Neve 1272, 1073, 1081
API 212, 312, 512c
AVALON DESIGN AD2022
John Hardy M-1, M-2
DW Fearn VT-2
Vintech x73, Dual 72, x81
RM being the kind soul that he is gave some options of "channel in a box" units ONLY, cuz of the second post.
And that's where Adiel shoots his own leg-
Some manufacturers may build "channel in a box" units, but the majority of hi quality pre-amps r stand-alone.
Few r pre+eq and even fewer r pre+eq+comp.
Some refurbishes pull out modules of hi quality consoles and refurbish them in various combinations.
In order 2 keep the price down some components may b compromised in relation 2 other products by the same manufacturer.
There's no magic in savings by using a common power-supply and enclosure.
R&D, and circuit design are more demanding, and the power supply has 2 pull 3-4 components instead of 1.
These r aimed directly @ the project market cuz pro studios prefer separate components, which is a logical choice cuz it leaves the engineer with the option 2 choose the right combination, and the studio with the option 2 buy what they really need and appreciate.
It's hard 2 make a gr8 pre that shines above the rest, but it's much harder 2 make 3-4 components in 1 box that do that, and keep the price down.
Furthermore, the components can't b SPECIFIC. The pre-defined 3-in-a-row choice has 2 sound "nice" on all types of program. So CIBs r deliberately designed as "average" and "general".
And where the sale's pitch? Simple - Call it "transparent"...
So I was not 2 surprised 2 c the word "transparent"in the initial post.
In other words, U can't get formula 1 performance in a family van.
U could buy the new Porche van but it's by no means the best performance Porche has 2 offer.
Don't get me wrong, there R some good CIB units out there, but if I were offered a car-wife-apartment-dog-speedboat combo in a box I doubt whether I'd find all components satisfactory, and @ least I'd test drive the wife b4 I buy.
By asking about "The best pre in the world" (read the post's title) and insisting it should reside in a CIB unit U simply miss out on the majority of good mic pres - period.
And with all due respect, pls read CAREFULLY the initial question. I doubt whether Michel Jackson, Mariah Carey and George Michael's vocals were recorded through an Avalon 737 or a Focusrite Platinum, but I'll ask them next time they pop @ the Freeland bar or HAOMAN.