Pro Audio Files

Gear Feature: Rascal Audio Two-R / Two-V Preamps!

Hi, I’m Joel Cameron, from Rascal Audio. I am here at the Brown Owl recording studio in Nashville, TN to talk to you about the Rascal Audio microphone preamps!

There’s two versions of this, it’s the same circuit in both. One is a 500 series obviously for APIs VPR format, and the other is a standalone, single rack space, self powered, two channel version called the Two-R. So you have the Two-V is the 500 version, and the Two-R is the rack mount version.

Same circuit in both of these. The singular difference between them from a circuit perspective is that there is an addition of a quarter-inch instrument input on the standalone version, which is a true high impedance, 2 Mega Ohm input impedance that feeds the mic input transformer. So you get the love of the whole circuit on it.

This is a desert island mic preamp design. I designed it for people who don’t have pockets to go out and buy a bunch of different preamps, but really do want to have a lot of different tonal variations available to them. Particularly recording in a digital medium, when you’re not going to get a whole lot of love off your converters themselves.

So this is capable of creating fairly clean, vintage kinds of tones, to really pushed, rounded tones, to just bombastic, huge tones. Basically, the way it works, it’s got — you’ll see it’s got three knobs instead of two. I think most people are familiar with preamps with two knobs, one that generally does gain and one that’s a trim.

I’ve added a third knob. I do have gain and I do have a trim in the form of an output fader. I’ve added an input control as well, which is essentially a continuously variable pad on the front end, so that you’re able to control the amount of level.

The reason I’ve added that is because the gain itself, the higher you push the gain, the more harmonics and the shinier the gain sounds. So you get some nice color out of the gain, and you can actually lower the input so that you’re not blowing up the circuit like you would with almost any preamp that has gain and output only.

So you can get some really unique tones that way. It’s great on acoustic guitars, on vocals, on things where you want a lot of presence and a lot of silk. It works really, really well.

Obviously, for cleaner tones, you can use lower gain. Then use the input to pretty much control the amount of level that you need. If you need more gain, even at full, wide open, just go until you have more than you need, and then back off the input a little, and you get kind of a cleaner version, but still a lot of transformer goodness, and all of that.

Then of course, you can blow up the input and the gain, and then use the output to trim that back, and you can get some really over the top, rounded tones that way.

And because these two controls are continuously variable, you have a lot of control over the amount of tone that you’re — and the type of tone that you’re getting.

The other features that the preamp has, obviously phantom power for condenser microphones. Input impedance select between high impedance and low impedance.

The high impedance setting is 1200 Ohms, the low impedance is 300.


The 300 setting is great for taming the often unruly SM57 that sometimes doesn’t play nicely with some mic preamp circuits and winds up sounding pretty peaky. In the 300 setting, you still get the frequency response you like from that mic, great for guitar amps and snare drums, but it’s not quite as aggressive and annoying.

The 300 is also a great position for dynamic mics on drums in general, because it just kind of adds this really round, pillowy effect that just really sucks the listener in. It’s a great effect.

The middle switch here is polarity invert. Got to have that for making sure your phase is all aligned.

The last feature I want to talk about is the high-pass filter, which deserves a little bit of explanation in my opinion, because it’s slightly different than — well it’s a lot different than others.

I love high-pass filters, but I don’t really care for simple on/off high-pass filter designs, generally because they’re pretty narrow in their usefulness. High-pass filters generally use 12 or 18dB/oct slopes, so they’re pretty dramatic in their filtering effect, and if you choose the wrong frequency, it’s going to work for some sources and clearly not for others, so you wind up kneecapping sources where you want to maintain some of the low frequency response, or the corner frequency is too low, and you’re not really removing the content that you’re trying to get rid of.

So I took a different approach to make it useful and really musical in that I used a 6dB/oct slope with a corner frequency of 120Hz. So you’re effectively down 6dB at 60 Hz, and 12dB at 30Hz, so you’re getting rid of the low frequency hash and the stuff that’s going to rob your headroom, but you’re not kneecapping your signals, and they still feel full and complete, but overdub after overdub, when you stack them, you don’t get the bulky buildup that you have to sift through when you’re mixing.

So it’s very, very effective. I generally just leave it on, except on things that are specifically low frequency content signals, like bass or kick drum, or thick pads. Things like that.

So it’s a different approach, it’s very musical, and it makes it — it kind of rounds out the feature compliment of this preamp design.

So that’s pretty much it, and now I’m going to play some drums and kind of show a couple of different settings using just the preamps to get some different characters from the same drum setup.

So thanks for watching! I appreciate it.

[drums, Clean setting]

[drums, Dirty setting]

[drums, high gain, low input]




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