A truly magical sounding microphone preamplifier which proves that clean does not need to sound clinical.
Designed to provide transparent amplification to reveal the true source, they do not come any better than this. If you wish to record your sounds with the utmost warmth and clarity possible, you have found the tool for the job. And it's not just us blowing our trumpet here, it's what hundreds of users have told us over the years since the MA-2.2's first introduction.
The circuitry used in the MA-2.2 preamp was developed by Tim Farrant in the 1990's and was dubbed "True Class A". The resulting BE40 series of amplifiers exhibit very wide frequency response (into the mega-hertz ) and ultra fast slew rates (140V/uS) even at 60dB of gain. These attributes, plus the inherently low distortion provide the exceptionally pure top end sound of the MA-2.2. In additon, the over engineered power supply design with localized Class A regulators for each amplifier stage supplies the grunt needed for an authoritive and accurate bottom end.
As many of our users have discovered, the MA-2.2 sounds amazingly vibrant when recording acoustic guitar and percussion. It is equally at home on vocal and piano duties - you will also be very surprised how good a kick drum can sound using this preamp. One could say, there is not much this preamp cannot record well! The transformer-less low reactance input stage with a Wima capacitor stack matches well with all microphones types and the noise specification is within 0.5dB of the theoretical minimum possible, so ribbon and dynamic mics' are no problem for this preamp.
POLARITY REV - this switch changes the polarity (phase) of the input.
0dB/-20dB - this switch introduces a 20dB pad right at the mic input for high level signals.
PK - this red led will light up when the QSP output level reaches +22dBu.
GAIN - 41 position detented pot that sets gain between +16 to +65dB.
MUTE - mutes the MA-2.2 output while you change mic positions. 48V - locking toggle switch turns the phantom power on and off.
HI Z/LO Z - selects the input impedance as seen by the microphone which can change the overall tone.
There is also a handy power ON/OFF switch and associated power led.
related products - A-RACK 8+1 multi channel preamp
As standard the MA-2.2 has an unbalanced output, avoiding the extra stage required for this function to keep the signal path as simple as possible. The unit can however be supplied or retrofitted with high spec Lundahl output transformers. When the transformers are fitted, the direct unbalanced output is still available on the rear panel via a 1/4" jack socket.
We received the pre amp on Tuesday and I’ve got it all up and running. It sounds absolutely stunning with our U87 - the upper harmonics are just unreal, thank you so much!
I first heard this two-channel preamp from New Zealand's Buzz Audio on 3D Audio's 3D Pre CD. Compared to other "clean" pres on the CD, the MA 2.2 sounded more real on the takes of male vocal mic'ed with an AKG C 414. With the MA 2.2, I heard a big sound with more air around the mic and a touch more life than with the other preamps. I also liked the low-end fullness and lack of harsh ring on an SM 57 mic'ed snare. Listening to it now in my own studio, I like the MA 2.2 for the same reasons. The Buzz aims to deliver what's really there, and it does so exceptionally well.
The Class-A design has a wicked-fast slew-rate (140 V/µs), resulting in a very big and clear sounding box that never chokes on the source, even with the fastest transients. Keep in mind that this is a "clean" pre, so there are no harmonic additions a la tranny or tranny/tube designs. There are no transformers in this unit; and the output, like early Manley gear, is unbalanced. A Lundahl tranny balanced output version is available, but why bother-you don't need a balanced output. The noise floor is crazy low. Acoustic guitars sound great, letting me hear the mic and the guitar very well. Sure it has a slight sound, everything does, yet that sound is a very big and airy representation of what's around the mic. Words fail in describing transparency, yet this pre is something clear and still musical, that unlike many clean-team pres does not have any weird tonal happenings. The highs are very extended and the lows are very full, the mid is right there. Whadaya want!?
I wanted to review this because generally, I'm not a fan of the "clean" pres. Many of them sound like sterile boxes, seeking perfection and losing musicality as they go with weird harmonic smack on certain transients and frequencies. These things get very messy in hard disk recording and are no blessing to tape recording either. The Buzz is without those artifacts. Some of the more "musical" clean pres are a bit thicker and more opaque. The Buzz balances musicality with clarity. It has almost a complete lack of a mid-resonant frequency smack and moves more air than other clean pres I've heard, which can be flat overall, or flat at some frequencies.
The chassis and construction are of course very solid; and each unit is calibrated, inspected, and signed out by designer Tim Farrant before leaving the factory. The front panel has the usual phase and phantom switches, a mute switch, impedance switch, and minimal metering. The impedance switch moves the tone around, slimming the lows and adding a slight top end to most mics. The gain pots are 41-point detented. A -20 dB pad allows for more headroom, with no obvious tone loss. Some might complain about the lack of a TRS insert on the front panel, yet that would compromise the straight-wire design. You won't hear the strong color of trannies and tubes, and there is no vintage or reissue appeal either. The MA 2.2 is a new, clean sound, high up the clean-team ladder. The source and mic come through in a big way, and that can be a very good thing. If you seek a high quality mic pre with the least possible artifacts, you need to hear the MA-2.2.
Min Gain; +16dB (-4dB with pad in)
Max Gain; +65dB Maximum Output Level; +24dBu unbalanced
Frequency Response 2Hz to 250kHz @ 20dB gain (-3dB)
20Hz to 250kHz @ 65dB gain (-3dB)
Harmonic Distortion; less than 0.008% 100Hz to 10kHz
Slew Rate; typically 140 V/uS, @ +20dBu output level
Equivalent Input Noise; -133.5dB A wtg, 150ohm source Z
Signal to Noise Ratio; -74dBu A wtg, input shorted
Common Mode Noise Rejection; 100Hz-80dB, 1kHz -80dB, 10kHz-70dB internal trims
Channel to Channel Crosstalk; below noise
Input Impedance; 3k ohms/1k2 ohms switchable
Indicators; Peak Level @ +18dBu, Power On
Connectors; Input-XLR3F, Out on 1/4" jack and XLR3M
Size; 1 Unit rack mount, (482Wx44Hx300D)
Power requirements; 230V/115V selectable
Specifications are typical of a production unit and are subject to change without notice. 0dBu reference = 0.775 volts RMS