Preamp/Op Amp SHOOTOUT: API 3124 vs. CapiVP28

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I just finished up doing a little preamp and op amp shootout, so I wanted to share. It wasn’t meant to be a scientific and exacting shootout by any means, but more of a real world/home studio down and dirty kind of thing.

Here’s the basics:

  1. API 3124 (using 2 channels) vs. (2 channels - 500 series) CAPI VP28:
  2. All individual tracks were recorded using only 2 channels at a time of these preamps (i.e. drums were recorded using only 2 mics)
  3. Performance 1: API 3124 with stock op amps vs. CAPIVP28 with Gar2520 op amps (signal multed into both sets of pre’s at the same time)
  4. Performance 2: API 3124 with Red Dot op amps vs. CAPIVP28 with Red Dot op amps (signal multed into both sets of pre’s at the same time)
  5. I had to do 2 separate performances because I only had 2 CAPI VP28 Pre’s. I switched out op amps every time after I completed takes of one performance

Here’s the Youtube Video:

Soundcloud Playlist: (Raw and Mixed Versions of Audio uploaded at 32bit/96KHz):

I think the differences are subtle, but certainly noticeable. I tried the best I could to level match everything on the way in and also in the mix. There was absolutely no processing at all on the way in (no EQ, compression, saturation or anything). Mix-wise… it is exactly the same processing on everything (the Soundcloud playlist above has both the mixes and the raw, unmixed versions).

Performance-wise… I was fairly consistent in my playing… but on Performance 2 (with Red Dots)… it does seem like I was hitting the kick drum a little harder… (sorry, my bad… I’m definitely not a drummer ;-). So keep that in mind when comparing any of the Red Dots examples to the stock op amp examples… there is a little more “beef” in the Red Dot kick drums…

One final note is that the CAPI VP28’s have both input and output transformers/gain whereas the API only has the input gain. I left the output gain on the CAPI’s at unity gain so as trying not to push any harder on the output and be closer to what the API was doing…

Thanks for listening and I hope this is helpful in some way to everyone else out there!

Check out the GearSlutz thread I started for this shootout and see what others are saying:

Stephen BabulaComment