Altec 1567A

Analog Tube Mixer

This is a sleeper classic in the world of tube mic preamps. It’s really a 5 channel tube mixer with a summed mono out, but using a single channel as a mic pre, gives you a killer analog front end for tracking. Becasue it’s actually a mixer it also features a bass/treble controls, and a master volume. These controls give you great tone control and the ability to drive it hard for some killer tubey distortion. Most folks seem to prefer it on bass and drums (kick in particular), but it’s just a great sound for practically anything if you need some edge and grunge. Oh yeah! It also can have a transformer on the channel so you get both the tube and transformer sound. Many people are mod’ing them to have direct outs of each channel, which gives you 5 cool tube pre’s, but you lose the tone control and master volume. Not a big deal if all you want is multiple tube pres, but the tone and the master really take this unit to a different level. But don’t take our word for it, here’s some feedback from the field.

Renowned producer/mixer/engineers Matt Wallace and Devin Powers share their insight with us on the Altec 1567A and how they rely on it.

Matt Wallace – (Faith No More, Maroon 5, Train) “Basically I feel that it is an essential piece of equipment for a professional studio, semi-pro studio, project studio, bedroom studio, etc because it provides what digital processing cannot… ‘vibe’ or ‘coloration’ or ‘energy’. One of the least expensive ways to make one’s digital studio sound a whole lot better is to buy an Altec and use it whenever needed.
I have used the Altec to record vocals, acoustic guitars, drums (yep), etc and find it absolutely beautiful. The fact that there are four tube mic pre amps, each with it’s own volume control, a master volume (in the event that someone would like to drive the sound a bit), and simple high and low eq, all add up to a pretty spiffy package.
I used to have two of them, one modified to take higher signal levels such as larger guitar amps/cabinets and drums, and while it certainly worked, I preferred the sound of the stock Altec and have learned when and how to use it in regards to high spl instruments.
Basically, it is an essential piece of gear. While the Ampex MX-10 is pretty wonderful if one wants to do some stereo, tube, recording, the Altec has more personality and more versatility.”

Devin Powers – (The Vents, Themes for Blind Date, Surreal Life, Classmates) “There are several ways to use the tone and Attitude of The ALTEC 1567a tube mixer. I will list my three faves.
First: Get three really good mics or even some standard 57s. Mic up your drum kit. One mic on the Kick, one on the snare, and one two feet or so above the whole kit. Using three inputs on the altec, blend them to taste and send it out the Mono output to your deck or protools rig.
You will be amazed how big and focused the drums will sound. It is breath-taking when you get the blend right. Very “Beatles/ Beachboys” dry delicious tones. Second: Patch the unit into your patch bay, send your drums and bass to it, return the Atlec and blend to taste. The eq on this mixer really has vibe. It will make the kick and the bass guitar really fat. They say it is a rather cheap eq, but it does not sound like it. Also try blending in other things (vocals, guitar). It really adds some magic to a sterile sound or a flat performance.
Third: Plug in your best tube mic and try tracking some vocals or acoustic guitar. This preamp EQ combo is robust and gritty. Adding some nice limiting at the end, of course, brings out all the harmonics the Altec delivers. You will notice that it sounds fat and perhaps not as clean as you might be used to, but the mix… wow!!! Altec 1576a tube mixer along with counterparts Ampex, and Magnecorder, they are gems waiting to be found and abused.
Fact: Most of the Motown records were recorded using Altec and Ampex mixers. They would blend all the instruments and send to the old 4 and 8 tracks tape machines of the day. When you use an Altec 1567A for the first time, you will hear the tones that we grew up with.
I love old gear, Tubes will never be replaced!!!!!! Love them while you can. A little dirt feels nice in your mix”