PreMax™ Development

There is no denying. The PreMax is all about instant gratification! In other words, when we set out to build this ultra compact channel strip, we had one major goal in mind... it had to be easy.

All too often we get emails from users having trouble setting gain stages for optimal signal-to-noise. This, of course, is understandable. Many users do not have years of engineering experience. They know what they want, and simply want to get there quickly. They are intrigued with the flexibility of the 500 series modular format, but do not know which module to use with what to get a specific result. By eliminating the guess work between the mic preamp and subsequent line level processors, much of the challenges simply go away.

Establishing the feature set

One of the many challenges that come along with the 500 series format is packing in as many features as you can in such a small format. In other words, with so little space, you really have to cut back and decide what matters and what does not.

When developing the highly acclaimed PowerPre, we came up with an innovative gain control called Accustate. This dual wafer control simultaneously sets the input sensitivity and gain so that a pad switch is not needed. By lowering the sensitivity and gain at the same time, you improve the signal-to-noise. This of course makes it easier to capture the instrument without background hiss. And with over 55dB of gain, the PreMax is equally capable of being used with condenser mics, dynamics and your favorite direct box. Simply activate the conveniently located 48V phantom power switch when needed.

The signal from the preamp is then fed directly into the equalizer where tone shaping is performed. We chose to employ a traditional old-school 3 band EQ to perform the task. This type of EQ is super fast to use, sounds musical and is not as cumbersome as a parametric, which - when not carefully set - can cause as much trouble as a barrel full of monkeys! We carefully selected the EQ frequencies to sound musical and work with today's production styles. Simply add a touch of highs for extra sparkle or some bass to warm up the bottom end. Pull back some mids to push the track back or add some midrange to bring it forward in the mix. A handy EQ bypass switch lets you compare the sound of the track between the pre and post EQ settings.

One of the coolest features on the PreMax is the high-pass filter. This simple switch eliminates low frequency resonance that can cause a track to become muddy and indistinct. This old 'Nashville' trick is often used when combining acoustic instruments that can modulate at certain frequencies. Once you try it, you will be surprised at how often you will use it.

Using the PreMax with instruments

Another key feature built into the PreMax is an instrument input select switch. On the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but when it comes to quick production this extra is a feature worth having. Most 500 series preamps are equipped with an instrument input on the front panel that takes up a lot of space. This means that you have less room for controls and when connected, you have a cable in the way!

When the PreMax is used in a Radial rack, the Omniport jack is configured as an instrument input. This means you can have your old Fender Jazz bass connected and ready at all times. You merely hit the front panel switch and the mic shuts off and the instrument turns on. Quick, easy and painless. If the Omniport instrument input is not being used, the switch acts like a mute that lets you turn off the studio mic when not in use.

These features make the PreMax the ideal 'quick set-up' preamp for busy production houses that need to get dependable results each and every time.