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API, UA210, Great River MP2NV pre's in classical music?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by J-3, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Hi guys, I posted this question in another forum and was directed here. I'm considering getting another pre to add to the rack. I mostly do pop, rock, hard rock, jazz, country etc but I do have a project of classical music coming up. I know the API 3124+ and UA pre's would be great for the rock stuff but how about classical? I have the MP2NV which sounds great but I need more channels. How woud the above work on say... Cello's, Grand Piano, Violin, Stereo rooms Etc.

    Also, i'm considering the Avenson STO-2 omni's or Josephson C42 cardioids for this gig then for drum overheads later. My current decent mics are TLM103, R-121, AT 4050, MK-012's, SM-81's. Any thoughts?
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    FWIW, I think either of those preamps would be just fine. Others here would argue that they would add too much color to the sound. When done right, this ain't a bad thing.

    Personally, I would avoid the SM81s like the plague for classical. (unless you like your ears bleeding after listening for a few hours...) Either the Avenson or the Josephsons would be fine choices. Of course, if you have matched pairs of the 4050s or 121s, you could use these very effectively as your main overhead pair.

    Of course, you'll need some tall stands to hike the mics up there with.

  3. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Different strokes....

    I have used SM81s as spots before without lasting sonic nausea, and it is an interesting fact that for a while the Chicago Symphony Ravinia broadcasts used all SM81s.

    Like most Shure products, they are built like a brick outhouse!

  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    My first pair of mics (and I still own them an occasionally use them) was a pair of SM-81s. I made plenty of good recordings with them- I'd actually choose them over 460's in many circumstances... When I do orchestral sound reinforcement, I usually specify all SM-81's on the string section. Works *very* well to get a full sound that isn't "gritty" sounding...

  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Must be different strokes...

    I wouldn't use a pair of 81's for virtually anything except maybe overhead percussion.
    I've used them more times than I can count and come up with results that I didn't like...
    Mic's that I rank better than that number in the hundreds but include SP C4's, AT 30 series pencil mics, AKG Blueline, Rode NT5s, and note, all these mics are cheaper per pair than one 81. :?

  6. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    See, I'm afraid the API/ UA stuff is too colored for doing this classical bit. My GR MP2NV can clean up but for pretty much all that I've done with it I much prefer the color up. (big knob up, little knob down). Have you guys used the MP2NV pre? What do you think about using it on a more clean setting? I've tried that with acousitic gtr, cello, vocals and a nice sounding digital piano. It was all for a rock records and ended up dialing in more color.

    Any comments on how the API/UA stuff will compliment the MP2NV? I'm not real shure the sound differences as I havent had the chance to actually use either of these pres. Thanks guys.
  7. foldedpath

    foldedpath Guest

    I record mostly acoustic music, but never straight-ahead classical... more blues, jazz, and folk. The MP-2NV is my favorite preamp for this. And like you, I find it hard not to use the "big sound" settings, even for things like solo acoustic guitar. It's just too juicy. 8)

    I do try to use appropriate mics with it though... mainly on the transparent/neutral side of the range, so I'm not stacking too much color on top of color. At least for acoustic instruments.

    If I was looking for more input channels, I would personally choose a different preamp flavor, just to have more options with all types of music. As much as I love the sound, I wouldn't want a rack full of MP-2NV's. I don't have an immediate need to upgrade preamps (more mics come first!), but the next time I buy another preamp it will be something more neutral, like maybe a Millennia, or Buzz Audio MA 2.2.

    But that's just me. If you record a lot of rock music, and only the occasional classical gig, then you might want to stick with the traditional transformer sounds with the API or UA preamps. I think those would sound fine on classical music with the right microphones. These are very good quality preamps, and not the kind of muddy "color" that you get with a cheap starved plate tube preamp. And you could always run your MP-2NV in the more transparent setting, if you still needed one fairly neutral preamp for something like a main stereo pair of mics.

    Mike Barrs
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Personally, I think uncolored in classical is over rated... Bring on the color- use tubes, ribbons, etc... Makes the recording interesting. The performance only occurs once and in the space. For that reasoning recordings are by their nature only an approximation of a performance, so by that reasoning make the best recording possible and don't worry about whether your mic pres are too colored or not.

    If it sounds good, use it...

  9. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    I was wondering the same thing, Ben...weren't the old recordings (the ones we tend to use as standards for others to be judged) done through some pretty heavily colorered stuff?

    IIRC, Neves, UA, Telefunken, Seimens, etc were THE standard mixers/pres for many years...and none of them are what what are now considered "uncolorered"

    Just a thought....
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    For an uncolored, straight-wire with gain, it was the Mackie VLZ Pro XDR preamps, and now the ONYX line for me. (the new ONYX's pres are absolutely, hands-down their best yet, and obviates, IMHO any need for anything else.)

    However, I also have and use some lovely stuff as well....API pre's on the Legacy console where I record my "studio" (and Jazz) stuff, as well as the new Focusrite and Millenium outboard pre's we have as well. It's wonderful indeed to have these options when you need them.

    To me, the most critical parts of the chain are:

    1. The performers/instruments themselves
    2. Microphone selection and placement
    3. The space where they perform.
    4. Preamp/signal chain
    5. Recording medium/system.

    I would say the varying degrees of importance between 2-4 are very small indeed. (Tough to say whether the mic choice will be more important than the sound of the hall or the mic pre, but that's the basic idea. You've got to have all four working for you, or it'll be compromised at some point.)

    And speaking of those good ol' SM-81's, should I assume everyone is talking about the cardioid capsules? Once upon a time, they DID make omni capsules as well as the cardioid versions. Then for a while, they discontinued the whole product line outright, only to bring it back in the 90's as the cardioid-only version.

    I installed quite a few of the omni versions a long time ago, but I was only able to get the cardioid versions this time around. (Lots of music schools and recital halls use just a pair of them overhead...it's quick and dirty, but that's what they want.)

    Anyone have the omni capsules? I'd love to get my hands on a pair of them....
  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    You are speaking of the SM80 that sounded ALOT like a Schoeps MK2. I sold mine to Phil McClelland at Curtis. He might be persuaded to part with them.

  12. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    J 3:

    I'd love to know more details of the classical project you'll be doing. Chamber? Orchestra? With or without vocals? Just strings?

    Perhaps this is too obvious to mention, but if an engineer used to pop and rock switches to classical, the kind of pre used is not as important as the change in mic technique necessary to get a classical sound. If you haven't already, I'd check out other threads on this forum and see how different recording classical is from most other kinds of music. A *few* major differences:

    -mics up higher than many rock engineers have stands for

    -mics much farther away from instruments than in other kinds of music. this leads to:

    -much more room sound. Which leads to:

    -big rooms (when one can get them). Also there is usually:

    -little or no seperation or baffling

    -little or no dubbing

    let us know what you wind up with! I also join in with others here who recommend omnis, at least for the main pair.


  13. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    That's funny you should say that. I find myself micing the room as much as the instruments somtimes. Well, it depends on where in the depth of field I want the instrument to appear. But, I'd love to discuss this furher because I deffinitly have much less experience with this type of music. It's a project for a student getting his masters in composition. It will be everything from spoken word over live grand piano in a cathedal to bassoon and bass trombone duets, percussion duets, and a variety of trios and quartets. There will also be grand piano and vocal pieces. I'm planning on doing as much at the location as possible. It will most likely work out to be only the pieces involving piano. The piano pieces will be cut live at the cathederal. The rest will most likely be done at my place in the larger room. It's not huge but I've got some decent sounds for this type of music here before. My rooms are mostly used for rock/pop etc. but I've done some decent stuff here. We're not doing any overdubbing at my request and we're not planning on doing any baffeling. The project is mostly to help him get into grad school, document where he his now as a writter/composer and for friends and family. Not the typical comercial release rock/pop genere I'm used to. I'm planning on trying to use more room micing and as few spot mics as possible. The problem is I don't have many matched mic's. My main condensors mic's are (1) TLM 103, (1) R-121, (1) AT 4050 (1) NT-2 (2) MK012's (2) SM-81's. My only pres are MP2NV, 2-Pendulum and my A&H mixer. I'm hoping to get the STO-2's or C42's and two more high quality pres such as API, UA, GT-Bricks etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  14. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Out experience, just having recorded a CD with the "instruments of the orchestra", classical brass and wind musicians usualy hates your normal recording studio enviroment because anything they dynamic play beyond say "piano" usulaly sounds utterly compressed. At the musicians request we retracked, trumpet, trombone, tuba and basson at their "home" enviroment concert hall. This resulting in much fewer takes per piece than wen we did it in the studio, a big plus aswell was the fact that the instruments bloomed in a natural way! (The same said for persussion which we had sheduled to record at the concert hall)

    The trumpeter explained the studio experience in termes like the wall reflexes where so fast/early that he found himself hearing more of the reflexes than the actual notes he played making it impossible for him to play on time...

    If not an extreme church, I'd find myself tracking all of the instruments there solo and groups. The only exeption if the composer explicitly had stated that he/she will electronically manipulate any of the recordings post session, then the lack of acoustics might be preferable.

    As for a startup pair of omni's, coulden't You just get a pair of omni capsules for You MK012's?

    I differ slightly form Joe in my chain of critila parts.. The Artist and their instrument is always the most important, but I feel that the recording enviroment comes next and how You place the musicians within. Equipmentvise I see no reason to single out any part of the chain, You have the stuff You have and its up to You to apply it as well as you're able.

  15. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Thanks for the words PTR. Yes I could get the omni caps for the MK012's but I figured I'd be better off getting the Avensons. Don't you think the Avensons would sounds better than MK012's with omni caps? My real concern is using the Avensons for drum overheads later on. I've never used omni's over a kit and while I know a bit of what to expect I'm not shure that is what I want. Might love it, might not...(I'm worried about the omni's giving me a less detailed stereo image and being too roomy.) Perhpas I can swing the Josephson C42's and just do the omni caps for the MK012's. Hmmmmmmm...........

    Hey will anyone let me borrow $10k? :lol:
  16. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    I have no experience with the Avensons. I have used a pair of O12 Omni's as drum overhead (Jazz trio session) with great results. No problem with details or roominess, but then You coud always use the cardioid caps. To me, atleast when recording Jazz in a Studio enviroment Omni overheads gives a more realistic sound..

  17. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest


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