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  • Anderton
    started a topic PRESONUS ADL 600 (tube preamp)

    PRESONUS ADL 600 (tube preamp)

    PreSonus ADL 600 – Prologue

    When I did a Pro Review of the Mackie Onyx 400F, I thought it wouldn't last more than a week or two…after all, what can you say about an audio interface for a computer?

    Well, it turned out there's a lot you can say about an audio interface. And in the case of this Pro Review of the PreSonus ADL 600 (a collaborative effort with Anthony DeMaria Labs), I suspect we'll have a lot to talk about as well. What makes a preamp worth $2,295.95? One of the purposes of this review is to find out if the price tag is justified, and if it is, what that buys you.

    But what’s also going to make things really interesting is that this is a preamp intended to have "character." It's not supposed to be a straight wire with gain, but a straight wire with attitude. That’s just begging for controversy right there, but the ADL pedigree says a lot, and PreSonus has gotten to where it is by picking and choosing its products carefully.

    Another point worth considering is that I've never been a "my slew rate can beat your slew rate," boutique kinda guy. I have my preferences, but if what comes out of a preamp is suitably close to what came in, I'm happy. So part of my interest in getting "up close and personal" with the ADL 600 is to find out exactly what a pricey puppy can do for my sound.

    As with other Pro Reviews, I see no point in restating material that's available elsewhere. If you want specs, a block diagram, applications, and the like, PreSonus has quite a complete "product landing page" for the ADL600 at http://www.presonus.com/adl600.html. You might want to swing by there for a bit and get some background before getting into the review. To see what the ADL 600 looks like, click on the attachment to view the front panel. To get an idea of what it feels like, get a bunch of telephone books and some bricks – it weighs in at a hefty 28 pounds.

    For those of you not familiar with how the Pro Review concept works, it's simple: This is a forum, so everyone's invited to participate in this "open source" review. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, step right up and voice them. As usual I’ve also invited PreSonus to participate, and I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to talk about the fine points of vacuum tube design, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Please note that this is a sponsored review; for details on what that means, click here for the Pro Review FAQ, as well as links to other Pro Reviews.

    Okay, that’s enough blather for now. Let’s open up the box, and get started.

  • syncretism
    replied
    Craig,

    Consider using a proper ABX applet for blind listening - there are fewer hoops to jump through, and you can be sures of the test's integrity:

    http://www.pcabx.com/


    Hope that helps!

    Leave a comment:


  • Erik-RMCAudio
    replied
    I'd just like to thank Craig for the great review. As of a couple of years ago it was hard to find decent reviews on gear such as this. I'd also like the thank Presonus for making such a nice product. Let's see some more items like this.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    I just noticed the new post (happened while I was in Frankfurt, I have an excuse!) and agree with Rick. As mentioned during the course of the review, the ADL 600 does "something" to the sound that makes it more defined and just, well, better-sounding. It's not exactly an inexpensive solution, but based on what I heard, there's a reason why it costs what it does.

    Leave a comment:


  • ricknaqvi
    replied
    I was wondering if I would have any benefit from the ADL 600 during mixdown


    Absolutely. There are a lot of engineers running their final stereo mix through the LINE inputs of the ADL600 and hitting the tubes and transformers for a little extra 'love'.

    We even have heard from some mastering guys that are using it in that way.

    The ADL is not a 'low fi' sounding preamp. It has an extremely wide frequency response and headroom. So it lends itself to an overall mix in a really musical way without robbing the mix of any fidelity.

    Leave a comment:


  • jahboo
    replied
    Greetings ... I use a Soundcraft Ghost 32 LE console and an Alesis HD24 as the basis of my home studio ... I was wondering if I would have any benefit from the ADL 600 during mixdown ... running the main outs of the soundcraft into the adl 600 or main inserts ... and then into my Alesis Masterlink ... I'm sure it would really come in handy for all kind of uses ... but that was my main plan for it ... between the console and masterlink during mixdown ... any thoughts ? thanks ... jahboo

    Leave a comment:


  • mr. moon
    replied
    Hi folks,

    I just want to make you aware of an issue with the ADL600 which was described in a review (by Paul J. Stamler) published in the October issue of Recording magazine.

    Here's a quote from the article detailing the problem:

    "The other anomaly I measured was the input impedances. These are marked on the selector switch as 1500, 900, 300 and 150 ohms, but when I measured them, what I found was quite different (see Below). The range of impedances available from the ADL 600 is considerably less than stated, and an input impedance >1 k (as recommended by most makers of condenser microphones) is only available with the 20 dB pad switched in. (Of course, condenser mics are hotter, so using the pad would probably be a reasonable choice.)

    Impedence:
    Listed-Measured-Measured(20dBPad)
    1500-----785-----1256
    900------526-----696
    300------453-----560
    150------177-----270

    PreSonus confirmed my results; the discrepancy is due to a jumper resistor that was used in tests and was left on the first production run of these preamps, which can be easily removed if the user desires impedance settings that match the front panel specs. Concerned users should contact PreSonus about how to do this; my feeling is that the effect will be audible but small..."


    I own an ADL600, so I contacted Presonus about this issue via an email to their technical support stff, and Presonus stood behind their product 100% and satisfactorily resolved this issue on my unit.

    The difference to me between the before/after fix, was more dramatic than suggested in the review. I noticed that it REALLY opened up my Gefell 930 when recording an acoustic guitar; much larger and lusher image, to my ears anyways.

    Hope this helps!

    -mr moon

    NOTE: I will also be posting this under it's own thread ("ADL600 input impedence issue") in the recording forum

    Leave a comment:


  • Brittanylips
    replied
    Great review! I have heard similar praise about the ADL600 from other users who are putting this thing high up on their echelon of go-to preamps, and it is now high up on my wish list.

    Also, I thought I might add that I have dealt with Presonus in the past and – with reference to the thread “are people more mean spirited?” – if anyone ever wants evidence that good-spirited people are out there as well, just give Presonus a call. Without exception, the guys at PreSonus are consistently friendly and helpful and if there is ever a problem, they go out of their way to make sure that it is quickly and entirely fixed. FWIW, in my experience, they really treat their customers right.

    -blips

    Leave a comment:


  • SteveE9C6
    replied
    I'm running the outs into channels 5 and 6 in the Onyx 400F. That way they don't go thru the Onyx preamps too. Works great. This really is a nice preamp.

    Craig, I know it's all analog. What I meant was the cost of adding a A/D convertor inside the box would have been cost prohibitive. I suspect most folks who have this pre already have premier convertors in house.

    Still.... 2 thumbs up for this preamp!

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    <<My one dissapointment with the ADL600? No digital out. Any digital out would have been a real boon. I guess decent convertors would have upped the price though.>>

    Well, the ADL 600 has a 100% analog signal path. There's no digital in it from which you could derive a digital out, so you're better off just choosing the A/D of your choice and going from there.

    Leave a comment:


  • SteveE9C6
    replied
    I followed this and read everything I could about it. I don't have a huge budget and my mic pre's are currently limited to my Onyx 400F, Presonos Firepod, and my new Joe Meek TwinQ.

    I now have one of these on order. I suggest folks look around for better deals. I saved several hundred dollars over the M.A.P. price. (After spending over $20k at that sweet place, they won't budge off of MAP... I ordered this and a new Neumann TLM49 form someone who would budge. With the money I saved, I can get some new software )

    Regardless.. I appreciate the effort that went into this review.

    My one dissapointment with the ADL600? No digital out. Any digital out would have been a real boon. I guess decent convertors would have upped the price though.

    Steve

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Hey everybody, the ADL 600 is being shipped back to PreSonus tomorrow, so I won't have it to refer to if you have any further questions.

    Great box, though. I was kinda hoping they'd forget they'd sent it here

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    <<This one comment was worth wading through the 6 pages for. I love it!>>

    Well, it was worth doing the Pro Review just to be able to find a box that actually does that. Nice to know not everything is "emperor's new clothes."

    <<I'd like to see more direct comparisons to similarly-priced units in the future. >>

    That defeats the purpose of a Pro Review a bit, which zeroes in on one particular piece o' gear. You're asking for more of a shootout kinda thing, which is a little more daunting to pull off, what with having to deal with multiple pieces of gear. I don't mind throwing in some comparisons, but only if I already know the gear with which I'm comparing the unit.

    <<You do a great job at quantifying what you're hearing with the various graphs. Having an A/B comparison such as the user posted with a Langevin or similar pre would have furthered these analyses.>>

    The big problem there is the 102k limitation on attachments to posts. You can't really do great fidelity unless it's a very very short example. Hopefully I'll get some hard disk space on the server to which I can hot link examples in the very near future.

    Thanks for the comments!

    Leave a comment:


  • gsbe
    replied
    Originally posted by Anderton
    Frankly, the idea of a box that just plain makes things sound a little better is hard to resist.
    This one comment was worth wading through the 6 pages for. I love it!

    I'd like to see more direct comparisons to similarly-priced units in the future. You do a great job at quantifying what you're hearing with the various graphs. Having an A/B comparison such as the user posted with a Langevin or similar pre would have furthered these analyses. Adding in a third, popular less-expensive unit would have really helped, also. Some ideas for the future...

    Thanks again for a great thread,
    Graham Spice

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    When I started this Pro Review, I didn't really know what to expect. I've worked with enough "boutique" gear over the years to recognize that a lot of it does bring something special to the table - but some of it seems way overpriced, and more "emperor's new clothes" than anything else. Where would the ADL 600 fall?

    Overall, it does indeed justify its price tag - not by being a "straight wire with gain," but by adding character to the overall sound. "Character" is always a dangerous concept, because it might be a character you like, but it also might not be. This is particularly the case with tube gear, where "character" may mean distortion or ringing from transformers: Fine for some signals, but not for others.

    The ADL 600 has a character that really seems to flatter just about everything you put into it, from individual instruments to complete mixes. It does this by what appears to be a very gentle peak limiting/compression effect, and that's easy to see on the waveforms attached to some of these posts. There are also some frequency response things going on, as evidenced by the 3D spectrum analysis shots. Subjectively, I'd say there's more definition overall, and a very smooth bass range.

    Those who expect these changes to leap out at them will be disappointed; the ADL 600 is much more about subtlety. It really comes into its own when you use it on multiple tracks and hear the cumulative difference, or use it to accentuate individual tracks. I also like what it does to mixes, and the surprisingly low noise level means yes, you can consider this a legitimate piece of mastering gear.

    I really have only two complaints: Using XLR-only connectors in today's world, while "pro," isn't as practical as using combi jacks with XLR and 1/4" TRS connections. It's not a deal-breaker, but with so much gear using 1/4" TRS balanced connections, you'll find yourself looking for adapter cables perhaps more often than you'd like.

    The other issue is the instrument input impedance. 100k is acceptable, but on the low side of acceptable. To squeeze every last bit of response out of a guitar or bass with standard pickups, the input impedance should be at least doubled...and I'd prefer something between 500K to 1M. This doesn't make a huge difference to the sound, but given the level of detail in the ADL 600's design, I'm surprised this detail was overlooked. (I also assume it would be relatively easy to mod the ADL 600 for a higher input impedance on the instrument input, although I haven't seen a schematic so this is speculation.)

    Realistically, though, these complaints are minor considering the positives. Frankly, the idea of a box that just plain makes things sound a little better is hard to resist. Whether the improvement is enough to justify the ADL 600's expense is difficult to say; for example, if you don't have a really good mic, you're probably better off buying a really good mic than taking advantage of the fact that the ADL 600 can make okay mics sound better. On the other hand, if you do a lot of work with electronic sound sources and want something that can give them a more organic feel, then the ADL 600 might be an excellent investment. I've certainly enjoyed its visit (and so did the narration that used it instead of stock preamps).

    Bottom line: This isn't an "emperor's new clothes" situation, but a solidly-engineered preamp that delivers what it promises. Some would say that it actually delivers more, because while it's billed as a tube preamp, it does a lot more than just make mics louder. Either way, it's a mighty fine piece of gear. Anthony DeMaria and PreSonus have every right to be proud of their new baby.

    Thanks again for your participation, even if you just lurked . I've pretty much said all I have to say on the subject but feel free to carry on the discussion, particularly if you have any further questions.

    Leave a comment:

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