DACS' MICAMP 2
Winner of 1998 SSAIRA for Outboard Pre-amplifiers voted for by readers of Studio Sound
"Does it sound good?" The answer in tests has been an unequivocal "YES!"
Hugh Robjohns from Sound On Sound
"...eerily silent background, and the astonishing level of detail that this unit produces...given a good microphone, every nuance of the original sound source is faithfully captured and amplified...It's simply stunning!"
One user from Norway commented
"...I haven't been so satisfied with a purchase since I got my first car!!!...it makes all of my other micpreamps sound like they are going through a dozen pairs of panty hose."
One studio recording engineer commented
"...there's only one of my collection of microphone pre-amplifiers that is on a par with it, and that is no longer manufactured."
Douglas Doherty talked to one user from California....
"Uniquely among selection criteria, the DACS MicAmp was purchased by Californian recording engineer David Auerbach on the basis of its' ability to allow him to identify individual frogs. He lives in a low lying area of California wine making country; at night the frogs go wild. With a microphone out of his window he tested a number of preamplifiers, and alone among them the clear detail picked up by the DACS MicAmp allowed him to identify specific croakers."
- 2 channel discrete-component-based microphone amplifier
- Ultra low noise, ultra low distortion
- Unmatched transparency of sound coupled with sonic punch
- Gain settings in 6dB steps, from +20dB to +62dB, with a 0dB to +10dB trim control
- Separate non-Phantom Power input coupled directly to gain stage for dynamic, ribbon and valve mics
- Flat frequency response from below 20Hz to above 48kHz
- Tri-segment LED display for clear metering
Easy to set up and use, the DACS Clarity MicAmp produces an extraordinarily clear, uncoloured, detailed and complete sound for recording everything from voice and acoustic instruments to overheads on drums, with bomb proof input stage and optional in line pad. Users universally describe it as one of the finest microphone amplifiers in the world.
The DACS MicAmp is a very high performance unit. At this level we believe that every effort must be made to avoid compromising the quality of the signal path. We have examined every aspect of the process, from the power supply to wiring to external connectors. Probably the changing of any one factor would make no noticeable or measurable difference, but cumulatively we believe that the attention to detail is worthwhile, particularly in long-term performance and reliability. Below are some notes regarding the technical aspects of the MicAmp, which we believe make this unit one of the best Microphone Amplifiers available.
Power Supply Unit
The Dual Rail supply used in all our products uses LM317 variable regulators. These have been shown in a number of tests to be lower noise than standard 78/9 series regulators. We have also implemented additional ripple reduction circuitry. In addition most capacitors are Tantalum, not standard electrolytic. The main smoothing capacitors are 4700µF per rail. The Phantom Power Supply is an op-amp based regulator giving extremely stable regulation.
Power distribution uses a star system to minimise any interaction between circuit elements.
The unit uses a star earth system where all earths go to the 0V terminal using heavy cable.
Wiring and Fixing
Where connections are crucial we have soldered directly to the PCB. This forms a more reliable long-term connection than plugs. All cables are loomed and firmly cable tied to the board. The audio cable is OFC, again producing a small benefit over the long term. No external connectors are PCB mounting. This ensures long-term reliability.
The input DC decoupling capacitors are metallised polyester of 5% tolerance. The input is protected by four ultra fast diodes. The transistors are stacked to improve thermal coupling and reduce lead length. They are mounted in a turned pin socket. The gain switching uses a self-cleaning rotary switch which is screwed to the PCB, then soldered, and the switching shaft is fixed to the screwed down portion of the switch body so that there is little or no mechanical stress on the PCB. The pot (conductive plastic tracks) is also mounted on a bracket to minimise PCB stress. The filter stage uses 5% metallised polyester capacitors too, to give accurate and stable filtering. The amplifier stage is decoupled from the filter and trim stage by a 100uF bi-polar electrolytic capacitor. The trimmers are all low noise trimmers with a wide track. Throughout we have used Burr Brown OPA604s which are extremely high specification op-amps optimised for audio applications. In listening tests they have been preferred to NE5532s.
Noise and distortion
EIN is -133dB relative to a maximum output of +22dBu. Distortion is very low, with THD+N figures of around .00025% @ 1kHz (measured in the audio frequency range). Input impedance is ca 1kOhm.
-3dB point at 48kHz, roll off at 6dB/octave Flat to less than 20Hz on phantom with subsonic roll off at 6dB/octave, DC coupled on non phantom inputs.