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Elysia Skulpter 500 Preamp  From Elysia

Much more than just a preamp, Elysia's Skulpter 500 uses individual resistors to control a fully discrete Class-A amplifier in order to complement any microphone with a truly natural sound.

Elysia Audio


Retail:  $999.00

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skulpter 500 in action

Meet the skulpter 500! Check out what elysia‘s Sound Shaping Preamp can do for you... on vocals, guitars, bass, synth, and effects. Lots of audiophile gain, onboard compression, dual sound shaping options, variable low cut filter – never before has a “preamp“ been this powerful. Recording, reamping, sound shaping and processing: Whatever you want to do, you‘re all set.

  • Signal Chain
    • Elysia Skulpter 500 Preamp

Manufacturer's Description from Elysia

The skulpter 500 is the ultimate recording front end. Its audiophile preamp is based on single resistors controlling a fully discrete Class-A amplifier capable of complementing any microphone with a remarkably true and natural sound. If additional mojo is needed, two variable saturation/filter stages and an intelligent onboard compressor make voices and instruments sound like a finished record right from the start.

Whether clean or colored, the sonic bliss does not stop at your mic locker. The skulpter 500 provides a balanced DI input with significant headroom, so just about any signal coming from guitars, basses, synths and effects will benefit greatly from the skulpter 500’s pristine amplification and versatile processing qualities.

Way more than just a preamp, the skulpter 500 is a complete recording solution – everything you’ll ever need in front of your DAW.


100% Discrete Class-A Topology


To explain the advantages of discrete circuitry we’d like to present a comparison that might seem a little odd at first: Audio technology vs. cooking! If one uses instant meals exclusively, one will have to accept whatever comes out of the box. A creative cook, however, focuses on his own special recipes and ingredients.

In this respect, integrated circuits (ICs) are pretty similar to packet soups: They are cheap, mainstream and they simply do not match haute cuisine; so if you want to design an analog audio device 100% according to your own demands and ideas without any compromise, there is no way around using a discrete design.


The elysia skulpter 500 follows this philosophy. Every single part of it is based on 100% discrete audio technology: The mic preamp, the JFET DI input, the two sound shaping paths, the variable low cut filter, the onboard compressor, and – finally – the input and output stages. A truly unique recipe!


In addition, our sound shaping preamp operates in constant Class-A mode. This means that the transistors are always conductive, resulting in the absence of crossover distortion and providing a pristine sonic base: The general sound character is always wide, open and punchy.


Audiophile Gain Staging


The elysia skulpter 500 does not use a potentiometer for changing its gain, but a much more audiophile topology instead: Fixed resistors switched by a cascade of relays and electronic switches. This setup is controlled by an encoder with 20 steps per rotation, providing a total of 40 gain values in 1.5/2 dB steps (total gain range: 3 - 65 dB).

The following amplifier is a fully discrete class-A design. Similar to many tube amps, it operates in feed forward mode, which means it works without high amounts of negative feedback. The result is an extremely natural and beautiful sounding preamp.

The elysia skulpter 500 provides an ample amount of gain, starting at unusually low values and going up to what you’ll need to properly amplify ribbons with high gain requirements. A huge benefit of this is that an additional pad becomes completely unnecessary, resulting in a better signal-to-noise ratio.

The actual mic preamp and the direct input have a separate gain value each. If you change from Mic to DI or vice versa, the gain will automatically change accordingly. This comes in really handy as in most of the cases microphones require a considerably higher amount of gain, which would be way too much for a synth or similar sources plugged into the DI.

Using single resistors arranged in a cascade guarantees exact gain values. As a result, multiple preamps do not require factory matching or consecutive serial numbers when forming stereo pairs or multichannel configurations.

When an elysia skulpter 500 is powered off its current gain setting is saved automatically, so the preamp will start with exactly the same amount of gain on the next session.


Dual Sound Shaper

The very open and natural sound character of the elysia skulpter 500 can be shaped by two independent combinations of saturation and specially tweaked filter curves:


Shape One: Instruments

The first ingredient to achieve that big, fat sound is adding harmonics (THD). The intensity of this saturation is determined by the input level and the amount of preamp gain. At the same time, a pre-tailored EQ curve with a high frequency cut starting around 4 kHz is applied to the signal. The resulting sound is huge, with a massive body but no harsh peaks at all.

Shape Two: Vocals

Vocals benefit from the same saturation enhancement; and, like a tube-like characteristic curve, this results rather in musical soft clip limiting than in actual distortion. The preset EQ curve is of course a different one for vox, with up to 10 dB of high mid boost around 4.5 kHz.


The corresponding potentiometer is actually a mix controller, so that any desired amount of this effect can be blended to the original signal, while in the fully left position the original remains completely unaffected.

The sound shaping potentials of the elysia skulpter 500 can help to produce a “finished” sound already while recording – especially in combination with the onboard dynamics section.


Intelligent Onboard Dynamics

The elysia skulpter 500 features an integrated compressor operated by just a single knob. Its potentiometer sets the threshold based on a fixed 3:1 ratio and a soft knee characteristic, while the attack and release parameters were selected for their universal usefulness.

The all discrete class-A circuitry provides a premium quality audio path, and the RMS detector has been optimized to react noticeably well on vocals and instruments. This alone makes for a very musical and unobtrusive dynamics section on a par with the best compressors the market has to offer.

But wait – there’s more! The compressor’s easy and effective one-knob-operation is supported by elysia’s signature Auto Fast function, which will automatically reduce the attack to its shortest value when strong impulses and transients require it.

Technically, the discrete VCA responsible for reducing the gain is placed in negative feedback with its following op amp. The beauty of this is that the dynamics section is only part of the signal chain when it is actually working. If there is no compression going on, the corresponding circuitry will be completely bypassed.

In order to have a visual support of what is going on inside the compressor section, a single LED that changes brightness indicates the intensity of the gain reduction process.


Variable Low Cut Filter

An essential standard tool for any preamp is a low cut for reducing low frequency rumble. Instead of just a single or maybe two fixed frequencies, the elysia skulpter 500 offers a variable low cut filter with a wide frequency range from 10 Hz to 375 Hz.


The slope of the filter is 12 dB/octave, and its amplifier is a discrete class-A design optimized for especially transparent performance.


Balanced DI

The elysia skulpter 500 can handle way more than “just” your complete microphone locker. An integrated front panel JFET DI makes it perfect for amplifying and shaping many kinds of different signals coming from guitars, basses, synths, effects...

The high input impedance of one megohm allows users to directly plug even instruments with passive pickups into the preamp without the danger of a mismatch causing dull and lifeless sounds. On the other hand, the input can handle high levels of up to +19 dBu!

The high amount of headroom and the fact that you can feed both balanced and unbalanced signals into this DI make it the perfect terminal for line signals – which will obviously benefit big time from the purity of the preamp with its amazing sound shaping and dynamics features.


Multifunction Meter

The fifteen LEDs of the elysia skulpter 500’s meter provide four pieces of vital information:

Input Clipping

A single LED located at the top of the meter will light up if clipping is detected at the input of the preamp. If the input does not clip, it means that the rest of the signal path is good as well. The LED increases in brightness to reflect the intensity of the overload.

Compression Intensity

Another single LED located at the bottom of the meter shows the amount of compression applied to a signal if the dynamics section of the elysia skulpter 500 is active. This LED also changes in brightness to visually represent the amount of compression applied.

Level Meter

Thirteen LEDs in the middle of the meter show the output level of the preamp. For smooth transitions between different values instead of erratic flickering, these change in brightness, too. Level related effects of the compressor and sound shaper sections can be monitored on this meter as well.

Gain Indicator

If the Gain encoder is pushed, the level meter will turn into a gain indicator. In this case, the scale printed on the right side of the LEDs will apply, and the meter will show the amount of gain the preamp currently generates.


Stepped Controllers

The elysia skulpter 500 features stepped potentiometers for its sound shaper, low cut filter and onboard compressor functions. Forty-one steps make a precise recall very easy, and they provide a useful range of possible settings at the same time.


The gain is controlled by a rotary encoder with twenty steps per round, providing a total of 40 gain values in 1.5/2 dB steps. Pushing this encoder switches the meter from displaying the output level (default) to the actual gain value of the amplifier.

Elysia Audio

About Manufacturer

The beginning was an obsession. Would it actually be possible to build special gear with these features and sound characteristics? Well, since then Elysia has become a union of creative audio enthusiasts who have a clearly defined objective: the development and production of high-quality studio equipment featuring that certain something. We do not want to settle for the status quo and rehash existing concepts time and again. Our objective is rather to adapt our products to current demands in everyday studio life. The initiators of the company founded in Nettetal (Germany) in 2005 are Ruben Tilgner and Dominik Klaen. Affected by countless live and studio experiences as well as by over ten years of pro audio experience they finally created elysia in order to make their personal sound philosophy come true. Ruben looks back on many successful development projects: besides others, he has designed the Transient Designer, the GainStation and the MixDream for SPL. Based on his experience on the marketing sector, Dominik Klaen concentrates on communication, documentation and all topics related to product design. The independence of our enterprise enables us to follow extreme paths in our work. We like to try out a lot and are only satisfied when there is nothing left to improve. Besides, we never discard unconventional ideas airily we test all of them and never form our opinion before doing so. Our most important rule is that the ear always comes first, but we also like to please the eye by reflecting the inner values of our devices on the outside with an exclusive design. This is the basis on that our audio equipment is built. We set value on highest sound quality, exclusive use of top grade components, perfect operability and reliability, appealing product design, exemplary documentation and implementation of innovative features without any Voodoo, but with real profit for daily usage.


Frequency response @ 3dB gain: 10Hz - 170kHz (-3dB)

Frequency response @ 29dB gain: 10Hz - 170kHz (-3dB)

THD+N @ +6dBu level, 3dB gain, 20Hz - 22kHz: 0.007%

THD+N @ +6dBu level, 29dB gain, 20Hz - 22kHz: 0.007%

Noise floor @ 3dB gain, 20Hz - 20kHz (A-weighted): -97dBu

Noise floor @ 29dB gain, 20Hz - 20kHz (A-weighted): -93dBu

CMRR @ +6dBu level, 29dBu gain, 1kHz: 87dB

CMRR @ +6dBu level, 29dBu gain, 10kHz: 69dB

Maximum level Mic In/DI In/Out: 19/19/21dBu

Impedance Mic In/DI In/Out: 13.6kohm/1megohm/62ohm