I have a pair. It's a very great sounding pre and the different output and transformer settings give it great variety. I seem to use the Neve like setting the most.
Any pre's in this quality range including the Avedis you have all sound stellar and will all make beautiful recordings. The differences between all of them is pretty subjective and for me more specific to application.
I have one, and I think it's absolutely excellent for female vocals, acoustic guitars, and some mics. For example, I have a Royer R-121, and compared to my Great River NV-500MP the Mono GAMA in any setting sounds like poop. But with my AT4047, it sounds like money.
So it's a wonderful sounding "color" pre that can also be transparent, but don't think that it's combination of transformers will sound great on everything.
I'm getting ready to purchase the Avedis Ma5 for recording guitar, as well as a two space rack. The Shadow Hills sounded like something with a different flavor that I could use and also would work well for vocals. I was on the phone with Vintageking.com yesterday talking about preamps. He suggested the Shadow Hills to me.
As of right now, I only have a Sm57 that I just noodle recording guitar with through an Mbox. I'm also looking at different (on the cheaper side) vocal mics. (SM7B, AT 4040 and 4047) I don't have a huge budget right now.
One thing though. I was wanting a great Neve sounding preamp for guitar. The Avedis kept coming up. It was between that and the Chandler Germanium. Everyone told me the Avedis would be a better preamp for multiple things and the Chandler would be better for guitar. It's got me thinking if I get the Shadow Hills for vocals and so on then why not get the Chandler instead of the Ma5.
I'm not sure which one I would like more.
While the Mono Gama is a wonderful pre, I'm not overly excited by it. I almost only ever use it in the Nickel setting. The Steel setting doesn't really out API my 312's and since I generally like some color, the discrete setting rarely doesn't do much for me.
That being said and since most of my 500 series modules are on loan for the last couple of weeks I've been using the Shadow Hills for most everything except electric guitars. It sounds great on vocals and acoustic guitars, percussion, etc. Still wouldn't say it's my favorite of all the pre's I have, but it's very versatile and will not sound bad for any application and great on a most sources.
For what it's worth and coming from someone who has quite a few different pre's, I wouldn't go too OCD on which one to choose in this quality range. Once you have a good all around pre that will sound good to phenomenal on everything then start thinking about pre's aimed at specific applications. Differences achieved between the high end stuff ranges from small to extremely subtle in my opinion. It's big enough that I definitely have formed opinions on liking one pre on snare, another on guitar, this one on bass and so on, but I honestly feel I could use any of the pre's I have on any source and it really wouldn't affect the outcome of my productions to any measurable degree. The bottom line is that you can make great recordings with all the pre's mentioned so better to focus more on the music. Think of how many classic albums were recorded and sometimes mixed entirely on one console. No one ever heard a song and started humming the mic pre....
I just found out about the Shadow Hills and they seem to sound great for guitar, haven’t bought one yet so what should I look into? I’m new to using out if the box hardware and a smidge reluctant to start collecting 500 series units.
Still looking for a solid 1-2 channel mic pre that covers mostly guitars and vocals, EQ preferred but if I do go the 500 series route I understand that I can mix and match pres with eqs. I’m ok with rackmount recommendations as well.
My experience is that mics make a much bigger difference in sound than mic pres. Not that there isn't differences, but among high end pres i think the spread in sound is much tighter than that of microphones themselves. I mean, I can put a U87 and a Gefell Um 92 into the same preamp and get tones way more different than putting either of those mics into any two preamps.