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Secondary "Clean" preamps

Hey everyone,
Looking for 4-8 clean professional quality preamps to compliment my everyday Daking Mic Pre's.
I'm thinking along the lines of the new A-Design 500 series, but I don't want to have to buy a lunch box to use them?
$750 per channel budget
Thoughts? Suggestions?


BobRogers Fri, 03/30/2012 - 08:29

I think the AEA TRP or RPQ are a great idea as "secondary clean" pre. The RPQ is in your price range and the TRP (which is stripped down with no EQ and no phantom power) is substantially lower in price. The big feature here is the extremely high headroom (83 dB of "clean gain"). This is great for ribbon mics and low output dynamics like the Shure SM7B (just got one this week.) I have one of the TRPs and am planning to get another. I use ribbons a lot and prefer having a preamp with no phantom so there is no chance of an accident.

bigtree Fri, 03/30/2012 - 17:37

I have the SPL Premiums ( ) that are about that per channel and they are incredible. NEVE 1073 ? They are the perfect blend of transparent but silk MONSTERS!. Ideal for everything I could image. I don't even care about all my other preamps right now. But I'm sure I will calm down and get back to reality after a while. I have 8 of them in a rackpack.

ChrisH Sat, 03/31/2012 - 13:23

Boswell, post: 387377 wrote: The 4-channel [[url=http://[/URL]="…"]DAV BG2 Mk II[/]="…"]DAV BG2 Mk II[/] (x2 as required) would fit your needs and your budget. There is an 8-channel version (BG8) but it does not have individual XLR outputs.

I would like to know all you have to say about the DAV preamps, what's the characteristics of them, how do they compare to Daking, Neve, Api, A Designs?
Would you take a DAV pre over a Focusrite ISA?

Boswell Mon, 04/02/2012 - 05:50

Well, that's not an easy question to answer, as a lot depends on the type of microphones you use and what you are recording. The important thing about any pre-amp is to regard it as another flavour in your cookery cubpoard, even when the time you might use it is when it has very little flavour of its own.

DAVs are just one of many different pre-amps that I have, but they are about the "cleanest" in sound. I use them for drum overheads, individual instruments (for example, if I get an exotic instrument in a non-classical context such as an oboe), and for a lot of classical work.

I don't own any of either the Daking or the A-Design pre-amps, so can't comment on them, but the DAVs are quite different from APIs and most of the various Neve designs. Also, I do choose to use them in preference to a Focusrite ISA because they gave me more transparancy when I need it. This means that on the channels where I use DAVs, the sound colour is determined more by simply the microphone choice and less by the combination of microphone and pre-amp.

One other thing I find very useful on the DAVs is the switched gain, as opposed to continuously-variable gain control. In sessions where I may have a dozen or more different musicians coming through, I know I can re-set accurately the gain I used at rehearsal for each performer. This may not sound a big deal, but it feels very reassuring to be able to do this.

ChrisH Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:36

Thank you for your very informative response, Boswell.
What would be some other options you'd recommend in the same price point as the DAV's?
My wifey works at Musicians Friend so I'm able to get anything they carry for a discount..

Davedog Mon, 04/02/2012 - 17:10

750 X 4= 3K. So this does put you in a higher bracket of choices. I'm very much a fan of the True Systems P2 that Mooney mentioned. Clean with hints of attitude, lots of depth of field, and that really groovy M/S monitoring. With that budget you could get an ISA 428 and a P2 and add 6 channels. Or two channels of the DAV and the P2. The DAV is like Mr. Boswell says, its a clinical straight wire with high fidelity. Not boring but not colored at all. A Grace comes to mind. If you do a lot of instruments that dont benefit from some colorization and have mics and room where the mic and placement will get you different tones and vibes then the DAV or a Grace is what you would like. But the True is really clean and clear too, it just has some serious balls to it. Makes everything a bit 'bigger'. The ISA 428 never ceases to impress me. Everytime I think I'm going to like something else, when I go back to the ISA with the same mic placement and the same instrument or source, it never lets me down. It too, has some character. Not a Neve or an API but something else. And worth every penny. All will compliment your Daking.

Davedog Mon, 04/02/2012 - 21:57

ChrisH, post: 387595 wrote: Okay, thank you!
So I've boiled it down to the DAV MKII and the Focusrite ISA 428, what would you guys go with?

This will depend entirely on what you are looking for. Both are well defined sounds and different from each other. You have to look at your needs for your sessions and decide if you want straight wire with huge fidelity or something with a bit more attitude as well as being decently high-end.

ChrisH Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:47

Davedog, post: 387599 wrote: This will depend entirely on what you are looking for. Both are well defined sounds and different from each other. You have to look at your needs for your sessions and decide if you want straight wire with huge fidelity or something with a bit more attitude as well as being decently high-end.

Decently high-end? Dang, I'm looking for strictly high-end pres, I don't wanna make any sacrifices. So what should I do?

soapfloats Sun, 04/08/2012 - 23:31

My first 8 channels for couple of years have been:
ISA 428 + Sytek MPX-4Aii. Both bought used for about $800 a piece.
The ISA has a backlight out on one of the VUs, and another VU needle doesn't register below about -18.
Doesn't matter. My only regret is when I have a 9th channel to record that has to go though another preamp.

Like Dave alluded to, when you start spending serious $$$ on preamps, it's as much about preference of tone/color as it is quality.
If you're looking for 4 channels of workhorse preamps you'll keep, the two I mentioned above fit the bill.
I've also been considering adding 2-4ch of "premium" preamps, mostly the same ones mentioned here.
Unfortunately I have a smaller budget, and my current pres do a mighty fine job, whatever I throw at them.

You need to ask yourself exactly what you need, why you think you need it, and if it's an investment worth making.
Hopefully my perspective makes it easier, rather than more difficult.

Good luck with your decision!

lostindundee Wed, 04/11/2012 - 12:30

ChrisH, post: 387996 wrote: I've summed it down to ether a ISA 828, Sytek MPX4, or DAV MKII.
What are the sonic characteristic differences?

That's a tricky one. Only someone with all three to compare could answer that one.

I know the DAV and Sytek come up a lot in the same threads when comparitively priced transparent preamps as discussed. Both are also built by people who have lots of exprerience in the business building analog equipment.

Weren't the ISA's pres designed by Rupert Neve? I think Davdog mentioned that they had a little colour.

The Syteks are the same (not exact but almost near as damn it) as the pres in Mike Stoica's Neotek desks.

DAV are Decca heritage built by Mick Hinton who designed gear for Decca.

Both engineers' gear has been used in recordings you've likely heard.

I doubt you'd be unhappy with either.


Boswell Thu, 04/12/2012 - 06:08

I would not call the ISA a colourless pre-amp. It has a definite character of its own, and is great for vocals and some instruments. Tracks recorded with it blend well into a mix with other sources, but I would weigh up carefully what sound I wanted before selecting it for solo use.

The DAV is completely clean and practically devoid of any sonic character of its own. As such, I use them for drum overhead tracks and for most of my classical work.

I have not used the Sytek, but other reports say that it is more like the ISA than like the DAV.