Versatile piece of gear...
This is a decently versatile piece of gear which can serve the function of several needs. I was kind of skeptical at its merit for usefulness when deciding to buy one, but even at a minimum, you get 2 very decent pre-amps for a great price. Add to this the digital out features, it easily can make use of the S/PDIF inputs on your AD/DA which usually lay dormant in most cases, thus another 2 mic inputs without sacrifice.
The tube effect can be viewed as either wonderful for some coloration or not. I was not overly impressed with the musical breakup of the saturation, but there again I haven't changed the tube to see if it improved it. Even if it did I would suspect a premium tube would still not give the full benefit of a high voltage setup, but there again it doesn't have the price tag of a high voltage setup.
The preset selections from the VR3 knob can give some quick results to getting some coloration, and some signal overload protection as well, I think it is more justified in the case of the latter. I think I would have preferred a variable dial in on this, but hey... sometimes fewer choices are better, and keep us from wasting time on the decision process.
The 2 most important features of this unit in order of importance to me are... Variable impedance, and selectable digital pass-through.
With the ability to select the ADAT channel on which each unit operates, you can basically stack four of these units and daisy-chain them into one 8 channel ADAT input on your AD/DA. This makes it very modular, so if you want to buy 1 unit now, 1 later etc. you can do this and still only tie up one ADAT input on your AD/DA.
But you ask... why not just buy an 8 channel mic pre for 1/2 the cost of two of these? Well, this brings me to the most effective feature of these units (at least to me)... Variable impedance. It makes any mic cheap or expensive take on a whole new life, and sound radically different. Dial them in just right, and you can hit the sweet spot that cuts through the mix, or sits where you need it in the background.
I tested some cheap dynamic mics on it as well, and was amazed at how they came to life and sounded even better than some well known studio condenser workhorses. Imagine how it will make a very good mic sound!
I am convinced, impedance plays a much bigger role than we realize, and so far I haven't seen an 8 channel mic pre setup that gives you this feature.
This piece of gear holds a decent plot of real estate in the good effect for great price world.