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I'm using the Pre's on my Mackie 1402-VLZ Pro. I am interested in something that would be an improvement over them but don't have a bundle to drop. $500 is the max for the budget and I would need 2 channels.

The GC cronies promised me that the $100 PreSonus TubePre would smoke my mackie. Forgive me if I don't take their word on that. Opinions on this or any other units would be appreciated.

I have already had a few locals answer with "Virtually anything is better than those..." I had no illusions that Mackie Pre's were the best available but I didn't think they were all that awful to justify that criticism either.

What say you all?

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KurtFoster Sat, 03/26/2005 - 11:56

A lot of this is going to depend on what you're going to be recording. If all your using the pre for is a single vocal track set against a lot of midi based music, I doubt that even the best mic pre is going to really do much to make your recordings better. But if you will be using the pre to track drums, bass and other instruments as well, then what a really good pre can do for your recordings will be very noticeable.

The pres in the Mackie are real ok .... same for any PreSonus or alike type pre. The reality is that almost all the inexpensive pres. are going to have more in common with each other than different.

Some like things like the Blue Tube over the Mackie pres and while they may vary a bit in terms of tone, there is more to a really good pre than just great tone. Things like headroom, how the pre handles phase issues and its ability to handle low end without mangling it up. At these things most inexpensive mic pres fall short of the mark.

One exception I have recently discovered is Groove Tubes "The Brick". This is a "real" all tube single channel mic pre with a good power supply and very robust construction, transformers on the ins and outs and 3 tubes in the signal path!

"The Brick" retails at $499 but can be had at the local GC for $325. I know its $150 more than your budget for 2 of these puppies but I think you will be much happier with "The Brick" in the long run.

TheArchitect Sat, 03/26/2005 - 12:32

Thank you Kurt. I really appreciate your input. I really don't use midi for anything save device control on occasion so everything goes through whatever mic pre I use. I use my DAW like a digital tape deck. The Mackie is the only real solution for recording the drumkit because so many inputs are needed but other than that everything would benefit from any improvement that would be had from a preamp upgrade.

Its difficult to say if something completely clean or something with more "character" would be appropriate for what I want to accomplish. Steely Dan and anything Mutt Lange does are the baseline I use to gauge my own progress. I have no illusions I am anywhere near that skill level. I realize that a lot of vintage gear like Neve consoles etc were probably used for those recordings but I definitely believe that after a certain level the gear is no longer the deciding factor in recording great audio

I will certaily look into the Groove Tube product. Thanks for the recomendation.

KurtFoster Sun, 03/27/2005 - 14:37

Both Steely Dan and Mutt Lange use vintage console pres or boutique type pres with the transformers across the inputs that add a lot of sonic signature (I say pres that sound good) ... stuff like Neve and API pres. The Neve and APIs are solid state but I still think "THe Brick" would probably fill the need for you without breaking the bank. I will be doing some listening tests in the next couple days so if you have the time to wait, I will repost here and let you know just how "colored" "The Brick" really is ...

Costlier would be an API or Neve type

TheArchitect Sun, 03/27/2005 - 15:29

I'm in no hurry. I would very much appreciate hearing your assesment of "The Brick". I am researching this topic at this point, collecting all of the information and real world experience I can. The vintage gear is probably price prohibitive but If a few bills more gets me where I need to be I will find a way to get there. From what I have read about this item it seems to be a pretty solid choice. Looking forward to reading your hands on assesment.