AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp


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Product Code: 9999-11276
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The AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp puts a single channel of AEA's original RPQ preamp and CurveShaper EQ circuit into your 500-Series rack. The RPQ500 is an indispensable 500-Series preamp for any ribbon microphone user.

AEA puts the same thought and care into the RPQ500 as they put into the development of their microphones - the sound of the music comes first. Building on the obstacles identified when designing preamps in the 50's, AEA now incorporates modern tools like quiet JFETS and transformerless designs to construct clean, high gain, high impedance preamps. The RPQ500 leans on the side of neutral but is unlike other clean preamps because of its rich and musical tonality. Designed after the successful RPQ preamp, the RPQ500 module provides the same signal path that has earned AEA preamps their great reputation, but in a 500 series package.

JFET circuit topology provides all the dynamics, subwoofer bass, and fast transients that your microphones can record. The NoLoad input impedance above 10K Ohms means the RPQ won't load down a mic and change its sound. Low Energy Storage circuit design instantly recovers from overloads for superior dynamic performance. The original RPQ with CurveShaper was designed to fully capture every nuance of ribbon microphones: vintage or modern, passive or phantom powered. Engineers have discovered that the RPQ500 also complements their moving coil, condenser mics. By virtue of its sonic qualities and versatility, the VPR Alliance approved AEA RPQ500 is the tool of choice for all microphones whenever a true and pristine signal path is desired.

Two Peas in a Pod: Musical Preamp, Sweet EQ
The CurveShaper's high-frequency filter boost enables you to add a little extra "presence" or "air" to your source. The circuit functions similarly to a conventional parametric shelving boost, but with a significant difference: the slope varies as both the CurveShaper and HF Gain controls are adjusted. This unique bell curve was designed with the intention to compensate for the high-frequency roll-off that is inherent to most ribbon microphones. But beyond ribbon mics, the smooth HF filter is remarkably well suited for brightening up condenser mics used at a distance, restore presence in overly "dry" acoustical environments, or even as a clean and transparent air-band boost on the 2-bus.

The CurveShaper's low-frequency control easily removes boxiness and boominess in a fast and unobtrusive way. Ribbon mics are capable of delivering strong subwoofer lows, and can have a significant bass proximity effect. Such strong low-frequency content can mask high-frequency intelligibility, so the tunable LF filter was engineered to tame low-frequency energy to appropriate levels. Its -20dB shelving curve is ideally suited to reduce excessive proximity effect, opening up new possibilities to use ribbon mics in close-up applications.

Your Sound At Your Fingertips
With mixing consoles disappearing from control rooms, dedicated preamps can take on the role of providing a high-quality front end giving you intuitive control to make critical decisions during tracking rather than “fixing it in the mix. The RPQ500 is a workhorse tool for your API 500 compatible rack. The Line/Mic switch bypasses the microphone gain stage and allows the EQ to be used for tracking with other preamps or during mixdown. Add the output level control, and the RPQ500 becomes a high-quality processing tool that can be used for mixing and mastering when combined with summing racks and mixers such as the Purple Audio Moiyn or the Roll Music Folcrom.

AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp Features

  • One channel with 81dB of sweet and quiet JFET gain for all mics
  • High frequency CurveShaper EQ and low frequency proximity control
  • Mic and line inputs for mixdown EQ versatility
  • Switchable phantom power, polarity, line/mic, and EQ inserts
  • NoLoad 10k Ohm high-impedance circuitry providing better overall transients, frequency response, and higher output sensitivity
  • External Features:
    • Laser engraved front panel markings
    • Grayhill series 71 stepped gain switch

AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp Specifications

  • Gain at 1kHz: 81dB of gain at 1kHz, balanced-in to balanced-out in Microphone Input Mode
  • Noise figure, rms A-weighted: < 2dB
  • Noise figure, rms unweighted: < 3dB, 20 kHz LPF bandwidth
  • EIN: < -130 dBu A-weighted, 150 Ohm resistive source
  • Frequency response: -3dB < 1Hz and > 100 kHz
  • THD: < 0.02% at 1 kHz
  • Input impedance: 10K Ohms
  • Balanced Line Input Impedance: 20K Ohms
  • Input Gain control: Twelve-position switch provides from +13dB to +62dB of gain for the preamplifier circuit, as measured between the input and the before the output line driver.
  • Switched LF Shelving filter:
  • -3dB break-frequency tunable from 18 Hz to 360 Hz; maximum reduction -20dB.
  • Switched CurveShape EQ: +3dB break-frequency tunable from 2.5 kHz to 30 kHz; HF gain adjustable from +0 dB to +18 dB; the slope of the HF filter varies interactively and directly with the CurveShaper frequency and gain settings
  • Color LEDs:
    • Green
    • Yellow
    • Red
  • XLR output maximum level into 600Ω load: +28 dBu, balanced; 0 dBu = 0.7746 V rms
  • XLR connectors polarity: Pin-1 is ground, pin-2 is high, pin-3 is low
  • LED signal level indicators:
    • Green snaps on at -6 dBu
    • Red snaps on at +23 dBu
    • Yellow varies in brightness with level from -3 dBu to +20 dBu.
  • External Features:
    • Laser engraved front panel markings
    • Grayhill series 71 stepped gain switch
  • Internal Operating Voltage: Bipolar 17V
  • Physical Dimensions:
    • Size: 1.5 w, 6.8 d, 4.5 h (3.8cm x 17.27cm x 11.43cm)
    • Weight: 11.7oz (~0.33 kg)

AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp Includes

  • AEA RPQ500 500-Series Microphone Preamp
  • Owners Manual & Literature
  • Manufacturer Warranty

7 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Great compliment for my ribbon mic
    Todd Johnson

    Purchased the RPQ500 to bring my vintage RCA 44A to life. Works great as standalone, and behind my Coil CA-70S in line mode to add some color. The Low Freq Cut and Curve Freq are great additions to dialing in the sound, and the gain gives me great sound without excessive noise floor.

  • 5
    More Than Just A Ribbon Pre!
    Davy Bui

    So I bought this as part of a set with the AEA R88 mk2 stereo ribbon and of course, the entire set sounded amazing! But surprisingly, it is capable of so much more. The JFET sound surprisingly often beats out transformer / vibe pre's for my synths and the curve gain EQ behaves how I always wish the Maag Air frequency and similar plug-ins behaved. One of the my favorites!

  • 5
    Clarity defined!!
    Benjy Johnson

    I purchased a pair of RPQ 500 preamps as part of the rack attack bundle. Not only do they compliment my AEA N22 ribbon mic incredibly, but are my go-to "clean" pres on everything with a number of different mics, not just ribbons.. All percussion and acoustic instruments sit perfectly in the mix. The two band shelving is dialed in perfect,also. Great great stuff!! Wes and the AEA people are top notch!

  • 5
    Another Wonderful AEA Product
    Steve McCabe

    Bought it to use with an AEA R84. Really brought the mic to life and sounds beautiful. Using it as a bass DI was a little difficult. There is no 1/4" input and I had to use a Countryman DI box. It worked great though and the "curve-shaping" EQ makes the RPQ500 useful for a bunch of stuff. A great overall value.

  • 4
    Clear, punchy, versatile
    Tim Burns

    These pre's are clear, punch and versatile! Just like it says in the headline! Paired with my AEA-R88 stereo ribbon, it's a match made in studio Nirvana (the mythical afterworld, not the band).

  • 5
    Michelangelo T.

    Amazing preamp. Gets the best out of your ribbon mics, tube condensers, and dynamics. Can't go wrong with a pair of these.

  • 5
    Mind your RPQs
    Ray D Hyde jr

    Very nice mic pre. Brought my ribbon to life. Can't wait to try it on other mics.

What We Think


With the AEA RPQ500 ribbon microphone preamplifier and CurveShaper, AEA again delivers a very useful to-the-point-of-necessary device to get the most gorgeous sound possible from your ribbon microphones. The full rackmount unit of the original RPQ (and now the new RPQ2) has been a favorite of ours here at Front End Audio and this new 500-Series unit is no exception to its lineage. The RPQ500 is perfect for whoever is either just getting into the 500-series format or whoever is already well ensconced in the 500-series club. Plus, it lets you add one preamp at a time since both the TRP and the RPQ2 are 2-channel units. The long list of features, sonic revelry, and general ease of getting the results you need - quickly, have made the RPQ500 a hit among artists and engineers with discriminating ears.

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