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Help me upgrade some things, please.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by RestoreSilence, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. RestoreSilence

    RestoreSilence Active Member

    Hey guys, new here.

    I've finally gotten to a point in my illustrious career(ha.) that I have enough extra money to buy some new toys. Yay!

    I've been running with an 828mk2 for a while now as an interface with a few various lower end pres and mics. I'll be purchasing a TLM 103 soon and am wondering what mid level pre to pair it with. I do mostly singer-songwriter type deals so, whatever you think will bring out the best in that.

    I don't know a whole lot about gear, so hopefully you guys can help me out. Mostly looking in the 600-1000 range. Thanks!
  2. Chief Engineer

    Chief Engineer Active Member

    Focusrite is good bang for your buck stuff. you should be able to get what you need for $500 easy. Dont be led to believe that a $1,000 pre is going to give you a bunch more than a $400 pre.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    actually a 1000 dollar pre will give you much more than a cheaper pre. you just have to know how to use it and which one to choose.

    transformer in and out is a good place to start. discreet rather than chip based is also desireable. class a operation is also good. last it must have a robust power supply. none of this wall wart crap. cheers!
  4. Chief Engineer

    Chief Engineer Active Member

    Oh really? Much more what?
  5. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    There is a certain quality about certain preamps that I think does make a difference. I'm partial to Neve Pres though I don't own even a single portico. I've listened to them enough to know the difference. A $500 500 series preamp is different than a two channel pre @ $500, much less an 8 channel preamp. Essentially that would be comparing a preamp at $500 a channel to a preamp at $250 per channel or $60 per channel in the case of an Octopre. That's not to say you can't get a good sound from a cheaper preamp but it's a lot easier to get a sweet sound from a well built preamp.

    One of the old mods here Link lives a short distance from me and he designs this stuff as a hobby. He builds quality preamps and effects and does some very nice mods. He had me over at one time to try out one of his preamps and do a comparison. There were several pres involved. The ones in his old Mackie console, his "Lucid" pre and a Neve Portico. They all sounded decent. The Mackie a little more sterile. The Lucid, detailed. But the Portico just has a way of smoothing out the high end and warming the mids. They just sound nice. Sure they aren't the same as the ones in the 5088 or even the 88RS but they are nice and well over $1000. I'd say, worth it at that price.

    There is an audible difference. It's more noticeable on some sources than others.

    Of course you can get great recordings from just about any preamp but a well built discreet circuit based preamp is going to be easier to "squeeze the juice" from. The better the tool, the easier the work.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    for 500, i'm a huge fan of the presonus eureka channel. the pre is nice, the compressor is nice, and the eq is okay. if you only need one channel i'd personally get this over a pre-only in the 500 dollar range.

    this is not to purpose that any old mid level channel strip outperforms a pre only in the range. i'm saying that the eureka is one of the rare units that very much surpasses the price. and because of this the versatility of the added comp/eq, makes it a killer bargain. it's a transformer coupled pre, although i have to check if it's input only on the transformer. for instance the joemeek oneQ is basically a pre w/ a bunch of "suck knobs". w/ only the high end eq knob being usable.

    i use a manley dual tube regularly, and it's a surprisingly clear, mildy warm tube based pre. it's my default overhead drum pre, and i really really like it for smoothing digital keyboards.

    i also use an octo pre for some drums, it's fine, nothing bad, it's not much better than any pre you'll find in an interface in around it's price range. warm audio stuff get some good reveiws. so does 7th circle, if you wanna go diy.

    lately i've been leading towards transformer based sounds like the api 550. i tend to like to push things when it's appropriate, and i find i'm liking the sound of overdriven transformer based pre's. although next on my personal hit list, is a UA 2-610 tube unit. and another eureka or to.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    In the $500 - $1000 category you could look at an Audient Mico in the non-transformer input variety, or the Focusrite ISA One or ISA Two as good-quality transformer-input units. If you were to go for either the ISA One Digital or the Audient Mico you could connect into the optical inputs of your 828Mk2 and by-pass the 828's ADCs, giving you an extra boost in quality.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm interested to hear your opinion on where you find the most audible difference(s) to be. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm being very sincere here.

    I like to hear from other engineers what their take on a given situation/application with a particular piece of gear is.


  9. RestoreSilence

    RestoreSilence Active Member

    I had the ISA One & Two in sight. Should I lean towards either one? Is there a big gap in quality in two or is the price gap solely based off of the two inputs.

    Could you explain the optical inputs in relation to quality for me as well :)?

    Sorry for all these questions, haha.
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The ISA Two is basically a two-channel version of the One, but with fewer frills and (to date) no digital output option. If you envisage only needing a single mic channel, then the ISA One Digital is a serious contender. If you think that two channels (e.g. for stereo mics) would be needed, then the Audient Mico is worth looking at. You may prefer the sonics of a transformer input pre-amp for use with the TLM103.

    The point about choosing a unit that has optical outputs is that the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) forms part of the pre-amp and you don't use the ADCs in the interface unit. Taking digital outputs from the pre-amp via an optical lightpipe into the optical inputs of an interface (828MkII in your case) means that the interface does not alter the signal in any way, so you record whatever sonic quality the pre-amp and its converters can deliver. There is a added complication about whether the optical data format is 2-channel S/PDIF or 8-channel ADAT, but we can leave that aside for the moment.
  11. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Notably Bass guitar, acoustic guitar and male vocals. Anything that has a prominent low mid presence. The stuff that you might try to "fix" with eq often just sounds "better". Of course you can get a great sound with any good quality preamp regardless of make or price but some preamps just have a way of making the job easier. I would suggest going to your local dealer and just do some comparisons. Your ears will tell you if I am just an audiophile or not. Don't take my word for it.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member


    you don't need high end mic pres .... nooooo ..... no need for them at all .... all the big studios on the planet have their heads up their rear ends ... there's nothing to it. yeah that's it, that's the ticket. no difference in the sound ... noooo yeah that's it.

    the truth is a great pre in the right hands and on the right source can sound amazing. besides better low end there's also an increased sense of front to back dimension and better headroom among other things. in short they just do really sound better. of course if you use a 1073 with a crap mic and run it through crap processing or plugs the "goodulator" effect could be lost. it's more about a high end signal chain from transducer to transducer than just one piece making the difference. there is no "magic bullet".

    that said, i have never known of anyone who has had the chance to do a project or two using high end gear that would say it doesn't make a difference. it's like hotel california ... you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    There's really two schools of thought that goes on here. One is those folks pushing the envelope of the state-of-the-art stuff. The others, are hard-nosed rigid old engineers like myself. I don't like any of that transformer less crap. It was important in the days of analog tape recording. It's counterproductive in today's already crystal clear digital recording apparatuses. So why add insult to injury? Transformers going in and transformers going out changes that. Real transistors and not integrated circuit chips change that. Real transistors can go where no chip has gone before. Tubes made in China are like everything else made in China and sure the hell are not Telefunken's and never will be. So we won't go there. Fine for your average rock 'n roll guitar amplifier. Let them stay there.

    So if you want an API or if you want a Neve, go for the Warm Audio or, Seventh Circle Audio products. A great bang for the buck and almost indistinguishable in sound to my top shelf preamps and at a substantial discount. And that will give you that that warm high headroom lush sound you've heard on all your hit records since the 1970s. Nothing wrong with 1970s technology. It was designed with no holds barred and no thought about economical concerns. So for $300 something US, you get something that is as good as preamps costing 600-$1000 each. And they use good Transformers that make all the difference. You won't believe how a $100.57/58 can sound until you've heard it through one of those preamps. Your jaw will fall open. Click... close it before the flies get in. They're OK when covered in chocolate. I just don't like the sushi flies one gets at 60 mph on their motorcycle when you're yelling... WOW... gulp, ugh, yuck. Hope it wasn't a bee? Talk about heartburn! And that's when you have to stop the motorcycle and chug down at least a pint of beer. It's the only way to kill the germs.

    I wear a full face helmet now.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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