Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII

48 Customer Ratings:
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
4.8 / 5.0
  • handling
  • features
  • sound
  • quality
7 written ratings
Total
handling
features
sound
quality

Small but significant step up from interface pre-amps

WillO, 23.11.2016
This has made my job a little easier when mixing tracks, It's also improved the quality of my recordings, particularly vocals and DIed bass. It's flattered every vocal I've put through it. My clients are happy, and so am I.

I run a small but increasingly busy home studio. I've been using the stock preamps in my Focusrite 18i6, Octopre LE and Presonus Digimax D8 for the last 5 years or so, and I've gotten to know them very well.

I bought my Pre 73 five months ago and have since used it on 6 albums, about a dozen EPs and many, many miscellaneous recording jobs. It's my first stand-alone preamp, but it definitely won't be my last.

When I bought it, I was in the middle of tracking the vocals for two client's albums, so some of the final vocals were recorded through 18i6 pres, some through the Pre 73. Same mics, same room, same everything else. In isolation, the vocals don't sound much different. However, in a mix, the Pre 73 vocals sit better (perfectly, in fact), have more clarity, detail, depth/space and in general sound more rounded and natural. Classy, even. They never seem to be fighting with the rest of the mix, which is something I'd always struggled with a bit. I rarely have to apply any EQ or compression to them, even on hard rock songs, or breathy folk songs. By contrast, the vocals through the 18i6 generally needed EQ and often quite a bit of compression to cut through a mix while sitting back in it. I have no idea how this happens, but it's immediately apparent when you listen back, even my wife picks the Pre 73 every time when I do blind tests on her. It kind of adds that sheen you've heard on your favourite records.

I have a couple of brighter mics, I've found this pre seems to tame the top end I sometimes found a bit much, so it's brought mics I wouldn't normally reach for back into the rotation (particularly M-Audio Sputnik tube mic, SE z3300a LDC). At the same time, it sounds great with less-bright dynamics like the SM7b (depending on the singer, of course). The 'air' switch can add a lot of life, as can the 'low-z' and phase buttons.

For vocals, this pre gets an unqualified thumbs up from me, it's saved me many hours of work on mixing vocals, and thus has saved my clients money. Again, I don't know how it's making things easier, it just is.

DIed bass usually sounds great through it, to the point that I often don't need to apply an amp sim to the bass track afterwards. Big thumbs up.

DIed electric guitar isn't rocking my world as much. It's better than the 18i6 (which makes for a pretty bad DI), but I rarely DI guitar, usually preferring to mic an amp.

Violin is nice through it, I've noticed it can help tame some of the shrillness with some players that mightn't have the best technique/instrument. The vibe it adds makes placing the violin in the mix a quick and easy job.

For synths and keys, I prefer to go straight in via line input jacks. Just personal preference.

Acoustic guitar is a mixed bag. The pre adds a thickness to the sound that can really, really work for sparse singer-songwriter arrangements (think Johnny Cash's American Recordings series), but can be cloying and smudgy in a denser mix. For rock bands, I stick with the 18i6 pres for acoustic guitar, you get all that zingy top end, but none of the extra mid chunk the Pre 73 seems to add.

I've used it on various drums with various common drum mics, I haven't noticed any massive improvement after the drums have been mixed and compressed. I'd be interested to try a stereo pair on overheads, though. I think cymbals might sound great through it.

The only thing that I find occasionally fiddly is the fact that you have to set both input AND output levels. I'm not a huge fan of driving the preamp too hard, so I find myself constantly taking pictures of the settings so I don't have to find the sweet spot every time I'm recording someone. However, that's a tiny price to pay for the versatility it allows.

Long story short, I'll be buying another one for stereo recordings.

N.B. For all the gushing above, I still think it's much more important to record in a good sounding room than have a fancy preamp. A fancy preamp in a poor room won't help your tracks sound better, but some thick rugs and some well-placed Rockwool panels can turn a bad room into a decent one (for vocals, at least).
People on the internet tend to fetishize gear. My only interest is in tools that make my job easier and allow me to do that job better. For my business, the Pre 73 has been a worthwhile, relatively inexpensive investment.
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Golden Ears

James1980, 03.01.2018
I've been using my pre-73 Mk3 for a couple of years now and I use on on pretty much everything. The drive is warm and incredibly good for such a relatively low cost unit. I have even fuzzed out a few vocal lines, though you do have to watch the top end. The line input also works great for bass guitars.
Plenty of headroom. Plenty of gain. Plenty of preamp for the money!
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Top Class Pre Amp on a Budget

Dave8797, 09.09.2015
I have only had a short time to subjectively evaluate this product on mic'd acoustic guitar, close mic'd amped electric guitar, and DI'd electric guitar, recording via the Pre-73, and directly through my audio interface to compare. I have been very pleased with the results in each instance. The sound via the pre amp seems more mature, certainly warmer, with more body than merely through the audio interface. I have only used one of these recordings in a song, but it does sit in the mix beautifully. So far so good.
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Everything sound better through this preamp

25.01.2016
This preamp has answered my question "how do they get that full and warm sound?". To get a good sounding record you need to plug your sound source into higher quality device and this preamp can be that device.

I've tried this preamp on Rode NT1-A, Rode NT2 condenser mics on vocals and acoustic guitars, Shure sm57 and sm58 dynamic mics on vocals and electric guitar cabinets, active acoustic guitar line out, active nylon guitar line out, bass guitar, some world instruments with passive pieso pickups... Everything sounded noticeably better than straight into my soundcards (roland quod-capture, focusrite Scarlet 18i8).

Using VINTAGE PRE BUTTON, gain, low-z, air and hp options allows you to have a number of different sounds with a same sound source.

Also it looks nice and vintage. I'm using it in every record. It makes my small recording studio sound big.
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EnricoRipalti, 30.10.2017
Excellent sound and value for the money. The outer case is very rigged but I have had some reliability issues in the past with these units: I hope the MKIII solves these issues in the long run.
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GAP PRE 73 MKIII

05.08.2015
Great value for money, Solid build nice feature set, Phase/HPF etc:

Sounds great when hit hard, very quiet but more flavor than the built in Pre's in my Mr816
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Outstanding Mic Pre

Tudor M., 05.10.2015
This is the first Golden Age device that i've owned and really bought it off the back of some recent review articles. It arrived in just a couple of days and is beautifully made. Quite heavy with a solid case and chasis. The control panel is simple but effective and the 2 'Air' options give that hi-freq fairy dust if required.
To me this device outshines equipment double the price. I'm primarily using it for trumpet recording and the tone is just beautiful. Quiet as a mouse but can roar if pushed.
Can't wait to try recording vocals - this is my go to pre now as it has so much character. With the additional inserts this can work with the GA Compresser and EQ which I will definatly buy. Great service and delivery from Thomann as always. EXCELLENT!
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Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKIII

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