The Retro 500PRE 500-Series Preamp is the circuit topology of the Sta-Level packed it into a single width 500 module. The feeling of the musical performance is delivered with the Retro Instruments 500PRE.
Distortion, Noise and Frequency Response of the 500PRE are outstanding; but overload characteristics are not generally revealed by standard measurements. The 500PRE tubes gracefully limit the signal at +18 dBu. Whether you're just going for clean gain or pushing the 500PRE into overdrive, it won't ever sound plastic and brittle like solid-state amplifiers can. Transient detail is unrestrained.
The Retro 500PRE doesn't sleep when you're done tracking. Use the 500PRE as a high-energy limiter during mix-time. The 500PRE design purposely has the limiter effect of tube amplifiers. You'll love to use it as a limiter to fatten all kinds of tracks.
The Retro 500PRE works within API 500 rack power limitations. Each 500PRE consumes 160 ma of power, slightly above the 130 ma VPR-compliant allocation. We recommend racks with quiet linear power supplies like the API models. When power requirements are observed, the rack and 500PRE will provide years of reliable service.
The Retro 500PRE uses three 12AT7 tubes that are readily available as new production or new-old-stock. A user can select from a wide variety. Your unit uses the new production TAD 12AT7 and these tubes are expected to last for a very long time under the 500PRE operating conditions. We use soft-start circuitry that minimizes stress to the tubes and power supply. The 500PRE takes less than a minute to warm up and perform.
No frills layout and simple controls make it easy to set and start recording. You can dial in up to 75 dB of amplification. The GAIN switch in the LOW setting converts the 500PRE to a classic two-stage amplifier and can sustain +10 dBu input levels without overload. An adjustable output attenuator provides the optimum level to all of your gear. It also allows you to overdrive without clipping downstream gear. The 500PRE is fully transformer balanced with high-quality Cinemag transformers for low noise, high headroom and superior audio performance.
Retro 500PRE 500-Series Preamp Specifications
- Front Panel Controls: Input Level, Gain Select (two or three stage amplifier), Phantom Power, Polarity, and Output Level.
- Input and Output Connections: On edge card connector for 500 rack XLR.
- Gain: 48 dB (low gain two stage topology); 76 dB (high gain three stage topology)
- Total Harmonic Distortion: <.05% at +4 dBu output from 20-20000 Hz.
- Frequency Response: +/- .25 dB from 20-20000 Hz
- EIN: -128 dB (150 Ohm terminated)
- Typical Output Level: +4 dBu
- Output Clipping Level: Tube limiting Threshold +18 dBu, +24 dBu clipping headroom.
- Input Level Range: -72 dBu to +12 dBu
- Input impedance: >1000 Ohms from 20-20000 Hz.
- Output Impedance: 600 Ohms Transformer Balanced.
- Power Consumption: +/-16 Volts 155 ma. 48 Volts 3 ma.
- Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz.
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I have followed the white rabbit and I am in 500 series wonder land - I'll review 2 tubes (F609 and Retro 500 PRE) and 2 1073s (IGS NE573 and Golden Age PRE-573) The 500PRE is the second of the two tube pres I am reviewing and this is so far my fav of the lot. It is built like a tank and knobs and switches feel like they were pulled from a Sherman. The sound if full and warm and it breaks up very nicely when pushed. The manual talks of a deliberate comp characteristic above what is normally expected with a tube circuit, I can not say that is have specifically hear this yet but I can say I have it on the snare top through a 441 and I am in love.