Mic preamps are unquestionably one of the recording studio's "essential ingredients" for capturing the best sounding signal. Whether you're looking to improve upon those mic preamps offered by your existing recording console or as a means of directly feeding a digital recorder or DAW, there's a model to suit just about every possible application and budget.
When Mix researched the subject, we were surprised to discover just how many such products are now available. Most manufacturers make more than one model, so in the interest of having a manageable amount of information, we focused on their top-of-the-line models from the various companies. We've also included a list of company Web sites and phone numbers, should you require more detail about the preamps listed or want to check out a manufacturer's other offerings.
Many of the products detailed here are dedicated mic preamps while others are tied to some form of signal processing. A few products are channel strips that incorporate a mic preamp. And all the preamps include onboard phantom power. Whatever type you're looking for, the material listed here should provide a good starting point for your explorations.
Amek Channel in a BoxThe Amek Channel in a Box is a single-rackspace channel strip that provides transformer-balanced line inputs and outputs, a 4-band parametric EQ, variable bass filters, output faders and a level meter. Using a TLA mic input with transformerless output, the Channel in a Box incorporates all the features found on the 9098i in-line recording console. Retail: $3,250.
Aphex 1100A discrete Class-A tube design offering 24-bit/96kHz digital outputs and Aphex's Mic Lim protection circuit, the dual-channel 1100 can lock to word clock or AES/EBU clock. The internal clock supports 44.1, 48 or 96kHz sample rates. A MicLim function detects and limits the microphone signal prior to preamplification to prevent clipping. The unit's low-frequency cancellation filter allows as much as 20 dB of low frequency cut without using any headroom. Both channels have a tunable low-cut filter (30 to 195 Hz) and tunable gain from 21 to 65 dB. Retail: $2,495.
API 512C Mic/Line PreampThe API 512C is a mic/line instrument preamp with 65 dB of gain. The unit's line/instrument preamp offers 50 dB of gain and includes both front and rear panel inputs. The unit has an LED VU meter for monitoring output level, and there is a 20dB pad switch that can be applied to mic, line or instrument signals. The 512C employs API fully discrete circuit design and incorporates the API 2520 op Amp. Retail: $825.
Apogee Trak-2Unveiled at this month's NAB show, Trak-2 combines a high-performance mic preamp with SoftLimit, SoftSaturate (analog tape compression simulation), Apogee 24-bit/96kHz A/D converter and UV22-HR encoding for retaining improved performance even when reduced to lower bit resolutions. The unit also includes analog insert points for patching compressors or taking the analog preamp outs directly; alternatively, users can patch into the digital inputs at line level. A backlit LCD and datawheel allow recalling/storing parameters or setups, and two AD-8000 style expansion slots accept TDIF, ADAT or Pro Tools interfaces.
ART Pro ChannelApplied Research & Technology's Pro Channel is a tube-based mic/line recording unit with three independent circuits: mic preamp, optical compressor and parametric tube EQ. The Pro Channel's Variable Mu compressor has selectable attack/release time, adjustable threshold/ratio, output level controls, 70 dB of gain and a 20dB pad. Also included is a 4-band EQ with two sweepable mid-bands, selectable high/low shelving filters, 11/44-inch insert points, a backlit VU meter and tube character/gain reduction LED arrays. Retail: $799.
ATI 8MX2ATI's 8MX2 is an 8-channel mic preamp and mixer for live sound or multitrack recording applications. The solid-state, single-rackspace 8MX2 is a full-featured mixer with cue circuit; headphone and monitor outputs; tape outputs and returns; gain, level and pan control for each input channel; plus proprietary inputs and outputs for linking multiple units. Each high-voltage mic input offers a limiter with adjustable threshold, phase reverse and ground lift. Retail: $1,899.
Audio Technologies ML200Part of Audio Technologies' Nanoamp Series, the ML200 is a dual microphone to line amplifier unit with servo-balanced line outputs operating at +22 dBm. The ML200 includes a switch for selection of phantom power and preamp gain for both high-output microphones and line-level input signals. The ML200 provides both XLR balanced inputs and outputs plus an input/output peak flasher. Retail: $289.
Audio UpgradesHigh Speed Mic PreampAudio Upgrades offers a redesigned stereo mic preamp that delivers better noise performance than its predecessor and a slew rate of better than 4,000 volts per microsecond. The High Speed Microphone Preamp offers transformerless design, variable 18 to 60dB gain and individual peak indicators. The unit's high-current output capability can accommodate long lines and difficult loads. Retail: $1,350.
Avalon Design AD2022The Avalon Design AD2022 is a dual mono, fully discrete, symmetrical pure Class-A mic preamp. The unit provides both mic-level and hi-Z instrument inputs. Gain can be switched in 2dB steps, plus there is a 3dB fine output trim. The AD2022 offers selectable mic input impedance matching and input polarity phase reverse. The unit has an EIN rating of -126 dB. It has a balanced input transformer, large, illuminated VU meters and twin peak LEDs. The AD2022 provides +36dB input before overload, includes a 20dB pad, has sealed silver relays for all signal routing, and uses an external AC 150W toroidal power chassis. Retail: $3,000.
Behringer Tube UltragainThe Behringer Tube Ultragain T1953 is a tube mic/line preamp that has a gain range of +10 to +60 dB. The unit provides a bandwidth range from 18 to 30k Hz, an independent line driver to convert 10dBV to +4dBu signals, a switchable 12dB highpass filter, switchable phase reverse, 4580 op amps and a "soft mute" feature to eliminate activation "thumps." The unit features servo-balanced inputs and outputs on XLR and TRS connectors. Retail: $799.
Bellari RP520Housed in a two-rackspace enclosure, the Bellari RP520 is a dual-channel tube mic preamp that incorporates transformer-balanced inputs and low-noise circuitry. The unit provides calibrated analog metering, 11/44-inch and XLR inputs/outputs, and mic/line level switching. Retail: $600.
Benchmark Media Systems MPS-420The MPS-420 is a 4-channel mic preamp with stereo output plus a headphone amp-making it a good choice for location recording. The unit provides balanced inputs and outputs, and a gain range from -2 to +73 dB (with pad). It has a THD rating of 0.009% at 20 kHz (A=40 dB). The MPS-420 has an EIN rating of -130 dBu. The device has a selectable 20dB pad and includes an external power supply. Retail: $1,295.
Brent Averill Enterprises 1272The 1272 has two Class-A preamps with direct inputs in a single rackspace with a power supply. Made from the original Neve 1272 Class-A modules, the unit has balanced mic inputs and balanced +4dB outputs on XLR connectors. Additional features include a hi-Z direct input for guitar/synthesizer and an output level control that serves as a gain trim between the 5dB steps on the gain switch. The device uses the same Class A preamp as the Neve 1073 equalizer/preamp modules. Its oversized power supply can operate as many as four channels of preamp for cascading a second unit without an additional power supply. Retail: $1,759. Two-channel with power supply: $1,539.
Bryston BMP-2Bryston's BMP-2 is a single-rackspace, 2-channel mic and instrument preamp providing balanced low-impedance inputs, a hi-Z input, input transformer, a program meter with a 60dB range, and peak or average response program meters. Switches and connectors are gold-plated. The BMP-2 provides balanced circuitry from input to output, Class-A operation, all discrete audio circuitry, a mic input polarity switch, and a ten-position, two-stage highpass filter switch, that provides adjustment between 21 to 163 Hz, in half-octave steps. Retail: $2,395.
BSS Audio FCS-916The FCS-916 contains an EQ, with four parametric filters, plus a high-performance discrete mic preamp stage. The Input has individual mic and line connectors. The signal may be metered pre- or post-EQ. Sweepable high- and lowpass filters are included, and the low and high bands of the equalizer can be switched to bell or shelf mode. A notch mode allows a cut of as much as 30 dB for feedback control or noise removal. Inputs are electronically balanced, with transformer balancing optional. The FCS-916 provides a gold-plated, 11/44-inch TRS jack socket. Plugging a line input into this jack routes the input to the mic/line selector switch. Retail: $999.
Calrec RQP3200The RQP3200 from Calrec combines the functions of a mic preamp, line input, 4-band EQ, compressor and expander/gate in a single-rackspace package. The unit's solid-state mic preamp stage offers stepped coarse adjustments in 6dB increments and continuous fine adjust gain controls. Adjustable high- and lowpass filters can be switched into a compressor sidechain for frequency-dependent compression, as can the unit's 4-band EQ. Compressor and expander/gate offer switchable attack and variable release times. Retail: $3,850.
Crane Song FlamingoThe Crane Song Flamingo is a 2-channel discrete Class-A mic preamp that offers four unique sounds through its Fat/Norm and Iron/No Iron switches. These switches 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 and phase reverse. Retail: $2,025.
Crookwood RackpotRackpots are 4-channel, single-rackspace mic amps based on Crookwood's successful Paintpot models and can be remotely controlled via the optional Control Pot remote. Noise is specified at -128dB EIN at all gains over 24 dB, and Rackpot provides several optional mic amp cards, offering remote controlled impedance switching to suit tube or condenser mics and high-impedance instrument input cards.
Curtis Technology opre8The Curtis Technology opre8 Microphone Preamplifier is an 8-channel mic preamp in a dual-rackspace chassis. Each channel features a ten-segment multicolored LED VU meter as well as backlit buttons for a 20dB pad 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 inputs and outputs are balanced XLRs. Retail: $2,495.
Cutting Edge Technologies omnia ToolVoxThe omnia ToolVox is a full-featured mic processor, designed specifically for the on-air broadcast environment. The unit includes a compressor and noise gate, switchable phase rotation, flexible HP/LP and shelving filters, full parametric EQ, a de-esser with a psychoacoustically based detection algorithm and reverb from Waves. The mic preamp employs 24-bit converters and has a networkable remote control facility for configuration, programming and administration with an advanced GUI for parameter adjustments. Retail: $1,980.
DACS MicAmpThe DACS MicAmp is a 2-channel, ultralow-noise discrete-component-based microphone amplifier. The unit's frequency response is flat down to less than 1 Hz. The MicAmp's main gain setting is in seven 6dB steps from +20 to +62 dB. There is also a 0 to +10dB trim with 21 scale marks to allow accurate repetition of settings. For bass roll-off, there is a two-stage roll-off filter. The MicAmp's metering consists of a tri-segment LED. It also includes a bright overload LED, which remains on for a few seconds after clipping occurs. Retail: $2,150.
Geoffrey Daking & Co. 52270Geoffrey Daking & Co. offers the 52270 mic pre/EQ for the 90-series modular system. The 52270 features transformer-balanced input and output, all-discrete circuitry with Class-A amplifiers, separate mic and line input level controls, high- and lowpass filters, a 20dB pad plus remote mute and bypass functions. The EQ section has four bands with stepped frequencies, 16 dB of boost/cut and individual bypass. Retail: $1,250.
dbx 786The dbx 786 Precision Mic Pre is a dual-rackspace, 2-channel unit featuring a 20dB pad, phase invert functions and a switchable "super low Z" setting which optimizes performance for microphones with very low source impedance. An 11-position coarse gain switch sets the gain between +10 and +60 dB, while the fine gain control varies between -3 and +3 dB. The 786 also features an EQ circuit called "spectrum" with frequency cut and boost up to 40 kHz. The unit's signal path consists of a transformer-coupled, discrete-design input stage. Retail: $2,495.95.
Demeter VTMP-2bThe 2-channel Demeter VTMP-2b uses classic tube design, supported by Jensen JT-13K6C input transformers, polypropylene capacitors and metal film resistors. Each independent channel of the preamp has a variable gain switch ranging from 40 to 60 dB, phase switch, low cut switch, 20dB microphone pad, rotary fader for level matching and an LED peak indicator. The tube microphone preamp is equipped with 11/44-inch phone plug inputs and front panel switches so that it can be used as a DI, as well as with line level instruments. Retail: $2,299.
Drawmer 1960The Drawmer 1960 is a tube active DI, tube mic pre and tube compressor. The unit incorporates a mic/instrument preamp with its own EQ, its own tube preamp stage consisting of twin low-noise tube mic preamps and twin tube compressors. Input level can either be line or instrument-selected via a switch. The Tube Preamp stage and two stage passive bass and treble EQ can be bypassed with a flat/EQ switch. The mic pre includes a 50 or 100Hz cut filter and clip indicators for checking signal strength. There is also a sidechain input for using the compressor as a de-esser and a switch to select sidechain listen. Retail: $2,349.
Earthworks 1024The Earthworks 1024 is a 4-channel microphone preamp. Its nominal output capability is 10V RMS for 24-bit digital signals. The 1024's noise sum plus all types of distortion is less than one part per million or .0001%. The unit's signal is flat within 0.1 dB from 2 to 100k Hz. Each channel has both stepped and variable control of gain, with the stepped output being differential. Retail: $3,500.
Event EMP-1The EMP-1 single-channel preamp offers pro features in a compact chassis. This direct box-sized unit includes switchable phantom power, a 2-color LED indicating signal presence/clipping conditions, switchable low-cut filter, phase reverse switch, internal (no wall wart) AC supply and both 11/44-inch TRS balanced/unbalanced and balanced XLR outputs. Retail is $299.
D.W. Fearn VT-2The D.W. Fearn VT-2 mic preamp offers custom-designed Jensen transformers on input and output, a switchable 20dB pad, true needle-style VU meter, phase reverse and low-impedance input for use with transformerless microphones. An optional LP-1 line pad accessory ($80) allows the unit to be used as a "tube warmer" for line-level signals. The VT-2 uses point-to-point wiring for optimum performance. Retail: $3,500.
Focusrite ISA 430Based on Rupert Neve-designed mic pre, equalizer and Class-A VCA technology, the ISA 430 incorporates Focusrite's dynamic control technology and 24-bit digital connectivity. The ISA 430 includes a transformer-based mic preamp, ISA110 parametric EQ, compressor-unique Class-A VCA design, an expander/gate, de-esser and a multi-band limiter. An optional 24-bit/96kHz output module offers AES/EBU, ToS-link and S/PDIF digital capability, 44.1kHz sample rate selection and external word clock. The ISA 430 employs stereo A/D operation. The analog output stage uses the Focusrite transformer-based design. Retail: $3,495.
Giltronics 356ATThe 356AT is an all-tube stereo mic/line preamp, with two mic stages and two line stages that can be used separately or cascaded in pairs to provide 65 dB of gain. Features include eight transformers (four input and four output), output level control, phantom power, phase invert, pad and switchable input sensitivity. Price: $3,495.
GML 8300 SERIESThe George Massenburg-designed 8300 Series offers accuracy, high headroom and low noise. These hand-built preamps feature an all-discrete transistor and Class-A transformerless design with no FETs or ICs in the signal path. They are available in 2-channel ($2,195) and 4-channel ($3,195) versions-prices do not include the $475 external power supply.
Grace Design 801RThe Model 801R combines solid-state preamp circuitry with digital control to form an 8-channel mic preamp designed as a companion piece to popular 8-track MDMs such as the Tascam DA-88 or Alesis ADAT. The unit is housed in a dual-rackspace enclosure. The 801R's frequency response is rated at 40dB gain 0.2dB, 20 to 300k Hz, while THD+N is 40dB gain +25 dBu out <.001%. The unit's crosstalk specification is -109 dB for any given channel. Maximum output level is +28 dBu for balanced lines and +22 dBu unbalanced. Retail: $5,495.
Great River MP-2MHThe MP-2MH microphone preamp is a 2-channel, single-rackspace unit. Each channel uses a transformer coupled, Class-A discrete solid-state design. All switches, relays and internal audio connectors have gold-plated contacts. Both channels have rear-mounted microphone input jacks as well as front panel-mounted 11/44-inch hi-Z input jacks. Each channel also has a 15dB pad, a polarity control, an overload LED and a 24-position gain switch. Input and output connections are gold-plated XLR. Retail: $1,575.
John Hardy M-2The John Hardy Company M-2 mic preamp is built around the 990 discrete op amp and Jensen JT-16-B input transformer. Controls include a 16-position gain switch that steps in 3dB increments, a 20dB pad or 20-ohm (low-impedance) mic switch, phase reverse, plus ground lift and chassis ground isolate switches. options for the M-2 include a peak LED ($35), a 20-segment bar graph meter and peak LED ($135), and a Jensen output transformer ($110). The John Hardy mainframe system ($525) can be configured with as many as four M-2s in a single-rackspace chassis. Retail: $935 for the chassis and a single M-2.
HHB Classic 80The HHB Classic 80 stereo tube mic preamp. The unit uses a transformer-coupled Class-A discrete input followed by an 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, high- and lowpass filtering, unbalanced instrument inputs, a phase reverse switch on the second channel and output level controls. Retail: $1,850.
JOEMEEK VC2The VC2 Tube Channel is a mono mic preamp, a compressor and an enhancer. The Tube is in the compression amplifier. The Tube channel has an extended frequency range below 15 Hz and incorporates a highpass filter that can be switched in with a front panel push button. The Tube Channel has a 20dB pad switch and both balanced inputs and an unbalanced mix input. Retail: $1,999.99.
KLARK TEKNIK DN422MThe DN422M is a one-rackspace unit combining two 4-band parametric EQs with variable highpass filters with two Midas XL4 mic preamps. An insert switch allows the user to add an external processor between the mic pre and EQ stages. Retail is $1,750.
Lafont LP-21The Lafont LP-21 2-channel mic preamp offers as much as 75 dB of gain, adjustable high- and lowpass filtering and silent mute switches. Designed for film recording and Foley work, the LP-21's MS (middle/side) mode provides discrete left, center and right outputs. The LP-21 offers left/right width and center relative level controls. There is also a user-adjustable overload indicator set at +18 dBu, which is approximately 9 dB before clipping occurs. Retail: $1,495.
Langevin Dual-MonoMic PreampThe Dual Mono Mic Preamp is a refined version of the all-discrete Langevin AM-4 console channel. The continuously variable 10dB shelf EQ's switched turnover points are defined at 40 or 80 Hz (LF) and 8 or 12 kHz (HF). All EQ can be completely switched out or set to "flat" positions. As much as 60 dB of microphone gain is available to accommodate a wide range of microphones. The unit's mic input transformers are encapsulated in purpose-made mu-metal cases. The Dual Mono's input impedance is rated at 200 ohms and is balanced transformer coupled. Retail: $1,475.
Lawson ShamanThe Lawson Shaman is a pure tube mic preamp/DI providing variable gain of up to 55 dB with transformer balanced output levels of +24 dBm. The Shaman unit also provides direct 11/44-inch inputs to accommodate keyboards, guitar, etc. The Lawson Shaman features Jensen transformers, XLR balanced inputs and outputs, a 20dB pad, phase reverse and a VU meter.
Manley Dual-MonoMic PreampPrimarily intended for use with modern condenser microphones, this 2-channel all-tube mic preamp is hand-wired using silver solder and audiophile-grade componentry. As much as 40 to 50 dB of gain is selectable in 2.5dB steps by varying the amount of overall negative feedback on the gain switch, which allows the user to change the slew rate, placement and tonal balance of the output from a mellow tube sound to something faster, punchier and more aggressive. A front panel 11/44-inch direct input jack allows the unit to serve as a pure tube line stage for guitar, bass, drum machines and keyboards. Retail is $2,400.
Martinsound MSS-10The MSS-l0 mic preamp is composed of dual signal paths in a single unit. The preamp section uses two stages of gain from mic input to direct out. The unit features 65 dB of gain switched in 5dB steps, a 20dB pad and phase reverse. The line driver section can select the preamp out or a balanced line input. The MSS-10's level control adjusts continuously from infinity to +10 dB. The MSS-10 provides a mute function and a VU meter. Engaging the MSS-10's Cal button provides precise VU monitoring of the selected source. Retail: $1,995
MIDIman Audio BuddyDesigned for the needs of sound card users, Audio Buddy is a 2-channel, phantom-powered preamp/DI. Features include XLR and 11/44-inch inputs (the latter with switchable phantom power), balanced TRS outputs (also useable unbalanced) and a compact 5.5x3.3x1.7-inch chassis. Retail: $119.95.
Millennia HV-3DAvailable in 4- and 8-channel configurations, the Millennia HV-3D is housed in a 2U rackmount enclosure, has a fully shielded internal toroid power supply and high-resolution gain controls featuring 36 steps. options include 130V B&K mic inputs, 24-bit A/D converters and a remote control. The HV-3D provides an entirely balanced audio path and has a matched discrete transistor front end. Retail: $3,995 for the 8-channel version.
Neve 1081 Channel AmplifierFirst produced in 1972 and found in Neve consoles such as the 8048, the AMS-Neve 1081 Channel Amplifier is once again in production. This unit's microphone input provides 10 to 80 dB of gain in 5dB steps, while the line input ranges from +20 to -15 dB in 5dB steps with balanced operation. outputs are balanced, and an unbalanced output 8 dB below the level of the balanced output is also provided. EQ can be switched in/out. Phase reverse is also provided. Retail: $3,972.
Nightpro PreQ3Housed in a dual-rackspace enclosure, the Nightpro PreQ3 is a 2-channel mic preamp that can be switched to a line amplifier at the touch of a button. The PreQ3 offers adjustable gain and phase reverse capability and has balanced XLR connectors. The PreQ3's nominal input impedance (XLR) is rated at 150 ohm for microphone level and 20k ohm for balanced line level. Retail: $1,595.
oram octasonicHoused in a single-rackspace enclosure, the oram octasonic provides eight channels of mic preamps, each having switchable +48V phantom power and a balanced output. The unit can be combined with the oram octamix to become a stereo output/8-channel mixer.
Panasonic WZ-AD96MPart of Panasonic's new 96kHz series of outboard gear, the WZ-AD96M isan 8-channel low-noise mic preamp combined with a 24-bit/96kHz A/D converter. Features include individually switched phantom power, and AES/EBU and ADAT Lightpipe digital outputs. The WZ-AD96M is specifically designed to interface with workstations and digital consoles, thus there are no analog outputs provided. Retail: $2,495.
Peavey VMP-2Housed in a 2U rackmount enclosure, the Peavey VMP-2 (from the company's AMR division) is a dual-channel tube mic preamp that also incorporates a tube EQ. The unit's front panel provides 11/44-inch hi-Z inputs for instruments, and the rear panel offers transformer balanced XLR inputs. Also on the rear panel are 11/44-inch unbalanced and transformer balanced XLR outputs. The VMP-2 has switches for a -20dB input pad in/out, EQ in/out and low frequency cut (selectable between 40 or 80 Hz at 12 dB/octave). Retail: $949.99.
Pendulum Audio MDP-1The MDP-1 is a 2-channel vacuum tube mic/DI preamp. The MDP-1 uses a pure tube, Class-A, high-voltage circuit topology with a transformerless output stage. The MDP-1 can be ordered with a choice of two low turns-ratio transformers depending on user requirements: a Jensen 13K7A or a custom-wound transformer for a more "focused" sound. The MDP-1 provides phase reverse, a -20dB input pad, a low cut filter with ten frequencies and large, illuminated VU meters. Retail: $2,495.
PreSonus MP20The MP20 is a 2-channel mic preamp featuring high-quality audio transformers, dual servo gain stage and twin FET, Class-A discrete input buffers. A left/right summing bus allows for realistic stereo imaging. Servo-balanced inserts support use of external processing, and the front panel provides a 11/44-inch instrument input. Proprietary IDSS control adjusts harmonic distortion for tube circuit emulation. The unit also provides a high-output headphone amplifier and internal power supply. Retail: $649.95.
Rane DMS 22The DMS 22 is a dual-channel, studio-grade microphone stage with equalization and a stereo mixer. Each XLR microphone input features a polarity invert switch and input gain control. Balanced line-level 11/44-inch TRS outputs with level controls are provided for each channel. Defeatable pan controls send to a separate XLR stereo pair of mix outs, allowing a stereo mix of the two microphones when hard left/right is not appropriate. There is a 3-band equalizer on each channel, with a parametric mid band and each output has a selectable 15/50/100Hz low-cut filter. Retail: $549.
Requisite Y7sThe Requisite Y7s is a dual-mono mic preamp that incorporates Class-A design. Features include a hi-Z input, a -20dB pad, mic/DI and line gain control, polarity reverse and an illuminated VU meter with a meter bypass switch. The unit's rear panel includes transformer balanced XLR mic and line inputs, a tube access channel, XLR output (custom transformer balanced) and A/C inlet with RFI filter. Retail: $2,580.
Sound Devices MixPreDesigned for high-definition field-production, the MixPre from Sound Devices is a studio-quality, 2-channel, portable, stereo microphone preamp. The unit features a 20 to 50k Hz bandwidth, greater than 110dB dynamic range, as much as 66 dB of gain per channel, sealed, conductive plastic potentiometers, AA-battery or external-DC power, six-transistor, discrete output topology and dual-mono or stereo-linked limiters with adjustable thresholds. Retail: $855.
SPL GoldMike 9844The GoldMike, SPL's dual-channel tube mic preamp, features two backlit VU-meters and Class-A tube circuitry used throughout the signal chain. Each channel is designed as an independent mono unit to provide separation between channels. This reduces crosstalk and also improves imaging and depth when making stereo recordings. A "Flair" function is designed to add clarity and "air" to vocals. Retail: $999.
Summit Audio MPE-200The Summit Audio MPE-200 is a 2-channel mic preamp with an integrated equalizer. The unit's mic amplifiers employ a dual-range, HP/LP filter section, and there are coarse and fine gain controls for each section. The MPE-200 uses instrumentation type input amplifiers; its EQ section is a classic 4-band. The unit provides Store and Reset, Copy and Remote functionality, MIDI implementation, and 25 memory locations. It operates with floating and balanced output transformers. Retail: $4,495.
Symetrix 302Designed for broadcast, sound reinforcement, and digital and analog recording, the Symetrix 302 has solid stereo imaging, excellent transient response, very low noise and almost undetectable distortion. The 302 offers up to 60 dB of variable gain, 15dB pads, phase reverse switches on both channels, and 11/44-inch balanced and Euroblock terminal outputs. Gain is variable from 20 to 60 dB. Retail: $299.
Sytek Audio MPX-4AThe Sytek Audio MPX-4A is a 4-channel mic preamp. Each channel uses a Class- A, Auto-Bias Bridge Configuration and a Hybrid input stage preamp based on selected transistors for the lowest of noise. Gain adjustments are made with balanced differential-mode cancellation, which preserves the DC offset characteristics without altering the loop feedback characteristics. The front panel includes push-button control for mute, phase reverse and phantom power. Retail: $1,580.
TC Electronic Gold ChannelThe Gold Channel is a digitally enhanced mic preamp and a signal refinement toolbox. The unit has 96kHz equalization and a wealth of DSP tools including, expander/gate, compressor, EQ, de-esser, dithering, soft limiter and TC's proprietary Digital Radiance Generator. I/os are mic- and line-level analog and digital, allowing use for tweaking signals even after capturing them by sending the recorded signal through the Gold Channel's tools once again. The Gold Channel can be also used to digitally bounce processed tracks to other channels or other recording devices. Retail: $2,495.
True Audio Systems Precision 8The True Audio Systems Precision 8 (distributed by Neumann USA) provides eight channels of transformerless mic preamps, two of which can be used as direct instrument inputs. Each channel offers five-segment level indicators with a selectable peak-hold feature. A button on channels one and two allows them to be used as an MS pair. Designed for use with today's modular digital multitrack units and hard disk recording systems, the Precision 8 can easily be connected to Tascam or Mackie digital products via a DB-25 multipin connector. Retail: $2,695.
Tube-Tech MEC 1AThis single-channel, all-tube preamp/EQ/compressor allows users to reverse the order of the equalizer and compressor, for equalization before or after compression. The preamp section includes both mic and 11/44-inch hi-Z inputs. Its 3-band equalizer has both high and low shelving at six frequencies and a bell-type band filter at 12 frequencies. The compressor is derived from Tube-Tech's opto-compressor gain reduction element and is linkable for stereo applications. Retail: $3,995.
Vintech 2-Channel Mic PreThe Vintech 2-Channel Mic Pre is housed in a dual-rackspace chassis. Each channel includes an input sensitivity switch, output gain potentiometer, phase reverse switch and a four-LED output strength display. The Vintech 2-Channel Mic Pre also includes a 11/44-inch direct input for each channel. Retail: $1,595.
API Audio Inc.703/455-8188www.apiaudio.com
ART (Applied Research& Technology)716/436-2720www.artroch.com
ATI (Audio Toys Inc.)410/381-7879www.audiotoys.com
Audio Technologies Inc.215/443-0330www.atiguys.com
Brent Averill Enterprises818/784-2046www.brentaverill.com
Calrec (dist. by Independent Audio)207/773-2424www.independentaudio.com
Cutting Edge Technologies216/241-3343www.nogrunge.com
DACS (dist. by Independent Audio)207/773-2424www.independentaudio.com
Geoffrey Daking & Co.302/658-7003www.daking.com
GML (dist. by AudioIntervisual Design)323/845-1155www.gmlinc.com
Great River Electronics651/455-1846www.greatriverelectronics.com
John Hardy Company847/864-8060www.johnhardyco.com
Lafont (dist. by Sascom)905/469-8080www.sascom.com
True Audio Systems(dist. by Neumann USA)860/434-9190www.neumannusa.com