PDA

View Full Version : Affordable quality mic pre-amps




FFTT
Dec 20, 2005, 01:37 AM
I've spent the last few weeks looking at just about every good quality 1 and 2 channel mic pre-amp available.

I'm not kidding, this was one of the most difficult purchase decisions I've ever had to make.


Instead of talking to music chains that mostly cater to wannabes, I went to the pro engineers and other project studio owners for their advice.

I must thank the members of OSXaudio and Gearslutz for all the help they've given me.

There are so many choices and the sky is the limit.

The best quality "affordable" offerings were:

The Groove Tubes Brick $399
http://www.groovetubes.com/
http://www.musictoolz.pl/_d/sprzet/grooveTubes/studyjny/theBrick_1.jpg

FMR Audio RNP (really nice preamp) $475.00 (at mercenary.com)
http://www.fmraudio.com/productspage.htm
http://www.fmraudio.com/images/RNP_front_panel.gif

The DAV electronics BG-1 $690.00 (direct sale only)
http://www.davelectronics.com/index.htm

The Universal Audio 610 and 110/Solo $799.00
http://www.uaudio.com/products/analog/index.html
http://www.uaudio.com/NewFiles/solos_pair.gif


The AMI TAB Funkenwerk V78 $975.00
http://www.mercenary.com/amitav.html
http://www.tab-funkenwerk.com/v78%20SING.jpg

and the Brent Averill 1272 Single Channel pre $1089
http://www.brentaverill.com/1272/
http://www.brentaverill.com/1272/images/h1184_1272_1.jpg

You'll note that some are single channel pres and some are 2 channel.

Beyond this, it really makes more sense to get into the API 500 series compatible racks and lunchboxes.

http://www.apiaudio.com/ph3_5006b_l.jpg

You can buy totally PRO mic pres, compressors,limiters, EQ's as components from a large growing assortment of vendors.
Each component generally runs $500-$1650 but these are the finest.

API, Brent Averill, Neve, Old School Audio, Purple and so on.
The empty racks with power supply run $450-$899 and are all inter- compatible.

This is the way I would go if I had and extra $1000 to play with.
This also looks like the direction the next generation of engineers will be going since they can literally take " their sound " with them to any studio.


After MUCH consideration,

I went with the DAV BG-1
I wanted 2 good high quality clean channels for vocals, mic'd instruments and keyboards.

This unit is rock solid and is ideal for studio or stage.

http://www.davelectronics.com/Prod_pics/bg1photo.jpg

Mick at DAV was the lead designer/engineer for Decca Records for 28 years.

Considering the caliber of DAVelectronics' clientel,
I was greatly impressed with how well I was treated.
All my concerns were answered in a friendly, professional and timely manner.

It's no wonder that word of his product line is spreading so rapidly.

I hope what I have learned with help some of you with your decision.

My next priority is a great all purpose vocal mic
and a good 2 channel compressor.

I'll keep you posted.



CanadaRAM
Dec 20, 2005, 01:56 AM
I have been a fan (on paper at least) of the Really Nice Compressor and Really Nice Preamp. Almost got a RNC on eBay a while back but was sniped at the last moment.

FFTT
Dec 20, 2005, 02:25 AM
The RNP's are supposed to be pretty darn good and better than most of the stuff you see in the big chain catalogs.

Two good channels for $475.00 isn't bad.
FMR Audio's RNC and RNLA are also considered pretty good buys in their
price range.

However, several of the people who just tried out their new BG-1's are now immediately putting their RNP's up for sale. It's that dramatic of a difference.

The BG-1 is very clean without coloring the sound and still very much
alive.

What really blew my mind in all this research is that not one person mentioned or recommend the Focusrite platinum series.

I do have to say that the Universal Audio solo models were neck and neck
for my business, but the exceptional service I received from MicK at DAV
won me over.

I also learned that someone extremely influential purchased a BG-1 the morning before I ordered mine.

CanadaRAM
Dec 20, 2005, 02:30 AM
However, several of the people who just tried out their new BG-1's are now immediately putting their RNP's up for sale. It's that dramatic of a difference.
OK, send'em my way, I'm not proud but I loves me a bargain.

FFTT
Dec 20, 2005, 02:38 AM
Even though I would absolutely love to buy a matching DAV BG-6 compressor,
I'll probably end up going for the RNC/RNLA combo rack for $430.00

The DAV BG-6 goes for $799 and it's really beyond my reach for now.

FFTT
Dec 20, 2005, 03:23 AM
I'm also talking to an expert about getting my father's vintage '50's
Ampex 403-P pre-amp restored if at all possible.

http://img458.imageshack.us/img458/3537/ampex403pfront9wq.jpg

http://img457.imageshack.us/img457/7935/ampex403pback7zz.jpg

steelphantom
Dec 20, 2005, 10:24 AM
I've heard a ton of great things about the GT Brick. I'm considering picking one of those up in the near future. I've never heard of the BG-1 before. I'll have to look into that one.

WinterMute
Dec 20, 2005, 10:30 AM
Excellent work FFTT, I've stuck this post as a good resource for others searching as this question comes up a lot.

FFTT
Dec 20, 2005, 10:49 AM
The GT Brick is definitely on my wish list.
Fantastic quality and bang for the buck in a tube channel.

There are certainly even better stand alone pre-amps of all sorts out there,
but prices are $1200 and way up for most of them.

I was trying to review those more likely to work well in a project studio.

According to the engineers I talked to, once you go above $1000.00
for one component, it's time to start looking at the API 500 series professional rack gear that is found in most high end consoles.

Pre-amps are almost like another instrument.
Each one can add a certain flavor to your results.

In most cases 1 or 2 channels are all you need while laying down a track,
so unless you are recording an entire band or a full drum set live, this is the best way to go.

euphoriasonic
Jan 8, 2006, 09:30 PM
Just curious, did you even consider the Apogee Rosetta or Mini-Me pre's?!? They are a bit expensive, but are mostly found in high-end recording studios. I played with them at Full Sail :D

FFTT
Jan 16, 2006, 07:07 PM
Apogee is great gear, but I still needed so many other items, that blowing
so much for one component was out of the question.

euphoriasonic
Jan 16, 2006, 11:00 PM
Apogee is great gear, but I still needed so many other items, that blowing
so much for one component was out of the question.
i totally hear you there. thanks for the research info, you had one up there i hadn't considered. good deal :cool:

zimv20
Jan 18, 2006, 03:39 AM
Just curious, did you even consider the Apogee Rosetta or Mini-Me pre's?!?
the rosetta line doesn't have pre's, they're converter-only boxes. and the mini-me has conversion built-in, so imo it's a bit out of place in a conversation about preamp boxes.

i've found the rosetta800 conversion to be pretty darn good, though. plus, i rented an ad-16x for a tape dump project recently and was definitely impressed.

zimv20
Jan 18, 2006, 03:44 AM
fftt -- so long as we're around the $1000/channel range, i think the phoenix drs-1 (http://www.mercenary.com/phaudr.html) should definitely be added to the list. it's my go-to pre these days.

http://www.phoenixaudio.net/images/productshots/drs1_front_thumb.jpg


also, don't forget the brent averill 312a (http://www.brentaverill.com/312a/). it's what i use when i feel i'm using the drs-1 too much :-)

http://www.brentaverill.com/mm/products/312A_1ch521x52.jpg

http://www.brentaverill.com/mm/products/312A_more106x353.jpg

FFTT
Jan 18, 2006, 04:49 AM
Zim, you and the rest of the gang over at OSXaudio and Gearslutz have proven to be right on helping me to get my system rolling.

I was pretty much maxing out my budget spending $680USD for my BG-1,
but yes the field goes wide open when you start hitting the $1000 mark.

A few comments from others about the BG-1
http://gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php3?t=51757&page=1&pp=30

FFTT
Jan 18, 2006, 05:56 PM
Zim, you know more about this than I do.

Perhaps it might help others here if you could explain the primary difference between these outboard specialty preamps and those the average user might get in their typical A/D interface or their Mackie console.

BTW, I just caught the link to the new Apogee Ensemble, Maestro and the very cool Symphony PCI-Express card.

Impressive indeed!~~~
http://mixonline.com/news/headline/apogee-maestro-symphony-011806/

zimv20
Jan 18, 2006, 06:52 PM
Perhaps it might help others here if you could explain the primary difference between these outboard specialty preamps and those the average user might get in their typical A/D interface or their Mackie console.
well, each piece has to be judged on its own merits and its applicability in a certain application, of course. and within the user's budget.

that said, i believe that you more or less get what you pay for. when looking at, say, a $1280 mackie onyx 1640 (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Onyx1640/) vs. the $1450 2-channel brent averill 312a, it's useful to do a quick calculation on what might have been spent on each preamp.

for the BAE, figure $500/channel plus $500 for the housing and power supply.

for the onyx, if we figure $500 for the housing, power supply, monitoring section and converters, that leaves $780 for 16 channel strips, or under $50 per channel. even if half goes to the preamp, that's only $25. note, however, that this calculation ignores differences in volume pricing and labor costs (BAE is made in california, mackie in china).

regardless, that's one way of looking at it. i've not heard the onyx so i can't say whether the BAE pre is 20x better. plus it really depends on user needs, anyway. if i were recording a full band, i'd rather have the board than only 2 channels of BAE, for example.

otoh, if the goal is sonic performance, one would be right to be drawn towards the pricier pieces. imo, my BAE 312a kicks the living crap out of the pre's on my (now broken) mackie 1642.

lastly, one way to judge a preamp is to see how well, at mix time, it stacks up against other tracks recording with the same pre. this is where my mackie board utterly failed, and the FMR RNP shined. such a test helps reveal preamp deficiencies where a user's monitoring setup may otherwise cloud the picture.

Orrin Star
Feb 11, 2006, 07:31 PM
I own the Sytek MPX 4aii (a 4-channel pre that retails for around $850)
and have recently heard some raves about the Hamptone (which comes in two varieties - tube an solid state - and is available in both kit for and pre-assembled and starts in teh mid $500s for the kits).
cf www.hamptone.com

airkarol
Feb 20, 2006, 01:13 PM
My advice might not be amazing, but in my home studio, I use 2 m-audio octanes along with an M-Audio Firewire 1814. That gives me a total of 16 pre-amps. They all work great, and quality is good too.

-airkarol

shake
Apr 12, 2006, 01:23 PM
as a professional audio engineer, i recently bought an API lunchbox with two mic-pres(512C), two EQ's (550A 3-band) and two compressors (525). www.apiaudio.com

this box is the best thing i have ever heard (next to an authentic neve). things recorded through the API stuff just "sits in the mix" better than any other pre-amp we own (we also have focusrite, neve and a few others). all the tonal quality and harmonics are all there. the EQ's are sweet and never sound harsh, no matter how much you boost or cut. and the compressors and absolutely sublime. really fast attack (15 microseconds!) but it doesnt sound compressed. still sounds natural and dynamic.

if i saved all the money i spent on POS gear in my time, i could have another lunchbox and maybe a u47 as well. if anyone here wants to get the "real deal" then API is it. you can still get them brand-new (like I did) rather than scour ebay for stuff that you dont know the history of. and beleive me, maintenance on vintage gear is a labor of love and lots and lots of cash.

netdog
Jun 2, 2006, 03:01 PM
If you really want something on the cheap, I bought an M-Audio Firewire Solo and find that it works quite nicely.

zimv20
Jun 3, 2006, 12:27 AM
If you really want something on the cheap, I bought an M-Audio Firewire Solo and find that it works quite nicely.
to really test a pre-amp: record 10 or more tracks through it, and see how easy it is to mix the song. this is where the pre's on a mackie VLZ board, for example, utterly fall apart.

cschreppel
Jul 21, 2006, 01:05 PM
Yeah,

If you can land some API or Neve stuff, you'll be amazed at the sound quality.

I just built a mic preamp that models a Neve pre...sounds pretty good.

However, when I'm doing a lot of drum tracking, I typically find myself going to my M-Audio Octane 8-channel ADAT preamp. It's about $600, but if you think you'll be doing more than 2 channels, it's definitely an option. I find it to be much cleaner than most of the other ADAT pre's on the market...like the Digimax LT and whatnot from Presonus.

The Octane, for all you engineering folk, has some nice options:

2 DI's on the first two channels
Pads on each channel
Phase reverse on every other channel
An M/S Matrix on channels 7-8.

zimv20
Jul 21, 2006, 01:45 PM
I just built a mic preamp that models a Neve pre
seventh circle?

cschreppel
Jul 21, 2006, 11:08 PM
I believe it was from there. A buddy of mine ordered all the parts and we're all building them together.

andrewface
Aug 26, 2006, 11:23 AM
for those prices you might as well just get an mbox and all the software that comes with it no?

Henri Gaudier
Sep 30, 2006, 04:16 AM
I've found the Tony Larking stuff to be excellent. I'm using a lot of their valve EQ's and compressors but I also have a 5051 Ivory mic pre/eq/comp and it is superb.

FFTT
Nov 19, 2006, 06:20 PM
When I started this thread Digi was not offering any affordable F/W interface.

It may not be perfect, but the new M-Box 2 Pro does look like a great way to get rolling at a somewhat reasonable price.

I'm not sure about the overall quality of the pre-amp section, but at least you
can get yourself up and running in ProTools LE without going too far off the deep end.
It looks like the additional plug-in bundle is well worth the expense.

zimv20
Nov 19, 2006, 06:54 PM
I'm not sure about the overall quality of the pre-amp section
if they're anything like what's on my 002r or my mbox1, then: bleh.

once upon a time, focusrite was a respectable company with good gear. for a number of years now, they've forsaken their pro roots and have put out just a bunch of prosumer crap. imho, of course.

i'm told that they've basically sold rights of use of their name to digi, so digi can design any ol' crap pre and put the focusrite label on it. all marketing, no quality.

....

btw, Black Lion Audio (http://www.blacklionaudio.com/home.html) offers upgrade mods for both the 002 (http://www.blacklionaudio.com/digi002_mod.html) and mbox (http://www.blacklionaudio.com/digi_mbox_mod.html).

i've heard good things and, one day, i'll probably get the mod done for my 002. (for those keeping score, i already bypass its pre's and conversion with other gear).

CHMC
Dec 1, 2006, 02:14 PM
Presonus? Or the Mindprint stuff, also very, very good for the money!

longofest
Dec 14, 2006, 11:50 AM
Anyone have good suggestions for a non-Digidesign D/A converter solution with quality pre-amps built-in? I have a MOTU 828 (mk1) and am looking for an upgrade. I have mixed feelings about the 828... I feel like I get a bit of noise from it, but I don't know whether that is the 828 itself or whether it is from my mics (AKG 3000B... kind of middle-of-the-road mic...)

zimv20
Dec 14, 2006, 11:53 AM
Anyone have good suggestions for a non-Digidesign D/A converter solution with quality pre-amps built-in?
i assume you meant a/d at least in additional to d/a...

need to know:
1. how many channels you need
2. what your budget is

...though if you haven't already, be sure to check out the stuff from metric halo (http://www.mhlabs.com/). haven't used it myself, but have friends who own them and love them, and i'm impressed by stuff they've done with them.

longofest
Dec 14, 2006, 12:09 PM
i assume you meant a/d at least in additional to d/a...

need to know:
1. how many channels you need
2. what your budget is

...though if you haven't already, be sure to check out the stuff from metric halo (http://www.mhlabs.com/). haven't used it myself, but have friends who own them and love them, and i'm impressed by stuff they've done with them.

Heh... yeah, you know what I meant :p (A->D is more important to me than D->A)

I would like an 8/8 device, and was kind of eyeing this one by MOTU: http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/8pre

Basically, wondering if folks had experiences with it (its new, so other MOTU equipment would also work as well). My software that it would have to work with is DP5

zimv20
Dec 14, 2006, 01:03 PM
Heh... yeah, you know what I meant :p (A->D is more important to me than D->A)
d/a is important for monitoring, certainly.


I would like an 8/8 device
add the metric halo 2882 (http://www.mhlabs.com/metric_halo/products/mio/2882/) to your search list. if you'd like, you can head over to http://www.osxaudio.com/ and search for metric halo, there are a ton of fans of their products there.

My software that it would have to work with is DP5
DP will work with just about everything. last time i used it was with an apogee unit.

BCains
Feb 3, 2007, 12:55 AM
Just to add, the Dav now have the rack mountable versions.

Also other preamps to look at are:
A-Designs 500 series modules $795 USD
Sebatron (entire product line) $ <1000 USD
Chandler Germanium $1050USD
Great River ME1NV $1075 USD
Daking 52270 C $1350 USD

FFTT
Mar 15, 2007, 04:01 AM
Thanks Zim and BCains,

All definitely worth considering.

One note about spending money for an 8/8 solution.

That's fine if you are definitely going to be recording a live band or
at least live drums, but I'm finding the majority of home project
DAW work needs 2-4 better quality I/O's

In my situation, I can't imagine needing more than 4 simultanious inputs
at any one time with most work confined to 1 or 2 inputs.

I still think it's more important to establish 2 very good channels
and take it from there as your needs progress.

drumforfun19
Apr 18, 2007, 10:10 AM
haha, I don't think any of these are affordable... but maybe I'm just not ballin enough.

FFTT
May 12, 2007, 06:10 PM
It's tough to decide on where to put your money in any creative venture.

It also takes a lot of soul searching sometimes to determine what you think
you're worth with respect to talent.

For most of us, this is not easy money, so keeping within a certain budget
does become a factor.

However, there are some times when it's wise to save up for something better.

riotshield
May 17, 2007, 01:23 PM
Just my $0.02...for someone just starting out, I think the M-Audio DMP3 is the best choice at $160. Of the suggestions listed in the OP, the only one I've owned is the GT Brick. After A-B'ing with the DMP3 on several tracks, I personally thought there was not enough difference to justify the $240 difference.

In my opinion microphones affect the sound far more. I started with <$100 Chinese condenser mics and when I bought an AT4040, which is not high-end by any means, the difference was night and day. I would recommend putting most of the money into mics.

zimv20
May 17, 2007, 01:40 PM
In my opinion microphones affect the sound far more. I started with <$100 Chinese condenser mics and when I bought an AT4040, which is not high-end by any means, the difference was night and day. I would recommend putting most of the money into mics.
at4040 is a nice mic, actually, very capable.

the "which is more important, mic or pre" topic is a big one, and we've differing opinions. i'd rather use a cheap mic through a great pre than a great mic through a cheap pre. i've found that signals recorded w/ cheap pre's tend to be problematic at mix time. at least with a cheap mic, i can move it around and get a sound i can work with later.

TornadoTed
Jul 11, 2007, 05:04 PM
I think that the API 3124+ is one of the biggest bargains in pro audio.

One thing to think about is that they hold their value so well. They go for about $2400 new and never go much lower than $2000 secondhand. I saw a 7year old 3124 go for $2000 the other day. The cheap preamps won't hold their value.

The Daking Mic Pre IV is a nice preamp, another bargain for top quality. It's in the same league as Neve, API etc

I plan to get a Daking Mic Pre IV, 2x API 3124 and a Wunder PAFour to got with my 4x A-Design Pacificas (Awesome :o) ) over the next couple of years.

Soundhound
Aug 23, 2007, 03:42 AM
I've got an older original MOTU 828 firewire interface which has two mic pres built in. Anyone think that one of these mic pres described here would make a big difference in what I'm hearing? I record mostly vocals with it, sometimes guitars, though I go direct with guitars mostly.

bgalizio
Aug 23, 2007, 07:12 AM
For field use, check out the AERCO MP-2:
http://www.aerco.net/mp2.html

Transformer goodness. Jerry builds them to order, so very customizable. They're small, easy to power in the field, and sound great. I recently ordered one, which I expect to be in my hands within a couple of weeks.

Joe Bannon
Jan 8, 2008, 01:33 AM
We use API and Neve... they're the best!

Chairman Plow
Jun 27, 2008, 10:48 PM
I will have to physically hear the difference before I could be convinced to buy anything but an Avalon.

Joe Bannon
Jun 28, 2008, 02:41 AM
I will have to physically hear the difference before I could be convinced to buy anything but an Avalon.


As you should, but don't limit yourself to just avalon. Some project may require you to use another to get the sound you want.

Chairman Plow
Jun 28, 2008, 02:54 PM
As you should, but don't limit yourself to just avalon. Some project may require you to use another to get the sound you want.

Very true, but so far I've been pleased with what I hear. Also going to look into the Black Lion Audio mods.

lockjawdavis
Aug 9, 2008, 10:47 AM
This is really informative. Especially for someone new to digital audio. Thanks.

itsintheear
Oct 21, 2008, 02:36 PM
I'd like to throw in a plug for some gear a buddy in Chicago turned me on to:
An A-D converter by Black Lion Audio (You can Google them). He was so blown away by their 002 signature mod, he picked up the analog converter (with micro clock), and he's SO sold on it, he's in line for their new mic pre. It's supposed to be "revolutionary".

I hear some big names are picking up on these guys, but they're still way below the radar (no marketing or ads). Has anyone heard any buzz on them?

tuneup
Jan 23, 2009, 02:14 PM
I am a huge fan of avalon. There preamps are simply amazing. To give you an idea I was just mixing a show at club in town and the bass player brought along an avalon preamp. I took that signal and we also mic'd the cab. I gotta say the avalon was unreal. We barley had the bass mic in the mix.

jono_3
Jan 24, 2009, 06:45 PM
i did some a/b comparisons of the pres in my collection a while back and heres a summary for you that may help


digi 002 console, digi 003 rack, presonus digimax 96k, and a mackie onyx 800r, the brick, art mpa gold, art v3 tube mp, mbox 2

all pres tested with a u87, and audio technica 4047, an sm57, and a senn 421

results rundown:

1-great river - always sounded the best against the other pres. most depth, best low end response, never sounds fizzy or harsh. I wish i would have got one of these when i started recording. amazing on everything, especially bass and vocals. i wish i had a board with 24 of these things. very punchy. makes any mic you have sound 1000% better, 57s can be used on guitars again!

2- two way tie

onyx 800r/art mpa gold

onyx 800r - 8 channels, very clear, not over hyped, very versitile, good clean response that works well on drums and guitars. great dynamics and headroom

art mpa gold - 2 channels, upgraded cheap stock tubes(very easy) tons of variety in sound. great for getting nice tube clipping. has lots and lots of things to toy around with, mic impedance, plate voltage, tube saturation. sounds awesome awesome on snare drum, kick drum, vox(with high plate voltage), and clean guitars. all around great performer. easy to use

3 - groove tubes "the brick" - a little low on the gain side. upgraded the tubes. super awesome on bass and aggressive vocals. cool on acoustic guitar, crappy on a kick drum. implies a heavy "tube sound" on the signal(reduced extreme highs and lows, compressed mid range). very useful and relatively cheap.



5 - digi 003 rack internal pres/

digi 003 - decent overall pres, does not have the depth of of the mackie or great river but can be useful for things like toms or maybe guitars. not a bad pre but not spectacular. would always use the mackie before the digi 003

6 - presonus digimax - another decent pre. kind of harsh and fizzy but much better than a lot of stock board pres(mbox 2 and digi 002 im pointing at you). lacks a super clear low end but still very acceptable. sounds good better with dynamics than condensers, no go for ribbon mics. probably would not buy again and only use in a pinch.

7 - tie for last place

digi 002 - very flat(boring) sounding. no low end or punch. bad for vocals or anything that will be the focus of your mix. can be very harsh and nasally. dislike the most. good for demos. very noisy

mbox 2 pres - low headroom. sounds ok with dynamic mics but lacks actual dynamics. noise ridden. bad for condensers or anything with a dynamic range. avoid at all costs.

i hope that this helps you make a choice. to sum it up:

the great river is the best pre ive ever used. the mackie would be best if you need 8 channels (which you said you dont). and the art mpa gold would prbably fit your bill the best. lots of features, relatively cheap, great sound once the tubes are changed (they come with crappy tubes)

NightSailor
Jan 30, 2009, 02:02 AM
I'm also talking to an expert about getting my father's vintage '50's
Ampex 403-P pre-amp restored if at all possible.

http://img458.imageshack.us/img458/3537/ampex403pfront9wq.jpg

http://img457.imageshack.us/img457/7935/ampex403pback7zz.jpg

It shouldn't be too hard to restore. Those are easy to work on.

Jihadjoe75
Feb 23, 2009, 03:34 PM
It's probably not really what your looking for, and you do have to stick with Logic pro, but I have been really satisfied with my apogee duet. It's probably the best piece of equipment I've purchased since I got into Audio Production.

It's got great conversion and preamps, but it is a bit limiting as to what you can do with it.

salientstimulus
Jul 22, 2009, 12:28 PM
What A/D interfaces have the best pre-amps? I've been disappointed with every (admittedly low-end) interface I've owned, but I'd still like to have everything in one box (ideally with an analog compressor, but I guess beggars can't be choosers). I see there are some pre-amps with A/D and SPDIF -- is it easy/quality to route that directly into a mac's optical audio in?

I hear decent things about the Apogee, but the conventional wisdom always seems to be that you'll never get a high-quality pre-amp in an interface.

zimv20
Jul 25, 2009, 12:13 PM
I hear decent things about the Apogee, but the conventional wisdom always seems to be that you'll never get a high-quality pre-amp in an interface.

perhaps add the API A2D and the Metric Halo gear to that short list. typically, when you're spending that kind of money, the pieces are separate.

Super_Saxy
Oct 23, 2009, 01:57 PM
Actually, the apogee isn't too bad. Of course its not as good since its part of an interface, but it is good enough if you're starting out. I am currently using it for the work I do for my remote recording company.

For me, it was the right choice, because the ensemble is a great interface, and has decent pres. This is allowing me to save up money for a really good set of pres, most likely Millenia (we do mostly live classical remote recordings). So instead of buying mid quality pres to hold me over, I invested in a great interface that has decent pres. This way, I've already got my interface that I'll be using for a while. Now I just have to save up a ton of money for the millenia. :p

m0rris
Nov 17, 2009, 12:25 PM
I have the SPL Goldmike (the 1st version)
Really good clean and warm. No comp/eq/limit just amplification.
http://di1.shopping.com/images1/pi/c5/8e/8e/49714681-300x300-0-0_SPL+Spl+Goldmike+9844.jpg

Super_Saxy
Jan 18, 2010, 12:03 PM
Honestly, the best mic pres that I've used are the Millennia Pres. I know that they are expensive (I think a 2 channel is about $1800), but they are the most transparent preamps that I have ever used.

I guess I should note that I do mostly classical recording, so transparency is a very important factor for me.

TheLOGICalone
Jun 9, 2010, 06:31 PM
http://www.vintech-audio.com/x73_info.html

saxofunk
Jun 10, 2010, 06:14 PM
Looks like it's been a while since anyone posted to this thread. Some new things have been happening in the preamp world since anyone last posted. UA 710 was released, if anyone owns one, I'd like to hear their impression (I've read good things), Grace Design released the m103 and m501 (shout out for Colorado), and I didn't see anyone mention the Summit Audio 2BA-221.

I've personally used the 2BA and it's sibling the TLA-50 leveling amp. I found them to be noisier than I expected, but the setup had some other cheap wall-warts in the circuit which may have been causing problems. Other than what may have been just a grounding problem, I liked both units very much, the TLA-50 is a nice little leveling amp, to which the 2BA supplies some nice tube warmth. Worked great on instruments, but the noise kept me from ever trying vocals.

I'm dying to get my hands on an m103 and hear what Grace can do in the EQ/Comp world. I've used the original 101 and found it to be a crystal clear pre, at a great price point. Amazing on acoustic instruments, vocals, anything really that you need a good clean sound.

joemarioz
Oct 28, 2010, 07:31 PM
What are pre-amps for? is the same as a headphone amplifier? in what way does it help in music quality?

P.S: what is the story with FLAC? how can i get 24 bit-96 kHz FLAC HQ format? where can I buy this?

zimv20
Oct 28, 2010, 10:13 PM
What are pre-amps for?

it is responsible for raising the signal from a microphone (~1 millivolt) to line level (~1 volt). different components and designs have a large effect on how the mic sounds once amplified.

fabriciom
Mar 1, 2011, 01:42 PM
How about for Synth recording? Im leaning towards RNP

ChrisA
Mar 1, 2011, 02:10 PM
What are pre-amps for? is the same as a headphone amplifier? in what way does it help in music quality?

P.S: what is the story with FLAC? how can i get 24 bit-96 kHz FLAC HQ format? where can I buy this?

Mics have very low level output and it needs to be raised before you can do anything with the signal. All audio interfaces have built-in mic preamps. In fact a mic preamp is inside anything that you plug a mic into. So, when most people say "preamp" they usually mean a very high quality external or stand alone preamp and not the one built into the computer's audio interface. But when comparing audio interfaces or mixers people might talk about the quality (or lack of quality) of the built-in mic preamp.

A stand alone mic preamp is likely one of the last pieces of gear you'd buy, You'd buy better quality mics first

FLAC is a file format like MP3. It is not a product but a description of a file type. You can't buy a format. Apple products use something like FLAC called "Apple Lossless format" and you can use that. It is really the same thing. But if you need FLAC format files to send to someone else you can convert to FLAC from "lossles" or WAV using free software like "XLD" Google will find XLD for you

alainc
Sep 24, 2011, 02:16 AM
Looking for a pre for my home studio as well. Do you guys think apogee mini-me is a viable option? Just wondering if it is still supported by latest OSX.

bwhli
Jan 20, 2012, 12:21 PM
The Yamaha N8 has REALLY nice preamps. I used the board a few months ago, but am trying to sell it now because it's way too much for my needs at the moment.

Also have a really nice Digi system with Pro Tools 9 at work, and it sounds great. I've also heard good things about the new Apogee Duet.

urbanaudio
Feb 1, 2012, 10:41 PM
Apogee is duet is the best for the money. You get high end Apogee convertors and a pretty nice pre amp for about $500.


http://www.urbanaudiotracks.com

MisterSensitive
Jul 9, 2012, 01:09 PM
For the brave cheapskates, I highly recommend Seventh Circle Audio kits. The chassis (cheap if you buy in a bundle) holds eight preamps, ranging in price from $150 to $350 a channel.

He has amazingly spot-on versions of API, Neve, Millenium and John Hardy twin servo preamps.

His API clones sound nearly identical to (and I swear better than) my neighbor's API 512c preamp.

Not too hard to build and you can have lots of channels of boutique preamps for the price of prosumer crud.

Kenaudio
Jul 31, 2012, 06:44 PM
I've spent the last few weeks looking at just about every good quality 1 and 2 channel mic pre-amp available.....

I went with the DAV BG-1
I wanted 2 good high quality clean channels for vocals, mic'd instruments and keyboards.

This unit is rock solid and is ideal for studio or stage.

Image (http://www.davelectronics.com/Prod_pics/bg1photo.jpg)

Mick at DAV was the lead designer/engineer for Decca Records for 28 years.

Considering the caliber of DAVelectronics' clientel,
I was greatly impressed with how well I was treated.
All my concerns were answered in a friendly, professional and timely manner.

It's no wonder that word of his product line is spreading so rapidly.

I hope what I have learned with help some of you with your decision.

My next priority is a great all purpose vocal mic
and a good 2 channel compressor.

I'll keep you posted.

Hi there,

it's definitely a good choice to take the bg1. I tested the 500 version of this preamp and it sounded clear and great without much trying out. They are also great for drums - especially toms and snares. I just sent an email to the official bg1 email address and the owner answered himself:-)....Anyway...at the end I decided to buy an A-Designs Pacifica...which is a lot more expensive but it's more versatile and the main thing I use it for is drum overhead recordings....

Can you send us some samples of your recordings???
Would be cool.....if you like I can send you some drum recordings as well..

Cheers,
Keno

TableSyrup
Aug 6, 2012, 07:05 PM
Bang fer yer Buck?

ART Pro MPA - The ORIGINAL Black one.

3 easy mods to an amazing pre!

Tubes, Bridging two signal path points, and 2 opamps - SWEEEET

I went as far as getting rid of my Avalon - which doesn't say tons, cause the 737 is a piece of crap!

I'll throw this modded ART Pro MPA up against any pre up to about the $1800 range

All in, cost of the pre and components, I'm all in for around $200 per build (Buying at $125-150 and raiding my stashes of tubes and opamps)

Something to consider.

Anyone wants mod info, just hit me up ;)

(Have used these on multiple major label projects, with Blue KIWI, JZ Stereo Flamingo - Magic Ear - Global Pre - Dolly - Pearl - Etc - U87's, TLM103's and TLM149's, etc)

BeyondMountains
Oct 1, 2012, 08:57 AM
This is a great thread that got me started for a replacement ore amp to my profile 2626.

How does the dav BG-1 compare today? Will it ( or any preamp) sound okay going through my 2626?

Any new recommendations?

( Ill be using this standalone for vocals and guitars) I saw that dav makes a version that accepts one xlr and also has one DI. I wonder how this DI and the preamps compare to the 2626.

Thanks for the great info!

spoonie1972
Nov 7, 2012, 11:53 AM
someone above mentioned the GR pre - and I have to agree - it's where I think Neve would have ended up today if they kept developing the 1073.

BAE's version of the 1073 is also fantastic; both have their own character and both are more what i'd call "flavour" differences than one being better over the other.

I have no experience with the reissued 1073lb 500 series pre.

API's 512c is a .... dare i say it .. less colorful example of a terrific preamp. It just does its job w/o any fanfare or frills and typically the end product will be no worse for it (usually better).

All pre's do their own thing to your signal - which you prefer is up to you.

One of the reasons i'm partial to the GR is that the DI is simply outstanding on bass guitar. It's a good purchase that covers a wide array of input needs.

YMMV.

scottw11
Apr 24, 2013, 08:45 AM
This will be getting a perfect sound quality without any echo problem... thanks

SeattleMoose
Jul 29, 2013, 02:50 PM
If you are lacking both a PreAmp and A/D converters then just getting the Apogee Duet is your best bang for the buck. Great converters with good PreAmps. And the best thing is that it will continue to serve you well if you expand your Preamp collection.

Two PreAmps not mentioned so far are the Presonus ADL600 and the Daking Mic Pre One. The former is a two channel PreAmp and latter a "brick". Either of these can be used for just about anything you can throw at them. The ADL in particular imparts some color in the form of "warmth".