Pros: Small size, simple to use, real tube tone, affordable.
Digital recording keeps refining itself with software, but the analog warmth was often relegated to expensive tube preamps in expensive studios. PreSonus now combines the clarity of solid state, with the warmth of tubes in an affordable unit.
This 1/2 rack unit packs a lot of punch in a simple package and controls. It’s very simple to connect to any recording system, with standard 1/4″ and XLR connections. The two channels sport phantom power and a phase reversal switch. The 80 Hz control acts as a low-end roll off filter – keeping low end, but removing the flabby and muddy bass frequencies. Keeping the easy to read VU meters from slamming into the red is a 20 dB pad button. The two main controls are gain and tube drive. The tube of choice, a 12AX7, is located inside.
Sound-wise, the clarity is excellent. The ability to blend in the tube tone (or bypass it entirely) is fantastic. Tubes enhance even order harmonics, and this increased depth is very pronounced. When recording guitars, even via a direct input, the sound is really enhanced, it doesn’t “distort’ as much as it adds warmth while still maintaining clarity. In small amounts it works great for warming up vocals, and pushing it higher can add some musically interesting “grit.” It’s great to get this sound while not slamming the needles into the red, or using a sluggish plug-in.
Overall, the BlueTube is a great preamp for any studio, regardless of size. While it only has two channels, the tone that it produces is well worth the price.
- 12AX7 Vacuum tube gain stage
- Tube Drive tube-saturation control
- 48V Phantom power
- 80Hz High-pass filter
- -20dB Pad to reduce hot input levels
- Polarity-reverse switch
- 2 Balanced combo mic/unbalanced instrument inputs
- 2 Balanced XLR main (L/R) line outputs
- 2 Unbalanced 1/4” main (L/R) line outputs