Do you want a pushed/forward sounding midrange AND more color/bottom in your preamp? If this is the case, then the EM Gold is just right for you. Tonally, the midrange, while forward-sounding, is still quite smooth, and can tame harsh sounding guitars and some voices with its smooth coloration. It also pushes the mids of the voice/guitar/instrument forward in the mix, and provides a big robust bottom end. The Gold combines the input transformer of the red and the steel output transformer that gives the A Designs EM Silver all of its bottom end. If you are recording a variety of sources, including acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, and horns, and only have the budget for 1 preamp, the Gold is a great way to go. More colored than the super-versatile P1, the Gold will be wonderful for the “singer-songwriter” on a budget who needs one preamp to cover all of their bases, AND who also wants to enjoy some added color and tone. We love the Gold in a drum kit on the Floor Tom and even the Kick Drum, but, like the Red and Silver from which it gets its transformers, the Gold is excellent on guitars and vocals as well.
The Rest of the EM Preamp Cards
The full line of EM Preamp cards from A Designs was built to bring a few different flavors into your 500 series rack, but with an extreme quality standard that is only possible with small quantity, boutique runs. These guarantee each module is built to world-class audio standards. Each module has custom-wound transformers which really create a noticeable difference in tone, and to be honest, the difference is quite impressive compared to many of the modules available on the market today from other manufacturers. Each module has a lot of gain (around 72dB), and the front panel DI sits prior to the input transformer, which allows you to pick up that great coloration that each of the modules individually presents, even when patching in an instrument. The preamp modules from the A-Designs series are: the P1, EM Red, EM Silver, EM Blue and EM Gold. With the exception of the P-1 (since we own 3x Pacificas), Sound Pure owns pairs of EVERY SINGLE module above, and uses them daily in our own world-class recording studio, the Sound Pure Studios. We are here to report our findings after years of using them. Any question you have can be e-mailed to us, or you call us toll free! We’d love to talk to you more about these modules, microphone pairings, comparing these to other pres on the market, and whether or not they are right for you.
Read for more info on some of the other available modules if this one doesn’t sound exactly right for your application.
What We Think of the Others
The P1 is modeled to be very similar to the Pacifica, with some moderate color and some very nice detail throughout the frequency range, with a very smooth and open top end. The Red module has a “boost” to the mids due to the transformer, which we found to be wonderful on guitar cabs. The Silver boasts a Steel output transformer that gives it the darkest tone of the bunch (and a big low end), and the Blue with its Nickel transformer has a very lofty, airy top end that is great for bringing a brighter life into darker sources. Finally, the Gold is a mixture of the Red (input transformer) and Silver (output transformer), which gives it the hottest output with a nice colored pushed midrange.