MartinSound Martech MSS-10

Single-channel solid state microphone preamplifier
MartinSound Martech MSS-10
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Movers and shakers of professional audio dream about finding that rare piece of equipment that will keep them on the cutting edge. A career building tool that effortlessly produces awesome sound. The MartinSound MSS-10 quickly established itself as the mic preamp of choice for many of the audio elite because it has Natural Sound, the mythical straight wire with gain. Its uncanny ability to deliver astonishing realism is, simply stated, audio magic in a box. Join the hit makers who already enjoy immense artistic satisfaction using the MSS-10 Natural Sound Mic Preamp and turn your audio dreams into recording legends.

Why the MSS-10
In the past, world-class engineers collected the best tube and discrete preamps, each for its own character. One for great top end, another for clarity, a third for punch, and still another for bottom. Over time, these preamps became almost mystical, credited for creating the magic of great recordings. In reality, those talented engineers just used the preamp that was least detrimental to the desired characteristic, struggling to maintain the magic of the performance.

The Martech MSS-10 brings a new paradigm to mic preamps. The real magic of the MSS-10 is that it does absolutely nothing. With nothing to cheat your audio you’ll hear it like never before! No sideshow hype or tacky disappearing acts. Illusions of zip, zing, and whoompf can’t satisfy once you experience real magic. Silky top, absolute clarity, knockdown punch, and fat bottom end to make your world go ’round. The MSS-10 delivers the body and soul of the performance with astonishing realism and immediacy. 

What is Natural Sound?
Natural Sound is far from sterile, being full of life and vitality. And while accuracy is often judged by static measurements, Natural Sound goes far beyond technical precision by faithfully recreating the intricacies and realism of the original performance.

Experience unconstrained dynamics that never remove the faintest detail or pinch when the music soars. And when punch is required, stand back. Enjoy airy top end without smear, crystal clear mids, real warmth without mud, and extra octaves of rock solid bottom end. Natural Sound is simply breathtaking. An aural seduction. The essence of what drives one’s passion for audio.

Features and functions
The MSS-10 is comprised of dual signal paths in a single unit, allowing flexibility in getting the best audio from a microphone to a recorder.

The preamp section uses two stages of gain from mic input to direct out, providing wide bandwidth and a stable design. It features 65dB of gain switched in 5dB steps, 48V phantom, 20dB pad and polarity reverse.

The line driver section can select the preamp out or a balanced line input. This makes a great EQ insert point. The level control adjusts continuously from infinity to +10dB, allowing for riding of gain. The addition of a mute and professional VU meter allows the finest audio quality possible to be sent directly to the recorder. Engaging the Cal button provides precise VU monitoring of the selected source.

Not only does it sound awesome, it looks like a piece of art. The sophisticated, elegant appearance of the matte finish, nickel-plated faceplate matches your finest microphones while ergonomic knobs and lighted push buttons provide positional information at a glance from any angle. The beautiful package tells your clients that you own only the best.

A peek under the lid
Tracing out the schematic or unpotting the transformer will not reveal the secret of the natural sound of the MSS-10. Martech’s Natural Sound Design Methodology uses the exquisitely sensitive human ear to guide all design choices.

Every component and circuit was listened to, individually and collectively, assuring the finest signal path possible. Thousands of hours were invested, listening for the subtlest differences compared against a wire.

As a result, the heart of the MSS-10 comprises proprietary, high resolution, high voltage, all discrete, non-inverting amplifiers along with a custom built, oversize input transformer. Special silver switches with redundant contacts are preconditioned with a stabilizing agent. Hard wiring avoids internal connectors. Carefully tuned DC servo amps eliminate the coloration of in-path capacitors, while improving bottom end response. Bipolar 24v rails provide true +24dBm output even into an unbalanced input.

Finally, unique grounding techniques and balanced impedance outputs are used to ensure a flawless interface to the outside world.


Additional Information

Condition New
Channels Single-Channel
Chassis Desktop
Module Slot Count No
Direct Input No
Digital I/O No
Martinsound Martech versus.... This is not a boring, sterile preamp.

Based upon the descriptions I found on the internet I decided to have a shootout between the Martech, MSS-10, Millennia HV-35. I needed a transparent preamp.

We tracked keys (mostly direct), a ton of old samples, percussion, and vocals. My go to for the samples had been my Soundworkshop Console for it's quick, and dirty (kinda fat) api (ish, but not really as quick more like a 312 than a 512c) sound. Occasionally I would track these through a custom (clean) tube pre, or an ADesigns P1 (Pacifica), but I still had a ton of stuff that I didn't want so colored...

I tried a focusrite red, and a focusrite ISA, but both were a bit dark? sounding for my taste. Not quite sure how to describe what the focusrite's did to my sound except to say that it they sounded claustrophobic. lol. Kinda stuck in a classy space that was too small.

... In any case...
I decided to get familiar with the Millennia HV-35 first so decided not to unpack the Martech and I began tracking EVERYTHING through the HV-35 for the next week or so... Hitting it hard, soft, going through the DI, Using the Lo cut, NOT using outboard compression/EQ, as well as USING outboard Compression/EQ... everything from moderate to total abuse. Putting the HV-35 through its paces to see how it stacked up. I kinda fell in love. It revealed things I had missed before, I noticed quite a bit. It gave me the full picture while still hiding some (not all) of the faults in the upper mids/lower highs. Somehow it complimented things that sound harsh through most of my other pres, and at times itself even sounding a bit harsh/noisy up top.

After about 10 days or so I decided it was time to check out the Martech MSS-10. WOW!!! It sounded just like the Millennia HV-35 except now someone had put creamy goodness all over everything. Amazing! At first I thought this can't sound that much better.. I normally don't even use words like "better". Only different colors, flavors, etc... and while I still feel the same after going back and forth between the two for our purposes the Martech was in fact "better" on every source we threw at it. It puffs out nicely well when you drive it, but my only complaint is that it then quickly gets ugly, and unusable when overdriven hard. Other than that it was sheer heaven. Goosebumps people... Hands down this is a classy, clear, open, extended, quiet, graceful, complimentary, strident, beautiful, warm fuzzies, useful, flexible, versatile preamp. This is not a boring, sterile preamp.

Unfortunately I bought a used unit which for whatever reason decided to quit on me just when I made up my mind to send back the Millennia HV-35, because I simply had no use for it after exploring the Martech MSS-10. I feel that the Martech is a tad overpriced. What I paid for the used unit should be the price for a new unit, and I would gladly buy a pair for that price. Well worth it though. Just buck up, and lay out the cash.

VK was on it, and while they were extremely helpful, and accommodating I had an important upcoming project, and couldn't afford to wait for Martinsound to turnaround the Martech so I found an alternative locally and took the refund.

I now have a hole in my heart where my Martech should be. We will be together again one day baby. I promise. ::: grin :::

By E. Love on March 16, 2015

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