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My Fav 5: Mic Preamps

This week we will take a look at my favorite 5 mic preamps. Whether tracking vocals, stringed instruments or hardware samplers; a good mic pre is vital to get all of the flavor out of your source. Here is my favorite 5:

#1. API 312 (1608)

Let me be clear, I’m not exactly fond of using the 1608 console. The together but separate nature is annoying sometimes but totally understandable considering that it’s kind of the company’s calling card. I am very fond of the preamp that is used within this console. Although the 500 series preamp is pretty good, the one on this board is a lot more pleasing to my ears. I love this thing on drums, guitars and certain vocal types. It adds low-mid weight but not too much. All in all it’s a great preamp and I enjoyed working with it, despite the craziness of the master Buss on this thing. 😬

#2. Solid State Logic VHD (Duality)

When you need to be super clean and super transparent this is your choice. Great for tracking pop vocals and any di input. The harmonic drive on it is a nice feature that makes it a more versatile box. I’ve been a fan of this pre ever since first hearing it on the SSL duality console. This is my first choice when tracking synths because in my opinion it replicates the signal best because of its ultra clean character. So if you want your vocals or any instrument to stick out, track through this baby. It adds just a enough weight.

#3. Neve AMS 1073

The instant magic preamp. I have rarely put anything through the one and it not sound better on the other side. This thing is my go to preamp when tracking vocals, bass and drums. It’s weighty and cuts some of the extra high end air from modern mics. An excellent choice when you have a sibilant heavy performer. It’s also a sound designers dream. The high gain on this thing makes it ideal to overdrive things and unlock different flavors. Definitely a must have for your 500 Series rack.

#4. Manley Voxbox (UAD emulation)

I know, this isn’t a hardware preamp but it’s an almost perfect emulation and in my opinion it’s UAD’s finest preamp offering to date! The smooth response of this thing makes it great for taming the high frequencies of modern mics. I love this thing on full mixes or sampled content. So running your mix through a passive summing mixer then amping through 2 of these is killer! I also love to track my beats from my MPC‘s through it. Adds a smoothness I can’t explain, it’s just there.

#5. Universal Audio 610

The 610 is my favorite preamp for DI bass. This thing gives guts to sometimes wimpy direct input sources. I loved hearing this thing on electric bass and Moog/synth bass as well. The gain and trim controls are great for slight overloading, adding color to your sources. Not the best choice for vocals in my opinion, but any other sources that could use heavier handed flavoring such as elec bass, kick drum, synth bass, even 808 bass. This thing is killer and a great addition to our sometimes too sterile interface preamps.


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