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March 06, 2010

Tube Mic Preamp

The world of mic preamps is a large and confusing place for newbies. Questions inevitably come up. Should you get a tube preamp or solid state? Should get one with eq options on, compressor, class A, mono or dual preamp? Digital outs, phantom power, variable impedance? It can be confusing, to say the least.

I bought an ART Tube MP Studio Mic Preamp a while back, initially intended for voice overs on videos. I also tried it for my SM57 when miking my guitar amp.

This preamp is CHEAP, about as cheap as it can get. I knew it was not going to be stellar, but for 30 bucks, hey I'd like to try it, especially since I saw so many glowing reviews for it.

Well, I can't say it's a terrific preamp, and it should come as no surprise. Ever heard of the expression - you get what you pay for? Well, when it comes to this kind of technology, it is largely true.

On the good side, it does the job, and it made my microphone sound fine. Not stellar, but definitely not a bad sound. Lots of gain on tap in this unit, and the voice overs I made sounded quite alright.

The ART has decent features too:

On the bad side? Noise. Bad noise. I don't know why, but in one location, using a condenser microphone, the noise was acceptable for a video voice over. I later used the ART preamp for miking my amp in my studio, and boy - the noise was unreal. I could not dial it out. I tried many different ways, but in the end, a low humming noise destroyed any chance I had of making a good recording.

The tube in this preamp is more of a gimmick than anything else. It doesn't do a whole lot to improve the tone.

In summary, if you want the cheapest microphone preamp you can get, just to boost your signal, this one might work for you. If you want low noise, excellent sound, look elsewhere.

If you are interested in a high quality, great sounding mic preamp that doesn't cost a fortune, have a look at the Golden Age Pre-73, which is miles ahead of this ART preamp. I'm not kidding - it's so much better!!

This preamp is one of the better ones you can get at this price point, and it doesn't have any of the noise issues that the ART tube MP preamp has. I will write more about the Golden Age Pre-73 later, as it is one killer unit if you are interested in getting great sounding recordings.

Order the Golden Age Pre-73

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on March 06, 2010

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