The T.H.E. Company HILBE Mo 67 is a 500-series mic preamp that features the Melcor 1729 “Open Air” op-amp from 1967, precursor to the API 2520, with switchable impedance, Hi-Z instrument DI, polarity reverse, -20dB pad, and 48V phantom power.
While it's an accepted fact among experienced audio professionals that new gear doesn't always sound better than the old, fortunately these days in pro audio, nothing stays lost forever. Thanks to Tom Hilbe of T.H.E. Company (Tom Hilbe Equipment), T.H.E. has reintroduced the sound that give birth to the API 312 preamp with the limited edition HILBE Mo 67 mic preamp. The Mo 67 is based on the 1967 Melcor "open-air" 1729 op-amp (see below), which, after a shootout in his studio, Grammy Award-winning composer-producer, Michael Boddicker called "[w]armer and more musical-sounding than the 2520.” The Mo 67 is an all-discrete, solid-state transformer-balanced (in/out) mic preamp that’s been described as "smooth, with a pleasing crunch when pushed." It’s ideal for recreating the classic big-iron sound of the ’60s and ’70s — aka, the golden age of recording. On the practical side, the Mo 67 features a direct Hi-Z input, -20dB pad, polarity reversal, and switchable mic impedance between 300-ohm or 1.2k-ohm operation, for use with both high and low-sensitivity microphones.
T.H.E. HILBE Mo 67 Mic Pre—Just the Facts:
- Predecessor of the API 312 mic preamp in 500-series format
- 1967 Melcor 1729 “Open Air” pre-API 2520 op-amp
- Interchangeable design accommodates any 2520-style op-amp
- High-impedance D.I.
- 6-segment VU meter
- -20dB pad,
- Polarity reverse
- 48V phantom power
- Mic impedance switch for 300 ohm or 1.2k ohm operation
- VPR-Alliance compliant
T.H.E. HILBE Mo 67 Mic Pre—Behind the Curtain
There are certain vintage outboard units that had an unmatched sound all their own. However, many disappeared from the recording industry due to unsuccessful business practices, such as the Quad 8/Electrodyne console, which could sonically compete with Neve and API for a fraction of their cost. The same thing happened to Modular Audio Products, whose Melcor 1729 op-amp was the precursor to the famed API 2520. In fact, the 2520 has a direct lineage to the 1729, since many of the engineers responsible for the Melcor op-amp left M.A.P. to work with API founder, Saul Walker. Sonically similar to the 2520 in the midrange, the 1729 had a smoother top and bottom end. While the Melcor 1729 led to the renowned API 312 preamp, it faded into obscurity as API rose to prominence.
Of special note, the HILBE Mo 67 features a design that lets you plug in any 2520-style op-amp you prefer. However, T.H.E. is confident that you’ll find the Mo 67’s 1729-inspired op-amp is “the one.”