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Grace Design m101 Single channel microphone preamplifier
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||16.5 x 14.3 x 4.7 inches|
|Item Weight||2 Kilograms|
About this item
- 12 position gold plated rotary gain switch
- The m101 is ready to give any mic preamplifier a run for its money
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|Item Dimensions||16.50 x 14.30 x 4.70 inches||1.93 x 1.93 x 4.72 inches||0.00 x 0.00 x 0.00 inches||19.00 x 5.75 x 1.75 inches|
Grace Design M101 Microphone Preamp
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Even with the Cloudlifter, I’ve had to drive my Mackie pretty hard, but until recently I’ve gotten acceptable results. While recording my most recent episode, however, I noticed a significant and unacceptable amount of background hiss that I had to tackle with some aggressive noise reduction. I didn’t know if my equipment was getting old or not, but I decided, given the marginal performance I had always experienced, that it was time for an upgrade in the mic preamp department to see if that was the problem. After doing research in which I tried to identify mic preamps that had clean gain and a lot of it, I settled on the Grace Design m101 and, with a gulp, pulled the trigger.
Make no mistake about it; this is an expensive unit, especially given that it is for a single channel of audio. You could buy roughly five Cloudlifters for the price of one m101. But having run it through tests against the Cloudlifter, I must say that you get what you pay for. With the ribbon mic circuit engaged, the m101 delivers extremely clean sound from my Procaster with a ton of headroom remaining. I have the gain knob on the m101 set at about the halfway point AND my Mackie input turned much farther down than with the Cloudlifter, and the difference is night and day I’m now as clean as can be, and neither the m101 nor the Macke are even close to their limits.
I don’t mean to knock the Cloudlifter. It gave good service for years, and it doesn’t pretend to be in the same class as the m101; it is what it is, and has been a good value for the money. But if it isn’t enough for what you need, and you have the coin and can justify spending it, take a serious look at the m101.
As a "voice over" enthusiast these reviews don't do me any good at all. For other VO enthusiasts out there (or pros for that matter), I really wish I grabbed this piece when it was still $600.00 when it came out. Transparency in VO is extremely important if you're submitting your takes to a studio or group. If they want to add color or post-effects to your takes, then they can do so with your natural voice in mind.
The Grace M101 is something special in that it has tons of clean gain and will bring out the truest form and qualities of a microphone.
Now I will say that for commercial work some people like their equipment to color their voice, especially if their natural voices are a bit lacking in strength or charm, so if that's your main wheelhouse I understand not wanting to buy it (same goes for some of you musicians out there), but I'd argue you can just get the same kind of sound through post production. And once again the fact that this preamp lets you get a crystal clear completely unchanged recording of your voice is extremely valuable.
Are there better preamps out there? Well if you're willing to pay one or two thousand dollars more then yes absolutely (Grace themselves offer some). But the difference is negligible and certainly not worth the jump in price. For the majority of voice actors the Grace m101 is basically the best preamp they can possibly buy and they will not regret the massive jump in audio quality they're gonna see from it.