Acoustic Preamp Factory (Sonicake)


Well-known member
Sonicake released another in its Factory line, the Acoustic Preamp, designed for all acoustic instruments, and not just a six-string. The features are straight-forward, and what you come to expect, and I’ll address these aspects next. Foremost, the sound is impressive, in that it does not color (very much) your actual acoustic sound. If you like the sound of your acoustic, and place the EQ at 12-noon (flat), it is an almost perfect match in tone reproduction (it sounds clearer, for lack of a better word, or perhaps a bit less bottom end). This makes it very easy to dial in changes or to merely reproduce your guitar’s sound. It also has a specially designed bypass buffer to maintain sound integrity.

The EQ consists of Bass, Midrange, and Treble. Sonicake did a good job at providing EQ frequencies that are very usable, whether the Bass is low and the Treble high, etc. Certainly, a person will dial in, but the frequencies are not exaggerated within their spectrum. And this brings me to the Notch gain & frequency knobs, which have dual purposes. First, they are used to dial out feedback squeals; and second, they can be used to further detail your tone. I never noticed any feedback, and so, I used those controls for tone sculpting. A good way to think of the gain and frequency knobs is that they act similar to ‘depth’ and ‘presence.’ That is not accurate in the truest sense, but the gain adds thickness and depth (with a slight bass emphasis), whereas the frequency seems to tighten and bring forward more upper-end. In either instance, the results are audible, but not extreme – very complementary, in fact, which adding some richness and robustness.

The other feature is the onboard digital Reverb, and it sounds like a hall or plate to my ears. It’s very natural sounding and becomes part of your tone more organically than I’ve heard with some onboard reverbs. Overall, the reverb is subtle, in that 100% mix does not sound out of place, although it can have that cavern characteristic with the decay up full. For a nice open room reverb (small concert hall), I like the mix around 2-o’clock and the decay around 11-o’clock. As a bonus, if you hold the Reverb footswitch down (fast click for on/off), it bypasses the Reverb until released. This would be ideal if you wanted to go from clean, to something more ambient.

The Acoustic Factory has pretty decent headroom (I never had the Volume past half-way), a ground-lift, both 1/4-inch unbalanced and XLR balanced outputs (great for splitting the signal or going stereo), and requires only 60mA of power. It’s lightweight, yet strong with an aluminum chassis, the knobs feel solid, and retails for only $69.99 USD or less. For the money, this is a great acoustic preamp. I have an acoustic tube preamp from a well-known amp company, which runs about $800 USD, and the Acoustic Factory competes very closely at a third the size/weight.
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