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Old 27th August 2008 , 06:45 AM
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Default Which Preamp?

I don't have a preamp yet so at the moment, I plug mics and instruments directly into my Focusrite Saffire which is connected to the PC. It has two mic and two instrument inputs so it has been serving me well but I have been told that I would get much better quality with a preamp.

So which preamp one would you recommend I go for? I am thinking of something on the lines of 4 channels at the moment. I will probably only record a max of 2 but want to give myself some headroom for the future. This pretty much rules out the ISA One that terminal3 has recently won!

I would like something fairly decent so I don't mind spending a bit of cash on it but within reason! 1000-2000 euros should give me quality, shouldn't it?

I have been looking at possibly something like Focusrite's ISA428.

ISA 428 (ISA428) at DV247.COM

What about Liquid 4Pre and others that emulate preamps? I suppose the real thing is better than an emulation, or not?

Maybe I should look at other brands.

Or should I go for a mixer that has the preamps included?
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Old 27th August 2008 , 07:09 AM
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There is no better bang for the buck than the FMR RNP. IMO the ISA series are just a bit, well, dulll. Other runners and riders (IMO) are the True Systems P-Solo and the Grace 101. Personally, I'd go with the RNP. I have some pretty decent preamps around here and the RNP still gets used regularly. If you want to spend more money to get something really high end, peronally, I'd go with the Chandler TG2. It gets more love than anything else around here. If I had to describe I'd say it was Neve-ish but with some extra fairy dust on the top end. Second choice would be the Great River MP2NV.

Have fun choosing!
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Old 27th August 2008 , 07:21 AM
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Quote:
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There is no better bang for the buck than the FMR RNP. IMO the ISA series are just a bit, well, dulll. Other runners and riders (IMO) are the True Systems P-Solo and the Grace 101. Personally, I'd go with the RNP. I have some pretty decent preamps around here and the RNP still gets used regularly. If you want to spend more money to get something really high end, peronally, I'd go with the Chandler TG2. It gets more love than anything else around here. If I had to describe I'd say it was Neve-ish but with some extra fairy dust on the top end. Second choice would be the Great River MP2NV.

Have fun choosing!
Fun it should be!! LOL

I am only starting to look into this area and must say I have never heard on any of the products you have mentioned...but am checking out specs etc now.
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Old 27th August 2008 , 07:39 AM
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I notice TrevCircleStudios that each of the preamps you have mentioned are either single or two channel. Is there a reason for this? I though I should get something with more...for the future. Do you think a single or two channel should be enough?
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Old 27th August 2008 , 08:08 AM
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A lot of those pres are only single or dual channel because they're rather expensive to make - building them as four-or-eight-channel versions *may* cost so much that they would sell far fewer than they needed to for it to be worth manufacturing.

It's good to have a few flavours on-hand though. Yes, you probably should have at least one stereo [or stereo pair of single-channel] mic amp(s). Some mics/sources are just going to sound better on certain pres. Eventually you might want to have some tube pres next to your solid state pres, for example, so you can mix n' match depending on what you're recording.

The RNP as Trev has said is a damn fine preamp and it's relatively cheap. Might be worth just having one around anyway. For a similar amount of money you could also have a DAV BG-1 (2 ch) which sounds excellent as well. The DAV stuff comes in 4 and 8 channel flavours if you like as well.

The Chandler stuff is all amazing, a rack full of Chandler kit is probably among my dream purchases. Well worth a look but 2 channels might be out of your budget.

So pretty much what Trev said. I'd add on these to your shopping list, but try not to buy anything "blind" -

I'm a fan of the SSL Alpha Channel, I think it's an excellent preamp - there are better out there (aren't there always?), but for the money it's a huge upgrade from interface pres. That pre is available in a 4 channel version - the SSL VHD pre. SSL XLogic Alpha VHD Pre Four Channel Mic Pre with at DV247.COM

Rupert Neve's latest company makes a small 2 channel mic pre that's pretty big on sound. Not as close to the 1073 as you'd hope but still great nonetheless - Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012 Duo Mic Pre-Amp at DV247.COM

(I think actual AMS Neve stuff is probably going to be out of your price range - you might be able to squeeze one channel though!)

Great River makes some superb stuff as well. The MP2NV is 2 channels within your budget, that would be worth a look too. (edit: which I also noticed Trev already mentioned!)

Welcome to the minefield, anyway, where the biggest victim is your wallet.
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Old 27th August 2008 , 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3 View Post
It's good to have a few flavours on-hand though. Yes, you probably should have at least one stereo [or stereo pair of single-channel] mic amp(s). Some mics/sources are just going to sound better on certain pres. Eventually you might want to have some tube pres next to your solid state pres, for example, so you can mix n' match depending on what you're recording.
Okay, this is all new so please bear with me

So tell me something regarding having various preamps or a rack of preamps...if I wanted to record 3 or 4 mics at the same time, and I only have at most a couple of single or two channel preamps, can these be connected together to allow 4 mic recording at the same time? Or does one HAVE to have a four channel preamp to do that?
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Old 27th August 2008 , 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sphelan View Post
Okay, this is all new so please bear with me

So tell me something regarding having various preamps or a rack of preamps...if I wanted to record 3 or 4 mics at the same time, and I only have at most a couple of single or two channel preamps, can these be connected together to allow 4 mic recording at the same time? Or does one HAVE to have a four channel preamp to do that?
Yep. Each one can be run independently. A 4-ch preamp is only different in that it has 4 channels - each one still has a seperate line out of the back, so each one will still need a discrete input into your DAW. A 4-ch isn't downmixing to one output, if that's what you might be thinking. For that you would need a mixer. Otherwise your DAW will be perfectly happy either way - with 4 different mic amps connected to the line inputs of your interface (assuming you've got that many available!) or with one four-channel box sending four wires to the same inputs. Does that make any sense?
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Old 27th August 2008 , 11:36 AM
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Does that make any sense?
Yes, thanks. So if I understand what you've said, then if I buy a 4-channel preamp I can connect it directly to one of the two inputs I have on my Focusrite Saffire. If I get two 2-channel preamps, I can connect them both to the Saffire. But if I get four single channel preamps...then I would need a new interface with more than two inputs. Right?
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Old 27th August 2008 , 11:37 AM
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No, I've got that wrong, haven't I? Let me read it again!
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Old 27th August 2008 , 11:47 AM
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Indeed you haven't understood...

Each preamp channel you have - whether that's 1 input from a 4ch unit or a single channel preamp all by itself - requires a matching line input on your interface. So a Focusrite ISA 428, for example, needs 4 line inputs.

You can only add as many preamp channels as you have available line inputs. If you're talking about the original Focusrite Saffire, you're pretty limited in that regard as you can't run the line inputs and the mic inputs at the same time, so you'll have to upgrade your interface as well.
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Old 27th August 2008 , 12:25 PM
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Yeah, I knew once I had replied that I had got that completely the wrong way around! Thanks for your patience terminal3

Alright so I would need a new interface as well as the preamps if I want the flexibility to record more than two mics at a time. Let's leave that for another thread!!

And from what you are saying I'd be better getting two (different make) 2-channels pres rather than one 4-channel, right?

Let me research your suggestions. Thanks again for them.
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Old 27th August 2008 , 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3 View Post
So pretty much what Trev said. I'd add on these to your shopping list, but try not to buy anything "blind" -
Do you mean try them out before buying? Unfortuantely, I don't have much chance of trying anything out...I would have to buy from DV and know exactly what I want beforehand. This forum is my only source of info at the moment. I am relying on testimonials and advice from you guys!!
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Old 27th August 2008 , 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sphelan View Post
Do you mean try them out before buying? Unfortuantely, I don't have much chance of trying anything out...I would have to buy from DV and know exactly what I want beforehand. This forum is my only source of info at the moment. I am relying on testimonials and advice from you guys!!
You can also search the web for gear shootouts - there are a few out there with preamp sample recordings. Obviously the possibilities of mic/source/pre combos are endless, but they might give you some idea of the overall flavour.

That said, I don't think anyone would be unhappy with most of the suggestions made already.
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Old 27th August 2008 , 12:45 PM
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What type of material do you tend to record? The difference between higher end preamps tend to be the colouration which they apply to the audio. This means it's all pretty subjective about what you like. If for example, you do a lot acoustic guitars or string work, I might say go with something transparent like the DAV BG1 (which I missed earlier - great suggestion T3). Alternatives to this might be the NPNG or Thermionic Culture Earlybird.

If you do say, rock material then IMO you are likely to want something coloured on most occaions. It then comes down to your colour preference. A Chandler TG2 for example will sound very different to an API (it will also sound very different to say the Chandler Germanium but that's a whole different subject). To make things more complicated yet, different pres tend to work well on different applications. I love the Germ on kick drum and heavy guitars for example but don't like it on snare or less heavy guitars. I love the API on toms but hate it on vocals. In the first instance I'd say that if you can't try before you buy then buy something that's a good all rounder like the RNP. The TG2 and MP2NV are both pretty flexible in that if you want coloured you can crank up the input gain and turn down the output but if you want something much cleaner you can do exactly the opposite. If I could only have one preamp it would be the Chandler TG2, hands down. As always, YMMV!
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Old 27th August 2008 , 12:48 PM
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Quote:
I don't think anyone would be unhappy with most of the suggestions made already
Save for the fact I'm no fan of either the Portico series (I find them dull) or SSL pres (there's a reason SSL are known as mixing boards rather than tracking ones!)! That said, as I said earlier, this is an entirely subjective subject so like T3 you may find you love em to bits and you wouldn't be wrong in that at all!
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