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How important - Limiter/comp built into a mic preamp?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Mark_Knecht, Jan 9, 2002.

  1. Mark_Knecht

    Mark_Knecht Guest

    Hi all,
    My first post here. This is an excellent forum. Thanks.

    I'm sort of exploring an idea for a product that would potentially have a mic preamp built into it. The final product would be some form of digital out - s/pdif, optical or something else. This is mainly for the semi-pro Pro Tools sort of market, but our intention is to figure out how to make it good enough for you guys also.

    I'm curious about how studio engineers feel about having limiters and/or compressors built into their mic preamps? Do you prefer to have one built in that can be bypassed, even if it costs a bit more? Or would you prefer to have a mic pre with more output headroom and use an external limiter or compressor of your choice. If you buy preamps that have them, do you mostly not use them?

    Obviously the downside potential is that when switching it out it's not totally out sonically and somehow effects the sound, as well as some potential extra cost.

    Again, this question may or may not play into anything we try and build, but I'm just trying to understand better how you guys usually set your signal chains up.

    Again, thanks in advance.

  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    I'm not opposed to paying more for the option of bypassing a limiter... but really I'd rather not have a limiter at all. If I want a limiter, I'll slap on a limiter. I'd be more interested in a pre with comprehensive metering, variable loading and impedance knobs, and maybe a remote control. All knobs should be stepped for easy recall. (Maybe digital control?) And of course, it should sound different from every other pre on the market.
  3. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    That's what inserts are for. Unless the one you want to tack on is better than other stuff on the market for a similar price (retail adjusted) to what your adding to the unit, there's little point. And if it can't switch it completely out, that mars the whole thing.

  4. Roy Howell

    Roy Howell Guest

    Hi Mark, it's Roy... just popped over to check Recorderman's OH setup ideas. Very cool...
    How's the preamp comin'? Buzz me.....
  5. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    I've had an ATI 8MX2 kicking around for a while. It's a one rack space 8 channel mic pre that can be used with 8 individual outputs or summed to a stereo bus. Each pre also has a limiter pot, but to be honest, I've never used the limiters. But at least someone is implementing your idea. The unit cost a couple of grand about six years ago.
  6. dynamo12

    dynamo12 Guest

    Hey little dog,
    i've been checking the ATI 8mx.
    Seems a cool box with the great features. for on location recording.
    I'm very curious about the preamps. They are
    supposed to be good..
    May i have your impression possibly with some comparison to have a better idea. Thanks a lot. Jo
  7. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Member

    Hi Mark,

    If we're talking high-end, no need for the limiter. Let the user choose the dedicated limiter or comp for the job.

    Concentrate on making a great, one-of-a-kind-sounding mic pre.

  8. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Originally posted by dynamo12:
    Hey little dog,
    i've been checking the ATI 8mx.
    Seems a cool box with the great features. for on location recording.
    I'm very curious about the preamps. They are
    supposed to be good..
    May i have your impression possibly with some comparison to have a better idea. Thanks a lot. Jo

    I can't remember the exact reference, but I remember reading that someone significant was using the ATI as their only preamp in their mobile rack that they used for remote recording of folk and classical music in rural Asian locales. They did say they liked it a lot.

    I have used it in studio for drum kits (the preamps have a lot of headroom). I have also used the stereo submix feature in doing studio gospel vocals, where we are using 8 singers and doing three or four passes to get the sound of 24-32 voices. Using the panning and submixing features, the vocals were able to be recorded on 6-8 tracks instead of 24-32 with excellent results.

    I can't compare it to other 8 channel units (Millennia, Grace, PreSonus, Oram, etc.) because I've never used any of those - but I believe the preamps are based on the ones used in Paragon boards (primarily used in live sound). They don't sound like Neves, APIs or TubeTechs, but they still have a bit of character - moreso than Syteks, for instance. Maybe leaning in the Trident direction. Wouldn't be my first choice for a lead vocal, grand piano, or electric bass, (only because I have others available I would tend to grab first) but I wouldn't hesitate to run backup vocals, drum kits, and horn or string sections through it.

    The service on the unit is first rate, by the way. A couple of years ago it started running really hot and smelling like ozone. I sent it back and they fixed it really quickly at no charge - even though it was out of warranty. They even send me a Xmas card every year!

    One other note: the unit does have a small fan in it. It's pretty quiet as fans go, but still slightly noisier than a heat sink design. Never really bothered me, as it's far quieter than an ADAT machine, my 21" CRT monitor, and a lot of other stuff a typical studio might have. Still, it might bother someone who had an otherwise dead quiet room.
  9. dynamo12

    dynamo12 Guest

    great info. Thanks. Jo
  10. eagner

    eagner Guest

    Last year I bought a Langevin dual vocal combo because it seemed like a great deal--2 mic pres, 2 limiters, and minimalistic EQ in 2 rack spaces. It's all good sounding stuff, the only drawback is you have to keep it away from other transformers...

    I bought it *because* it's a combo unit. And I'm a cheapskate, working out of my house.

    I would question building the converters into it--converters improve fairly quickly, and that would obsolete the unit if a user couldn't upgrade to the next sample rate or whatever comes down the pike.

  11. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    You'll be fine as long as something sounds great and original (ie "can't be duplicated by anything else") on the box, and we have the option of bypassing everything else.

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