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Great tube mic pre recommendations for $500 or under?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by brandtrax, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. brandtrax

    brandtrax Guest

    After years of running my AKG C414 direct into a board in my home studio, I have decided that I need to step up and buy a tube mic preamp. Problem is, I have absolutely no idea where to start. There are a lot on the market and I don't have enough time to read recording magazine reviews every month, so I'm hoping for some guidance.

    My major requirement is that it must be $500 or under. Yes, I would love to get an Avalon or whatever, but unless someone wants to front me the $2,000 I can't afford it.

    Also, if you have used a particular mic pre in conjunction with a C414 and loved the sound, please let me know. I use this mic for all my vocals and acoustic guitars.

    Thanks everyone.
  2. LDT2

    LDT2 Guest


    I researched quite a bit when I was looking and decided on the Electro Harmonix 12AY7 Tube Mic pre and I'm very happy with my choice. So much so that I have 3 of them and contemplating more. They don't look like much but this is a real class A tube pre and you can change out tubes for different tube sound and gain. It's a balanced pre, so you'll need a balanced input or use a passive DI to go unbalanced.

    At $189.00 each, they're a steel and from the people that I've read about that use them, they hold there own against high end pre's. Joel Hamilton recommends and uses it as well as many others.

    Hope this helps,

  3. scarface

    scarface Guest

    i have that same problem

    iv been also using my c 414 direct. what i really want to know is does a preamp really make a difference? how does it change the sound quality?
  4. Reggie

    Reggie Distinguished Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Re: i have that same problem

    Well, "direct" probably isn't the right word. If you are going into a console of some kind, you are plugging into a preamp inside there. But outboard preamps can make your mikes sound more aggressive, or smoother, or glossier, or more 3D, or grittier, or "warmer", and so on. Really depends on which preamp you choose.
  5. brandtrax

    brandtrax Guest

    Hi Lucio:

    Thanks for the heads up about the 12AY7. I am thrilled to hear that box is worth its salt, because I have a lot of other EH boxes (I am a guitarist by trade) and have yet to strike out with that company. In any case, I appreciate your input.
  6. LDT2

    LDT2 Guest


    Glad to help. You won't be dissappointed with this pre, but you MUST go in balanced or use a passive DI to go in unbalanced or you'll have problems with buzzing noise. It's a true balanced pre.

    Also make sure to use the XLR output, which is the output for the pre. The TRS out with the output level control was put there for monitoring purposes to eliminate any latency. Some people used that output and where a bit dissapointed because of the IC in the signal path. I personally think that it makes the 12AY7 into a totally different sounding pre. Much more saturation but less output.

    Very versitile pre IMHO.

  7. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    May 14, 2001
    Mogadore, OH
    The Groove Tube Brick preamp is pretty amazing for the price. 3 tubes and nice input and output transformers in the box. Also a great instrument input as well.
  8. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    three tubes ?

    we did have some pictures here
    I thought it was two ?

    yep !! 3 tubes
    sorry ... brain fade
    12ax, 12au and the 6205 right at the mic input

    http://www.grooveteers.com/brick/Brick above.jpg

    and for more pictures
    (Dead Link Removed)
  9. 8th_note

    8th_note Guest

    I did a budget preamp comparison on acoustic guitar that compares the 12AY7 and several other low cost pres. If you want to read my review and hear the clips you can find it here:

    budget preamp comparison
  10. nala

    nala Guest

    brandtrax. . . .

    Get a Sebatron VMP1000. It can be bought for about $715 at Sound Pure. I'd advise waiting and putting that extra $200 together just so you can get a real tube preamp rather than one of those budget deals which mainly have a "tube" in them for marketing purposes. Pro tube amps usually run the tube rails up high at about 300v where the tubes like to be run at...hot! Most of these budget boxes really don't make it IMHO! In pro terms some of these wouldn't really even be considered an actual tube circuit worth considering. Some are better than others. . .but if you're gonna spend hard earned money. . . well then, you get my drift!

    Another serious budget minded contender I would suggest would be a Summit Audio 2BA-221 for about $535. Too bad you can't go a bit higher. The new TAB-Funkenwerk V78's are the 'bomb' for $975 @ Mercenary Audio. These are serious preamps with a big warm sound built after the old German TAB-Telefunken V78's - V76's (Telefunken V76s used in REDD 36 Beatles desk at Abbey Road) but with a modern twist.

    The 'Brick' is also really good for the money..... Just trying to think of a few different options other than what you always hear about!

  11. I like the TAB-Funkenwerk recomendation. Anybody else have one of these TAB-Funkenwerk preamps? I would like to hear more about them, from those who have used one, or own one.
    I read the writeup at Mercenary dot com. I'm would like to hear from others who have exp with these preamps.

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