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ART Mic Pres

Discussion in 'Recording' started by alexthepirate098, Jan 6, 2007.

  1. Hey i looking at getting a mic pre as my next purchase. im fairly new to recording so i don't know much. i was just wondering if anyone has used any of those art pres like the MPA GOld or the pro channel or if anyone has any suggestions for a pre under 500. I was also looking at the brick which seems to get really good reviews. i have presonus firepod with cubase 4. so with a pre u would just go the mic into the pre then the pre straight into the firepod? the mics i have if it would help are 4 sm57,1 beta 52, akg 200 preception condenser,2mxl 900 condenser. thanks
  2. hey just forgot to add the difference or whatever between a tube pre and non tube.
  3. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest


    here's my "home studio budget guy" 2 cents:

    I've have an ART ProChannel which I think is pretty good. I got it because I figured it would be versitle for me, what with it having a pre, comp and eq, and it has turned out that way. I record vocals, mic guitar amp, plug bass directly into it, the compressor is nice, so I don't have any complaints. It is just one channel though, so if I get into wanting to record stereo, like an acoustic guitar, I'll have to do something else, maybe buy another one.
    Before I got it I asked on the forum here and most people agreed that for the budget price it was worth owning.
  4. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    I own 3 Pro MPA's and have swapped the tubes out in all of them for higher quality NOS tubes. I have recut vocals that were originally done on Avalon 737sp's and API 2600 channel strips because the client liked the sound of a particular tube in one of the ART's. My next round of gear purchases will be high end pres, but for now the ART stuff is serving very well, and I'll keep them for a long time.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I can agree with this completely. While the MPA is certainly not the best micpre on the planet, it is, without a doubt, one of the best bargains. The sounds you can achieve with these far outweigh the miniscule amount of cash you have to plunk down. And, four years later, many many hours of use, and NEVER a problem. The tube swapping thing yields obvious results immediately, and there are upgrades available at a very decent price that puts these units into another ballpark of sound.

    My favorite low-budget recomendation for a micpre.

    The Pro VLA compressor is another that fills the same spot.

    The rest of the line doesnt get even close.
  6. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    tubes ?

    Say jonyoung,
    I imagine you noticed enough of a change to warrent replacing the tube(s), how so ? as in what change did you notice.
    What would suggest for a replacement tube in my ProChannel pre ? and/or a place to get tubes ?
  7. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    The tube in an MPA is a 12AX7, which is a family of tubes that include many variations on a theme. I put some Raytheon 60's vintage 12AX7's in one, the high end is smoother and more sense of air than with the stock Chinese or Russian tubes that were in it. Another unit has Westinghouse 12DF7's, also 60's vintage.....low gain and extremely low noise, very dark sounding tube, my favorite for vocals, also works for certain piano, acoustic guitar sounds. I think I got the last pair on the planet, very hard to find. The 3rd unit has Mullard 12AT7's, also a low gain model, a little hyped from the low mids to mids, great for anything that needs to cut through a busy mix, like BG vocals, piano, electric guitar amps, acoustic guitar, might also be a good choice for snare.

    Sources I've used: http://www.vacuumtubes.com They have a great 12AX7 page with descriptions of design characteristics and intended uses of various flavors.

    BNB Tubes, an ebay store.

    Don't be afraid of used tubes either, especially the high end brands like Telefunken or Mullard. They're tested and always come with a guarantee from good sellers.

    Have fun!
  8. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    lots a tubes

    thanks for the info jonyoung, i was checking some of those links, lots of choices out there, and to think when I was a kid we just threw those things away... outdated technology.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    The Fire Pod I believe already has 8 decent microphone preamps built in? I really don't think the low-cost tube preamp will be much if any improvement over the Fire Pod's microphone preamps. Sure, it will give you a different sound but what do you really hope to gain by this? As the other poster indicated, his tube microphone preamp, had a built-in compressor and equalizer. Now you're talking about a device that would be far more advantageous for you. Being able to track with a compressor and/or equalizer offers up many more sonic possibilities. A way to control the texture and dynamic range before it hits your analog to digital converters.

    My personal feelings are that I am a very practical engineer and I will record on virtually any kind of equipment you put before me. Even with equipment of a compromise nature, I will still produce a beautiful quality professional product. Microphone preamps don't get in my way and they don't change how I make my recordings, they only change my technique to work around whatever their inefficiencies might be.

    I just don't really think there is any advantage to plugging in a microphone preamplifier to another microphone preamplifier. It's dumb, unless you have to for some specific reason? Oh? You want more warmth?? Change the microphone. Change the placement of the microphone. And there's your additional warmth. It doesn't really sound warm just because you're amplifying device happens to be. It will sound warm if you engineer it that way. Can you say proximity effect?

    Staying warm
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Remy, no disrespect intended here, but when I decided to swap tubes in my first ART preamp, I swapped one channel only, put up a mic, grabbed an acoustic guitar and layed down about a minute of playing through each channel. The tonality between the two tracks from different tubes was jaw dropping. I completely agree that much can bo done with mic choice and placement, but preamps of different designs and features are another category of tools for an engineer to utilise. I'm not familiar with the Fire Pod, but it would make sense for any decent quality interface to have a direct input that would bypass the built in pres.
  11. Mickey_C

    Mickey_C Guest

    Are these actually better than the ProjectMix or Mbox 2 preamplifiers?

    Or would you say they're all about the same?

  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Mickey_C, although I have over 36 years in the business, I've not been able to compare as many pieces of equipment is I would like to.

    None of us want our creativity to be impeded by our equipment.

    Some people agonize and struggle trying to find just the right equation of equipment selections. I have heard some people have had issues with the sound quality of some of the M-Audio products? I usually just chalk that up to operator error. I'll make good recordings regardless of how bad the microphone preamp might be.

    I've never heard anything bad, not once, about the Presonus products of microphone preamps? I actually just borrowed a friends Presonus DIGIMAX 8 Channel microphone preamp/limiters with analog, ADAT light pipe and SPDIF/AES Digital outputs to evaluate against a classic API 312 microphone preamp. I'll let you know in a later post what my observations are.

    So if it's basically something you feel is truly substandard technically and it is interfering with your ability to record something, I would become proficient first with my current toolset before moving on to more sophisticated devices? I would be more inclined to purchasing larger selection of microphones before purchasing a larger selection of preamps.

    Not a sermon, just a thought.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Trust the DAWG my friends...

    The ART stuff is actually pretty damn good stuff. Here's the rub - their circuit layouts are conceptually quite good. Their parts are acceptable. Their tubes...ehh...

    Replace the tubes in the ART stuff and transform it forever. Replace a few of the opamps (the right ones) and turn it into a beast! I have a ProVLA which I hot rodded by replacing the standard tubes with matched Mullards. I also replaced the stock OpAmps with Burr Brown and Analog Devices (All told, a $80 upgrade and 2 hours of soldering). I now use it in my mastering chain along side a Manley VariMu. Truthfully, the Manley gets more use, but the ART isn't that far behind. It sounds great. The ONLY reason it doesn't get more signal through it is because the knobs aren't as precise (that's another upgrade for another time with another $200).

    Moral of the story, I've used plenty of ART gear in the past and as Dave says - it's not the cream of the crop, it certainly isn't that far off and for the pitance that you pay for it....it's a no-brainer!
  14. saemskin

    saemskin Active Member

    If you are going to get an ART pre, consider saving an extra hundred or so and send it over to Black Lion Audio to get souped up. They do great work, and for the absolutely low price you can pick these up on the used market, it would be a good investment in terms of quality.
  15. thanks for all the feedback,

    Has anyone used the brick or a simliar pre, Im look as in what to get next for my home studio. And if so could someone talk about how much of a difference it makes compared to the firepods pres. thanks. Or if anyone has any suggestions that would be great!
  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well...as Remy mentions, the pres in the Presonus stuff aren't bad. So, don't feel as though you MUST upgrade. Adding additional pres is more likely done in this case for flavor. In that case, the Brick and the ART pres are a great choice.
  17. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member


    What was your source for the Burr Browns? I tried in vain last year, couldn't find a supplier. Thanks.
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Digikey. They sold them per piece versus several places that wanted to sell them per 100 or more pieces.

    I had to go with a modular/surface mount version (pins spread instead of pins down) and a socket adapter. It was a few extra solder points, but if I ever want to change chips, it's a tad easier this way.
  19. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

  20. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    I was just reading this (I know, I know...3 days later) and want to shout out a +1 on the BNB Tubes ebay store jonyoung mentioned. I've scored some absolute bargains there several times and got quality tubes no doubt. Good service and fast shipping.

    For AT7's do yourself a favor and find some NOS philips 12AT7's.

    The pro vla - outstanding little compressor with nice color.

    The pro mpa gold pre's - same thing - very useful if you roll in some nice tubes.

    That's all I had to say. As you were.

    BTW, sometimes just plugging in to your firepods pre's can yield fantastic results. With 4 different flavors of pre's to chose from, lately I've been getting outstanding results from just the pre's on my fw1814. Go figure. And that's with a simple AT3035.

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