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Reviews, Interviews & Customer Testimonials Reviews, Interviews & Customer Testimonials
Tape Op #77: Garrett Haines Reviews the CAPI VP26 Mic Preamp!

"The VP26 I built sounds amazing. The gar2520 opamp kicked the previous clone's butt immediately. So powerful sounding in comparison. Kudos, my midwestern brother, and thanks again for the excellent product/service!"
Ben Witte

"Just wanted to drop you a line, and let you know that I've got my two VP26's assembled and in the 500 rack. They sound awesome!!! I've got 2 API 3124+'s and I'm thrilled with how good they sound in comparison. I haven't really had the chance to put them through the paces yet, but so far I couldn't be happier."
Paul Miner

"I have a 2488 API from 1976-77. Huntington. Lots of Amp problems over the years so I'm putting it back together. These gar2520's sound great and are the solution I have been looking for over 20 years. Thanks for a great product at a great price. I'll be needing more in the future."
Michael Pfeifer

"The VP26 preamp is one of the finest API style mic pres I have ever heard. As the owner of a highly modified API 2488 console I love the sound of these new pres and the interchangeable amp blocks make it easy when you want to get a slightly different sound. The build is first rate, and the DIY option is a great money saving idea."

Mark Linett
Multi GRAMMY Award Winner
Producer / Engineer
Credits @

"I plugged in the first pre today I really liked it. Much more usable than my 3124 pre's. I think I'll sell my 3124 and build more of your pre's."
Mike Manness

"Just wanted to let you know I completed and tested one of the VP26/gar combos and it really exceeded my already high expectations! It does just exactly what I was looking for, the pushed API sound. ...and I was pleased to see how transparent and clear it is in the lower gain ranges too. I haven't done any direct A/B's to my other pres yet, only a little playing around with some mics and a bass, but I'm very familiar with my gear/room/ears and there's some real character and depth and versatility in the VP26! It's truly an awesome preamp and absolutely must be the best deal on an API-type solution. About 20 minutes after I finished my testing, the latest issue of TapeOp showed up at my door. It was nice to see the reviewer felt the same way. He even seemed to favor the VP26 in comparison to a vintage API. BTW - your instructions couldn't be easier or more clear. Definitely the best instructions of any DIY kit I've done. Everything worked perfectly on the first try. I finished the first VP26 in about 2 hours, taking my time with it, and finished the gar DOA in another 45 minutes. I got halfway through building the other 3 VP26s, all at once, in an hour. I can't wait to finish them up and check out the VP312's next!"
James Finnerty

"This is actually the second VP26 I've bought/built from you and I just wanted to tell you what a great product you have! I put my first one up against the 512C's I have in my rack and I'm choosing the VP26 over the API on a lot of sources (snare drum and guitar amp especially). My rack is full now, but I'm seriously considering getting another rack full of these."
Robert Lerdsuwanrut

"The first time I plugged in the red dot equipped VP28 on guitars, both the producer and the assistant turned to me and exclaimed, 'Dude! What's that?' As I was about to answer, the guitarist shouted over the talkback, 'That's the best I've ever heard my guitar sound!!'"

F. Reid Shippen
Multi GRAMMY Award Winner
Producer / Engineer
Credits @

I am forever VP312. What a preamp mate! You guys are geniuses and I love you forever! In fact, what a great and enjoyable build. Took a day. My first ever! I am so chuffed. The instructions and everything so good to easy to build, and it sounds AWESOME!!! I think it sounds better than my 512 somehow. Maybe I'm a bit overexcited! Actually, its got a slightly bigger sound that the 512 and a bit more earthy and 70's to my ears. I love it. I have to say it, the gar2520 was hard work to build though! My god, small and backbreaking! But I am so pleased for this to have worked at first time of asking. Absolutely fantastic Jeff and thanks ever so much for your advice, quick replies and superb service. Cheers."
Matt Kent

"BTW, it's been said before, but the quality and clearness of the whole package is just awesome. Great job sir!"
Pieter Kloos

"I've just ordered another VP26. I wanted to thank you for putting together such a great kit, and wish you much success with this endeavor. It really is a good deal, and fun for those of us who don't know nearly enough about electronics to put together something on our own, but enjoy messing around with a soldering iron once in awhile."
Brian Woodring

"Although I've always thought of myself as an 'API' guy, I've never been completely happy with my 512's since moving to digital formats and outboard pre's many years ago. However, since receiving my first 3 VP26's, I KNEW you were on to something - the REAL deal. They delivered an instantly recognizable vibe, and honestly, it was like finding an old lost friend. The first session was slammin' - the guitarist knew it, the drummer knew it, and I was all smiles. I like to call my CAPI gear 'API's for the digital world'. The 512C's are long since gone, and I don't miss them a bit. These days it's all VP's and Missing Links for me with the occasional Neve or transformerless pre filling in. The ONE piece of outboard receiving the most use in my studio is your new VP28. AWESOME! Kudo's to you for your articulate build guides, and the over-the-top build components in your gear. Top notch - it doesn't get any better. Thanks Jeff!!!"

William Pearson aka drBill
GRAMMY Award Winner
Producer / Engineer / Composer
Credits @
Credits @ (William Pearson)
Credits @ (Bill Pearson)

"I just wanted to say what a unbelievable job you have done with your 312. During a shootout with Tubetech, Manley, Langevin am16, and a few mic pres of lesser quality, nothing beat the transient response, detailed top, and 'natural bandwidth' of the 312. Sure, the Tubetech had a rich, enhanced harmonic mid, the Manley a saturated robustness, but in terms of a 'reality based translation' the VP312 was easily the winner, and ears of 'slighter critical opinion' could hear the difference as well. The client was very pleased indeed. In past years and recently using vintage 312's, there might be the typical inconsistent nature of the aged caps etc that is problematic. The 512 doesn't really posses the character of the 312. It is more like the Datatronics API period, in my opinion. What you provide is an elemental alternative."
Desmond Shea

"I just wanted to send along a thank you note for the excellent product, and all the tech support along the way. This is the first project I've ever attempted aside from stomp boxes, and I've learned quite a bit in the process."
Arthur Kaprelian

"Just built one today. You've done a beautiful job on the board, mechanics and instructions. This is really a first class kit. My kids could build it. Thanks!"
Michael Levitt

"I've really enjoyed having the VP312 around the house, and both flavors of Gary's opamps are stunning! Having this sort of stuff available is really fantastic."
Bryan Richie

"The VP26 arrived yesterday but it's super hard to build!

Just kidding :P It's super easy to build and I've done it with some hours that I was not doing anything on the studio so I thought it will be nice to send you a picture of the babe alive :) Thanks for doing these kits and I'm sure I'm buying more products from you!"
Arnau Hernández Ledesma

"With the for which DI, I've got two combinations which have seen good use. I had a punk band in, straight J bass, very aggressive and played with a pick. For that, the gar2520 and Peter's FET plugin were the easy winners. Real snappy sound! On the other hand, when I'm looking for a smoother classic rock type sound, I've been going for the Jensen and Pier's 2050. That combination is GREAT on my Stambaugh with Aero J's. I also have been liking the same Jensen setup with Bartonlinis, although I've never been a big fan of the Bartonlini sound to start with, it cleans it up nicely since they always produce a ton of finger pluck. I'm really looking forward to getting the 24V rail up, so I can see what the APP2050 does at 24V. All in all though, good stuff!! Really, I've never been able to get bass that I was truly happy with until now. Thanks as always!"
Brian Horvitz

"Thanks so much. What a breath of fresh air. The VP26 is a stellar preamp that sounds amazingly good and was a pleasure to build. I have used mine with an Advanced Audio CM47 tube mic to record both hard rock and hip hop vocals with amazing results. The VP26's uncanny ability to go from clean to distortliciousness is very useful in my studio and will be a "go to" preamp for many years to come. I am saving my pennies (and selling some overpriced 500 pres taking up space in my lunchbox) to buy 2 more and I am very interested in your other preamps as well. Thanks again!"
Chris Prucher

"It sounds like your recording in different rooms when you switch back and forth between the VP26 and VP312. I'm loving these pres, the color and warm round tone makes all that sterile digital harsh crap go away and the vibe they give is like a classic record. These are my favorite pres, hope you never stop making them."
Joey Legnon

"First, you're a packing machine. I don't think I've ever seen a better packed package in my life! Second, the VP26's are the best pres I've built for that amount of money. It sounds just the way I remember API console pre's sounded. I have to say everything from acoustic guitars to guitar amps to even violins sound amazing! Thanks for a great product!"
Keita Ishibashi

"We got our VP26's put in the lunchbox and I have to tip my hat to you sir! The only instrument I've been able to put it on so far has been electric guitar, but the VP26 was the CLEAR winner compared to our API 3124+. Keep up the good work!"
Justin Fisher

"The builds turned out great. I haven't done much comparison but my initial impressions were that is sounds much much better than my 512C's. Much more character and the output attenuation is fantastic. I'm probably going to be buying a couple more of these in the near future."
Mitch Wyatt

"This was a great kit to build! This was my first DIY kit and I was able to build this in about 5 hours with no mistakes. The directions were very clear and easy to follow. The VP26 with the SL-2520 Red Dot sounds amazing and has a sound of it own compared to my 512C. I would like to order another VP26 kit when the EA 2623-1 Output Transformer is back in stock. Thanks again for putting together an amazing product."
Matt Lands

"The VP26 you just sold me is now in it's new home. This and the MP73 I've boxed up with it both sound AMAZING. It's incredible being able to mix and blend between both sounds of the two amps. Thanks again for creating this amazing project!"
Luke Emrose

"They work! Thanks very much indeed for such a well thought out kit. I'm not experienced with electronics but I found it logical and simple to build the modules. The first one was a learning curve but the second I did in an evening. They sound great and I'm very impressed with the product. It's great to have that API sound which I felt I wasn't getting from 512C's and, as a bonus, extremely useful attenuation and a mute button, which is all to often ignored as a feature. Thanks again!"
Jack Ruston

"I just thought I'd send you a message to tell you I got the first two VP312DI modules finished, tested and in operation at my studio. Wow, do these pack a punch or what?! I am really very impressed. The DI input is amazing - so much grunt, I love it. Thank you for making such a high-quality kit, which is a pleasure to build. Many thanks also, for all of the support you have provided to me during the build - it is really greatly appreciated. I look forward to getting the 2 others I bought from you finished, and into the rack. Great job by you, and Classic Audio Products of Illinois!"
Lachlan Mitchell

"I want to tell you how much I'm liking our two VP26's. I recorded last night with them and they sound fantastic! Everything fired right up. Quite an easy and fun build. My previous build experience is limited to a hand full of clone stomp box pedals, and a 2 in, 4 out passive monitor selector. Only got to track a Fender Rhodes with the VP26's , but I liked what I heard.....a lot! I was actually in a session so I couldn't get too clinical, but a quick reference between the 2 VP's and our Tube Tech, Daking, UA, Vintech x73, and Trident console left me feeling real good. Can't wait to more acquainted with them. I've got a Chandler LTD 1 that might have to go on the chopping block to fund a CAPI channel strip. VP28 - LC53 - VC528 X2 in a lunchbox."
Ed Rawls

"Just wanted to let you know, I've now built over 20 DIY projects and yours are by far the most organized and best put together....and, they sound the best. Thank you!"
Gregory Ney

"We had an impromptu drum tracking session yesterday. I had my new API rack with me with the 2 VP26's and 2 VP25's. I threw up some mics. I was not paying too much attention. All I can say is, holy crap! The sounds were classic, punchy, full frequency, full of character. Hey, and my clients, very pleased, very impressed. I've got a full fledged basic tracking date this weekend. I am looking forward to more fun with Classic Audio of Illinois. Thanks much for everything. You guys rock!"
Michael Tudor
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Classic Audio Products, Inc. is not affiliated with API. Customers and fans should not refer to Classic Audio Products, Inc. as "Classic API." API is a registered trademark of Automated Processes Incorporated. Classic Audio Products, Inc. has no affiliation with Automated Processes Incorporated.
01.gar2520 DOA Full Kit Bundle
02.DOA PCB Socket Set
03.gar2520 DOA PCB
04.Toneluck 2PDT Pushbutton Switch
05.C&K Black Bullet Switch Cap
06..156" KK Female Terminal Contact
07.C&K White Bullet Switch Cap
08.EA2622 Input Transformer
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