True tube stereo preamp with unique tone switches offers boutique performance at an affordable price.
There aren't many companies that can design and build one preamp that engineers and producers feel that they could make an entire record with. A Designs Audio has built two. The all-tube MP-2A and the solid-state Pacifica, but we're here to talk about the MP-2A (you can check out the Pacifica later). With A Designs Audio's MP-2A, not only do you get a never-ending sweetspot and sonic majesty, it also gets top marks in "works and plays well with others." Meaning, while some preamps are picky when it comes to mics, the MP-2A welcomes all — and sounds great no matter what you put through it — ribbon, dynamic, or condenser. Better still, while the MP-2A falls squarely into the realm of "color" preamp, it never overwhelms a track with too much character. If you've been searching for an all-tube preamp with a rich bottom end, sweet and airy top end and enough tonal versatility to record all of your tracks without over-colorization at mixdown, think A designs Audio MP-2A.
A Designs Audio MP-2A, First Take:
True tube in, tube out stereo mic preamp
World-class custom-wound transformers
Two "tone" switches, give you four unique tone signatures.
Audiophile quality and components and a price below comparable boutique preamps
True tube mic preamp
The MP-2A is a classic 2-channel tube mic pre based on the celebrated MP-1. It offers the same true tube in/tube out design, plus the same quality that made the original MP-1 and MP-2 the buzz of the professional audio industry. New features include a -20 db pad switch, two selectable tone switches for four possible tones, plus 60db of gain (perfect for next generation ribbon mics) Classic features include a world-class Cinemag input transformer coupled with a custom wound output transformer, delivering the low noise and top quality sound that you demand from a high-end, high-priced mic-pre. Additional features include a balanced combo XLR/1/4 inch input, a true VU meter, phantom power and phase reverse switches, and a front panel line level input jack.
Custom transformers, the key to punchy sound and quiet operation
A lot of preamp builders believe that transformers are things to be avoided, but in reality, they're responsible for the sound we prefer in rock/pop music. The trick is finding good ones. Bad transformers can ring or decimate the upper frequency range, but when a transformer is properly designed and built, such as those by Cinemag (whose lineage includes making transformers for the top consoles in recording history) they are a thing of beauty, delivering a full, punchy sound like no other. Plus, thanks to the superior electronic isolation of transformers, noise and hum is reduced. That's why you can overdrive an MP-2A and get rich, milky distortion without the extra noise. The transformers you find in A Designs Audio's preasmps are hand- and "ear-" built by Tom Reichenbach of Cinemag. Tom is the son of the designer of the legendary Quad Eight consoles, whose sound rivaled Neve and API consoles at one-tenth the price.
With a lot of preamps, you'll find that they tend to have only one setting where you hear the magic. Move past it, and the magic is gone. The problem is that you can't always run it at that setting based on the strength (or lack of) of your input source. Then you have the A Designs Audio MP-2A all-tube, stereo preamp. Thanks to its fixed-gain amplifier design (with input attenuator), you get consistent behavior whether the preamp is turned up or down. Add to this the fact that you have 2 "tone" switches per channel that give you a palette of four unique, world-class sonic flavors, and you'll understand why we say you could make an entire record with just this one preamp.
Audiophile quality and sound made affordable.
Built to audiophile-quality standards with a price tag well below other boutique preamps in the same class, the MP-2A is a true tube preamp with no solid state components in the signal path. The MP-2A relies solely on tubes, film capacitors, and custom transformers. To maintain the integrity and purity of its sonic signature, bells and whistles are kept to a minimum. This serves two purposes. First, the more switches in the circuit path, the more sound quality can be negatively affected. Second, by keeping only necessary features, costs are kept down—and your money goes where it really counts—sound quality.
With the A Designs MP-2A has obviously succeeded in their mission "Pro audio made affordable." Here's what users are saying about the MP-2A:
"Stunning sound quality with serious bass response and a warm, airy top."
"Adding the MP-2 to my Direct-to-Disk DAW was like finding the holy grail of warm analog sound. I use it on everything from bass to guitars to vocals to drum mics and more. Absolutely incredible."
"Few pieces of gear get serious audio hounds salivating like a nice, juicy tube microphone preamp... The A Designs MP-2A is among the cream of the crop"
To sum it all up, The MP-2 is a professional class preamp for use on a variety of sources that delivers warmth, transparency, and a quality sound with a clean and airy high end like only a high quality all-tube pre-amp can.