The Brick vs. Aphex 107 with 12AT7 Tubes

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Gear' started by Mauisnow13, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    It's time for me to invest in a decent mic preamp. I'm looking at The Brick and the Aphex 107 with 12AT7 Tubes installed. I've been reading praise about both around here.

    So, to help me out in my decision, I'd like to hear from any of you that have experience with either one (preferably both). I know there are some guys on here that are EXTREMELY knowledgeable on this stuff, and I'm sure I could use their help.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    I own both of these. They are 2 very different beasts. Both have tubes in their circuit, but beyond that...
    What type of material and sources are you going to be dealing with? The Brick makes a great DI for bass and some keys, and offers some coloration when used with used with dynamic and some ribbon mics. It is a "true" high-voltage tube pre, but its' lack of output level control can make for problems down the line when connected to an interface or mixer.
    All that gain-GOBS of it- can be a problem sometimes.
    The 107 is much more refined. Less raunch, a smoother sheen, maybe a bit quieter. 2 channels vs. single, with polarity reversing and better gain and level control. Not a "true" high-voltage tube circuit, let the techies work that out (eh, Link?). And I've even found a use for the remote muting feature. The negatives? A wall wart power supply, no DI provisions, and of course, it is out of production. You can still find these at a bargain price on CL and e-Bay, many times around $100...
     
  3. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    Does the 107 still offer the warmth and coloration that so many claim the brick offers?

    The 107 is cheaper, and I'd rather have 2 channels anyway. I'm running them into a firepod, bypassing the PreSonus pre's. Using condenser and dynamic mics. SM57's, C414, Audix D6, etc.
     
  4. Link555

    Link555

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    The Aphex 107 used a new(at the time) idea, they called tubessence or RPA (Reflected Plate Amplifier).

    Basically its a circuit that operates tubes plate at a constant low DC potential. However they use a current mirror to extract the proper plate current. This way there is very little plate voltage swing, so they can operate from a low DC plate voltage.


    This is not extactly a starved plate amp though. Typically a starved plate amp limits the current though a large value dropping ressitor (5-10 meg or so). This causes a big voltage drop at the plate, and little current. The 107 doesn't do that.

    This starved plate idea is what you find the Tubedriver distortion pedal....at least the smaller version seen at the link below:

    http://www.elisanet.fi/flaser_phanger/images/tube_driver.jpg

    Anyway, they are as Moonbaby said- different.

    What you you mainly using it for?
     
  5. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    I'll be using it in my home studio as a preamp to help warm up my tracks. Vocal, guitar, drums.
     
  6. Link555

    Link555

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    I don't have a brick. But the aphex 107 will be able to handle all of those applications and add some warmth, its subtle though...The problem with 107 are noise at high gain settings. Its a bit noisy but the construction is decent and the parts selection for the time was also very good. For $100 bucks you can't go wrong.
     
  7. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    I just want a noticeably warmer sound. I've heard great reviews on the Brick accomplishing this. Is the 107 comparable?

    Would upgrading the tube to anything make the 107 even better? I'm sure you guys have experimented a bit.

    Thanks again guys
     
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    The 107 was designed to use the 12AT7, but ended p shipping with a 12AX7 in it instead. Replacing that with a 12AT7 is the main upgrade.
     
  9. JesterMasque

    JesterMasque

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    That would probably clean up some the noise that was being spoken of, correct? I know that even the smallest upset in biasing a tube amp can dirty up the sound and quality quite a bit for power tubes. Same deal with pre-amp tubes?
     
  10. Link555

    Link555

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    Well my goal with the 107 was to make cleaner, quieter pre. The interesting thing about the circuit in the 107 is the changing the tube to 12AX7 actually provides lower gain than a 12AT7.

    This is odd because a 12AT7 tube has lower gain than a 12AX7. Its a bit complicated to explain but in a nutshell the Aphex 107 was designed for a 12At7 not an 12Ax7.

    The most common mod I see is people swaping the tube. I bought a used 107 off ebay with 12AX7 in it.

    I intially swapped the tube thinking I was going to lower the gain, and reduce some of the distortion.
    What I found was the pre had more gain and it was cleaner. A few months latter I read a report by Aphex stating it was designed for AT7 and it would not have more gain with a AX7.

    Anyway... just my 2 cents.
     
  11. moonbaby

    moonbaby Moderator

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    Yes, and you sent that to me and I have swapped that tube out on both of my 107's. The 12AT7 was a great "upgrade", and if I didn't thank you for that then, I am now...Thanks, Link!
     
  12. Link555

    Link555

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    Your most welcome Jim, I am glad it worked out for you.
     
  13. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    Any sound clips using the 107 and Brick? I'd like to hear the difference.

    Thanks :D
     
  14. Link555

    Link555

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    I have a clip of the 107 up:
    http://steller-studios.com/music/phone call mix 4 mas.mp3

    The acu gtr was recorded with a QTC50 pair at 4 feet through a apex 107 into a lynxl22 into Nuendo 3.0.

    Edit: I should say this a track by Signal and Sound. I had the pleasure of recording them a few times now.
    http://www.myspace.com/signalandsound

    It was actually recorded in a empty living room, I was moving and all my gear was in boxes. All except my PC, Earthworks mics, and 107. The verb you hear in the hardwoods floors and the 12' high ceiling.
     
  15. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    Sounds great! Clean sound for 4 feet away! My current room setup probably couldn't achieve that. :roll:

    That definitely helped in my decision, anyone with a brick sample? With 2 channels and at $100, I'm leaning towards the 107.
     
  16. Link555

    Link555

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    Keep in mind the player,gtr,room, mic and placement,pre,adc all got that sound...not just the pre.
     
  17. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    I understand that. Just complimenting a great sound. :D

    So would you say that this pre makes a noticeable difference? Lets say compared to going completely digital. If you add this pre to a digital setup, how much difference will you really hear?

    Maybe someone could record a straight through digital track then add the pre and post the two as a comparison. I'm sure it would help a lot of people in the future too. :D

    I'll keep searching for something similar on the boards too.
     
  18. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    Another question, but is it worth it to get a couple 107's or Bricks, or should I just save up and get a better pre, or even something else (EQ, Saturation, etc)? The problem with getting a spendy 2 channel for instance, is how do i lay drums through it?

    Thanks again!
     
  19. Link555

    Link555

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    Thanks. I am sorry but when you say go completely digital, do you mean use a "transparent" pre-amp? The Aphex unit does add subtle harmonics. On one track alone it would not be very obvious but if all tracks went through it might become too much.

    Again the main problem with this pre is the noise level, across to many tracks it might raise your noise floor.

    Would I buy a second one? Sure its a decent pre.

    I am not one to buy into the price indicates the quality. However usually a higher price means they spent longer hours perfecting a unit and want to get paid for their time.
    Aphex may be a bit of an exception to this rule.

    How you record and what you record should dictate the type of pre's to buy.

    If you record only Rock, the API 3124+ is for you. If you want a more transparent pre, maybe Buzz is a better choice.

    Personally I want more transparent Pre's at this point.
     
  20. Mauisnow13

    Mauisnow13

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    I record a lot of acoustic stuff, and some rock. I find I want a little more warmth and coloration in my sound. There were threads around here on the Brick that claimed it accomplished this, which is what got me looking into pre's. I don't want something that has too much noise, but I do want some warmth.

    I'm using the PreSonus firepod's pre's, which aren't bad. I may end up sticking with them till i find exactly what i want.
     
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