With the advent of more and more mic preamps on the market, some of the manufacturers are taking into account that the majority of studios are DAW (Pro Tools 001, MOTU Digital Performer, etc.) home/project studios. Great River Electronics MP-2NV dual-channel mic preamp has addressed these points by delivering great sound, and some very useful functions for the DAW user.
Product PointsApplications: Studio
Key Features: Two-channel; input and output impedance switches; insert; DI input; phantom power
Contact: Great River Electronics at 651-455-1846, Web Site.
The MP-2NV ($2,699) boasts several useful features. On each channel there is an input and an output volume control, accompanied by an input and an output vertical LED meter. (I got used to these meters very quickly.) Each channel has a 1/4-inch (send/return) insert point in the rear panel allowing you to insert outboard gear just before the preamp’s final gain stage, and consequently before the output volume control.
The front panel has the usual polarity and phantom switches on each channel. One nice touch was that of the input impedance switch (either 300 ohms or 1200 ohms) which came in handy with older ribbon mics requiring more gain. Also included is an output load switch, which puts a 600 ohm impedance across the output signal. I used this more for tonal purposes than technical.
If you are running a host-based DAW, and are dealing with latency delay while recording, the MP-2NV offers a rear panel secondary output (a mult of the output) on each channel at -10 dB. This secondary 1/4-inch unbalanced output can feed your console and headphone system latency-free, while the main XLR balanced output feeds your recording system’s computer.
As I was starting to record the band Rush of Ushers from Sweden’s Atenzia record label, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try Dan Kennedy’s Great River mic preamp. In order to get as much experience with these units as possible, Dan allowed us to use the preamp throughout two entire sessions – on a variety of instruments, with a variety of microphones.
Initially, we used the MP on the two Oktava 012 mics we used as drum overheads in an X-Y pattern. The sound was amazingly very natural. By carefully positioning these overhead mics, we captured a superb drum kit sound, adding only a Shure Beta 52 on the kick drum and the snare’s Shure SM57 for definition.
Then on to a Fender P-Bass to test the DI input. Again, a great natural sound with plenty of bottom and a surprising amount of clarity as you played up the neck.
One of the real surprises came while recording the various guitar amps with the Royer 121 ribbon mic, and Royer 122 (phantom powered ribbon mic). The combination was superb. Actually, in speaking with Dan at Great River, and Dave Royer, John Jennings and Rick Perrotta at Royer Labs, I found that Dan had the Royer microphones in mind when designing these preamps. When using the Royer 121, and most ribbons, a tremendous amount of gain is usually needed from the mic preamp. To address this, adjust the MP-2NV’s input impedance switch when using these mics, and gain is no longer an issue.
Additionally, on a second project (Stephanie Richards/Brian Arbuckle), instruments recorded were cellos, violins, acoustic guitars, and Stephanie’s vocals. Again, the response to the preamp was that it sounded amazingly “natural.” Especially with the concert strings. Mics used were the Rode NTK on Stephanie’s vocal, and the Neumann U 87 and Audio-Technica AT4041 on acoustic guitar, tambourine, dumbek and zarb and other various percussion.
On the bass guitar, using the direct input, there was plenty of bottom balanced with tremendous detail.
With Stephanie’s vocal, we definitely noticed the MP-2NV’s “natural” sound, flat response, and additional headroom. Ultimately the detail was once again better on the MP-2NV than with other preamps we had.
The MP-2NV quickly became the choice for both projects, though we had several other “top” mic preamps available. The “natural” and detailed sound, the input and output meters, and the ‘insert’ point gave us everything we needed both sonically and technically. Add the secondary output on each channel to eliminate latency, and you’ll find that Great River has indeed delivered a great sounding, very well researched and designed, unit.