thousands of requests for Groove Tubes to build a stereo version of this
preamp. In 2005 (at AES) Aspen Pittman says of the release of the SuPRE: "The
SuPRE borrows some key features and design components from both the
ViPRE and the Brick for an extremely flexible, great-sounding and yet
very affordable solution for stereo mic and instrument preamplification."
Huh? The single-channel ViPRE sells for $2800 right now; the
single-channel Brick (preamp/DI) sells for $400. But the
dual-channel SuPRE sells for $1600...?
Here's what i think happened:
GT needed a stereo preamp, but the popular single-channel preamp that
they were sitting on was already fairly expensive. They probably
knew that they wouldn't be selling too many $4000-$4500 units and so
they had to somehow go lower in price, because even staying in the
same ballpark would leave studio owners to question buying a single
two-channel preamp when they could get two single-channel preamps
for about the same amount of money. I can't see how
SuPRE sales wouldn't cut into ViPRE sales at some budget
levels, but i still think that Groove Tubes made the right decision.
[Owners with higher budgets will still get the ViPRE; i mean who
And so how did the GT sound?
It was no surprise that the SuPRE smoothed out alot of the digital
harshness that comes with amp modelers; that's what vacuum tubes can do.
But we all know that tubes (and tube preamps) can also add their own
color, which can be anywhere from really good to really bad. For
this particular situation (and to my ear), the GT preamp had my
digital rig sounding way better than i'm used to - i loved it.
In addition to helping with the digital harshness; the SuPRE
also did an effective job of smoothing things out harmonically.
This too is a subjective affair and some will like it when others will
Guitar tones contain some very complex harmonics, and these are what
suffer the most when using an amp modeler versus a real amplifier.
A tube preamp can be subtle or obvious in "smoothing" these harmonics
out, but people will always argue about whether it sounds "warm" (good)
or "muffled" (bad).
I thought that the SuPRE sounded great on heavily saturated patches
when soloing up high and playing fast... blurred things up quite nicely.
But, on a clean patch with the bridge pickup was where i really
appreciated the SuPRE. Because...
Guitar players all know that there's this super punchy clean single-coil
neck-position tone that you can get.
I'm not talking about the jangle-y bite (which is also cool); i'm
talking about that percussive attack. It's usually "too much" for
the artist / songwriter / producer.
And what you'd normally do is just roll off your volume, which also cuts
some treble (like rolling off your Tone knob). Those high-end
GONE at that point; and the only way you can get *something* like it back is
in the modeler's EQ
or at the board (which both suck compared to the pickup itself).
Well with the GT SuPRE you can dial that beautiful percussiveness
out if that's what the producer wants but withOUT losing as much of
the rest of your overall tone. This might help to
avoid a situation where somebody is trying to add "presence" to your guitar
later on with some EQ plugin! [Only digital/solid-state rigs
would have this problem; tube guitar amplifiers in this situation are
usually just fine!]
Ok so, Groove Tubes SuPRE versus Avalon M5
It's true that you can't compare a hammer to a wrench. Both of
these preamps have plenty of clean headroom but they are definitely
different. I'd be an idiot if i said that one was "better
than" the other, but i will say that for use with my own
digital/solid-state electric guitar rig...
I preferred the Groove Tubes SuPRE over the Avalon M5 by a fairly