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Great River Preamp Choice (& Alternatives)

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by JayTerrance, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I am wondering if my next choice of preamp is off-base in any way. Many of my old preamps were sold many years ago and I'm recently getting more & more back into some home recording/mixing this last year after a long lay-off. I currently have a John Hardy that I use for a couple of Schoeps mics and I am wondering if adding a Great River Mp-2NV would be a very good compliment to the John Hardy. I was thinking I could use the Great River with a couple of my existing ribbon mics and it might have enough "juice" to drive them. (The preamps on my Audio Interface are ok but not where I want to go). Also for other applications, hopefully the new preamp may add some color when driven hard while the Hardy is pretty transparent. I have not kept up with the latest offerings in preamps and I can see that there are many people on here who are far more knowledgeable than I on preamps/mics/hardware. I would probably use the new preamp with an existing AKG414 also.

    Is my thinking on the right track? Or are there alternatives that would make even better sense?

    Thank You.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It's a good question, Jay, but you only give a part of the picture. For us to give you comments that are other than generalisation, we would want to know:

    (1) What type of music are you recording and with what instruments/vocals?

    (2) What type of room will you be recording in (in terms of acoustic properties and treatment)?

    (3) What make and model are your ribbon mics?

    (4) Assuming you are planning to use your existing audio interface for digitising the output of the pre-amps, what make/model is the interface?

    (5) Difficult question, but can you elaborate a little more on how you see "coloured" versus "transparent" in a pre-amp?
    JayTerrance likes this.
  3. pcrecord

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

    Great River, Grace and Millennia are all very good clean pre that could complement the john Hardy nicely.
    I wouldn't hesitate to use any of them. If I had the budget I would buy at least 8 ch of one of those pre.

    Regarding ribbon mics, for those who are on tight budget like me, the Focusrite ISA is a good alternative too.. tons of power and relatively clean but not as clean as GR, Grace and mill...
    JayTerrance likes this.
  4. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

    Thanks Boswell - yes - I should have been more specific on some things. I primarily record & mix pop/jazz/blues/funk. And I also record string groups in my live room that can be up to 8 members. I also record vocal quartets in my live room. And also record lead vox, and grand piano in the live room. I also reamp tracks that are sent to me for natural ambience in the live room. My live room is 41'L x 32W' x 26'H(cathedral ceiling). It is wood floor, wood ceiling, stone fireplace, not particularly "live", but also not as dead as some rooms I've been in. It has average treatment in it with only 2 small nodes(bump) at 52 and another at 105-110. My ribbons are 1 Royer R101 and 2 modified Cascades with the Lundahl transformer.

    My audio interface is my weaker link. The strong part of it is I have a Burl Bomber which accepts 2 inputs, but the other inputs would be a Fireface 800. The Burl is connected to the FF800 via digital. So everything is great when recording with 1 or 2 mics as the FF800 is mainly bypassed for both preamps and AD, but when I record with more than 2 mics (ex. grand piano), I have the main 2 (Schoeps) going to the Burl, but any additional mics (ribbons, etc.) would have to go thru the FF800 (after the new preamp).

    As for "colored" vs "transparent", I was hoping for a preamp that would deliver "clean" if I'm using it for the ribbon room mics when recording the grand piano. My typical piano-mic setup is the 2 Schoeps in/around the soundboard and the 2 ribbons out to the right shoulder of the piano player about 6 to 9 feet away (& also up high). I'm thinking that if I "drive" the new preamp that it would deliver something that the Hardy doesn't. The Hardy stays pretty clean no matter how hard you "drive" it - which is great for piano, acoustic gtr, small group ensembles, etc. But I don't really have anything that can deliver a more colored sound unless I were to do it in the DAW with vst's after the fact. But if I'm getting a new preamp I just want something that sets itself apart from the Hardy a bit. I tend to think of API when I think colored.
    pcrecord likes this.
  5. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

    Thanks Donny for the heads-up on the Focusrite - I'll check that out. You said the Great River and Millenia are cleaner. In what way would they compliment the Hardy preamp that I have?

    Thank You.
  6. pcrecord

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

    It might be that I'm french but I understand that you are not decided yet on clean vs colored.
    A millennia for exemple will give a very accurate representation but wider sound than other preamps. The best guy to talk about it is Chris @audiokid
    The great river is said to be able to be clean to colored depending how you drive it, but honestly I never tried it..
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've owned Great River and although I liked the pre, it never did it for me. Its a British Neve flavour and very versatile. I'm thinking it fits drums best.
    The DI is great. In comparison to the Millennia, its smallish and grainy sounding but of high quality. I would rather use the GR tranny /EQ combo. see how to couple the MP2NV tranny with EQ2NV . Very cool. That would be a good fit for an EQ with flavor.

    Millennia preamps are transparent, broad, open, noble. They require excellent AD and skill because they don't lie or mask like grittier designs. The Millennia M-2b is my pre of choice. If I could have 12 of them, I would. The m-2b is the ultimate "clean is the new colour" pre.
    It is a transformerless tube design with big rails. Its sweet and big. Like a silk layer over HD TV.
    Its expensive and although I am old school, I look to hybrid and digital audio and know what I want. If I need grit, I can can get it ITB after or through a Folcrom via hybrid.

    Hope that helps.
    pcrecord likes this.
  8. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

    Thanks Chris (and pc).

    "clean is the new colour" pre.
    Yeah - that does make lots of sense. I'm thinking that maybe the Millennia needs to be my main pre that goes into the Burl. And move my Hardy over to the FF800 if and when I need more than 2 mics during the track session.

    Holy Smokes - they are spendy units. (sticker shock).
    pcrecord likes this.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It wasn't me who said that, it was Marco. Although I don't disagree with what he or any of the other guys told you. ;)
    pcrecord likes this.

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