Mercury Grand PreQ15s

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Brandon Hickey

Versatile Old/New-Style Preamp With EQ


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In Use

Whether I used the Grand PreQ15s for voice-over, musical vocals, guitars, or even recording Foley footsteps, the first thing I noticed each time I fired it up is how stunningly clean the signal is. I could crank the gain and never hear so much as a hiss or a hum from the circuit. Its overall tonality was extremely pleasant. The lower frequencies had a melty quality reminiscent of Neve electronics, but the high frequencies were a bit different. The upper midrange had a certain bite to it that could make a vocal really pop, cutting through a bed of midrange-y guitars. It also gives you the right combination of controls to really exploit this.

In addition to the input gain controls, there is an output gain that follows the equalizer and serves as an effective equivalent to a fader. Juicing the input, boosting the presence at around 2 kHz, scooping the low midrange and backing off the fader, I could saturate the transformers and slightly singe the hot peaks in a vocal. The result was a gritty Jack White/John Lennon type of sound.

While this channel strip did great things for vocals and created an interesting vintage flavor on acoustic guitar, I was probably most excited by the sounds that I captured when plugging a guitar into the direct input. I could back it off and pull out really fat, clear, clean tones. The GPQ15s gave me great detail in the top end, bringing out the subtle articulation of the performance. It was a bonus that I could pick up a little grit from the preamp before feeding it to a software amp like IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube. The preamp couldn’t produce a sustained drive, but AmpliTube has never sounded better than it did after being fed signals from the GPQ15s. The subtle analog drive that preceded the software really did something special to the sound.

At times, the EQ was a little tighter than what I was looking for when tracking electric guitar, but it was fine when I made subtle adjustments. When I plugged in an electric/acoustic bass that was being picked by the bassist, the equalizer was hitting in all the right places to enhance the thump and the pick attack, producing a spectacular tone. It wasn’t the type of tight bottom end you hear from an API or SSL. It was that warm, buttery bass that can hit hard but gels in a mix. The top did feel a bit like an API with a tight, snappy clarity that clarified the intricacies.

Do I Want One?

It was a pleasure using the Grand PreQ15s. Once you hear it, you want to use it on everything. Anyone who is consistently disappointed with the DI’d guitar tones they’ve been getting needs to check this out. If I were going to invest in just one high-end channel strip as my go-to for everything, I would say that the lack of Q controls in the equalizer and the distinct personality of this EQ would limit its versatility. Additionally, there is no insertion point for placing a compressor between the preamplifier and equalizer. However, if you are looking for that missing piece that will warm up your tracks and shine some new inspiration on your projects, you’ve got to try it. Just a warning, though: It might be hard to settle for just one.


Company: Mercury Recording Equipment Company

Product: Grand PreQ15s


Price: $2,394

Pros: Extremely musical character. Clean and quiet.

Cons: Fixed signal flow with no insert.


Boosting upper midrange frequencies is an easy way to make a vocal pop in a mix. Likewise, boosting lows simulates proximity effect and makes that vocal sound more in your face. However, adding EQ can add coloration and change the natural timbre in those frequencies. Try cutting low-midrange frequencies instead to make the lows and highs pop even more. Boost the EQ and sweep between 300 and 500 Hz and when you hear a crowded sound, scoop out that frequency. That way you can boost the gain on the pre and use more of its flavor without adding so much EQ.

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