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A-Designs ATTY
A-Designs Pacifica
A-Designs MP-2 (MP-2A)


After using these A-Designs products for a few years, I've decided to write a review.




A-Designs ATTY

A-Designs ATTY is a passive stereo attenuator unit from A-Designs Audio. It’s the little brother & ancestor of A-Designs ATTY 2’d 5.1
“The ATTY (rhymes with "Patty")” is how A-Designs introduces its product. Nice! I like a little sense of humor :)

A-Designs ATTY features:

  • 2 combo Neutrik inputs – XLR & TLS
  • 2 balanced XLR outputs
  • Mute button
  • Volume pot

A-Designs really did a great job making a high quality transparent attenuator without having it cost a ridiculous amount of money. I’ve used the ATTY to control the level of my studio monitors after converters. This is a much effective way to control levels than lowering your digital output. If you want to get full resolution of your digital signal & be able to make any trustworthy mixing/tracking decisions, I suggest having your digital output all the way up & controlling the volume with a passive attenuator like ATTY. There might be better alternatives, but they cost 4-5 times more & ATTY does the job really well. Mute button comes really handy for this application.

A-Designs ATTY can also be used in various other applications where line level signal level control is necessary. For instance it works great between preamps & converters; if you want to drive your preamp to get more juice out of it, but it’s too hot for your converters, ATTY does the trick here, in fact really well. If you deal with loud sources, this is a must have. Just use your imagination, possibilities are endless here.

Design: A-Designs ATTY is a little black metal box, well built & reliable. The volume control, though very small & not very comfortable, feels solid & not cheap. It would be really nice if it had ears at least on one end so you could mount it in your rack, that’s probably the only thing I’d like changed on this unit. Sometimes it can get irritating having the ATTY moving around.

Please, note that it’s not recommended to use the ATTY as an inline pad (between your mics & preamps). Peter Montessi made it clear that the unit was not designed for this purpose. By the way, kudos to A-Designs company for having a person who stands behind his products, answers any questions or requests patiently, all around great customer service behind a line of great products.

A-Designs ATTY is one of those tools you never notice, but once you have to work without having one, you understand its value, Bottom line, a great tool in any studio for a price you can’t go wrong.

A-Designs ATTY Volume Attenuator Dealer
A-Designs Audio Website


A-Designs Pacifica

A-Designs Pacifica is a stereo solid state microphone preamplifier by A-Designs Audio, inspired by legendary Quad Eight preamplifiers. The Pacifica was probably the first real hit from A-Designs Audio for recording industry, while they already had A-Designs MP2 all tube top notch preamp out before the Pacifica, the popularity of it wasn’t that high.

A-Designs Pacifica features:

  • Balanced XLR Inputs & outputs
  • Gain, DI jack, phantom power switch, 20db pad & phase shift for each
  • 72dB Gain Range
  • 9Hz-101KHz Frequency Response

So the Pacifica is pretty simple, with awkward red body & white/yellowish front plate. Well, I suppose it’s simple for a young guy like me :) It’s a very powerful wide range preamp, will drive any microphone with ease, kind of colorful, yet not overpowering, which allows you to stack many channels over & over, without having too much color, gives you sort of polished sound with a little “vanilla” in it. The versatility of this preamp is one of the key elements of its success in my opinion. I’ve recorded so many sourced with the Pacifica, half of which I can’t even remember; it never sounded bad & most of the time it was really good. It sounds great on drums, acoustic guitars, pianos, vocals, shakers, woodwinds etc. If you try to record a 120wt half stack at really loud volumes, you might need to use an inline pad in front of it, but then you will need it with almost anything. I found I could get an interesting compression type of thing going on with the Pacifica if I drove the input a lot. Like with any other preamp A-Designs Pacifica offers its unique range of characters & dynamics if you take the time to experiment with different gain settings or you can just set it & forget it, that works too. I guess it all depends on how obsessed you are with tone. Overall, I’d say if you need a preamp to be used on many sources to give them a focused space in the mix & stack well together, you might want to really consider an A-Designs Pacifica.

For the 500 series users A-Designs Audio has also released A-Designs P1, 500 chassis unit inspired by the Pacifica.

What’s the difference between A-Designs Pacifica & P1?

In Peter Montessi’s words:

“The Pacifica v P-1:

It's really funny now that more of our products are out there and people email/call me with their results after A/Bing the 2 units. And sometimes I'm even surprised by the results!!!
Some people LOVE the P-1 over the Pacifica and some love the Pacifica over the P-1.

There IS a difference ..........I don't see it as night and day type of difference. Of course in the end it all depends on you and your needs!

The reason for the slight difference is this....
28v going across the rails, larger output transformer

A-Designs P-1:
16v across the rails, smaller transformer

Both of these two factors result in a slightly different sound.
IMO the P-1 comes closest to the sound of the old Quad Eight where as with the Pacifica we tried to match that sound and then did our best to improve on it.”

A-Designs Pacifica Solid State Stereo Microphone Preamplifier Dealer
A-Designs Audio Website


A-Designs MP-2

I believe A-Designs MP-2 was the first microphone preamplifier by A-Designs Audio. It was an all tube preamplifier, designed with budget in mind. Quite honestly this is my favorite product by A-Designs Audio & possibly my favorite mic pre.

A-Designs MP-2 features:

  •  Gain, DI input, Polarity Switch, Phantom Power Switch,  Backlit True VU Meter, 600 & 10k ohm output switch per channel
  • XLR Balanced Input/Output
  • Zero Feedback Loop
  • Jensen Input Transformers
  • Custom Wound Output Transformers - Two 6N1P Tubes
  • Two EF86 Tubes
  • 46db Gain Range

Since then A-Designs Audio released/replaced the MP2 with MP-2A, which has additional features:

  • -20dB Pad Switch
  • Two Tone Switches, each with 2 positions
  • 60db Gain Range

Before the MP-2A came out, there was also A-Designs MP-2R, which was basically the MP-2 with 60db gain range.

Again, I’m going to quote Peter Montessi to describe the differences:

“There have been a lot of changes made since the MP-2 came out 7 years ago.
The sound is 100% the same and we have added more features and mechanical support as well to the MP-2A.”

So what’s so great about the MP-2 that I like so much? It sounds awesome! :) This is a clean sounding mic pre with all tube goodness, reminds me of the air, clarity & response of old tube guitar amplifiers, like Marshall Plexi, warm, transparent & HUGE!!! This is an amazing preamp for vocals, bass, overheads. solo woodwind instruments. I would imagine it would sound incredible on strings sections. It’s not my favorite on distorted electric guitars or kicks, toms & snares.
There have been many products released within the past decade or so and many of them are interchangeable. I would not want to try finding something to substitute A-Designs MP-2, I think A-Designs Audio has made a truly unique mic pre with a character & with all the electronics I think they might have added some soul in there too.

A-Designs MP-2A Stereo Tube Microphone Preamplifier Dealer
A-Designs Audio Website

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