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A Designs P1 500-Series Preamp  From A Designs

Essentially a single channel of the incredibly popular Pacifica preamp, the P1 contains custom wound input and output transformers that give it a "sweet" and smooth tone that works well on literally every studio application.

A Designs Audio


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What We Think

I was spoiled enough to have a pair of these for several months while tracking a record recently, and I've been doomed to have all my standards of future recordings raised to meet the sound I got from these pres.

I had them in a 6-space rack with a handle, since I was moving around to different studios and locations throughout the record, and while the quality of mics paired with them varied and some rooms were less forgiving than others, listening to playback, the tracks recorded through P-1s were consistent with the same richness and smooth complimentary color. 

On stereo overheads, cymbals were lush and controlled regardless of which mic I auditioned. On electric guitar, they fell on the spectrum between API and Neve 1073, where jangly chords and picked staccatos were tamed and musical without sacrificing any detail. On a rhythm acoustic track, I was able to tuck a percussively strummed guitar perfectly into a mix without any fight.

The full size 19" Pacifica has long been a staple in our rack, but for added flexibility without compromise, the P-1 is a gem.

- Marc Kuzio, Sound Pure Pro Audio Specialist


The P1 is extremely similar to one of our all-time studio mic preamp favorites, the A Designs Pacifica, a dedicated 2-channel mic preamp with internal power supply. While we own three Pacificas in our studio, we elected not to add the P1 to our rack as they are simply too similar. Although the P1 has a smaller custom wound transformer as compared to the Pacifica, A Designs went to great lengths to have the P1 and Pacifica share the same tone. What you can expect is exceptional detail, an open and airy sound that also has a touch of color. Overall, a remarkably musical preamp design that seems to be an excellent choice on just about anything. The top end is particularly beautiful, and tends to smooth out even some of the harshest microphones. We love this preamp for all manner of stringed instruments, as the clarity is simply stunning, but it is perfect as an “all around preamp,” as it gets used on vocals, guitar cabs, drums, and just about everywhere else in the studio.  If you want to talk to us about the more subtle details of the P1 vs. the Pacifica, please let us know. 

Read for more info on some of the other available modules if this one doesn’t sound exactly right for your application.

The Rest of the EM Preamp Cards

The full line of EM Preamp cards from A Designs were built to bring a few different flavors into your 500 series rack, but built with an extreme quality standard that is only possible with small quantity, boutique runs which 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 plenty of gain for your quieter sources like acoustic guitar as well as traditionally quieter microphones like ribbons.  The front panel DI sits prior to the input transformer which allows you to pickup 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 use 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, and you should know 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. 


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 and pushed midrange.

Manufacturer's Description from A Designs

The P-1 has the highest fidelity of all the A-Designs Audio 500 preamps, capturing the mojo of its older and larger sibling, the extremely popular Pacifica. While not an exact replica, it sounds as close to Pacifica as is possible for its smaller size. It has a big low end, slightly forward midrange, and extended highs. If you’re a fan of Quad Eight or API, you’ll love the A-Designs Audio P-1.

The P-1 shines on vocals, instruments, room mics, piano, and on instruments with sharp transients, such as drums and various percussion instruments. And if you’re building a lunchbox with drum recording in mind, a pair of P-1s is a superb choice for overheads when you want to capture the entire kit along with the sizzle of the cymbals.

A Designs Audio

About Manufacturer

The A Designs objective is to provide effective extraordinary-sounding solutions with solid technology. They are quickly becoming one of the most respected boutique manufacturers of audio and production tools, at a reasonable price. A Designs Audio brings a combined total of over 60 years in engineering, marketing and sales/customer service experience. Now our firm brings you pro audio technology that is among the best in the business at affordable prices. Their product lines are field tested by professionals in "real-world" working environments and are put through rigorous tests. This assures the dependability and reliability you require in installations and working environments. They understand the demands placed upon you when providing installations or giving live performances. The last thing you should worry about is the extremely high costs of conducting business. There are other factors that make your work highly demanding. The bottom line is that A Designs provides the tools you need for a job well done....and within budget!