The Sebatron VMP-1000e is a really-cool tube mic preamp. It's kind of its own thing (thank goodness), and it doesn't seem to be a clone of anything. It has a very warm tone-great for guitars-and refreshingly, it has its own sound. Features include an instrument DI; polarity and phantom switches; a three-position pad (0, -15, and -30 dB); and a VU meter. There's also a three-position switch labeled flat/bright/air that gives more tonal variation as well.

I used this preamp on a variety of sources, but mainly on electric guitar. My mainstay mic preamp is the clean- sounding Millennia HV-3D. So I was pleased to get a little more color from the VMP-1000e. I like Neve and Daking preamps on guitar, and now I'll add the Sebatron to this list as well. I did a session with a Les Paul going through a Hughes & Kettner Triplex twin 12'' cab to a Royer R-121 and no compression. The sound was kind of creamy. A very cool sound. I also used the VMP-1000e on electric bass, acoustic upright bass, acoustic guitar, and voice. I liked its sound on all of them.

All in all, I think this mic preamp falls right in the "not completely high-end and not low-end but still very respectable" category. You can spend a lot more money and not do as well. Given that it has "character" to its sound, I wouldn't want it to be my only preamp, but it's really great to have in your arsenal. The unit lists for $999. Without the VU meter, it's $100 less. Two and four-channel versions are also available. ($999 MSRP;

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