Art's Tube MP is exactly that, a tube mic pre-amp. It features xlr and 1/4inch inputs and outputs, and it is a desktop model which makes swapping cables a little bit more convienient. Newer models also include a decent VU meter and a brickwall limiter.
With the Tube MP, what you see is what you get. And in this case, it's not so much. Connectivity is quite ample, gain staging is sufficient for nearly any input source, phantom power and phase reversal are nice, and the limiting is a nice option but not all that great.
The controls are absurdly simple, a novice could use the Tube MP with no problem.
Setup and functionality are very straightforward though the lack of a power switch is a bit of a pain.
The manual is clear enough for what it has to say, which isn't much.
Sound quality? Well transparent would be the last word I would use to describe the Tube MP, moderately colored would be my choice. However, don't take that wrongly, what we all want from a tube mic-pre is to beef up or in some other way improve our sound.
The Tube MP accomplishes this quite well when you balance the price point with the overall product. The Tube MP does indeed impart some warmth to the signal but in my opinion it's more noticeable quality is a small amount of extra "focus" to the sound. In my experience the Tube MP has really helped with tightening up the upper midrange and treble of the source, and is helpful with virtually any microphone for adding a bit of "life" to the sound.
One thing to consider, Many complain that the included tube is just not all that great. The factory tube (12ax7a) is often replaced by the end user. A groove tube or a j-tubes replacement are common choices. Also, the unit can opperate with other 12a... tubes, a 12at7 for example. So, you may consider just swapping it out for a few other types and choosing the one that sounds the most pleasing to you.
As far as the complaints over the factory tube, I'm in agreement. The packaging claims, "built-in hand-selected 12ax7a tube." Well, if they mean to imply that some one actually picked a tube out of a box and manually installed it then I would say, "Yes indeed!" However, the idea that someone actuall installed a tube and then said, "This one's not quite good enough, let's try another!", is very unbelievable for a product of this price.
What to admire most about the Tube MP is the price, quite obviously. What to dislike the most is that for a certain amount of extra money you could have purchased something far superior.
For the price, the Tube MP beats anything else available and it has a "best bang for the buck" factor as well. It sounds decent, it works, what do you expect for less than 50$?
Consider this, Art's Pro Channel sells for approx. 300$. Is it worth 10x as much as the Tube MP? Probably more like 8x. But all the added features and overall functionality are worth the extra money.
When choosing this piece of gear I urge you to consider, "What do I really want out of this product?"
- What available effects, or type of effects, are there?
No effects, just a preamp.
- What connection types are there?
Jack & XLR, in & out.
- Is it rackable, or in rack form?
Not rackable, not a pedal, just a little box.
Has +20dB switch, input gain, output gain, phantom power, phase inverse.
So no high-pass filter...
- Is the general configuration/setup simple?
Couldn't really be much simpler.
- Is the sound or effects editing easy?
No editing, just in & out.
- Is the manual clear and sufficient?...
Can't remember ever needing it.
Problem: one led, that changes colour, no meters. It's green normally, then changes to orange or red when you get to or above 0dB. So, needless to say, using this to set levels is a bit like playing the lottery.
- Is the sound of your instruments or your microphones faithfully reproduced?
Is the pre-amp transparent or does it color the sound?
I haven't compared this side by side with other preamps on the same source so it's hard to tell. I doubt it's very transparent, then again i haven't noticed any major problems.
I've recorded bass through this, and vocals, amongst others and they were all quite ok to me.
- For how long have you been using it?
About 8 years.
- What thing do you like most/least about it?
Most: it's cheap now, and still better than most preamps on cheap little desks. Can be used as a DI...can provide phantom power...you can go in with a jack and go out on XLR...so you can have looong lengths of cable even with an instrument.
- Did you try many other models before getting this one?
None. There were none at the time.
- What is your opinion about the value for the price?
The price i paid was very high (950 Francs / £95 / 143 €) but now it's worth about 39 €. So would i buy it for £95 again? Hell no! Is it a bargain at 39€ ? Hell yes!
- Knowing what you know now, would you make the same choice?...
It has come in handy so i can't complain, sometimes i would have been stuck without it...and i will use it again for a gig...
But i will sell it sooner or later, i suppose. The question is...if you want to buy something like this, what else is there? Would you buy Behringer over ART? I wouldn't...
If you're playing a gig and going through a cheap desk then using this will definitely improve matters considerably.
If you're recording at home, i'm not sure this will of much use on its own.
The Art Tube MP is a simple, one channel tube based microphone preamp. Art offers up mostly affordable tube based gear that is aimed at home studio owners looking to warm up their sound a bit outside of the box. The mic pre has both 1/4" and XLR connections for both inputs and outputs and is powered up by a nine volt power supply. It's got built in phantom power, a phase reverse button, and a +20 db of gain, acting as a pad when not switched on. The tube inside of this is a 12AX7...
You really don't need to know anything in order to use the Art Tube MP. It's only got the basics you'd want with a mic pre and nothing more. It does however, give you independent input and output leveling control, which isn't something you'll find on most mic preamps. Other than that it's really a standard and simple mic pre, so I've never had a need to look at it's manual.
If you're looking to warm up your sound a bit outside of your audio interface and DAW, the Art Tube MP is a super cheap way to do so. It's not going to give you a super clean sound at all, but it's a warmer option when compared to any audio interfaces' preamps. I wouldn't use the Tube MP in a professional studio, as it's not up to par, but in a home studio it's a perfect fit. It's so cheap that almost anyone can afford it, and for this reason it's an incredibly well selling product. It's not going to tear down any barriers in terms of it's sound, but when compared with what most people are using with their audio interface, it's a lot warmed and fuller sounding.
The Art Tube MP is the best way to get a tube microphone preamp for less than $100 US dollars. It's the perfect supplement to your audio interfaces' preamps, which most of the time can sound dull and lifeless. If you want to put together a home studio spending as little money as possible, but still want at least a tube based mic pre for warmer sounds, the Art Tube MP is the ticket you're looking for...
Ahhh Art. Offering VERY inexpensive gear to anyone in a pinch or anyone looking to get started. Well, when someone asks for a cheap preamp at a music store, the Art Tube MP is usually what the salesman directs one toward. It is a very inexpensive single-channel tube preamplifier for those looking to give their sound just a bit of that notorious tube warmth directly in the signal chain.
The Tube MP is actually quite generous, giving you 1/4" and XLR connections for inputs AND outputs (not something you see often in budget gear). It has all of the obvious things that people don't seem to notice until they need them: phantom power, phase reverse and a strange button offering 20db of gain, which is just a convoluted way to add a 20db pad into the machine.
There's nothing particularly special about the Art Tube MP except for the fact that it allows you to adjust BOTH input and output. Once again, I must also mention the XLR outputs, which quite frankly, mean a bit more than most people realize.
This is of course where the opinion on the Tube MP splits. Yes, the Art Tube MP WILL impart a certain tube fullness to the signal chain. No, it will not do it terribly efficiently. The Tube MP suffers from an unfortunate but understandable "budget grit." I won't attempt to describe it; the Tube MP's low price and resultant popularity ensures sound samples galore for anyone to look up.
I won't say that it's bad though. If used in a busy mix, the Tube MP is a very cheap way to get a good fat sound in the chain, but I would personally never use it against a solid-state preamp like my trusty M-Audio DMP3 on a quieter recording.
The Tube MP is probably where people initially go when they want a dedicated preamp for the first time. It definitely manages its market well. clearly differentiating itself from the vanilla and sterile preamps that tend to come in most beginner interfaces that most people start off on.
For not a lot of money, and a clear idea of its limitations and what you want out of it, the Art Tube MP is a pretty darn steal. But make sure your purchase is educated, because very few people in the world who deal with this don't have a terrifyingly polar opinion about this brilliant little box.