Audio Guru D.W. Fearn Has a New Preamp

Brett Moss is gear and technology editor.

It isn’t often that former radio station engineer (e.g., WPEN) Doug Fearn puts out a new product. And in these days of digital domination (an understatement to say the least), a new big-box analog tube preamplifier aimed at the ribbon microphone market would seem more like offering a mahogany-handled customized buggy whip around 1920. Maybe with some snazzy silver threading, gold inlay and a lion’s head pommel, too. Way cool and the horses will love it!

Yet perhaps it’s not so silly. Ribbon microphones have established a solid niche and there are a lot of studios not afraid to pay for quality, and Fearn is known for that. Radio broadcasters looking for a “sound” might want to give a ribbon chain a listen.

The new gizmo, the VT-12, is a two-channel preamp with traditional VU meters on the front of a big 2RU box in the familiar Fearn Red. Classic toggle switches handle 48V phantom power, phase, meter, power and 20 dB pad.

And if you don’t like ribbons or need to put something else into the mix, the VT-12 can handle condensers and even dynamics. A 48V lockout on the rear allows initiating phantom power or locking it out to spare your precious ribbon mics. Specs promise a whopping 70 dB gain.

Doug, a Radio World contributor during his radio days, says of his latest: “Ribbon microphones have made a well-deserved comeback in the recording world, and the VT-12 has the gain required to use any ribbon microphone and still have the classic musicality our designs are known for. The design is based on our popular VT-2 mic preamp, using the same sonic philosophy. The sound of the VT-12 fits right into the D.W. Fearn family of products.”

Price: $3,295.

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