Six of the Best: Mic Preamps

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In our latest six of the best roundup we look at one of the most important elements in your signal chain, the mic preamp…

Best Transparancy – LEV Solutions Integrity 2

The Integrity 2 is one of a small number of pre amps that has been designed from the ground up, making no claims to emulate equipment from the past, and MT reviewer John Pickford admired this refreshing approach. “The unit thrives on being devoid of obvious character, preferring to be faithful to the character of the microphones used with it.”

He went on to conclude: “the quality of sound is excellent, with plenty of gain and a vanishingly low noise floor. It is a thoroughly modern and original design that does not rely on vintage credentials, focusing on precise amplification that remains faithful to the source material. Those who desire controls or want a rose-tinted sound presentation should look elsewhere, but if transparency and truth are important to you, go for it.”

Read the full review here

Price £1,499
Contact KMR Audio
Tel: 020 8445 2446

Best It’s a 1073 – Neve 1073 DPX

The original 1073 has been the mic pre of choice for engineers across the globe for four decades, and has inspired countless other designs. Indeed Neve itself has produced several variations, this being the latest and incorporating the company’s legendary three-band equaliser.

Reviewer John Pickford said: “Other boutique designs that major on transparency might like to think of themselves as the Rolls Royce of microphone pres, but this one is the Aston Martin – the one that we all really want to own.

The 1073 DPX is a world-class product, built to last and provide years of sterling service. Imitations do not come with pride of ownership.”

Read the full review here

Price £2,749
Contact AMS/Neve 01282 457011

Best Tones – Thermionic Culture The Rooster 2

Also featuring an EQ, Rooster 2 is an update of Thermionic’s award-winning Rooster preamp. MT reviewer John Pickford said: “this is a first-rate tracking device that, with the delicious EQ and Attitude, can breathe life into the dullest sounds.

It is a superb sounding preamplifier with a rock ’n’ roll heart.” He then concluded that: “nothing compares to a top-quality valve preamp, especially when recording digitally, and the Rooster 2 is up there with the very best.”

Read the full review here

Price £1,845 + VAT
Contact Thermionic Culture, 01279 414770

Best Beatles – Chandler TG2-500

Chandler is the only hardware company that has any kind of license to rebuild or re-engineer any of the classic hardware that was a part of EMI’s suite of studios in the 60s and 70s –including, of course, the mighty Abbey Road. (Check out MT146 for more.)

The TG2-500 then, you won’t be surprised to hear, is based on the TG12428 preamp featured in EMI’s TG series of consoles that were used to record many classic albums, such as The Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969) and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973).

Reviewer John Pickford said when reviewing it back in MT139: “The TG2-500 is a lovely sounding microphone pre-amplifier with a bright, full-range sound. It’s a no-nonsense unit that gets on with its job of amplifying microphones and line-level sources without the addition of tone controls, filters or metering. The refined 1970s Abbey Road Studio sound is unmistakable – solid-state has never sounded better.”

Read the full review here

Price £659
Contact 01799 520786

Best Flexibility – RND 511

We reviewed the RND511 alongside the 517 but found it to be ever so slightly more flexible. Reviewer Mike Hillier said: “Both are great preamps, easily worthy of finding themselves in the best studios in the world.

Were we to equip a studio with just these preamps – not a terrible proposition – we’d prefer to have a bank of 511s. It’s an incredible sounding preamp, a worthy addition to any rig.”

Read the full review here

Price £520
Contact Sonic Distribution, 0845 500 2 500

Best Vintage – Great River MP-500NV

Great River doesn’t claim to clone any particular preamp, but has worked-up a design with a distinctive vintage sound of much-loved consoles. And it’s clear there’s a touch of Neve 1073 here, albeit with top-drawer components to bring that classic 70s vibe into the 21st century.

John Pickford said: “It certainly lives up to its vintage credentials with a full-range, expansive sound that doesn’t stifle the signal in a way that the inputs of budget analogue mixers can. Rather, it seems to enhance the basic character of microphones with a nature that is very appealing. Anyone looking to inject some proper old-school mojo into their recordings should audition one,” and concluded:

“the preamp has a euphonic nature that flatters most sources in a similar way to the legendary Neve 1073s. It is highly recommended.”

Price £838
Contact Unity Audio, 01799 520786


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