Friday, December 19, 2014

A New Pre-Amp

Ok, ok, ok. There is a known thing out there called G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and it is a serious affliction that affects techie types.

First of all, to be successful in VO, you need talent and a way to capture that talent. You don't need ProTools and a $3000 microphone. You do need a quiet space and a quality microphone that fits that space that captures your dulcet tones and you'll need some sort of software to edit and get that audio out the door.

George Whittam is a great source for those looking to set up and make buckets of money. Keep it simple stupid. (KISS) And George has mentioned once or twice that the gear that's out there and available to you at a reasonable price is just fine for Voice Over work. To spend more money on more expensive gear starts to get into the minutia of audio.

An Audio Tecnica AT2020 USB microphone and a laptop running Audacity (FREE!) will get you started and from there you dream about a better microphone, and better software. That's how G.A.S. starts. If you're like me, you surf and read reviews over at or and start thinking about spending money. I say it's money burning a hole in your common sense.

Now that I've said all that!

I've been wanting to upgrade my ART MPA Gold preamp. I had put in some vintage Mullard tubes and it has been FINE. Nothing really wrong with it, it gets me work and is quiet and does the job.


I started reading about EMI records, the Beatles and the famed Redd 47 preamp that EMI used in their console. Ok. So I have a Neumann U87ai microphone, and the Redd 47 is supposed to be a great match to it. Shoot.

So I start looking around. Drip Electronics has a nice kit, but presently out of stock, Phaedrus Audio in the UK further stoked the fire, but the present conversion rate of the pound to the dollar made the price a bit un-attractive. Then I find Dizengoff Audio and their D4. $599.00 of tube amp, Redd 47 clone magic.


Howz it sound? I'm dialing it in, but right out of the box this is clean, clear and puts the vocals right into the center of a mix. Not as bass heavy as the ART MPA was, which is fine, I don't want to create a mix of mud. It has phantom power, which the Drip Electronics kit does not have. A pad to knock things down on the output and a phase inverter if needed. The rest is just a couple of gain knobs, rough and fine.

On the back is a XLR input and output. On the front is 1/4" input for an instrument. (hmmm, might have to pick up a cheap Les Paul) That's it. Nothing else in the signal path or any built in compressors or eq. Just a preamp.

So this sound file ABTest.mp3 is me reading first into the ART MPA then the Dizengoff D4, the first phrase is the ART, the repeat of the phrase is the D4. I'm going to continue dialing it in and working with it, but so far, I'm pretty happy. I think I'm done with G.A.S. for a little while.. (no. seriously.)

You may listen to the two preamps back to back and say, "They sound pretty much the same…" and that's true, they are VERY close. Going back to what George said, spending more gets you a tiny percentage higher quality, tiny. But I hear a difference and I like it, the key word for me is clarity, and this D4 has it in spades.