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April 2017 Giveaway

A Designs P-1 Microphone Preamp Reviews

5.0 stars based on 9 customer reviews
Questions about the A Designs P-1 Microphone Preamp?

Questions about the A Designs P-1 Microphone Preamp?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Carson McClain

    A mini Pacifica.... sigh... there is a God! If you love the sound of the Pacifica and only need one channel for your 500 rack, this is the module to get. Great sound all the same features and it fits in your A Designs 500 rack. What a great pre.

  • from Burton March 17, 2017

    Smooth, clean and great high end

    Big upgrade from the focusrite 428. I have 4 of the P1s now and am considering 3 more.

    I use them for tom toms and guitar. I am sure they would be very good for anything.

    I have vintage neumann pres v476b very colored, millenia as you know clean with attitude, a neve 517 which doesn't like to be slammed but great sound. Have a stereo tube pre eq which has a nice round sound digitech vtp with Telefunken tubes I put in and my yamaha o1v97i board that is very very clean sounding also.

    P1 handles the drum transients the best to my ear. Musical, dimensional and clear. Although I am surprised how well my yamaha does. I record drums almost every day and I am picky. Went with p1s over api 512 because they are less. The pad engaged is nice floor tom I might add. You will dig it.

  • from January 30, 2017Music Background:
    Professional Film Composer and Producer

    Clarity and Warmth

    Talking about sound is like dancing about architecture, according to the late Kurt Vonnegut. So we resort to these buzzwords like "clear," "warm," "musical," and any manufacturer of cheap Chinese gear with light-up tubes can lay claim to these properties. Reading enough reviews loaded with this drivel will drive a musician and potential purchaser mad.

    I am here to tell you that if you are experiencing flat, digital signal coming into your computer, uninspiring and cold, this is the preamp that will add that extra harmonic content that is required when not going to tape. the P-1 is loaded with custom Cinemag transformers, which are so much more forgiving than your DC-coupled interface preamps. Plug your SM57 into it and you'll immediately understand the difference a high-quality preamp makes, especially on dynamic mics. Microphones were designed to pass through circuitry like this. I treat the P-1 like my console preamp and golden channel - everything is tracked through it, one at a time, as is the workflow at my overdub and mix room. It stacks up to a three-dimensional space that is simply not there otherwise. I won't ever sell this preamp, regardless of what other pre's I purchase. My voice through this was a revelation, as was the bass and synth DI. Guitars, backing vocals, every single source develops a glow and pleasant, slight high frequency rolloff that I can nearly guarantee will add all of those obnoxious qualifiers that gear slingers attach to their reviews. I am in no way associated with this brand or product, just a musician recording himself for a decade now, and I have used dozens of preamps - this one is my favorite. When something is not sounding right, 10 out of 10 times it is not the fault of the P-1. I don't think twice about the quality my preamp, as I know I have that of the highest caliber. This device is of such high build quality, I bet you could throw it off a building and it would be fine. If I had to make a record on a desert island, this would be my preamp. Make sure to get a good power supply for it - I am powering it with a Rupert Neve Designs R6, and could not be happier with the depth of my sounds.

  • from NJ October 9, 2015

    Electric

    This pre is amazing.....Fat and rich but not as heavy as my Neves, plus the high end has this electric feeling to it that makes everything sound really alive. Kick the pad in and crank the gain for some extra girth. The DI is nice and punchy as well. So glad I have this in my arsenal!

  • from LA California February 20, 2015Music Background:
    Pro musician, engineer, producer, arranger.

    Fat Sound

    This was my first experience with the Pacifica sound, and it has been a great one so far. It's big and warm with the kind of character that seems like it would enhance just about any thing that passes through it. I have plenty of clean pre's (ala Avalon), and nice tube pre's (ala UA 610, 710), but this one stands out as the best of both worlds. Big warm character that starts out clean, but can be driven into a more saturated sound if it's pushed. My favorite element is that it's so big sounding even at low levels. Very nice - there are more channels in my future!

  • from Bethesda, MD June 25, 2013Music Background:
    Producer and Engineer

    Amazing Preamp!

    Wow. This preamp is amazing! I owned a pair of Great River press for about a year and i love them and will probably keep them forever. I then decided i wanted to try another flavor and i got a pair of these. Let me tell you, they sound gorgeous. On vocals and acoustic guitar, the sound is so open but with character and color. The top end is very unique in a way i am sure almost everyone would like. I tracked a hi hat into this preamp through my UBK Fatso and the result was astonishing. Both my client and intern told me it was the best hi hat sound they had ever heard. I have tracked vocals through my CL1B and the sound was pristine and just incredibly pretty.

    Long story short... For acoustic guitar, clean electric guitar, and overheads, this is my favorite preamp. For vocals, it is tied with my Great Rivers.. i like auditioning both the same way i audition my U87 and Manley on the singer, then pick the best combination. If you want an amazing all around first preamp, this is a great choice. For a singer/songwriter, i cannot think of a better choice, period. If you have other preamps like Neves and API and want something different and unique, this is a great option.

    Last i want to add that dealing with A Designs has been a pleasure. My units have not had any issues, but i have called them to ask them questions about these pres and some of their other products (i am considering a Hammer or EM-EQ2) and Peter, the owner, really took the time to give me all the info i needed. With a company like A Designs - and Great River, too - I know that i will NEVER have tech support issues. You really cannot say the same thing about some of these bigger companies. Something to consider!

  • from Austin, TX June 26, 2011Music Background:
    drummer, recording engineer, studio owner

    Can't go Wrong With This One

    these are my all time favorite for drum overheads, coupled with a pair of AKG 414b-uls's. They are also excellent room mics, sound huge on bass guitar and keyboards (using the DI). They really excel for just about anything you can throw at them - I have never been disappointed with these.

    The build of all of the A-Designs 500 series pres (I have the blue and gold varieties as well) is extremely solid. The layout of the minimal controls is very easy to use and an LED indicates when phantom power is engaged.

    Get a pair of these and you will use them on everything!

  • from San Diego, CA USA March 1, 2009Music Background:
    Home Studio Veteran

    Silky Smooth

    After a lot of research and a lot of hours on various gear discussion boards, I chose the A Designs P-1 for my first major preamp upgrade. No matter what I use it on, it consistently impresses, and I couldn't be happier that I got it.

    The P-1 was used in every phase of tracking on my current project. Snare->57->P-1 gave a live, snappy snare sound that needs very little in the mix to sit perfectly. Bass went into the P-1 and was nice and fat even in dry rough mixes. This thing really shines on vocals, though. A Studio Projects C1 into the P-1 gave such a sweet, silky smooth, slightly airy tone that the two other singers in the band were blown away when they heard their tracks played back.

    I don't think you can go wrong with this one.

  • from USA September 20, 2016Music Background:
    Marching percussion, Drum and Bugle Corps, Jazz Guitar, Producer/Engineer

    P1 says what?

    I struggle to put into words what this preamp sounds like. It doesn't really sound like any of the usual suspects to my ears. It definitely has a color. It's not totally transparent, but if you are new to the world of preamp wine-tasting, then it may fool you as being transparent(it fooled me in the beginning). There is definitely an EQ curve to the P1 that makes it feel full in the mids and lows and a little bright or hi fi on top. It maintains a very smooth character throughout. Compared in a mic-split A/B with my Sytek MPX-4A, the P1 seemed to slightly compress the signal. There is a slight smear on the sound, which I hesitate to say because of the negative connotation of the adjective, however that's how I can best describe it. It's not a bad thing, it's just how it sounds. As with any piece of gear, any sound can be good or bad, it's simply when you decide to use it that makes the difference.

    There is something very exciting about the top of the P1. It can really bring life into certain instruments with it's hi-fi and subtly colored sound. It can also make you run for the nearest ribbon mic when on the wrong source.

    There is no reason you couldn't use the P1 as your only preamp for anything from rock to jazz. It performs superbly in a market of stiff competition and it's unique sound will get your mixes sounding clear, cutting and fat at the same time. If you engage the pad in and you will gain a little fatness and some more aggression in the tone. The DI is very smooth and quite magical for Synths, basses and even guitars. It's hi-fi and slightly bright tone seems to be a good match for ribbon mics to really bring them forward and open them up. Give it a try!

  • from Bergen County, NJ October 3, 2014Music Background:
    Home Studio Owner, Musician

    Very versatile and easy to use!

    I had a couple of these come with the gain knob put on the post off-axis which was a little frustrating with a product at this price point and prestige but Sweetwater shipped new ones right away and let me use the old ones in the meantime. This is the only reason I can't give this product a full five stars.

    The P-1 is very balanced (warm and defined low end, present mid range, and a very sweet high end). I have had amazing success with using these for drum overheads, room mics, acoustic guitars, electric guitar cabinets, bass guitar, and especially as a vocal preamp.

    As a DI it is my second favorite only falling short to the Avalon U5 which it actually sounds pretty close to sonically but the U5 has extra features being a dedicated DI box.

    Compared to the other A-Designs 500 boxes I have only had a chance to compare it to the EM-GOLD which obviously is intended to be a very different sound. The P-1 being much brighter but they actually have very similar lows. The EM-GOLD has a more aggressive low-mid range which is why I prefer it on things like Kick or Toms.

    Overall it's a wonderful preamp and gets a ton of use on numerous applications in my studio. I'd recommend it to basically anyone... any..P-1.

Questions about the A Designs P-1 Microphone Preamp?

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