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Hearing the difference?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by griz, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. griz

    griz Active Member

    I just tested 3 preamps: Grace 101, Daking Mic Pre One and a Universal Audio Solo 610 with my U87 and RE20. While I was hoping to test a Vintech & DW Fearn, I decided with other project irons in the fire I could not truly afford those pieces now.

    To tell you the truth, while I could hear differences between the Grace, Daking & UA, I could not quantify those differences in any practical, meaningful way, nor could I assess which one was better. I thought they all sounded pretty good.

    But after the testing I recorded a session with the Grace and the U87. The Grace sounded great, however, after editing the session I became disenchanted with the sound of it. I couldn't tell you why. Both the Daking and the UA seem to have a little more poop to them, but I didn't have the time to re-record the session twice to assess my extended reaction to them.

    So I guess my thought/question is: Do I have lousy ears or do you guys just have golden ears? I can hear good v bad better than a lot of people, but I don't have a clue what to do about it. ...and at my age can I improve my listening?
  2. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Can you hear the tonal differences between compressors? I remember listening to compressors when I just started recording thinking, "Ummmm, what exactly does this thing do? Everything sounds the same." The preamp itself doesn't make a tone, or else you would see preamp players in bands. It's more of how it colorizes the tone. And if you aren't REALLY familiar with the tone going into the preamp, you might not even hear how one preamp colorizes the tone differently than other without repeated listening tests. I'm no expert on preamps, but that's my whole take on them. I don't know about you, but I use preamps to boost signal levels, not to colorize tone. I used to be extremely picky about what guitar I'd use, but now it's like, "Give me something with pickups suited for what I want to do and it'll be fine." Maybe I'm just lazy or burnt out from years of cork sniffing?
  3. BDM

    BDM Active Member

  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    You can train your ear. Its doesn't happen overnight. Just keep focusing on listening and doing A/B tests.
  5. griz

    griz Active Member

    ...poop - a technical term for more substance :wink:
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The Grace is a pre that is meant to add exactly NOTHING to the signal. Clean as a......fill in the blank for your favorite clean terminology.........

    The Daking and the UA especially, have a bit more iron in the path and therefore have that special sauce.

    Remember, in recording multiple tracks with the same pres and mics, you tend to put a stamp on the entire set of tracks that will be accentuated when you mix them all together.

    In the old days when all we had was the pres in the console, this wasnt a bad thing especially if the console had that sound on its own....ie:Neve, MCI, API, Helios etc etc...

    The same would be true for a signal chain like U87->Daking->recorder. I would think the size and 'poop' delivered by this combination to be something easily dealt with in a mix.

    In this day of the DAW, having a mulitple number of different types of pres for different signals, makes it easier to control certain aspects of certain instruments or voices at the tracking.

    Its all about the color of the pallette.
  7. griz

    griz Active Member

    At this point I'm only recording dry narration tracks. Clean is good but I guess my ears wanted a little something extra.

    Even if I start 8-tracking again, I'll only be using production music or perhaps some on location sounds like Montana gunfire. *hehehe*
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    In that case you probably liked the UA just a bit more????
  9. griz

    griz Active Member

    Actually, my ears often hear the thickness of tube pres as muddy distortion, so I decided on the Daking (without my own personal vote of confidence).

    When I finish building my new studio, I'll revisit the preamp situation and bring in the Vintech, the Fearn and some other really high end pres if I feel it is necessary.

    The UA has been around since I worked in my first radio station in 1967, not the Solo 610...but that doesn't matter. One of the reasons I didn't pick it was my delayed reaction to sound. I figured I could tune the pre and think it sounded great...then do the narration and be sick and tired of the sound by the time I did the edits.

    I hear stuff...but can't tell if I like it until I've listened to it over and over again...but I'm the same way with cigars. I can't tell if I like a cigar until I've smoked a dozen of them. :roll:
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Well, when you do test the Vintech, Which I like also, and the Fearn, dont forget the ViPre.
  11. MC3DPCS

    MC3DPCS Active Member

    There probably are some golden ears here. Probably some overexposed folks with tinitus here too.

    In my experience, the longer I have with gear, the better I get at classifying the character it has. If you can find some of the old issues of The Absolute Sound, there are articles about describing specific aspects of sound quality. Some people find that useful. With a preamp or amp, I like to get to know them in longer blocks, like at least 10 to 15 consecutive days of at least an hour or two a day. Then, when you swich to your old reference, the differences are easier to hear. Then it gets down to thinking about whether it's better or just different. If you find yourself listening longer and/or louder, there's a good chance that it is cleaner. I have a neighbor that plays violin and I use him as well as acoustic piano to characterize gear. Both are difficult to get right. So is the voice of a talented singer.
  12. griz

    griz Active Member

    I suffered buyer's remorse over not buying the UA solo 610, but decided to eliminate all doubt and buy a Fearn.

    I'll keep the Daking until I buy a VinTech. That will give me a choice of PREs for the 3 voice mics I've decided to keep: U87, 416, and RE20...which will hopefully satisfy the producers I encounter.

    Building bass traps this weekend with OC703 :)
  13. RonanChrisMurphy

    RonanChrisMurphy Active Member

    Now you have no excuses if you stuff does not sound great.
  14. griz

    griz Active Member

    hehehehe...at least no excuses for the electronics 8)

    There's still the room to tune up...

    ...and reads to refine.

    YUP! Still plenty of excuses...but then I'm not an excuses kinda guy. :!:

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