Byline: Mike Levine
PreSonus is well-known for its microphone preamplifiers, so it didn’t come as a big surprise when the company ventured into the world of acoustic-instrument preamplification. The product it released, the Acousti-Q ($299), is a well-designed, easy-to-use preamp/blender that has a very full feature set that’s optimized for live performance. It also sports a 12AX7 tube in its signal path that helps the unit deliver a warm, fat sound.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The Acousti-Q is a half-rack unit that can be mounted to a mic stand or amp using the optional Raxxess amp/standmount ($14.95). Once attached, the Acousti-Q sits at an angle, which is necessary so that the user can clearly view the controls when standing in front of it.
PreSonus has designed this device with a host of I/O options. Although it’s a mono unit, you have the option of feeding it two incoming signals (patched in with a 1/4-inch TRS Y-cable) and routing them through separate input stages. That allows the Acousti-Q to function as a blender for dual pickup systems that feature both mini condenser mics and piezo pickups. On the back of the unit you’ll find an XLR main output, a 1/4-inch Tuner/Amp output, and a 1/4-inch TRS jack for the Acousti-Q’s Effects Loop.
IN THE MODE
The Acousti-Q offers dual input and output control knobs. You can set two different output levels (Cut and Boost) and, by using the optional footswitch ($29.95), switch easily between them. An LED lights up when the Boost is engaged, so it’s always clear which mode you’re in.
A Mute button on the face of the unit cuts the signal to the main output, allowing for silent tuning and noiseless instrument switches. (The footswitch also allows you to turn Mute on and off, which is very handy.) When I used the front-panel Mute button, I had a difficult time determining at a glance whether it was engaged. I wished that it, too, had a status LED.
The Acousti-Q’s Equalizer consists of a sweepable midrange control (from 250 Hz to 5 kHz) and Bass and Presence knobs. The EQ is responsive and allows for a wide range of tonal adjustments. A feedback-fighting Notch Filter is located to the left of the Equalizer, and further left are a Phase switch and a button for turning on the unit’s 12V phantom power (which is used to power internal condenser microphones).
I tested out the Acousti-Q using a Taylor 510E acoustic guitar with a Fishman piezo transducer, and a Dobro 60DS with a McIntyre pickup. Both in the studio and through a P.A., the Acousti-Q exhibited a warm, fat tone that to my ear was superior to some solid-state acoustic preamps that I’ve heard.
On a bluegrass gig with the Taylor and the Dobro, I played with the Acousti-Q attached to a mic stand in front of me using the amp/standmount. Overall, I was quite pleased with the preamp’s performance. The tone was warm but also quite clean. The footswitch came in handy for muting during instrument changes and between sets. I also used the Cut/Boost button on the footswitch to goose up my volume for solos.
Because the tone and output levels of the Dobro and the Taylor are markedly different, I had to make quick changes in level and EQ when switching instruments. Unlike the tiny control knobs on some stompbox-size preamps, the Acousti-Q’s full-size knobs proved quite easy to adjust. Eliminating feedback – at reasonable playing volumes – was also a simple matter with the unit’s Notch Filter.
The Acousti-Q costs a bit more than some of the popular acoustic preamps on the market, but you get a lot for your money, including great tone and features and a user-friendly interface. Whether you’re using it for live performance or direct recording, the Acousti-Q is sure to please.
a[ordinal indicator, feminine] Rating (out of 5): 4
PreSonus Audio Electronics; tel. (800) 750-0323 or (225) 216-7887; e-mail email@example.com; Web www.presonus.com.
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