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Black Lion Audio Auteur DT

Microphone Preamplifier & DI By Bob Thomas
Published June 2023

Black Lion Audio Auteur DT

There’s more to this desktop preamp than turning up your mic!

Chicago‑based Black Lion Audio forged their reputation with a range of performance upgrades to other manufacturers’ audio interfaces. Work in this area continues, but over the years BLA have introduced their own original products, including the Auteur range of transformer‑balanced mic preamps. The first Auteur, a dual‑channel preamp, was released in 2009, and MkII and MkIII versions now sit alongside the four‑channel Auteur Quad and single‑channel Auteur MkII 500 variants, the latter being a 500‑series module. The latest addition to the family is the Auteur DT, a single‑channel microphone preamplifier/DI that follows its predecessors’ transformer‑balanced paradigm, but which has been specifically designed for use on a desktop.

Catching The Eye

The DT looks attractive, and is compact and surprisingly heavy, with its black‑painted, brushed‑aluminium chassis (which features “vintage style, translucent maple side panels”) and a hefty analogue 24V AC external power supply contributing to a total overall weight of 1.34kg. The channel controls are the same as on all Auteur models: a rotary 0‑60 dB gain control, and buttons (joined by status LEDs) for 48V phantom power, polarity inversion, a ‑10dB pad, and to engage the Hi‑Z input. That last button toggles the input source between the rear‑panel balanced XLR mic input and the front‑panel high‑impedance quarter‑inch TS jack DI input. A backlit, retro‑styled VU meter displays the post‑gain, post‑pad signal level, and a power on/off switch completes the front panel. On the rear, you’ll find the XLR mic input, a quarter‑inch TRS jack for the transformer‑balanced output, and the connector for the power supply.

The rear panel carries an XLR for the mic input, a TRS jack for the balanced line out, and a power inlet for the provided PSU.The rear panel carries an XLR for the mic input, a TRS jack for the balanced line out, and a power inlet for the provided PSU.

Internal components, which include Vishay and Nishicon capacitors and an Edcor PC 600/600 steel‑cored output transformer, are of high quality, as are the PCB layouts and internal construction. Like the rackmount Auteur MkIII, the DT features what Black Lion Audio describe as a “modern IC‑based front end for fast and transparent sound” and a “vintage‑inspired, transformer‑coupled output stage for massive, colourful sound”. Other than quoting an audio bandwidth of 10Hz to 30kHz, Black Lion Audio are a little coy about the technical specifications, though those for the related Auteur MkII 500 suggest that the specs should be good. The unit has a 600Ω output impedance.

On Test

Sonically, the Auteur DT delivers a clear, precisely delineated (but definitely not clinical) response that exhibits the low‑end warmth, smooth midrange and detailed high end that characterise a high‑quality microphone preamplifier with a transformer‑balanced output. Provided that you avoid overloading the inputs of your audio interface or mixing console, you’ll find it very difficult to extract a poor performance from this preamp. Vocals, acoustic instruments and percussion all benefit from the additional low‑end weight and warmth imparted by the DT’s Edcor output transformer.

The Auteur DT brought a distinct improvement to the overall sound of my Amplifire and Strymon Iridium amp and cab simulators.

The DI input is capable not only of adding richness and depth to electric guitars and basses, but also of enhancing the performance of hardware‑based amp modellers and loudspeaker IR loaders. For example, the Auteur DT brought a distinct improvement to the overall sound of my Amplifire and Strymon Iridium amp and cab simulators, especially when I pushed the levels a bit, and I’m now extremely tempted to keep those combinations available on a permanent basis.

The only operational drawback that I could find in the Auteur DT is the intrusion of self‑noise at very high gain control settings, which could become an issue when using low‑output passive microphones.

Black Lion Audio Auteur DT


Overall, then, the Auteur DT is an impressive, versatile and compact microphone preamplifier and DI. Sonically, it punches well above its relatively modest price, and its size, appearance and portability just add to its attractiveness. I can see this preamp appealing especially to musicians, podcasters and voiceover artists looking for a high‑performance single‑channel microphone preamplifier with real character that won’t break the bank — and will look great on your desk! If you’re in that group, I recommend giving the Auteur DT a very close look and listen.


If you’ve got a bit more, or a bit less, to spend, you’ll find the more utilitarian‑looking Golden Age Premier Pre‑73 Jr MkII and Fredenstein VAS single channel, transformer‑equipped microphone preamplifiers sitting, respectively, at price points above and below that of the Auteur DT. Other than Black Lion Audio’s own closely priced, half‑rack B12A MkIII, you’ll need to spend a good bit more to find other options offering similar specifications.


An impressive, versatile and compact single‑channel, transformer‑equipped microphone preamplifier and DI that, in terms of sonics, manages to punch well above its relatively modest price.


£309 including VAT.

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