A lot of legendary studio gear started out as broadcast equipment, but due to the exploratory nature of audio engineers, found their way into the studio where they remained as go-to equipment and secret weapons. One such unit was the RCA OP-6 portable tube amplifier, which was originally designed as a location-recording mic preamp for radio broadcasters. Unique to the original OP-6 was the fact that it was designed with ribbon microphones in mind—particularly RCA ribbon mics, which imparted the “voice of god” sound to announcers, and like the OP-6,those ribbon mics became a staple of recording studios as well. Not only does the Retro OP-6 recreate the rich, euphonic sound of the RCA along with its ribbon friendly characteristics, including huge headroom and high gain, it adds modern features and reliability.
Retaining the portability of the original OP-6,the Retro OP-6 also features the faceplate of the original. Where it parts companyis in the improved noise performance,plus the addition of several modern features not found on the RCA OP-6 including phantom power, phase reverse, XLR I/O, Hi-Z instrument input, 25dB pad, output level control, and the ability to use the VU meter as a tube tester. Where the Retro OP-6 remains completely true to its forebear, is the creamy rich sound it imparts to all sound sources and its ability to function exactly like the vintage RCA OP-6 electronically and sonically. Though the original OP-6 was used on many iconic recordings of the past andstill in use today, having a RetroOP-6 is like going back in time and bringing a new RCA OP-6 with you, plus the modern features and improvements.
Retro Instruments OP-6 Portable Amplifier in one take:
• Stepped gain control
• Switchable Mic Impedance – /37/150/600 ohm
• Over 80db gain
• Phase switching
• 48V phantom power
• Instrument input
• 25db Pad
• High-quality VU meter
• Output attenuator control
• Improved noise performance
• XLR input and output connectors
• Integral tube test functions
• Durable hammer tone case finish
• Faceplate holds true to original OP-6 design
• 115/230Voperation; 50/60 cycles
INSIDE THE BOX—Retro OP-6 Portable Amplifier
The original RCA OP-6 was noted not solely for its high gain and headroom for days, but also its rich tube-saturated tone. Being designed for use with ribbon mics, which are generally not phantom-power friendly, the addition of 48V phantom power on the Retro OP-6 is one of the features that brings it into the modern age, that enables users of condenser mics to enjoy the sound of OP-6, which has been a secret weapon in the studios for six decades.
Embellishing on the original design, the Retro OP-6 adds two parallel secondary tubes on both the input and output stage, which is responsible for its improved noise performance. However, these tubes can be removed if you want the Retro OP-6 to perform exactly like the RCAOP-6. While the original was a versatile preamp for its day, the Retro OP-6 takes it several steps further. Along with the aforementioned phantom power, the Retro OP-6 includes XLR input and outputs connectors (the RCA had terminal strips), 25dB pad, phase reverse switch, a Hi-Z 1/4″ instrument input, and the ability to use the front-panel VU meter as tube tester or each of its amplifier stages.
The Retro OP-6 also has switchable impedance settings via front-panel rotary switch, which selects different taps on a custom input transformer. Impedances include 37 ohm, 150 ohm, and 600 ohm, which enable use with both vintage and modern mics, including condensers. With clever use if it’s input and output attenuation controls, the Retro OP-6 can go from clean to overdriven and back again, giving you plenty of tonal possibilities in conjunction with its selectable impedances, which were also chosen for their unique sonics.
OUTSIDE THE BOX—Retro Instruments OP-6 Portable Amplifier
With the same front-panel aesthetic of the RCA OP-6, the Retro OP-6 has a more engaging face with the inclusion of toggle switches for phantom power, phase reverse, and pad on the left side of the unit, which take the place of the RCA’s aux mic terminals. Below the toggles, are the 1/4″ Hi-Z input and XLR microphone input. In the center of the Retro OP-6 is a big, friendly VU meter, underneath which are the 3-position impedance switch, meter selector that enables the VU to double as a tube checker, large rotary input gain knob, power switch, and output attenuator knob. On the right front panel are very retro-looking (if you will) jewel indicator lights for phantom power, phase, and pad switches. Beneath the indicators are a front-panel IEC power connector and XLR output connector. The Retro OP-6 is housed in a sturdy metal case with carry handle and a removable front-panel cover that has convenient inside guides to wrap the power cable around and store.
Who’s Using Retro Instruments?
Notable users of Retro gear including Grammy-winning and platinum-selling producers and engineers, such as Chris Lord-Alge (Retro 176), Joe Chiccarelli (Retro 2A3), Silvia Massey (Sta-Level), Ross Hogarth (Sta-Level, 2A3), Jacquire King (Retro 176), Michael Brauer (Retro 2A3), Glenn Rosenstein (Retro OP-6, Sta-Level), and many more world-class producer-engineer-mixers and artists.
With the Retro OP-6, you can take world-class studio sound with you and record wherever the muse strikes. For more information, call or chat with your Westlake Pro audio representative today.