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A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier  

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Product #189903

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  • See All A Designs Microphone Preamps
    A Designs

    A TEC Award-nominated preamp that wins the hearts of all who hear it.

    Consider the A-Designs Pacifica solid state stereo microphone preamplifier if you're ready for your first really good preamp--or the last one you may ever need.

    How often in life do you encounter someone or something that no one has anything bad to say about? We haven't met that "someone" yet, but the "something" is the A Designs Audio Pacifica solid state, dual-channel preamp. This Tec Award nominated beauty has won more praise from engineers and producers than just about any other preamp to hit the streets in a long, long time.

    A Designs Audio Pacifica, First Take:
    2-channel, solid state preamp with 2 x front-panel Hi-Z inputs
    Custom-wound input and output transformers
    Captures the sound quality of the legendary Quad Eight console but with more presence and high end
    Balanced XLR I/O, phase reversal, -20dB pad, +48V phantom power

    The Sound of the '70s Reborn

    The 1970s was a time of great music and great change in pro audio--a golden age if you will. The introduction of "solid state" electronics led to an explosion in development and a very different sound than the tube gear of previous decades. The recording console in a high-end 1970s studio was likely a Neve, API, or Quad Eight. These companies set the standards for audio quality -- with a unique sound firmly imprinted on the popular recordings of the era. Even though the Quad Eight mysteriously faded from view, many engineers firmly believe that the Quad eight Ventura, Coronado, and Pacifica consoles were the very best sounding of the big three. Boston's "More Than a Feeling" and Pink Floyd's The Wall were mixed on a Quad Eight!

    But rather than just crank out another clone, A Designs Audio's Peter Montessi and audio designer Jon Erickson (who spent years bringing vintage gear back to life for LA studios), added their own touch to bring the preamps of the glory days to serve the present-day needs of the recording world. The result is the Pacifica, a fabulous-sounding preamp the captures the heart and soul of the California and takes the LA sound a step further.

    Custom Transformers, the Key to a Big Punchy Sound

    In solid-state preamp design, the key to a big punchy sound rests in the input and output transformers. (That's where you get what is known as the "big iron" sound of the '70s). To ensure top-quality sound, A Designs has their transformers custom-built by Tom Reichenbach of Cine-Mag, whose lineage extends back the days when his father Ed built transformers for Altec-Lansing in the '40s. (Ed Reichenbach was also one of the designers of the Quad Eight console on which the Pacifica is based.) Not only are the transformer hand-made, they're also ear-made" by Jon and Peter, who won't okay a transformer design until they get exactly the sound they're looking for. After extensive listening tests and redesign after redesign, they finally found the sound they were looking for. And herein is the most important distinction of the A Designs Pacifica. While its name, look, and inspiration was taken from the Quad Eight Pacifica, the A designs Audio Pacifica has a sound all its own, and one that top producers and engineers feel that they could make an entire record with (that's pretty rare in this business).

    Pacifica Performance

    Aside from the custom wound transformers, which, by the way, the instrument inputs are routed directly into for the fullest possible sound, the Pacifica boasts a frequency range of 9Hz-101kHz. (Another reason for its great sound. Input impedance is 600 ohm at 400Hz and the gain range is a remarkable 72dB -- so break out those ribbon mics and go to town. Since the focus of A Designs is sound quality first and foremost, you're not paying for bells and whistles and extra devices in the circuit path that can degrade sound. Features are kept to the necessary minimum, which include polarity reverse, a -20dB pad (which sounds nearly invisible, +48V phantom power with indicator LED, and balanced XLR I/O.


    Channel Strips of the Stars: Ted Perlman

    Ted Perlman, renowned Grammy-winning producer, musician, arranger, engineer, and programmer, has a resume that reads like a who's who of popular music. His credits include Bob Dylan, Chicago, Burt Bacharach, Elton John, Dave Mason, Brian Wilson, Carole King, Albert Hammond, Jr. (The Strokes), Desmond Child, Young M.C., Dolly Parton, and, well, the list goes on. Ted was kind enough to provide us with his go-to recording vocal chain as well as his choice for guitar and percussion. Here it is, straight from Ted Perlman himself:

    "I'm producing and writing with Sara Lumholdt of the mega-selling Swedish pop group A-Teens.

    Her vocal recording chain is: Pearlman TM-LE condenser mic* > A Designs Audio Pacifica preamp Daking FET 2 Compressor (#482850).

    ALL guitars go through the A Designs REDDI DI box (#189904) > Hammer EQ (#180185) > Pacifica preamp > Toft DC-2 Compressor (#187025)."

    I just finished up a CD on the most famous Pilipino singer in the world - Imelda Papin. Her signal chains are exactly the same.

    I also finished up two songs for music legend Burt Bacharach and Tony-winning songwriter Steven Sater.

    Paulinho Da Costa played percussion on one. I used a Studio Projects LSD twin mic > Pacifica preamp > Daking FET 2 compressor (#482850).

    Gary Herbig played alto sax on the two songs. He went from an AKG 414 mic (#278591, 278590) > Pacifica preamp > Daking FET 2 compressor (#482850)."

    Channel Strips of the Stars: Ronan Chris Murphy

    World-class producer/engineer/mixer Ronan Chris Murphy's credits include King Crimson, Steve Morse, Terry Bozzio, Victor Bisetti, Gregg Bissonette, Tony Levin, and projects with members of Tool, Ministry, Weezer, Dishwalla, and Yes. A huge fan of A Designs Audio, Ronan was kind enough to share some of his drum-recording signal chains:

    "Well all of the drums for Terry Bozzio's Jazz trio were recorded with all A Designs Audio solid state preamps. For drum overheads I used Shure KSM32 condenser mics (#270141) into a Pacifica to a Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor (#620908); for kick drums, AKG D112s (#271161) into A designs Pacificas. (I prefer the Shure Beta 52 (#270267) for kick but they were pre-mounted inside Terry's (Bozzio) kick drums. Actually I have used the Shure KSM32 into Pacifica combo on tons of great drummers, including Terry Bozzio
    Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos), Gregg Bissonette (Santana, David Lee Roth), and Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister, The Rembrandts)."

    Ronan also uses the Emperical Labs Distressor on drum overheads (#501579, 501581).

    Note: for more information about individual units in the signal chain, enter the Item ID# into our search box.


    *Check out Dave Pearlman Mics at pearlmanmicrophones.com (Dave also has quite an impressive resume as a recording engineer and owner of Rotund Rascal Recording Studio.

    Check out Ted Perlman's website at tedperlman.com




    Features
    • Custom input and output transformers
    • Single rack space
    • Balanced XLR ins and outs
    • Level controls
    • -20dB pad switch
    • 48v switch
    • Phase switch
    • Blue LED power indicator
    • 72dB of gain
    • Hi-Z 1/4" input

    Once you hear what the Pacifica can do, you'll never settle for anything less. Order now and experience it for yourself.

     

    Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier Specifications:

    • Input impedance: 600Ohm@400Hz
    • Gain range: 72dB
    • Mic Phantom: switchable 48V power source
    • Mic input phase: switchable 0-180
    • Instrument input jack: 1/4" phono
    • Balanced XLR out
    • Frequency response: 9Hz to 101KHz
    • Distortion: less than 1%
    • Power requirements: 100/120/230 VAC -23 Watts
    • Dimensions: 19" x 1.75" x 10"
    • 11 lbs.
    Customer Reviews
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    Review Snapshot®

    by PowerReviews
    A DesignsPacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier
     
    4.8

    (based on 8 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (7)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (0)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (1)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (0)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (0)

    Reviewed by 8 customers

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    5.0

    High end mic pre- NO doubt!

    By Sacalait

    from South Louisiana

    Ask me a question

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    Like I said above, it's a totally professional peice of gear. The price reflects it. I also own an A-Designs Hammer EQ and an A-Designs Reddi. Both are up to the same professional level as the Pacifica.
    I've owned one of these for almost 3 years now. First, I've got to say Peter Montessi (the owner) is a stellar individual! If you need service he's THERE!

    This mic pre is my go to preamp for nearly everything! It's exceptionally quiet, sounds very sexy, and loves to be driven hard! One of the first sessions I did with this pre was a trombonist who played really loud! I engaged the pad and when the session was done- for whatever reason- I thought- this sounds like the horn section on the Tonight Show circa Johnny Carson and Doc Severinsen! It's built like a tank! Frankly, I don't know how you could go wrong with this thing. Yes, there are a lot of choices out there but I can say from experience this mic pre is as pro as I've EVER heard!

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    5.0

    Really Great Preamp

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    This preamp sounds really awesome. It's built like a tank, and beautiful. Super low noise. Really tight great low end, awesome highs, and really interesting punchy mid treatment. The DI on this is awesome. Sounds incredible on bass. This has become my favorite pre for recording acoustic guitars. Sounds like 2 different pres with the pad in and out which is awesome. It really needs an output level control, though. Even with the gain all the way down, it has too hot an output with some mics. I know you can use a passive attenuator such as the ATTY, but for 2k, you should get output level control like on many other pres. Other than that, it's awesome. I would HIGHLY recommend this to anyone. Super versatile and top notch quality and sound.

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    5.0

    Great device...

    By Justin C-I_144

    from The California Valley

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    This thing is great. The top end isn't dulled like a neve, but it isn't as hyped as other people make it out to be either. It's crisp. I love this pre on guitars, drums, and everything I've plugged into it. It's fast, tight, and has enough gain for ANYTHING. I actually laughed out loud when I read the review saying he couldn't DI bass with it... They sell attenuators ('Atty') so that you can use the whole range of the volume knob (think 'master volume' on a marshall)I gave it a three for features because I'd love a HPF, and all the darn thing has is phase, a pad, and phantom power. The pad is musical and works great, and everything else works as expected, but it's hard to give it a higher score when it's light on features compared to what's out there. It does what you buy a pre amp for! I wouldn't call it clean, but it's not like you won't recognize what you hear when you bring the faders up... It imparts some sheen and "mojo" to everything, giving you this "immediate" in-your-face kind of interpretation.

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    5.0

    Stellar unit

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    Based on the Quad 8 mic pre from the days of old, this 2 channel mic pre/di is an awesome unit to have in your rack. When the pad in, it seems to bring out the lows a little more, but flat it captures a lot of detail in the higher frequencies without forcing any harshness or sibilance into your signal path. I highly recommend this unit to anyone serious about audio.

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Perfect, No Tubes Needed!!!

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    Who needs tubes when you can have this super 70's style preamp in the rack. I actually have the P-1 (single channel version) which is essentially the same thing with a smaller transformer. These units fatten up the lower registers of the audio spectrum while adding a nice warm analogue sound to the upper frequencies. Anyone who says its too "bright" or lacking in bass is probably using "budget" equipment along with this excellent unit. The DI sounds absolutly wonderful also and I can't wait to get another one for more channels. It also has plenty of gain for either mic or DI. I would LOVE to have 8 channels of these! It may not have lots of bells and whistles but its the sound of the audio that counts and this delivers!! Forget EQ when you use one of these, if you need compression, get an LA-3A.

    Comment on this review

    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    It's a decent preamp....

    By Anonymous

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    The Pacifica is really well built preamp. It has a lot of high frequency hype, so if you are looking for a "warm" sounding preamp, I'd look elsewhere. It's very bright sounding. I found it to be lacking in the bottom end compared to many other preamps. The DI does not have a lot of gain for passive instruments such as a Jazz bass which is unfortunate since you can't use the pad to color the sound with the DI - it won't have enough gain. I also tried it with a Taylor acoustic electric with active electronics and had the same problem. Many people love this preamp - I'm not one of them.

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    5.0

    great pre - best MF has to offer!

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    This is a great little pre!! I've used it on vox and ac/elec guitars w/ fantastic results so far. Sweet high end, but not sibilant or nasty. Plenty of gain. Colored for sure, but w/ the pad out this should pacify most any "colorless" guy. Just a nice sounding pre. My 2 gripes are I wish 0 was actually 0 (w/ the vol knob @ 0 there is quite a bit of gain) and I wish the pad was variable (knob not a button) but even still, I'd buy another one of these babies in a heartbeat. For the price this is a no-brainer. Not to mention if you have a problem the good folks at a-designs will do most ANYTHING to resolve it as quickly as possible!!! cust support = 10+

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    5.0

    Amazing Preamp...

    By ksmdrummer

    from Birmingham, AL

    Comments about A Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier:

    This preamp is amazing!!! I have used it on everything. There's a ton of headroom on this puppy, you won't run out of gain. The sound is a little colored, but in a good way. It's not as gritty as say...a Neve. Sounds phenominal on almost anything. It's got some balls in the lower frequency range and it sparkles on top. I haven't been disapointed yet, it's a definite must have.

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