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Found the best sounding preamp !!!

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by pcrecord, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Now I got to a store and tried a few preamps and my jaw dropped on this one. It was the best affordable sounding preamp ever !! Did I get you going ?? Really ?

    These days I went on too many forums and made too many google searches on preamps. I guess I'm just fed up. duh
    There's always somebody asking about 2 or 3 units and the first answers go wild either about other better units or a bunch of people using only one of the two saying it's the best. I guess If I ever ask a question like that again, I'll say If you never own both, go away !! And worst, the one asking rarely say what kind of gear he already have and what goal and type of music the new buy should fit with. I know we all want to hear, hey here's the best, for every source, in every studion, on any style and it's free.. But deep down, we know it's not gonna happen. I wish stores have a tuned control room in which you could test any gear before you buy. Anyone with huge gear list wants to put up a website with sample of 100 different preamps used with 100 different mics ?? :confused:

    I guess all that easy buying online made me forget how important trying stuff is. I do it for drums, why not for recording gear ??

    This is my new year resolution !! Try before you buy !!!

    Happy new year everyone !! ;)
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    yup, credit cards and stores will make it possible for most to take some stuff home. but i think that pre amps sonic signature is overblown by gear hounds, and mis understood by newbies. in my experience w/ boutique and regular gear, for character or tone shaping, i've found converters, eq's, and comps, to have a more significant impact on the sound than the pres. not to say that pre's aren't very important.

    but marketers will sell a pre all day w/ that "neve/api/ssl sound" and some newb buys it for 2k and plugs into his m-audio interface, and gets disappointment. all kinds of things influence sound in the path of those classic pieces which included an eq, and in some cases a compressor too. but the the quality of the wire, the capacitors, the power supply, ect all contribute to that "sound' people are selling in one box like a pre.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    [URL="(dead link removed)[/URL] is an article listing an individual's top ten pre-amps. A question for all: would you pick the same ten?
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I really need to get the John Hardy M1. What would I expect with the Twin Servo 99 in comparison?
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Not having any experience with many of them, my opinion matters little.

    I have had the opportunity to work on a few Trident desks, as well as a few Ameks over the years, and I agree that they have a "signature" sound, but then again, they all do to one extent or another, right? I mean, that's kind of the point, isn't it? I worked on a Tascam 3500 series more than once, and even it had a "character" to it.

    What I've found, in my limited experience - meaning I haven't used many of these - is that it all revolves around context.

    One pre that may work great for one project isn't necessarily the pre that will be best for another.

    Yet, unless you have a gazillion dollars, you're not gonna have the luxury of having all these to A/B, so you choose the best that you can that will fit the greatest number of scenarios, and roll the dice.

    I can tell you the pre amps that I was most disappointed in - flame suite engaged because I think my opinion flies in the face of popular engineering opinion - and that was on.... wait for it...

    an SSL 4000 G series.

    Yup. There. I said it.

    At the time, (mid to late 80's) all you heard was "SSL is the best, SSL is great, SSL is fantastic!" .... but when the opportunity came up for me to actually work on one, I was disappointed in how sterile it actually sounded, for lack of a better term, too "clean". There was no "warm" character, no sonic ear candy, nothing that made me think "Wow!"

    Now, I did really dig the compressors. and without a doubt, the EQ was responsive as all get-out.... but the pre's? Especially after all the hype I read and heard, with testimonials by cats like the Lord-Alge brothers, Bob Clearmountain, etc., all left me pretty disappointed in terms of the pre amps, when I had the chance to actually work on one.

    Yeah, I know, I know, I'm crazy... flame away....
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I wonder if they actually were referencing to the pre amps, because Ives always understood it the that console bread and butter were the eqs and comps, and that the pres were nothing special. But what do I know that came out before I was born.

    theres a john hardy (not sure, think it's an m1) down at the other studio, if I ever finishe the wood work I'll actually get to play the the plethora a gear that keeps coming in. Unfortunately we don't have a twin servo99 so I couldn't compare them, but in could offer some comparasons vs a trident 20, and API, which I dunno would help.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Acoustic instruments through any configuration of John Hardy is a joy to behold. I kick myself everytime I think I let that 4 pak of M1's slip by when I actually had the money and they were used and dirt cheap on a studio closure. Now I use a John Hardy op-amp with a Jensen transformer in my ADK AP-2. Its an approximation but theres still that "thing" in there.
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    John explains it in a video. Seems the theory is better (relative with this stuff!!!) gain throughout the spectrum in a high-gain application.
  9. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    You should be beat!
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    the dog needs a good spanking lol. No kibbles for a week.
  11. rectifryer

    rectifryer Active Member

    I utilize the 30 day return policy of most stores heavily. They hate it, but it normally ends up in me picking up a more expensive piece of gear than initially planned. I think what puts most people off from trying things is that places like Sam Ash, Guitar Center, and even most mom and pop stores have terrible customer service. I suppose its really just a feature of all retail now.

    I tried out a 100 dollar mic at Sam Ash once and the sales associate recorded me so I could see how I sound. I did not like what the mic sounded like so I told the associate that I would not purchase the mic in which he stated "So your just going to **** me like that?". I went across the street and bought a $700 mic after they let me try it out with no hassle.

    lol it's this type of attitude that businesses shouldn't have to demonstrate value in a product that really screws themselves in the end. So we see interested parties turning to the internet for reviews from people that have no actual experience with the item.
  12. ondray

    ondray Active Member

    If you're in the 500 Series module mode. You can't beat Avedis MA5, API 512c or Great River MP-500N. These three pre's are top notch. My favorite being the GR. I only use these pre's these days (minus the avedis, no longer around, and I want them back). I can't comment on other pre's I haven't used. Another Pre/channel I've tried out recently is the UA LA610, and it's not bad at all.
  13. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    There is way too much "hype" in the trade mags about everything audio and recording. The devil is in the details, and certainly the sound. The "starved plate" preamps don't "float my boat". On-board preamps in a lot of equipment including CDR recorders, etc. don't tolerate high output mics. Even if you use an attenuator before the preamp. Overdrive a preamp (especially solid state) and you will get crap instead of quality. So back to the tube units...

    Doug Fearn (D.W. Fearn) builds a nice preamp. Heard good things about Hamptone; haven't used one. The Ampex MX-35 or Altec 1567A sounds good as long as good transformers are used on the output. The old Gates preamps used in some radio station consoles (e.g. M5215, etc.) sound great as long as they have been recapped and the tubes are quiet. Note the Gates preamps require an outboard power supply! Have time on your hands? Build your own. Stay away from most of the tube manual schematics; they are not intended for commercial work. I have experimented with "homebrew" preamps using the D3a (in triode), 417A, 5879, EF86, etc. Schematics can be found digging around on line for those who don't design their own. The ECC83 (12AX7) is OK but you will go through a bunch of them to find a quiet one. The input stage of a preamp is the "make or break" stage..for gain, stability, and noise; this also includes the quality and shielding of the input transformer. A high quality output transformer is necessary to make the preamp "talk" to other equipment.

    If you build or work with tubes, be careful. The power supply voltages are dangerous. Most of the power supplies use high value filter capacitors that will hold a charge long after the unit is turned off. Look in an old UTC catalog for schematics for regulated tube gear power supplies. United Transformer has been out of business for years, but other manufacturers (i.e. Hammond) build similar units. A tube preamp is NOT a inexpensive option unless you have the transformers and power supply in your parts cabinet....this makes the cost of a Fearn or Hamptone preamp understandable.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Yup. Music retail ain't what it used to be. There was a time when I could walk into any one of the local stores and they knew me by name, what gauge and brand strings I used, and I could pretty much walk out with any piece of gear and try it for a few days... in some cases, without even leaving a CC number, because they knew me, they knew I was serious, and they knew that eventually, I would buy.

    Those days are long gone, and instead of the sales staff working with you and cultivating a long term relationship, now they just try to sell you whatever they have too much of, or worse, attempt to sell you something completely different than what you require because they are idiots....and, they take you for a fool most of the time when it comes to gear, assuming you're clueless when 9 times out of 10, you could teach them about the gear.

    I walked into GC about 3 years ago... I had just come back from a camping trip and I looked like, well, I looked like I'd been camping for three days - LOL - and every single sales person in that store completely ignored me. They had no idea that I had $1200 in my pocket and that I was looking to purchase gear that very day.

    You got lucky. In these parts, in that scenario, you probably wouldn't have been treated any better at the store across the street than you did at the first one. ;)
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I went to Future Shop with a defective Blue Ray player and they swapped it for a brand new !

    And, I've waited a month to get back my 1k audio interface. What does that tell you ?

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