Which are the Best of the Mooer Micro PreAmp Pedals?
I think these pedals are an interesting proposition, and I would wager a rather large stake that it's the better known distortion-based ones that are shifting the units. Increasingly home players go for 'Pedal Platform' clean channel solutions - like I do in fact. I use two amps, a Katana and an all-valve Carvin V3MC in stereo and use a a variety of boost pedals plus Alchemy Audio modded Boss EQ to give me my core / base chimey clean channel (Vox-like) which I build everything on top of. I think the vast majority of interest is in the distortion channels - and there are actually professional players who utilise the Brown Sound variants for instance for their core touring tone / rig. Most cover-band types I've met are more likely to use the Helix or similar, while those proper finger-style muso-types will use a proper valve amp for their cleans. So I'm not sure exactly whom those cleaner type PreAmps are exactly aimed at.
It's interesting that we have the Synergy Amps Analogue Modular approach alongside Mooer's tiny digital PreAmps offering - the idea for both being the ease of assembling lots of different flavours effectively and efficiently. And while I think the Synergy Amp/s are more of a studio tool really, the tiny Mooer Micro PreAmps seem to be perfect for low maintenance touring. My understanding from those players is that they want their particular flavour of PreAmp plus Radar plus Baby Bomb amp stage in one relatively tiny enclosure. To which ends Mooer already has the GE series - which is sort of morphing into Helix-like territory where the touring players probably need something quite a bit simpler, but still smaller than the recent Mooer Pre Amp Live - in any case all steps in the right direction.
Where I stand in all of this I'm not quite sure. Yes I am a fan of Mooer mini pedals, and yes I like the form factor of these Micro PreAmps, but I already have most of my favourite key flavours already active in my rig. I would probably still much rather have the Wampler Triple Wreck for instance probably than the Mooer Cali-Dual. But I am home-studio based with no touring requirements. I would love to know exactly whom Mooer had in mind when they launched their Micro PreAmp range as the High Gain touring musician seems to be somewhat the key demographic currently. Obviously a number of these have been snapped up for home use too - would be interesting to see the stats on what are the best sellers, and which are failing to convince.
I have stated that I already have an inkling about which the more popular varieties are likely to be - and we will discover eventually by which models get discontinued first. Obviously sales of the first series of 10 were sufficient to trigger the next batch of 10, but I still contend that some of these choices are highly risky - and that they should probably rather have gone with a more Brian May style rather than Beatles-style Vox - yet there do seem to be fans of that too.
Donner has followed Mooer with a fledgling range of similar mini PreAmps - although those don't appear to have been as well received. I'm not entirely sure I specifically want or need any of these particularly - those little dials can be a touch fiddly, and difficult to gauge from a distance - which is one of the key advantages of using physical analogue pedals. If I were to pick my favourite 5 they would likely be:
- UK Gold
- US Classic Deluxe
- US Gold
- Brown Sound
As to which of those I will actually eventually acquire - I'm really not sure - none of those are on any of my wishlists yet!
Mooer Micro Preamp Review. Worth It Or Junk?
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- How do Mooer micro preamp pedals sound? (Audio demos included)
- Does the Brown Sound 3 compete with the Peavey and is it worth its cost?
- Is it a viable recording solution and can it replace your need for cabs and micing in a mix?
Whether you’re jamming with friends, recording at home on a budget, or trying to build your rig and sound, there are a lot of ways people try to recreate the inspirational sound that led them down their musical path.
Getting a good tone “in the box” (my computer) has been one of my main focuses over the past few years. I have come across a few good, and a few bad methods of doing so, and these Mooer micro preamps were definitely a welcome surprise.
Lets start with the concept. Mooer has created a range of pedals that are based* on iconic industry monsters and classics from the likes of Mesa Boogie, Marshall and Deizel to Fender, Vox, and Two-Rock.
However, whilst these classics would require a substantial investment, these Mooer pedals wont break the bank… They allow you to really change up your tone and get that step closer to the sounds of your heroes without emptying your wallet.
They are designed to be added to your current rig or replace it.
Mooer Micro Preamp An Honest Review
These pedals are versatile. You can use these through an effects loop, you can place it in the front end of your signal chain and go directly into your amp, or you can bypass your amp entirely and plug straight into a PA or recording interface.
This range is named appropriately when compared to most pedals out there as they sure are small. At only 42mm wide, 52mm tall, and mm long, you could potentially fit two “rigs” in your pocket and head to a gig.
The only downside to their size is that they cannot house a 9v battery, so youll need to keep that 9v PSU in good shape. You don’t want that to pack it in during your gig.
Each pedal has:
- 1x stomp switch
- Five pots/knobs:
- Ch/Cab Toggle Button
The “CH/Cab” button allows you to either change from ChA to ChB or engage the cab emulator function.
The Stomp switch can also be used to either turn the pedal on or off or switch from ChA to ChB, just holding it down will toggle its function. ChA and B are nothing unusual, a “Dirty” (red) and “Clean”(Blue) channel but even the clean channel has quite a bit of gain.
A great feature of this pedal is that although there is only one set of control knobs, each channel remembers its last settings so you dont have to share knob settings over the two.
This means once you’re dialed in, you’re free to switch between the two, knowing you have your sound locked in.
How Does It Sound?
This pedal started out as the “Fifty Fifty 3” but was later renamed “Brown Sound 3” due to its original name being too similar to the amp it was modeled off.
For those guitar heads reading, you can probably guess the inspiration behind this pedal and for those who can’t, it’s modeled on the iconic Peavey ; the unmistakable sound of Van Halen and more specifically, Eddie Van Halen.
The Peavey has a rough, thick, and crunchy rhythm tone and a cutting lead tone with an unmistakable sustain, and did I mention it’s flippin’ loud?
It’s a standard in a lot of studios around the world and for good reason. It is a tone still widely used today. It sounds big, dirty, and heavy. My kind of sound!
Putting The Pedal Through Its Paces (Audio Demos)
Producer Hive · Mooer Micro Preamp Review (Brown Sound 3/Fifty Fifty 3)
I conducted three tests. I wanted to see how the compared to the but also wanted to see how the pedal translates into my DAW; both with and without cab emulation and if its a viable way to create realistic amp tones versus the realistic amp sims I already use every day.
- Brown Sound 3 vs Peavey
( run through the ’s fx loop to maintain the same power amp and cabinet)
- Brown Sound 3 vs “Amped Roots” amp simulator
( with “TwoNotes Torpedo Wall of sound” power amp modeling and both with “Mikko” cab simulator)
- Brown Sound 3 w/ cab emulation vs “Amped Roots” amp simulator
(Amped Roots with “Mikko” cab simulator)
Now I know what you’re going to say, but test two and three are not trying to compare how well the pedal emulates the , they are to test the quality of the product against products I use in most of my mixes and trust.
The real test is test one. Two and three are more for me, but still good to know.
Test 1 Brown Sound 3 vs Peavey
Producer Hive · Test 1 Mooer VS Peavey
This was the tone comparison test and was relatively easy. I did this in two ways.
I set up my head with one of my Marshall cabs and played for about 20 minutes to get the feel for it. So phase 1 was the easy part.
Phase 2 was inserting the into the fx loop to bypass the ’s preamp. I will mention, I left the s Eq setting at 12 o’clock and only tweaked the gain knobs to dial it in, so when it came to the , I had a steady base.
The pedal did require a little bit of Eq in the highs and less of the mids but I was pleasantly surprised.
The second way I tested this was with a standard SM57 into my interface and into my DAW. I technically did this at the same time as the above so it was the same performance and in my eyes, a fairer test.
In this test, I could toggle each recording side by side and get a quick comparison.
After both versions of the test, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised for the most. I was impressed with the tonality of the pedal vs the , the gain sounded pretty decent and I did feel like I was playing a almost.
I do think the lacked a bit of definition in the high mids and tops, and unfortunately it wasnt something the pedal EQ could fix.
The tone was present in its high mids and tops, but I felt the had more character in its high mids than the This wasn’t a dealbreaker, and considering I wasnt paying anywhere near what the would cost, I thought it was still a great buy.
When I was trying to match the lower gain settings of the , I could definitely hear a huge difference.
The didnt break up the same way and had less of a smooth sound. It almost sounded “processed” and less natural. Not a bad sound by any means but compared to the , it didnt quite hit the target.
Test 2 Brown Sound 3 vs “Amped Roots” Amp Simulator
Producer Hive · Test 2 Mooer No CabSim (R) VS Ampped Roots (L)
For this test, I needed to split my signal into two. This would allow me to add different plugins to each signal independently and hear them side by side in real-time. For this I used an active ABY pedal.
Both signals were then run through a Radial JDI DI box each and feed into my interface.
Signal 1 (the dry DI) was processed with the “Amped Roots” amp simulator and “Mikko” cab simulator plugins.
Signal 2 went into the Mooer and into another Radial JDI was processed with “Torpedo Wall of sound” for power amp simulation and the “Mikko” cab simulation plugin. I then did one performance with a backing drum track for some context.
Some of you might be wondering why I have chosen to use an IR plugin as its going to color the sound significantly.
Well, even though the cab responsible for most of the tone we hear, the way the preamp distorts a guitar signal is another characteristic that I listen for when choosing amps/amp sims.
Some sims bubble in the low end, some squeeze the highs, and some just sound too compressed. By using a good cab IR and keeping that constant across both tracks, I can then focus on what the pedal is actually doing to the sound.
They are different amps but this isnt a tone comparison, it is a usability/quality test.
Test 3 Brown Sound 3 w/ Cab Emulation vs “Amped Roots” Amp Simulator
Producer Hive · Test 3 Mooer W CabSim (R) VS Ampped Roots (L)
For this test, I kept the setup the same as It was only some of the plugins that needed to change. The “Amped Roots” channel stayed the same and I removed the plugins on the track.
Now they are totally different sounds as I am not sure what cabinet the emulates but it still held its own.
What I did was recorded two takes and panned hard left on one track and hard right on the other. With the drums centering the piece, I could hear how it would sound in a mix, side by side with a decent guitar tone.
I have to say, I was impressed with the sound, it still sounded thick and dirty without getting too boxy.
As far as tests two and three compare, my preference was the with the Mikko Cab but I would happily use the Brown Sound 3 w/cab emulation. I think it definitely held its own and would add a wicked vibe to any mix you do.
Lets face it, we all want the best but more often than not the best is out of reach.
The Mooer Brown Sound 3 was definitely a good buy for me and that is just from the recording/production point of view.
If you take into account that its a relatively cheap way to get different and decent sounds utilizing your existing rig, its a no brainer.
There are also 19 more of these pedals based on other heavy hitters, so even a small collection of these micro preamp pedals could be a serious stepping stone to getting that studio amp collection underway but maybe that calls for more reviews.
Even so, the Mooer Brown Sound 3 should definitely be locked in for that collection.
*These Mooer products are not endorsed by their iconic inspiration, they are simply soundalikes.
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