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.

Overall

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

Video overview of the preamp: