LaChapell Audio 992EG Stereo Tube Preamp
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The LaChapell Audio 992EG Stereo Tube Preamp is a two channel fully balanced all-tube preamplifier and instrument input amplifier. Meticulously hand assembled, every aspect of the LaChapell Audio 992EG speaks of our dedication to quality of sound and solid, robust construction. Utilizing a total of eight vacuum tubes promises that the 992 will absolutely awaken your ears with its warm melodic character and rich low-end response. But, what makes the 992 such a powerful preamp is the level of control the user has over both the input and output stages. Allowing the user to actually throttle gain in or out of either the input stage (for loads of character) or the output stage (for a more clear, transparent response) by way of fully variable potentiometers secures the 992 as one of the most flexible vacuum tube preamps available in today's market.
For the 992's input stage we chose one of Jensen's best microphone input transformers; the JT-115k. along with two 12AX7/ ECC83 vacuum tubes per channel; allowing a generous >74dB of raw internal gain. With over 40dB of gain deployed to the input pot alone, your ability to drive and explore the sonic potential of this amplifier becomes very dramatic. The harder you push the input stage the more harmonics are generated; even into 15~20% distortion! And, since this is a balanced amplifier (meaning both negative and positive rails are amplified internally) the distortion will sound compressed and full of energy. The direct instrument input (Hi-Z) stage on the 992 utilizes the high performance Cinemag CM-DBX direct transformer hich feeds the balanced differential amplifier input. This double balanced approach allows for an extremely quiet Hi-Z stage; renowned for it's rich, clear, full sound- highly favored among electric guitar and bass players.
The 992's output stage features a cross-coupled push-pull topology which includes two 12AU7 tubes in parallel with the Jensen JT-11BM line output transformer to balance the outputs. Unlike the input stage, this stage was intentionally designed to be extremely clear and difficult to overdrive. If you're looking for a crystal clear signal for your acoustic guitar tracks or "airy" vocal tracks, this is the stage to favor over the input. Output signal strength is easily monitored through an isolated Sifam back-lit VU meter. There are also five illuminated toggle switches per channel for Meter On/Off, 48v (Phantom), -20db input pad, phase reverse and Mute.
All of this is housed in a chassis that is built like a tank. Designed with reliability and "on the road" stamina as a requirement, we start with high grade aluminum stock milled to a sturdy 1/4" front panel with chip resistant powder coating for the finish. All internal components are well secured using PEM type fasteners and tie-downs. And, of course, ultra-premium components are used throughout: 3/4w Vishay resistors, ASC caps, sealed premium relays ... Our goal is to communicate a sense of robust sturdiness when interfacing with the 992. Each unit is assembled by hand with much care and attention to detail with the hope of preparing it to be the next center piece for any professional recording or broadcast environment. We encourage you to try one and experience for yourself what we think is a new standard of pure tube amplification.
LaChapell Audio 992EG Stereo Tube Preamp Features
- Dual Drive Knobs: The Dual Drive knobs on the 992EG provide an incredible array of tonal options. The input knob drives the input to the first vacuum tube and the second knob drives the input to the output tube. Together, you can dial in sounds from pristine to warm and harmonically rich.
- Versatile tone with pad switch: The pad switch not only provides a -20dB gain reduction for high input sources, it also works with the Dual Drive knobs to create color and headroom options. Engage the pad and dial in warm tones with lots of headroom.
- Front panel Hi-Z input with auto-switching: The front panel Hi-Z input allows you to plug a bass or other instrument directly into the 992EG. As an instrument front end, the 992EG allows for natural tube compression and harmonics to any input source.
- Illuminated VU Indicators: The Illuminated VU knobs make it easy to see what the 992EG is doing. It runs from a separate signal chain so there is no interference with the amplified signal.
- Heavy duty boutique grade chassis: The 992EG chassis and front panel are incredibly robust ensuring your 992EG is not just a piece of gear for now, but one that will be handed down for generations.
- Best in class performance: Everything in the 992EG is designed to be best in class. Every component, transformer, wire and tube has been meticulously selected for performance and longevity.
LaChapell Audio 992EG Stereo Tube Preamp Specifications
- INTERNAL GAIN: 0 to >74dB
- THD+N: 0.25% (variable)
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz to 100KHz
- MAX OUTPUT (1% THD+N): +24dBu
- TYPICAL EIN: -125dBu
- INPUT IMPEDANCE: 1.5KΩ
- TUBE COMPLEMENT: 4 x 12AX7 / ECC83, 4 x 12AU7 / 5814
What We Think
After having spent quite a bit of time with the 992EG, it's hard not to want to use it all the time. Overall, it is more dynamic than more vintage-sounding tube preamp designs, and it conveys a unique sense of depth and a really neat top-end sizzle when pushed a bit. As a result, the 992EG has found a home as one of the ultimate preamps for drum overheads and room sound. In fact, I love this preamp when matched up with a pair of Beyerdynamic M160 microphones or Royer R121 for the room. And when combined with a Mojave MA-100 on acoustic guitar and dialing in a driving tone between the Input and Output (a lot of tonal variation is available by varying this balance), it was pretty easy to have that sense that you were finally getting to that coveted "Zeppelin acoustic sound". The thing that stands out most (aside from it's rather commanding presence when it's anywhere to be found in your control room), is that the 992EG is a GAIN POWERHOUSE - If you have EVER needed gain before, this is the solution. In fact, I found that I am usually utilizing the -20dB pads just to be able to have proper gain-staging; and that was even for simply acoustic guitars. THAT's a metric F-ton of level! This experience led me to realization that the LaChapell 992EG is the recording world's equivalent of the Saturn V rocket. So, if you've ever wanted to record vocals or acoustic instruments with your ribbon mics but have always been stopped by not being able to get enough gain out of your current selection of preamps, then the 992 should be a one-stop-shop for you. Overall, the proof is in it's use. Once you get your hands on one, you'll never want to give it up - it's really that simple. It's a BIG preamp and it's one of those pieces of gear that, even if a client has no idea what it is, they all want you to use it. It is a visual confidence builder. And once they hear it... well... that is when they are really sold on the 992EG; and you will be too."
- Front End Audio
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