We track a lot of bands in my studio that end up taking their rhythm tracks home and finishing overdubs and mixing in their home PC based studio. After using our mic and preamp collection, my clients face the return to their Mackie mixers and often ask me, "What kind of mic pre should I buy?" Assuming that their Mackie has the relatively clean thing covered (without getting into a Grace, Avalon or Millenia pre) I always tell them to get a Meek 6Q. First off they're cheap, you can pick one up for around $400 street price. Secondly you get a mic pre, compressor, EQ and DI all in one rack space and the compressor and EQ also work in line mode. And finally, I think this thing sounds great! It's far from pristine, but it has a character I like. The Meek is like the poor man's Neve. I've used this on just about everything: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, snare, and kick- all with good results. Several of my clients now have them in their home studios and they're all really happy with them. My only beef is that the EQ has a big hole between 800 and 100 Hz that you can't touch, and this is where I often want to do subtractive EQ. So, at the NYC AES show I cornered Meek designer/owner Ted Fletcher and asked him about modifying the EQ. He sent me the following mods: Change C25 and C26 to .047uf and C24 to .22 uf. This changes the range of the mid-freq EQ to 200-800 Hz. (If you have a VC1Q and want to this mod, it's the same three capicitor values, but different numbers: C7 is .22 uf and C8 and C9 are .047 uf) The mod was really easy to do once I found the capictors in question. They're really small and the numbers are a bit hard to see under the caps. Look just in front of the EQ pots and you'll find them. If anything I just said isn't clear, or you're not comfortable with taking things apart and soldering on a PC board, don't even think about trying to do this yourself. Call PMI audio and pay one of their techs to do it. (www.pmiaudio.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More