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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => The Acid Test => Topic started by: Marcus Black on January 16, 2009, 02:05:38 pm

Title: NPNG preamp
Post by: Marcus Black on January 16, 2009, 02:05:38 pm
Hi everyone, first post here. Long time lurker and regular poster on GS.

Thought I would start my contribution to this great forum with a review of the NPNG preamp. I thought I was done shopping for micpres when my dealer asked me if I wanted to try this new preamp that just came in, the NPNG. Yawn...a preamp...sure...I´ll give it a go....

F**k me. It took me about 5 seconds to decide to buy it. Here´s why.

Overall tone and texture

The NPNG is an unlikely mixture of all the good qualities I´ve come to appreciate in different designs. Usually you can´t have the Yin without the yang - clean can be a little lacking sometimes and harmonically rich can borderline muddiness and so forth. The NPNG seems to have taken only the good things out of every camp of sounds and put them into one box.

It´s fast. I mean really fast. The transient response is outstanding and seems to hold the entire frequency spectrum, like every frequency is arriving at you at the same time. It has a velvety smoothness and a size to it that I have previously heard only in good tube designs. It has a deep solid lowend with the authority of a neve. It´s an inch more in your face and closer to the source than any other preamp I have ever heard. When recording a mono source it doesn´t sound all that mono having great depth and dimension.

It stacks tracks in a way where they just seem to fall into place without effort. The sound is really in a league among the very best ever.

Build quality

The cliche "built like a tank" holds true. It is very obvious that it is a quality piece. All pots and switches have a robust feel. The PSU is external and we´re not talking wall-warts here. Big, heavy and probably capable of powering a small console. You immediately trust the NPNG, I would be very surprised if it broke down in normal operation.

In action

The operation is very straight-forward. There are really no special features other than the variable pad, which instead of just padding down the input lets you finetune the lower range below 30dB of gain. The main gain pot ranges from 30-74 dB. Other than that it´s just a couple of switches for 80Hz HPF, polarity reversal, pad engage and +48V phantom.

The phantom power switch sinks into the front panel meaning it takes some effort to engage it, the obvious reason beeing you can´t turn it on or off by accident.

The meter is scaled down to a couple of LEDs but gives you enough information about where your levels are at. Simple as that, you don´t get a lot to tweak but you are rewarded in spades with the outstanding sonic qualities. All the superlatives I could think of are in the beginning of the review.

So far I have yet to find a source or microphone that doesn´t fit. Vox, bass, guitars, percussion, DI boxes, passive summing rails... all good.

Of course, beeing a state-of-the-art micpre it will tell you if your source sucks. It´s not a flattering piece on a bad source but definitely brings out the best in a good one.

And the way it stacks tracks... Another user said it very well and I quote "it´s like a song recorded with the NPNG becomes this big entity that says place-vocals-here".


None except the LEDs on the front panel. They are so bright it hurts to look at them.

Final words

I wasn´t even remotely thinking about buying a preamp but I bought the NPNG immediately. It was painfully obvious that this is a workhorse pre for anyone needing outstanding sonics in a super reliable package. It was what I´ve been hearing in my head.

I was a little nervous about spending close to $3k on a pre from a company I knew nothing about and that doesn´t even have a website. A little research however shows that Karl Diehl, the man behind NPNG is a very respected tech and obviously is a lot better at building gear than marketing them. So buy with confidence.

I own/have owned/used many highend preamps like Api, GML, Cranesong, ff isa, neve & clones, vintage telefunkens etc. The NPNG is high up with the very best of them.

Thanks for reading.

/ Marcus
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Vertigo on January 16, 2009, 02:47:10 pm
Hi Marcus, welcome to PSW! Great review - I'm already looking forward to reading your future posts Smile

Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Barry Hufker on January 16, 2009, 03:33:29 pm

Thanks for joining us!  And thank you for such a well-written review.

You don't address this in your review so I've got to ask.  What is your relationship with NPNG?  I'm assuming satisfied customer but it would be great to have you state your relationship.  It allows us to put more faith in your review.

I hope you'll be with us a long time.

Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Marcus Black on January 16, 2009, 05:00:08 pm

I´m just a satisfied customer, I have no affiliation with the company whatsoever.

Until I tried the unit I didn´t know much anything about NPNG. Like I wrote in the review, it was the only thing that made me hesitant about the purchase, that I had to start researching to find out who this manufacturer was.

I was on the phone the other day with www.audiodog.se who is importing NPNG to europe and had a nice chat about their experience with Karl Diehl and NPNG.

My websites are in my signature and they describe what I do, which is producing, songwriting and mixing. I appreciate the concern to keep reviews and posts honest and free from personal economic gain. It´s a good thing.

I realize that my high praise of the NPNG might come across as a salespitch but I think it is that good and wanted to share my love for it.

I also like to start my relationship to this community by contributing something someone might find useful instead of bitching and ranting Smile
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Barry Hufker on January 16, 2009, 11:14:40 pm

Thanks for the explanation.  I mean no offense and your post sounds as tho' none was taken, for which I thank you.

It's just good to keep things clear.  We've had misunderstandings in the past with other posters.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for NPNG.  That's the kind of passion I want to see from the owner of a product.  I hope you'll be telling us about other exciting things you run across.

All the best,

Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: rick-slo on January 19, 2009, 11:20:04 pm
I picked up a NPNG DMP-2NW a few months ago and concur with Marcus. With Gefell M300s or M295s which I use to record acoustic guitar the notes have more body and fullness compared to my Great River MP-2MH (which is no slouch either). Like Marcus said those LEDs are way too bright however.
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Fletcher on January 21, 2009, 01:17:44 pm
Just to be clear... I have a direct affiliation with NPNG... but I too agree that the LED's [not the meter so much but the damn Blue ones under the filter & pad switches] can be way too bright [especially if you're sitting across from the unit as Blue LED's have a tendency to beam].

The only modification I have done to my NPNG pre has been to cover the LED's with a couple layers of masking tape and [due to my affiliation with Karl] make numerous requests for the LED's to be 'turned down' [which they are on the production unit... the proto-type I have can light a small city].

However... on a sonic level this thing thrills me to the bone... so living with the LED's isn't really much of a hardship.

Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: es355lucille on January 23, 2009, 03:01:51 pm
I purchased a NPNG DMP2-NW 2 channel mic preamp just recently and I am blown away!!!

Now I have to clarify that I have a home recording studio--> my wife being a singer/songwriter. I don't have a lot of equipment but I try to buy some high end equipment for the obvious reasons. So take my comments for what they are as I don't have a lot of recording experience or other high end equipment to make comparisions with. The only thing I have used this preamp on to date is vocals.

The complaints of the bright LED's.......this is true, but if you are like me and have very little equipment....the lights are a good addition.(laugh)

Ok with my limited knowledge this is what I hear:
The NPNG adds a depth or dimention to a vocal that I find hard to describe. I am using a Telefunken Mic that will be adding to this.....but together come up with a really full dimentional sound. The only way to really describe this is when you are mixing something in stereo, and you pan each side until you get a sense of depth and dimention. (the sweet spot) The unit adds a clarity and has a great balance from highs to lows. (very smooth)

Sorry I am not very good at explaining.

One thing is for sure.....I love my new NPNG Very Happy !!!


Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: blaugruen7 on January 24, 2009, 06:47:26 am
i have heared the NPNG at a friend next to some v76, some neve 1084 and some lmnopre recordings and i would prefer the NPNG as my main preamp.
funny though that with my few experiences with preamps so far i have had associated the sound of the NPNG with tube gear. Smile very balanced and nice highs.
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Rimskidog on April 16, 2009, 05:46:51 pm
Hmm.  Need something on the clean side. Am looking forward to hearing this thing.
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: Arf! Mastering on April 19, 2009, 11:26:49 am
I used an NPNG pre recently on a well-known female artist's vocals.  A high alto/soprano.   The first poster described it all perfectly - this thing sounds big, warm and superbly detailed at the same time.   Nuance and emotion sail through.   A touch of top end and a nice chamber in the mix and the vocal sounded like a million, um, well make that a trillion (2009) dollars.  BTW, the mic was a great little C12a.
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: compasspnt on April 19, 2009, 11:35:11 am
es355lucille wrote on Fri, 23 January 2009 15:01

The only way to really describe this is when you are mixing something in stereo, and you pan each side until you get a sense of depth and dimention. (the sweet spot)

What does this mean, please?
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: wwittman on April 20, 2009, 11:03:45 pm

what's that?

have they no left, right, centre switches?
poor things.

Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: brian harrison on June 21, 2009, 01:16:45 pm
ive owned 8 channels of these superlative pre's for 12 years and won't make a record without them. they simply make the job easier and seem to make everything sound more lifelike or 3D sounding. its one of those once you hear it you get it things. to borrow a quote from Dreamland my favorite rib joint
"aint nothin like em nowhere"
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: U1176 on July 15, 2010, 12:30:22 am
What are the differences between the NPNG QMP-4B and the QMP-4NW?
Title: Re: NPNG preamp
Post by: mixwell on July 27, 2010, 12:35:41 pm
Disclaimer - Adam sells NPNG preamps - and talks to Karl daily.  

In efforts to add information to this thread - which I hope the moderators will not frown upon given my relationship with Karl and his product - but here are the words from Karl himself about the QMP-4B that was recently up for sale on E-bay.

To whom it may concern. The QMP-4B for sale on E-Bay is in fact very close to the same circuit(s) as what is being produced today. There are differences in the way the output transformers are interfaced with the line amps. There are different devices used in the line amps themselves (but the circuit is the same). The output transformers are NOT Jensen but rather Reichenbach.  Which at the time, were being manufactured by a third party company (NOT Cinemag).  The reason I stopped producing the QMP-4Bs was due to a stability issue which I found out years later was the result of inconsistent manufacture of the output transformers. The QMP-4Bs (all 12) were produced in 1996. I have rebuilt and updated several 4s and 4Bs. The main problems associated with the units today are: They need a full retrofitting of the electrolytic capacitors, the output driver transistors should be updated, the isolation resistors should be removed and replaced with ferrite beads. And all the Molex connectors should be removed and point to point wiring should be employed. And I recommend loosing the insert points (it will also eliminate a stage of coupling capacitors). If all this is done you will have a unit that will sonically approach the sound of the 4NWs.  Another “issue” with the 4Bs is the all steel nickel plated chassis. Works great for fixed installations but put it in a road case and bounce it down the road….It will bend the rack face of the unit at the ears (the pre weighs at least 20 lbs).