Well, I suppose it HAD to happen sooner or later. I finally found something that my much-loved Manley VoxBox DIDN'T sound good on! The VoxBox has been my go-to preamp for so long that frankly I don't even bother auditioning other pre's on most sources. Today I was doing some brass OD's for a big jingle thing, running thru the VB as usual. To my consternation, I found that the trumpet sounded vaguely mushy and fuzzy coming thru the mic chain. In the room, the horn (and the player) were both bright and snappy as you please! But in the speakers, the 'snap' had kind of been 'rounded off', and it seemed like the edge had kind of been smoothed away from the horn, but not in a good way. I was missing the snap and sizzle that I heard when I stuck my head in front of the horn. In actuality, I have found Manley stuff to have this quality in general. But, what sounds 'mushy' and 'fuzzy' on one source (i.e., brass) becomes 'warm' and 'buttery' and 'velvety' on another (e.g., vocals, basses, synths etc.) and I have to say that this really is the FIRST time that I have heard the Manley's 'euphonic coloration' (?) become really unflattering to the source. In any case, when we took a break I fired up a couple of other preamps just to see what was what. Our Neve 1073's sounded quite different from the Manley but overly dark and kinda smooshy on the trumpet. Next I tried the built-in pre's in the 02R... they were brighter but not at all 'pleasant' to listen to. Kinda 'cheap' and one-dimensional sounding if that makes sense. So we ended up finishing the session with (don't laugh) an ancient Aphex 107 that we had lying around, and it actually sounded better than any of my other available choices in this setting. Wow! I have to say, I can't really take the time to do these "shootout" types of comparisons very often... but man, the sonic differences that came simply from switching preamps was striking. Gee, maybe I *should* do more shootouts! I suspect that there are other, better pre's than the Aphex to round out my preamp selection here at the shop. Right now it's pretty much down to my Manleys, my 1073 pair, the pre's in my Drawmer 1969 and 02R, and... the Aphex! If I were to buy 'something else' in the way of a 'fast', 'accurate', 'transparent' pre to add to the preamp palette here, what would you guys suggest? (keeping in mind that I've already got the 'warm'/'vintage'/'toob'-ey buttery Manley velvety kinda thing covered, as well the 'crunchy' 1073 thing and the 'cheapo', 'sounds like crap' 02R thing...) ...Gawd, are there enough buzzwords in this post yet??... Anyway, since this forum has the word "gear" in its title, I thought you lovely fellows might have some sage gearhead suggestions to throw my way. Thanks in advance!