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."