Sponsored by TransAudio Group


Geoff Daking was always deeply-rooted in music. Living in New York during the 1960s and going to shows of some of the greatest jazz and rock acts from Thelonious Monk to Jimi Hendrix, sparked a flame that set him on his lifetime music path. First as drummer for the Blues Magoos and later as a recording engineer with a career that includes working with the likes of Meat Loaf and James Brown, Geoff always knew what “sounded good”.

It was 1993 when he first started making analog gear. He thought, why modern recording equipment often sounded worse than vintage gear. He identified the leading cause as poor cost/quality ratios. He then focused in on what could be done about it. Geoff’s solution was to form his own manufacturing company - Daking Audio.


More than meets the eye

Why not simply recreate vintage gear? For starters, it’s expensive, especially as there is a shortage - or in many cases a total lack of original components due to parts long out of production. Also, the component often compromised in modern mic preamps is the most expensive one: the transformer. They form the “bridge” between the microphone and the preamp, providing gain with (ideally) low noise and properly isolating the circuitry from the ground, ensuring that hum and other unwanted noise gets left out of the signal. Daking deploys legendary Jensen transformers on all their preamps - Jensen is a company that is widely considered to be among the very best (if not the best) transformer manufacturer in the business, with over four decades of excellence and experience. Jensen transformers are known to be extremely linear in their frequency response, exhibiting very low-distortion, and importantly are also as reliable as is possible. Daking’s designs use Class-A circuitry to achieve the lowest possible distortion, and they also take advantage of discrete amplifiers (instead of integrated circuits) for more headroom. Fundamentally, the principle of the Daking ethos is a combination of time-tested designs, modern day production methods, top quality components, and efficient American manufacturing.


Finding The One

It all starts with a microphone preamp, and Daking's blueprint for a preamp was appropriately named: Mic Pre One. So what exactly do most people want from an all-purpose mic pre? Loads of quiet noise-free gain, ample headroom, and fidelity to the source. A few extras such as a filter, input level metering and convenient connector types are always welcome too - that’s all there with the Mic Pre One.

The core of the Mic Pre One is built around a Jensen input transformer, followed by a gain control that goes from 20 to 75dB and a handy 12 dB per octave high-pass filter that goes up to 200Hz. It also features four buttons for the input selector (mic or instrument), phase/polarity flip, a pad with -20dB of gain attenuation and +48V phantom power for condenser microphones if needed.

The Mic Pre One is equipped with a digitally-controlled LED meter that boasts twenty segments from -20 to +25 with great resolution and it responds with true VU-ballistics for that familiar action that many engineers expect. It also displays useful peak-hold level information with a +26dB peak indicator for making sure the levels are always in check even when fast-hitting transients (that could go unnoticed on a traditional VU meter!) come into play.

With its superior sound quality, robust construction and eye-catching looks, the Mic Pre One made an instant impact on the recording studio industry right from the beginning, and now it has as many accolades as a microphone preamp can possibly have. It’s one of those rare times in our business when there is a clear-cut consensus around a piece of gear, and Daking got it so right that end users started asking for more channels…

One times two, one times four…and a bit more

Expansion of the format to offer more channels was inevitable, and this is how the Mic Pre II, IIT and 4T were born. The Mic Pre II, IIT and 4T are all (mostly) derived from Mic Pre One, offering two and four preamp channels respectively in a convenient, single-unit (1U) 19" rack format. These are essentially the ‘Mic Pre One-in-a-rack’, including the LED meters on each channel, but the 4T features a slightly different control layout with a concentric knob placed on each channel for the preamp gain and high-pass filter adjustments. The control set is also the same from the Mic Pre One, with input selector, polarity, gain pad and phantom power per channel right on the front panel for easy access.


The Mic Pre 4T and its distinctive concentric for gain and high-pass filter controls

For the IIT and 4T variants units Daking went beyond mere “channel multiplication” and added a few - but meaningful - improvements to the highly successful design (the “T” stands for the added Jensen transformer at the output stage, which was optional on the Mic Pre II). Daking also squeezed a few extra dBs of gain out of the circuit which gives them some extended headroom, but other than that it’s essentially the same preamp design with the same transparent, high-definition sound that captivated so many through Daking’s history. It’s worth mentioning that the extra transformers enable the outputs to feed two devices simultaneously through the low-impedance TRS and XLR connectors, which is super useful for applications such as setting up monitor paths or parallel processing chains.


The Mic Pre 4T’s back connectors includes two simultaneous outputs per channel

If you like (or have to) EQ at source, Daking also offers the Mic Pre EQ MKII, which is basically a “preamp plus equalizer” version of the Mic Pre. It is extremely useful for live sound applications thanks to its flexible EQ, and it’s the Daking to get if you’re bold enough to ‘commit when tracking’. It features four equalization bands with stepped frequency selection, and of course, the same distortion-free circuit design with 70dB of clean gain and the same input/output transformers from the other Mic Pres in the series. The EQ features two shelving bands for high and low frequencies and two bell-type bands for the upper and lower mids, all with five frequency selection options on each and continuously variable boost or cut from -15dB to +15 dB. The Mic Pre EQ MKII also features low and high pass filters with fixed frequency cutoff at 25 Hz and 20 kHz respectively. All the equalization bands can be individually bypassed and Daking has also included a global bypass for the EQ alongside a Mute button that cuts the output for the entire unit. Unlike its siblings, the Mic Pre EQ MKII also features an output level control that makes it easier to compensate for extreme EQ moves.


Applications

Daking’s preamps will work with just about any music styles across all genres, pairing perfectly with virtually any choice of microphone or instrument. Be it hard-hitting modern pop/rock productions or smooth soft jazz with mountains and valleys of dynamic range, Mic Pre One is a super choice to cover any situation where capturing a sound source with the utmost in quality is a requirement. Here are a few examples where Daking preamps can greatly enhance the quality of a recording, or simply present a performance for what it truly is in the most transparent way possible:
  • Mic Pre One is a superb option for solo artists recording one single source at a time, and thanks to its compact footprint it is a perfect fit for remote recording. Podcasters can also benefit greatly from its noise-free gain that is perfect for driving those big dynamic mics that they love. Electric or acoustic guitarists also have a home here thanks to the One’s flexible inputs.
  • Mic-Pre II/IIT is an excellent choice for singer-songwriters with the usual “instrument plus voice” setup. It will perform beautifully in scenarios with two microphones for acoustic instruments or a microphone plus an electric instrument thanks to its superb 1/4" line input. It’s also perfect for drummers getting the basics of a kick and snare foundation regardless of their playing style.
  • Mic-Pre 4T offers a range of applications that is much wider. Superb for drummers laying the groundwork - it offers a solid “kick, snare and stereo overheads” setup, and it also allows for some Glyn John-esque drum recording tricks. Keyboard and synth players can also benefit greatly from the 4T’s high-quality instrument inputs which could interface with a setup with two stereo keyboards or up to four mono synths. Duos and smaller acts with low-count input or microphone setups might also find a home in the 4T.
  • For those looking to upgrade their audio interface preamps with top-tier quality ones, choosing Daking is a wise choice that will future proof your rig - you’ll find yourself changing the audio interface due to yet another technological leap or new fancy connection protocol but your Daking gear can stay put!
  • Those with analog-to-digital converters with no onboard mic preamps can also benefit greatly from Daking’s offerings. Have a great converter or interface but with only line inputs? Choose your Daking preamp(s) of choice and you’re golden.

Availability and pricing

All Daking mic preamps are readily available worldwide through TransAudio group distribution. The suggested retail pricing for each unit is: Mic-Pre One $799, Mic Pre II and IIT $1199 and $1699 respectively, Mic Pre 4T $2999 and Mic Pre EQ MKII $1699 (all prices SRP/RRP, USD$, prices may vary and applicable taxes are not included).

Need more in your channel strip? Make sure to check Daking’s beautiful-sounding FET III and Comp II/IIT compressors as well, and if you like severe temptation, have a look at their incredible console too!

For more information on Daking Audio products, visit daking.com.