A-Designs Audio in West Hills, Calif., has re-released its JM-3001 mic preamp/EQ/DI under the name Ventura ($2,095). The single-rackspace unit is hand built in the U.S. and offers a transformer coupled mic pre, instrument input, and 3-band parametric equalizer that is based on the Quad Eight consoles from the 1970s.
When operated at optimal levels, the unit is designed to produce a signal that is both clear and warm with "air, detail, and generous depth." A-Designs states that when pushed a little harder, the Ventura's custom-wound, ear-tested transformers will respond with a more aggressive sound while still retaining the utmost clarity.
The separate ¼-inch instrument input section is designed to enhance the response of any active or passive guitar/bass pickup or other instrument with a high impedance output. This feature is very useful during direct tracking or as a front-end preamp for live performances.
The device's discrete transistor operational amplifier was designed by Carl Johnson especially for the Ventura. This op amp operates on high voltage rails nd is described as a high gain, fast-slew, stable audio block with virtually no DC offset over the audio spectrum. It is used in the microphone preamp, instrument input amp, and main output/EQ stages.
The mic preamp is a single-stage, transformer-coupled design with balanced I/O, phase reverse, a -20 dB pad, +48-volt phantom power with LED indicator, and a conductive plastic gain control pot. The preamp section feeds both the EQ section and a preamp output mult simultaneously.
The Ventura provides access to its EQ via its own insert return for sweetening tracks during mixdown. The Ventura's 3-band parametric equalizer features 33 frequencies with three bands of overlapping ranges from 50Hz to 15 KHz. Both the frequency selection and the +/-12 dB boost/cut controls are stepped for precise, repeatable settings. Each band has a Q switch with three fixed positions: sharp, wide, and narrow. The low and high bands are peak/dip, but flipping the shelf switch changes their characteristic to shelf type. The shelving switch disables the Q feature on high and low bands only. When in the "up" position, the high/low filters insert the fixed 12dB/octave high- and low-cut filters, which work whether the EQ is in or out. And, finally, the equalizer's input/insert return provides direct input to the EQ, bypassing both the mic pre and instrument input.
Separate from the mic pre is the instrument input section. This is a single-stage, single-ended, high-impedance preamp that also benefits from its own discrete op amp and includes a front panel ¼-inch jack and gain pot. This section also feeds the EQ and preamp output mult simultaneously via the input selector switch for extra flexibility in the studio or live applications.
For a complete list of Ventura's features, specifications, and a downloadable owner's manual, visit A-Designs Audio's Website at adesignsaudio.com.