Getting a good preamp is something
that is not easy to do. Along the way there are many stumbling blocks,
things that get in your way before you finally get down to business and pay.
There must be a hundred reasons to not spend a lot of money on a preamp, a
piece of gear that only does one thing, boost your microphone or instrument
signal to line level. Last year I counted up the number of mic preamps
I had in my studio. I was aghast to realize I had over 50 mic preamps,
46 of them on mixers, and that I used one or two of them on a regular basis.
How was I to justify getting a box that had "just one more"?
Especially one that had none of the features we are accustomed to getting.
The ME-1NV falls into the "wire+gain"
philosophy of preamp. That is to say, there are no frills, no extra
circuitry to run the sound through. No EQ, compression, gate, scooper,
de-esser, harmonic shifter, nothing. There's no digital signal path,
no s/pdif, ADAT, no big VU meters, just the basics.
It comes in a 1/2 rack 1 unit high case of
thick metal. A bit heavier than you'd expect and all the switches are
solid. The gain control is a stepped control, and you have a choice of
settings in 5db increments from 5db to 60db. The Output level knob is
smooth and variable from -10 to +10db. Fully pushed to the max there
is 70db of gain which is plenty for any dynamic or condenser mic and
probably for most ribbons as well. In addition to the usual phantom
power and polarity switches, there is a switch for "loading" and for
"impedance". These can give your mics a slightly different sound and
response characteristic. Where you set the output can also affect the
sound. You can push the gain up high and decrease the output level
into minus territory for a more vintage sound, or lower the initial gain and
boost the output for a more modern sound, according to the documentation.
There is also a HiZ input for electric
guitars, basses, or whatever instrument level devices you wish to amplify.
Works great. My guitars come through as clean as I could want, with a
nice texture for mixing.
First test: Acoustic guitar/Shure SM81. The first thing that I noticed
in the first minute was the awesome sense of pressure coming from my
recorded audio tracks. It was a character that could be felt as well
as heard. Perhaps it is this sense of dynamics that lead people to say
its a great pre for pop music. Its got punch. Second Test:
Vocals (mine) with an SM57 and then an RE20 by Electro voice. The SM57
sounded so good I had to check to make sure I did not make some mistake and
record into the wrong mic! My first thought was heck, throw the rest
of the mics away, this is all I need. Until I tried the RE20, which
was even better with plenty of high end but no harshness. Oddly I
found the RE20 to sound better than the Neumann TLM 103 with the ME-1NV, at
least with my voice, yet the Neumann had all of its characteristic
smoothness, now in greater relief.
Though the ME-1NV is not regarded as one of
the quietest preamps, to me, with my limited experience with high end
preamps it was very quiet with a rich detailed sound. While I can
imagine a more "transparent" sound, and a more "neutral" sound, I'd have a
hard time convincing myself that is what I really want. So far it has
been able to take everything i have thrown at it.
Count me as a satisfied customer.
After all the years of messing around with lesser preamps and spending lots
of cash on things that did not as profoundly affect recorded sound, I have
to wonder why it took me so long.
Go to the studio-central
Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity Microphone Preamplifier
|The 710 Twin-Finity is a radically new UA
pre-amp design which uniquely combines both the classic retro warmth
of UA tube design and the transient bite of solid-state in a 2U,
half-rack, all-metal chassis. The 710 was created specifically to
add the tonal versatility and sonic inspiration missing from generic
audio interface preamps.
PreSonus ADL600 Anthony DeMaria Labs Microphone Preamp
|The PreSonus ADL 600 is a high voltage Class
A, two channel tube microphone preamplifier designed by
world-renown tube circuit designer Anthony DeMaria. The ADL 600 is
packed with six high-voltage vacuum tubes (three per channel),
military-grade switched attenuators, analog VU and LED metering as
well as instrument input, line input and selectable microphone
input impedance. The ADL 600 utilizes extremely high voltage power
rails (600V peak to peak) delivering 75dB of gain, over 30dB of
headroom, and extremely wide frequency range of 5Hz to 80kHz
within 0.5dB. The combination of Anthony DeMaria?s preamplifier
design and PreSonus? state-of-the-art manufacturing process
achieves a new standard in hand-made, high-voltage tube
Universal Audio LA610 MKII Classic Tube Microphone Preamplifier
|The LA-610 defined the affordable, ultimate
vintage tone channel strip. So how can UA improve on tonal
perfection in what was already a hit product? Enter the sequel...
LA-610 Mk II, a second-generation revamp of the original 2005 LA-610
design. While the preamp and compressor are identical to the
original LA-610 that users have come to know and love,
user-requested features such as true compressor bypass, larger
metering, improved output signal, an auto-sensing power supply have
been added bringing the end user an enhanced user experience. The
LA-610 Mk II also features the highly popular "black on black"
cosmetics of the LA-610 Signature Edition.
Solid State Logic Alpha VHD 4-Channel Microphone Preamp
|The XLogic Alpha VHD Pre is a slab of pure
analogue attitude. Whether you need to track pristine vocals,
crunched drums or electric guitars on the edge of sonic
destruction, the VHD Pre delivers a powerful and versatile sound
shaping tool kit - the perfect analogue companion to any digital
recording system. Based on the VHD circuit from SSL’s acclaimed
Duality console, the VHD Pre adds four SSL mic preamps to any line
level DAW audio interface, transforming it into a professional
quality, multi-channel analogue recording system.
Tweak: You NEED Better Sound than your
Audio interface preamps can deliver? The Golden Age Pre-73 is worth your
Golden Age Pre-73 Microphone Preamplifier
|The Pre73 provides a low cost
alternative to microphone preamplification featuring a fully
discrete signal path by utilizing separate transformers for the
balanced mic input, the line input and the output. Similar to the
circuit you would find in the Neve 1073 preamp/EQ with a remarkably
Review of the Great River ME-1NV
Review of the Focusrite Voicemaster Pro
A Primer on Mic Preamps
Review of FMR's Really Nice Preamp
Tweak's Gear Shop