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API 512c vs Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKII
Old 18th January 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
API 512c vs Golden Age Project Pre-73 MKII

I'm looking to get advice from as many people as possible. I am looking to get my first mic pre and think I have it narrowed down to GAP 73 MKII and API 512c.

This week I will be getting a AT4050 mic and a Martin HD-35 acoustic. I want to get a great recording of my acoustic guitar and also my vocals and bass guitar and is the reason I want the mic pre.

Between these two can you guys give me personal feedback on them if you have used them or seen them in action.

I don't want a cheap pre that won't highlight my gears talents. But can't afford 'Pro" gear.
Price budget is $300-$600.

If something is $650 obviously I would get it if it served me better.

Thanks in advance ~Rock On!
Old 18th January 2012
  #2
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Also keep in mind I will have to order the API 512c online, and many places don't do returns (ebay). On top of that I would need to purchase the lunchbox so I can even use it.

Makes me push more towards the GAP 73
Old 18th January 2012
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Paulie Storm's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Have you looked at the UA 710 twinfinity? I've been going through the same you have been and I think I narrowed it down to the UA. Not sure if you have a max budget or not but the UA is pretty good for the money. Just my opinion. Good luck!

edit: my bad I just saw your budget. The lunchbox alone will eat that up :-)

Sent from my DROIDX using Gearslutz.com
Old 18th January 2012
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYMusicMan ➑️
I don't want a cheap pre that won't highlight my gears talents. But can't afford 'Pro" gear.
When did my 512c's become not 'Pro'!!!
They are fabulous mic pres.
Old 18th January 2012
  #5
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Cody's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah, if you can't afford pro level gear (which the 512c most definitely is) but are looking for something with that vibe - or at the very least want to look into - maybe check out the Black Lion Audio B12A?

I have not used it, but just wanted to jump in and say that it is kind of ridiculous that the 512c would be lumped in with "cheap" gear.

--

EDIT: Whoops, I meant to say I haven't used the Black Lion preamp... I have definitely used 512c's, they are God's gift to rock and roll.

Last edited by Cody; 19th January 2012 at 07:19 AM.. Reason: Idiot sentence structure.
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #6
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superwack's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cody ➑️
Yeah, if you can't afford pro level gear (which the 512c most definitely is) but are looking for something with that vibe - or at the very least want to look into - maybe check out the Black Lion Audio B12A?

I have not used it, but just wanted to jump in and say that it is kind of ridiculous that the 512c would be lumped in with "cheap" gear.
other than i HAVE used the 512c, what he said ^^^^^

Why do you think the 512c is NOT pro? It's absolutely 100%, no dispute, a pro level mic preamp!
Old 19th January 2012
  #7
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Enlightened Hand's Avatar
 
16 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
The 512 is a wonderful preamp. It sounds great in just about every situation that one might want it in. I have used API pres many times and I enjoy their sound. They are arguably one of the most useful pieces of gear available (the 512c that is). They are definitely not something one would likely sell quickly.

However,

I have also used and own a Pre 73 and I must say, different though it might be from the 512, it's also an exceptional preamp. By no means is it not "pro" in build quality or sound. It is more affordable due to less expensive components used in it and where it's assembled. But no "crap" was used and it's built to last. The sound is full (though not quite as full as a 1073) and it's open and smooth on the top. It has plenty of headroom and I have never found any problematic amount of noise from it. For a person looking for an affordable, great sounding preamp the Pre 73 is an excellent choice, in stock form. It does not suck.

IMO the only thing that keeps it from being universally accepted as an exceptional preamp in it's own right is the fact that it so obviously is marketed as akin to a 1073, which invites comparison and often disdain from those that hate the notion of attempting to copy that classic sound while using less expensive components. Other than that, don't let the price fool you. Everything I have run through the Pre 73 sounds great from drums to vocals to guitars to line-in tracks for mixing. The gain design makes it very flexible if you wish to intentionally overdrive it for effect too. It does not suck.
Old 19th January 2012
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Given your price range the GAP 73 is a no brainer, given any price range they are still a great pre. Plus the GAP actually has more features (like impedance switching, and the ability to control saturation levels), they have more gain, and the two I own are very quiet (although it's the consensus here on gearslutz that they aren't all built equal)

Out of the box they spec better than the 512, which is "better" overall is all preference. Although it's worth noting that the GAP beats a lot of very expensive high end pres in blind tests very frequently. Search around the forums and you'll be able to find some audio samples.
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #9
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by toolate4roses ➑️
Out of the box they spec better than the 512

come on now
what spec? the dollar spec?
specs don't mean anyhting

512 is a legendary unit. Gap pre is a toy
Old 19th January 2012
  #10
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🎧 10 years
I like both. The gap for me though isn't quite the same as a 1073, though thats not necessarily a bad thing. Get it modded if you want to make the best of it... (theres a great shootout between a stock and modded gap73 here on GS...do a search for it)

For me, its like a Vintech x73/i lite version.....though for a quarter of the price (if even!) Its by far better value.

The api512 is am amazing unit also, but to my ears it gives a little more punch or slight hype in the highs....
Oh and I mean this not as a criticism but as a point that it can make things sound that but more awesome. I like them on heavy guitar and snare and kick drums especially. I love the 512, its just the initial cost of one is rediculous (lunchbox plus unit.... I wish a standalone version would be announced at namm2012...ahh, a man can dream)

If I'm honesty though, if your source isn't of a high quality to begin with, and in a room that complements the source, mic pre aint going to be worth a dam. Thats why I only ever advise going down the external pre route once you can get a good / great sound with stock sound card pres. No point trying to run before you can walk...

best of luck...
Old 19th January 2012
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
come on now
what spec? the dollar spec?
specs don't mean anyhting

512 is a legendary unit. Gap pre is a toy

API: 65 dB gain, phase reverse, phantom, pad, DI
GAP: 80dB gain, phase reverse, phantom, DI, impedance switcher.

GAP lacks a pad, but I can't bring myself to use the pad on the 512 anyways as it changes the sound too much (to my ears). The impedance switch is a feature I absolutely love

That being said I also have two of the API's. Each are better at certain things, I love them both BECAUSE they are different and can serve different purposes when needed . They both see the same amount of action and in no way is the GAP out of its league. Far from a "toy".
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYMusicMan ➑️
Also keep in mind I will have to order the API 512c online, and many places don't do returns (ebay). On top of that I would need to purchase the lunchbox so I can even use it.

Makes me push more towards the GAP 73
No one is putting a gun to you head to buy one, but there is a 99 percent chance that you would not want it or like it..
Hey there are many comes up for sell here on GS with LB, cheaper than new.
Maybe I have no room to talk, what is a Gap 73 pre? is this a high end, low end or no end piece. Never heard of one, serious.
Old 19th January 2012
  #13
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Ragan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
come on now
what spec? the dollar spec?
specs don't mean anyhting

512 is a legendary unit. Gap pre is a toy
I agree that specs are silly on a Pre, but what are you talking about? Have you ever held a Pre73, looked inside one, or run any signal through one? It is most certainly not a toy. It's a tank that sounds great. Buzz and hype aside, its a great pre.

And yes, I have had and love 512s.



Sent from my ADR6300 using Gearslutz.com
Old 19th January 2012
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
why not buy it new so you CAN return if you want
Old 19th January 2012
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
WHats up everyone, thank you all for your feed back and for helping me with my first ever successful thread!

For starters, I didn't mean to say the API 512c wasn't "pro". I realize it is highly regarded as a great pre. All I meant in describing pro was solely on price comparison, meaning I couldn't afford a $2000 piece of gear. Or even $1000 for that matter. When you look at the cost of the API plus the cost for the lunch box that puts you at $1000 or over. Sorry for confusion.

After all things considered, last night I pulled the trigger and ordered the GAP 73 MKII from American Music Supply!! I do not work for them I assure you I never market companies unless I believe in them enough to recommend them. But all I wanted to say is this sale was a no brainer, they price matched for me and I got $35 off, free shipping, a 1 year warranty extension, a 3 payment plan which was also why I jumped on it, It cost me $108 to have it sent out, and to top it all off as I was heading to work at 11am the package was on my steps!! Holy crap, thats the fastest shipment i ever got! Again, just pointing out how happy I was as a first time customer of theirs.

Anyway, I will be testing it out this weekend and update you all on my findings.

One last question, Someone wrote that the mic-pre isn't worth much if your room quality isn't good at the source (not in those exact words I know). What does this mean? I have a monthly rental space for a studio and I could add some improvements to the room if it is to say it will help my "quality". I don't have foam on my walls which I could add to help with reverberation in the room, and help with standing waves. I do have a decent amount of reverb in the room which sometimes I like when practicing.

Do you guys have opinions on this? Will room improvements help me get a better sound going in to the micpre? Does it actually help the pre sound better?

I know many studios have reflective rooms, some have live end-dead end rooms, i also know they spent a fortune to get the design right for what sound they desired.

Any personal experience or advice for me? Thanks again everyone. These forums really help!
Old 19th January 2012
  #16
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Ragan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Not to speak for the person who posted that, but they probably meant that the somewhat subtle (but very important) improvements a better mic pre will add to your signal pale in comparison to the negative impact of a bad sounding room.

Room ambience can be great for lots of stuff. But I'd say in most instances of single track stuff, i.e. vox, guitar, you don't want a lot of reflections in your sound.

Even if your room doesn't sound 'bad' to play in live, reflections make it into your mic and can add weird phase stuff making your sound less clear and focused.

Throw some rockwool in the corners of most any room and a few panels on the wall at your early and late reflection points (do a search...) of your mix position and you'll hear way better and you'll get better sounds.

Also, you can cheaply and easily make some little gobos for stuff like micing amps that can really help in tracking.

Have fun!
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #17
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand ➑️
The 512 is a wonderful preamp. It sounds great in just about every situation that one might want it in. I have used API pres many times and I enjoy their sound. They are arguably one of the most useful pieces of gear available (the 512c that is). They are definitely not something one would likely sell quickly.

However,

I have also used and own a Pre 73 and I must say, different though it might be from the 512, it's also an exceptional preamp. By no means is it not "pro" in build quality or sound. It is more affordable due to less expensive components used in it and where it's assembled. But no "crap" was used and it's built to last. The sound is full (though not quite as full as a 1073) and it's open and smooth on the top. It has plenty of headroom and I have never found any problematic amount of noise from it. For a person looking for an affordable, great sounding preamp the Pre 73 is an excellent choice, in stock form. It does not suck.

IMO the only thing that keeps it from being universally accepted as an exceptional preamp in it's own right is the fact that it so obviously is marketed as akin to a 1073, which invites comparison and often disdain from those that hate the notion of attempting to copy that classic sound while using less expensive components. Other than that, don't let the price fool you. Everything I have run through the Pre 73 sounds great from drums to vocals to guitars to line-in tracks for mixing. The gain design makes it very flexible if you wish to intentionally overdrive it for effect too. It does not suck.
The real question I think is how well a preamp stacks, or how well it takes EQ and compression.
I have found that often with cheap preamps, if you record just one track they sound passable, but if you record more, then it's an other story...

Also, for me the "resolution" of the sound is very important. With real pro preamps you get much more tolerance to tone shaping using EQ and compression and other kinds of processing or effects. The sound doesn't fall apart so quickly as with a cheap preamp.

Also a pro level preamp can hold itself in a mix, having more "body", not disappearing behind other mix elements like cheap preamps do.

So, what do you think in this regard about the GAP 73 mkII?...
Old 19th January 2012
  #18
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Enlightened Hand's Avatar
 
16 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I think it does well. It "stacks" fine, sounds great in a mix. You could easily track an entire record through it. In my experience tracks sound very good when passed through the Pre 73 either when you equalize them after the fact or leave them as they are. In every way it's a great sounding, functioning preamp. It just happens to be affordable.

It's in no way low quality. The main detractors in my opinion haven't used one seriously or wouldn't know a good pre by listening, or have an agenda to bad mouth anything they don't want to see others like. Because simply using the thing and listening to the way it performs in diverse circumstances it reveals itself to be every bit a great sounding pre. At the price it's at it's a no brainer if that's the budget you're working with. It's not a 1073. But it does enough of what the 1073 does character wise for the comparison not to matter. Take it on it's own terms.
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #19
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Ragan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand ➑️

It's in no way low quality. The main detractors in my opinion haven't used one seriously or wouldn't know a good pre by listening, or have an agenda to bad mouth anything they don't want to see others like. Because simply using the thing and listening to the way it performs in diverse circumstances it reveals itself to be every bit a great sounding pre. At the price it's at it's a no brainer if that's the budget you're working with. It's not a 1073. But it does enough of what the 1073 does character wise for the comparison not to matter. Take it on it's own terms.
Thank you. Exactly. It's a very good quality pre in the realm of the 1073 sound. It's smoothing in the highs and has a little low mid oomph. I have no idea why anyone would badmouth it. Is it the greatest pre ever? No. Is it claiming to be? No. Is it a very good pre that happens to be only a few hundred bucks? Yes. What's not to like?
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #20
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragan ➑️
I agree that specs are silly on a Pre, but what are you talking about? Have you ever held a Pre73, looked inside one, or run any signal through one? It is most certainly not a toy. It's a tank that sounds great. Buzz and hype aside, its a great pre.
And yes, I have had and love 512s.
If it's so great why do they mod them with Motorola 2N3055 and
Carnhill trannys?

the power supply is a 1/4 inch away from the amplifier circuit
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #21
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Ragan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
If it's so great why do they mod them with Motorola 2N3055 and
Carnhill trannys?

the power supply is a 1/4 inch away from the amplifier circuit
I don't see how anyone modding something says anything about it's stock sound, other than that person likes the sound better with a different part in it.
And as far as tranny's and component specs, great theory does not necessarily make great sound. Why do people bounce drum tracks to 1" tape machines? All it does is degrade the signal. But it's in a way that people enjoy. Mathematically it's 'worsening' the sound, but it sounds good, so we do it.

As far as the GAP, do you have something aesthetically against a power supply being cozy with an amp circuit or do you just worry about noise? My GAP's are very quiet, even cranked, so I personally could care less where the power supply is.

All I care about is how they sound and whether they'll hold up to use. My Pre73s sound great and are very solid, therefore I like them.
Old 19th January 2012
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
If it's so great why do they mod them with Motorola 2N3055 and
Carnhill trannys?

the power supply is a 1/4 inch away from the amplifier circuit
Doesn't matter how it sounds on paper. People mod their API's with red dots in place of the 2520 all the time. If they are so good why would you need to mod them?
Old 19th January 2012
  #23
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Robert, i'm not an argumentative person. I have never even used my unit yet since it came today. But truth is I don't believe you have ever used one either. If so you would have been able to provide some useful input on how it sounds and give some intelligent sounding opinions.
I don't see why you are so hateful and angry towards people that have actual feedback from real life applications. Did you spend a fortune on a preamp that you dislike or that isn't even on par with this great piece of gear? That's how it is coming off.

If you are referring to the mods people do to add some quality improvements, you are correct that they swap out some parts for higher quality parts. However, it's still debatable if the Mod's are even worth the cost. Yes some people love the mods. But many, many people love the sound right out of the box. Others can't even tell the difference between the mod version or factory. Or it's such a tiny difference it may have been worth investing in a different piece of gear to add to the collection than spending the extra $250-$300 for the mod.

I've listened to the sound clips on this site, and truth is I almost like the factory version better myself. There is something about the mod that I don't care for so much. And I also don't think it's a huge difference either.

Here is the link with sound samples for everyone to decide for themselves.

People get caught up with what other peoples Idea's are of great sounding gear, I do it myself. Obviously since i started this thread asking opinions. I even almost bought into the idea of getting the mod for the very reason you mentioned with the Motorola, and carnhill tranny's. Seems like the way to go. But before actual usage in real life situations and being able to get hands on experience with the gear, it's hard for anyone to really say which is better or sounds better. Because it's only speculation and creates the need to play on the branding game. Only individually can we say which is better "for us personally", each person will like something different.

So let people who are happy with them, be happy with them. It's definitely a great piece of gear, maybe not your choice, but really...who cares!
Old 19th January 2012
  #24
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
woops heres that link to compare the unmodded vs modded GAP-73MKII
1073 Test: Chameleon Labs 7602 vs Golden Age PRE73 vs Neve 1073
Old 19th January 2012
  #25
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5 Reviews written
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Why do all preamp threads lead to an argument? It seems like microphone threads always end in everyone agreeing to disagree, but preamp threads for some reason....
Old 19th January 2012 | Show parent
  #26
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Ragan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Sound ➑️
Why do all preamp threads lead to an argument? It seems like microphone threads always end in everyone agreeing to disagree, but preamp threads for some reason....
It is weird.
Old 20th January 2012 | Show parent
  #27
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Enlightened Hand's Avatar
 
16 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
If it's so great why do they mod them with Motorola 2N3055 and
Carnhill trannys?

the power supply is a 1/4 inch away from the amplifier circuit
They mod it because they want to. And the power supply is external.
Old 20th January 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand ➑️
They mod it because they want to. And the power supply is external.
+1.

To be fair, even with the mod (which imho turns the 73 from ok to very good) its still cheaper than a api512 and that's before you factor in a lunchbox cost (if you don't already have one).

I like the 73. I'm thinking of getting one for stereo 1073-ish sound, though I'dget the modded kind...and for the record I own a Vintech x73i which imho is the closest to if the 1073 clones to the original....alot close to the price too! Got a great price on it so for stereo recordings a gap 73 modded will do fine imho.

Sent from my GT-I9000 using Gearslutz.com
Old 20th January 2012 | Show parent
  #29
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by toolate4roses ➑️
Doesn't matter how it sounds on paper. People mod their API's with red dots in place of the 2520 all the time. If they are so good why would you need to mod them?
there are not many people who have 2520s who swap them out. How many 2520s do you see sell in 5 minutes on ebay or the classifieds
for top dollar? how many of those great Chinese transformers and transistors pulled from gap pres do you see for sale? you couldn't give them away.

People who swap 2520s don't throw away the original. Plus they are still using the API tranny which is signature.
Old 20th January 2012 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand ➑️
They mod it because they want to. And the power supply is external.
i think the power supply is actually internal.
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