What they say: (from the website)“The DRS-2 Mic-Pre/DI uses Phoenix Audio’s well proven and loved Class A output stage. It also incorporates the latest breakthrough in transformerless Class A, Discrete Mic Input Technology, which results in a “valve-like” sound.”
What we found: It’s hard to review mic pres because it’s such a subjective affair. There really aren’t any “bad” mic pres because even the dullest, cheapest pres have some merit sometimes. That said, an engineer will develop a “taste” for a particular type of sound they are looking for out of a piece of equipment. This results in language like “airy”, “dark”, and “transparent”.
Well, I personally look for a mic and mic pre combo that gives me back what I heard in the room. I’m looking for accuracy first and foremost, then I look for enhancements that make me say “Ah yes! That sounds good!”.
The DRS-2 and its brother the DRS-1 provide that “Ah yes!”.
The man behind Phoenix Audio is Shaun Leveque who opened up shop in 1996 to provide service for British owners of pre-1980 Neve consoles.
Do you see where this is going? Good.
The DRS-2 is a stereo or dual mono pre and the DRS-1 is a single-channel version. The input knobs are dented, which makes recall a breeze but also makes it difficult to easy-off the pre while the take is still rolling if you’re getting close to clipping. Buttons control phantom power, high pass filters, pads, and whether the input is coming from the mic input or the DI. LEDs warn you of impending doom.
In application, I was able to realize the performance in the room to a degree that the recording resembled that intimacy, but the DRS-2 went a little further in that it warmed everything up a bit. In the world of digital recording, anywhere you can pickup a little warmth will benefit the end product. I wouldn’t call these pres dark, nor would I call them bright, “they are JUST right”, said momma bear.