There is a symetrix 528 for sale in my city at a cheap price. I'll probably get it but I wonder how the 528 compare to other pres, like RNP, sytek, or cheap stuff like Mackie or art mp?
I suppose it'll be an upgrade from my Tascam M-2600 ? (who is not that bad, but sterile)
I own a number of Symetrix pieces, and love their build quality. The ONLY Symetrix piece I ever sold was one of 2 528s I had. As a mic preamp, they are....ugggh! Smeared, "small"-sounding, they were designed for the radio/TV broadcast market, and the mic pre is its' "Acchilles Heel". I sent the other 1 to a company called Audio Upgrades and they replace some chips and maybe other stuff, with better quality (Burr-Brown?) components. But by the time you pay for their treatment of the box, shipping, etc, you could probably do better with something else. I have a couple of cheap dbx 286a Mic Processors, and even THEY sounded better!
How cheap is the 528 you're looking at? You asked how a 528 compares to a RNP or Sytek. Apples to oranges, my friend. The 528 is a total voice processor, with dynamics and de-essing, and EQ. Those elements aren't found on the RNP or the Sytek preamps.
If you want a good, clean, transparent mic pre, look at the Grace 101 (or the RNP). If you want some extra processing power, the dbx 376 gives you some dynamics control and digital interfacing as well. Those puppies are all over the internet. I have a Drawmer MX60 Front End One, and it is a very musical "channel strip", but the damned price keeps creeping up on those.
IMHO, I wouldn't waste my $$$ on the 528. There are too many "channel strips" out there that will beat it at it's own game...