To summarize: It's a 19" rack preamp.
A tube preamp with 128 storable presets.
Midi classic preamp with 3 channels.
It's pretty comfortable to use because it's very minimalist.
In other words, you choose a channel, clean solid-state, clean tubes or distortion, you adjust the settings, and you record. Up to that point
Getting a good sound...That's another question. It took me two hours to find my distortion, but I can say that it's just the way I want it. I didn't have any problems finding my clean sound, because I'm less demanding in that sense.
All in all, this preamp sounds always good, it's not a crappy preamp.
The manual is clear.
It's time to delve into the details. This preamp is old, so the sound is a bit old-fashioned. Especially the distortion, it's not suited to play numetal, but rather hard 'n' heavy or thrash from the '80s and even '90s.
Its hard-rock sound suits me very well (Skid Row used this preamp).
The sound of the ADA is very straightforward, proper and precise when it comes to distortion. It's pretty British in spirit but with more gain.
The solid-state clean is wicked, very jc-120-like, even though at first I had a hard time achieving anything.
The tubes clean is like a clean marshall (think jcm 900), it distorts very quickly, which isn't really my thing.
Edit: I applied the 3.666 mod and it changed the sound of my ada completely. It now sounds more like a mesa boogie rectifier preamp, but neater, the grit is very similar and to be honest, I think my setup is amazing.
If you are hesitating about doing modifications, don't!
I haven't used it too long, but I already had some rehearsals with it and I played my first gig with it last Tuesday.
What I like the most is the distortion, which is very '80s, and the clean sound suits me perfectly, too. I don't know what I like the least, but I analyzed several preamps to choose the one that suited me better. I bought it for $250 on ebay + $45 shipping + $50 customs + $20 for the bank transfer. It is in very good shape. It cost me $365 in total, which is acceptable. I would definitely buy it again. It's great for hard, heavy, thrash metal like in the old days.
It sounds awesome with other styles, too, but I like to play hard!
The ADA MP1 is programmable preamp in 1U rack format that features 3 channels.
Originally it has 2 tubes dedicated to the clean tube and distortion channels.
Personally, I had it modified into a 3TM (adding a third tube) by ordering a kit for about $200 from adadepot. That's all you need if you aren't too clumsy with the soldering iron!
It is very comprehensive in terms of connections: 2 outputs, one line output, one headphones output, one mono FX loop. It obviously has MIDI connections (In, OUT and THRU).
The only drawback is that it doesn't have any inputs on the rear panel. What are people who have very crowded racks to do? -1 in this regard!!
Fortunately, you can modify it by converting the line output into an input (which is something I plan to do with a kit available at adadepot).
The setup is silly, provided you are used to fiddling with a rack, but, yet again, it's light years from the complexity of a lexicon and company...
The manual gives clear and precise instructions, especially related to MIDI mapping, which may seem a bit arcane, but after that it does everything by itself!
Regarding sound editing, if you buy this preamp (secondhand, unfortunately!!) it's because you like the "vintage" type, good old '80s metal, girls, beer,...but now I'm getting off topic. So, YES, you can easily get a good sound if you don't buy this preamp by chance and you know what you want!
Does it suit my style of music? LOL, by now I think everybody has already understood that I got this preamp for the sounds it delivers: Metallica (from their good days!!), Iron maiden.......But with the 3TM you get dangerously close to modern sounds and I sometimes surprise myself doing some Dream Theater or even Symphony X (I'm still getting to know it, though.....but it will eventually happen!)
My gear: Gibson SG + John Suhr pickups (SSH+ and DSV, a real delight, I used to have a tone zone and an air norton), MXR phase 90, Boss AW2, Boss DC3, MP1, TC Electronic G-Major, VHT 2/50/2, 1x12 VHT Fat Bottom, 1x12 Marshall with V30. Everything controlled with a Ground Control + GCX. To have a good sound you need good gear!!
Strictly speaking, the sounds are excellent. The clean sound recalls Metallica in "And Justice For All...", but fiddling a bit with the knobs you can get a more twangy sound, too, without having the impression of playing a twin reverb, you have to be reasonable!
I don't use much the Tube Clean channel, it's not my thing. Other people might be able to say more about it.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, the distortion......it's truly wonderful!! Although too mids-heavy, the EQ (which is very effective) allows you to get a very broad sound palette. It's stunning!
The 3TM plays a big role in that, sounds are more aggressive, with more harmonics, in short, a real joy!!
3 years of MP1, and I haven't had enough. You could maybe criticize its somewhat limited clean channel in terms of sounds, but you have the triaxis for that, which is hardly within the same price point.....Because there's the small detail that this preamp costs ONLY $450.
The first time I used it, I plugged it to the loop of an ENGL Savage and I can still remember my friend's face when he saw that the MP1 (not yet modified) could eclipse the Savage preamp.
I've had the opportunity to test different preamps: Peavey Rockmaster, Rocktron Pirnha, there's simply no comparison — the MP1 is better. Excellent value for money, killer sound, and other than the input on the rear there's mot much to complain about.
I have it on loan. It must be at least 20 years old, 2 tubes (I don't know how you can fit a third one in there, there's no room left!), midi and all that...
I tested it out of curiosity, it's the witness of an entire era!
There's a loop that you can program with the sound itself, which is very good, since it spares you from having to buy a second MIDI device.
The headphones output is rated at 600 ohms and more, I don't know what kind of problem they had with their ears back then, but it must have been really bad!
There's and acdc9v output next to the midi connection, which is very practical to power the pedalboard without the need to trouble yourself with anything else. I didn't test it though (I don't see how one single plug can deliver ac and dc at the same time and, unfortunately, I don't have the manual). Edit: this plug is an input. You connect there the output of a 9v adapter, which then supplies power to a pedalboard that supports phantom power with a 7-pin midi connection, shucks! But you can make one yourself that goes out from the ada as a 7-pin, carrying phantom power, and then goes into the pedalboard with 5 pins plus a dc9v plug.
On the other hand, there's no input control, it's pretty bad, especially for that time (my dod and ibanez from the '90s have one).
It worked straight off with my ultra-simple yamaha midi pedalboard (mfc05), a very good point since I don't understand anything about that!
Important edit: This unit was defect. it had 2 badly soldered resistances, so I could rewrite the Sound section.
No knobs to turn, except for the master volume. It has lots of buttons hidden under a thick layer of blue plastic...It's awful, but still works without a hitch.
No need for a user manual, the interface is pretty well though-out, it's rather logical, there's no comparison with the infidels at rocktron grr!), so you just press and you know what's going on.
There seem to be to distortion stages (are both tubes?) and an equalizer, plus an analog chorus. Basic, but useful.
The first stage is very biting, almost harsh, while the second one is rounder and more punchy. It generates quite some noise, obviously, so you will need to choose very clean tubes (usually incompatible with a good gain). I think the FX loop is foreseen for a noise gate (considering that a midi multi-effects can handle delays, reverbs and company). But nothing stops you from it...
This device would've been truly awesome with two additional FX loops, there was enough room and they could've easily asked for a stratospheric price.
I was seduced by something I never expected: The chorus, which is truly splendid.
As for the rest, it's OK, the clean sounds are warm and the clarity of the device is flagrant, good and rich analog sound.
The overdrives aren't bad at all, I think you can achieve almost anything except for a pronounced compression combined with a bit of gain (I'm thinking screamin blues, ts7). But it sounds fine, very subtle and dynamic.
The EQ apparently doesn't allow you to choose the mids frequency, a real pity. Besides, I think it's passive, because it's not too precise nor drastic.
The distortions are fine, with more punch than you'd think, and also quite some background noise.
Heavy rhythm guitars sound awesome. The reaction of the unit to your playing is especially stunning, it's quick and straightforward. For solos, the sustain is sublime, just like the warmth, and the sound remains precise, but you have to try your hardest. Lots of mids, definitely not for numetal (all the better!).
I use a vig eruption with emg hz, that can really delver quite some output level.
I love the pristine, dynamic, warm sound, the programmable loop, the built-in phantom power for the midi pedalboard, and the device's relative simplicity.
With my favorite compressor on top (only for its class, no boost), it's awesome, just the way I like it.
I can't really say much about residual noise with distortion, since my electroharmonix tubes have a good gain level and grit, but they might be a bit noisy.
Regarding the 3-tube modification, I don't see how that can be possible, given the space inside.
Surely the gain would increase, but with the passive EQ it won't get too far in the Mesa Recto (and company) direction.
Given the price of some good metal pedals, I don't think it's worth it to go for the ada and risk it bursting!
I'm happy I got to try this unit out, which sparked my curiosity, so here's an update two days later:
I went to the adadepot site to get better acquainted with the innards of the machine. The 3-tube mod is simple, you just have to change the miniprint, very well-spotted. But the noise also increases, so you have to do the noise mods, which are more delicate since you have to meddle with the big print and the power supply. I don't think it's worth it.
The only mod that caught my interest is the rectifier/5150 mode, because it's very simple (you only need to change some resistances/capacitors on the miniprint), extremely cheap and it's reversible. The sound becomes more mesa, smoother, and the background noise is gone. Interesting!
...but useless, in my opinion, in light of today's comparison: line6 versus ada. It's a spider4 30w with an eminence legend 121 speaker. I plugged the ada directly into the aux in, so it's just the power amp and speaker. And I plugged the spider directly into the guitar input.
The results are clear, the ada sounds pretty muddled and noisy. It's good for blues, where it sounds as good as the spider.
The cleans, and especially the big distortions are clearly better in terms of edge, precision, speed. And there is simply no noise. It's amazing for some killer rhythm guitars, sorry for the purely analog clan!
Add to that the decent built-in effects, the remote-controlled tap tempo, the ultra-fast preset change and I don't really see a reason to bother yourself with the ada.
I'll do the same with 150W just to see what happens. I'll update my review if there are any changes.
What can I say about this preamp that hasn't been said already throughout various rock records during the 80's and early 90's? One of the most famous bands to use this was Skid Row. They used it pretty much through out their first two albums. Basically anyone during that time who was recording with Michael Wagener was going to use this unit. Bands such as Extreme and the guitar player from that band Nuno Bettencourt used this extensively for the Pornograffitti album and the tour that followed. Since the early 90's many hard rock players and bedroom rock players have bought into this unit. It has a great 80's tone and being able to switch via midi makes it something useful for live gigging operation.
Another artist who was famous for playing this unit was Paul Gilbert. He is more know for his skills and not tone as much used this and in my opinion had the best tone during this point in his career.
One of the down falls of this unit was how noisy it was. There is website that offers modifications to it that make it more usable and less noisy. There is a host of possible mods that you could perform to this preamp.
The unit is pretty easy to figure out. It has the same function that a normal tube amp has but it is all digitally control. It does have tubes in it which made it sound like a real amp. It also came with a footswitch back in the day. These are harder to find now a days.
The sound from this unit is Marshall like in the gain structure and feel. It has a very high midrange 80's tone that make it sort of a one trick pony. It does have a good clean channel in it but the thing lives in the high gain territory.
It really scream when coupled with a Super Strat guitar. It was like the two were made for each other. It will sound good with a Les Paul as well, but something about the voicing just wants a Charvel plugged into it.
This is a fun preamp that can give you a great sounding Marshall tone great for hard rock and metal. You can run this in the effects loop of a JCM 800 or another effects loop of a Marshall style guitar amp and you will get a great hair metal rock tone.
You can get these used on ebay all day long. They are usually priced around the $250 mark. So go for more and some for less but that is nice medium for the going rate. I would recommend this preamp to anyone wanting a nice 80's hard rock tone. You might want to get the thing modded for less noise and a cleaner clean channel.