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Old 31st August 2008 , 09:14 AM
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Default Why buy a better preamp - what's the difference?

It's the clarion call of all newbs (and many not so newbs). They see the feature set they can get on the focusrite platinum series or a B*****ger mixer and think that must be the way to go. That misses the point. As audio engineers what we are looking for is the best sound quality we can get. To be frank, the pres I mention above are poor in this department. Now often if you plug a mic into, say a focusrite voicemaster and, say a DAV BG1, you won't hear a great deal of difference. There's a couple of reasons for that but the most important one is actually the big difference between the two. The thing that more expensive preamps do best is that you can stack a hundred tracks on top of one another and (as long as the source recording allows it) you won't just get a lot of mush. Think of it this way... if you had a postage stamp and you wanted to paint as many dots on it as you can, would you use a fat paintbrush or a fine one? Lower end pres act like fat paint brushes. This means you can only get a limited number of tracks into your song before you lose definition in your sound stage and clarity in your songs. You'll also find that more expensive pres (sweeping generalisation) give you that larger than life sound of a commercial release.

EDIT: Don't believe me though. Here's someone else's view:

http://www.studioreviews.com/pre.htm

That said, there are a handful of admirable pres at the cheaper end. There is a discussion on them here:

Which Preamp?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 11:06 PM
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I mentioned in a different thread that the key difference between pres once you get beyond a certain level (i.e. RNP) is all about colour. Here's a graph put together by a guy called DOT from another forum which might make it clearer what I'm on about.



Hopefully this will make it a bit easier for people to understand the lexicon when people talk about clean and coloured and transparent etc
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Old 2nd September 2008 , 06:01 AM
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And another gem, Trev. +1
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Old 10th September 2008 , 02:59 PM
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Hi. Thanks for the interesting read. Good stuff!

I use VST'i for about 90% of the stuff I do. I generally only record vocals which ranges from 1 - 4 parts. On odd occasions I might record either acoustic/electric guitar or electric/upright bass.

I use an M-Audio Tampa, DMP3 and Yamaha MLA-7 for my pres. I've been really impressed with this and notice the M-Audio stuff uses decent components compared to other budget pres.

Would I notice a considerable difference if I bought a DAV BG1, Focusrite ISA1, Grace M101, Speck Mic Pre 5.0 etc to record generally 1 vocal track over the pres I'm using at the moment?
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Old 10th September 2008 , 03:08 PM
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excellent excellent post, iv listened to all types of pre amps often wondering the differance! i recently went **competitor name removed** with a friend initially to purchase a neve pre amp but walked away with one of the DAV pre's. any way, again great post. i myself have the SPL goldmike mkI probably very low end as i didn't even see it on the clarity chart
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Old 10th September 2008 , 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
Would I notice a considerable difference if I bought a DAV BG1, Focusrite ISA1, Grace M101, Speck Mic Pre 5.0 etc to record generally 1 vocal track over the pres I'm using at the moment?
Depends on a couple things -

1) What mics are you using? The mic is arguably going to have a more dramatic effect on your sound than the pre.

2) Will you be multitracking many things recording with the pre, or is literally just the one vocal track?

The easy answer of course is 'yes' - in particular IMO the BG1 is a solid investment. I have an ISA One now too but haven't put it through the paces yet as I've been stuck in mixing mode for a few weeks now.

The less obvious but somewhat correct answer might be 'not as much as you want it to' due to the fact that you might only be dealing with one or two recorded tracks at a time...
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Old 10th September 2008 , 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3 View Post
Depends on a couple things -

1) What mics are you using? The mic is arguably going to have a more dramatic effect on your sound than the pre.

2) Will you be multitracking many things recording with the pre, or is literally just the one vocal track?

The easy answer of course is 'yes' - in particular IMO the BG1 is a solid investment. I have an ISA One now too but haven't put it through the paces yet as I've been stuck in mixing mode for a few weeks now.

The less obvious but somewhat correct answer might be 'not as much as you want it to' due to the fact that you might only be dealing with one or two recorded tracks at a time...
Hi. I'm only going to be recording 1-4 tracks of audio generally and these are vocals. For all the instruments I use VSTi's.
I noticed some while back there were various shootouts with the DMP3 and FMR RNP and Rane MS-1b. Surprisingly most people picked the DMP3 as the favorite. This was on individual tracks but that's what I'm using it for.
I have heard loads of good stuff about the DAV but hesitant about buying it if the difference is going to be slim?

As for mics I only have a few budget mics which are :-

Rode NT-1a, MXL V67g, Studio Projects B1 & T.Bone RM700 (ribbon mic).
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Old 10th September 2008 , 03:46 PM
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I would say that if it's only a few parts, and you're happy with the sound you're getting, don't bother then, use the money for a mic upgrade (not that what you have isn't useable). I don't think you're honestly aren't going to hear that much of a difference at the level of pre you're talking about.

Should you get into a situation where you need to track a few dozen parts through your mics though, then I would seriously reevaluate your preamp situation.

Other opinions may vary, of course, but if I were in your shoes that's what I'd do.
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Old 10th September 2008 , 04:04 PM
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I've got a Brauner Phantom C and an MXL V69ME.

I want a decent and solid preamp that will enable me to capture warm vocals and maybe some ambient rooms and guitars, bass, etc. etc.

It's not that I'm going to be recording loads, but I may add to any recordings in the future, so I want a professional sound.

Not bothered about compression/eq etc. I prefer to keep it clean on the way in.

No budget ideas as yet!
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Old 10th September 2008 , 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutilatedlip View Post
I've got a Brauner Phantom C and an MXL V69ME.

I want a decent and solid preamp that will enable me to capture warm vocals and maybe some ambient rooms and guitars, bass, etc. etc.

It's not that I'm going to be recording loads, but I may add to any recordings in the future, so I want a professional sound.

Not bothered about compression/eq etc. I prefer to keep it clean on the way in.

No budget ideas as yet!
Great River ME-1NV, Vintech, API 3124 or 500 series module, Chandler...there's lots that fit the bill. Budget is the key, really.

Frank
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Old 11th September 2008 , 11:08 AM
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Thanks for the help.

I'm considering maybe a two slot API 500 adapter with one or two individual modules. The beauty being I could get them at my own pace/expense, and it also means it opens me up to the world of API/Great River/Chandler at a decent price.

Do many people have experiences of these API lunchbox-style units?
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Old 11th September 2008 , 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutilatedlip View Post
Thanks for the help.

I'm considering maybe a two slot API 500 adapter with one or two individual modules. The beauty being I could get them at my own pace/expense, and it also means it opens me up to the world of API/Great River/Chandler at a decent price.

Do many people have experiences of these API lunchbox-style units?
Yes sir I do. The studio I worked in had a bunch...got tons of use on drums, bass, acoustic guitar and electric guitar especially. Fantastic.

Frank
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Old 11th September 2008 , 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutilatedlip View Post
I've got a Brauner Phantom C and an MXL V69ME.

I want a decent and solid preamp that will enable me to capture warm vocals and maybe some ambient rooms and guitars, bass, etc. etc.

It's not that I'm going to be recording loads, but I may add to any recordings in the future, so I want a professional sound.

Not bothered about compression/eq etc. I prefer to keep it clean on the way in.

No budget ideas as yet!
Have you had a look at the thread Which Preamp? ? Lots of ideas and discussion there.
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Old 12th September 2008 , 10:23 PM
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You guys suck. Now I'm saving up for another 500 series so I can fill it with API 512's. Especially you, Trev. You're a bad, bad influence.

Frank
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Old 12th September 2008 , 10:50 PM
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[cue maniacal laugh....again]

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