Review: Mooer Preamp Live

Does this affordable, pedalboard-friendly digital modeller have the features and tones to scare the competition?

mooer preamp live
All images: Eleanor Jane

With lunchbox-sized amplifiers and effects-pedal miniaturisation being very much on trend in recent years, it’s no surprise that the modelling world has also begun watching its waistline.

Enter the powerful and dimensionally dainty Mooer Preamp Live: a feature-laden digital modeller in stompbox form. No bigger than a paperback and weighing in at just over one kilogram, it has obviously been designed with portability and pedalboards in mind.

When connected to the Mooer Studio software editor, the Preamp Live features over 50 preamps, all based on a wide range of famous amplifiers, from well-known classics to present-day boutique circuits. A dozen of these amp models are accessible at any one time when loaded into the banks A, B, and C of the unit. Each bank has four patches and each patch can be accessed via the unit’s quartet of footswitches.

Patch modifications can be made on the fly, either by using the physical controls on the front panel – which give access to EQ staples such as treble, bass, and presence – or for more in-depth changes, you can connect via Bluetooth and, using an impressively simple interface, edit settings using your smartphone. So far, so modern.

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You can run a cabinet-simulated DI from the XLR output while routing the preamp signal back into your amp

In use

The Preamp Live can be used in a variety of different ways: integrated with your amp via the four-cable method, direct into a PA, or even hooked up to both amp and PA at once, with a cabinet-simulated DI running from the XLR output and the preamp signal with cab sim disabled routed to your amplifier’s effects return.

As we’re currently tracking guitars for an upcoming album using Axe-Fx and Kemper profiles, we choose to evaluate the Preamp Live’s tones by going direct to DAW. There’s a wide variety of cabinets, power amps and mic models from which to choose and you can even upload your own impulse-response cab sims via Mooer Studio. We head straight for the heavy profiles and load into the bank a patch modelled on a Peavey 5150.

While the depth and tonal nuances aren’t quite as detailed as you might expect from the higher-end digital modellers, we still hear an eminently faithful reproduction of the 5150’s trademark growl, tautness and attack, providing a great platform for metal-infused playing.

Some of the more vintage-style mid-gain and clean sounds seem initially to lack clarity and depth, but this has a lot to do with the absence of onboard effects. With a dash of delay and sprinkle of reverb added via the effects loop, any perceived absence of sparkle is remedied, allowing the tonal characteristics of the individual amp models to become more recognisable.

The Mooer Preamp Live packs flexible connectivity into its bijou enclosure

One of the Preamp Live’s most interesting features is the Tone Capture function. With your amplifier connected, the unit is able to analyse and capture the tonal characteristics of its preamp stage.

It’s actually a very simple process and using a Mesa F-30 combo as our guinea pig, the results are quite astonishing. Once the very quick ‘capture’ process is completed, we’re left with an eerily accurate tonal replica of the F-30. You can then save this sound to the Preamp Live and theoretically get away without taking the amp to your next gig – something your poor back will thank you for!

As a pure modelling device with hugely flexible connectivity, the Preamp Live has plenty to recommend it, especially to players at the heavier end of the spectrum. When you throw in the ability to capture and blend in tones from your own amplifier collection – and take those tones out on the road while the amplifiers stay at home – £329 becomes very tempting indeed.

Win one of three Mooer Preamp Live pedals in our competition here.

Key Features

  • PRICE £329
  • DESCRIPTION Digital preamp modeller and cabinet simulation stompbox. Made in China
  • CONTROL PANEL Volume, bass, mid, treble, gain, boost (pre and post), master, presence, FX level, cabinet simulation on/off toggles for XLR and jack output, 4x footswitches
  • REAR PANEL Input, send, return, output, ground lift, XLR out, MIDI in/out, headphone out, USB, 12V DC in
  • FEATURES 62 preamp models (50 preset, 12 user), 30 speaker cabinet and 11 microphone models. Noise gate
  • DIMENSIONS 230 x 130 x 54mm
  • WEIGHT 1.18kg/2.6lb
  • CONTACT mooeraudio.co.uk

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Mooer Preamp Live
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