Introducing the Jensen Transformer option for the ULN-2/ULN-2+DSP
Since its release in 2002, the ULN-2 has enjoyed a legendary reputation for its pristine, wire-like gain, and has established itself as one of the best values in the professional audio industry. The ULN-2 posseses virtually every characteristic that is coveted in a Mic Preamp: exceptionally low noise at all gains, exceptionally high gain, excellent common mode and RFI rejection, incredibly flat frequency response, and ultra-low distortion. It simply increases the level of what you put into it without having to consider the nature of the source: Dynamic Mics, Phantom Powered Mics, Ribbon Mics, Instrument or line level signals are all handled with equal ease and quality.
So why change it?
The ULN-2 is an incredibly good Mic Pre, but sometimes you want something that isn't quite "so pristine". It is well known that a certain amount of low-order harmonic distortion has a way of adding “depth” and “sheen” to everything that passes through it - which explains the high regard for to classic transformer coupled preamps.
Enter the Jensen Option
With the transformer option installed, the ULN-2 acquires that classic character. A few years ago, we fitted a prototype ULN-2 with a pair Jensen JT16-A's just for fun. We found that there were some very nice benefits to transformer coupling the input stage of the ULN-2. The Transformers impart a more "glossy", "smoothed" sound than the capacitively coupled ULN-2, which simply faithfully passes the source. Sonically, it's kind of like the difference between images shot on film and images shot in HD.
A second benefit is that the transformer completely electrically isolates the preamp from the source - raising the common mode rejection above its already excellent performance, and providing a measure of confidence when dealing with the unknowns of location sound.