A Designs EM Silver 500-Series Preamp


Incredibly deep lows, smooth mids, and controlled highs make the EM Silver an excellent preamp for bass, guitars, toms, kick drums and robust vocals. Features a steel transformer for a defined, vintage-inspired tone.

What we think:


The EM Silver is perceived as the darkest and most “colored” of the EM modules. It is notable for its extended bottom that doesn’t get boomy or muddy (the low mids are very under control in this box), but yet simultaneously provides us with a really massive sound.  It tends to have amazing results on kick drums, bass guitar, and on some guitar tones, due to its big and open low-end. It also has a smoother mid-range. It can work on vocals where you aren’t looking for a brightening edge, but rather a smooth (neutral) mid and top, with a big healthy low end. Built around the custom wound Steel transformer providing it the deeper lows, the EM Silver heads down the path of the Chandler and Neve style “vintage” preamps.  Perfect for any time you want to color your source, especially vocals, the Silver has a wonderful tone, but isn’t going to strip away all of your detail.  We love using this module with Tube microphones to achieve a classic vintage character with that big solid low end, and a coloration that does not boost or accentuate the top end airy part of the range. 


The Rest of the EM Preamp Cards

The full line of EM Preamp cards from A Designs was built to bring a few different flavors into your 500 series rack, but with an extreme quality standard that is only possible with small quantity, boutique runs. These guarantee each module is built to world-class audio standards.  Each module has custom-wound transformers which really create a noticeable difference in tone, and to be honest, the difference is quite impressive compared to many of the modules available on the market today from other manufacturers.  Each module has a lot of gain (around 72dB), and the front panel DI sits prior to the input transformer, which allows you to pick up that great coloration that each of the modules individually presents, even when patching in an instrument. The preamp modules from the A-Designs series are: the P1, EM Red, EM Silver, EM Blue and EM Gold. With the exception of the P-1 (since we own 3x Pacificas), Sound Pure owns pairs of EVERY SINGLE module above, and uses them daily in our own world-class recording studio, the Sound Pure Studios.  We are here to report our findings after years of using them. Any question you have can be e-mailed to us, or you call us toll free! We’d love to talk to you more about these modules, microphone pairings, comparing these to other pres on the market, and whether or not they are right for you. 

Read for more info on some of the other available modules if this one doesn’t sound exactly right for your application.


What We Think of the Others

The P1 is modeled to be very similar to the Pacifica, with some moderate color and some very nice detail throughout the frequency range, with a very smooth and open top end.  The Red module has a “boost” to the mids due to the transformer, which we found to be wonderful on guitar cabs.  The Silver boasts a Steel output transformer that gives it the darkest tone of the bunch (and a big low end), and the Blue with its Nickel transformer has a very lofty, airy top end that is great for bringing a brighter life into darker sources.  Finally, the Gold is a mixture of the Red (input transformer) and Silver (output transformer), which gives it the hottest output with a nice colored pushed midrange.

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