To describe the Mooer Preamp 019 you could definitely say it is ‘amp-like.’ A true preamp with cab simulation (which you can turn off), the sound is authentic, rich and dynamic.
The Clean channel is crystal clear, no matter the 3-band (treble, mids & bass) EQ settings. Using a lot of treble does not make it harsh and using a lot of bass does not make it muddy. Overall you can achieve some great classic rock lead tones on Channel 2 (high-gain channel), whereas Channel 1 (clean) works well for both undistorted passages and when you want to integrate your favorite distortion/drive/fuzz pedal.
The cab simulation aspect is impressive, as well. Often I use a different brand of cab simulator when reviewing gear (recorded direct to DAW), but the built-in cab sim in the Preamp 019 sounded superior and a better match. On a related note, although I have used a different preamp when testing pedals, I found the Preamp 019 produced equal, yet different results. What I mean is, when driving a fuzz or distortion through the other brand of preamp, you would get a particular sound (obviously). When driving those same pedals through Preamp 019 those pedals, too, sounded very good, yet very different. This makes sense since every preamp has its own tonal characteristics and the same dirt pedal can sound very different with different preamps. Since Mooer has 20 different preamps in its repertoire, it could be an addictive and enjoyable trend in ‘chasing the tone.’ In a different review I’ll be looking at Mooer’s Preamp 020 (based on the Bruno UG30) and I will include how pedals sound through that amp.
Mooer has established itself in the effects and audio industry over the past few years, and with this being the first review I’ve done on one of its products I can see (and hear) why. Now, the Preamp 019 is considered by Mooer to be “a faithful recreation of a 1967 50 Watt British classic, sampled from the personal collection of Tracii Guns in 2017,” and I’m not one to argue otherwise, nor do I have the experience to challenge that notion. What I can say is that this little pint-sized pedal delivers an enormous amount of tone that sounds very real and dynamic, just like an amp/cab should. And having reviewed other ‘Marshall-type’ gear, the Preamp 019 does have that characteristic in spades. You get crisp cleans, the overdrive channel is very warm, yet punchy (with a ton of harmonics and dynamics) and the tone quality continues to sound great as you roll off the guitar’s volume. Although you can run the Preamp 019 direct into recording software or a board, it also was designed to be put through your amp’s effects return – in doing so, you not only get your amp’s sound, but when the Preamp 019 is engaged you resort to a Vintage 1967 Marshall 50W Head! In fact, this is how all the Mooer preamps are designed to work, thus offering musicians an amp sound they like at a fraction of the cost and size (weight!).
EASE OF USE:
The UK Gold PLX Preamp 019 operates very much like an amplifier. You have a basic 3-band EQ (treble, midrange & bass), with volume and gain knobs. The footswitch offers a dual operating mode, which I’ll describe later. The LED button also serves a few purposes, as I’ll explain. So far, much of this is straight forward – tweak the EQs and the amount of volume/gain desired (although keep in mind that a lot of Gain actually sounds pretty darn good when you roll back your guitar’s volume). The most advanced part of this pedal is the footswitch and the LED button. The footswitch can turn the pedal on and off, whereas the LED button allows you to select Channel 1 (clean) or Channel 2 (overdriven). However, if you hold down the footswitch for 2-seconds it then switches between Channel 1 and Channel 2 without shutting anything off. And if you hold down the LED button for 2-seconds you engage the cab simulation (which is highly useful when connecting direct to a soundcard, powered monitor or P.A., and without the need for a guitar amp or speaker cab).
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY:
Measuring 9.35 x 4.2 x 5.2 cm (DxWxH) or 3.7 x 1.7 x 2.0 inches and weighing 160g, Mooer’s Preamp 019 requires a 9VDC power supply with 300mA to function properly, which is a lot of power for such a little guy (then again… it’s a preamp and they push a lot of power). The pedal feels heavy for its size, and so I presume the chassis is steel. The footswitch is solid in feel, but has a soft switch-over (no hard clicking) to turn a Channel on or off or to switch between Channels. The footswitch is somewhat close to the other knobs/controls or the LED light, but the switch is set quite a bit higher to prevent any foot-stomping mishaps. The EQ, Volume and Gain controls are small, but appear to be of good quality; and their pots turn smoothly, as well. The input/output, including the power supply input, all are located low on the pedal (toward its base), thereby providing more clearance of a stomping foot.