AEA RPQ500 500 Series Pre/EQ To ensure that engineers have a high-quality mic pre option specifically designed for (but thankfully not limited to) use with ribbon microphones, Audio Engineering Associates (AEA) first released The Ribbon Mic Pre, followed by the AEA RPQ, and then most recently, the RPQ500, a 500-Series version of the RPQ. The RPQ 500 is a single-channel, 500 Series mic pre ($649) that includes a sweepable Low Frequency Filter circuit and the smooth, natural and simple yet highly powerful Curve Shaper high-band shelving EQ.
The robust RPQ500 uses a three-stage signal level/clip LED for coarse level indication. The 12-step Input Gain rotary switch varies the preamplifier gain from +7 dB to +56 dB, while the Output Gain control provides an additional +19 dB gain. With the +6 dB of gain provided by the FET output circuit, at maximum amplification, the RPQ500 provides +81 dB of clean gain. The RPQ500’s mic input is balanced with a 10 k ohm impedance that prevents the pre from loading down a ribbon mic and changing its sound. A line input allows the EQ section to be used during mixdown or for recording with another preamp.
I’ve been using the PRQ500 consistently for over a year. While coupling the device with a ribbon mic is its forte, it is also works well with a wide variety of sound sources and microphones.
I’ve successfully used it to record kick drum with an AKG D112, snare drum with a Heil PR20, vocals with a Sony C-800G, and acoustic guitar with a Neumann KM-86i.
I began using ribbon microphones to capture lead vocals back in the early ’90s. By the time I recorded the vocal on the classic “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer (recorded with a Coles 4038 via Hardy M-1 mic pre, GML 8200 EQ and Tube-Tech CL-1B compressor), I had figured out a vocal EQ approach with the GML that I felt perfectly complimented the tonal qualities of a ribbon microphone: a 2 db to 4 dB low-shelf dip at a corner frequency around 300 Hz and a 2-5 dB high-shelf boost around 5 kHz.
The RPQ500’s LF shelf and CurveShaper EQ perfectly emulate this GML setting and the clean-yet-punchy tone of the mic pre is in the exact vein of the Hardy M1.
I’ve run the ribbon gamut with the RPQ500, using it to record vocals with an AEA A440 and a Coles 4038, mandolin with a Royer SF-1A, acoustic guitar with a Royer R-101, flute with a Beyer M160, electric guitar with a Royer R-121 and sax with a AEA-R92; superb results were had in every instance.
Audio Engineering Associates (AEA)