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Microphone Month 3

ART TPS II Reviews

4.5 stars based on 28 customer reviews
Questions about the ART TPS II?

Questions about the ART TPS II?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Carson McClain

    The ART TPS II is the perfect two-channel preamp for anyone doing music. The preset voicings make sense to a beginner, yet sound great for the pro. The fact of the matter is that this unit sounds great, works well in many scenarios, and is very affordable. Rode and Shure matched pairs sound great when run through these tube pres.

  • from Oak Grove, MO March 4, 2016

    Robust and sounds Great

    I was searching for a tube pre that wouldn't break the bank and this device delivered. Upon research I learned that most folks replaced the factory tube- which I did with a Mesa 12Ax7 and haven't looked back since. If your looking for a mic pre to give you some additional warmth and clarity give this thing a shot. Im certain pre-amps costing 10-15 times more than this would blow it away however - its a solid addition- only takes up 1 rack space - and the presets give you a great starting point to get the sound your looking for with ease.

  • from California December 17, 2015Music Background:
    Lead singer/bassist for band Chill Magnet

    Great! Easy to use. Upgrade the tube!

    I put in a new tube recommended by Sweetwater tech. Worth it. It smoothed this thing out and made it sound pro. Great gear with tube upgrade.

    Tube I used. Electro-Harmonix 12AX7/ECC83JJ - ECC83 Tesla/Slovak

    I took a chance and it worked out great. Presets really help get great sounds for vocals, bass and guitars.

  • from auburn, ny September 16, 2015Music Background:
    just an old guy who has been playing and recording for a LOOONG time

    great gear

    2 channel tube pre-amp with variable everything. make my NADY SCM900 sound a whole lot like my RODE NTK why don't cha! i really like it. it has to be played with. i still use eq but it works really well. i9 really like

  • from Lawrence, MA April 1, 2015Music Background:

    Awesome piece!

    I use this on my bass and vocals and it brings a nice tone to the recording. I really enjoy the options I get for coloring the sound or if I just want to go flat. You can really tell the difference.

  • from January 30, 2015Music Background:
    Sound & recording engineer guitar player for 30yrs Singer songwriter

    Awesome Tube PreAmp

    For the price you wonīt believe your ears! this piece of gear do itīs job more than ok, I use it for my vocals and my guitar amp I use a Studio Projects C-1 that i got from Sweetwater too, but I use other dynamic microphones too and it woks just perfect!
    You wonīt get dissapointed, Try finding your mic tone with the impedance knob, combine it with the preset scroll and there you have it!

  • from Chile December 27, 2014Music Background:
    Music Producer

    Smart, cheap and good sound.

    I thick this is one of this units we will miss in the future if they change any thing on it. The mix of economic tube system plus an internal plugin was a great idea from ART.

    I use this unit for: guitar, bass with pedals and voices, and my verdict is:

    The good:
    I like the sound a little vintage. I like the presets and it has several options to configure. Ins and Outs of every kind and in front and back of the unit. Looks cool in your rack.

    The not so good:
    The knobs: in some places you move it a little and the values explodes so you have to be careful.

    I bought one, and Iīm going for the second one.

  • from August 4, 2014Music Background:
    home recorder, long time multi instrumentalist


    This little cheap baby is amazing!

    For less than 200 bucks you get a tube pre with variable impediance and voice voicing. The voicing is awesome, it gives you an easy way to find youre tone youre looking for in what youre recording. Just put the knob straight done on flat and find youre best tone you can than twist the knob through the different tones to find the best one to compliment what youre recording, it works great.

    I changed out my tube for a high performance one and it just brought this thing to freaking life. I will always have one of these in my studio no matter how big my studio gets!

  • from January 23, 2014Music Background:
    Recording engineer, Producer, musician(ish)

    Way better than I thought, Mod needed

    I must say, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this, mostly due to the price, I only read books if they have awesome covers!..All jokes aside I read in many forums that swapping the tube out in this guy puts it in a class way above where it is. So I purchased it along with a Mesa 12AX7 tube (20$ it only has one tube) did some recording of various instruments and vocals with stock tube (cheap Chinese tube) and the Mesa... night and day, one of my favourite pre amps now, the variable impedance is possibly the best part to this, I seriously cant believe the tone you can dial in with this. This with a 20$ tube and you cant go wrong, well done ART, but put better tubes in your gear! It is easily worth double the price if it had come stock with a better tube, but hey, easy mod you can do yourself and you come out waaay ahead of the game!

  • from Staten Island USA January 2, 2013Music Background:
    Producer, Engineer, Musician, Song writer

    Warm to the bone

    Oh yes a sweet add on to the studio for the money. You can beat it, it truly does what it saids! No hypocrisy in this item it delivers great sound and very attractive!

  • from Atlanta, GA August 30, 2012Music Background:
    Semi-pro musician/home recording enthusiast

    ART (must mean Amazing Recorded Tracks)

    I've had this unit for 4 years and it still amazes me at how much it will do for so little money. Thinking about buying another one now. I use my current one in a rack that I take to gigs for 2 vocal mics. We always get kudos for our vocal quality. The gain helps warm things up and cut through the drums and other instruments without sounding harsh. Now I've tried it with my new DAW in my home studio...WOW! The vocal tracks ride perfectly in the mix and the bass guitar now has some nice punch. At $185 it's a steal. It'll do wonders for your sound.

  • from New York August 7, 2009Music Background:
    15 Years experience in home recording, visiting studios, and helping bands get their sound!

    The other brands haven't gone out of business yet?

    For the price, there is NOTHING better! Not only does this sound good (theres a little hiss, that's all I can really neg it for) but when you upgrade your setup, you can customize the TPSII as you learn about electronics! It is built in such a way that it is a perfect electronics project...don't hesitate to take it apart when you get something pricier, you will learn a lot, and may even regret a buy or two from the past!

  • from Baxley / McRae, GA April 1, 2008Music Background:
    Producer, Performer, Engineer, Studio Owner

    STILL love this unit!

    I've written a review here a couple of years ago (you can read that one at the bottom of the page), and I'm still loving this unit. I recorded a soulful jazz gospel vocalist recently thru a Shure KSM 27, and I was expecting mediocre tracks compared to the Rode K2 I was also using (I'm a huge Rode fan, by the way), running both channels into an 002 rack. I am more impressed with the ART TPS II / Shure KSM 27 combo everytime I use it. After adding a Waves compressor & just a touch of the Waves R-verb vocal plate to the vocal track, I swear it's the best vocal I've ever gotten out of my studio. I'm so impressed with this combination, I'm considering getting a couple of more Shue KSM 27's, even though I've got a matched pair of Rode NT1a's on the way.

    I've been tracking horns for an oldies cover band about to release their CD (I'm a horn player of 25+ years), and my tenor & bari sax with the ART TPS II / Shure KSM 27 combo is just perfect. I'm getting the grit, the full sound you'd expect from a high-end tube condensor, and it's so easy to dial in a tone. Recently I just upgraded some gear in my studio, and I'm about to buy two more of these units, and am thinking of getting a third for my live gigs (I previously used the one in the studio in my "live" rack.)

    I've read that changing the tubes in these units will make the sound even better. As it is, I'm convinced you can't get a better unit for the price. This is a must-have for a project studio, someone on a budget, or for someone wanting to break into the world of tube mic pres. Don't let the relatively low price fool you.

  • from Calgary Alberta CANADA February 8, 2007Music Background:
    Performer, songwriter, teacher, producer, recording engineer

    Quick update to my last review

    For anyone buying this preamp, a gigantic word of advice. Two weeks ago, I decided to try upgrading the tube in my tps II to the Mesa Boogie branded Sovtek 12ax7, a twelve dollar upgrade. And all I can say is "OH MY GOD!!!!" This is easy to do. Take the top off, unplug the old tube, plug in the new one, screw the top back on, and prepare to be absolutely blown away. All the dullness you hear people complaining about with ART's is gone. Suddenly the warm air just goes on forever, and I have about ten Db more apparrent gain before serious break up. The "Valve" setting on the warm switch of the V3 sounds so much like my UA Solo 610 that I'm thinking of taking it back and buying four more of these. Still doesn't sound like my Avalons, but I wouldn't actually say it sounds worse. Just different. I can't overstress this. Change the tube, amaze yourself, amaze your friends. This thing Kicks A**.

  • from Michigan January 7, 2016Music Background:
    Musican 30 years - Studio 15 years

    Home Studio.

    In the summer of 2015 I decided to finally put the studio back together after moving here 3 years ago, and things where just settin round in boxes.. First thing I did was upgrade my interface.. then my software to Presonus Studio One (was using PT9 and never liked it because it made things run very slow..)
    I was getting great sounds plugging direct, but knew a preamp was going to open new doors... So after reading reviews I chose this... with the stock tube it works great.. I don't have $1000 mics and a professional studio. I do have plenty of $100 - $300 mics, and this baby has increased the sound of everything I'v used it on.. Would like 4 of these just for the drums..
    once I realized how to set the input impedance (searched the mic specs) this thing came alive... Very easy with the presets, and suggest trying the percussion setting on the acoustic mic..
    IF YOU ARE A LOW BUDGET HOME STUDIO.. this is a must have.. hell buy two at this price..

  • from NW Indiana November 14, 2016Music Background:
    35 years rock/blues

    Does the job

    Very happy with this pre amp. Easy to use and sounds great. Also, it is priced fairly. I would absolutely buy it again.

  • from Orland Park, IL December 17, 2015Music Background:
    Over 35 years of rockin' and rollin'!

    Excellent for backing vocals

    My two back-vocalists (lead guitarist and bass player) sound much clearer and more pronounced now. Haven't used it on any instruments, yet.

  • from Rutherfordton, NC April 20, 2015Music Background:
    Musician, studio owner

    Best kept secret

    I use this preamp in my keyboard rack. I already own five of these little gems. The only thing I do is replace the original tube with an Ruby matched tube from Doug's Tubes and it opens up the sound and warms it up. The features on this preamp are invaluable for what I use it for. It always me to split my main mix into a stereo DI. It has a bunch of filters which always me to warm up or clean up my sound depending on the stage I'm playing on. It allows me to match the impedance of the keyboard mixer to optimize the highs and lows of my content. This is the best kept secret out there, and the build quality is pretty darn good. All metal construction, easy to use, and easy to read front panel even on stage. I have tried Focusrite, Manley, DBX pre's but keep coming back to this workhorse every time.

  • from NY December 19, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    I like it

    The preamps have a decent sound, and I appreciate that you can use both balanced and unbalanced outputs simultaneously. A lot of people complain about the tubes in this unit. I mostly just leave it set on neutral, so I don't really make use of the tube voicings. I do like the variable input impedance, but I wish there was a way to easily match both channels to each other. Theres no detents or lines or any markings so you are always just eyeballing it. I'm mostly using this preamp for stereo concert recordings, so I want the channels to be as matched as possible.

  • from July 13, 2012


    I use this as the studio project room preamp at my studio. It does it's job, it's quiet and clear. Really worth the money

  • from Tulare , CA April 18, 2012Music Background:
    Studio Owner


    This unit is very cost effective and sounds good. The variable voicing is definitely added value. The sound is clean to warm with good tube amp warmth. It is am excellent pre amp that any studio can use for microphones or as a DI box .It made my acoustic /electric guitars stand out . Don't let the price fool you, or comments from others the ART TPS II will provide a great front end and is a step up from standard mixer pre's or DAW stock pre's.

  • from northfield ohio March 13, 2012Music Background:
    sax player /home studio novice

    nice preamp

    for the money Im impressed . havnt explored all the possibilities with it yet but it improves my recordings a lot .I recorded moon flowers with it and the other cuts with out it. i hear a difference. Im on the sax with an akg mic

  • from Augusta, GA December 21, 2008

    I know---opinions are like.............

    I know what they say about opinions---and that's precisely why I rarely comment on anything. However, after doing what had been recommended by other reviewers here--changing out the tube--I felt compelled to get on and write something. True, I'm sure there are bunches of $$$-men (few and far between I'm sure in todays climate ;) ) who can splurge on the big names and those items are obviously superior to the TPS--but if you are looking for an extra couple of decent quality preamps and / or maybe a different niche as far as sound goes--I HIGHLY recommend you pick this up and DEFINITELY change out the tubes. I won't lie and will tell you the stock tubes sound pretty lousy, but I assure you, if you buy a new halfway decent quality replacement tube this thing is incredible. Especially considering that after the replacement tube it comes in at around $200. The dude from Calgary pretty much nailed it right on the head so I suppose my comments are overkill---but it's true. Change out the tube and be prepared to be blown away.

  • from Atlanta, GA February 13, 2008Music Background:
    Guitarist and Vocals for the last 35 years.

    ART TPS Real Value

    I have had the ART TPS for over a year now and up until recently thought of it as a good low end preamp but it was missing some presence. I begin doing research and as one of the previous reviewers discussed found out that I could replace the 12AX7 Tube. I went for the Tung SOl ECC803S at a cost of $20 bucks and what a difference in sound. Better lows and highs. It doesn't have the cost of the Avalon and some of the features but it is close.

  • from Calgary Ab, Canada July 20, 2006Music Background:
    Professional Musician, Recording Engineer, Producer, Guitar Teacher

    Actually, a a lot better than it oughta be

    I have three tube preamps, two very expensive Avalons, and this one, which I got as a birthday present from my girlfriend. And I didn't think I would ever use it. However, I have to say that, while this certainly isn't my normal go-to preamp, it has some amazing qualities. The variable impedence is absolutely mind bogglingly useful. I have an audio-tecnica 3035 that has always bugged me a bit, as it's overwhelmingly boomy in the bottom end. However, crank the impedence up to 2.8k or so, and all of a sudden this is my favorite male vocal strip (I kid you not, I like it better than my TLM-103 through an Avalon). Down on the other end of the spectrum, try a shure 57 with the impedence way down around 350 or 400. Killer bass amp mic setup. As for the "Tube" thing, I generally bypass it by heading for the Neutral setting. Sorry, this doesn't really have a very high quality tube sound, as the tube isn't really in the preamp, but in the signal chain later on. I realize everyone wants this thing for it's "Tubey-ness" but honestly, the variable impedence is (to me, at least) the whole point of this preamp. And frankly, at two hundred bucks, it's more than worth it.

  • from September 3, 2014Music Background:
    Professional Recording Engineer (5 yrs), Live Sound Engineer (8 yrs), Professional Musician (2 yrs), Hobbyist (life)

    Good Preamp for Stringed Instruments

    This is not by any means going to blow you away or anyone for that matter, but it does improve your sound. In order to be blown away, you will have to spend 5+ times more money. That's just the way it is.

    That being said, this is a great little preamp for the money. The OPL Settings really help you cut through the mix, especially for instruments with low input volumes. The Warm settings do add a bit of warmth to your instrument, but be careful because it can also make you a little muddy, given that the tubes are "hand selected" from China. I highly recommend upgrading the tube with a Mesa 12AX7 or something similar. You will have a preamp worth two or three times this price. Maybe even five times with the right application. The low noise circuitry really is impressive for the money, all it needs is a better tube! So spend the extra $20 and get it one.

  • from Blythe, CA April 11, 2016Music Background:
    Songwriter, Worship Leader, Wannabe Producer

    You get what you pay for with this thing...

    I was simply NOT happy with this item. I guess there is a reason it is one of the cheapest tube pres on the market. It sounds cheap and caused a lot of extra noise in my signal chain. I returned the item and will be getting something different.

  • from Salt Lake City, Utah April 12, 2006

    Warm, Sweet and DEAD quiet

    I'm not at all sure why previous reviewers of this product referred to it as noisy. Without the intention of being insulting, anyone that uses this unit and finds it noisy has NO working knowledge of gain structures and how to adjust them in the system with a given source. I first tested it out with a Rode NT1-A into a D3200 Korg DAW. It is so quiet you hear nothing but absolute silence when all gain levels are correctly set. There is no annoying distortion, just that buttery smooth and creamy sweetness one associates with tubes. I was very sceptical as to whether or not it was possible for such a reasonably priced unit to provide the goods. Well...simply put IT DOES. On a nice electric guitar (I'm using a Brian Moore I guitar since I use a Roland 13 pin output as well as the pickups) it provides that wonderful DI'd character which very closely emulates a cabinet miked up. With my on board chorus and reverb effects it is a very palpable and believable live performance with the attendant warmth you'd expect. It seems very precise in it's build as well. Makes absolutely NO noise of it's own. All in all I couldn't recommend this more highly. As for those that have had noise issues, all I can say is learn how to balance your gain structures and you'll have NO more issues.

  • from mcrae, ga January 1, 2005

    great gear, great sound... 9+ out of 10

    I HIGHLY recommend the ART TPSII for live application or recording (I use it for both). For the price, this is an wonderful tube mic-pre.

    When I first got the TPSII, I used it to record acoustic guitar with a friend of mine. We recorded 2 tracks, both direct and through a Shure KSM27 large cardioid condenser mic. The difference between the direct track and the mic track with the Shure mic was incredibly noticeable. The warmth from the TPSII blew us away. Listening to the track through headphones, it sounded like there was too much bass - an indication that the tubes were really working and the track was really, really warm! (I did use one of the warmer pre-sets, as the TPS offers several.) My friend commented that his guitar tracks sounded as if he were on a "real cd" - i.e. a professional recording - and that was with no eq or compression, just a good, clean mic placement. Just for the record, I used the warmer "vocal" setting to get the sound I was looking, gain turned up about 2/3, and I placed the mic in front of the tone hole and just far enough away to keep from his picking hand hitting the mic, so we got the bottom end from the box but also his finger-picking nuances.

    Also, I'm a professional horn player (sax, trumpet) so I use this piece of equipment regularly now with saxophone - mainly playing classic rock, soul, blues & funk. My sound engineer commented the first night that I used the TPSII that he didn't have to adjust the EQ settings at all, that the sound was just so full and warm. I don't use any compression, as our group's overall stereo signal goes through a compressor, yet the sound has incredible character and evenness, even without compression. I use an Audio Technica wireless horn mic.

    I've recorded vocals and gotten great results. I recorded "Harmon" muted trumpet - a`la Miles Davis - and was very surprised. Usually recording with a mute is something a trumpet player is skidish about because it's tough to capture a good muted sound, but this mic-pre really captures the warmth and full tonality I've been looking for. My only problem is that I don't have enough time to experiment with it.

    I like this mic-pre so well that I'm seriously considering getting another. You could go out and buy a really expensive mic-pre by some other company, but I HIGHLY recommend you try this unit, especially if you're on a budget and are just looking to add a cool piece of gear to your arsenal. When I finish my home studio revamp, I'll definitely check into getting the upper-line mic-pre's by ART. I give the TPSII a 9+ out of 10.

    Email me if you're interested in what I'm up to these days with this mic-pre. I'll be glad to fill you in.

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