We have good news for you if you want to buy drum recording equipment. This post will show you the Top 12 Preamps For Drums 2023.
A preamp is something you will need to record drums. However, it is often done with dynamic microphones and preamps of audio interfaces are not enough to get the proper signal level. Fortunately, we have prepared a list of gear that can help, whether you are a beginner or a professional.
We will show both budget and expensive and professional equipment. So this article may be suitable for pros who want to update their arsenal of tools or expand it. So scroll down and get acquainted with the different options.
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Top 12 Preamps For Drums 2023 (Solid State & Tube Preamps)
1. Shadow Hills Industries Mono GAMA
Mono GAMA from Shadow Hills Industries is a great preamp that will give you three flavors of the output transformers.
Shadow Hills Industries is a well-known company in the world of studio music equipment that produces high-quality products. For example, look at their Mastering Compressor, which has a design that looks like it was stolen from an alien spaceship. However, now we will look at their 500-series preamp, which may also pleasantly surprise you.
It is the 500 version of the legendary GAMA preamp, in which you will have everything you need to record one of the drum mics. In particular, there is one Gain knob, phantom power, and polarity. But the most interesting thing is the switch between output transformers, three of which are in this unit. So let’s talk about it in more detail.
- Three Transformers
There are three transformers on board this unit: Nickel, Discrete, and Steel. All three have different sounds, so they are suitable for different instruments and creative situations. In particular, Steel has the most harmonics and aggressive sound.
- Microphone Gain
The Microphone Gain knob will be the most important in working with the unit. Thanks to it, you will make the signal louder and add character and harmonics. The range of this control is from 0 to +24 dB.
- Phantom Power
If you need to use this preamp with a condenser microphone – you can easily do it. The Mono GAMA unit has built-in phantom power for such equipment. For example, it will be useful for recording overheads.
- Polarity Switch
Another function, which is hard to imagine any professional preamp without, is phase reversal, and you will also have it here. It is a small switch on the right side of the unit. Use it if you need to make a polarity correction.
- Integrated DI Input
It is also worth noting that Mono GAMA has a separate input for instruments. It means that thanks to it, you can record not only microphones but also electric or bass guitars. The necessary connector is located at the front of the unit.
Character & Sound:
The main advantage of the Mono GAMA unit is its versatility, thanks to three output transformers. As a result, you will get three different flavors of sound. For example, aggressive Steel is suitable for rock music, Discrete for R&B vocals, and Nickel will give you rich overtones and soft transients. In general, Mono GAMA can add character and color to the signal and be transparent.
It is a great universal preamp that will be a good addition to any studio – home or commercial. You will be able to experiment with the color of transformers and use this unit not only for recording drums but also instruments, thanks to the DI input. The sound quality here is obvious because this is high-end equipment.
The downside of Mono GAMA may be its price, approximately $1300. Thus, to record a stereo signal, you will need two such units, which can significantly shake your wallet.
2. Universal Audio SOLO/610 Tube Desktop Microphone Preamp
Universal Audio SOLO/610 is a portable preamp that will give you the sound of a famous console.
SOLO/610 from Universal Audio is a portable version of the preamp stage in the 610 consoles created by Bill Putnam. Therefore, you can hear the silky sound of this equipment on many popular tracks. However, as you can see, if you want to get a piece of this wonderful equipment in the form of a preamp only – it will be possible for you.
This lunchbox is quite functional. You will have two Gain and Level controls and two DI/Thru inputs for instruments. In addition, you will be able to experiment with the impedance, apply Lo Cut, flip the phase, and so on. Let’s see what this box has in more detail.
- Gain & Level Control
The main thing in your work with this preamp will be two controls Gain and Level. Thus, you can drive the signal with the first one and balance or compensate it with the second one. In this way, you can choose whether it will have more harmonics or vice versa – it will be transparent.
- DI/Thru Inputs
A great feature of this box is that it has two DI/Thru Inputs, thanks to which you can record not only microphones but instruments as well. You will also be able to select between Mic and DI modes thanks to a separate switch.
- Experiment With The Impedance
In addition, SOLO/610 has a resistance switch with Lo-Z and Hi-Z modes so that you can experiment with different flavors of the sound of different mics. By the way, this function affects both microphone and DI inputs.
- Add The Lo Cut
Another great feature here is Lo Cut, which is a High-Pass filter. It is a small switch on the front panel of the unit. Thanks to it, you can eliminate unnecessary low frequency rumble when recording drums, vocals, and other instruments.
- Phantom Power & Phase Flip
And, of course, SOLO/610 is equipped with two more important features – Phantom Power and Phase Flip. You will also find the corresponding switches on the front panel. So, you can use the preamp for condenser microphones and flip the phase.
Character & Sound:
Universal Audio SOLO/610 can give you a rich, silky sound full of harmonic content. It will be especially noticeable if you turn Gain to the maximum and reduce Level. On the other hand, you can do the opposite and get quite a transparent sound.
Universal Audio SOLO/610 is an extremely high-quality tube preamp that will give you a full and exciting sound. It is suitable for recording drums and other instruments, including bass, guitars, and vocals. Overall, you can drive it and get harmonics, or vice versa. It will be a great addition to both professional and home studios.
Since this is tube audio equipment, it is quite expensive and costs about $1100. However, this price should be justified by the quality of work on the sound of this unit.
3. Chandler Limited TG2-500 Preamp
If you want to have a piece of Abbey Road studio sound in your arsenal, the TG2-500 preamp from Chandler Limited will be a good option.
We all know the contribution of EMI and Abbey Road to the development of the music industry in the last century. Their engineers created musical masterpieces of such legendary bands as The Beatles and Pink Floyd in their studios. So imagine using the taste of that equipment in your studio and the 500th format. It is exactly what the TG2-500 preamp from Chandler Limited offers.
This preamp uses the stage in the consoles placed in EMI studios. And we can see it because these units have logos of these companies. Generally, this preamp has all the functions to do its job perfectly. So let’s try to understand them now.
- Coarse Gain
The main thing in this unit for you will be the red Coarse Gain knob. It is stepped and allows you to make large intervals of 5 decibels. In total, you can get up to +60 dB of gain here.
- Adjust The Gain More Precisely
If you want to adjust the Gain in more detail, you will have a black control called Fine Gain. The range of its operation is from -10 to +10 decibels. Therefore, you can use the first knob for a coarser setting and the second for a specific one.
- Output Level
The last control here is the gray Output. As you can understand, it will help you balance the overall output of the preamp. Well, or compensate if you have the main gain at a minimum.
- 48V & Phase
Below, under the preamp controls, there are two white buttons, which also have important functions. These are 48V to turn on the phantom power and Phase, which is pretty self-explanatory.
- Mic And Impedance Switches
Among other features of the Chandler Limited TG2-500 is a Mic/Line switch. Use it if you need to pass a line signal through the unit. On the other side, there is an impedance switch with 300 and 1200 modes.
Character & Sound:
We will take the liberty to say that Chandler Limited TG2-500 is among the equipment that can improve almost any signal. You will get more body and harmonics if you crank up the gain. Moreover, if you go even further, you will hear the harmonic distortion. Therefore, this preamp can be a great option for recording powerful drums for rock and metal.
Chandler Limited TG2-500 is a professional piece of iron that will give you a legendary sound, at least its preamp stage. This unit has as many as two controls for gain and output. In addition, you get essential features like phase flip, phantom power, and a switch between Mic and Line modes.
TG2-500 is a rather expensive studio unit because its price is about 1000 dollars. But this is not surprising, considering the cooperation with which companies it was created. However, we advise you to look for more detailed reviews on the Internet.
4. Manley Force 4-channel Tube Microphone Preamp
Manley Force is a high-end microphone preamp that will allow you to use as many as four channels for recording.
Manley is a well-known American audio equipment manufacturing company known for superior build and sound quality. Most of their products are tube products, and the next item on our list is no exception. It is a four-channel tube microphone preamp called Force.
You will get four sections with the same settings: Input Level, Low Cut, Phase Reversal, and Phantom Power. And, of course, you will have separate instrument inputs on each of the channels. However, it is worth noting that this preamp works a bit differently from all the standard units. We will talk about it below.
- Input Variable Pad
Do not confuse the main knobs of this unit with the gain, as they work slightly differently. The more you turn them down, the more they will attenuate the signal. Therefore, Manley advises starting from the crank position and going back to get headroom.
- High & Low Switch
It is worth noting that this unit also has two gain modes, which are given by the High and Low switch. In the latter case, you will get 40 decibels and 50 dB of gain in High mode. However, there is an Internal Jumper inside the box, thanks to which you can get 60 decibels of gain.
- 4 Direct Inputs
On each of the sections, you will have separate Direct Inputs. You can connect instruments to this preamp, such as bass, electric guitar, or piano. As soon as you insert a jack here, it will bypass the mic preamplifier circuitry.
- 120 Hz Low Cut
A very important function that this unit also has is Low Cut. You will get it as a separate white button on the front panel. The preamp will roll back all low frequencies under 120 hertz with it turned on.
- Phantom & Polarity Buttons
Of course, along with other features, you will also have Phantom Power at 48 volts, thanks to which you can use condenser microphones. In addition, Manley Force has a button to flip the phase from 0 to 180 degrees.
Character & Sound:
As Manley Force is a tube unit, it has a 12AX7 on board, which will be noticeable on the signal. As a result, you will get a rich sound with a clear, dynamic response. Therefore, this unit is perfect for recording drums and any other instruments.
The main advantage of this unit is that you get as many as four channels that you can use simultaneously or separately. And, of course, you will have excellent audio quality, as this is high-end studio hardware. Overall, Manley Force has all the settings to be your to-go studio preamp.
At first glance, it may seem that this unit has a very expensive price, which reaches more than two and a half thousand dollars. But if you consider the number of preamps, functions, and the fact that this is tube equipment, it turns out to be not so high.
5. Great River MP-500NV 500 Series Microphone Preamp
The MP-500NV is a great preamp from Great River that should perform well on any source.
Some Internet users call this preamp “modern Neve.“ Whether it is true is for you to judge, but we can say that Great River has been a great company producing decent studio units for a long time. Now we will show you one of them, which belongs to the 500th format, MP-500NV.
It is a transformer-based microphone preamp with High-Current 70ma Class A BIAS that will be a great addition to your studio. It has a balanced XLR input and output and an instrument input. In addition, you will find here all the other necessary functions and possibilities for more detailed tone shaping.
- Stepped Gain Control
As for the main Gain, control is stepped here, which means you will have an easy recall. Each step here provides 5 decibels; generally, the unit can give preamplification up to 60 dB.
- Output Balancing
In addition, Great River MP-500NV has an Output Cal control, thanks to which you can adjust the output signal. Unlike Gain, it is not stepped and gives you more detailed manipulation. The range of its operation is generally from -25 to +10 decibels.
- In & Out Metering
It is also worth noting that you will have two separate indicators for Input and Output signals. These are two columns of lights that are located on the right side of the front panel. This way, you can easily keep an eye on your audio level.
- Impedance And Loading
The great fact is that this preamp will give you a bit more tonal possibilities behind the two Impedance and Loading buttons. The first will allow you to change the impedance of the microphones, and the second will give a thicker signal, or vice versa – make it thinner.
- Hi-Z Input
And, of course, if you need to record instruments – it will also be possible with this box. And all because it has a separate Hi-Z Input, where you can plug a bass or electric guitar to record a DI track. Connecting to this will automatically disable the XLR microphone input.
Character & Sound:
Great River MP-500NV can add beef and thickness to your audio signal. In general, you can both keep it at a fairly clean level and add dirt by driving the Gain control. Therefore, many users like to use it on kick and snare. However, the preamp is also great for recording overheads.
The MP-500NV is a pretty versatile microphone preamp that you can use for recording drums and other instruments. It will give you a rather thick sound that many associates with the production of the 60s and 70s. The unit also has two handy controls and the necessary additional functions in the form of buttons.
As this is a 500-format unit, you must have a lunchbox to use it. And, of course, this is a mono box. So you will need two of them to handle the stereo signal.
6. Warm Audio Mic Pre WA273 EQ
WA273 EQ from Warm Audio will be a good solution if you need a Neve-style preamp with a built-in equalizer.
Warm Audio is a well-known American company, thanks to which we can use excellent studio units without breaking the bank. These guys create audio equipment inspired by other legendary products with much higher price tags. For example, now we will take a look at the WA273 EQ.
By looking at this unit’s controls, you will immediately understand what inspired its creation. It is a two-channel preamp with a built-in equalizer, which you can also turn off. There are custom UK transformers on board, so you can be sure you will get the famous “British” flavor.
- Large Number Of Connectors
The possibilities of this box are impressive, as you will get a large number of connectors. For example, two XLR mic inputs are located on the front panel. At the same time, if you need to connect them from the back, there will also be connectors. In addition, you will get instrument and line inputs. On top of that, the unit also has Insert Send and Return for both channels.
- Six White Switches
Two sets of six white switches on the front panel are also worth mentioning. In particular, you will have Phantom Power, Phase Flip, and Tone, which is a change of impedance. You will also find three buttons responsible for the operating modes: Line, Insert, and Instrument.
- Add Some Gain
As for adding gain, two red stepped controls will be responsible for this. Here you will have the opportunity to go from -20 to +80 decibels, which is quite extensive. And, of course, you will get two more Output controls, thanks to which you can balance or compensate the signal.
- High-Pass Filter
WA273 EQ is also equipped with Hi-Pass filters for both channels. These are the blue controls near the gain control. Here you will have options to apply the cut at 50, 80, 160, and 300 hertz. Or you can disable this feature altogether.
- Adjust The EQ
The EQ on this unit is presented as three knobs for each channel. In particular, it is a Low shelf from 35 to 220 hertz, a Mid band from 360 to 7200 hertz, and a High shelf from 10 to 16 kilohertz. You can choose the required frequency and cut or boost it thanks to the combined controls.
Character & Sound:
WA273 EQ can be quite aggressive if you drive its gain. Thus, you will hear a very noticeable distortion. But, this box can generally provide beefy sound and breathe life into poorly recorded tracks at moderate settings. Plus, you will have an equalizer that will give you enough tonal possibilities.
Warm Audio WA273 EQ is a versatile mic pre with excellent sound quality and a built-in equalizer. Moreover, this box has two channels, so you can easily record stereo signals. And, of course, for such a package of features, the price of one and a half thousand dollars will seem insignificant.
Some users noted that the knobs are difficult to turn. For more information, we advise you to research reviews on the Internet.
7. AMS Neve 1073 DPA Preamp Stereo
AMS Neve 1073 DPA will give you the classic sound you heard on many legendary albums.
There is audio equipment that is considered to be the flagship, and Neve products fit into this category. Its creator Rupert Neve was one of the leading engineers of the 60s when the music industry was transitioning from tube to solid-state technology. Then Neve consoles immediately became hits and began to be actively used in many studios.
While many companies try to clone similar equipment, here we are dealing with the original. This preamp is made of components used in classic consoles, namely Class A amplifiers and custom transistors at the input and output. Overall, AMS Neve 1073 DPA is a very simple stereo preamp that will give you a magical sound on any source.
- 80 dB of Gain
AMS Neve 1073 DPA will allow you to receive up to 80 decibels of gain. You can do this thanks to two black controls for each channel. So the preamp will perfectly handle any microphone, even with the lowest signal.
- Trim Potentiometer
Also, on the front panel, you will find two Trim controls, which will essentially be your output. Use them to balance the final signal. By the way, next to them, there are Clip indicators that will tell you about clipping.
- Optimize For Microphones
The preamp will also allow you to optimize it for different microphones thanks to the Impedance switches. There are two modes: high impedance at 1200 ohms and low impedance at 300 ohms. Choose the one that sounds best for you.
- Phantom Power & Polarity Reverse
And, of course, you will have options such as +48V phantom power and phase reversal. The preamp represents these functions as two white buttons on each channel.
Character & Sound:
Neve’s trademark sound is characteristic lows, midrange presence, and sweet, airy highs. And we can say with confidence that this is also what this preamp delivers. Moreover, since it was designed specifically for consoles, you can be sure that the unit will work for any material: drums, bass, guitars, vocals, and more.
The AMS Neve 1073 DPA is a fantastic preamp that will give you great sound quality. It is quite easy to use, as you will not have many controls. Nevertheless, it has everything you need to work with any microphones: impedance switch, phase, phantom power, and more.
You will not find an instrument input here, but there is a line input and output. Also, given that this is a top piece of equipment, it has a characteristic price that reaches almost two thousand dollars.
8. SPL Goldmike 9844
SPL’s Goldmike 9844 is a tube preamp that will impress you with a rather pleasant price.
SPL is a well-known German company that has existed since the early 80s. In particular, its engineers are the creators of such products as Vitalizer, Transient Designer, and many others. SPL also produces other studio units, including de-essers, crossovers, audio interfaces, and preamps. As for the latter, now we will talk about the SPL Goldmike 9844 product.
It is a two-channel tube preamp with Class A technology. Accordingly, it can work as a dual mono and stereo unit. You will have two mirrored sets of settings, including large gain controls, VU Meters, and quite interesting features. We will tell you about them below.
- Gain Controls & VU Meters
Two large black knobs will be the main ones for you to get the necessary level of gain. In general, the range of their operation reaches up to +72 dB. You will have VU Meters a little higher, thanks to which you can monitor the signal level.
- Flair Switch
The developers also included the Flair function, which is a shelf in high frequencies. It is a black button located next to other functions. Thus, thanks to it, you can add the presence of drum overheads or vocals at the recording stage.
- Low Cut Filter
Another great feature of the Goldmike 9844 is the Low Cut Filter, also included in the feature set. By pressing this button, you will apply a high pass filter at 50 Hz, which can rid you of unnecessary low information.
- 48V, Reverse, and Pad
In addition, you will have a Pad, thanks to which you can reduce too hot audio signal by 30 dB. And, of course, the preamp also features phase reversal and 48 V phantom power.
Character & Sound:
SPL Goldmike 9844 can give you a rather clean and warm sound thanks to the tube circuit. In addition, due to the Flair function, the unit can be great for recording drum overheads. However, you can try to use it on other instruments as well.
SPL’s Goldmike 9844 will give you German quality in terms of build and sound. It is a two-channel Class A tube preamp with many features in the form of Flair, Low Cut, 30 dB Pad, and more. In addition, you should be pleasantly surprised by the price of this preamp, which is more than $400.
Some users complain that VU Meters are rather small and illegible to read. In addition, you will not find an instrument input for recording DI tracks here.
9. Behringer ADA8200
If you want to get not only a preamp but also a budget audio interface expander, then you should check out Behringer ADA8200.
We understand that many people cannot afford expensive studio equipment. But it does not mean that you are at a dead end. Plenty of budget brands can save you if you are starting in music production. And one of them is a well-known company called Behringer.
Now we will talk about Behringer ADA8200, an eight-channel AD/DA converter with preamps. This unit has microphone inputs and line inputs and outputs. But the most interesting thing is that you can use it as an expander of your audio interface. So let’s now move on to the features.
- 8 MIDAS Mic Preamps
Each of the eight channels of this unit is equipped with MIDAS microphone preamps. You can connect to them with an XLR cable. In addition, each section has a Gain knob to adjust the signal level.
- Signal And Clip Indicators
As for signal monitoring, each channel has two indicators, Sig and Clip. The first will show if there is a signal at all, and the second will notify you if you exceed the audio limit.
- Line Ins And Outs
You will also have the opportunity to connect a line signal to this unit. You can do it thanks to the jack connectors on the front panel. In turn, you will also find eight XLR line outputs on the rear panel.
- Global Phantom Power
As for the phantom power, you will have only one button to turn it on, which is located on the front of the unit. But it works in global mode. So the phantom power will be turned on or off for all channels.
- ADAT Routing
On the back of the ADA8200, you will find options to connect this unit with other units and thus expand the number of channels of your audio interface. In particular, there is a Sync connector with various options and ADAT output and input.
Character & Sound:
The sound character of the Behringer ADA8200 microphone preamps is quite clean and transparent. Unfortunately, it means that you will not get any analog coloration here. But, if this is exactly what you need, this preamp will come in handy.
Behringer ADA8200 is an excellent budget AD/DA converter with eight channels and built-in microphone MIDAS preamps. But the biggest advantage is its price, which is approximately 170 dollars. So this box will be a great option if you need to increase the number of inputs/outputs with mic preamps.
This unit has a transparent sound, which is devoid of color. So it means that you will only get a flat signal from your microphones.
10. API 3124V
The API 3124V preamp will give you as many as four channels to work with and is ideal for drums.
It’s no secret that API is the undisputed flagship in high-end studio equipment. This brand has gained popularity thanks to its consoles, on which professionals have created many musical masterpieces. Now we will talk about the wonderful preamp of this company, model 3124V.
API introduced this unit in 2018, an update of the previous versions of 3124. The fact is that they did not have an Output control, so engineers had to use the pad to get the required amount of headroom. Finally, this model comes with such controls and has four channels for operation. So let’s take a closer look at its features.
- Gain & Level Controls
Every four channels have two main controls – the distinctive blue Gain knob and the black Level knob. Thanks to the first one, you can drive the signal, and the second one balances it. The preamp is also equipped with LED VU Meters that will tell you your level.
- 3:1 Output Transformer
As in previous versions of this unit, you will also get the 3:1 feature, a switchable output transformer for each channel. This way, you can experiment with coloring and get additional saturation for your tracks.
- 4 Hi-Z Inputs
If you want to record a DI track – it will be quite possible on this unit. That’s because it has four Hi-Z Inputs where you can plug in your bass, electric guitar, or piano. These connectors are located on the front panel of the box.
- Pad, 48V, And Polarity
Each of the four channels of the API 3124V has additional important features that you can’t do without when working with a preamp. In particular, we are talking about the Polarity switch, 48V phantom power, and Pad. As for the latter, it has -20 dB of gain.
Character & Sound:
The sound character of API 3124V, as well as other models of this brand, can be called punchy and fast, with enough details in the midrange. It makes it ideal for instruments such as drums, percussion and guitars. So you can see these units in many professional studios worldwide.
API 3124V is a professional studio preamp that will give you an expressive sound and strong character. You will get as many as four channels for operation and all the necessary functions for working with mics, including polarity, phantom power, and pad. In addition, there are Hi-Z inputs for recording instruments.
This unit has a rather high price – more than 3 thousand dollars. However, it is justified by the number of channels and the fact that it is a piece of professional studio equipment with a long-standing reputation.
11. Neve 1073OPX
Neve 1073OP is a state-of-the-art 8-channel preamp that can serve as an audio interface.
Neve decided to step towards modern music production needs and make a new version of its legendary 1073 preamps. It is how the 1073OPX unit was born, something more than just an eight-channel preamp. Instead, it is a piece of extremely professional studio equipment that can replace your audio interface.
You will be able to record the microphone, line and DI signals. As for the gain, it is stepped every decibel, not five, as in previous models. But the real cherry on top is that you can control this equipment remotely. So let’s now move on to more specific features.
- Detailed Gain Operation
You will get large red Neve-style gain controls on each of the eight channels. Underneath each of them will be a small display showing you the number of decibels. Overall, the operation here is very comfortable, as the control is stepped in one-decibel intervals.
- Mic, Line & DI
Special white buttons on the front panel will serve as a mode selection. Overall, there are Mic, Line, and DI options. Interestingly, if you hold this switch longer, it will act as a phase flip.
- Lo-Z Mode
You will also have a Low-Z function acting as a resistance switch from 300 to 1300 ohms. It is also located on each of the channels. It can be useful for recording dynamic or ribbon microphones.
- Front Switch
Also, quite a cool function here is the Front button. If you turn it on, the front inputs will be activated. Otherwise, the unit will use the connectors located on the rear panel. This way, you can connect various instruments to it without constant rewiring.
- USB or Dante Usage
Another great fact is that you can use this preamp via USB or Dante protocol. Two buttons on the front panel are responsible for these modes. Thus, the preamp can act as an audio interface.
- Remote Control
It is also worth mentioning such an important feature as Remote Control. You can install the OPX application on your system, allowing you to use the unit remotely as if it were a plugin. It’s quite handy for a modern workflow.
Character & Sound:
Even though Neve 1073OPX has no transformer output, it still sounds great and retains the character of its 1073 ancestor. You can drive preamps and get more body, harmonics and expression. In addition, this unit can handle almost any source.
It is an extremely versatile preamp ideal for fans of modern workflow. It gives you eight channels and can act as an audio interface. In addition, you will have the opportunity to record anything here, including line, microphone and DI signals. As for the sound quality, it is also at a high level.
The price of this unit is more than three and a half thousand dollars. Otherwise, we do not see any other drawbacks here. So for more detailed information, we advise you to look for online reviews.
12. Audient ASP800
Audient’s ASP800 is a great 8-channel preamp that won’t cost you all the money in the world.
Audient is a British company that creates large-sized consoles. In addition, among their products, you can also find audio interfaces and preamps. As for the latter, components from mixing boards are used there, so you can be sure you will get good sound quality.
The next item on our list is Audient ASP800, an eight-channel preamp. Its main feature is that two channels have a tube and transformer emulation. Thus, you can add saturation to the material you are recording. But first, let’s talk about it in order.
- 8-Channel Preamp
You will have eight channels, thanks to which, for example, you can record drums. They all have Gain controls with a range of up to +70 dB. As for the line and microphone inputs, you will find them on the rear panel of the unit.
- Two DI Inputs
In addition, the first and second channels have separate DI Inputs. They are located in the front, so it will be convenient for you to connect. Use them to record electric guitar, bass, or other instruments.
- Retro Channels
As for the first and second channels, they also have additional settings, which makes them so-called “Retro Channels”. We are talking about the HMX function, which emulates tube equipment with options from Sweet to Thick. There is also Iron mode, which provides the sound of transformers with Sparkle and Growl options.
- -15 dB Pad & 48V
It is worth noting that each of the eight channels also has 48-volt phantom power and Pad functions. You will see them as separate buttons. As for the latter, you can lower the signal by 15 decibels.
- ADAT Out & Sample Rate
Another great feature is that this unit has ADAT Out, which means you can connect it to your audio interface and expand the number of available channels. In addition, there is a function to select the Sample Rate of the recording material with options from 44.1 to 96 kHz.
Character & Sound:
Audient ASP800 can be clean and transparent. It is especially true for channels 3 to 8. On the other hand, the first and second have saturation features that will give you more body, thickness and sparkle. So, for example, you can use them to record snare and kick and let the rest of the instruments go into the “clean” channels.
It is a great option if you need decent sound quality, but you are somewhat limited in budget. The Audient ASP800 costs just over $500, and this price is excellent, considering the number of features you get here. It has eight channels, two of which can add analog coloration.
Some users noted that the unit has no power button, so it is always on. Plus, it heats up, which might reduce the life expectancy of its components.
Universal Audio 4-710D Twin-Finity
The Universal Audio 4-710D Twin-Finity will give you four channels, compression and the ability to choose between tube and solid state.
We have prepared something special for you as a bonus item on our list. It is a preamp from the well-known Universal Audio, called 4-710D Twin-Finity. Unlike other, more compact models, this one has as many as four channels so that you can record your main drum tracks with it.
The main advantage of this unit is that you can choose between tube and transistor sound. Or you can blend them 50/50. In addition to this, you will get built-in 1176-style compressors for each of the channels. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
- Tone-Blending Preamp
Each of the four channels of this preamp has separate Transistor/Tube controls. Thus, you can choose the sound that you like or best suits the material. And, of course, you can mix these two flavors equally.
- Add Some Compression
An extremely important feature is that you will get built-in 1176-style compressors for each channel. However, you will have only one setting for them – a slow and fast attack switch. Nevertheless, this is a great thing for a preamp.
- Gain & Metering
Gain regulators will be the main ones to drive your signal. You will also have separate Level knobs to balance it. As for metering, the unit has four VU Meters that can be set to Mtr Out, Gain Reduction, and Drive modes.
- Plenty Of Connectors
The number of various connectors of this preamp is really impressive. First, you get four Hi-Z inputs for recording instruments. You will also have XLR microphone and line inputs, XLR line outputs and balanced inserts. Also, you will have four additional TRS line inputs.
- Essential Functions
Of course, this unit has other important onboard features, including a phase invert, a 12 dB pad, phantom power, and a low-cut filter. In addition, you will be able to select the audio sample rate and switch between 24 and 16 bits.
Character & Sound:
4-710D Twin-Finity is a versatile preamp. You can get the bite of transistors or the richness and warmth of tubes. Or you can mix these two flavors. We should say that transistors have a cleaner sound, and tubes add more harmonic content and color. And, of course, compressors will allow you to control the dynamics at the recording stage.
It is a professional preamp that will give you pallets of different sound flavors thanks to the ability to blend tubes with transistors. It has four channels, which will be enough for recording basic drum instruments, a built-in compressor and many more essential functions. Overall, this is a great unit for both home and professional studios.
We can debate whether the price of more than two thousand dollars is too high. But you must agree that it is quite a good cost for a four-channel preamp with many features. Overall, we do not see any other disadvantages of this unit.
As you can see, there are enough preamps for recording drums. You can choose expensive options that will give you enough color and more budget options. To conclude this post, let us give you some tips on which units are especially worth attention.
Suppose you have the necessary amount of resources for expensive equipment. In that case, you should check out the #4 Manley Force, #7 AMS Neve 1073 DPA, #10 API 3124V, #11 Neve 1073OPX and the bonus item of our list Universal Audio 4-710D. So you can find these units in many professional studios around the world.
As for more budget options, we can recommend number 6 Warm Audio Mic Pre WA273 EQ, number 8 SPL Goldmike 9844, 9 Behringer ADA8200 and 12 Audient ASP800. They have a quite good sound despite their lower price.
And if you’re aiming for 500-format preamps, then 1 Shadow Hills Industries Mono GAMA, 3 Chandler Limited TG2-500 and 5 Great River MP-500NV are great options.
If you are tight on budget and a beginner, try something cheaper first. Then, you can save up and upgrade to more professional gear over time. Most importantly, learn how to use the audio equipment and get the most out of it. Good luck with your recordings!
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Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life