We firmly believe that great records start with great performances, but capturing them with some top-notch gear doesn’t hurt… Matching the right microphone with the right preamp is the key to getting that energy to translate to the finished product.
There is no one “best” preamp— each unit has its own characteristics. However if we had to choose, our top choice would certainly be our Aurora Audio GTQC. Designed by Geoff Tanner (who designed consoles and custom gear during the golden age of Neve from 1971 thru 1985) this hand-wired Class A channel strip features that classic Neve preamp circuit with an incredibly musical EQ. It also features one of the smoothest, best sounding compressors anywhere (in fact TWO compressors, both a 1176-style FET comp and a LA-2A style opto compressor). This is our go-to pre for both bass and vocals.
Next up is the classic sound of rock and roll— the API 3124. Literally thousands of hit records have been made using exclusively these preamps. The 3124 has four channels and sounds fantastic on rock guitars and on many other sources as well.
When Jason Phelps joined our team, in addition to the GTQC he also brought another piece that we use on almost every session— the Universal Audio 4-710 Twin-finity. This preamp is unique in that it features both a solid state AND a tube preamp circuit on each of the four channels. We can blend between the two circuits, allowing for a clear uncolored sound, or we can drive the tube input and get some nice creamy harmonics going.
We are big fans of ribbon mics here at Acadia. We especially like to pair a ribbon mic with a 57 for tracking guitar amps: the combination of the upper mid boost from the 57 and a fuller tone from the ribbon mic gives us a lot to work with in the final mix. The only challenge with ribbon mics is that they require significantly more gain than many pre’s can provide. That’s not a problem for us with four channels of AEA TRP (The Ribbon Pre). These units are colorless and let the ribbons shine.
Our Grace Designs m101 is another ultra-transparent option we have in the studio, and this pre can also handle ribbon mics well with Grace’s “ribbon” circuit which changes the input impedance, provides extra gain and decouples the +48V power. This pre hasn’t let us down, whether we’re tracking vocals, acoustic guitar, or a kick drum, it’s a versatile option that always results in a clean, articulate sound.
Our Sytek MPX-4A is a well designed, clean and clear four channel workhorse that sounds great on a variety of sources.
Finally, we are lucky to have the use of our Seventh Circle Audio CH02 modular chassis, on loan from Pat at Pat Keane Mastering. Seventh Circle is famous for it’s top quality DIY preamp kits. This particular unit is fully stuffed with eight channels: we have the Neve-style N72 (x2), the super transparent Millenia-esque C84 (x2) plus the API-flavored A12 (x4).
Our gear selection is ever expanding (our next dream purchase is an Aurora Audio GTP8— eight channels of Neve power!)— book a session with us soon and hear them for yourself!