Atlas Pro Audio Juggernaut Mic Preamp Review

May 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Michael Cooper

500 FORMAT MODULE WITH SELECTABLE TRANSFORMERS

Polls


Mix Regional

The Mix Regional section for Mix's July 2014 issue focuses on Atlanta. Send us your studio news: updates, sessions, new rooms, club performances and installations. Let the Mix audience know what is going on! Send photos and descriptions to mixeditorial@nbmedia.com.

The Juggernaut preamp offers variable impedance, backlit switches and a front DI input.

The Juggernaut preamp offers variable impedance, backlit switches and a front DI input.

The Juggernaut is a single-channel, Class-A, fully discrete preamp module. It is designed to be powered by any API 500-compatible housing or in Atlas' Revolver rack, which can fit two Juggernaut modules. Slide a Juggernaut into one of the Revolver's two slots, secure two front panel screws, and you're good to go. The Revolver's rear panel provides latching XLR I/O for each module, a power switch and an IEC AC cord.

Color Me, Quick

Juggernaut's main attractions are push-buttons that switch the audio path between iron- and nickel-input transformers, changing the timbre. Nickel input provides greater bass extension and lower THD, while iron input provides a little more color. A nickel-output transformer can also be installed in lieu of the factory-installed iron one prior to racking the module in the Revolver. This is a simple operation, yet it requires a little manual dexterity. Atlas is providing the nickel-output transformer at no extra charge for a limited time.

A +THD button pads the output -10 dB. Other controls activate 48-volt phantom power, invert polarity, provide up to 25 dB of boost, and mute the unit's output. These switches are thoughtfully designed. When activated, they're backlit by an LED. The mute control is nonvolatile, and the phantom-power switch is turned off on power-up to avoid potential damage to other gear. Even if the mute switch is disengaged, the unit is automatically muted for a few seconds on power-up to avoid a thump. You must press and hold the phantom switch to engage 48V power — there is no risk of unintentional engagement here.

Continuously variable rotary controls for adjusting gain and input impedance are detented for repeatable setups. The latter varies mic load between 300 and 10k ohms. Depending on whether the boost and +THD switches are engaged, gain can be varied between +12 and +70 dB — plenty for use with low-output ribbon mics. You can pad the Juggernaut's output 10 dB while cranking the gain control to saturate the input transformer for more color. A ¼-inch DI jack is also provided on the front panel.

Double My Pleasure

Atlas provided two Juggernaut modules, so I installed a nickel-output transformer in one and left the factory-installed iron-output transformer in the other. In general, the iron-output transformer produced a more saturated and colorful sound, but the nickel output sounded stunning in its depth, detail, clarity and natural warmth. The two input transformers sounded subtly different on some sources and night-and-day dissimilar on others.

The combination of nickel-input and -output transformers produced gorgeous acoustic guitar tracks, which were miked in stereo with B&K 4011 condensers. Surprisingly, this transformer combo produced a warmer and thicker sound than nickel in/iron out, while retaining sweet sparkle and detail.

When I miked a guitar cabinet with a Coles 4040 ribbon mic, the Juggernaut produced superb electric guitar tracks. Nickel in and out lent a warm, round, clean sound to Strat tracks — great for accurately capturing a guitar tone that was already lush at the mic. Iron-input and -output transformers, on the other hand, added presence and crunch to another guitar that needed extra hair. Simultaneously kicking in the boost and +THD switches grew a beard on the track!

On kick drum using an AKG D 112, nickel in and iron out produced a beautifully defined beater snap and a tight, deep “chest hit.” Switching to iron input brought out the beater snap even more, but the shell resonance wasn't quite as meaty.






Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95

Newsletters

MixLine

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.