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Best Tube Mic Pre?
Old 31st July 2012
  #1
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OwensDrumming's Avatar
 

Best Tube Mic Pre?

I'm looking at some tube mic pres. One of which. is the Avalon 737. I just wanted to check in and see if there is anything better for the money.
Old 31st July 2012
  #2
There are a lot of different tube based mic preamps. Have you done much searching? A lot of people really like the Universal Audio stuff, maybe give that a look if you have the budget for an Avalon. And of course you owe it to yourself to check out the Manley gear if you are in that sort of budget camp. I am in no way saying the Avalon stuff is bad or anything silly like that. I am simply making some other suggestions for you to check out. Please do.
Old 31st July 2012
  #3
Gear Addict
The best tube based mic preamplifier is the one that records a multi-platinum song (sorry, my bad)...
Old 31st July 2012
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by OwensDrumming View Post
I'm looking at some tube mic pres. One of which. is the Avalon 737. I just wanted to check in and see if there is anything better for the money.
Define "better".

The Avalon is fine. All the others are fine too. Only you can decide if what you hear from a piece sounds "right" for what you're tying to accomplish. I've used many a pre and if pressed I really don't care which I use so long as there is enough clean, relatively noise free gain for the job at hand.

That doesn't mean that everything is created equal or that differences don't matter. It means that the whole bag of trouble is subjective.



"It's just a freakin preamp for chrissakes..."
Dan Kennedy, Great River Electronics
Old 31st July 2012
  #5
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hasbeen's Avatar
I have several tube pres. Some are hi-fi and extremely clean and some can get down and dirty with pleasing or not so pleasing harmonics.

If one was better than the other I would sell the others and keep the one.

But I am a gearslut. I love them all.
Old 31st July 2012
  #6
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
if you like the Telefunken world you should try the

Tab-Funkenwerks V78M .... loaned to a friend that has a Mercury and he was hard pressed to say the mercury was better for what they were doing ...

cheers
john
Old 31st July 2012
  #7
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OwensDrumming's Avatar
 

Yeah. The only reason I'm thinking Avalon is because I've seen countless studios using them, and I went to B&H and was blown away with the sound quality. I've heard the UA and it was awesome, but the Avalon just has a quality about it that suits my voice. It makes it very cinematic and crisp. I haven't heard the Manley in person, but I'll definitely look into it and try to find one to hear.
Old 31st July 2012
  #8
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otobianki74's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwensDrumming View Post
Yeah. The only reason I'm thinking Avalon is because I've seen countless studios using them, and I went to B&H and was blown away with the sound quality.
well if you're blown away with what you hear go for it!
Old 31st July 2012
  #9
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
"It's just a freakin preamp for chrissakes..."
Dan Kennedy, Great River Electronics
Awesome quote...and so true!
Old 31st July 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
I'm happy with my ADL-600.
Old 1st August 2012
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
bwindsor's Avatar
 

I've had a "few" over the years, currently have an A Designs MP2A....think I'll keep this one !!! (of course, I could be in the "honeymoon" phase)
Old 1st August 2012
  #12
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Best.......................


..............yeah.............well...............................


................who's the judge?


Anyway, I'll try to summerize the concensus (sort of!) that I gathered from frequenting this here place.

For vintage, it's hard to to beat the Telefunken V76.
V72 is nice, too.
And there's RCA etc.

When we look at new units, the DW Fearn VT-1/2 stands out, at least when it comes to build quality.
When it comes to sonics, The Thermionic Earlybird seems to be a favorite here.
And there's Pendulum, LaChapell, Mercury, A-Designs, QESlabs etc. You can't lose with those, either.

"Best" automatically makes it a High End topic BTW.



Henk
Old 1st August 2012
  #13
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Crash's Avatar
I wouldn't get all hung up on the fact that a tube in a preamp is a must. You seem to like a clean preamp, which the 737 does pretty well. If I were in your shoes, I would look at the Grace preamps, since you seem to gravitate toward clean.
Old 3rd August 2012
  #14
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OwensDrumming's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash View Post
I would look at the Grace preamps, since you seem to gravitate toward clean.
Yeah. I was at B&H yesterday and they had the M201. We used a U87 through it and that thing sounded awesome. It's great that it has two pres because I'm going to use it for my overheads.
Old 3rd August 2012
  #15
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OwensDrumming's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwensDrumming View Post
I'm going to use it for my overheads.
And occasional vocals.
Old 3rd August 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
Hey if you are thinking of clean there's also gml, liek the 8300s.
Old 3rd August 2012
  #17
You guys are making my day, recommending solid state gear, on a Tube Mic preamp thread!

I would own and use several of the tube preamps mentioned here, some not so much. I do actually own the Fearn's, and I will tell you that when I die, if I have children, their children [my grandchildren] will be looking for low noise tubes for my VT2. Plug em in and go. Heck, they might be using the ones that are in there now. That's for real. They will be brought up on the Fearn's.

The TAB V78m is another really dope box. Super Vintage, Wonderful warm tone, with purity and space. Also love the Mercury for the v-series flavor, but it has a BIG thunder to it. These two are different sounding from one another. Olivers Transformers are really making his product stand alone, and the Mercury M72 is a Sherman Tank ready to launch rockets into your gut.

Also, I really love the Pendulum MDP-1a, and Greg's Quartet's, and the newly designed Electronaut M63. RobRoy, didn't stop until this machine sounded like something from another planet. It is like nothing else on the market. Also the LaChappell 992EG, sounds great, and it is a very BIG machine. The Thermionic Early Bird, is also flying high above the clouds.
Old 3rd August 2012
  #18
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Sound over topology all day any day!
Old 4th August 2012
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
Tanio's Avatar
 

I'm a happy owner of a pair of QES Labs Preq-1 tube channel strips.
Extremely satisfied with this.
The preamp sound is warm and rounds my u87, it also features a High-Z instrument D.I., and a superb Pultec eqp-1a style eq.
Check some samples on this thread.
Highly recommended.
Old 4th August 2012
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Petermix's Avatar
The Holy Grail

Requisite Audio OS1 - Over and Done.
Old 4th August 2012
  #21
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Andrew Kinsey's Avatar
 

The Thermionic Culture Earlybird is really nice, clear highs and beautifull sound with just the right amount of valve character.

Its one of my favorite pre's.

Old 4th August 2012
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
The DW Fearn and the Thermionic Culture Earlybird are used first here.

Both great and quite different from each other.

The red Fearn has the old American RCA sound with tremendous headroom and sparkle. A universal use preamplifier. Build quality and sound are first cabin class. Jensen input and output transformers complete this beautiful design. Fantastic heritage and the best build American build quality.
Probably the best there is. Gotta get red.

The Thermionic Culture Earlybird adds girth to the sound and seems to gather the individual instruments and blends them together in the stereo picture. Offers a jacked up fire bottle sound. Max headroom here as the unit peaks out at +30dBm. Phat Sowter input and output transformers complete this esoteric design.

Very British build quality--a little fiddly. Still, highly desirable.

Best from Chicago,
Plush
Old 4th August 2012
  #23
Gear Addict
 
mladja's Avatar
 

I have great experience with Tube Tech MEC 1A

great tube pre
Old 4th August 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
With all this Fearn and Mercury talk, my drool bucket is overflowing.
Old 4th August 2012
  #25
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What kinda tubes do you guys prefer for your tube preamps of choice? I am gonna have some extra scratch pretty soon and I was thinking of getting some tubes for the earlybird.
Old 5th August 2012
  #27
Here for the gear
 

EH12ay7
Old 5th August 2012
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Id love to get my hands on a Electronaut M63
Old 5th August 2012
  #29
Gear Nut
 
Pgraf88's Avatar
 

I'm a big fan of the hamptone tube pre. It's my go to on acoustic instruments.
Old 5th August 2012
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by wagz View Post
What kinda tubes do you guys prefer for your tube preamps of choice? I am gonna have some extra scratch pretty soon and I was thinking of getting some tubes for the earlybird.
New production tubes or NOS tubes? If you are talking new production stuff, my preference is JJ tubes. I have tried EH/ Sovtec tubes, some Chinese tubes, EI tubes and Svetlana tubes in the same stuff and for me, the JJ tubes always just sound a little more like what I want to hear. I am not saying those other brands are junk or anything like that--it depends upon what you are seeking in the tube sound. I am generally in search of more clarity of detail, and to my ears, the JJ tubes provide that better than any other new production tubes I have used.

NOS stuff is a different animal. I have had the opportunity to use a lot of different old tubes and I must say, there are some real beauties to be had. There are some dogs as well and sometimes they are the same brand! I guess it just depends upon the manufacturing quality control of the day, I don't really know for sure. But one of my stand out favorites of NOS tubes I have had the opportunity to use is the Sylvania long plate 12AX7 tubes. I have used some NOS 12AY7 tubes that were really great in the appropriate device. The Mullards have always been a favorite of mine when I could get my fingers on them, but they seem to demand more $$$ and honestly, for my ears, I prefer the Sylvania long plates. I have used Amperex and GE and a few other I can't remember. The Amperex tubes were wonderful. The GE tubes I had were solid, but did not get me excited about what I was hearing. BTW--JJ makes a 12AX7 that is a long plate tube and has gold pins and to my ears comes awfully close to sounding in the same ball park as the Sylvania tubes I have used for a lot less $$$.
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