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Two Huge Channels of Sweet and Harmonic Tube Preamp Gain

Warm and Clean to Aggressive and Grungy 


An American-Style Stereo Tube Preamp Designed for Versatility

From beautiful glowing vocals, natural acoustics and punchy drums to overdriven and saturated classic tube warmth, the 86B-2 preamplifier offers a huge sonic palette for engineers and producers to explore.


Rooted in 1950s American-style tube circuitry, the 86B-2 has a huge harmonic footprint and will remedy what you're missing from a lifeless modern signal chain.

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Missing some flavor?

Want more color options from one box? Tired of switching between preamps? Maybe you're low on rack space or just starting your first collection of outboard gear and need some versatility. You might just need the kind of versatility that offers recording with mics, then sending recorded audio back through tubes and transformers in 'Line' mode for more coloration.


Super Premium MuMetal shielded inputs and nickel & steel outputs set the stage


An EF86 input tube and 12AY7 output tube amplify the signal with 75 dB of max gain


A 3-color LED indicator shows signal level.

Green -> Yellow -> Red

Click HERE to see level-specific LED color


Dedicated XLR input connectors for sending audio 'out-of-the-box' without fear of phantom power being applied

Tubes, Transformers and an Amplifier Design You Will Love

The 86B-2 is designed to get any amount of tube coloration into your audio easily. Its two-knob system allows the engineer to fine-tune the type of character needed. You can drive the 86B-2 and control the amount of tonal coloration in your audio. Save time with one preamp that can achieve a variety of sounds.

Rounded out with features like a 20dB pad, 100Hz high pass, two mic input impedances, line level mode and high impedance front panel DI on each channel, the 86B-2 won't sit idle in your valuable rack space!


86B-2 Lineage 

Introduced in 2014 as a modernized version of the Ampex 601 "suitcase tape recorder," the Locomotive 286A (86B-2 predecessor) showcased several of the best attributes from the 601. A pentode EF86 and dual triode 12AY7 were a crucial part of the sound worth keeping. The 601 could sound so smooth, but also be pushed into full distortion due to its wild amount of gain. This was a great way to get a large amount of use out of one piece of gear. On the contrary, the 601 was never designed to be used with high-output mics, so it lacked input headroom and needed input padding much of the time.


Taking this into account, we designed the Locomotive 286A by using the Ampex 601 circuit and modified it for modern use. We also added all the important mic preamp features like phantom power, pad, polarity, low cut and DI.


Now, the all-new 86B-2 updates the 286A with a new front panel, new circuit layout, separate mic and line XLR inputs, as well as a much higher DI input impedance. And best yet, a much lower pricetag!


Unlock Your Creativity

Finding the right piece of gear to give your sound that "special something" might be one of the hardest parts of engineering. In our opinion, having an exciting combination of tools at your fingertips is the best way to get your creative juices flowing. The 86B-2 will help to unlock your audio engineering mind and allow you to focus on creating truly impressive audio.



average rating is 5 out of 5

April 1, 2024

John May

Glassy and growly!

Being that I already have a decent library of clean-ish preamps, I went looking for something with more character. I love my UAD 610 on bass, but it never was great on much else. I suspected that a tube pre was what I was looking for after checking out a bunch of other stuff.

I heard great things about Locomotive, with their name included in sentences with the likes of Coil, so I figured they must have something great going on. I picked up the 86B-2 and never looked back. That it was as affordable as it is was just another perk.

I've used in on everything - vocals, guitar, keys, bass, drums, recorder, french horn, accordion - and it has always come through with flying colors. It can be anything from clean and glassy to colored and growly, just tweak those in/out knobs until it's awesome!

average rating is 5 out of 5

March 30, 2024

J. Ludlow

Pleased With My Purchase

I do like my new preamp very much. It's dripping in even harmonics while also quite articulate when not slammed. Rare combo, I think. I love the variable input options which even allow plugging a guitar into the DI on one channel and then routing its output directly into the line input of the second channel. Extremely flexible for various studio needs. Reasonably priced for a boutique audio perfectionist's tool too.

average rating is 5 out of 5

March 27, 2024

Jeff R

Whew, It’s A Beaut!

Acoustic guitar (now my go to pre for this), banjo, violin, drum overheads, grand piano, bass (yes!), direct instrument inputs and make up gain for the 2buss, passive EQs and a tube tape echo are some of the things I regularly use my 86b-2 on and it has excelled and exceeded my expectations.

SDC, LDC, tube, condensers and ribbon mics all sound fantastic (a dream match for my km84 pair) and the switchable impedance is genius.

The addition of line outs on the rear made integration into my patch bay a no-brainer - why isn’t everybody doing this?

The 86b-2 one of my favorite pieces in the studio, my only complaint is I don’t have 8 channels.

average rating is 5 out of 5

March 27, 2024


It's the preamp I've been looking for

I've always had a love for saturated, character preamps, and have owned many. In most of those other cases, the character may have been present but the detail was lacking. Locomotive was highly recommended when I began asking around, so I contacted them (on the weekend) and they responded in just minutes (again, on the weekend!) and other interactions have been absolutely superb. The 86B itself has delivered more than expected. It's easy to dial in the needed amount of color but the detail remains. Its feature set is perfect, offering all the inputs and parameters a preamp should have. It's built like a tank and will last forever. So far it has mated well with every mic and source I've tried. This comes highly recommended from me.


As an audio engineer, we know you want to use the best tools to shape your sound. And if you are going to spend money on gear, you deserve hardware that's always in tip-top shape. You shouldn't have to worry about when something goes wrong. Rest assured, we guarantee the gear we build by backing it with a lifetime warranty.

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