NRPD: Long live 90's rack tube preamps!!!

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by Emperoff, Feb 25, 2021.

Are rack preamps awesome?

  1. Yes.

    11 vote(s)
    73.3%
  2. Yes (Noodles).

    6 vote(s)
    40.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    Some of you may remember this thread:
    https://www.sevenstring.org/threads/brpd-most-bizarre-tube-preamp-ever-o.345905/

    I promised a part 2 of it, and here it is. This one is also quite special because I only knew about its existence from a german magazine from 1991. Not even a color picture of it. I had it saved on my eBay alerts feed, and the moment it appeared, I had to snag it:

    Enter the Exef 4tune Preamp ('91):

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    Contrary to its older sibling, this beast is pretty straightforward. 4 fully Independent channels (clean, crunch OD1 and OD2), each one with a bright switch. Parallel FX loop, MIDI switching. Aesthetic condition is great for its age, only the cap of some knobs is missing.


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    Fun fact: The seller was hesitant to sell it to me since he peeked on my eBay listings (NOS tubes) and thought I only wanted to buy it to salvage the tubes inside, so he'd rather sell it to a true Exef fan. It turns out, that the preamp has 8 tubes inside. After I sent him a picture of my Exef 6-Shooter preamp and explaining that I would probably have to retube the thing (which wouldn't be cheap), he finally agreed. I got it a pretty darn good price!

    So obviously, first thing I did was to open it to know what the fuss was about. Join me in my usual guts tour (paging gut lovers (@Deadpool_25 and @technomancer).

    Open sesame!

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    These are most likely FX loop/output tubes


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    Philips 350V caps, hefty transformer. Me likes :yesway:


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    Wima capacitors used throughout the entire amp. Me likes too :yesway:


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    Boring back shot:


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    Hori tubesu Batmano!


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    Tower Of German Damnation ready for a proper rack housing (or weirdo pedalboard):


    [​IMG]


    So how did it sound? Well... There were some problems to address before. The seller likely opened it up before shipping and swapped the tubes for random shit he had around, so there were all kinds of noises and volume dropouts, plus the usual scratchy pots. So I...
    - Manually turned all knobs 10-20 times to loose them up.
    - Changed all the tubes for working production ones I had around.
    - Secured the screws holding the PCBs tighter, and checked all ribbon cables.
    - Then it worked as it should. Yay!

    So, back at it. Ok, first of all the thing sounds HUGE across all channels. And I'm not really meaning low end response (the TriAxis can have much more bass), it's like it has a much wider soundstage than the rest of my preamps, which is weird but cool. Maybe it feels more "amp-like"? I suspect part of it has to do with the fact that there exists (although I've never seen it) a powered rackhead version of this. That might explain the suspicious empty space on the left side of the housing, and the standby switch which I'd never seen before in a preamp.

    Ok, now onto channels:
    - Clean: Godly. Seriously, the best clean channel I've ever played besides Fenders, etc. It's super chimey, but not stiff and you can drive it beautifully for Fender-Vox crossbreed breakup crunch. This channel alone is worth the price of the preamp. I can definetely say it puts the cleans of my TriAxis to shame, which is saying a lot.

    - Crunch: Crunch kinda starts where clean stops. Similar character but can get much fuller thanks to the extra gain reserve. Fantastic for blues, pop rythm guitars, and things like that.

    - OD1: 80's Metal true and through. Can go from light crunch to full blast with a somewhat saggy feel that reminds me of a less dry Marshall. Lots of high mids agression.

    - OD2: Eeehh... Weirdo channel. It has less gain than OD1 and a lot more low mids, very dark voicing. I suspect it was intended as the lead channel but the lack of gain compared to OD1 makes little sense. Perhaps there is a faulty component somewhere. I plan to give it proper care when time allows.

    Neither of the OD channels sound particularly tight, but I suspect a boost will do wonders on of them, specially on OD2. I could probably leave it on all the time since the pushed clean sounds so absolutely wonderful. Or perhaps control everything with a switcher since it has built in MIDI. Damn you @lewis and your weirdo pedalboards GAS!

    Now the hunt continues. VHT GP3 and Brinetti Mille CR are my next preys!

    :wavey:
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
  2. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    Dude that looks pretty badass.

    You should do like a rack preamp shootout or something, that could be pretty epic.
     
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  3. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Wild.
     
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  4. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Firstly!, Oh my days this thing looks awesome!! :O congrats on such a cool score.

    secondly, hahahahaha you're welcome ;)

    I second the idea of a preamp shootout if its easily doable for you. Would love to hear the comparisons!
     
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  5. Deadpool_25

    Deadpool_25 SS.org Regular

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    That is a sexy beast!
     
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  6. Millul

    Millul SS.org Regular

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    Looks clean AF.

    The Brunetti Mille shouldn't be hard to find on Mercatino?
    That reminds me of my never dying GAS for an XL-R EVO 120 head...beast of an amp!
     
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  7. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    Would love to hear some clips!
     
  8. Mourguitars

    Mourguitars SS.org Regular

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    Man that just looks super sexy...wow ...nice score !

    Never heard of the brand but I'm sure its well made being from Germany....i bet it had awesome 12ax7s in there from 91 ...good tubes were very abundant, 8 of them !

    Yea ...if you can makes some clips , but man, it has some nice components in there ...and its clean !

    Awesome !

    Mike
     
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  9. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    They are indeed using quality components, and the steel chasis is very thick as well. The tubes weren't good, though. Seller probably swapped all of them before shipping because there were a lot of noises and audio dropouts until I changed them.

    I'm considering getting a reamp box for this kind of stuff. Saves a lot of time and delivers much more consistent results. Will definetely do a shootout when time allows.
     

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