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Hard Question For The Pros

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by badnews, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    So i got a touch question for the pros

    I want to upgrade my current setup that I have ( at3035 mic, m-audio firewire solo )

    I am probably going to get the SM7B mic but my question isn't with mics

    I want to spend less than $800

    I want a good preamp or audio device

    People were saying since my M-Audio Firewire Solo is so horrible then a good preamp really won't do any good

    So my first thought was i could replace it with something that has a good preamp built in like the RME babyface or the duet2

    But then I read this
    "Professionals that are concerned with the quality of digital analog conversion will buy an outboard DAC that connects to that interface's digital input/outputs. These effectively bypass the DACs on the interface."

    Does that mean that I can still use the M-audio device and without it effecting the sound and basically bypass it?

    This way I can spend all my money on a good preamp?

    Anyone know what I should do???

    Been trying to find out for days so any info would be awesome

    Thanks guys!!!
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You can do all you want at this level by using a good-quality interface and its internal pre-amps without bolting on additional converters. As an aside, you need to distinguish between DACs and ADCs.

    The M-Audio Firewire Solo specifications show (unbelievably) only 40dB gain for its microphone input channel, and this is not enough for an SM7. Both the RME Babyface or the Apogee Duet2 that you mention would be OK in this regard. I would lean towards the RME product, but either of these two would give you a better result than your M-Audio unit even with the AT3035 mic, so one step you could take is to upgrade the interface and see how you go.

    The Shure SM7B is a standard condenser mic for this sort of work, but don't overlook standard VO dynamic mics such as the ElectroVoice RE20, particularly if your acoustic environment is not up to scratch.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty much in agreement with Boswell. (Though I think he mistyped in the last paragraph - the SM7B is a dynamic.) The best strategy on your budget is probably to get the best overall interface that you can afford. The quote you cite is accurate, but applies to systems 50 to 100 times the price of yours. If you buy any outboard gear, the best investments are in analog gear such as preamps. Digital gear like the low end outboard converters will lose value fast. Analog gear is more stable and the price decays more slowly - check out the price of a used Groove Tube Brick preamp and compare it to a ten year old converter.
  4. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    ok thank you great advice

    So will there be a big noticeable difference with the RME over my m-audio with the mic i have now?/
    Is it going to be noticeable and worth the money?
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Thanks for the correction, Bob. I was typing in a hurry as usual.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Short answer, Yes. Longer answer: To be able to notice the difference you have to be able to record a pretty good source at correct levels and have reasonably good speakers or headphones. Given that, I'm almost certain there will be a very noticeable difference, but that is based on experience with similar M-audio and RME products - not the exact models you are considering. As always, it's best to try before you buy.

    Very personal. A burger at Five Guys, Steak at Ruth's Chris, and five courses at The Inn at Little Washington have very different prices. Whether any of them is "worth the money" is up to you. (You said you were asking hard questions.)
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    And yet another option - the Focusrite ISA One Digital. I believe in your last post (and thank you for not re-posting your material) it was observed by JackAttack
    (who, by the way is a Marine and would have gone ballistic had he seen your vid...LOL!!) that you are using a Mac, correct? S/PDIF digital audio input? The ISA One
    has that out; I just bought one to do VO's with an SM7B and an RE-20, haven't used the digital out yet. But it's feature set includes a switchable input impedance that "loads" dynamics like those very well. It will certainly provide you with plenty of gain for those dynamic mics, plus it has a pretty nice monitoring capacity for dubbing vocals. The other night I was playing with it and my future son-in-law started rapping through it on the SM7...that Lundhal transformer rocked!!! OMG...
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    All great information. Lets be clear on the reason you need so much gain for an SM7 mic. This mic doesnt have as much output as something like an SM57 for example. The SM7 is a mic invented for doing voice-overs and radio broadcast which typically have a very high output gear with all the processing to the transmitter. So, in order to keep the noise floor to minimum in this application, the Shure engineers built that mic with a lower output.

    Using this mic is all about keeping the noisefloor to a minimum while being able to bring its output up to a desirable level. It has become popular with artists who have a lot of vocal power and who know how to direct their vocal energy into a mic. If you have a loud voice then this is probably the mic for you. If you dont and if you dont understand how to "work" the mic for maximum gain with just your voice, then you'll find it dull and uninspiring regardless of what "they" say. In that case your condenser you already have will be more than adequate for what you're doing, and with the better mic pre, will enhance its sound as well as giving you a better set of controls for you usage.

    The RME gear is very very nice and the Focusrite ISA Digital One is a lot more for the money than most people expect.
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Hi, Moon - I didn't know you ended up with the Focusrite ISA One Digital! How are you liking it?

    To the OP: another pre-amp worth looking at is the non transformer-based dual-channel Audient Mico. I don't know about US pricing, but in the UK, it's about the same as the ISA One Digital, but you get a few more bells and whistles and a few less transformers. It too has S/PDIF output (as standard).

    So you have a bit of a decision to make. Do you replace the M-Audio Firewire Solo with a different (better) interface like the RME Babyface, or do you go for an S/PDIF output pre-amp to plug into the rear of the Solo? If you have the chance to audition any of the pre-amps, you may just find that for VO work and using the right microphone, a transformer input unit gives you the sound you are looking for.
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Just got it for some VO work that has come up at my day job. I'll be doing some narration of Power Point sessions and the audio gear in their "studio" didn't cut it for me ( a PC with a soundcard and an MXL LDC), So the IT dept. is getting it updated with a new PC and Cool Edit, and I agreed to bring in a better mic (either my SM7b or an RE-20) with a decent pre. Plus, I wanted a solid-state "ying" for my tube "yang" (UA Solo/610) when I need a portable desktop. I was really hesitant at first, with the Focusrite reputation getting stepped on so badly over the years, but the feature set really fits what I'll be doing. I'm still not decided what the home project studio will have, but I guess I need to learn PT and be done with it...:(
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I'd wait on PT until it finishes catching up. The recent feature updates as Hueseph pointed out have been available in other DAW's for long long time. PT11 might be different. In the meantime Reaper is a very cost effective excellent option. For an option that routes/works like an Analog console there is Audition. One can create aux buses etc. CEP was great in the day but not current in regards to the mix engine etc and Audition is the evolution.
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Thanks, John, I'll look at those, too. BTW, a local PT studio is going belly-up (in this economy...really?) and they have a True P2 I am trying to talk him into parting out. He seems to think that he'll be able to sell the entire rig for $25K, but who has that burning a hole in their pocket these days?
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The P2 definitely rocks! And I think new kinds of penicillin can take care of that burning sensation these days...... ;-)
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeppers. P2 is really good. Clean but like the Focusrite ISA it has some attitude and a huge soundfield. The M-S monitoring matrix is right up the old live recording alley.
  15. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    After looking at the focusrite and from your advice I might get that, only one question
    Will this plug into my m-audio or into the computer like the babyface?
  16. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    I know my iMac has digital output using a mini tos link cable but I didn't think it had digital input.
    I can't find the answer anywhere on apples website. I have the newest iMac i7 available
    so if it does have an digital input then i should sell the m-audio and just look for a good preamp with digital out like the ISA One Digital?
  17. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    OK so the iMac i have does have optical digital audio input (minijack)
    So the it would go mic > ISA > iMac
    Am i correct or will I need anything else?
    Also will i am making a song can I monitor the music and my vocals at the same time through the device?
    Thank you guys SOOOOO much for the help
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yes the ISA has an external stereo cue mix function so you can monitor through the phones in real time. So whatever program you're using in the iMac plus the chain as you described will be enough for one input at a time probably exactly as you're working now. The ISA has a BUNCH of gain so an SM7b is a good choice as long as you understand what the mic 'needs' to sound good. Try your Audio Technica first before you buy a mic. You might be surprised at how good it can sound with a good preamp and WAY better conversion than that M-Audio toy.
  19. badnews

    badnews Active Member

    OK awesome...

    So everyone agrees get the ISA???

    Or do we have any objections

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