Focusrite Platinum Trak Master preamp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bben, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    My previous preamp setup was a Sadowsky on-board plus Avalon U5. Not a lot of options but a huge big round tone. I switched back to passive pickups (Aeros) since I missed a certain punch live that I only seem to be able to get with passives. What I lost was the big round bottom that the Sadowsky adds with just a little tweak of the low tone control.

    After some trials and exchanges of other gear with Musicians Friend, I ended up with a Focusrite Trak Master. I had been intrigued with Focusrite, but most of their stuff is way out-of-budget for a simple bass preamp, for my budget, anyway.

    The Focusrite had features I wanted: single space rack mount, balanced +4dB output, input jack on the front panel, high headroom Class A first stage, decent EQ.

    I took the cover off and looked inside, like I am wont to do, and it’s a nice looking board, with some discrete transistor pairs here and there, Alps pots, nice power supply – and a whole buncha 5532 chips. In some circles 5532s are sort of looked down on, being as common as mosquitoes, but I figured that the Focusrite crew wouldn’t have used them if they didn’t get the sound they were after. (Stewart uses them too, there’s a couple in each channel of the World 1.2, if I remember right from my look-see under the hood of that unit.)

    Well, it sounds just fine, almost as big and open as the Avalon, has quite a bit more gain, and is even quieter re. hiss and hum. The controls are very powerful, a little tweak on most of them goes a long way. The EQ features work well for me, I tend to turn down the 1.5k “presence” control a few dB to control fret noise, and boost the semi-parametric bass control a few dB depending on the room and the cab(s) I am using.

    It also has a fairly nice optical compressor – not what I bought it for, but nice enough that I keep it switched on at a low level mostly as a tone device. A “punch” button preserves leading edge attack, release is fully adjustable, and a “tube sound” feature actually sounds pretty good to me if used in moderation.

    Like some other folks, I’ve been waiting for Nick Epifani to release his preamp for, oh, thirty or forty years now. I dunno, though, I think maybe the Focusrite will do it for me. Sorry, Nick!