Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review: Tech21 Sansamp PSA-1 / PSA 1.1

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about one of the most beloved solid state preamps of all times: the Sansamp Psa-1.

The Psa-1 (that today has evolved in the 1.1 model) is an american made, iconic guitar preamplifier that has been used (and it is still today often used) by many professional bands, such as Kiss (as a backup if the tube amp stops working), Joe SatrianiAnthrax, Dimmu Borgir and so on.
Over the time the preamp has become popular also among bass players, and it is still today used in studio also to distort bass tracks, or as a d.i. box, or also to use its cabinet emulation.

This preamp comes from an era that is prior to the digital revolution, it came out before Pod and before Vst plugins, and it is all analog except for its digital routing of the presets (49 presets for guitar and bass and 77 empty slots); it features a dual output both jack and xrl, a dual input, an effects loop and a very peculiar serie of controls: input and output volume, drive, low and high eq and 3 knobs that affects the gain structure in 3 separate eq bands, named Buzz, Punch and Crunch.
These knobs are a halfway between an eq and a frequency-selective drive control which lets us obtain infinite variables of tones, although it is all but intuitive in tweaking.

The unit offers also a simple cabinet emulation to go directly in the mixer or in the recording interface, although today it probably sounds a bit dated and it's better to use an impulse loader when tracking.

The sounds are sparkly, clean and defined and the construction build is very solid; the preamp gives its best in tight metal sounds, especially thrash and death metal (or Pantera, or any other genre that needs a bright and ultra defined attack) but it can provide also clean and overdriven tones, with slightly less success: cleans are a bit cold, although the Orange Ac-30 emulation is very pleasant and well reproduced.

All in all this preamp has made the history of solid state sounds and it is still extremely easy to spot in recording studios, since still today it is considered to be a studio Swiss army knife. Me personally I have used it for years in a rack paired with a Rocktron X-pression effect unit and a Marshall Valvestate 8008 power amp, before selling it all and passing to a tube head.
For sure it is worth a trying if you like the classic thrash metal sound, or if you want to add bite and distortion to your bass sound.

Thumbs up!

Specs taken from the website:

- Model Number: PSA-1.1

- Input Impedance-Input 1 1MegOhm

- Input Impedance-Input 2 4.7MegOhm

- Input Level-Input 1 -10dB

- Input Level-Input 2 Switchable to -10dB or 0dB range

- Output Impedance-1/4” 1K Ohm min

- Output Impedance-XLRs 600 Ohm min

- Output Level-1/4” Switchable to -10dB or 0dB range

- Output Level-XLR Switchable to -10dB or 0dB range

- Maximum Output Level +10dB or better

- XLR Pin Configuration Pin 1: Ground / Pin 2: In phase / Pin 3: Reverse phase

- Effects Loop Send 1K Ohm min, -10dB, Mono

- Effects Loop Return 100K Ohm min, -10dB, Stereo/Mono

- Low Frequency Response 10Hz or better*

- High Frequency Response Harmonic content, 20kHz or better*

- Maximum Power Consumption 5 Watts

- AC Input Power (factory set)

- 100V, 117V, 230V, 240V

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