tube mic preamps

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by lawnmowerdude6, May 4, 2009.

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  1. I'm looking at getting a better tube preamp for my home studio and i dont want to spend too much money, so I've been looking at these two:

    ART Pro Channel Tube Mic Preamp


    ART Voice Channel Tube Mic Preamp

    I can't really tell what the major differences in them are, besides the outputs and don't really know which one would better serve my purpose. I really just want something thats going to make everything sound better. I do a lot of rock/pop-punk recordings as well as acoustic recordings so I really want something versatile.

    I use a presonus firestudio with cubase to record drums and an m-box 2 pro with protools for everything else.

    Any help would be great, and if there are any other suggestions for something that would be great too.

    Thanks a lot.
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    The real question is - what do you hope to gain by "upgrading" to these pres?

    While I generally like ART for budget gear, these are not traditional high-voltage valve amplifiers. They're starved plate designs that generally work more on distorting a low-voltage signal.

    All that basically means is, you're not getting the real benefits of a true tube preamp. The reality is, you're not really getting a preamp that's any better than the stuff in your firestudio.

    The only budget tube pres that are worth a darn are:
    GT Brick
    Summit 2BA-221
    Arguably - Aphex 107 (not a bad box at all - though not as happy with the 207D).

    Also - what is the advantage of using Cubase and PT? Why not just use one or the other?
  3. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    No. Go buy something solid state. Cheap tube gear is garbage compared the solid state gear in the same (or lower) price range, especially cheap tube preamps.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Most affordable tube preamps really are not tube preamps at all. What they really are, are a transistorized and/or IC chip preamp, followed by a secondary transistorized and/or IC chip amplifier feeding a tube with such low-voltage that it is not an amplification device. It is strictly there to add distorted tube saturation, not amplification. Then followed by additional transistorized and/or IC chip amplification stages. So they're fake & being misrepresented.

    A true tube preamp will have huge heavy input & output transformers, multiple tubes for multiple stages of amplification, no transistors or IC chips (except for perhaps the power supply of rectifier which are generally diodes today, even within tube circuits). They are also known as "High-voltage tube amplifiers". For proper operation of a vacuum tube the plate voltage must be between 250 to 350 volts DC. These toy tube preamps you are looking at, generally don't even supply proper six or 12 volt heater circuits to even make them glow. Some actually put yellow LEDs behind the tube to make it appear that it is glowing. That's really fake $*^t. And most of those inexpensive tube preamps do not supply more than 50 volts of plate voltage which is not enough to make them conduct nor work, properly. And are referred to as "starved plate" tube circuits. Nobody should starve and neither should your tubes.

    Please make quality contributions to the food Bank of your choice. Please do not donate fake food as there is no mustard to that.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    This has been a topic of interest of mine for a while. What are some good transistor preamps around the 500 ish range? Maybe with a couple of independent channels.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    The ART Pro Channel Tube Mic Preamp looks nice. I would imagine the majority of the value is in the design of the casing, front panel, packaging and marketing. Think about everything we buy having 20% or more tacked onto the price of a product for every hand it has to pass through before you buy it..

    RO can give you a good deal on a Sebatron or GT if you are interested. I'd take the advise of the replies. Save your money for something of better quality.
  7. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    Dec 26, 2012
    western PA
    D. W. Fearn builds a nice tube preamp...not necessarily budget but nice...built near Philly in Pocopson PA...
    Read some nice stuff about Hamptone...haven't tried one..

    Ever thought of building your own? Jensen makes nice input and output trannies...s
    EF804, EF86, 5879, 417A, D3A, even the 7025 (12AX7) make nice gain stages...12AU7's or 12BH7's make nice line drivers..
    One commenter was correct, have plenty of HT for the plates...400 volts or so, and direct couple as much as you can to eliminate artifacts due to coupling capacitors in the audio path...
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2013
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Make everything sound better !!! isn't it what we all want ??
    Mind me saying; what about your room, mic choice and placement or quality of the instruments? If you can't get better there, yes preamps are the next thing to check.
    I haven't check your gear but make sure you have a digital input, if so, buy a preamp that has a digital output. If not, be sure you have line inputs that goes strait to the converters, because having a preamp plugged in another preamp can leed to a mess or waste of money.
  9. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    Dec 26, 2012
    western PA
    PCRECORD: Agree, anything in the audio chain needs to be optimized to get best results. You're right about "daisy chained" preamps...that is a waste of resources and guaranteed unnecessary noise being introduced. I've heard of that being done where the "sound" of a particular preamp was desired...the mic plugged into the outboard preamp, the preamp output run through a -60db pad, and the attenuated (mic level) output fed to the input of a console or mixer containing only mic level inputs. One would be lucky if the S/N would be 60 db or better...

    One would believe the console of choice would contain both analog (i.e. XLR) and digital inputs. That way, any analog inputs would go through similar type converters, and the digital signals effectively appear simultaneously on a common bus (inside the console). Even though multiple converters of different manufacture (with digital outputs) may be "synched", there are other sources of delay (i.e. cables) with external digital devices, before the digital sources are combined on the bus. This delay may become more apparent with higher sample speed. Digital sampling by itself delays the signal.

    The digital addition (mixing) process is substantially more complicated than time domain (analog) mixing. A lot of higher mathematics is required to fully explain the process.
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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