Speck Electronics MicPre 5.0
Feature-laden microphone preamplifier/mix node

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California-based Speck Electronics, founded in 1973 by Vince Poulos, makers of the highly successful XTRAMIX line mixer and Model ASC equalizer, have recently released the new MicPre 5.0 Microphone Preamplifier/Mix Node. The MicPre 5.0 is an original design and packs a lot of features into a compact half-rack space and can be rackmounted and combined with the Model ASC 4-band equalizer for a powerful and versatile channel strip.

MicPre 5.0 (click image for larger view)
I first received the MicPre 5.0 for review a few months ago, and the more we use it the more we like it. I had initially thought the MicPre 5.0's price might reflect that of the Model ASC EQ, which is in the $500 - $600 range. The MicPre 5.0 lists for $998 and has been seen with a street price of $850. Considering that the MicPre 5.0 has so many features and includes its own internal power supply, a price tag in the $850 range is more than acceptable — especially when you hear it and spend time using it. [an error occurred while processing this directive]It took me a little time to get used to the white faceplate, and when I spoke with Vince Poulos about it, he said he'd never had anyone mention they'd had a problem with the white color on the Model ASC EQ. Poulos also added, "The color of the MicPre 5.0 is light gray, not white. Put a white sheet of paper beside the unit and you'll see what I mean." So, maybe I'm in the minority and it's a non-issue. One thing I find important in the design of audio equipment is that visual and tactile interaction is easy and comfortable. Visually, the MicPre 5.0 is a breeze to work with and everything is clearly marked and the metering works well. It also feels good in the hands — the knobs turn well and firmly as would be expected on quality equipment and everything is well layed-out.

Features, Specs and Versatility
Look around at what's on the market and you'll be hard-pressed to find another mic pre that has the features and specs of the MicPre 5.0. When using a mic pre, you often find yourself thinking, "It'd be great if it had...." Well, in the features department the MicPre 5.0 delivers in spades. First, it's truly a high-gain mic pre with 70 dB of gain — great for low-output signals and ribbon mics. The front panel of the MicPre 5.0 includes a 1/4" DI jack, input gain knob that steps up in 5 dB increments, output trim from -10 dB to +10 dB, -20 dB pad, mic/DI selector button, 48V phantom power selector, phase reverse selector [after preamp gain stage], output switch that toggles between transformer-balanced out and active-balanced output, variable high-pass filter from 30Hz to 250Hz, high-pass filter bypass switch, 10-segment LED VU meter — and on the Mix Node section, a level knob, pan knob and a mute button. [Pauses for breath.]

MicPre 5.0 rear panel (click image for larger view)
On the rear panel is an IEC socket with 115/230 VAC voltage selector, on/off power switch, Aux DC out — for powering the Speck Model ASC EQ, Mix Link connector — for combining other MicPre 5.0's together, balanced TRS insert send and insert return, line input, balanced TRS left and right mix outputs, XLR preamp output, XLR mic input and — if that weren't enough — an O.S.P. (output signal path) switch that allows for normal operation or bypassing all non-essential circuitry to the XLR pre out.

What more could you possibly cram into a half-rack pre!?

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