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Meris 440 Microphone Preamp first impressions.

Meris Audio is a new company that are based in Los Angeles. They were started by a gent called Terry Burton. Prior to this, he set up Strymon, a name synonymous with superb guitar effect units and worked doing hardware design at Line 6.

They have just released their first product- a new preamp, called the 440. It's a 500-series module and is compatible with the many chassis and desks that are currently available.


Out of the box, it looks really nice. The build quality is superb. The front panel contains the controls you'd expect to see on a preamp- your input and output levels.  there's a pad switch to remove 20dB from your input level, high-pass filter to help stop low frequencies causing problems, a high-shelf boost, phase inversion and the phantom power switch. Below these controls is an effects loop send and return.


Taking it out of the box, you are immediately impressed with the build of it- the metal chassis feels really solid and the main board is substantial. You can see an array of components and iron in the form of the Cinmag transformers that handle the input and output signals.



These units should really appeal if you're after the sound of the classic American consoles. The Cinmag transformers that are in it are similar to the ones API used in the 312 pre-amps- renown as the sound of the 70s West Coast; Think The Doors and The Rolling Stones...

The effects loop is a feature quite unique for the 440. It handles signals at the same level as pedals, so that guitarists can get a great clean sound thru the 440 before sending that signal off to the effects pedals and back again. This results in a much better overall sound as you are capturing the tone of the pre-amp, but able to get the right signals into the remainder of your guitarists signal chain without any other patching and re-amping of signals.

The return input also acts as a direct injection (DI) for guitars and bass allowing you to plug straight into the unit at the right levels.

Firing it up, we were immediately taken with the cleanliness of it- plugging in our Fender acoustic, it sounded clean, broad and dynamic without any boom. Plugging in our Pearl Priority, we tried it for a bit of vocal and were equally impressed with the richness and tone. Driving it hard resulted in a little compression and a subtle change to the sound, but not the kind of saturated over-drive that driving some preamps results in.

Overall, we'd really recommend this to engineers who are after a clean preamp and are working with guitarists and bassists, but also want something that works equally well on vocals. You can read more on the product here and we've got ours on demonstration now- drop us a line to arrange a visit.


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