Now And Then: The RCA and Retro Instruments OP-6 Portable Mic Amplifier


Recently, an original RCA OP-6 came into the Vintage King Tech Shop. While our team worked to repair the unit, we took some photos to demonstrate the attention to detail that Retro Instruments put into creating their modern version of the OP-6 Portable Microphone Amplifier.

As their name implies, Retro specializes in creating unique reproductions of classic studio gear for the modern age. From their faithful recreations of the 1956 Gates Sta-Level, the UA 176 and pieces styled after Pultec EQs, the company has truly captured the magic of this vintage equipment.

In 2014, the brand announced their latest creation would be a loving recreation of the famed RCA OP-6. What makes the RCA pre-amp worth reproducing? Everything. Long considered one of the best tube pre-amps for microphones, the RCA OP-6 has been a studio staple for over 60 years as it offers incredible gain and thick, luscious tones.

The updated version of the OP-6 from Retro builds off the sound of the original, while also breaking through the limitations of the vintage equipment. While there were always some impedance issues with the RCA version, the new version of the OP-6 is capable of handling mics that require 48v, in addition to offering inputs for mics and instruments.

Retro founder and tube expert Phil Moore charged himself with bringing the OP-6 into the new century and has done a miraculous job in creating a centerpiece unit for any modern studio. “This thing is so good that I wanted the new generation to experience it," Moore says of the OP-6. "I wanted to make a box with a handle that you carry into every studio session; something that doesn't go in a rack."









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One thought on “Now And Then: The RCA and Retro Instruments OP-6 Portable Mic Amplifier”

  • Ben Taylor

    I was born in the 40s and grew up through the 40s and 50s and I'm still growing. My Dad taught radio & TV electronics to Vets returning from WWII and Korea at a trade school in Manhattan, and later at a vocational high school.., so I grew up with tube gear. As I point out to many of my colleagues and students I encounter, I feel privileged to have crossed a few eras in technology. From my first tape machine to my present laptop computer a lot has happened in audio.., but a lot happened before digital as well.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that some of those devices we used back 50, 60, 70 years ago, weren't so bad and rather unique. What plucks my heart strings is when a piece of gear, or technology, worthy of remembering is resurrected using improved modern parts. Our recent re-birth of the use of ribbon mics comes to mind, which has been made more accessible through the use of internally phantom powered pre-amp circuitry. Of course these mics are still delicate but now the young guns can enjoy the benefits of these wonderful mics and understand the beauty of the silky vocals from past recordings of major artists.

    I offer my heartiest congratulations to the guys at Retro for aiding in the return to what music really sounds like.., now if we can just find the artist worthy of using this stuff.., new audio glory is just around the corner..??

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