The Thermionic Culture Earlybird 4 contains 4 channels of extremely high quality valve pre-amplification. Originally made in black in 1999, this is a special "revival" limited edition in red (limited to 49 only). The black edition is still available with the updated circuitry.
As the individual channel circuitry in this version of the Earlybird has been simplified in order to provide 4 channels in one 19" unit, so the individual channel specifications have risen. Thus making this the most natural sounding, high quality version of the Earlybird preamp to date.
Effectively giving the user the cleanest possible valve gain with a range from 3dB to 62dB and a switchable input impedance to help in matching the unit with different microphones.
This is one of Thermionic Culture's all handwired products with point to point wiring throughout.
The circuit design utilizes a 'push pull' 'class A' type of valve amplification in order to provide ultimately clean gain, giving the lowest noise and distortion figures possible in a microphone amplifier.
The input and output transformers have received special attention and by working together with Sowter transformers, designs have been created that bring better results than ever before. The lowest phase shift and highest headroom are both benefits brought by these designs.
It's unusual to hear a mic amp with the Earlybird 4's qualities and after years of improvements Vic Keary proudly declares this "The best, most real mic. amp ever". We hope that on hearing the unit's beautiful results yourself, you will agree with Vic.
The pair of VU meters show the signal levels for 2 selectable channels. VU meter A is switchable between channels 1 and 3. VU meter B is switchable between channels 2 or 4. 4 red LEDs light up when the output of the amplifiers exceeds +10 dBm, though don't worry - there's still 20dB of headroom left in the Earlybird!
For most microphones 300Ω will give best results. 1200Ω is recommended by Neumann for FET mics. 1200Ω is good for SM58s. For high level inputs, eg. kick drum, use the Pad to reduce level. With Pad in the input, Z will be 2kΩ.
Keep Output Level controls near maximum for cleanest results, low and increase Gain control if a bit of distortion is what you want. The electronics have plenty of headroom for most purposes, so don't worry too much if the needle of the meter hits the end stop.
High gain settings make the sound more 'gritty' than lower ones, which are very smooth.