Skip to main content

I currently use a MOTU 896 with Digital Performer 4 and I am less than happy with the preamps on the 896. I am looking at getting two channels of better quality preamps for recording rock music- guitar, vocals, drums. for less than $500. The PreSonus MP-20 caught my eye. Opinions on this preamp versus getting a DMP-3 or a couple VTB-1's. ?


Topic Tags


KurtFoster Tue, 04/20/2004 - 11:54

I have been evaluating the Presonus M80 (an 8 pack of the Presonus pres) recently and I have to say I am not that impressed with it so far. It seems to run out of headroom quickly and doesn't have enough gain.

I couldn't really recommend any preamp in the under $500 price range. IMO, none of the offerings at that price point offer better performance than your basic Mackie type pre. Really good pres are expensive because of the cost of the components and labor to construct them ...

Kurt Foster

Thomas W. Bethel Wed, 04/21/2004 - 19:52

We have been using the Prosonus MP-20 for classical recording and find it to be a very good sounding microphone preamp. There are at least two different versions of the MP-20 and if you take the two different MP-20 apart the changes are very apparent just from looking at the circuit cards. They use Jensen transformers and some very well though out electronics. The way to tell the difference from the outside is the NEWER ones have computer printed serial numbers and the older ones have the stamped serial numbers.

Hope this helps....


anonymous Wed, 04/21/2004 - 20:34

Tom, I have 2 of the older ones. I do like them for the microphones I use on the cellos and basses because they don't overload (and some of the concert bass drums and fff tymps get in those mics) but for the finess department, the air around the string sections, I use the DPA mic pres and the SSL's. I find it is the top octaves (top 5) and freedom from noise (-86dB) is where the high-end gear really shines. As far as colouration goes, the prosonus MP-20's are not bad at all. They have headroom which is important but they register a -69dB on the noise floor and I would like it to be quite lower for full dynamic, full range useage. I am not a fan of using any gates at all on my mic pres as they are always audible..even with the DPA's. As far as the cellos and basses are concerned, I still get enough air for the bow work to be quite magnificent, if that is to be desired for the particular recording. Some conductors like the top cut some from the basses, I prefer it to be as it sounds at 5th row center as well, house balancing the mix.

KurtFoster Thu, 04/22/2004 - 12:34

MELTHEDOG13 wrote: The FMR RNP is what I am leaning towards now. The Bellari RP503 is fairly inexpesive too and seems to be well regarded.....Any opinions on that...? What about 2 channel pres with some tube "flavor" for around $500-$700...Any suggestions...?

I have "lived" with a RNP for about 4 months now and while it would be a great purchase for anyone who doesn't have any type of small mixer (like a Whackie) or other "front end", it is IMO, a redundant purchase for those who do have almost any other type of mic pre or mixer with mic pres..

I compared the RNP to the pres in my Mackie SR24 and found that while they had a slightly different quality, essentially they did not sound any "better" than the Mackie pres .... Pretty much the same thing, clean and clear (perhaps a bit edgy) lots of headroom. They do not however "sound good". In other words, they do not impart any type of a quality of their own to the sound. Now while this may be great for orchestral or classical recording, it sucks for recording rock and roll or pop music.

On the other hand a comparison of the RNP to the Sebatron, Amek Neve 9098's or the GR MP 2 NV was very telling with the RNP leaving quite a lot to be desired. The Presonus MP 80 also fell into this category. I don't know why but I can't get enough gain from it (the MP80) before it begins to audibly clip, unless I run the inputs to my DAW at -10dB.. Lots of bells and whistles but not really useable..

I gotta quit requesting budget gear for review ..... Now I have to explain to the folks at Presonus why I am not going to write a review on the MP80. It has been a waste of their resources and time sending the unit to me and a waste of my time using it only to have to re record the tracks I used it on..

As I had always suspected, there is still a major difference between the budget lower priced mic pres and the hand built, class A, transformer based types. Perhaps someday the difference will narrow but for now there is still a marked difference. But for now quality still costs ..

Kurt Foster

anonymous Fri, 04/23/2004 - 10:57

I actually ended up checking out a VTB-1 and was pleased with what I heard, (compared to the stock pres on my 896) so I ordered one and its on its way to me. After I put it thru its paces I will either keep it, buy another, wait for the VTB-2 or see whats new out on the market say mid to late summer....or save up for something more high end, which will likely come later than sooner.

KurtFoster Sat, 04/24/2004 - 13:25

MELTHEDOG13 wrote: I actually ended up checking out a VTB-1 and was pleased with what I heard, (compared to the stock pres on my 896)

Man, those MOTU pres must be really awful ...: :lol:

I tried one of the VTB 1's out and while it didn't send me screaming ito the night, I stilll prefered the sound of the stock pres on my Mackie SR24 vlz.

I have a young friend that has a basic pre production studio in his basement that I have been using as a "test bed" for lower end "budget consince" type gear. When I get something for evaluation that does not compare well to the higher end stuff I use in my system, I take it over to his place and see if it makes an improvement in his rig, which is based around a Korg D1600. We have installed an old TEAC M5 board for 8 XLR mic pres while tracking drums and cue / phone mixing and it has made a surprising difference. But the M5 doesn't have any phantom power, so I took the VTB 1 over there to power the vocal mic, a SP B1. In comparison to the stock pres in the D1600, the VTB made for a noticable improvment. The D1600 uses the same input amps for line as well as the mic inputs with the line ins being padded down by a resistor in the path but even in this case, keeping the gain on the KORG turned all the way down and pulling it out of the VTB 1, the signal was much warmer and robust sounding, eleminateing much of the thin plastic like sound of the 1600's input circuts..

So while I wouldn't say that the VTB 1 was comparable to a MP/NV, my 9098's, Millennia Origin or Sebatron pres I have to admit that in some situations it can be very useable. It is hard to pass on the price too.

Kurt Foster