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The biggest sounding preamp
Old 13th January 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
The biggest sounding preamp

Just wanted to share my thoughts and excitement
about my new HCL Mirror preamp:



I plugged it today, is not even in the rack yet, I just wanted to make sure
everything was ok with the - just arrived - unit.
What happened next, I wasn't expecting..

I ended up spending two hours messing with it, I mean it's a preamp right?
it's got Input and Output, what's in there to "mess with"?
And yet, this thing sounded SO BIG and beautiful that I couldn't stop trying
random mics and running audio thru it.

I've been around the game for quite a bit, I am a solid state guy,
Api, Shadow Hills.. I like gritty, aggressive and fast solid state preamps,
I tried many tube preamps and one way or the other, they never really cut it
for me, I always prefer using tubes with compressors or mics, and even there..

In the middle of a pretty big studio outboard upgrade I decided it was about time
for me to find some tube gear that I liked, because regardless of
my personal preferences, you need them, they do sound good and there are
occasions in which they just work better (and they look cool too :D)
So I went for an "all tube shopping spree", got bunch of comps, pres etc..,
among them the mentioned HCL Mirror preamp (and other two units from HCL)

I turned it on, let it warm up, and plugged a 57 that was laying on the desk,
and went "check, 1,2,3 testin..".

Hold it right there. Is that a 57 I'm talking into???
The Mirror made the 57 sound *** freakin' gigantic! ***

I was in disbelief, I quickly reached for another mic, another 57 (wtf!) it was the transformless one,
great, crank that input! And so I ended up testing all the random mics I had outside of the locker,
Oktava, Audix, AKG etc.. anything I had off hand.
The results were the same.

This preamp imparts such weight, fullness, richness to the signal while preserving the tone
of the mics that is just stupid. I've never heard a preamp sound this big and lush, ever.

The real fun was when I started to change input/output ratio, its tone
goes from uber-fat to crispy and airy, deep, super high fidelity to wide and bright(er) with some nice,
never unpleasantly distorting, saturation

It sounds as it looks really, big, dark, solid and heavy as well as classy and shiny.

Next step - looking at that "Line" position of the switch - was just running
random stereo tracks into it.
Yes, you know the answer.. it felt that good.
I'm not gonna try to find other cool adjectives to try to describe it,
a stupid smile was stuck on my face while turning input and output left and right.

The built quality is simply top notch here, I won't even go there, hand made
piece with big a## octal tubes, solid feeling switches and pots and all you
expect from such top class unit. A thing of beauty really.

I decided to get this one, along with other two units from HCL based on
feedback from owners-friends that I trust and after having long conversations
with Albert from HCL which is also a great guy (they sent me spare tubes for each machine too)
and now I cannot wait to receive the other two units that I got.

I knew these were going to be good, but I wasn't expecting this.
Like I said, I tried and worked with several tube preamps, simply put,
there's no contest.

I know what you're thinking "samples or it didn't happen",
I'm waiting for a bunch of gear to get in in the next days
and I will have to re-patch everything, as soon as I actually get to
track something with it I will take the time to post some clips
and/or make a couple of comparison, for now you gotta take my word,
or not lol I'm way to happy to care :D
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