Nowadays, more and more microphone preamps are coming loaded to the gills with additional processing. You’ve got compression, EQ, enhancement, limiting, de-essing-everything but onboard pitch correction. For folks in the market for one box that does it all, these feature-packed preamps are a great solution.
But what if you just want good, clean gain with no frills? There are still plenty of mic preamps out there that deliver the gain and nothing but the gain. In fact, numerous such preamps were introduced in the past year. Here, in alphabetical order, are the latest mic preamp offerings.
SIMPLE GAINThe Amek 9098 ($1,710) offers stepped gain and variable trim controls, DI inputs, phase reverse, highpass filter, mute switches and eight-segment metering. Designed by Rupert Neve, the whole Amek 9098 Series system (preamp, EQ and compressor/ limiter) offers the sonic heritage of the 9098 console.
Aphex Systems has introduced a new 8-channel preamplifier with remote control capabilities. The Model 1788 ($5,000) offers continuously variable gain (even by remote), unique microphone output limiter, 26dB pad, variable maximum output level, separate analog outputs per channel, and advanced metering with remote option. The Model 1788’s remote protocol is standard MIDI, RS-232 or RS-422.
The Crane Song Flamingo ($2,025) is a 2-channel discrete Class A mic preamp that offers four unique sounds through its Fat/Norm and Iron/No Iron switches. These change the amplification color and presence of iron in the signal path, respectively. The Flamingo also offers stepped gain control and variable attenuation, transformerless balanced inputs and outputs, 22-segment level meters, phase reverse and phantom power.
The Curtis Technology Opre8 Microphone Preamplifier ($2,495) is an 8-channel mic pre in a 2U rackmount chassis. Each channel features a 10-segment multicolored LED VU meter as well as backlit buttons for a 20dB pad, phantom power and polarity reverse. Each channel includes a separate digital control circuit, and the Opre8 power supply is based on a toroidal design. The unit also includes a basic 2-channel mixing bus. All I/Os are balanced XLRs.
Demeter debuts the HM-1 tube stereo mic preamp. The HM-1 ($1,295) combines 12AX7 tubes and solid-state output driver circuitry. Each channel of the HM-1 offers instrument input, highpass filter, pad, phantom power, phase reverse, gain control, output level control and 10-segment LED meter.
Grace Designs introduces the Lunatec V2 ($1,495) and Model 801R ($5,495, $995 for remote) mic preamps. Designed for field recording, the 2-channel Lunatec V2 runs off DC power and offers stepped gain control, output trim and switchable highpass filter and M/S decoding. The Model 801R is a remote-control version of the Model 801 8-channel preamp. Through serial control, users can adjust parameters such as gain, phase reverse, phantom power and mute.
Two new preamps roll out of Great River Electronics, the MP-2X and MP-4X. Both are modeled after Great River’s transformer-coupled MP-2 and offer unique low-impedance balanced topology, hum-bucking input capacitor array, high-impedance FET instrument inputs, 24-position stepped gain knob, phase reverse and pad. The 2-channel MP-2X has a list price of $1,250; the 4-channel MP-4X lists for $1,975.
New from HHB are the Radius 10 stereo tube mic preamp ($749) and the Classic 80 stereo tube mic preamp. The Radius 10 offers input and output level controls, phase reverse, highpass filter and drive/peak LEDs. The Classic 80 uses a transformer-coupled Class A discrete input followed by a EF86 pentode tube; each channel then passes through two additional triode tube stages. Other features of the Classic 80 include switchable input gain with variable trim, low- and highpass filtering, unbalanced instrument inputs, phase reverse switch on second channel and output level controls.
The Lafont LP-21 is a 2-channel mic preamp that offers up to 75 dB of gain via separate coarse and fine gain controls, seven-segment LED level bargraph, adjustable low- and highpass filtering and silent mute switches. Designed for critical film recording and Foley work, the LP-21 delivers extremely low-noise, low-distortion performance. With a list price of $1,495, the Lafont LP-21 is distributed by Sascom.
Known primarily for its hand-built condenser mics, Lawson introduces the Shaman tube preamp. Built with no solid-state components in the signal path, the Shaman offers Jensen transformers, XLR balanced inputs and outputs, high- and low-gain direct inputs, gold contact switches, 20dB pad, phase reverse switch and true VU meter. Available directly from the manufacturer; list price is to be announced.
The Neotek MicMAX ($1,595) is a 2-channel mic preamp with several unique features. The MicMAX offers digital readout of mic gain, three switch-selectable input impedances plus mute, phantom power, output ground lift switch, phase reverse and highpass filter.
The Oram Octasonic ($2,118) is an eight-channel mic pre in a 1U rackmount package with an internal power supply. Featuring the same mic pre circuit as used in the BEQ Series 24 mix console, the Octasonic offers switchable +48V phantom power, 70 dB of gain (channels 1-6), +28 dB of headroom, peak indicator, phase reverse, balanced in/outputs and vintage aluminum knobs. Two “hot channels,” inputs 7 and 8, can be used as line inputs with 34 dB of headroom. Outputs are electronically balanced.
Peavey Electronics has introduced the CAB 8i microphone preamp/CobraNet bridge. The 8-channel preamplifier has studio-grade discrete mic preamplifiers whose gain can be controlled across an Ethernet network using CobraNet technology and MediaMatrix. A/D converters are 24-bit.
PreSonus debuts the M-80 8-channel microphone preamp ($2,399). Each channel of the M-80 offers infinitely variable gain, eight-segment meter, highpass filter, pad, phase reverse, phantom power, balanced send and return jacks and pan control for the M-80’s stereo bus. An IDSS knob on each channel allows adjustment of harmonic distortion to emulate tape or tube characteristics.
Requisite Audio Engineering introduces one new mic preamp and makes improvements to two others. New is the Electra ($2,950) all-tube mono mic preamp. With circuitry optimized for the 5751 “black plate” dual triode tube, the Electra offers hand-wound transformers, 24-step attenuation control, high-impedance input and illuminated VU meter with switchable ranges. The Y7 Stereo and Y7 Mono preamps ($2,895 and $2,195 respectively) now boast more gain for the balanced line input, removal of the output attenuator and a redesigned output driver tube circuit. The transformer-balanced Y7 Series also offers pad, input gain control, phase reverse, meter select/on/off and an illuminated meter.
SPL introduces the GoldMike Model 9844 tube microphone preamplifier. The GoldMike offers matched ECC83 tubes running at 250 volts, dual-mono configuration for optimum separation and backlit VU meters. The GoldMike preamp has a list price of $999.
The D19m MP4RC Quad Remote Controlled Mic/Line Input from Studer is one of a series of cards designed for the D19 modular rack system and is one of the building blocks in the analog to digital system. The MP4RC includes four channels, each offering a transformer-balanced mic/line input, 48V phantom power and a highpass filter. Each input features clip protection, a split output, an external mute, and an electronically balanced line-level output. All channels may be remotely controlled by the D19m Remote Controller card.
Improving on the popular SX202 mic preamp, Symetrix introduces the model 302 dual microphone preamp ($299). The 302 offers up to 60 dB of variable gain, 15dB pad, phase reverse switches, 11/44-inch balanced and Euroblock terminal outputs.
True Audio Systems debuts the Precision 8 8-channel microphone preamplifier. The single-rackspace Precision 8 ($2,695) offers eight channels of high-quality preamplification, two high-impedance instrument inputs, DB-25 multi-pin balanced output, M/S decoding, phase reverse, 5-segment level meter with peak hold for each input and variable reference level knob.