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Best Mic Preamps For Home & Pro Recording Studios (Under $1,000)

by | Mic Preamps | 0 comments

This article on the best microphone preamps under $1,000 is the third in a series on the best microphone preamps available today.

Previous articles covered lower-priced mic preamps – below are the links to those articles:

Today I’m going to focus on the best mic preamps between $500 and $1,000.

One mistake that many studio owners make is that they spend a lot of money of their mic collection and skimp on their mic preamps.  This makes the mic pre the weakest link in the chain.

Once you get to the $500 to $1,000 price level, you can buy excellent pro-level mic preamps that will be ideal for studio recording, project studio music production, mobile recording, or any other uses.

The reviews are divided into two sections:

  • Best Single-Channel Mic Preamps
  • Best Multi-Channel Mic Preamps

Under each section, I review the best mic preamps in these categories:

  • Solid-state
  • Tube
  • Hybrid solid-state/tube

NOTE: If I could not find any mic preamps under a category that fit my review criteria, then there’s no review.

Best Single-Channel Mic Preamps Under $300

Please see this article

Best Single-Channel Mic Preamps $300-$500

Please see this article

Best Single-Channel Mic Preamps $500-$1,000

Tube:

Universal Audio Solo/610

Solid-State:

Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast
Grace Design M101
Black Lion Audio B173

Hybrid Solid-State/Tube:

Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity
Summit Audio 2BA-221

Channel Strip:

Joemeek OneQ2

Best Multi-Channel Mic Preamps Under $300

Please see this article

Best Multi-Channel Mic Preamps $300-$500

Please see this article

Best Multi-Channel Mic Preamps $500-$1,000

Solid-State:

Focusrite Octopre MkII
Audient ASP800

500 Series Mic Preamps

If you are interested in 500 series mic preamps, please see these review articles:

Review Criteria

All mic preamps included in my reviews were selected based on their widespread use and reputation in the professional music community and from personal use and knowledge.

I’ve also added my insights gained from my 25+ years of experience running a very successful music production company, plus working with dozens of composers and thousands of tracks for my Audio Addiction Music Library, a production music library with global distribution.

Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Microphone Preamp For Your Home Studio

If you’re new to buying microphone preamps, please check out my Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Microphone Preamp For Your Home Studio.  You’ll learn how mic preamps work, the types of preamps available, and how to choose a mic preamp that best fits your intended uses and, of course, your budget.

Best Single-Channel Mic Preamps:

Tube Mic Preamps

The Universal Audio Solo/610 is a tube mic pre designed to emulate the sound of the venerable Putnam 610 tube console mic pre.

The Putnam 610 was designed by Bill Putnam, known as a recording engineer legend and one of the fathers of modern recording.  The Putnam 610 was known for its smooth vintage sound that underscored many hit records of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Installed in iconic LA studios such as Western Recorders and United Recording (both of which Putnam built) the Putnam 610 was used by artists like The Doors, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Beach Boys, The Mamas & The Papas, Neil Young and many others.

Universal Audio (UA) was formed by Bill Putnam’s two sons in 1999 and is today a leading manufacturer of pro audio gear and DAW plugins.

The UA Solo/610 combines Putnam 610’s classic tube circuit with more user controls, and is UA’s most popular mic pre.

It’s hand-built in the U.S. and has become a hit in its own right with home studios and pro studios alike.

Features

The small desktop enclosure is laid out quite simply.  The front panel has Gain and Level controls, and switches for Mic or DI input selection, low/high impedance, 48V phantom power, low-cut or flat response, and output or input phase reverse.

There are also two ¼” jacks for DI and a Thru function.

The rear panel features XLR input and output jacks, plus a mic/line switch and ground lift switch.

It’s got lots of headroom with 60dB of gain that can drive just about any mic while keeping noise to a minimum.

Universal Audio Solo/610 Classic Tube Microphone Preamp

How Does It Sound?

The Solo/610 gives a smooth, warm, rich sound that, in the words of one user, “… makes most mics sound better”.

Vocals especially benefit from the warmth it adds, and its mid-range punch lets tracks sit nicely in the mix.

The following video is a shootout of the Neve 1073 DPA vs. the Solo/610.  I prefer the deeper richer tone of the Solo/610.

Neve 1073 DPA vs. Universal Audio 610 Pre Amp

Audio Examples

You can hear demos on guitars, bass, vocals, and more at the site below.  Just click on Preamps and then choose the Universal Audio 610:

ZenPro Audio Clipalator

NOTE: You can also download all files as high-quality 320K mp3s for comparison against other mic preamps.

The Solo/610 is at the higher-end of single-channel mic preamps, and some potential buyers hesitate at buying a mic pre at this price that does not include channel strip features like compression or EQ.

But, ultimately the Solo/610 does deliver on the sound, and that’s what is really most important.

Final Thoughts

The Solo/610 has found a wide audience as a mic pre that delivers silky warmth and character.  It is also highly desired as a great-sounding DI box.

It delivers outstanding sound performance at a price point within reach of all serious studio owners.

Universal Audio Solo/610

Check Price:
Amazon | zZounds | Guitar Center

Features:

  • Single-channel vacuum tube mic preamp
  • DI input for connecting instruments
  • 2 impedance setting for both mic and line inputs
  • Low noise design
  • XLR input and output jacks
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • Low-cut filter
  • Desktop enclosure

Solid-State Mic Preamps

The Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast is a single rack space, solid-state mic preamp that pushes the limit on sound flexibility available from a mic pre at any price.

It is designed as a versatile tone machine that can warm up and shape the sound from your microphones in many different ways. From clean tones to a vintage tube vibe, the TB12 delivers impressive sound at a price that seems too low given its sound and performance.

At its heart, theTB12 uses the circuitry of Warm Audio’s highly respected WA12 mic pre.  The WA12 itself is based on the acclaimed API 312 mic pre which has been used on countless hit records.

Warm Audio then expanded its capabilities by adding multiple tone sound options, multiple signal paths, two different Cinemag transformers, two different op-amps, and a variety of tone-shaping controls.  This gives the user unparalleled flexibility in shaping sounds to their liking.

Features

There are so many features on the TB12 – it boasts 13 switches and knobs – that it’s probably best to see them all in this video:

Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast – Demo and Tour

How Does It Sound?

By choosing different settings for op-amps, transformers, and capacitor chains, plus the Gain and Saturation controls, you can get everything from a clean, uncolored tone to a vintage tube sound.

For example, working the Input and Output Controls will let you go from a sweet, warm sound all the way up to heavy fuzz pedal type distortion.

The Nickel transformer setting provides more extended range, while the Steel setting gives a smoother rounder sound.

NOTE: Given all its flexibility, listening tests reveal that the tonal changes using different setting can be quite subtle at times.

The most apparent changes come with increased harmonic distortion, which may be great on electric guitars or bass, but not as desirable on vocals or strings.

Warm Audio TB12 Mic Preamp Demo

It’s Customizable!

Techie-minded users of the TB12 can swap out the op-amps for other models to further alter its sound.  Op-amps need to be the standard 2520 pin-out configuration that can operate at +/- 16 volts.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the TB 12 Tone Beast provides lots of tone-shaping flexibility.  It’s designed and built with high-quality components and gives you the character and sound quality you look for in quality analog gear.

It’s a great mic pre that’s unlike any other in its price range!

Warm Audio TB12 Tone Beast Microphone Preamp

Check Price:
Amazon | zZounds

Features:

  • Single-channel solid-state mic preamp
  • Fully discrete Class A signal path
  • Two op-amps for different tones
  • Two Cinemag output transformers for different tone colors
  • Hi impedance instrument input/ DI input
  • Insert jacks
  • Low noise design
  • 5-segment LED metering
  • Balanced XLR, ¼” TRS, and instrument inputs | balanced XLR and ¼” TRS outputs.
  • 48V phantom power
  • 80Hz high-pass filter
  • Polarity reverse switch
  • Single space 19” rack enclosure

The Grace Design M101 is a half-rack size solid-state mic pre that is known for its clean, neutral, uncolored sound.  Geared towards smaller home studios that want high-quality results, the M101 offers pro level, high-fidelity sound at a very affordable price.

Features

The front panel has a high-impedance input jack, Gain and Trim controls, a Ribbon mic switch, a 75Hz high-pass filter switch, and a 48V phantom power button.

The 12-step Input Gain pot provides up to 65dB of gain, enough to power the lowest output mics.

The Trim knob controls the Output gain with up to 10dB of gain reduction.

The rear panel has an XLR mic input, and XLR balanced, ¼” TS balanced, and ¼” unbalanced outputs.

Ribbon Mic Mode

Unlike any other mic pre I’ve seen, the M101’s ribbon mic setting optimizes the mic pre for use with ribbon mics.  As ribbon mics can be easily damaged by phantom power, this is a handy feature to protect fragile (and expensive) ribbon mics.

Note: using dynamic mics in ribbon mode can provide different tonal variety – feel free to experiment with this feature!

How Does It Sound?

Unlike mic preamps that color the sound, the M101 lets you capture the natural sound of vocals or instruments.  Audio tests by reviewers point out its transparent, uncolored sound, helped by lots of headroom.

It’s an excellent choice for strings, brass, percussion, harp, or other acoustic instruments where you want to hear the natural tonality of the instrument without hype or coloration.  Acoustic guitar especially benefits from the M101’s depth and clarity.

With the right mic choice, vocals sound amazing with the M101.  There’s a purity of sound to this mic pre, and vocal recordings reflect this with great detail, clarity and depth.

Wrap Up

The M101 is a highly-regarded mic pre for anyone wanting clear, crisp uncolored sound.  This mic pre delivers that at a very affordable price for both home and pro studio owners.

Grace Design M101

Check Price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

Features:

  • Single-channel solid-state mic preamp
  • 12-position input gain knob
  • Transformerless design
  • Hi impedance instrument input/ DI input
  • Ribbon mic setting for optimal results with ribbon and dynamic mics
  • XLR mic input | XLR balanced, ¼” TS balanced, and ¼” unbalanced outputs.
  • Ultra-low noise design
  • LED metering
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • 75Hz high-pass filter
  • Single space half-rack enclosure

Black Lion Audio is a Chicago, IL-based maker of pro audio products.

From their inception, Black Audio’s #1 focus has been providing premium sound quality at affordable prices.

Overview

The Black Lion Audio B173 is a single-channel solid-state mic pre housed in a single space, half-rack chassis.

It’s designed to emulate the famed Neve 1073 mic pre made famous on numerous records from the 1960s through today.  First introduced in 1970, the 1073 immediately became a go-to mic pre for its ability to make just about everything sent through it sound great – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, brass, and more.

The B173 captures the sound and attitude of the original 1073 at an affordable price for both home and pro studios.

Features

The B173 has a no-frills approach to design and operation.

The front panel just has controls for Input and Output gain levels, a 48V phantom power switch, polarity invert switch, and a high impedance button.

The rear panel only has an XLR input and a balanced TRS ¼” output.

There’s plenty of gain to drive the lowest output mics, with noise at a minimum even at high levels of input gain.

Black Lion Audio B173 Microphone Preamp Overview

How Does It Sound?

Did the B173 capture the big warm “in your face” sound of the Neve 1073?  Judging from numerous reviews in pro audio magazines and online sites, the answer is yes.

The B173 delivers the essential character of the 1073 – the full-bodied low-end, warm mid-range, and bright, smooth highs – on vocals, guitars, bass, drums, and more.

Audio Examples

You can hear demos on guitars, bass, vocals, and more at the site below.  Just click on Preamps and then choose the Black Lion Audio B173:

ZenPro Audio Clipalator

NOTE: You can also download all files as high-quality 320K mp3s for comparison against other mic preamps.

Wrap Up

If you are looking for the sound of a vintage Neve 1073, the B173 won’t disappoint.  You’ll get virtually the same tone but at a fraction of the price of the real thing.  Highly recommended!

Black Lion Audio B173

Check Price:
Amazon | zZounds 

Features:

  • Single-channel solid-state mic preamp
  • Classic Neve 1073 sound
  • Phase reversal button
  • XLR input, balanced TRS ¼” output
  • High-pass filter
  • 48V phantom power
  • Impedance selector
  • Single space half-rack enclosure

Hybrid Tube/Solid-State Mic Preamps

The sibling of the Universal Audio Solo/610 reviewed earlier is the highly-acclaimed Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity.

The 710 Twin-Finity is a single-channel hybrid solid-state/tube mic pre that gives you the best of both sonic worlds.

The name Twin-Finity comes from the unit’s tone shaping capabilities; users can dial in vintage tube warmth or go for the attitude that the best solid-state circuitry can give to the sound.

Features

The Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity comes in a 2U half-rack enclosure with UA’s cool brushed aluminum vintage finish.

Its unique design features a solid-state input amplifier that simultaneously drives separate tube and solid-state gain stages.  These stages are then summed to a single output.

The front panel Blend knob lets you dial in the tone you want, from transistor on the left to tube on the right.

How Does It Sound?

NOTE: To get the best results, it’s always a good idea to let a tube mic preamp warm up for about 30 minutes. This allows the tubes to reach an optimum temperature.

At lower levels of gain, the Transistor side of the Blend knob gives a clear, detailed sound. When the gain is increased the sound becomes brighter and more “in your face.”

With the Blend on the Tube side, the sound becomes warmer and rounder.  Pushing the input gain will create a thick distorted sound that, while probably not appropriate for vocals or organic instruments, would give guitars, bass or drums some meat and attitude.

The following video demonstrates the different sounds possible with the 710 Twin-Finity.

UA Twin-Finity 710 Demo With Acoustic Guitar

Audio Examples

You can hear demos on guitars, bass, vocals, and more at the site below.  Just click on Preamps and then choose the Universal Audio 710:

ZenPro Audio Clipalator

NOTE: You can also download all files as high-quality 320K mp3s for comparison against other mic preamps.

Wrap Up

The 710 Twin-Finity is a great sounding mic pre that gives you the warmth and musicality you expect from a tube mic pre, plus the accuracy and detail of a solid-state unit.

If you only have the budget for one unit but want both tube and solid-state options, then the 710 should be at the top of your list.

Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity

Check Price:
Amazon | zZounds | Guitar Center

Features:

  • Single-channel hybrid solid-state/ vacuum tube mic preamp
  • Front panel high impedance DI input for connecting instruments
  • 70dB of gain
  • Low noise design
  • Analog VU metering
  • XLR input and output jacks
  • -15dB pad
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • 75Hz Low-cut filter
  • 2U Heavy-duty metal half-rack enclosure

Summit Audio is a top high-end manufacturer of mic preamps, EQs, channel strips and compressors for professional use.  Their products range from full-size premium signal processors to their more affordable half-rack units.

The Summit Audio 2BA-221 is a half-rack hybrid solid-state tube mic pre that delivers Summit’s legendary sound at a much lower price than their full rack units.

It has a solid-state mic pre section with a tube output for the best of both sonic worlds.

It is handmade in the U.S. and features the rugged construction and high-quality components you expect from Summit Audio gear.

Features

The 2BA-221 packs a lot of features packed into the half-rack enclosure.

On the front panel, the 2BA-221 has separate Input and Gain control knobs for mic and line (DI) inputs.

The solid-state mic preamp section has two nice features:

First, there is a continuously variable mic impedance knob that gives you lots of flexibility on getting different tones from your mics.

Second, there is a 20Hz-200Hz continuously variable high pass filter control to eliminate low-end rumble.

The output is controlled by a Tube Output control to dial in the tone you want.

In an unusual feature for a mic pre, the rear panel has separate tube (XLR + ¼”) and solid-state (XLR only) outputs.

You can connect both outputs at the same time to record in stereo, or have both tonalities from the mic pre available for further processing.

There is also an Insert jack so you can insert other signal processing gear like EQs or a compressor into the signal path for sound shaping flexibility.

Summit Audio 2BA-221 Microphone Preamp Overview

How Does It Sound?

Online reviews consistently praise the BA-221 for its bright, punchy sound from the solid-state mic pre section, and the very musical warmth the tube output section adds.

The tube sound remains very usable even when pushed to its limits, something that many lesser-quality mic preamps cannot do.

Many reviewers pointed out the significant difference it made in their sound compared to their previous mic pre.  As one person noted, “It makes budget mics sound a lot more pro.”

Audio Examples

You can hear demos on guitars, bass, vocals, and more at the site below.  Just click on Preamps and then choose the Summit Audio 2BA-221:

ZenPro Audio Clipalator

NOTE: You can also download all files as high-quality 320K mp3s for comparison against other mic preamps.

Final Notes

The 2BA-2121 is a very impressive, great-sounding mic pre with the highly sought after “Summit Audio” sound desired by top producers, artists, and studios.   It is capable of delivering dynamic tones from clean and bright to very warm and gritty.

Its ability to run both mic and line inputs at the same time and its multiple output configuration add lots of flexibility to recording.

And, in addition to studio use, it also makes a great front end unit for live sound, especially when paired with an EQ or compressor.

Summit Audio 2BA-221

Check Price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Features:

  • Single-channel vacuum tube mic preamp
  • Uses industry standard 12ax7A tube for rich, warm tone
  • Separate front panel high impedance DI input for connecting instruments
  • LED VU metering
  • Separate tube (XLR + ¼”) and solid-state (XLR only) outputs
  • Balanced XLR and ¼” input and output jacks
  • -20dB pad
  • Polarity invert switch
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • 20Hz-200Hz continuously variable high pass filter control to eliminate low-end rumble
  • 1U heavy-duty metal half-rack enclosure

Channel Strip Mic Preamps

Joe Meek was a renowned British sound engineer whose unique approach to recording helped create the “British Invasion” pop/rock sound of the early 1960s.

The Joe Meek Company has taken his creative techniques as inspiration for their line of highly-regarded mic preamps, microphones, guitar pedals, EQs, and compressors.

The OneQ2 is a 2U double rack solid-state channel strip with a mic preamp, optical compressor, EQ, de-esser, and enhancer.

The latest Q2 (second edition) version adds improvements such as lower noise and greater headroom to the highly admired original OneQ.

Features

There’s a lot to the OneQ2…

Starting with connectivity, the front panel has an XLR mic input and ¼” DI jack for connecting instruments.

The rear panel has both XLR and ¼” inputs and outputs, an Insert jack, and the digital interface connectors.

5 Sound Modules

There are 5 sound modules in the OneQ2.  Here are their most important features:

Mic Pre:

The OneQ2 uses a high-quality Cinemag transformer and Burr-Brown op-amps for a no-compromises sound.  Input gain runs from 18dB to 60dB.

Also included are switches for 48V phantom power, a -20dB pad, mic/line selection, and phase reverse.

An Iron button lets the user send the Line input through the transformer to add some coloration to the signal.

Four-Band EQ

Called the Meequalizer, it features a very musical 4-band EQ with sweepable low and high mids, and selectable low and high-frequency bands, plus a low-frequency cut switch.

Compressor

The OneQ2 has a full-featured optical compressor with a link switch for stereo applications.

De-Esser

The de-esser module reduces sibilance and is primarily used on vocalists.  It also features an advanced Listen function for ease of use.

Enhancer

The OneQ2 has a harmonic enhancer that adds excitement, brightness, and definition without any gain increase.

Additional Features

In addition to these 5 modules, the OneQ2 also features a master fader and a 24-bit 96kHz A/D converters with AES/EBU, S/PDIF, optical and word clock connectors.

The Joemeek OneQ2

How Does It Sound?

The mic pre delivers everything from clean, uncolored sound to a beautiful old-school vintage sound.

It makes a superb vocal processor with everything you need to record vocal tracks that sit well in a mix.  It adds that pro “sheen” and sound you hear on records but can’t usually recreate.

Wrap Up

The OneQ2 is a complete front-end solution for recording vocals and instruments.  It has all the additional components – EQ, compressor, de-esser, and enhancer – you’ll need to deliver fully produced tracks.

Joemeek OneQ2 Channel Strip

Check Price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Features:

  • Single-channel solid-state channel strip with mic pre, compressor, EQ, de-esser, and enhancer
  • 2 DI inputs for connecting instruments
  • Low noise design
  • XLR input and output jacks
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • Low-cut filter
  • 24-bit 96K A/D converters with AES/EBU, S/PDIF, optical and word clock connectors
  • 2U double space rack enclosure

Best Multi-Channel Mic Preamps:

Solid-State Mic Preamps

The Focusrite Octopre MkII is a single rack space, eight channel solid-state mic pre with eight high-quality award-winning Focusrite preamps.

The latest Mark II version has upgraded mic circuitry and A/D conversion, and these improvements make this very affordable 8 channel mic pre even better.

Features

On the front panel, the Octopre MkII has balanced combination XLR/ ¼” mic/instrument inputs for channels 1 and 2.  This gives the user easy access to connect 2 mics or instruments when the unit is rack-mounted.

There are 8 pots controlling gain for each channel, plus a -10dB pad switch for each channel to prevent overload from overly hot signals.

Two 48V phantom power buttons control power to the mics and are switchable on channels 1-4 and 5-8.

A 5-LED VU matrix and LED indicators for sample rate and clock source complete the front controls

The rear panel has six balanced combo XLR/ ¼” mic/line inputs and 8 balanced line outputs.

Also included are 2 optical output jacks and a BNC word clock input jack.

How Does It Sound?

The mic preamps in the Octopre MKII are the same as those found in Focusrite’s acclaimed Saffire audio interfaces.

They are excellent sounding mic preamps, with a somewhat neutral character but with clarity, definition, and punch.

Noise is very low, even when the gain is cranked up.

Although the Octopre delivers the trademark Focusrite sound on vocals and melodic instruments, it is ideal for recording drum kits.  The inputs are designed to handle very loud SPLs from sources like snare or kick drum, and one Octopre will give you enough inputs to cover a whole kit.

Audio Examples

You can hear demos on guitars, bass, vocals, and more at the site below.  Just click on Preamps and then choose the Focusrite Octopre MkII:

ZenPro Audio Clipalator

NOTE: You can also download all files as high-quality 320K mp3s for comparison against other mic preamps.

Any Cons?

Compared to its competitors, the main drawback is that the Octopre MKII does not have an ADAT digital input functionality.

However, their more expensive Octopre MkII Dynamic model does have both input and output functionality via ADAT, and built-in compressors.

While this may not be an issue for most users, it’s something to keep in mind if you are planning to connect your mic pre digitally to your audio interface, mixing board, or other gear.

Final Thoughts

The Octopre MkII is a very easy to use, great-sounding mic pre.

For drum recordings, it will make your tracks sound fat and punchy, and it won’t disappoint on vocals and other instruments.

While it may not stand up to a single or dual-channel mic pre in the same price range, it’s an excellent choice if you are looking for multiple mic preamps without breaking the bank.

Focusrite Octopre MkII

Check Price:
AmazonGuitar Center

Features:

  • Eight-channel solid-state mic pre
  • 2 DI inputs for connecting instruments
  • Very low noise design
  • Balanced XLR / 1/4” inputs| balanced 1/4” outputs
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • -10dB pad on each channel
  • 24-bit 96K ADAT output connectors
  • BNC word clock in jack
  • Single space rack enclosure

Audient is a British company whose pro audio products are designed to deliver outstanding audio quality and affordable prices.

Though they are not yet a household name among home studio owners, Audient’s line of audio interfaces, mic preamps, and mixing consoles have found fans all around the world in the pro audio community.

The ASP800 mic pre is a single rack space, 8-channel mic preamp with both analog and ADAT optical A/D outputs.

In fact, it’s the same mic pre that is found in Audient’s high-end mixing consoles.

It’s a very versatile mic pre, able to go from a clean, detailed tone to vintage 70s tube-style warmth through its exclusive HMX and Iron settings (more on this in a moment)

Features

The ASP800 features premium Burr-Brown op-amps and a transformer-less RF immune input stage for detailed resolution.

Each input channel has a 48V phantom power switch, a -15dB pad switch, and Signal Present and Peak LED indicators.

On the rear panel, there are eight XLR analog outputs, a Tascam DB25 connector for analog outputs, plus an ADAT optical output at either 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz for 8 channels, or 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz for 4 channels.

There is also a word clock output for connecting to your audio interface.

Retro Channels 1 & 2

Channels 1 and 2 are “retro channels” that have additional features, plus Audient’s own HMX and IRON circuitry that channels 3-8 do not have.  Inputs can be either ¼” jacks on the front panel, or XLR/ ¼” on the rear panel.

HMX is a tube saturation emulation circuit with settings from Sweet to Thick.

IRON is for transformer-based saturation, with settings from Sparkle to Growl.

How Does It Sound?

The ASP800 lives up to its reputation as a clean & punchy mic pre with lots of character.  It has plenty of headroom and bandwidth to capture vocals and instruments in the highest detail.

With HMX and IRON both disabled, the sound is neutral, clean and crisp.

With HMX engaged, the circuitry generates harmonic distortion with an emphasis on even harmonics (2nd and 4th harmonics primarily).  This makes the resulting sound very musical, adding tone that is thick, fat and warm – and very usable.

With the Iron circuit engaged, the sound becomes reminiscent of vintage British 1970s consoles.

The following video demonstrates the HMX and Iron circuitry:

Audient ASP800 – HMX & IRON in a Multitrack Production

Below are two examples of the ASP800 in action:

Audient ASP880 Demo – “Keep It Moving” featuring Swift 89

Drum Kit only – Gordon Campbell

Very Low Noise

The mic pre is one of the quietest around.  Check out this mic preamp noise comparison.

Audio examples on Audient’s site

To hear some audio examples, please click this link.

Wrap Up

With 8 mic pre channels and its variety of tones – from clean to tube, plus transformer-type coloration- the ASP800 is the perfect unit to expand your studio’s capabilities.

Throw in both digital and analog outputs, and the ASP800 is sure to become your go-to mic pre for recording drums, vocals, or anything else you want.

Audient ASP800

Check Price:
Amazon | zZounds

Features:

  • Eight-channel solid-state mic pre
  • 2 front-panel DI inputs for connecting instruments
  • HMX and IRON tone control circuits for variable sound coloration
  • Very low noise design
  • Balanced XLR / 1/4” inputs| balanced 1/4” outputs
  • 48V phantom power
  • Built-in power supply
  • -10dB pad on each channel
  • 24-bit 96K ADAT output connectors
  • BNC word clock in jack
  • Single space rack enclosure
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