Chameleon Labs 581 Microphone Preamp

500 Series Mic Preamp Module with Fully Balanced Transformer Mic Input and Front Panel Instrument Input
Chameleon Labs 581 Microphone Preamp image 1
Chameleon Labs 581 Microphone Preamp image 1
$379.00
Sweetwater Savings: $70.00 MSRP: $449.00
Special Order
Special-ordered from Chameleon Labs and usually arrives to you within 1-2 weeks. Please note: special orders cannot be canceled or returned.
Note: While most of the items we sell ship for free, this item does not qualify for free shipping due to special circumstances.

Share this with your friends:

Most popular accessories & related items...

Chameleon Labs 581 Microphone Preamp
Special Order

Conjure Up a Classic

The Chameleon Labs 581 500 Series mic preamp serves up lucidity and definition, allowing you to hear subtle details you didn't think your mics were capable of capturing. Boasting exceptional clarity and solid low end reminiscent of renowned classic designs, the Class AB 581 has an incredible sonic signature you'd expect from components costing considerably more. And this innovative design's output level control functions as a fader when routing straight to your DAW. Fortify your 500 Series rack with the Chameleon Labs 581.

Chameleon Labs 581 500 Series Mic Preamp Module at a Glance:
  • Exceptional clarity and solid low end reminiscent of renowned classic designs
  • Fully balanced transformer mic input which can be upgraded to a vintage style Carnhill unit
  • hi-Z Direct Input for instruments on the front panel
Exceptional clarity and solid low end reminiscent of renowned classic designs

For its role models, the Chameleon Labs 581 aspires to the sonics of classic holy grail large-format console preamps. The 581 is extremely lucid sounding, with a remarkably solid low end - a combination that makes it perfect for everything from kick drums to vocals. The 581 also possesses a definite "character" - a sonic signature that you wouldn't expect in a preamp at this price.

Fully balanced transformer mic input which can be upgraded to a vintage style Carnhill unit

The Chameleon Labs 581's fully balanced transformer mic input lends a distinctive solidity to the sound of this preamp, but if you want to dial it all the way to vintage, you can upgrade to a Carnhill, the original transformer used in '70 era Neves.

hi-Z Direct Input for instruments on the front panel

The Chameleon Labs 581's hi-Z input lets you plug your guitar, bass, or synth straight into the front panel. How convenient is that? Whatever you need to record, the Chameleon Labs 581 has you covered!

Chameleon Labs 581 500 Series Mic Preamp Module Features:

Exceptional clarity and solid low end reminiscent of renowned classic designs
Fully balanced transformer mic input which can be upgraded to a vintage style Carnhill unit
hi-Z Direct Input for instruments on the front panel
Discrete Class AB Circuit
API 500 series compatible card
Powered by CPS-501 Powered Chassis or any 500 series compatible power supply
Transformer balanced output
300 Ohms or 1.2K Ohms mic input selector
48VDC phantom power selector
Output level control functions as a fader when going straight to D.A.W. or tape
LED illuminated push buttons for visual confirmation
LED Metering (Power, Signal, +4dB, Peak)

What Does "Special Order" Mean?

A special-order product is one that we don't normally keep in stock. We order it from the manufacturer as soon as you order from us. We have great relationships with all the manufacturers we carry, so we can get your special order to you as fast as or faster than anyone else. Remember that special orders are non-returnable and non-cancelable, so make sure the item is right for you. A Sweetwater Sales Engineer can help you decide — call (800) 222-4700 for assistance!

Additional Media

500 Series Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Solid State
Number of Channels 1
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz
Phantom Power Yes
Analog Outputs 1 x 1/4"
Height 5.25"
Depth 5.93"
Width 1.5"
Weight 2 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number 581

Customer Reviews

5/5
Based on 3 reviews
Write your review
5/5

Chameleon Labs 581

Recieved new 581 blackface. Tested on dw kick and was extremely pleased. I would say its sound is somewhere between classic API VP28 and Heritage audio 1073. Not quite as big on low end as neve or vp28 however definately usable. Would not hesitate to get 3 more for Snare top and botton and overheads. Fender Jazz bass plugged in DI was again very, very good. All in all Im extremely satisfied with 581.
Music background: Studio Owner
5/5

Chameleon Labs 581

After a long wait, I received my revised blackface Chameleon Labs 581 and put it through its paces. I was eager to compare it to other Neve inspired pieces in my studio, and see how a mix comes together using just the 581. My most direct comparison was to the Heritage Audio 73JR, which quickly won me over and has been my go to preamp. I noticed right away that the 73JR has a more grinding and open saturation, with extended bottom end, and a very pronounced upper midrange saturation. When the 73JR is pushed, it gets beefy, and also has more upper midrange to it. The 581 doesn't share the low end content of it's Neve inspired Class A competition, the 581 is tighter and handles the bottom end transients with excellent clarity. The upper mids aren't as in your face, but more reserved, yet still very defined. The more you push the 581, the more it's silky texture is brought to life, and it shows its rich harmonics without losing clarity; slightly increasing the bottom end, and bringing an edge to the highs, yet still retaining a tight and focused sound. Switching back to the 73JR, you get a more open feel, and the sounds are bigger, but not better - just different. In my experience, the 73JR can definitely be too much of a good thing, and lead to the signature Neve cloudiness in the low frequency transients when used on every track, but the 581 will provide detail where the 73JR might contribute to said cloudiness. Overall, they compliment each other very very well. I can see myself using the 581 more and more, specially on high track counts.
Music background: Recording Engineer / Musician
5/5

Outstanding

For those of you who desire the Neve sound but cannot afford an original or a new Neve 1081 Mic Pre than look no further than this Chameleon Labs 500 Series 581 Mic Pre. This is an outstanding unit. It has all the features you would want in a high end mic pre plus the build quality to match. I own several pieces of Chameleon Labs recording gear and this unit fits right in with the outstanding quality the company is known for. You're able to get the Neve "grit" which is perfect for guitars although you can apply it to anything, vocals, drums (especially snare), bass, etc. I personally don't think there is a better unit on the market in this price range. Once again Chameleon Labs knocks it out of the park!
Music background: Guitar, recording
See also: 500 Series Pre, Chameleon Labs, Chameleon Labs 500 Series Preamps