This 2-channel tube mic pre is built by the Putnam Bros. [see Tape Op # 24] and is based on the Universal Audio 610 Console their father, Bill Putnam Sr., designed and built. Those consoles (and by extension, this mic pre design) were used to record records for everyone from the Doors to Frank Sinatra. Bottom line; this thing sounds friggin' bitchin! If you're looking for clarity or a transparent mic pre, ala the Avalon, Millennia, or Grace school of design, don't even waste the electricity turning this thing on. This pre has more color than anything I've used or heard except some of my older Neve and Altec gear. The bottom end and mids are huge and just kind of "tubey" in the same way my old Altec mixer and compressor sound, but the top end, while not strident or even as apparent as on say an Avalon 737 tube pre, is much better than the older Altec stuff. Does "hi-fi vintage lo-fi" work? It's hands down my favorite drum overhead mic pre with either a pair of Royer R121s, or my hot-rodded Radio Shack PZMs if I want a more extended top end. I've also used it on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, banjo and violin-all with bitchin' results. The 2- 610 specs out +/- 1 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but there's something going on in here that's a bit magic that goes beyond just specs. Whatever it is, I like it a lot. The 2-610 looks cool too, with it's big knobs, heavy duty toggle switches, Fender style lamps and retro styling. My only beef with this unit is that there's no visual signal indicator, but I suppose an LED would be pretty out of place and VU Meters would add a lot of expense. Features on this pre that are standard to most pres include switchable phantom power, a phase switch, a five-position gain switch (in 5 dB increments) and a big huge rotary output level knob for each channel. You really feel like you're using an old console when you grab those big knobs! One cool feature that isn't on most preamps (but is becoming more common) is a variable impedance switch for both the mic and instrument inputs. (500 ohms or 2 kohms for the mic and 47 kohms or 2.2 Mohms for the instrument). Changing the input impedance will change the sound of the pre depending on the mic you're using, and the variable impedance Inst. input is a nice bonus for recording guitars and bass and such. Lastly, the 2-610 has some basic, but useful, shelving EQ. I really wish more mic pres had EQ as I like the option when recording drums.. It comes in handy on the 2-610 when I use it for overheads for instance. The low freq is switchable between 70, 100 or 200 Hz whilethehighfreqis4.5,7or10kHzwith9dBof cut or boost. I would argue that it's just as important to have mic pres in your collection that color your sound as it is to have pristine and transparent pres. If you buy into that argument, then you'll want to buy one of these. (UA also makes a mono version of the pre, the M610 that has a few less EQ options for about half as much money. If you're in a smaller, project studio and didn't need to track drums, this would make a lot of sense for vocals, guitars, etc.)

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