Presonus ADL 600 Tube Preamp Review

Brandon Drury —  July 14, 2009

Presonus ADL 600 tube preampFeatures
We’ll make this quick. If you want the full run down head here.

This thing has plenty of gain, a -20dB pad, 3 different input impedances, the usual polarity (phase) button, 3 different high pass filter options, and an instrument jack on the front (always an under rated feature in my experience).

Basically, they’ve got everything you need here. Case Closed

The Sound
In the shootouts for Killer Home Recording we had numerous preamps from all different price ranges from stock Presonus Firestudio preamps to Great River, Manley, Vintech, and more. While this preamp stuff is always a mega subtle affair, the ADL 600 stood out as being different from the aggressive Neve family stuff. The ADL 600 had a smoothness to it in the upper midrange that really none of the other preamps had. Granted, for most of the work I do, I prefer the kick you in the butt Neve-style sound, but there are certainly instances where “smooth” is a desirable thing particular on vocals.

The ADL 600 even contrasted with the tube preamp in the Manley TNT quite a bit. The Manley TNT stands up to a height of 30′ feet and says “I AM GIGANTIC!”. The ADL 600 wasn’t quite so big sounding, but it was more refined in the low mids. There was quite a bit more harmonic content in that lower region. Basically, I thought the ADL 600 was a nice step in between Neve family stuff and the Manley TNT tube channel. It had the nicest lower harmonics of any preamp in the shootout.

The ADL 600 is definitely a pro caliber preamp. When you plug this thing in, it doesn’t take long to realize why this thing costs what it does. It does sound excellent. Even though the upper midrange was a bit tame on this thing compared to the more aggressive preamps, it still maintained a clarity that I really liked.

I’m not sure if the ADL 600 would be my first choice if I had to run all overdubs through one single preamp. This preamp is a bit too big sounding for that in an ideal situation. If you tried to cram too many big tracks into the same mix, you’d run out of room in a hurry. The importance of this track stacking effect remains controversial but it’s a philosophy I generally adhere to.

This thing ain’t cheap. We knew that already so we can quit crying anytime.

While the preamp was as quiet as any other preamp in this price range, if you turn the ADL 600 all the way up you will get noise. This is a bit off for a preamp in this price range. In my assembly-line style preamp shootouts a person may not notice the noise, but any real audio engineering situation give the engineer ample warning to turn the gain down 2dB so the noise disappears. I reality, I guess it’s actually preferred to have the option of squeezing every last drop of gain out of the unit and using your own noise tolerances.

For the pro studio, the ADL 600 has something exciting to offer. On sources where maybe the aggressive preamps are a bit too aggressive, the ADL 600 comes to the rescue. It’s an excellent preamp and I recommend it to anyone who has the cash for such ventures. For high end home studios, I’d imagine this would be the perfect “contrast” preamp to other pres in your rack. Well done, Presonus!

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

One response to Presonus ADL 600 Tube Preamp Review

  1. Thanks for the review. Looking for a new preamp and this is most likely the one I want to get. Tried to lower end Bluetube with less than stellar results. Hopefully the boss will kick in the extra cash for this preamp.