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LaChapell 992 Dual Mono Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
reviewed by Dan Richards

We have a lot of preamps here, and we've had a lot of 'em come through the doors over the years with The Listening Sessions. We've been using a LaChapell 992 "Extended Gain" version. Tonight we used it on the Taye StudioMaple kit [ w/ Evans G2's on top and G1's on bottoms ] and we put the 992 on OH duties - driving a pair of Gefell M295's. All I can say is... "Holy Mother of God." The 992 is absolutely magical.

At first I got a nice sound with the inputs low, but then I applied the 20dB pads and cranked up the input and turned down the outputs - and the heavens opened up and God joined our recording session.

The 992 EG has a lot of sonic versatility, and unlike the Standard version, the EG has transformers on the inputs. The Standard version also has its own unique characteristics - partly due to the transformerless inputs. But that's another story for another day. Anyway, back to the 992 EG... the best way to describe what it imparts to the source signal - is that is bathes and surrounds the source with a warm golden halo of air.

A few weeks ago we were testing mic choices for a male rock vocalist, and ended up choosing the new Telefunken AK47 [ more on that mic soon ]. We used a Millennia HV-3 preamp to audition the mics. The HV-3 would have been a good pre to use, but I wanted something in a preamp that would be just as open as the HV-3 but also add more air. When we ran the AK47 into the 992 EG we got the air I wanted in spades.

We've got the Taye StudioMaple kit sounding great - I mean really good - since we added the Evans heads and worked on getting the kit all tuned up. The 24" maple kick is thunderous. Tonight we were recording a rock ballad, and while we wanted the individual drums to punch through, I wanted to get a big airy sound on the overall kit. We also used a Telefunken AK47 mic through an A-Designs MP-2A preamp on kick - positioned out about 6' and about 1' off the ground - which also gave us some space, air and great low end. We used API pres on all the individual drums that were close-miked. Mics were 57 on snare, 421's on toms, and a D12E close in on the kick.

We've been using an A-Designs Pacifica a lot for OH's duties lately, and really loving it for the smoothness - especially in the upper-mids - and detail. I wanted something bigger and more airy for this ballad track. I suggested we try the 992 EG, since I'd been impressed with what it'd done for the vocal tracks a few weeks ago. The 992 EG not only gave me all the air I was looking for, but after I engaged the 20dB pads and cranked more signal into the input transformers, the OH's and the kit sound got deep and rich.

Everybody and his brother is making preamps now. And in my discussions with manufacturers I try to relay that there are so many pres on the market that if someone's going to cook up yet another product - they better have something new and different to put on the table from all the other stuff on the market. Well, LaChapell has got some serious offerings, and definitely something new to put on the table.

We are literally up to our ears in preamps around here, and have been for years. And in the next few weeks we'll be putting up about 15 different tube preamps in some A/B sessions on various sources. So, the last thing I need is another preamp. But this 992 EG does what it does so well - that I don't like the idea of it not being in the studio. I need what this EG does in my music and recordings. In the 100 or so preamps we've had in here at TLS over the last four years, we've gotten really excited by only a handful of preamps. And so far we've only used the 992 EB on vox and OH's. Gtrs, bass and other fun stuff to follow soon. But at this point we're as excited about the 992 EG as any preamp we've ever used. It's that good. It's that different. And the workmanship on these 992's is at a level of quality that is at the top of the art and craftsmanship in this industry.

So far we're stunned.

For more info, visit LaChapell Audio

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