Thermionic Culture Snow Petrel high-gain mic pre
Posted on: Monday 23rd of September 2019
Snow Petrel is a two-channel, high gain microphone amplifier. The name was chosen as it apparently conjures up an image of a warm bird above an icy landscape in Antarctica (valves/tubes vs. solid state)! The design brief was to have a super low-noise all valve unit with negligible distortion, to bring out the qualities of ribbon microphones without solid state circuitry. Vic Keary, Thermionic Culture MD/designer, said: “We made three design attempts, and the final success was achieved with the help and expertise of Brian Sowter (Sowter Transformers) and Tim Vine-Lott (former tech director Air studios), encouraged by Colin Beanland, the owner of Coles Electroacoustics”.
The Snow Petrel has been extensively tested using Coles 4038 ribbon mics. “The 4038 was used by Geoff Emerick at Abbey Road for The Beatles – where he added +6dB at 12 kHz, and Glyn Johns, where he added distortion through a Helios desk,” explains Keary, “the Snow Petrel will do both these jobs, but better with the ‘Air’ control, and two types of attenuation – before and after the output stage – so the input can then be driven much harder!” Keary says the low-noise, all-valve design was tuned with the assistance of Brian Sowter (Sowter Transformers), Tim Vine-Lott (ex-Technical Director at AIR Studios) and Colin Beanland (owner of mic-manufacturer Coles Electroacoustics), so that it would deliver outstanding audio with low-output ribbon mics such as the Coles 4038. The Petrel includes 48V phantom power, a switchable Air EQ control, and is available to order now at £2700 including VAT.