500 Series Mic Preamps 2011

A BUYER'S GUIDE TO A WIDE VARIETY OF FRONT-END OPTIONS
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A BUYER'S GUIDE TO A WIDE VARIETY OF FRONT-END OPTIONS
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With the growing popularity of the 500 Series format, it’s getting more and more difficult to wade through the field of products and make an educated decision. This month's roundup offers a list of more than 60 microphone preamps available from 45 manufacturers. Use this handy guide to get a quick fix on which features best fit your workflow and desires.

A DESIGNS P-1

A DESIGNS P-1
Basics:
bright-red cast-aluminum gain knob, 48-volt phantom power, -20dB pad, phase switches, custom-wound input and output transformers, red LED phantom power indicator, thumb screws for easy installation
Extra: based on A-Designs’ Pacifica microphone preamplifier, the P-1 captures the sound of the ’70s Quad Eight Ventura, Coronado and Pacifica consoles; ¼-inch hi-Z direct inject input
A-Designs P-1 product page

EM-Silver
Basics:
cast-aluminum gain knob, 48V phantom power, -20dB pad, phase switches, custom-wound input and output transformers, red LED phantom-power indicator, thumb screws for easy installation
Extra: identical feature set to the P-1, except EM-Silver’s custom-wound output transformer has an all-steel winding for a dark, warm tone; when tracking via the DI input, this module can also be used on keyboards, bass guitar and kick drum
A-Designs EM-Silver product page

EM-Blue
Basics:
cast-aluminum gain knob, 48V phantom power, -20dB pad, phase switches, custom-wound input and output transformers, red LED phantom-power indicator, thumb screws for easy installation
Extra: high-nickel-wound output transformer generates a brighter, airy tone; ideal for use with darker-sounding microphones or instruments that require a crisp sound, such as a snare drum; DI is well suited for electric guitar
A-Designs EM-Blue product page

EM-Red
Basics:
cast-aluminum gain knob, 48V phantom power, -20dB pad, phase switches, custom-wound input and output transformers, red LED phantom-power indicator, thumb screws for easy installation
Extra: modified custom-wound input transformer brings the “mid-levels” forward; A-Designs recommends this module for recording acoustic guitar with a condenser microphone, as well as instruments where midrange tonal accents are desired
A-Designs EM-Red product page

EM-Gold
Basics:
62 dB of gain, ¼-inch hi-Z direct input, cast-aluminum gain knob, 48V phantom power, -20dB pad, phase switches, custom-wound input and output transformers, red LED phantom-power indicator, thumb screws for easy installation
Extra: combines the output transformer of the EM-Silver and the input transformer of the EM-Red; switches for phantom power, -20dB pad and polarity
A-Designs EM-Gold product page

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Alternate Soundings MD12

ALTERNATE SOUNDINGS MD12
Basics:
high impedance input, instrument input to line-level output
Extra: dual DI in one slot, Link output mirrors the hi-Z input
Alternate Soundings MD12 product page

MP1
Basics:
mic/line preamp, MP1 is one channel of an Alternate Soundings MP2 in one unit, -2 dB to 60 dB of gain, 48V phantom-power switch, inputs available on front and rear connector, electronically balanced output, passive phase-reverse circuitry
Extra: Sowter custom transformer input, no audio passing in switches, all switching made with relays, Clarostat potentiometers, draws less than 90 mA of power per voltage rail
Alternate Soundings MP1 product page

MP2
Basics:
comprising two MP1 mic/line preamps housed in a single unit, 48V phantom-power switch, up to 60 dB of clean low-distortion gain, inputs on front panel only, rear input used as channel 2 output
Extra: Sowter custom transformer input, no audio passing in switches, all switching made with relays, Clarostat potentiometers, draws less than 90 mA of power per voltage rail
Alternate Soundings MP2 product page

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AMS Neve 1073LB

AMS NEVE 1073LB
Basics:
fine Trim control, switchable microphone input impedance, signal-presence LED, intelligently protected switching of front combi/XLR input connector, Neve’s Audio Processing Insert design
Extra: based on original Class-A Neve 1073 mic pre module, using the same architecture, matching components and original hand-wound transformers; retains the sonic characteristics of its predecessor
AMS Neve 1073LB product page

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API 512c

API 512c
Basics:
mic/line/instrument preamplifier, front and back panel mic and line/instrument inputs, mic preamp offers 65 dB of gain, line/instrument preamp offers 50 dB of gain, 20dB pad switch, switchable 48V phantom power
Extra: built with API’s fully discrete circuit design, LED VU meter for monitoring the output level, API 2520 op amp
API Audio 512c product page

ATLAS PRO AUDIO JUGGERNAUT
Basics:
Class-A, discrete components, transformer-coupled unit; switchable, custom-wound iron and nickel-input transformers; custom iron-core output transformer; variable impedance (300 to 10k ohms) on a 41-position, detented Alps potentiometer; instrument DI; dual gain ranges; detented gain and impedance knobs for repeatability; manual mute and stereo matching between multiple Juggernauts
Extra: 10dB output pad allows for slight saturation of the transformer; when switching between input transformers, an auto-mute function prevents loud pops or speaker damage
Atlas Pro Audio Juggernaut product page

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Audio Maintenance EZ1073-500

AUDIO MAINTENANCE EZ1073-500
Basics:
Class-A mic/line preamp and EQ/filter module in a 2-slot package; three-stage amplifier architecture; Carnhill transformer-balanced (Classic VTB9045) mic input with 10 to 65dB gain and line input with -20dB to =20dB gain; , rotary switchable in 5dB steps and switchable 300/1.2k-ohm impedance input
Extra: EQ/filter stage incorporates three Carnhill inductor amplifier design; stainless-steel chassis for improved shielding
Audio Maintenance home page

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Avedis M5

AVEDIS M5
Basics:
single-ended Class-A amplifier, stepped-gain rotary switch in 5dB steps, output level pot for trim and mute, LED-lit pushbuttons, high headroom and CMR, low-noise design
Extra: UK-made Carnhill/St. Ives input transformer, custom-designed Jensen output transformer, 28kHz feature is said to bring out HF detail, custom-made Marconi-style knobs
Avedis M5 product page

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BAE 312A

BAE 312A
Basics:
supplied with Jensen input and output transformers, Avedis 1122 op amps, hi-Z instrument input, separate front panel switches for phantom power, front panel phone jack input, rear panel XLR connectors
Extra: no capacitors in the audio path, switches have gold contacts for long life, remote power supply with 4-foot cable
BAE 312A product page

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Bozo Electronics MPA3

BOZO ELECTRONICS MPA3
Basics:
20 to 64dB gain range, 12-step switched gain control (4dB step), 4dB fine gain control, 20dB pad, switchable 48V phantom power, polarity switch, peak meter, electrically balanced I/O, highpass filter
Extra: transformerless design based on Burr Brown INA103 instrumentation amplifier
Bozo Electronics MPA3 product page

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Burl Audio B1

BURL AUDIO B1
Basics:
stepped gain control, independent output level control, 70dB gain, 30dB pad, transformer-coupled impedance select, ¼-inch front panel DI input, balanced line-level input, phase reverse, tri-colored gain-level indication
Extra: proprietary BX3 input transformer and BX2 (nickel) output transformer; discrete, Class-A, direct-coupled, capacitor-free circuit path
Burl Audio B1 product page

BURL AUDIO B1D
Basics:
stepped gain control, independent output-level control, 70dB gain, 30dB pad, transformer-coupled impedance select, ¼-inch front panel DI input, balanced line-level input, phase reverse, tri-colored gain-level indication
Extra: proprietary BX3 input transformer and BX4 (iron) output transformer; discrete, Class-A, direct-coupled, capacitor-free circuit path
Burl Audio B1D product page

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Buzz Audio Elixir

BUZZ AUDIO ELIXIR
Basics:
up to 70 dB of gain, +34 dBu of output level before clipping, low noise level (-132.5dB EIN), upper frequency response out to 300 kHz, output mute switch, high- and low-input impedance selection, polarity flip, input pad, phantom-power on/off, front panel ¼-inch instrument level input
Extra:s Class-A unit with a transformerless input coupled with a Lundahl transformer on the output
Buzz Audio Elixir product page

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Cartec Audio PRE-Q5

CARTEC AUDIO PRE-Q5
Basics:
discrete transformer-based microphone preamp, pad switch, equalizer circuit identical to Cartec’s EQP-1A but with boost controls at three different selectable high/low frequencies: HF boost selectable for 7, 10 or 16 kHz; LF selectable for 100, 60 or 30 Hz
Extra: passive inductor equalizer, balanced output attenuator, fully balanced stepped output attenuator switch (constant impedance T-pad) allows saturation of the output transformer while controlling the output level
Cartec Audio Pre-Q5 product page

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Chameleon Labs Model 581

CHAMELEON LABS MODEL 581
Basics:
transformer-balanced mic input and output, 25 to 80dB gain, rotary gain control, output control rating is from unity to off, power and tri-level metering provided by an LED array
Extra: designed to emulate the sound of the Neve 1081, discrete Class-A/B circuit design, LED-illuminated push-buttons control DI input, phantom power, phase and input mic impedance from 300 to 1.2 k-ohms
Chameleon Labs Model 581 product page

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Chandler Limited Germ 500 MKII

CHANDLER LIMITED GERM 500 MKII
Basics:
input gain, 67dB total gain, 12dB pad, switchable 48V phantom power, unbalanced ¼-inch DI, phase reverse
Extra: uses the same discrete, Class-A germanium amplifier and custom transformers as the company’s Germanium rackmount units. Feedback control shapes tone from thick to bright, or with lots of color and harmonics
Chandler Limited Germ 500 MKII product page

CHANDLER LIMITED LITTLE DEVIL PREAMP
Basics:
66dB gain, balanced line input, impedance switching, low-cut filter, phase reverse, 48V phantom power, unbalanced ¼-inch DI
Extra: fully discrete circuit using high-power Class-A input stage and Class-A/B output; variable feedback and bias control shapes distortion, harmonics, clipping, frequency response, overall tonal characteristic; transformer-balanced input and output uses St. Ives input and custom Chandler output
Chandler Limited Little Devil Preamp product page

CLASSIC AUDIO PRODUCTS VP26
Basics:
discrete operational amplifier with standard 2520 footprint, 60 dB of gain over a 34dB adjustable range with an EIN of -119 dBu, <51mA bipolar current draw is when driving a 600-ohm load, mute, polarity flip, -20dB pad
Extra: circuit is based on console channel preamp from the vintage Automated Processes 3232–style recording consoles, sockets for swapping out DOAs, EA2622 input and EA2623-1 output transformers designed by Ed Anderson, custom T-pad attenuator follows output transformer for fully variable control over output level, also available in kit form
Classic Audio Products VP26 product page

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DACS MicAmp 500

DACS MICAMP 500
Basics:
based on circuitry of DACS’ MicAmp 2, 72 dB of low-noise gain in 4dB steps with an 8dB trim, three bass roll-off settings, overload LED
Extra: in non-phantom mode, the DC-coupled transistor gain stage makes it ideal for use with ribbon and dynamic microphones, PPM trajectory LED metering, input stage is protected by ultra-fast diodes
DACS Audio home page

DAKING MIC PRE 500
Basics:
highpass filter (10 to 200Hz @ 12dB per octave), continuously variable input gain up to 70 dB, eight-segment tricolor LED, simultaneous VU and peak (-16 to +22), switchable polarity, 20dB pad, switchable 48V phantom power, DI ¼-inch input
Extra: shares the gain structure and Class-A, fully discrete transistor circuitry design of Daking's Mic Pre One, including a transformer-balanced input and THAT Corporation differential output
Daking Mic Pre 500 product page

DANFIELD AUDIO MX20VPR
Basics:
designed for wide signal capture, highpass filter (80 to 800 Hz @ 12dB per octave), red LED overload indicator
Extra: design based on company’s mx20 transformerless rackmount system, module is “hot” swappable, gain pot is an ultra-high-performance gold 24-stage calibrated switch
Danfield Audio MX20vpr product page

D.A.V. ELECTRONICS BROADHURST GARDENS 501
Basics:
low noise, low distortion, hi-Z DI input, XLR input, 22 to 66dB mic gain range in 4dB steps, -8 to 36dB DI gain range in 4dB steps, 26dB pads (switchable), switchable phase reverse, switchable 48V phantom power, red and green LED level indicators
Extra: switched gain controls for high accuracy level setting (4dB steps), gold-plated PCB plug
D.A.V. Electronics Broadhurst Gardens 501 product page

ELECTRODYNE 501
Basics:
two-stage discrete transistor, transformer-coupled, activeDI circuit output designed to directly connect and interact with the mic input transformer to allow maximum tone options
Extra: each amp stage is individually optimized for peak performance using 1969/70 Electrodyne factory engineering notes and selected high-performance components identical to the original components, transformers are made by Electrodyne's original manufacturer to exacting factory specifications
Electrodyne 501 product page

FIVE FISH AUDIO MX5
Basics:
 12-step selector switch for gain, lighted push-buttons for 20dB pad, polarity reverse, soft-start 48V phantom power, 66dB gain, variable trim knob from 0 dB to infinity, 5-LED VU meters, relay-controlled switching 
Extra: Carnhill input transformer imported from UK, U.S.-made output transformers, option to use discrete op amp, anodized and CNC-engraved front panel, solid-machined aluminum knobs, double-sided gold-plated fingers
Five Fish Audio MX5 product page

FIVE FISH AUDIO SC-501
Basics:
 12-step selector switch for gain, lighted push-buttons for 20dB pad, polarity reverse, soft-start 48V phantom power, 72dB gain, variable trim knob from 0 dB to infinity, 5-LED VU meters, relay-controlled switching 
Extra: stock unit can be customized, such as adding a Jensen input transformer or an optional output transformer, THAT Corporation and Burr Brown chips, anodized and CNC-engraved front panel, solid machined-aluminum knobs, double-sided gold-plated fingers
Five Fish Audio SC-501 product page

FIVE FISH AUDIO X-12
Basics:
 12-step selector switch for gain, lighted push-buttons for 20dB pad, polarity reverse, soft-start 48V phantom power, 66dB gain, variable trim knob from 0dB to infinity, 5-LED VU meters, relay-controlled switching
Extra: U.S.-made input transformer, steel output transformer, option to use discrete op amp, anodized and CNC-engraved front panel, solid machined-aluminum knobs, double-sided gold-plated fingers
Five Fish Audio X-12 product page

FIVE FISH AUDIO X-72
Basics:
12-step selector switch for gain, lighted push-buttons for 20dB pad, polarity reverse, soft-start 48V phantom power, 66dB gain, variable trim knob from 0dB to infinity, 5-LED VU meters, relay-controlled switching
Extra: Carnhill input transformer imported from UK, Carnhill output transformers, option to use discrete op amp, anodized and CNC-engraved front panel, solid machined-aluminum knobs, double-sided gold-plated fingers
Five Fish Audio X-72 product page

FORSSELL TECHNOLOGIES SMP-500
Basics:
all Class-A discrete JFET front end with a gain range of 8 to 64 dB in 24 switched steps, fully balanced and floating output, maximum output level of greater than 26 dBu, front panel LED signal-level indicators, polarity invert switch, switchable 48V phantom power
Extra: based on company’s SMP-2 mic preamp, clipping LED lights at +24dBu output, which is about 2 dB before actual clipping
Forssell Technologies SMP-500 product page

GRACE DESIGN m501
Basics:
balanced, transformerless circuit design, 48V phantom power, 75Hz HPF, ¼-inch hi-Z instrument input
Extra: based on company’s m101 mic preamplifier; exclusive ribbon mic mode raises the mic input impedance, bypasses the input decoupling capacitors and deactivates 48V phantom power to protect delicate ribbon mics from damage
Grace Design m501 product page

GREAT RIVER ELECTRONICS MP-500NV
Basics:
designed to fit into a 500 Series rack using two available slots, receives its power supply from the host rack, ¼-inch hi-Z instrument input with its own input amplifier, -10dBv output
Extra: designed to re-create the vintage sound characteristics of the early 1970s large consoles, uses the same audio and metering circuit board found in the NV Series preamps, metering before and after the major gain stages
Great River Electronics MP-500NV product page

HELIOS TYPE 69
Basics:
5dB steps on the mic preamp gain switch, 16kHz EQ frequency selection, balanced output for easy interfacing with any digital converter
Extra: based on original Dick Swettenham (Olympic Studios) design, recommended for acoustic instruments
Helios home page

INWARD CONNECTIONS MAGNUM
Basics:
two VF600 all-discrete amp blocks, balanced Cinemag I/O transformers, 80 dB of gain, three highpass filter settings (70/100/200 Hz), +48VDC phantom-power switch, phase-reverse switch, hi-Z line input, ¼-inch phone jack for guitars, keyboards and low-level instruments
Extra: developed by Steve Firlotte, based on Inward Connections’ MPD-500 mic pre
Inward Connections Magnum product page

JLM AUDIO BA500 MIC PRE
Basics:
variable input impedance (200-3k Hz), continuously variable 41-detent input gain from 20 to 60 dB, switchable polarity, 20dB pad, 48V phantom power (with red LED), active FET ¼-inch DI, 34mm white LED backlight, classic buffered output VU meter with adjustable 0dB reference
Extra: JLM99V fully discrete Class-A transistor op amp audio path design, including JLM transformers for balanced input and output
JLM Audio BA500 product page

JLM AUDIO DUAL99V500 MIC PRE
Basics:
variable input impedance (200-3k Hz), switched 5dB step input gain from 20 to 75 dB, continuously variable output trim, 5dB range (pull for 90dB range), switchable polarity, 20dB pad, 80Hz HPF (with orange LED), 48V phantom power (with red LED), active FET ¼-inch DI with blue backlight
Extra: dual JLM99V fully discrete Class-A transistor op amp audio path design, including JLM transformers for balanced input and output
JLM Audio Dual99v500 product page

JLM AUDIO NV500 MIC PRE
Basics:
variable input impedance (200-1.2k Hz), switched 5dB step input gain from 20 to 75dB, continuously variable output trim, 5dB range (pull for 90dB range), switchable polarity, 20dB pad, 80Hz highpass filter (with orange LED), 48V phantom power (with red LED), active FET ¼-inch DI with blue backlight
Extra: classic fully discrete Class-A transistor, two preamp and one output amp circuitry design, including JLM transformers for balanced input and output
JLM Audio NV500 product page

JLM AUDIO TG500 MIC PRE
Basics:
variable input impedance (200-3k Hz), switched 5dB step input gain from 20 to 75dB, continuously variable output trim, 5dB range (pull for 90dB range), switchable polarity, 20dB pad, 80Hz HPF (with orange LED), 48V phantom power (with red LED), active FET ¼-inch DI with blue backlight
Extra: minimal six transistor, fully discrete, Class-A circuitry design, including JLM transformers for balanced input and output
JLM Audio TG500 product page

LACHAPELL AUDIO MODEL 583E
Basics:
features the same amplifier stage found on the 583S, including the Jensen JT-115k input transformer with an ultra-clean, transformerless 3-band EQ section with fully sweeping frequency controls and cut/boost settings of +/-8 dB
Extra: EQ can run as an integrated EQ, serving the preamplifier or separate as its own autonomous module, where both units run independently
LaChapell Audio Model 583E product page

LACHAPELL AUDIO MODEL 583s
Basics:
Less than 70 dB of gain with a typical non-weighted EIN of -120 dB referencing 150-ohm load, equipped with one 12AX7/ECC83 tube and a frequency response of 12 to 70k Hz, the 583s uses the Cinemag CMMI-10 or the optional Jensen JT-115K-E input transformer, and features a maximum output of less than 26 dBu
Extra: input stage is based on LaChapell’s 992EG platform in single-ended form, coupled with high-quality Burr Brown and THAT Corporation output drivers
LaChapell Audio Model 583s product page

LIPINSKI SOUND L-609
Basics:
all discrete, Class-A patented circuitry (Lipinski Square modules); 8-position LED peak/VU meter, switchable inside; resistor-less -20dB pad skips one stage of amplification to maintain signal quality; precision rotary gain control; minimal internal signal wiring; XLR or hi-Z instrument input; polarity switch, 48V phantom power
Extra: no capacitors or ICs in the signal path, transformerless/transformer input mode, proprietary circuit emulates amorphous core transformer, gain control is implemented in negative feedback loop
Lipinski Sound L-609 product page

MAAG AUDIO PREQ4
Basics:
single-channel mic preamp, 65dB adjustable gain, phase-reverse capability, 70Hz HPF, 48V phantom power, -20dB pad, +27 dBu of headroom, -124dBu EIN, maximum phase shift of 25 degrees
Extra: Air Band (shelf boost from 2.5 to 40 kHz via Vari Air)
Maag Audio's Website

MILLENNIA MEDIA HV-35
Basics:
front panel instrument input, DC-coupled ribbon mic mode with 10dB gain boost setting, 80Hz roll-off filter, 48V phantom, 15dB pad, polarity flip, continuously variable gain control up to 60 dB (70 dB in Ribbon Mode)
Extra: incorporates Millennia’s HV-3 circuit
Millennia Media HV-35 product page

NIXER NIX00205 CLIVE GREEN SIGNATURE SERIES LONDON MIC AMP
Basics:
discrete Class-A circuitry, gain up to 70 dB in 12 steps, trim +/-15 dB in 3dB steps, 48V phantom power, phase-reverse switch, switchable to hi-Z instrument input on ¼-inch jack, 8-segment meter switchable from microphone out to main out
Extra: re-issue of one of Clive Green's 1970s microphone amplifiers used by Cadac in London, with a direct equivalent of the original microphone transformer; main audio path contains only through-hole components
Nixer NIX00205 Clive Green Signature Seriers London Mic Amp product page

NIXER NIX00220 CLIVE GREEN SIGNATURE SERIES BROADWAY MIC AMP
Basics:
gain of 10 to 60 dB in 11 steps, trim +/-15 dB in 3dB steps, 48V phantom power, phase-reverse switch, switchable 20dB pad, switchable to hi-Z instrument input on ¼-inch jack, 8-segment meter switchable from microphone out to main out
Extra: reinterpretation of Clive Green's “theater” mic amp design used in "J"-type console; main audio path contains only through-hole components; equipped with high-quality electronically balanced output; also available with the optional Clive Green–designed transformer output stage as used in the "E"-type theater console
Nixer NIX00220 Clive Green Signature Series Broadway Mic Amp product page

NIXER NIX00230 CLIVE GREEN SIGNATURE SERIES VANGUARD MIC AMP
Basics:
gain of 5 to 60 dB in 12 steps, trim +/-15 dB in 3dB steps, 48V phantom power, phase-reverse switch, switchable 20dB pad, switchable to hi-Z instrument input on ¼-inch jack, 8-segment meter switchable from microphone out to main out
Extra: output uses the latest THAT Corporation balanced driver to achieve a very high CMMR; also available with the optional Clive Green–designed transformer output used in the "E"-type theater console
Nixer NIX00230 Clive Green Signature Series Vanguard Mic Amp product page

PHOENIX AUDIO DRS1R/500
Basics:
Class-A discrete output stage, custom-wound output transformer, 70 dB of mic gain (in 5dB steps) with another 10 dB on the output fader, highpass filter set at 120Hz @ 6dB per octave roll-off, Mute button, phase reverse, a 30dB pad/line-level button, XLR connectors on rear panel of API rack, -30dB push-button mic/line switch (mic input), ¼-inch hi-Z instrument input, red/green LED gain metering, switchable 48V phantom power, phase reverse, mute, +24dB typical headroom
Extra: true balanced mic input stage, onboard power supply boosts 16V to 24V, current draw is 103 to 119 mA
Phoenix Audio DRS1R/500 product page

PRODIGY ENGINEERING BELLA
Basics:
input and output transformers for maximum noise rejection, relay stepped gain from 18 to 60 dB in 1dB increments, switchable HPF (-3 dB @ 78 Hz), 48V phantom power, polarity inversion (0/180 degrees), -22dB attenuation pad, mute functionality
Extra: can be remotely controlled from DAWs including Logic and Pro Tools, and from Avid ICON control surfaces
Prodigy Engineering Bella product page

PURPLE AUDIO BIZ MK
Basics:
three-amplifier discrete switchable mic/line preamp, discrete op amps, 75 dB of gain, transformerless DI input with load selection switch
Extra: custom input and output transformers, selectable single or dual gain stage and phase
Purple Audio Biz Mk product page

PURPLE AUDIO PANTS
Basics:
differential, switchable mic/line preamp, four op amps, “high” switch changes the feedback network to provide 78 dB
Extra: custom-design dual-bobbin input transformer, DI uses input transformer
Purple Audio Pants product page

RADIAL ENGINEERING POWERPRE
Basics:
front-mounted XLR, recessed 48V phantom-power switch, 10-segment LED meter, highpass filter, 180-degree polarity control
Extra: hand-selected 100-percent discrete components, Hammond broadcast transformer output, AccuState low-noise input circuit automatically optimizes signal-to-noise at all levels with up to 55 dB of gain, 3-position Vox control for added air or punch
Radial Engineering PowerPre product page

REALIOS A9031
Basics:
Class-A transistor output stage, 5dB gain steps, high-impedance FET DI, phase-reverse switch, switchable 48V phantom power, +32dBu max output level (transformer balanced), 20dB pad, phase-reverse switch, high-impedance DI
Extra: based on Dick Swettenham’s (Olympic Studios) three-transistor design
Realios A9031 product page

REALIOS A9033
Basics:
all-discrete transistor design, 5 to 20 dB of gain in 3dB steps, switchable 48V phantom power, phase-reverse switch, +32dBu max output level (transformer balanced)
Extra: all voltage gain from transformers, passive transformer gain, will not clip with known mics
Realios A9033 product page

ROLL MUSIC RMS5A7 TUBULE
Basics:
switchable 48V phantom power, polarity switch, -20dB input pad switch, continuously variable 0 to -10dB input attenuator, 12-step gain control switch (33 to 66 dB in 3dB steps), magnetically shielded input transformer
Extra: transformer-coupled, high-voltage vacuum tube (12DW7/ECC832/7247), all-tube two-stage gain, feedback-controlled gain circuit provides wide tonal range
Roll Music RMS5A7 Tubule product page

RUPERT NEVE DESIGNS PORTICO 517
Basics:
mic pre/DI/compressor, 66dB gain, single-knob opto-compressor, direct input, Vari-phase adjustment, Silk mode, DI/mic-blending capabilities
Extra: designed by Mr. Rupert Neve, custom-designed transformers, Class-A topologies
Rupert Neve Designs Portico 517 product page

SHADOW HILLS INDUSTRIES MONO GAMA
Basics:
transformer-balanced input uses an original Jensen input transformer, 48V phantom power, phase reverse, 20dB pad, direct input
Extra: single-channel version of the GAMA (Golden Age Microphone Amp) centered on Shadow Hills’ custom discrete op amp; output transformer offers Nickel, Discrete or Steel settings; ability to pad and reverse the phase of the direct input; engraved front panels; 24-position Swiss-made attenuator for gain control; custom-made knobs; engraved serial number plates
Shadow Hills Industries Mono Gama product page

SHINYBOX SI
Basics:
72 dB of gain
Extra: Grayhill switches, Omeg potentiometers, THAT Corporation semiconductors widen the detail and complexity of mixes, and add more realism and "air" to vocals and instruments
ShinyBox Si product page

SKIBBE ELECTRONICS 736-5
Basics:
20dB pad, polarity reverse (both sealed relay-switched), switchable 48V phantom power, adjustable gain from 5 to 60 dB, heavy-duty PCB and chassis construction, military-spec knob, stainless-steel grab handle, large indicator lamps for all functions
Extra: adapted from the preamp in Sly Stone’s custom Flickinger MOD-N-32 matrix console (circa 1970), custom TRIAD input and output transformers, original 535-7 discrete op amp topology, hand-matched and graded transistors (original T0-105 and TO-106 package styles), machined and engraved faceplate with fluorescent red inlay
Skibbe Electronics 736-5 product page

TONELUX MP5A
Basics:
transformer-coupled discrete Class-A/B mic preamp featuring proprietary Tilt EQ circuit, front panel XLR is paralleled to the rear panel XLR, 35dB gain, 20dB pad
Extra: can bring its amplifier gain to unity instead of +6 dB, allowing 6 dB more headroom before the 20dB pad is required; when turned up, the Tilt control has a 0 to 6dB boost on the high end while cutting the low end in the same proportion; if turned down, Tilt will boost the low end up to 6 dB and cut the high end proportionally; Tilt centers at 800 Hz
Tonelux MP5A product page

TRUE SYSTEMS pT2-500
Basics:
discrete FET DI with In and Thru jacks for signal-splitting applications, detented dual-range gain control for easy setting/resetting over gain ranges from 6 to 70 dB, balanced circuit topology and steel enclosure
Extra: features the company's Type-2 circuit design; rail-to-rail design; 0.1-percent precision resistors for excellent CMRR; output signal balance; and unit-to-unit sonic consistency
True Systems pT2-500 product page

TRUE SYSTEMS pT2-500D
Basics:
discrete FET DI with In and Thru jacks, LF adjust control, detented dual-range gain control for easy setting/resetting over gain ranges from 7.5 to 76 dB
Extra: incorporates the company's Type-2 circuit design, balanced topology for insensitivity to ground noise/loops, insensitivity to EMI both externally and from adjacent modules/power supplies, reduced distortion, rail-to-rail design, 0.1-percent precision resistors for common-mode and output signal balance performance
True Systems home page

VINTAGEDESIGN M581mk2
Basics:
Vintagedesign states that the M581mk2 is currently sold out and will be replaced in late March 2012 with an all-Class-A unit; instrument input features a high-impedance FET input that feeds the input transformer via a Class-A driver stage
Extra: uses updated versions of the circuits found in the Neve 1081, Class-A input stage and Class-A/B output stage, custom-wound Carnhill transformers; new version will use the same type of output stage and transformers as the 19-inch Vintagedesign units, and will contain a feedback control for more color
Vintagedesign M581mk2 product page

VINTECH VA573
Basics:
Class-A, all-discrete, transformer-balanced, high-impedance DI that goes through the input transformer, capable of accepting line-level sources via a switch on the front panel
Extra: based on the classic Neve 1073 module, contains no ICs nor surface-mount components
Vintech home page

VSI AUDIO L-21 SPECTRUM
Basics:
based on an input transformer, discrete op amp and output transformer topology; twin coil “UI” output transformer has a flat 20 to 20k Hz frequency response; multi-segment LED meter; polarity switch; 48V phantom power; 2-position gain; 3-position pad; LED in or out; 3-position HPF switches; LED indicators for power and phantom power
Extra: stepped input attenuator (Greyhill switch), output gain pots; company “hopes to go into full production in 2012”
VSI Audio L-21 Spectrum product page

VSI AUDIO L-22 OVERTONE
Basics:
based on an input transformer, discrete op amp and output transformer topology; single-coil “EI” output transformer for more midrange “punch”; multi-segment LED meter; polarity switch; 48V phantom power; 2-position gain; 3-position pad; LED in or out; 3-position HPF switches; LED indicators for power and phantom power
Extra: stepped input attenuator (Greyhill switch), output gain pots; company “hopes to go into full production in 2012”
VSI Audio L-22 Overtone product page

WEISS A1
Basics:
transformer-balanced, discrete Class-A design; 15 to 60 dB of gain in 3dB steps; 20dB pad; switchable to 40 Hz, 80 Hz or off; frequency, bandwidth and threshold front panel controls; further parameters via DIP switches; level control; polarity switch; high maximum output level (+27 dBu) and output current
Extra: Second-order Butterworth design, current-feedback amplifier architecture for low distortion and wide bandwidth across the full gain range; extensive metering; direct signal path is analog, sidechain path is digital; low-latency sidechain with 500kHz sampling rate; precision low-distortion MDAC as the variable gain element
Weiss home page