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Budget Hardware Question

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Kush86o, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Kush86o

    Kush86o Guest

    What it the best Mic and Preamp I can buy that can get the job done when it comes to vocals? My friend is really interested in rapping and having clean vocals are very important. The problem is my budget is $200 total. I would really like to hear these items in action.
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Getting "the job done" is a relative thing.

    A LOT of junk equipment will pass signal. Is it going to be good? If this is all you can afford then learn about how to use gear in this price range correctly and save youself some headaches wondering why it doesnt sound very good.
  3. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    shure sm58, alesis 3630 (not a pre-amp, but will help with practice)
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Start with the SM58 or SM57 and a foam pop filter. Don't buy a $100 preamp if you have a preamp in your interface or in a mixer available.
  5. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Go the SM57 and foam pop filter route. I can personally speak on the results, and the 57 is extremely versatile. While you could sell it, and people would happily buy it, you can keep it for the rest of your life, like a favorite Swiss Army knife.

    Save the cheap preamp money. At that price range, you aren't getting enough for your money.
  6. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    +1 SM58
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Sorry but the Alesis 3630 is not a good piece of gear IMHO. Not without mods anyway.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    This is a problem area for many folks. One of the reasons is due to "fixed gain" microphone preamps such as what is found on Mackie's. Yes yes, I know it has a trim pot but the fact is, the microphone preamp operates at a fixed gain of 20 DB which can still be overloaded. This is the sound as a goof proof microphone preamp but in fact, can still be overloaded by high output microphones. So unless you find a "pad" switch on your microphone preamp, you are dealing with a goof proof preamp. I'd prefer the old-school type preamps that have switchable input pads that pad down the input by 20 to 30 DB. I frequently use & utilize the pad switch not only to protect from overloading the microphone preamp front end, but to also controlled the acoustic texture of how the microphone preamp sounds & responds. When the microphone preamp is operated at lower gain levels, it becomes smoother sounding, almost squeezed like, and is a safe way to utilize it. Whereas, if you engage the pad switch, it drops the input sensitivity by 20 to 30 DB depending upon the design. This forces you to crank up more gain within the microphone preamp itself. This frequently lowers the "negative feedback" which makes the preamp run in a more "open loop" gain structure. This open loop higher gain setting changes the sound of the preamp. A more " open" quality will generally be perceived in this manner. In a sense, it lets you equalize the preamp without utilizing any equalization. If you're mixer already has a pad switch, use it. You will destroy your signal-to-noise ratio by the same amount of DB's as the pad switch indicates its loss in DB's. This is rarely a problem with close miking & loud sound sources. So if you purchase an ancillary preamp, make sure it has a pad switch. That's old-school baby.

    I am an Altschuler originally
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Is this true of the current generation Mackie gear? I'm not saying you are wrong because I certainly haven't opened one up and tore it apart, I'm just not seeing it in the published specs/block diagrams which I am good at reading/interpreting.

    Neither my Onyx 800R or my True Precision 8 have a pad switch and both claim quite a bit more gain than 20dB gain (64dB on the True's and 60dB on the 800R). The True's are hardly budget gear so just curious. Also, the published specs on the Neve 5012 (66dB) and the API 3124+(65dB) are very close to both the Onyx and the True.

    I'm not in any way saying these four units have the same sonic signature. We are just talking gain structure.

    As far as maximum input, all four of these units claim between 15-22 dBV max input (without pad).

    Curiouser and curiouser.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    As a follow up:
    While it would be oodles more convenient to have a pad built into a preamp input like on my large console, wouldn't a couple of these put things on a more equal footing? The pad by itself doesn't truly change the max input dBV at all since it's attenuation prior to the amp stage on either the Neve in-built or the Whirlwind external pad.



  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Actually, many preamps have been built with fixed gain first stages. Your Mackie is one of them & apparently so was the Neve 1073. There are certainly good reasons to do this. One is consistency of sound. The other is to negate the need for a front end pad. But typically most old school consoles/preamps included a front end pad. This is where things get fun. Consoles/preamps that include pad switches knock the incoming level down. Because the preamp is not followed by a buffer amplifier, the preamps adjustable gain varies the "negative feedback" loop through the preamp. When you change the negative feedback in any amplifier, it changes the preamp's tonality & character. This change in character can be utilized sometimes in a more efficient manner than equalization can accomplish. Overloading of preamps & turning down the gain, along with input transformer saturation will produce, generally, an unflattering, transient restricted character. Whereas, if the front end pad is engaged, no transformer saturation will occur. In addition, you must increase the gain of the preamp. Running the preamp with less negative feedback is running the preamp in a more "open loop" like configuration. When you do this to a preamp by increasing the gain, which lowers the negative feedback to the inverting input, a bigger, fatter, more open, less squeezed character can be heard. So although it's safe using fixed gain preamps, they are not my favorite. But they are consistent and are less prone to goofs & goofeses. I utilize my API & Neve 3115's to effect the tonal character to achieve a sound that has more balls to it. This of course lowers the signal to noise ratio by the same amount as the pad. So if the pad is 20 DB, your signal-to-noise ratio is now 20 DB noisier. But this shouldn't scare anybody into thinking that your recording will be noisier than others. That's a misnomer & really depends on the application & use. For instance, you wouldn't want to necessarily do this with a symphonic recording. That would make things noisier, quite a bit. But when you have somebody on microphone that is mere inches from the capsule, noise will not really be a factor. Besides, if you think it's a factor, that's what downward expanders & noise gates were made for. I'll generally do this before I ever grab at an equalizer and for that reason, I like preamps that let me decide how they are going to work. Buffer amplifiers post preamp do not effect the capturing character of the first stage preamp as much and it is far less noticeable. It's just a matter of taste & preferences and other people trying to protect us from ourselves. I mean, do you like your lobsters steamed or broiled? That is the question.

    I like mine steamed
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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