Just as I’d put the finished touches to my review of Caveman Audio’s wonderful AP1 acoustic instrument preamp (SOS October 2022), the company released the more affordable AP1 Compact. Since it retains its larger sibling’s cross‑sectional dimensions, it is ‘compact’ in a relative rather than an absolute sense, and on investigating this new model it seems to me that no corners have been cut in terms of construction and component quality — as with its larger sibling, the AP1 Compact is unlikely to ever need you to claim against its standard 10‑year warranty.
Internally, the AP1 Compact features the same proprietary preamplifier circuit as the AP1, and delivers a superb sonic performance that gets very close to that of its larger stablemate. The Compact’s reduction in cost and size has been achieved by stripping the AP1 back to its core functionality (a piezo preamplifier driving a balanced XLR DI output), and adding unbalanced quarter‑inch (6.35mm) jack sockets for a high‑impedance instrument input and a tuner output, as well as a mute switch (with LED indicator) and a socket for an (owner‑supplied) 12V DC power source.
There’s little point me regurgitating what I’ve already written in the AP1 review, but overall I’d say that the Caveman Audio AP1 Compact offers a comparatively cost‑effective way of adding a superb‑sounding piezo preamplifier to your live or studio setup. I’d even go as far as to say that this (or one of its bigger siblings) is an essential audition if a piezo pickup sits at the heart of your music.