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Hey guys!

Been a lurker for awhile...I've been looking for a good stereo pre for $600 or so. After doing some reading it seems like the two best bets are the BG 1 or the Hamptone kit. I can get either for about $600, and they both seem to be extremely good quality for the cash. The only major issues would be the hassle of building the Hamptone, but otherwise they're pretty evenly matched from what I can tell.

Can anyone offer an opinion on how these stack up? I'd be doing all sorts of stuff: live acoustic instruments, percussion, classical, jazz, some rock, and even vocals. I'm considering getting a brick at some point to give me a more colored pre, so that should be covered.

All opinions are apprecitared!


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anonymous Mon, 04/25/2005 - 16:44


Hey, I found this on a lurking trip, so you're not alone.

I've done a project with Scott Hampton, and I wouldn't worry about the hassle of building the Hamptone kit. They'll make sure you get through, as long as you know one end of a soldering iron from the other.

I've got a little distortion box for my guitar that's a design based on his preamp design, and I'm quite happy with it. Only problem is that it's given me the lust for things DIY.

anonymous Wed, 04/27/2005 - 09:25

Wow, that's a pretty definitive opinion! :D

I've read quite a bit of good stuff about the Hamptone, but it does seem like the DAV is pretty awesome and the price is killer if it is half as good as people say it is. The SOS review is one of the most positive things I've ever seen them print, and they aren't afraid to bash products.

The only other thing I'm considering is the Seventh Circle route. It is a litte more expensive in the beginning, but once you're up and running adding to it is pretty cheap.



bap Wed, 04/27/2005 - 10:29

Hi Mike,

You would most likely either one quite a bit. If you want to use the Hamptone for stereo recording then the optional step attenuators would be a welcome addition [$125 extra]. Go to and do a search for Hamptone. That's where he first offered the schematic before offering the whole thing as a kit and many there are familiar with it. The Hamptone is great on acoustic guitar and I love it on woodwinds - especially tenor sax.

I would not hesitate to use the BG1 on these same instruments but where it seems to shine for me is on piano and for location recording. It fits in the bag nicely and sounds great!

Did you get that little jazz combo snippet I e-mailed to you? My mics aren't as good as those used by Plush - he uses the best and [clearly!] likes the BG1 a lot even though it is priced in the 'value' range.

Bruce P.

anonymous Wed, 04/27/2005 - 16:25

Thanks, Bruce. I did get those recordings, but my roof is being repaired and my rig is sort of tied up at the moment, so I haven't listened to them.

The BG1 does seem like a good fit for me. I do a lot of classical location work, and this seems ideal for this app. The hamptone sounds like it's got a bit more color/mojo/vibe or whatever, but I think I'm going to be able to coax that out of The Brick I'm planning on picking up.

As much as I love to tinker with electronics, I'm a little busy for DIY projects right now anyways!

Thanks guys!


anonymous Thu, 04/28/2005 - 12:48

Do you not dig The Brick? It seems like it has gotten some pretty stellar reviews on this site. If it isn't worth the trouble I might just save the cash towards a 7th Circle rig or something similar.

Like most guys I want a pair of clean pres(BG1) and something more gnarly for tracking vocals, guitar cabs, etc. I'm attracted to the tube DI in The Brick as well for Bass DI stuff.


bap Thu, 04/28/2005 - 13:48

I tried it and decided not to keep it , though many seem to love it. The Hamptone has 2 fabulous DI's and is great on many things. If you have access to a G.C. or equivalent you should try The Brick out [at home] and see what you think.

I almost got a 7th Circle kit - they're supposed to be really fine - but decided to go with the Hamptone.

I would have kept The Brick if my budget weren't limited, though I think the Hamptone is nicer and believe that the 7th Circle stuff would be very impressive as well even if you have DIY.

It's hard to tell sometimes but if you can demo The Brick then do it. With DIY kits you don't get that opportunity.

One of the TapeOp threads on Hamptone:[/url]

anonymous Thu, 04/28/2005 - 17:15

Thanks again. I'll definitely check the Brick out. I'm in LA so everything is pretty readily available. If I don't like it I'll take it back.

The Hamptone sounds so cool I'm tempted to go for it over the BG1. I guess it is due to all the feedback on the Hamptone versus the barely existent chatter on the DAV stuff.

So many decisions! :D


bap Thu, 04/28/2005 - 20:52

Sending a money order [Mick doesn't take credit cards] to DAV Electronics in London for a preamp that neither you nor anyone you know has ever heard certainly puts many potential buyers off - even if all reviews praise it as being exemplary. If they were distributed in the U.S. we'd probably be hearing more.

Kits also put many off. I've heard people say that they have absolutely no resale value because they were built from a kit. Seventh Circle and Hamptone are putting out kits that many experienced and discriminating ears judge to be equal to or sometimes even better than gear put out by some of the finest boutique designer/builders.

I end up getting both because I believe that I get a great sound quality/dollar ratio. I would love to have a Gordan but can't afford it. I have a piece of Decca heritage and it sounds great. I also get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that I put something together myself and that it sounds great.

anonymous Fri, 04/29/2005 - 06:17


I've planning on ordering the hamptone for a while now. I want to use it for mainly doing rock overdubs at home. Electric guitars (not heavy... ie u2, coldplay, radiohead) bass, and synths. We're Doing drums and vox in the studio.

I've read both that the Hamptone is clean and accurate and that it is colored in a Neve 1272 kind of way. I guess everyone hears things differently so you end up reading lots of contradictory things when doing research. Anyway do you think the Hamptone has enough color for what I am looking to do?



bap Fri, 04/29/2005 - 07:05

I can't personally compare it to a 1272 but have heard others make that same comparison, including Scott's quote given in the MojoPie review of the JFET. Over at 3D Audio site Lynn Fuston has an interview [mp3] with Scott Hampton done at one of the TapeOp conventions - might or might not be of interest. There are also interesting interviews with George Massenbug [profanity edited out!] and Dave Hill of Cranesong as well as many others.

(dead link removed)

You might ask over at the TapeOp board regarding it's suitability for rock guitars, bass, etc as I use it mostly for acoustic instruments and jazz and love it for that. I haven't really tried getting a driven and colored sound...yet! You can definately hear the transformers but the color is not 'in your face'.

When I ordered my kit there were no specs listed on the site so I asked Scott about it and this is part of his reply.

RE specs, the bandwidth is from roughly 10Hz to 100KHz, gain is about 70dB
max. Internal noise is quite low, to the extent that it is for the most part
inaudible unless the volume is cranked all the way, and with no input.
Beyond that, specs don't really mean too much in my opinion, as to how it
will perform in a musical situation. I could build an Op amp based micpre
with great specs on the bench, better than these preamps, for less than 50
cents a channel, but they would sound horrible. Transformers are imperfect
devices, you put a square wave thru them and it comes out mangled, but take
them out of the circuit and it sounds lifeless. This is the art part of
design, it goes far beyond the bench. I have an Engineering Degree and 20
years experience, racks of computer controlled test equipment.... I beat
these designs up on the bench trying to achieve gain flatness, good bandwith,
minimal odd harmonics..., but really I make final circuit decisions by ear,
with a vaiery of musical instruments and microphones, under real world
conditions, the way it should be.

Hope this helps.


anonymous Fri, 04/29/2005 - 09:16

Good Bruce, here is the million dollar question for most likely the only living human with both of these pres. If you could have only one, which would it be? Lets through out form factor on this. I love small gear(laptop, traveler, etc.), but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a bigger pre in this situation. So whattaya think?!?



bap Fri, 04/29/2005 - 09:57

I think I would take either one - or both!

They are both versatile. The Hamptone is a little more 'colored' but not so much as to limit it's usefulness in a variety of situations. The BG1 is a little less colored [no transformers] but not in the least bit sterile. It gives a full, rich sound. They both sound musical.

If I were to have only one I would probably go with the Hamptone simply because of the flexability it affords. Each channel has an outstanding DI and also it's own separate phantom power button. These features alone dictate it's use over the BG1 in some circumstances. The choice would have nothing to do with sound quality.

The BG1 is always my first choice for location stereo recording.

anonymous Fri, 04/29/2005 - 10:36

mmm....both....that resonates with me....but not my finances! :D

I think I'd have trouble with both, actually, because for that much money I'd be tempted by Great River and the like.

I feel like the Hamptone is a little more attractive, but the fact that the BG1 is already assembled AND cheaper makes me more likely to go that route. I'd DEFINITELY want the stepped gain which puts the Hamptone up over $700 and I'd still have 20 hours of labor to put into it. That sounds like fun, but I'm not sure this is the best time for me to do it.

Maybe I can hunt someone down who started the kit but didn't finish it and they want to sell me the parts CHEAP! Then I coud have both! :D


bap Fri, 04/29/2005 - 11:12

I too would love to have a Great River, but owning both of these gives 4 channels of great pre for less $ than 2 channels of Great River and many compare these favorably to high end boutique gear.... so I am content.

Look at Plush's post under Acoustic Music 'Transparent Preamp' thread and you will see that he has some expensive and fine stuff to choose from. He's a pro and yet the BG1 is one of his top choices. It's not just 'value' gear, it's also 'good' gear. The Hamptone is good as well.

What I'd really like is a Gordon, though. But you never really can tell. I read a post from a guy who heard so much about the DW Fearn, he looked at all the pictures, looked at specs, read all the glowing reviews and testamonials, and though he had tons of top notch gear, thought that this was what he needed next. He got it and didn't like it.... got rid of it within a few weeks.

You just never know!

anonymous Fri, 04/29/2005 - 19:53

That's a great point. Not only do you have two more pres, but more variety as well.

I've seen Plush give these really strong marks on other forums as well. He seems to REALLY like them.

It is amazing how subjective this stuff is and how wildly opinions vary. I think there is a fair amount of trendiness in these forums too. For awhile everyone loves one thing and everyone bashes another. A few weeks later something else emerges as either the greatest thing ever or the most vile create of manking. It is kinda funny, really. :D


bap Fri, 04/29/2005 - 21:16

Yes indeed! Look at the recently released Neve Portico 5012.

Two channels of Neve for $1500, introductory price, and I haven't seen much hubub around here. The analog king goes out on his own again after years of consulting and lending his name to other companies products.

I'm tempted, but I need to finish a bathroom re-model and my wife needs to take some University classes. At least nothing is wrong with my roof! :)