World's Best Tube Preamps?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by mark4man, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    Hey TTR

    have you tried or heard the TMA, does look good

    e- mailed for a price, ouch, 30% more then a fearn,

    but, it sure does look nice huh ...


    i'd like to coment on pre suggestion too, but still making decisions on some myself,,,

    SI
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    TTR has been a busy person spamming the site. I have deleted 4 posts of his in the past 24 hours.

    He has also posted an unapproved review, without proper clerarences from the author, on the BB.

    Links to reviews on other sites are acceptable but we do not allow reviews to be posted on the board under any circumstances. Reviews are to be published only in the RO E Mag, or in the "Users Reviews Section" on the "front page".

    While user reviews are accepted for publication in the RO E Mag, the proper procedure is to submit them to me for publication to be fact and spell checked and and edited / corrected. Contact Chris about placing an article in the "Users Reviews Section".

    Thank you.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    RIP, The M-2b was just laid to rest. It is now vintage and imho, well deserving to be included as one of the finest built tube preamps ever made.
     
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    i always hate to see things like that happen. :( i hope Millennia as a company is ok.
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Me too.

    I'm sure they are okay. The m-2b was special and expensive. I'm sure you agree, expensive gear in times like this has little help through a very small user-base. I saw that coming for years. I don't know anyone other than Atlas Pro Audio who used them.
    When I can afford another M-2b, looks like I will be searching ebay now.
     
  6. Scott LaChapell

    Scott LaChapell Active Member

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    Wow, surprised to hear that about the M-2b! I fine example of a differential tube preamp for sure.
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    It seems like less and less tube gear is coming out these days, especially on the recording side of things. I wonder what the reasoning may be?? Seems to me the transformer is more or less ‘it’ right now from mid level up to premium.

    Even in guitar and bass amps it’s slowly going the way of the Buffalo, which saddens me. I understand on tours and for reliability, and even back pain, but lots of metal guys are using the fractal and kemper stuff in the studio too. The solos (not Kerry Kings’s) for the new Slayer record we’re done with a kemper.

    Really makes me want to snag a couple nice tube heads and McIntosh on the sooner than later.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    the good stuff is expensive.
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    I agree with that. But why are tube based things expensive? Aren’t tube based amplifiers like primative relative to others in a very general sense. Without looking it up, I’m pretty sure tube based amps date back at least to the 1930’s WW2 days, and I am guessing earlier. What makes them expensive or complicated? I know thy’re dangerous as far as electrical voltage, and get warm, so need ventilation and probably fairly efficient/powerful PSU(?). I mean if you look at an old pultec it’s point to point (at least what I saw from google), which is literally a bunch of wires connecting things. It seems time consuming, and perhaps that’s it, but it seems anyone with basic soldering skills could put the thing together. Obviously quality control comes into play from the components perspective, but are tube based designs less forgiving in this area?

    When you look at modern advancements it’s about how much you can fit on a tiny little chip, and power efficiency, ect. So it seems counterintuitive to me that what are essentially basic electronic designs (tube amps / pre amps) are in fact more money and less common lately. Maybe it’s reliabilty? Or the time/skill it takes to keep them reliable?

    I don’t know enough about the eletronics side of things to do anything but ask at this point. It does seem that some of the most freakishly good gear is often unreliable.

    Using a Manley tube pre showed me that tubes aren’t all about saturation, something I was under a false assumption of, after using some great high gain guitar amps. When I think tube pre amp I think big and thick (Manley), or old and dark (drawmer).

    To me it’s when tubes are in the power section of the device that really makes the difference. My hybrid (art) never really demonstrated anything the other tube pres did, neither did the digitech RP-7(?) floor processor ever really sound noticeably tube at all.

    Writing this is making me think there’s some sort of expense, experience, or maybe intangible, to having the power section of a device tube based.

    Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I will chime in, it’s an interesting area I think.
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I’d guess Bos might have the best answer to the expensive of tube gear in comparison to solid state.

    Opening up the M-2b, it has a power supply I’ve never seen in any solid state pre.

    The tubes likely cost something and then there is the R&R to these.

    Good Tube mics also come at a cost.
     
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    They also have attention to the PSU, which is usually external in the higher side tube mics.

    If you compare the LA-2 to the LA-610, one main difference in the compressors is the la610 compressor has less tubes. I believe they omitted from the amp/power section of the design, but not 100% sure on that. But there’s definitely several tubes fewer in the la610. And the unit costs much less than an la2 alone. I do think the la610 is a very nice unit, just commenting on the design differences.
     
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    @Scott LaChapell are you the owner of LaChapell audio? Just wondering. Either way, welcome to RO. There’s a great bunch over here.

    Do you have any thoughts on the state of tube gear currently? They seem to be alive and well in the LaChapell designs, even the 500 series, which isn’t common.

    @Boswell also curious if you could shed some light on the topic bos.?
     
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I have the impression that combining 2 units is part of the reason less tubes are needed..
    Did they use shortcut in the design ? Maybe, but the overall result is still interesting.
    My LA610 get used on the majority of the sessions I do. ;)

    To me tubes are not proof of quality and good sound. Many makers were successfull in designing good tube gear but some have failed too.
    With main customers desapeering everyday (big studios), the makers need to adjust to small and home studios needs and budgets.
    I think that anyone with taste to good gear should buy now because the future isn't bright in that area...
    This isn't even talking about the low res wave we see and here everywhere... :(
     
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  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    But not all classic/vintage gear was tube.
    Neve, SSL, Trident, API, even the later REDD desks that the Beatles and Pink Floyd used at Abbey Road were all SS / transformer.
    1176's, dbx, Distressors, SSL and Neve comps were all SS.
    Many famous mics were tube, but there were many that weren't that were just as popular on recordings.
    There was a time when tubes ruled the roost - in everything from studio gear to televisions and radios. It was the technology of the time. Some still sound great and are preferred, as in the case of guitar amps, but tubes presented problems, too.
    And, not everything that had tubes in it was automatically great just because it had tubes.

    ;)
     
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  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Well that’s exactly what I’m getting at. If tubes are relatively primative, then why the high cost in today’s market.?

    Personally I prefer the saturation of transformers in recording gear. Tubes do have a certain size and girth that the others do not.

    Van Halen did their first record on a UA610 console, w original 610 modules. The original 610’s are slightly different than the ones that followed, according to a vintage king rep. After that first album VH switched to an API console. Perhaps it was just the magic of the time and the state of eddies notoriously evolving guitar and head setup, but whatever it was, they never matched the tone of that first album again. Single guitar panned to one side, tracked w 2 57’s on the cab lol. The energy in that tone just jumps out of the speaker.
     
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    On the la-610 vs la-2.

    According to a GS member

    “On a technical level, the la-610 lacks the specific transformer types and 12AX7 gain + 12BH7 cathode follower stages which contribute heavily to the classic LA-2A mojo. A lot of us run signals through the LA-2A with little or no compression just to get the vibe from those components and their circuit. The Actual opto cell and driver tubes used in the la-610 share the same gain reduction characteristic, but not the aforementioned mojo you get just by plugging in.

    With that said, the 610 has plenty of character on it's own and the LA version has an additional 12AX7 stage plus the normal tubes and xformers...”

    Mostly banter, but full thread here. Sorry to link GS. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-...378-difference-between-la-2a-la-610-mkii.html


    This is a technical breakdown from UA, which seems to confirm the above. And with diagrams!!!

    http://www.uaudio.com/webzine/2004/november/text/content2.html


    Great little short history on the LA-2 from UA.

    http://www.uaudio.com/webzine/2004/november/text/content4.html
     
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    I can only wager a guess...
    Because tubes have a "mystique"
    about them - and sometimes more credit is given to a tube device than what it deserves - but when a tube device is built well, the tone result is fabulous, and sounds unlike any other architecture. We need only look at LA2's, U47's, C12's, ELAM's, well-made Tube Guitar Amps, and other tube based devices (preamps, limiters, etc) to see that this is, for the most part, true.
    The problem is that people are often led to believe that anything with a tube in it will be great like those models mentioned above... and, well, that just ain't so.
    The price of tube gear - the good gear - is higher because tubes don't permeate the electronics market like they once did. At one time, nearly all electronics - TVs, Radios, Cameras, Broadcast equipment- including audio gear - had tubes. That's just the way it was. That's not the case anymore, and because of that, there aren't nearly the same amount of tubes being made, nor are there the same number of tube manufacturers.
    This puts well-made tubes at a premium, hence the expense.
    I suppose tube technology could be considered as "primitive", as you described it, but some of that gear had wonderful sonics - due in large part to the fact that it did have tubes in it. There's still a certain magic mojo - a silky sheen and beautiful edge to tube gear that is well designed and built, and which implemented very high quality tubes. Part of the expense is the reputation that these pieces had for sounding beautiful.... but well designed and well made tube based audio pieces are considered "boutique" these days, are largely hand wired, and the labor is more intensive. All of that adds to the cost.
    I'm sure other members could come up with reasons, too...and mention things that I neglected to... the above was just what came to me.
    IMHO of course. ;)
     
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  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, I don't care for any of this. I will never claim the compressor of the LA 610 is close to the LA-2A but if the LA610 sounds right for what I do, what ever the circuit and parts they used, I'm glad to have 2 of them ;)
     
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  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    I pretty much feel that way about all gear, and plugs, too.
    If I use something that makes my mixes sound better, something that is useful to me in the context of what I'm working on at the time, I don't care if it's $3000 or $300.
    Same with plugs ... I don't really care if a sim is 100% "accurate" to its hardware origins or not. If it sounds good for what I'm using it on, it doesn't matter to me if it's exact or not.
    That's not to say that I don't like accuracy in sims, or in a hardware clone of a particular model, but if it sounds great for what I'm using it on then the "accuracy" is of less importance to me.
    I'm really wanting to try Warm Audio's WA2. Not necessarily to compare it "inch by inch" to an LA2, but just to see what it sounds like on its own.
    In short, I'll use anything that I feel to be useful, and that makes tracks or mixes sound the way I like them to sound.
     
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Well-Known Member

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    Either I'm really old (strike that!) or I've just been lucky in my learning curve with tube devices. Being exposed to rather high-end stereo gear at some of my Dad's engineer friends homes and hearing the sound of orchestral music over these things really got me on my way at a very early age.

    Hearing and seeing music being recorded in a studio before I was 20 on home made tube gear by someone who was a rocket scientist also cemented the sound in my head.

    Before I ever owned any studio gear, I was kind of a stereo component snob. It was always a new piece to the home stereo every 6 months I don't know how my first wife put up with it except the sound of "White Bird" and "Bare Trees" wafting through the house through a set of old Marantz Model 9 amps or the Mcintosh's I acquired was pleasing to her and she loved to play 'her' records kinda loud. Me too.

    I was Rockin and Rollin then too, and it was nothing to find a room full of cream Fender amps or Tweeds sitting around....and the SVT....Everyone I knew had Marshalls or Twins.

    So it was early on that I learned the difference in the why and how of clean tube reproduction as opposed to colored and gritty tube reproduction.

    Now its a ViPre (the very best!!! Read the history of it and learn why. Aspen Pittman is a genius).... Manley DMMP....and I will add something else tube sometime...I still love my solid state devices and as was mentioned a LOT of the gear used to record the most iconic of records over the years were done on solid-state gear.
     
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