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a better pre to fit in the mix

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by shortyprs, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    Here's a problem: the tone of my individual tracks gets better as I upgrade my pres, but my over-all mixes aren't sitting together as well. It really hit home when I recorded a live jazz performance through an Allen & Heath with the rnp as the only outboard pre. The outcome was really very good. The mix fell together easily. The only funkiness were the drum overheads....the rnp. The experience highlighted the problems I'm experiencing in my studio.

    I've got a couple different flavors of low end pres and one great pre. I'm looking for at least 2 channels under $1,500 that could be a good "reach for" pre for the majority of the mix. Of course, I would love it if the pre excelled at vocals, drum overheads, acoustics and guitar amps as well!! I mainly record R&B, blues, rock and acoustic folk/pop stuff.

    I have:

    Allen & Heath Mix Wiz (which actually has a very nice recorded tone....good fit in the mix);

    4 channels DMP3;

    Joe Meek VC6Q (fat in the mix);

    rnp (some great attributes, but a certain "brittleness". Part of my problem is using the rnp too much);

    Great River 1NV;

    So, what should I get next? A-designs, Sebatron, Vintech, Sytek, John Hardy, API....?

    "You can't be a pervert. You never come to the meetings!"
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If you do a lot of acoustic guitars and acoustic instruments in general ,you might add the True Systems P2 analog pre in there.Clean and sits well.Makes a very fine DI also.
    All of the pres you've listed will do the job..now its your choice.I personally would go with 2 channels of Hardy in the 4 channel box so you can upgrade later.This is over your budget.You'll only get one channel of vintech at that price as well as the API.The Sebatron will work for you in any case.
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The John Hardy stuff is great and I fully agree that it well worth owning. Sell the RNP and get 2-ch of the John Hardy.

    If your happy with what your getting from the RNP, or even if you get the John Hardy, the API makes a nice addition and is a must have item in my rack. You can one API mic pre and a lunchbox rack and then fill as you grow, or go for the API channel strip.
  4. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    The last 2 projects I've done were acoustic singer-songwriter projects. This is where I started noticing problems. So, the acoustic guitar may be the focus of the problem. It'd be nice to have a pre that does acoustics, vocals and drum overheads well.

    Recommendations so far: Earthworks 102, John Hardy, True Systems P2
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Earthworks 102, very transparent.. neutral. True Systems P2 another transparent colorless neutral type of mic pre. John Hardy, especially with the Jensen transformer, is a very good "sounding" mic pre.. has some color and attitude. All very good and hard to go wrong with.

    I like the how the RNP sounds on acoustic guitars although I really dislike the price, small package light weight and overall constuction. It is what it is.. a great pre for people who need a pair of basic high gain type pres for recording on a DAW where there are no pres on the soundcard or the interface.. but not really any better than most of the basic no frills pres found on small mixers or in audio interfaces..

    I have been using my Sebatron vmp 4000e a lot lately with great results, since I had to send the JLM TMP8 review unit back to Joe Malone at JLM. I await the unit I have on order with much anticipation. I really like both these units (Sebatron and JLM TMP8) from down under and I see them as an alternitive answer, a bridge in terms of cost, between the higher end pres like the Great River MP2NV and those found in a Mackie mixer. If I had my druthers, I would have a whole rack of MP/NVs of course..
  6. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    You can get an OSA (Old School Audio) lunchbox and 2 pres for $1400. They make three different flavors of preamp, 1 of which is very API-ish.


    The cool thing is being able to add more stuff later. The lunchbox holds 8 modules and is fully API compatible.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    You can also see the companies website at Old School Audio. Thanks Steve, for mentioning this. I have written the company and asked to perform a review on their products. These products look very promising and affordable..
  8. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    So far these are the pres recommended:

    Brent Averill API
    Earthworks lab 102
    John Hardy M1
    Langevin Dual Vocal
    Old School audio API style
    Safesound Audio P1
    Tru Systems P2
    Joe Malone

    Several of the units are API or API'ish. What can you tell me about the "API" quality that makes them so right?
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Well the API is a studio standard... chances are you have a favorite recording that used an API console in the recording and mixing.. it is a very agressive, "in your face with attitude" sound. The transformers employed really warm things up but the mid and high ranges are very "there". NOT TRANSPERENT! Funny thing is, a lot of recordists didn't like this about them in the 70's and 80's which led to the more transparent and colorless designs.. seems they didn't know a good thing when they had it. The JLM TMP8 is of this type of transformer op amp design. I am very intrigued by the Old School line and I hope they send a few of them out in a PwrRack for me to evaluate..
  10. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Not to spread the field even thinner, but there's another company making API'ish, Neve'ish and even John Hardy'ish preamps in a modular design.


    These look like a bargain, though there's no D.I., no pad and no API standard slot compatibility. However, Geoff Tanner (former Neve tech and preamp designer/owner for Aurora Audio) claims that the SCA N72 design is the only one he has seen that correctly wires up and completes the 1272 circuitry (which was originally designed to be just a line amplifier) to the spec of the 1290, which was a mic amp.

    As far as the most flavors in one box, it looks like SCA may get the prize.
  11. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    Hey Steve, so what can you tell me about the seventhcircle pres? What have you used? What did you use them for? What were your impressions?
  12. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The John Hardy design and some other preamp makers that use the 990 opamp as their base sound, came about as a result of those that wanted a cleaner sound than the API. So the two compliment each other well as covering both ends of desire. And while the API is known for the heavy colored and agressive sound, it is not always like that. True, it won't ever be as clear and finely detailed as others like the John Hardy, but there are many times when that can be boring or stale and it is the color found in the likes of the API and Neve sound that can really add the right spice. The API is really source dependant. High level and fast transients like drums have been noted for their phat and agressive sound that many prefer and use the API specificly for. But the API also makes a great bass DI, addds fullness and body to thin and hyped mics (like most of the cheap china made stuff) and can do wonders to a thin and whimpy voice, or a flat and lifeless acoustic guitar without having to be over agressive, but can be so if you drive it hard. The API and a SM57 or 421 on something like a Marshall amp is awesome.

    The OSA stuff started out as exact API clones, but are now much different sounding because they use different components based on the API design. If you want the real API sound, buy the API.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    heres yet another site to visit that may be of interest to you in your search for sonic nirvana...http://www.marquetteaudiolabs.com
  14. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    It was a post like this that led me to buy a Great River 1NV. The 1NV perfectly fit what I was looking for. That's a round about way of saying thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions. Exactly what I'm needing. I really appreciate it when you guys tell me about the technology/attributes behind each style of pre. Helps me sort out what to get.

    My goal of finding a good general purpose pre to help balance out the mix doesn't seem like an easy one. I still have to decide if I want the over-all mix to be more API'ish (big, warm, in-your face) or cleaner and more "detailed" (John Hardy, Earthworks). Have I got the ideas right?
    Let me know if I'm mixing up concepts here.

    Here's a question in a different direction. Would something like the Distressor help with that perception of "balance" in the mix? Any thoughts?
  15. doctorfish

    doctorfish Guest

    It's my understanding that the Great River 1NV, being based on the Neve design, would be a colored preamp like the API. If that's the case, why not go with something a little more transparent like the John Hardy or Earthworks. Or even the Great River MP2H. This might help give some more balance.

    I myself am in the same situation of looking for a really good high end pre, my first. I mostly record voice and was initially thinking to go for something more transparent like the Avalon M5, but I also do a lot of bass and guitar and have been thinking lately that something like the API would help my tone a lot.

    I wasn't aware of the whole lunch box idea. Seems great though. I'll have to look into it.

  16. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    The Sytek is certainly an option as well. If you want "API attitude" it doesn't have it, but if your looking for a very clean detaled amp the Sytek will do the job well. And at a great price for for four channels.
  17. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Of the three Old School Audio pres that are listed on the Atlas site, which is the one that everyone is calling the "API-like pre". They all are obviously similar with some transformer changes, etc.
  18. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    Nathan Eldred described the three OSA pres at http://www.atlasproaudio.com/osalowdown.html. They're a dealer. Here's his breakdown:

    MP1-A cleaner/nuetral pre. Pendulum or Manley-like;
    MP1-C similar to API 312;
    MP1-L more like an Averill 1272.

    I haven't heard any of them, so I don't have a clue.
  19. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    I checked out the Atlas site. Looks like the OSA pre's are about the same price as the "real" API pre's.
  20. shortyprs

    shortyprs Guest

    I don't know for sure, but the OSA stuff looks less expensive than API. I've seen API 512's for about $725.00 a unit + 6 slot lunch box for $450.00 = $1,900.00

    OSA direct goes about $500.00 a module and $575.00 for the box = $1,575.00

    Of course the BA 312 2 channel rack is only $1,200.00...which is cheaper, if you can give up the expandability of the lunch box.

    Where has anybody seen API stuff cheaper?

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