocal sound. (A little note, the producer is amazing so he knows how to get great performances from singers. The artist has a great voice as well, these two factors shouldn't be over looked. Back to slutting) He asked about the chain and the VP26 was the pre for that vocal. I know a neve type pre is often ideal vocal pre but these with the SL-2520 have a very rich and detailed sound that sound amazing on so many things.

I say for the price buy at least one and use it on a bunch of stuff. Then you will end up buying many more. BTW, they sound killer on electric guitars and drums.
Old 10th July 2010
  #16
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I agree. I never really liked the sound of the 512 pre that API is currently making. Changing the 2520 to a SL red dot made them better but vp26 is a different beast. Its just better sounding. I was actually pretty shocked by the sound of the pre a number of times. Kind of funny.
Old 10th July 2010
  #17
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You guys are killing me. Basically, I'm on the fence: I'm torn between a Seventh Circle Audio T15 or N72, or a VP26.
Old 11th July 2010
  #18
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Dude, I own all of them. Get the VP26 with red dots! Easy... done.... and your welcome.
Old 11th July 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dandeurloo View Post
Dude, I own all of them. Get the VP26 with red dots! Easy... done.... and your welcome.
So you've compared these to the SCA offerings? WHY do you prefer them?
Old 12th July 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
This was my understanding; I just didn't know if the VP26 was a different beast when compared with the "standard" API sound.

I'm thinking that something more Nevish might make for a better "all rounder," if I can only pick one channel.

the VP26's are great!
if i was starting from scratch i would just buy a bunch of them and get on with it because for the money you cant touch them.

i do REALLy like my GTQ2 on vocals, but i would have NO problem tracking everything through the VP 26's.

tony belmont is right that the GTQ2 is rounder and softer sounding. not as aggressive as the VP26's in the mids, but also these differences while audible are not going to make or break a track. both the GTQ2 and the VP26's are very flattering to anything you run through, just in different ways.
the GTQ2 does have a really nice EQ on it and DI's, so if you need that stuff, its probably the way to go.

as far as VP26 vs current API..........
i had a 3124 and did not like it. it sounded decent but the pads sucked and no output attenuator made it tricky to drive the pre amp the way i wanted without hitting "tape" too hard.......... i would much rather have the VP26's than a 3124 or a 512's.

if you just want a great pre amp at an amazing price, buy some VP26 kits and build them.
you will not be disappointed.

jeff at classic audio products of illinois is a really knowledgeable and friendly fella to boot!

seriously, these units arent that well known now, but i believe they will be in the future after more people hear them.
: )
Old 13th July 2010
  #21
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Classic Audio of Illinois VP25

Give some consideration to the Classic VP25 also, it uses the larger 2503 size transformer like the API 512, 3124 and the original 312 mic preamps from the 70's API consoles. To my ears the larger transformer has a bigger sound in the low frequency range.

These preamps have a lot of output level and sound very good in the production of rock music. I've been experimenting with them using SL2520 red dots, blue dots, gar2520 and even genuine API 2520 op amps removed from modern API builds. The Classic Audio 500 mic preamp kit sounds excellent with any of these.

I like the D.I. input and level meters on my API 3124 but if I had it to do over I'd skip that purchase and go right for a bunch of Classic Audio preamps without hesitation.

Jeff, the owner and mad scientist behind Classic Audio Products of Illinois also offers these "assembled" if you don't feel like soldering them. Personally I find pleasure in building the kits and the assembly instructions are so good my girlfriend can do it.

These kits are ripe for modding too. One of my favorite mods is to add a toggle switch which selects 1:1 output transformer instead of 1:2. This lets you overdrive the transformer if you want to for extra grit. 1:1 output with the output attenuator bypassed has a more natural "pushed" sound, it also takes off the low impedance across the transformer output and lets this thing breathe.

One last thing, I've ordered from Classic API four times and always received my shipments very fast and packed extremely well, great company to do business with.
Old 14th July 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
So you've compared these to the SCA offerings? WHY do you prefer them?

They sound better! I do like the SCA N72 and J99 but man. Get the VP26 and get on with it! You will only be really really happy with these pres.
Old 15th July 2010
  #23
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Originally Posted by dandeurloo View Post
They sound better! I do like the SCA N72 and J99 but man. Get the VP26 and get on with it! You will only be really really happy with these pres.
If I'm not, I'm going to come to your house and steal your N72's.
Old 3rd August 2010
  #24
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Order placed!

I could only afford one. I'm sure I'll get more if it works. I really only need 2 channels of pre more of the time.

I think after my next VP26, I'll save up for the new Fink Channel strip.
Old 3rd August 2010
  #25
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You will be happy!

I really like my VP25's too!
Old 3rd August 2010
  #26
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yeah, you'll love them.
Old 3rd August 2010
  #27
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pan60's Avatar
 

very nice pre and very well worth giving a go!
Old 6th September 2010
  #28
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sound clip!!

hey,

Just wanted to bump this thread with a test recording I did with my two VP26. It's a 2247 SE on vocals, and an AT4051a on guitar, both through VP26 preamps, into echo converters. There is also an avenson STO-2 room mic panned to the right through an SCA N72. The VPs should be the dominant sounds in this simple, unaffected mix. the "background" vocal is bleed from the original (trashed by a bad cable) vocal into the guitar mic and the room mic. sounds kinda cool and stereo on the "ahhh" parts. Anyway don't slag me on performance, it's a rough take just to hear how these things sound, and I don't know the lyrics...enjoy
Attached Files

79 VP26 mother nature's son.mp3 (5.54 MB, 9903 views)

Old 6th September 2010
  #29
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check em out

off the beaten path, for sure, I like that, OP. Really easy to put together, too. I even did the op amps myself. Up next: VP312! I'll be reporting on that in a week or two when I've had some time to build and evaluate, and compare

pic
Attached Thumbnails
Is the API VP26 right for me?-classic-api-vp26-006.jpg  
Old 6th September 2010
  #30
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On my wishlist ... Seriously.
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