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B Y PA U L V N U K J R .
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2
An affordable dual-channel preamp provides welcome flexibility
PreSonus is a company that truly offers something for everyone, from beginner to boutique. In recent years we’ve looked at products like the Anthony DeMariadesigned ADL series, the AudioBox and AudioBox VSL computer interfaces, and the StudioLive digital mixers. With the company’s recent heavy emphasis on digital devices and its Studio One DAW, it’s easy to forget that PreSonus still also offers important analog signal processors aimed at improving the sound of entrylevel studios for reasonable prices. In 2001 we saw the BlueTube, a 2-channel, tube-equipped mic preamp for a mere $200, at a time when most 2-channel mic pres (even ones that didn’t have tube electronics) were double to triple that price. In 2005 the unit evolved into the BlueTube DP with an updated look and an improved design. The line continues to improve and evolve, and in this review we’re taking a look at the newest incarnation, the 2-channel BlueTube DP V2. The return of the blue The DP was silver, the DP V2 is blue. Functionally and structurally it is the same box as its predecessor, and it shares a common look and build with many of PreSonus’ other boxes such as the aforementioned AudioBox line. The BlueTube DP V2 is a half-rack device that is comfortable as a standalone desktop device or can be screwmounted to a standard third-party rackmount tray. Unlike most devices of this price point and size, it is housed in a solid all-metal enclosure with metal knobs
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that are firm and tight. It is externally powered by a line-lump 12V DC power supply with detachable cable. Front panel controls, inputs and outputs The unit consists of two matching channels, each with a large round backlit VUstyle gain meter. Each channel has four backlit function buttons for 48V phantom power, phase reverse, a 20 dB pad, and a highpass filter (12 dB/octave with corner frequency of 80 Hz) to remove low rumble. There are a pair of knobs, one for Tube Drive, the other for Gain, and finally each channel has a clip LED that will light when the input signal hits over +20 dBu. The Gain knob is detented and offers –15 dB to 65 dB of input gain for microphones attached to the XLR inputs, and –30 to 50 dB of gain when used with the unit’s high-impedance 1/4" instrument inputs. The Tube Drive control is fully variable and marked in percentages from 0 to 100%. It can also be clicked into the Off position, which turns off the tube stage and engages the solid-state part of the unit (more on that below). On the rear panel is a pair of combination-style jacks that accept both balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4" cables for inputs, and a pair of balanced XLR jacks along with a pair of unbalanced 1/4" jacks for outputs. The external power jack is located on the rear—there is no power switch, once plugged in it’s always on. So what’s new in V2? Interestingly the new BlueTube DP earns its “V2” status not from its tube side, but rather
from a redesign of its solid-state side. While both units function similarly, the Version 2 model now makes use of Presonus’ own XMAX solid-state microphone preamps. The XMAX preamps are a componentbased Class A design that uses actual resistors, capacitors and transistors rather than typical low-cost op-amp based designs, and the XMAX preamps also make use of 30 V rails rather than the 10 to 18 V rail voltages usually found in units at this price point. The XMAX Pres are clean, quiet and solid—these are the same preamps you will find in the company’s StudioLive mixers and other rackmount devices. They exhibit a full weighty and slightly rounded sound that is nicely in the middle of the preamp spectrum, i.e. not too surgical yet not at all vibey. In use I was quite impressed by the price-to-performance ratio of these little beauties, and they are an instant improvement to the preamps found in many of the entry level/all-in-one recording interfaces and even many compact mixers on the market. A good preamp is one of the easiest and most direct paths to getting better sound out of your microphones, and the BlueTube DP V2 XMAX preamp represents an affordable step up for any small studio rig. The tube side The tube side of the unit makes use of a twin-triode/starved-plate design that allows both channels to draw upon a single 12AX7 tube. At 10–30% you get nice subtle harmonic overtones. At 40–55% you get some tube grit. At 60% you can dial in varying amounts of saturated tube
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2013
Recording - January 2013
Table of Contents
2012 AES Convention Report.
Universal Audio Apollo.
ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
Monitors & Monitoring.
Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
Getting Into Your Head.
Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
2012 Annual Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - Cover2
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Recording - January 2013 - Fade In.
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Recording - January 2013 - Table of Contents
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Recording - January 2013 - Talkback.
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Recording - January 2013 - 2012 AES Convention Report.
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Recording - January 2013 - Universal Audio Apollo.
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Recording - January 2013 - ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
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Recording - January 2013 - Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
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Recording - January 2013 - Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
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Recording - January 2013 - AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
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Recording - January 2013 - Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
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Recording - January 2013 - Monitors & Monitoring.
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Recording - January 2013 - Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
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Recording - January 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
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Recording - January 2013 - PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
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Recording - January 2013 - Getting Into Your Head.
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Recording - January 2013 - Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
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Recording - January 2013 - Readers’ Tapes.
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Recording - January 2013 - iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
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Recording - January 2013 - Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
Recording - January 2013 - Advertiser Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - 2012 Annual Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - Fade Out.
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