I'm a multi-instrumentalist who has been producing for over a decade. I've worked with all kinds of preamps in many studios from the lowest to the highest class. I decided to finally get a single channel preamp for my home studio. After researching for many months, reading reviews, listening to blind tests, I chose the Golden Age Premier PREQ-73 and I can't express how happy I am to have this unit. I was looking for the vintage neve sound without busting the bank. With a few small tweaks, this preamp just makes everything come to life. With the gain set at around 3 o'clock, things start to get very juicy and some really smooth and warm harmonics pop out that make everything in your mix sit in its own place. Regardless of the genre you're in, this preamp is a work-horse that will serve you well on your quest for getting clean, present & rich tones. The official test on their youtube page is a good example of what it can do, and one of the reasons I chose this unit.
Since I got it, I basically re-recorded a whole track I had recorded last year to get a sense of what it can do. The eq is vital for this unit, I haven't tried the other golden age units that have only a low cut and air boost, but I can't imagine being happy with a unit that doesn't have the eq options available on the preq-73. The 3 knobs give you enough control over your input to feed a signal in your DAW that sounds ready and even if it isn't, you could probably achieve whatever you're looking for with only a slight touch of post-eq. It feels like the torture of trying to achieve a clean, present sound with simulations/plugins is finally over. And what's more important, while writing/recording music, you no longer have to doubt whether you're putting a good enough signal in your DAW, it becomes evident while you're monitoring it, so you can focus on the performance, which is key. I haven't compared it to a real neve 1073, or any other high class preamp, and I'm sure they sound a bit better, but at this point, I think that the signal is really good, good enough to the point that it's safe to say that if you're not fully satisfied with how you're sounding, it's either your instrument or performance.
For vocals I use a shure sm7b and with a higher gain and lower volume, you can record really quiet & airy vocals and make them sound like they're in your face. By carving out some of the mud, boosting at 16khz, and cranking up the gain, the shure starts sounding like a neumman mic through a neutral preamp, but with more controlled lows. If you know where your vocals sit in a song, you can even make some drastic eqs, they still sound really good and natural, so you can get most of the eq-ing done before it's in the box. But what's more important, is that this unit can give your vocals character and presence in your mix that you won't even come close to, no matter what plugins you put on your inserts. The harmonics that the preq73 adds to your vocals are very vibrant and sonically pleasing.
For guitars, I play mostly fenders, I also have Ibanez and Hagstrom. With a higher gain, lower volume, and some light eq-ing on the unit, all of a sudden all the guitar simulations sound very pleasing and usable. Before I would go through guitar rig/bias looking for some good sounding combinations with my guitars, now when I shape the sound before my signal reaches the DAW, all of the amp simulations sound very usable and some sound ridiculously good. It starts sounding like something you would hear on a record, not in your home studio. I can't wait to start micing amps, because with the control I have with this unit, I'm conviced that I'll be able to discover some great guitar tones.
For bass, I use a precision bass, and soloing it I couldn't achieve a big difference in terms of sound, like I did with the guitars, but in the end, when I played the bass in the new mix of the song I re-recorded, it sounded more present and more real, because of the added harmonics. It's hard to describe, but it's not just the eq, there's something special about the gain on this unit. I had no trouble boosting a little bit of the lows and getting an even more pleasing bass sound, without it sounding too harsh or over the top.
When you properly apply this unit (I think this unit is quite simple to use if you trust your ears) to all your vocal and instrument tracks and you compare without it, the difference is worlds apart. The only drawback I see is that now I'm looking to get a high end compressor to work along this unit, because I want to be able to hit the sweet spot on the gain without worrying about peaking.
Overall, if you're looking to improve the sound of your instrument and vocal recordings this unit will most definitely give you what you're looking for, with only a few tweaks. Looks good, feels good, sounds great. However, I won't be actively recommending the preq-73 to other people, I want this sound only for myself!