Review of the Art Pro MPA II
What do people say about it?
I have heard people talking about the ART Pro MPA preamps for a long time. I tend to take much of what I read on forums with a grain of salt, since most interactions go something like this:
Guy 1: OMG, I just got a new preamp, and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard!
Guy 2: I have one too, it’s the best thing ever!
Guy 3: As a preamp, it sucks. As a doorstop, it’s great.
Guy 4: You should throw that out and buy a vintage Neve.
What sold me on giving the ART Pro MPA a shot was Sound on Sound’s Oct 2013 Preamp Shootout. They put the ART up against a number of other, much more expensive preamps, and let people listen. I did the blind test, and it was my second favorite; my first was a $4000 Prism Orpheus. I decided to pick one up on eBay for $215. (More on that preamp shootout here.)
My personal take on it
The Art Pro MPA II on guitars
It has a glassy, lush high end that goes very well with DI guitars. I’ve been able to do recordings with this as a DI, then ran it through Amplitube, and was able to get a convincing guitar/amp sound that no one ever took for a DI guitar. All of the guitars on this track were done with this preamp running through Amplitube: The Nearing – Two Strangers.
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How about on bass?
I have never recorded bass with it. It would definitely work on bass, but I have a Focusrite ISA One that I prefer on bass. I find that the ISA One has a bigger bottom end than my Art Pro MPA II. Now, if I were going for an overdriven, present rock bassline, I would reach for this, but I don’t really record that much of that kind of music.
What about on vocals?
I think it sounds great on bright microphones. It probably wouldn’t be my first choice if I wanted to get R&B style vocals with lots of sheen, since I have the ISA One for that, but it’s definitely usable with any mic that I own.
I really like this preamp. I have preamps both more and less expensive, yet I continually use this one. It has a nice effect on sources whose content is primarily in the mid range (vocals, guitars, amps,) and I’ve found it useable on sources such as bass depending on the application