Black Widow Audio Designs launched its MGP-1A all-tube modelling preamp this week. The sleek-looking unit seeks to blend good old-fashioned tube technology with modern-day modelling. The St Louis-based firm claims to be the first company to achieve this, citing an R&D phase on this preamp of 8 years.
Old and New
The concept is fantastic: imagine having all the warmth, dynamics and character of hot valves blended with the ease of use and flexibility of modelling. That’s precisely what Black Widow Designs are claiming for this new unit, which uses a technology they have christened VEnuM.
The MGP-1A features four 12AX7 Tung-Sol premium preamplifier tubes, has balanced jack outputs for recording and also has a ground lift for live use. It offers 128 presets, giving you plenty of storage space for a wide variety of tones. Each of the three channels has up to six models available at any one time. I don’t think I would ever need that much myself, but it is still cool to have that on tap if you did.
Sound and vision
They use VEnuM modelling technology which is the first to offer all-tube, all-analogue guitar amp modelling. I love a good valve preamp and so it would be very useful to be able to ‘model’ certain styles of guitar amps, yet retain the convenience of modern day patch changes. The flexibility and control of MIDI also sound great.
It seems the MGP-1A could really excel at giving you a flexible solution. But it will all boil down to how it actually sounds, and the front-end user interface. If it the sound quality is good and it’s easy to use, it could prove very popular.
Okay, it isn’t exactly cheap. But if you are in the market for this sort of product, I would expect it is in the same price range as similar modelling hardware. These include Kemper and Fractal, although neither of those uses valves. And they also offer amp and cabinet modelling, plus effects in the price.
RRP: USD $2699 with an introductory price of $2099 up until 12th December
Full specifications of the Black Widow Designs MGP-1A can be found here