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I just ordered a Electro Harmonix 12AY7

I found a 'blem' version of the EH 12AY7 preamp on Musiciansfriend for $165.00 so I ordered it. Based on all the buzz on this board (okay mostly from CoyoteTrax) I decided to give it a try.

Like all the Electro Harmonix stuff, it's just a little "off the wall" and althought it's not a very convenient form factor (basically a stomp box chassis that will hog desk space) I've decided to give it a whirl. At that price, it's a cheap experiment.

I'm going to try tracking electric bass guitar (via my Radial Engineering D2 passive DI), acoustic guitar with my RØDE NT1, and vocals. With the balanced out, I'll have it output to my ART Pro VLA and then into the Edirol DA-2496.

I'll post some findings once I get it installed.


CoyoteTrax Thu, 03/23/2006 - 13:18
You'll dig the 12AY7 for eBass Hawkeye. Crank that puppy all the way up and send your pro vla a pretty hot signal and the bass will come out nice and wooly. Here's a clip I just posted to show a few guys how the "Alice" mice sounds on AC and electric guitars BUT... the bass was DI through the EHX (a passive box in front of it to balance the signal) and compressed with a pro vla. Listen to how wooly the bass is:

It's the 1st tune "the stars and you".

Hawkeye Fri, 03/24/2006 - 07:05

CoyoteTrax. Thanks for posting the clip. I couldn't get on the computer where my studio monitors are (daughter doing homework, or MSN probably). I'll be sure to check it out 2nite.

When I bought my Radial Engineering stereo passive DI the salesman told me it was an indispensable studio tool and I would never regret buying it. Up until now I hadn't used it that much, but I'm glad I spent the extra $50 to buy the stereo version D2 as opposed to the single channel D1.

I have since found out tht passive DI's are bi-directional. With a female to female XLR adapter I can run my bass:

Bass unbalanced > D2
D2 balanced out > 12AY7
12AY7 balanced out > D2
D2 unbalanced out > line level input on Edirol DA-2496 interface.

So, if I don't want to go thru my Pro VLA I can go straight to the interface using the other side of my DI.

I didn't realize I could do that until I checked out Studioforums where the designer of the EH 12AY7 posts in answer to technical questions and explained the role of transformer-based passive DI's.

The salesman is right, a good passive stereo DI is a swiss army knife in the studio.

CoyoteTrax Fri, 03/24/2006 - 09:15
Yeah, JC is really proud of the 12AY7 and I have to give him madd prop's for being so willing to jump into multiple forums to answer questions about that unit. Even when the criticism is harsh he's there to answer the tough questions and he's done so much research on how that box interacts with more soundcards and interfaces than he'd probably care to.

Also, about passive DI's, IMO you can never have too many passive DI boxes laying around the studio. To be honest I kind of favor the cheap pasive DI's that are simple and straight forward and it's nice to have a few different flavors that output at different impedence levels. Stereo boxes are handy tooand Radial uses excellent tranny's. Can't go wrong buying Radial stuff. Have fun with your new toy.

Hawkeye Sat, 04/08/2006 - 11:52
Electro Harmonix 12AY7 Pre, First Impressions

Well I finally got my EH12AY7. Musiciansfriend courier to Canada took 18 days to get to me. US Postal service is way faster. Anyway, a blem version so yeah, it had a few scratches on it but no big deal.

This thing is an ergonomic disaster. What, not even an on-off switch? Come on guys, I've heard of cost-cutting, but I thought the deletion of an off switch was a bit much. You mean to say, it was a planned engineering decision to require the user to unplug the power cord everytime you wanted to shut it off? The switches for phantom / phase / hi-pass are not in the line of sight and you have to reach over the tubes to get at them. This type of compromise does not sit well with me. It makes you wonder what else they forgot.

I got "the hum" like some other folks but when I looked at the cable going from my compressor to the A/D converter I saw that it wasn't TRS. I'm using balanced to one channel in of my ART Pro VLA and then 1/4 inch from my compressor to the A/D. Doh, my bad. When I substituted a TRS 1/4 cable the hum went away. Like some others have reported, my ouput light goes out when phantom power is engaged.

There is lots of gain in this thing and mine is pretty quiet. Even though specified with less gain than a couple of my other preamps, I have to turn it down quite a bit so as not to go into the red on the converter when using my Rode NT1A LDC mic.

Okay, I've griped enough about ergos, so how does it sound? I've tracked bass guitar with it and was very impressed by the even-handed "present" character of the pre. It is very matter of fact but with a pleasant roundness to it. The tubes did not give it a blurry, indistinct character like I have experienced with some bass instrument preamps. It is clean and warm-sounding.

Vox have body and more character than my Focsurite TrakMaster channel strip. I haven't A/B'd it against my ART Pro MPA with JJ's in it yet, but think the ART may be a bit more airy and transparent with the EH 12AY7 a bit more chunky and solid sounding.

I'll get to some acoustic guitar recording later this weekend and see where it leads me.

I like the sound so far, but hate the box it comes in. I know it is built to an entry-level price point, but I would have gladly spent another $75 - $100 for a decent rackmount chassis with metering and an on/off switch. Convenience and quick accessibility to functions are important when you're doing everything yourself like the average home studio owner is.

Ideally, Electro Harmonix will make a 2-channel version of this with some consideration given towards user friendliness. A lot of folk will pass on this box unfortunately, just because it's an ugly duckling and a little awkward to use. It's sound is pretty good though. If you can ignore its strange little foibles in regular usage (and I admit that's hard for a fuss-@$$ like me to do), you'll like the sonic results.