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 Box
The 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.
Amek 818/973-1618; www.amek.com
A 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.
Aphex Systems 818/767-2929; www.aphex.com
API 512C Mic/Line Preamp
The 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.
API Audio Inc. 703/455-8188; www.apiaudio.com
Unveiled 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.
Apogee Electronics 310/915-1000; www.apogeedigital.com
ART Pro Channel
Applied 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, ¼-inch insert points,
a backlit VU meter and tube character/gain reduction LED arrays. Retail:
ART (Applied Research & Technology) 716/436-2720; www.artroch.com
ATI’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.
ATI (Audio Toys Inc.) 410/381-7879; www.audiotoys.com
with permission from Mix Magazine, April, 2000
© 2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved