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  #46  
Old 01-05-2012, 04:09 PM
Gazzamundo Gazzamundo is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
That's cool if it's your idea and you're happy with a placebo effect, but I'm a little leary of telling someone to go spend money on gizmo X, when I suspect it won't actually make any difference. There are tons of good ways to improve the quality of your recordings, but few people ask "what can I do to get a better sound?", they want to ask "what preamp can I buy?", "what mic can I buy?", "what guitar can I buy?". Sometimes a new gizmo's the right answer, often it's not. But hey, new toys are fun. I've bought more than my share.
Hey Doug, someone's gotta buy this stuff, else UA, Focusrite, Black Lion etc will all go out of business... we gotta do our bit to turn this recession round!

Well, it's kinda late over here in the good old U of K, so g'night all!
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  #47  
Old 01-05-2012, 05:17 PM
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Interesting thread really and all things considered back to the OP I am still going to recommend in that price range you might look into FMR Audio their 2 channel pre is $499 us also they have a UK dealer here http://www.kmraudio.com perhaps you talk them into a test with return policy
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  #48  
Old 01-05-2012, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
And second, your contention that you play the same and do your recording without any difference over a number of years doesn't match my experience with the way we humans operate. We can't help but learn.
Fran
Nope, it's gear changes and more recently room changes. Over the last several years I play the same and I also record virtually the same (spaced pairs on most everything). You can take my word for it. I was there.
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  #49  
Old 01-05-2012, 10:40 PM
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While it is true that respectable results can be gotten with the current crop of entry level mic preamps and/or the ones built in to audio interfaces, they do not hold a candle to the likes of John Hardy, Great River Electronics, Millenia, and others of that ilk.

You might not be able to discern much of a difference on an acoustic guitar, but you certainly would if dealing with the high-transient sources that a full drum set provides.

I've yet to hear a cheap preamp deliver the clean gain, definition, & headroom of the next level up. And by that I don't mean the sonic tinker toys offering 8 channels for a couple hundred bucks. In addition, the better units offer better pots & switches allowing for more precise gain settings and negating the need to clean and/or exercise them keep them quiet and reliable.

Lastly, one of the reasons many people can't hear any qualitative difference between "margarine" & "high-priced" spread units is because their monitor chains are to put it politely, pretty lame. (OK - They Suck.) A home stereo amp feeding a pair of small speakers with "Studio Monitor" on the name plate just ain't gonna cut it. There's a reason why commercial studios have those big JBL's & high power amplifiers. It's so they can hear what's actually going on.
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  #50  
Old 01-05-2012, 11:28 PM
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Rick, I agree with you! I use the M-audio Profire 610, a $500 interface with two inputs, just as an interface to get my recorded sound from my preamps and converters into my Macpro laptop via the firewire 800. I decided to try out the Profire 610 pres for fun to compare to the sound I get from my Avalon AD2022 and UA LA-610 pre through the UA 2192 converter. Compared to the high end setup through my Daedalus monitors, there was no contest.
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  #51  
Old 01-06-2012, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Gazzamundo View Post
Hey Doug, someone's gotta buy this stuff, else UA, Focusrite, Black Lion etc will all go out of business... we gotta do our bit to turn this recession round!
!

Given that it's your patriotic duty :-) and you really want something better, I'd switch my advice a bit. IF you want to buy a better preamp, I'd try to hold out for something truly good, not some midrange kind of thing. Questions of "will it make a difference" aside, a high quality piece of gear, like a Great River, etc, will hold it's value, and never go out of date. I can probably sell my GR for at least what I paid for it, and more importantly, I'll never want to sell it. Fads will come and go, but that preamp will last for life. The mid tier stuff, M-Audio, etc, ends up going cheap on ebay, and you've just thrown away your money when you feel the "urge" to upgrade again. If you're going to upgrade, do it once.
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  #52  
Old 01-06-2012, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by RRuskin View Post
Lastly, one of the reasons many people can't hear any qualitative difference between "margarine" & "high-priced" spread units is because their monitor chains are to put it politely, pretty lame. (
I think this is the most important point. I believe I prefaced my first comments on this by saying the preamp won't matter unless the rest of your chain is good as well. I have taken tracks that are night and day different on my studio monitors, and hear *zero* difference between them when played on my mid-tier Mythos home theater system. At the same time, my mastering guy hears stuff on his even better speakers, in his acoustically optimized environment, that I can't hear on my pretty decent studio monitors. If you can't hear it, you can't adjust it, or even determine what is "better".

Another reason to try before you buy. If you can't hear any difference, spend the money on something that does make a difference in what you hear first.
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  #53  
Old 01-06-2012, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I like to use good gear, but there are several things to keep in mind. For one, upgrading one element may not help if the rest of the chain isn't up to the same level. And two, you may or may not be able to hear the difference anyway, in many cases. Your ears are part of the total chain, and at some point the difference in specs is simply less than even the best ears can hear.

I was chatting with Joe Weed, an engineer, while recording my recent cd. Joe has the best of everything, right down to a killer studio where every room is isolated at the foundation level. In spite this at one point he told me that he had his top 10 list of what mattered in a recording. In order of importance he said the 10 things were ( doing this from memory):

1,2,3: the player
4,5,6: the instrument
7: room acoustics
8: the recording engineer
9: mics
Distant 10th place: all other gear, preamps, a/d's, recorder, etc

Doesn't mean this last stuff doesn't matter, and Joe probably has well over a hundred grand in all that last place stuff. But it puts it in perspective. Which will make more difference, a preamp, or practicing a few more hours? Probably the latter.
+1 mostly with all of that.

Presuming that quality of the player and the instrument are accounted for then the recording space is critical. My expressed view - as a rule of thumb - is the larger the room, the better. A quiet field, or lake, or mountain - without wildlife sounds might be an ideal. . Walls and ceilings - particularly where they come together - the corners - are the enemy! Where they exist, they have to be "treated". The best online resource I know for examples and advise is at:

http://forum.studiotips.com/

Mics and preamps do make a difference, but that difference will only be evident when used in a good recording space.
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  #54  
Old 01-06-2012, 04:19 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Originally Posted by Gazzamundo View Post
...
I recently left my job to give myself one last chance at doing something with my music. My redundancy payment will last me the next 6 months at least. I'm happy to spend a bit of that cash if it gets me better results that encourage me to play and record more.
...
With this bit highlighted, who thinks a preamp upgrade is the best expenditure possible?

I for one would skip the preamp and eat for an extra week.

Fran
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  #55  
Old 01-06-2012, 07:33 PM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
With this bit highlighted, who thinks a preamp upgrade is the best expenditure possible?

I for one would skip the preamp and eat for an extra week.

Fran
I agree.

I will say this. Upgrading from my Yamaha AW4416 onboard pres to an RNP was huge. I had trouble getting enough signal with the onboard pres & I recorded almost an entire album with them. It was not easy - a real pain to be honest. There's a track on my last "grown-up" CD that was a quick demo I'd done using the RNP with an LDC on voice and an SDC on guitar. One quick take with very little fuss and I had something that sounded better than anything on the other CD. Getting a hot enough signal with little noise was a big deal to me. So depending on your current gear and situation, a preamp upgrade might be helpful.

I've since upgraded again to the same John Hardy preamps Fran has. I do think I hear I difference, though this time it's not so drastic. In fact, I think the RNP probably offers at least as much clean gain as the Hardy. And I suspect Fran is right. In a blind test I probably could be fooled very easily. So maybe that upgrade was a waste of money? I'll never really know. I like them and I'm keeping them.
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  #56  
Old 01-06-2012, 09:03 PM
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Well since the OP was asking about gear upgrades, throw out #1-7 (player, instrument, room), otherwise we might as well talk about stuff like guitar strings and varnish versus french polish.

IMO one advantage of a good preamp early in the game (whether a straight wire with gain approach or something like a Neve clone approach) is having sufficient and quite gain (enough to
handle even ribbon mikes perhaps) and a solid platform to test microphones out on. It does not have to be a separate or expensive unit to be good. There are a number of affordable options,
for example some combos by say RME or Apogee where you can get a mike pres, digital conversion, several channels of input and output, and mixing board applications. I went the RME Fireface
route and later decided to add stand alone mike pres running through the RME inputs.

Anyway there are many ways to approach things and even though room acoustics is not technically gear and thus off topic it might be a good idea to consider improving that before going too
far down the road towards recording nirvana.
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  #57  
Old 01-06-2012, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Well since the OP was asking about gear upgrades, throw out #1-7 (player, instrument, room), otherwise we might as well talk about stuff like guitar strings and varnish versus french polish.
The point of this was to put it in perspective. He's asking how much will a preamp help? The answer is "some, but a lot less than many other things that affect the recording".
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  #58  
Old 01-06-2012, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by flagstaffcharli View Post
Upgrading from my Yamaha AW4416 onboard pres to an RNP was huge. I had trouble getting enough signal with the onboard pres
One of the problems with threads like this is people looking for something "better", without any clear definition. I think that for most people, if they're expecting instant magic by simply plugging in some new piece of gear, they will end up disappointed. On the other hand, solving specific problems with specific features, like needing a preamp with sufficient gain, is both easy to understand, easy to know if it helped, and extremely practical. Hard to debate the benefits of that. I got my AEA RPQ because I needed a high gain, ultra clean preamp for a very dark low output ribbon mic, with the proper input impedance, and shelving EQ to make up for the ribbon's characteristics. I wasn't looking for magical sound improvements from a "better" preamp, I needed some specific characteristics, just as you did. Much more likely to be a cost-effective and satisfying purchase when you know why you're buying.
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  #59  
Old 01-07-2012, 08:34 AM
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I use a Mackie Onyx Blackbird and think it's great. They do a smaller version, the Blackjack (http://www.mackie.com/products/onyxblackjack/).

You pay for what you get with preamps really, though there's no point having a cack preamp and amazing mics, or vice versa, if you know what I mean.
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  #60  
Old 01-07-2012, 10:53 AM
Gazzamundo Gazzamundo is offline
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You pay for what you get with preamps really, though there's no point having a cack preamp and amazing mics, or vice versa, if you know what I mean.
Indeed. I'm quite happy with the sound I get from my Alesis io26 interface, but am aware that as it only cost about £200, it's 8 preamps are obviously quite low cost (£25 per preamp). So if I was to splash out £4-500 on a single preamp, surely the difference should be quite marked.

Still haven't made a decision, but it's been an interesting discussion. I do feel I'm not getting the best out of a pretty good quality vocal mic. And I've got about £700 worth of gear boxed up and ready to be flogged on eBay, Preloved etc which I'd like to recylce back into my studio.

When're the online music shops gonna do a January sale!!??
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