MICROFHONE PREAMPLIFIERWith a sterling reputation for its Model 201 and 801 mic preamps, Grace Design has delivered a portable option based on the same transimpedance amplifier design. Housed in a small, sleek chassis built to withstand generous thermonuclear abuse, the LunaTEC V2 ($1,495) offers some serious features, including a two-position highpass filter (with 6 or 12dB/octave slope), MS decoding, balanced transformerless inputs, balanced and unbalanced outputs, and +48V phantom power. (For those who need it, you can special order units with +12V parallel power.)
Gain controls take 5dB steps through 11 positions and are paired with a 10dB output trim control. All controls are recessed to avoid accidents while jostling gear. To keep a handle on levels, a signal peak indicator LED gives fair warning, shining green to red.
Since the V2 is designed for field recording, there's a low-battery LED as well. However, if you pair this unit with a fully charged Eco-Charge Beta Plus System battery ($190), you've got a healthy ten hours of recording time. Also, if you use the 4-pin power supply, the V2's performance won't suffer at all.
I put the V2 through its paces, individually recording piano, classical guitar and hand percussion with a Neumann u87a and a Hebden CM1050C condenser. Recordings were made through a Symetrix 620 20-bit A/D converter linked to a Panasonic 3700 DAT deck. The preamp translated the low end of the piano beautifully, supporting the warm, round characteristics of the u87a. With CM1050C, the V2 allowed for crisp sound without any brittleness in the high registers. On percussion and guitar, there was increased depth to the sound. In general, there was spacious presence to all the recordings I made. So, whether your job is to capture the quirky mating call of the yellow-breasted bunting or a local band playing Suicide covers, you may never want to go back to your portable DAT preamps if you give the V2 a listen. Sure, the price may seem a tad steep, but you'll hear every single penny you spent on it.
Grace Design: 303/443-7454; www.gracedesign.com.