Here's a box that sets a new standard at its price point. The PreSonus MP20 offers recordists the benefits of premium mic/line preamplification for two channels at less than $700, a feat that we think deserves cheers.
What makes a preamp premium? For starters, try Class A discrete input buffers, twin-servo gain stages, and Jensen transformers. Next, add a bevy of features: switches for 48V phantom power, polarity reverse, 80 Hz rumble filter, and 20 dB pad. Let's not forget the gain knob and the IDSS control, which lets you add even harmonics to the input signal for a warmer sound, a feature we found useful when recording scratchy-sounding sources such as violin and Leslie cabinet. Each channel also features a pan control and assign switch for sending the signal to a separate master section, making the MP20 ideal for live 2-track recording. With its thick, anodized, cobalt blue aluminum front panel, large silver knobs, and backlit switches, the MP20 merits a beauty award as well.
Of course, it's the sound that cinches the deal, and here the MP20 shines. We used the unit on countless sessions, recording dozens of different instruments, and we were never disappointed. This is a supremely clean, quiet, and transparent preamp that sounds as good as units costing two and three times the money. It offers plenty of headroom, very wide dynamic range, and excellent transient-response characteristics. The unit provides balanced XLR inputs and outputs, and send and return points on both channels. Each channel also provides a high-quality instrument input that floored us for use as a bass DI. When you're ready to upgrade your signal path with a quality mic/line pre, the MP20 is one we heartily recommend.