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June 2017 Giveaway

ART Pro MPA II Reviews

4.0 stars based on 42 customer reviews
Questions about the ART Pro MPA II?

Questions about the ART Pro MPA II?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Tyler Berggren

    The ART Pro MPA II is the best value in an outboard preamp - bar none. I've got one that lives in my studio and sees A LOT of action. Drums, guitars, vocals, synths - they all enjoy getting a little tube massage. Everything from big, full, and natural to over-the-top hairy tube distortion is on tap here. (Mine shone even MORE when I upgraded the tubes!)

  • James Callahan
    from Saint Peters MO. March 23, 2017Music Background:
    DJ, Producer, Studio Owner

    Great Tube Pre-amp

    WOW ! I really was blown away by the sound and features of the ART Pro MPA II .
    I have used this on everything from Vocals to Bass straight in to my interface.
    At this price point you wont be sorry, In fact you'll probably wish you would have gotten one or maybe even two sooner.

  • Customer
    from March 18, 2017Music Background:
    Musician plus recording

    Soundcore

    Used this on tracking guitars sounds very good on heavy guitars keeps them smooth love it need a couple more

  • Bill
    from Arizona February 22, 2017Music Background:
    Novice guitar and lutherie, song writing and worship.

    Art Pro

    Great tones. This piece takes me to the next level towards a great sound. Vey easy to use and gives me the flexibility of both instrument and voice combinations I am looking for. Thanks Sweetwater.

  • Joel
    from Seattle December 31, 2015Music Background:
    Drummer, Audio Tech

    Great Tube PreS!

    I purchased this used from Guitar Center a few months ago. With it I purchased 2- AX7-C tubes. My Audio Chain: RME800 -> Art MPA2 -> DBX266SX-> KRK reference 6 pair, KRK 10S Subwoofer. This thing heats up the sound so smoothly. Big hearty audio, Tubes, seem to have a unique ability to tune certain frequencies, making it resonate more with less amperage. The lows are so clean. I use this as a PC Gaming Desktop Audio Output.

    But the tubes themselves are incredible. Very easy to get a clean stereo spectrum with these tubes.
    High End Tube Hardware for a great price.

    Final note: This thing is built like a f:;;;; tank. Plan to have a Screw gun ready for taking off the cover if you want to replace the tubes.

  • Aaron Stark
    from Sylvania, OH February 24, 2015

    Love it!

    Running this with some upgraded Telefunken tubes and it's awesome. Got some great vocals and acoustic guitar recordings. Great addition to the studio.

  • Jason
    from Utah February 5, 2015Music Background:
    Recording (Mixing) Engineer, Singer-Songwriter, Student

    Great Addition to my Collection

    If you're getting started into pro audio and are looking to upgrade, this is a great buy. I love this Preamp. Let me put it this way, even if I had a hundred other preamps to choose from I would still deem this worthy of taking up some space in my rack. It might seem like a mediocre preamp at it's price point, but after 2 years of upgrading to better gear I still find myself using it all the time. I can't say that it's my "go to preamp", but, for all it's worth, I am glad it's part of my collection.

  • Todd
    from Michigan January 28, 2015Music Background:
    Hobbyist Engineer

    Good Stuff!

    For the money... you really can't beat this. For lack of a better term... it really smooths out the rough edges. You can really saturate your tone or simply warm it up a bit. I haven't drastically changed my tone with with it, but I know it's capable. Nice piece of gear, and it'll probably sound even nicer with new higher quality tubes. Hard to beat IMHO.

  • Subtronik
    from Portland, Oregon August 22, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    New ToTube Amps

    Ran everything through this and wow... I'll never process audio the same again! Beats, bass, pads, and leads all sound so much better warmed up by this amp. If I knew about 'tube amps' ten years ago I wouldn't be so astonished. I'm currently using it to process a Kurzweil K2000 to fatten up it's overall sound and all I can say is 'WIN'! Buy this if you want to GIVE new life to your audio.

  • Daniel
    from Little Rock Arkansas April 4, 2013Music Background:
    Recording and Live sound Engineer

    PRO MPA II

    The ART MPA II is a great little preamp. It sounds great and it is extremely easy to use. The tube warmth is what I have been looking for for years. I use it with the Studio Projects B-1Microphone and an OSP Microphone. Both have large diaphram elements. I recommend it if anyone is looking for the warmth of a tube.

  • David Valentino
    from Tampa, Fl. January 31, 2013Music Background:
    Recordind artist, producer

    Pro mpa really rocks

    So I read this blind test review in sos magazine that the pro moan sounded the same if not better in some cases than all these hi end boutique preamp so I decided to put it to the test. In a nutshell we were blown away.Give this thing a try it will not disappoint you.

  • Hans Christian
    from Sturgeon Bay WI September 30, 2011Music Background:
    Producer, owner of STUDIO 330

    ART Pro MPA II steps up to the plate

    This new ART preamp is really impressive with its features: variable impedance (great for ribbon mics), plenty of gain, two different voltage settings for the tubes, a variable (!) hi-pass filter, large VU meters, and most importantly- a Mid/Side matrix! That's why I had to have this box- I love using an M/S mic setup for acoustic guitar, and this box is very handy! Great design, great, transparent sound quality, all for how much...? This ART is used as much as my other preamps, some of which cost ten times as much. Now, if it just had built-in tube- optical compression...

  • Anthony Fernandez
    from Atlanta, GA September 15, 2011Music Background:
    Recording / Live Sound Engineer

    Good Quality - Extremely Low Cost

    I give this 5 Stars just because of the quality you can get from this at this price point. I swapped the Chines tubes with 2 Mullard 12AX7's. This was my first preamp. I tracked half of Sho Baraka's Lions and Liars album with an Avant CV-12 going through this. Never had a problem with it. I have owned this for a few years already. Even though I have some more expensive pre's now I still use this in the studio. My advise is to get one and swap the tubes. It will do the job it was created to do.

  • JUJU
    from oklahoma February 14, 2010Music Background:
    recording engineer

    compared to the high end

    we have in the studio a UNIVERSAL AUDIO la 610 an this unit ART pro mpa ii,they truley sound alike, no difference.we put both of these up aginst each other an they both sound great.i try not to get caught up in the popularity contest,because that what most of this is but this art sound just as good as the ua la610

  • Customer
    from October 13, 2015

    Art MPA ll

    Great gear for the price. Changed the tubes to Mullards. Fits my budget perfectly.

  • Danny
    from Florida September 1, 2015Music Background:
    Singer/Songwriter, Aspiring Producer/Engineer

    Great upgrade to stock preamps

    I had agonized over whether or not to get a budget preamp now, or save up for one of the $1000 plus big name preamps. I’m glad I didn’t wait. For the price, The ART Pro MPA II had everything I was looking for, and then some. After reading through numerous reviews and researching other available content, this one seemed like it would fit my needs the best.

    Thus far, I am very impressed. The difference between my stock preamps in my FireWire Interface and the ART Pro are like night and day. My stock preamps are clean, but the ART added air and warmth to the signal, as well as providing plenty of noise-free gain to my Sure SM7B dynamic microphone, and using the variable impedance, made it sound much more like a condenser microphone. Paired with my Tube Condenser microphone and the results were amazing! I gained even more air, clarity, but with the addition of the tube warmth. (and that was with the stock tubes) I can only imagine if the tubes are changed out with higher quality tubes.

    I still plan to purchase higher quality preamps some day, but for the moment, this twin channel preamp will do just fine! Overall, it just really adds some serious sweetness to anything I record thought it. Thus far, I’ve recorded male and female vocals, acoustic guitars, acoustic base, and even ukulele. They all sounded clear as a bell, without sounding harsh. From the finished tracks, I added just a little compression, and very little EQ was necessary to put the shine and polish on the mix.

    I haven’t used the stereo function or the Mid/Side Matrix, so can’t speak to those yet.

    In summary… if you aren’t ready to drop $1K to $2K for preamps, but want much better quality than your stock preamps, then give this a try. You will like it!

  • Chris S.
    from Kent, OH October 7, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Can't be beat for the price

    For the price and amount of features this tube preamp offers you'll be hard pressed to find something for the same price. I had always run my mics through the mic pres on my Behringer Xenyx mixers, but I wanted to step up to something a little more professional. The ART Pro MPA II takes the cake. The sound isn't sterile and everything I threw at it sounded good. I wasn't blown away, but everything from the instrument inputs on the front to running both channels in stereo, the sound was crisp and clear. If you have a home project studio and want something worth the money this piece of gear will be perfect for you.

  • Robert Nicholson
    from Illinois May 27, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Musician

    Well designed preamp but requires attention for best use

    The Art Pro MPII preamp is an excellent value for it's price.
    Well designed and constructed. The Art Pro MPii works for both instruments and especially well suited as a microphones tube preamp.
    One of the key features of the unit is its ability to adjust the microphones impedance at the front end, this can help to bring out various nuances of the microphone and proximity effect. With the impedance control straight up the microphone operates at a normal 600 ohms, rotating the knob to the left it lowers the impedance giving most mics a more open room sound, turn it right and the mic sounds tighter or more controlled. The unit has a gain stage that provides good output level. The unit also has selectable higher plate voltage ideal for adding a higher output used primarily for passive ribbon or tube microphones. The unit has a quiet gain stage so long as you are sending its outputs to a line level input. Avoiding over using the gain stage. This is point easily forgotten and can result in users complaining about noise. Set your nominal instrument level first, they apply the input gain followed by the output gain as to make-up any loss and you will be thrilled with you outcome

  • Jose Morales
    from Signal Hill, CA February 17, 2013Music Background:
    sound engineer

    AMAZING UPGRADE

    definitely complements my mini firewire410. The Impedance is what impresses me the most. Have not seen this on any other hardware under $650. Tubes are great, the build is sturdy, impedance/LCfilter is blowing my mind. Great job on ART's part.

  • Dennis C.
    from Minneapolis, MN November 20, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    So far, a great preamp

    So far, so good -- this unit delivers exactly as promised! I run a home studio, and need to record singers and occasionally voice-over artists. I use a Focusrite Saffire FW interface for my Mac, and this preamp blows away the built-ins on the Saffire. A great investment, and a terrific entry-level product!

  • romie nickles
    from winchester va September 13, 2012Music Background:
    pro musician cd recordings

    pre amp... art pro mpa II

    gives me more control of the recordings and the mastering

  • Precious
    from August 21, 2012Music Background:
    Artist, Music Production

    ART Pro MPA II

    not very much to say except that this is an awesome product for any time of studio. and at a very good price

  • Customer
    from June 4, 2012Music Background:
    Pro musician, Hobbyist home studio

    Handy features

    I have a couple of these that I have been using live on horns. I have been very happy with them. They sound good and they have a couple of features that I really like. Being able to vary the impedance is handy for getting the right sound out of horn mics. The variable low cut filter is also very nice. The metering is more detailed and visible than most preamps, and the lights are bright enough to see easily on a dark stage. There are XLR and TRS outputs for each channel, which makes it easier to connect the outputs to monitoring equipment without having to use a splitter.

  • Tim
    from NYC May 1, 2012Music Background:
    Independent artist and producer (ie man in a bedroom hiding from his family)

    Versatile, nice sound

    I bought this as a DI box for bass and electric. The wide gain range, +20dB switch and switchable plate voltage give me a lot of flexibility in sculpting a nice sound to feed various amp sims. I haven't tried mid/side decoding yet (nor have I used it as a mic pre at all), but I will be doing that in time. It's very quiet and clean, but it also overdrives nicely: in particular it makes really, really good bass sounds (which is lucky because that's why I bought it.)

    It's solidly built, with - wonder of wonders - stepped controls for the major parameters for easy recall. The meters are large, clear and easy to read. The 'tube warmth' gauge is a bit distracting (that's what ears are for) but it's easily ignored. The illuminated switches are perhaps a little ugly too, so it can lose half a star for that but really, who cares and a lot of people will like them.

    It's not just great for the price, it's great.

  • Gilbert Vipraio (Gil-A-Monster Sound)
    from San Antonio, Texas March 19, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    ART Pro MPA II

    In today's digital world, recording seem to loose the sonic character obtained by analog compression or saturation which seems to enhance the harmonic content and make the louder passages stand out with fullness instead of volume. This is especially true for vocals, acoustic guitar and the bass guitar.

    The variable impedance dramatically changes the character of any mic to match the desired crispness or roundness desired. I find the crispy clean digital vocal to be annoying. I use the high tube plate voltage on vocals and it adds the butter the vocals needed. I was in the process of mastering an album for a local gospel group and we ended up re-recording the vocals even though they were previously recorded with some of the best pre-amps available.

    A must for any recording studio (large or small) without spending thousands per channel.

  • Brandon
    from January 25, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Independent Artist, Singer/Songwriter

    Impressive and Affordable

    What can I say? After shopping for hours online, this was the most obvious choice of preamp for my price range. The build quality of the preamp itself is great and the tonal quality of the preamp is way above expectations. there is virtually no noise with the gain and output settings correctly positioned. and it is very easy to blend between a more saturated tube tone and an almost solid state characteristic using the low cut filters and various impedance selections. i just love how this preamp makes it so easy to record using multiple mics and the mid/side matrix and stereo blend option does that trick very well. I would highly recommend this preamp to any home studio owner or even a pro environment to add a high quality, affordable tube preamp to their collection.

  • Scott
    from Long Island, NY September 3, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Makes Guitars Shine!

    Recently purchased this unit, my first session with it I recorded a mesa dual rectifier, and the MPA definitely gave the recording some extra sparkle and harmonic restoration. The plate voltage is great, you can get a very sharp shape to heavily distorted guitars with it. This unit is also really awesome for stereo mic'ing a drum kit. ART makes some of the best bang for your buck equipment you can get!

  • Allens Sound Company
    from Ohio November 10, 2010Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Studio Owner, Live Sound

    Great Unit ... Small Price

    I bought this unit to use on a few scratch demos. I now use it regularly in my studio! It has a warm, tube sound that is as good as my other $2500 preamps. It is a little finicky when driving the tube ... it is OK to overdrive the tube a little to get that growly sound but to much and it distorts. A very good pre for the money.

  • alex
    from dennis, mississippi July 31, 2010Music Background:
    podcast broadcasting

    A amazing unit

    a nice unit, very good quality, many features,

  • Geoff
    from Washington April 16, 2017

    Great Mic Pre

    I've been using the Pro MPA II for about a month now. I'm extremely pleased with the quality and the performance. I had about given up on getting a mic pre as most are too expensive for my budget and the cheaper ones probably wouldn't have satisfied me. The Pro MPA II met all my needs; great warm tube sound, great price and exceptional quality.

  • Customer
    from December 25, 2015

    good stuff

    Solid tube pre amp. Impedance control is really handy. Gain levels aren't too hot, not too weak. Hi-z input sounds great. Plate voltage is a really cool feature.

  • Customer
    from Nashville, TN February 25, 2014Music Background:
    Producer, Recording Engineer

    Great extra unit to have

    I needed to get some extra pre's for my studio incase they were needed without spending a fortune. My line up of pre's consists of various API's, Chandler and UA. I was honestly very pleased with the results of this unit, and actually use it more than I ever though I would. It sounds fairly decent on the vox, but have had the most impactful results on drums and bass, and have used this on kick/floor tom tracks for almost everything I've done the past few months. I will say though, the quality of parts externally and internally is fairly lower against higher end pre's (which would be expected for this price point), so I'm sure I will experience some issues after a few years, but sonically, when dialed in correctly, paired with a great mic and a great sounding instrument, I get similar results with this unit compared to my high end pre's.

  • Tom @ Deer Lane Recording
    from Ivoryton, Ct. February 25, 2013Music Background:
    Pro musician, Studio owner.

    Great sounding, versatile unit.

    Recorded vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, all with great results. Quiet even at high gains. Great value.

  • Ryan Evans
    from New Brunswick, Canada July 8, 2012Music Background:
    Audio Engineer

    It is definitely all it's cracked up to be

    Great preamp for the price. The sound is subtle but warm. Gives vocal tracks an extra bit of fullness, and guitar tracks and extra bit of punch. The mid-side matrix works by turning the outputs into the "left" and "right" outputs. It sends the mid mic out of both outputs creating a "center", and sends the two phase variations of the side mic out of the outputs as well. This enables mid-side with just two outputs. The downside here is that you cannot edit the mics separately because they are basically mixed into a stereo signal within the preamp. Anyway, it works well, and it looks pretty. It's no Avalon AD2022, but if you have the money for the AD2022, you wouldn't be buying this.

  • Patricio
    from Mexico February 8, 2012Music Background:
    Guitarrist, mix engineer, mastering engineer, electronic engineer

    Niice

    Over all it is great piece of kit! Cheap for what it is. When you engage a bitof gain or adjust the impedances the stereo image suffers a bit, to ART i wouls ask better matching on hi and low current settingd. Other than that its great!

  • Customer
    from February 7, 2012

    ART Pro MPA II - good tube mic pres with some hard to find features

    This microphone preamp occupies the top of the ART product lineup (together with Digital MPA-II)

    The built-in quality is decent but not solid.
    1. One of the plastic knob covers fell off within a week (easily corrected with crazy glue).
    2. The analog VU output meters presented another issue. When removing protective film, one of the meter needle got a jolt of electrostatic charge and it was hovering near the middle of the readout for a couple of days (before coming back to zero).

    Now, the good news:
    1. Adjustable VU output meters - easy to calibrate
    2. Variable Input Impedance - an important feature that is very hard find in any price range, let alone at this pricepoint.
    Variable Impedance is crucial to preserve the character of ribbon and dynamic microphones.
    3. Selectable Plate Voltage - unlike some other ART products, you can actually take a full advantage of the tube tone by applying high voltage.
    4. Stereo switch - musician can split mono input channel into two.

    5. High Z instrument lines up front - very convenient.

    6. Maximum Gain: 75dB

    7. The beauty of the tube preamp - one can improve/modify the tone by simply replacing the tubes. (This, however, will void the warranty)

    The stock tubes in MPA II are not great and quite noisy for the microphone preamp. 12AX7 is a weapon of choice for guitar preamps where it's imperative for tube to "break up" creating distortion. In microphone applications the intent is quite the opposite: have as much "headroom", get clean 20-60 dB boost.

    In my opinion, ART Pro MPA II offers a great value and lots of hard to find options.

  • Chad
    from August 9, 2015Music Background:
    16 yrs recording, live sound, home studio

    Decent for some functions, but not all

    It's not a bad unit. For the price it can impart a really nice tone to some instruments.

    I've never been a believer in the preamp making everything sound like MAGIC. I emphasize tone more in the mixing process. The sound of this unit has been A/Bed with LA610s and such. In terms of sound it can get you 90% of the way there (albeit it doesn't have nice functions such as shelving EQ or optopressor). The preamp sounds nice.

    PROMPA + Rode NT1A = DEADLY on drum overheads. Best drum tone I've ever recorded. In fact, this unit with a Rode NT1A on ANYTHING can rival much more expensive rigs. Bass recorded through DI sounds decent as well.

    So it has it's benefits for sure.

    If you see it like that you won't be disappointed. If you buy it to be a magic box for everything you will be.

    The sound is decent, but the build quality is not impressive. I took the first one back: defective HPF. Got another one and it had a glitch when using phantom power with plate voltage. I found a work around, but still frustrating.

    I've also tried summing mixes through it. The tone it imparts on a FULL MIX is better than digital, but didn't blow me away. Once again, i believe that magic happens in the mix process more than what a piece of gear will impart. So take that with a grain of salt. Also I seemed to have trouble getting a proper stereo image out of it for full mixes. On my unit the channels were not matched, even in stereo mode. So there's that.

    It's really good for recording if it is working properly. It will sound better than a lot of cheap interfaces people are comparing it to. It's not the magic box that some people think or hope it is. But it will be useful for some things with proper mic choice and placement.

    For my rig, I don't regret buying it.

  • Rick Haymaker
    from Tucumcari NM June 17, 2017

    ART Pro MPA II

    This is a review of 5 years of use. Sure all new toys are great, but do they last. Have really tried to like this unit. It performs well when set up right and is warm. The problem is the bulbs and now led lights keep burning out and the low cut filter knobs have stripped. We are not teenagers in this studio and have 40 yrs. of musician experience. It is a real irritant to have lights keep going out on your gear. So in summary no I won't be buying another of these units. They look sweet and retro but I'll now have to replace the "improved led lights for the 3rd time.

  • Customer
    from August 6, 2015

    preamplifier

    I haven't done any recording with it yet....only some rehearsals....I like the way it looks, not sure if I notice a big difference in the audio....I will keep 'working' with it and do some recording...maybe try it with other mics....

  • CLAYTON STOKES
    from United States October 28, 2013Music Background:
    Engineer, Mixer

    Don't beleive the hype

    So the tubes are Chinese and sound horrible so all you others talking about how great it sounds maybe you should get your ears checked. I blew one of the tubes in 3 months tracking drums now even after a tube replacement the same channel no longer works. this is a cheap unreliable piece of foreign garbage i wish i had saved for a better piece of gear. simple as that

  • Mycal
    from Nashville, TN February 23, 2012Music Background:
    engineer, producer, multi-instrumentalist

    Not all it's cracked to be.

    Claiming M/S Matrix... Not the case. When recording in M/S a cardioid or omni is placed toward the front and a figure 8 is placed where the polar pattern is perpendicular to the cardioid/omni. So for lack of better explanation. Two mics are used, and three outputs are gathered. To really function as a M/S Matrix there's two inputs and three outputs. The figure 8's normal phase is used on one output, that signal is then doubled, the phase reversed and then sent to the second output. The cardioid or omni is the 3rd and final output. This preamp only has 2 outputs and claims to "decode" the phase shift from the figure 8 mic. If this can function properly as an M/S Matrix I'd like to be shown how.

  • Customer
    from June 2, 2016Music Background:
    Producer/engineer

    Art pro channel rubbish

    The art pro channel IIs have an issue with the power transformer shielding that caused acute buzzing when racked with other gear. I bought 2 pro channels. 1 Mpa, and 1 vla. Both the pro channels had the issue. ART and Thom Davis refused to honor the three year warrantee. Make your own decisions about ART products but make an informed one. In my opinion ART quality control is non-existent as is their customer service and supposed warrantee

  • Mr. Sheppard
    from Athens, GA January 6, 2010Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Finicky piece of equipment

    I briefly owned this dual channel preamp. I purchased it new, and used it a hand full of times on a few projects and was very unimpressed. All the the gain, impedance, and level knobs had a great deal of noise. Channel one in my particular unit worked sometimes, and others not. The few instances i did make through the technical difficulties, the sound quality i got from this unit was mediocre. I wouldn't recommend this product to even the smallest project studio. There are other units in this price range that are much more reliable with a night to day jump in sound quality.

Questions about the ART Pro MPA II?

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