I stopped being enamored with mic pre’s about five years ago when I shot out my API’s with my shadow hills, Focusrite, audient and D&R console pres. What I found is that they were all great. They did different things sort of. They all worked well on everything. My experience was not that I needed thousands of pres for different sources. Because I preferred my console pre’s 75% of the time when I did blind tests I sold all my outboard pres. I narrowed what I need a pre to do to the following functions.
-Boost the mic signal and retain low and high-end frequencies. (cheaper pres tend to lose a ton of low end)
-Have a good HPF,
-have a great sounding D.I.
- HAVE AN ATTENUATOR AT THE END OF THE PATH.
Mic pres without an attenuator makes no sense to me. I hated this with my API’s. I have to run them into a console channel or external pad so I could pad them down if I wanted to overdrive the pre.
Having fancy features or things that “color” the sound on a pre isn’t important to me. If I want a “colored” sound I color the source and record it on a clean pre. I can get transformer grit much easier with outboard compressors. Impedance changing can be a good feature however on my Focusrite I rarely used this and haven’t missed it at all using my console pres.