THE CAPI VP26

When I was deciding what pre-amps to include in my 500 series lunchbox I was looking for color. It’s no wonder why I fell in love with CAPI’s VP26. These things sound incredible. The VP26 has the same preamp circuit as vintage API consoles of the late 70’s- and it shows. The preamp is compatible with multiple op-amps, I chose
to pair it with the GAR2520, a op-amp modeled after the mid70’s Studio Systems/Huntington 2520 (do you see a pattern here?) Anyway, the combination is exactly what was looking for: color, crunch, and depth.

THE BUILD

You can purchase an assembled VP26 for around $400.00 on 3rd party sites such as Ebay or Reverb.com, OR you can buy the disassembled kit for $230.00 off of CAPI-Gear.com. Either way, you’re getting a LOT of pre for the price. I am not a soldering expert (if you can’t tell), but I did find the build to be straight forward and rewarding. The instructions are very clear, and thorough. There are great tips and pictures included to help you achieve the best possible result. That being said, I’ve listed some things that I took note of in the process that could be helpful to you:

TIPS

Let me first start by saying that CAPI has updated their VP26. The older version had a silver face and a similar but different PCB. I was caught in the middle of the transition and the confusion I experienced was the result. CAPI made it clear that the work-arounds are temporary, and a more straightforward approach is on the way.

The build instructions are no longer emailed out with your purchase order. Instead you will find them here, from the CAPI site. As the site states, the original assembly guide is still relevant as a guide, but I found that looking at the other listed documents BEFORE the build is a must.

On page 6 of the assembly guide, you will see it gives you a list of the resistors. These are NOT the resistors you are given with the updated build. You will find the proper component list here, the VP2x Rev B BOM.

If you opted for the stepped gain switch, you will find the resistor list here, and the the installation guide here. I strongly recommend the stepped gain switch. settings are easy to replicate, and the knob is sooooo satisfying.

The general installation guide has a great resistor organization page you can print out, but is outdated. I have made one that you can print out and use for the new build here. It also contains the resistors needed for the optional stepped gain switch.

If you are building your VP26, I would recommend purchasing an assembled Op-Amp. If you build both the pre-amp and op-amp, there are too many variables to troubleshoot if your finished product doesn’t work. That being said, you can run a series of measurement tests listed on page 47 of the assembly guide after completion.

I’m not a forum fan by any means, but if you run into problems there is a lot of great information here. If you don’t find an answer, You can reach out to CAPI here.  Jeff (the owner and operator) will get back to you in a timely manner is is a supper nice and helpful dude.

FEATURES

– 60 dB of Overall Gain (Variable or Stepped)
– Mute Switch
– Phase Reverse
– 20dB Input Pad
– 48V Phantom Switch
– Variable 600 ohm T-Pad Output Attenuator

Pre-Amp Comparison

Here is a comparison between a Zoom F8 pre-amp and the CAPI Vp26. The F8’s pre’s are very transparent with little character. This is done on purpose, as the F8 is usually used for field recording- not so much music related. I picked the F8 for the comparison because I thought it would be a nice contrast with how colorful the VP26 is. The differences may be subtle, but to me, details are so important when compiling tracks. Also take into consideration that BandCamp.com streams MP3 128 (gross). If you want to hear the samples in full quality, you can download them in any format you like. Enough yacking, click the play buttons and make your own assessment.

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