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I need some advice So, I am in the market to buy a new mic preamp. I have around $500 to spend and I was looking at two:

the dbx 376 - tube mic preamp, compressor, eq & de-esser; digital outs

ART Pro Channel - tube mic preamp, tube compressor, tube eq.

Heres the thing, I have experience with the dbx 386, which is the dual, just mic preamp version of the 376. I love the 386. Nice piece for the collection.

Now, there aren't many detail on the "tubeness" of the 376. I know the input and output stage are tube, but, I don't know about the compressor, eq and de-esser.
The info I have read on the ART Pro Channel says that every stage except the compressor is tube and that the compressor is optical.

I am liking the ART Pro Channel more and more, but, would love to hear feedback on both or either of these units. I want to hear from people who of USED these pieces. Please. Thanks!

-Matt Feddermann
Phase Media


Davedog Tue, 10/28/2003 - 15:32

All tube circuits are different.Some are made to be overdriven as are some solidstate op-amp type circuits.Some are not.I have a class A tube power amp built by one of my partners.It doesnt distort(well it does but its not really measurable).....

As for your question.The Art MPA,VLA,and the Pro Channel are all tube designs but are not intended to be the tube-essence type of cicuit.They are very clean and very usable despite what a lot of high-end gear snobs may tell you.Most have not used this gear out of fear of reprimand by their buddies.Their loss.I personally am not a fan of the 300 series of dbx though I do own a 900 rack full of compressors and eq's.I do own the ART gear and it sounds great.I happen to like the characteristics of opto comps.While the pre is not your Neve-in-yer-face kind of sound, it does its job and really lets the sound of the mic through.Multiple channels of usage does not tend to become cluttered or muddy, so using them on a lot of sources has not been a problem.There are some mods for all these units available online and from what I hear, turn these slightly vanilla yet very workable units into extreme high-end .Considering their low price and adding the price of these mods, you're still way below the cost of the higher end pieces and still have the performance.

Bobby Loux Wed, 10/29/2003 - 00:16


I have both an old ART pro MPA and a DBX 376 laying around that doesnt get used very much these days.. I will tell you the ART and the DBX tube pre section are very similar sounding (not much difference sonically) I do not like the 376 compressor at all due to its limited controls and its heavy/squashing nature. the digital conversion is nothing special (or any better than your basic digi 001)the EQ section is at best decent, never even used the de Esser. (the 376 sounded its worst to me on vocals) not bad on accoustic guitars.

if I had to choose between the two (and I had too) I would definetly go with the ART Pro Channel as it actually has a very nice compression section (very versitle) and a very usable EQ. much warmer for vocals and many other applications. i upgraded the tubes in my ART and DBX and it did help..

we did a little shootout with the Avalon 737, HHB Radius 40, the art pro channel, and the DBX 376...the art and hhb did surprisingly well up against the Avalon, the 376 was a toy!

good luck

anonymous Wed, 10/29/2003 - 09:32

These two were the "best" mic pre, compressor, and eq in my price range. I mean, I'd love to have a great river pre-amp going into an ELOP, but, I don't have an extra $5000 laying around! :> If there is another great sounding mic pre, compressor and eq, built in one, or there units that can be purchased for $500, please, let me know. I'd be very interested.

Thanks everyone,


AudioGaff Wed, 10/29/2003 - 09:58

If there is another great sounding mic pre, compressor and eq, built in one, or there units that can be purchased for $500,

You should be able to get a Joe Meek for $500. Look for a used VC1, VC1Q or VC1Qcs. I see them often in or below the $500 mark. Very good sound and great value. I own the VC1Qcs myself and find that I use it on many things. I think it is either the VC3 or VC6 which is the stripped down model but with the same mic pre, comp and eq for even less money.

anonymous Mon, 11/03/2003 - 19:08

I agree with DaveDog. I use ART gear quite a bit in a pro environment. People slam ART but as usual it depends how you use it and often what you use it with. I've done a lot of recording using ART with $3K mics and I used to use Neve preamps for these mics. However, I found I could get the same in your face up front sound from the mics and the ART stuff as I could from the Neve. Also the sound is just a little bit smoother and more controlled. I ended up selling the Neve because it just didn't get used that much. Personally I would try and look at the overall system chain and not just concentrate on the DBX ART argument. If you can get to try the gear out with some of the other equipment you're going to be using then you'll be more empowered to make the decision.


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