4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great addition to the home recording studio,
This review is from: Presonus Tubepre - Single Channel Tube Mic Preamplifier (Electronics)
Recently bought one of these in used condition for under half its retail price. Its a brilliant addition to your home recording studio if you need something to boost the gain and/ or add some tube warmth to your mic.
I would like to first point out that I wouldn't really recommend this item if you are planning on buying it for its full retail price (version 1 nor the newer version 2). There are a couple of reasons for this.
1) It's a starved plate design. What this basically means is that the tube is not provided with significant enough voltage to be fully efficient in use. The result of this is that although it does indeed add some nice warmth to your vocals or instruments, it doesn't provide as much vintage tube tone as you might expect. Not only that but as you add a lot more colour to the signal then some of the clarity and transparency will be lost, and this is more evident with a lower quality tube installed. You can buy tube preamps that provide the full recommended voltage to the tubes for not a whole lot more than the retail price of the tubepre.
2) The chinese tubes that they come with should ideally be replaced with a superior tube from the likes of Electro Harmonix, Tungsol or NOS tubes. Why? The chinese tubes simply aren't as smooth and overall they have a more gritty and tinny tone to them. If you buy a cheaper used tubepre then you will have plenty of money to upgrade the tube. I bought a gold-plated Tungsol 12Ax7 for mine and it has a very warm, creamy tone without adding hardly any extra noise to the signal.
The Presonus TubePre is a great preamp. I don't really need to use the gain dial since I already have two excellent focusrite preamps with their own gain stages that are superior. When combining these focusrite preamps with the upgraded tube from the presonus, the results are really pleasing when recording with my AT4050 microphone. Vocals become thicker with a greater presence. Instruments plugged in via the TRS input suddenly provide a fatter sound.
While Presonus do not recommend plugging in keyboards into the Presonus (they say that digital distortion will occur very easily), I have to say that since I do not use the gain dial and only the drive dial for tube warmth then you really can hook up your keyboard to it and it will provide a fatter tone to your keyboard's sound effects (I plug in my ax-synth keytar to it and the results are really good when applying a lot of tube drive).
Note: When you turn up the drive dial, the volume of the source also increases because the tube inside naturally amplifies the sound when it passes through the tube.
As a final important note: The overall quality of the sound is dependant on how good your microphone is in the first place. Don't expect miracles with the tubepre if your microphone is entry level, and do not buy the tubepre if you are wanting to get a superior sound from your cheap microphone... just save up for a decent microphone! The Presonus Tubepre is designed to COMPLIMENT your sound signal by adding warmth with a hint of vintage tube. It will NOT enhance the quality of the sound captured by your microphone. Upgrading the stock chinese tube is also recommended for better transparency and a warmer, smoother tube drive.