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Hit the road with the Retro OP-6 portable mic pre

Retro Instruments update classic RCA preamp for road-ready design

If you haven't seen this already, then check it out. This beauty is the new Retro OP-6 Portable Microphone Amplifier, the latest product from Retro Instruments. We've reviewed a couple of their units before — the Doublewide 500 mono valve compressor and the 176 vari-mu compressor/limiter — and have been consistently impressed. 

It takes the classic RCA OP-6 mic preamp, originally designed in the 1950s for use with ribbon mics, and adds modern functionality that producers have come to expect, such as variable impedance, 48V phantom power, and an instrument input. To top it all off, it has a carrying handle and looks pretty tasty.

Here's more from its makers...

Press Release: Retro Instruments, Inc., a company that specializes in boutique pro audio equipment, announces the debut of its first new product in three years: the Retro OP-6 Portable Microphone Amplifier.

The RCA OP-6 has been the behind-the-scenes ‘Holy Grail’ tube preamplifier for ribbon microphones for well over 60 years. Its almost endless headroom and gain are legendary, as is the extremely thick, rich tone imparted by its unique design. The OP-6 was used on some of the greatest recordings of the past, and many of these coveted units are still in use today. Unfortunately, these days originals are hard to find, very expensive, and mostly don’t perform to the technical specification they once did.

The vintage unit’s feature set is also somewhat limited when compared to modern standards. While the preamp sounds just amazing on ribbon mics – or any other microphone type for that matter – with each pairing an adjustment to the input transformer (inside the unit) is required to adapt it to the optimum impedance. Further, some mics require 48 volts, which wasn’t an option on a vintage RCA OP-6, and it’s often hard for a purist to mod an amazing vintage ’50s preamp beyond its original design to accommodate modern convenience.

So what if you could have a new “vintage style” OP-6 in all its glory (and then some)?

A unit that would adapt to several mic impedances (switchable via the front panel using a custom-wound input transformer), offer 48v for the mics that need phantom power, as well as having Mic and Instrument inputs?

Wait no more! All the tone of the original OP-6 and fine detail of this glorious tube mic-preamp have now been recreated by one of the foremost experts in tube design of our time, Phil Moore, bringing this vintage classic kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

Welcome the Retro Instruments OP-6 Portable Microphone Amplifier!

“This thing is so good that I wanted the new generation to experience it. I wanted to make a box with a handle that you carry into every studio session; something that doesn’t go in a rack – more of a studio centerpiece.” said Phil, (Retro Instruments founder and product designer).

“We’ve retained the integrity of the original circuitry, size and performance of the RCA OP-6, while adding many new features that will prove invaluable in the modern studio.”

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