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Mic Preamps - Coloured/Colored vs Natural

Discussion in 'Preamps & Processing' started by lostindundee, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hi there

    Before I say anything else, I would like to point out that I searched but couldn't find anything useful with regard to specific gear I'm about to refer to here in relation to their comparison.

    Learning more and more about recording over time and going through major upgrades, I now know the value and importance of good quality preamplification. In fact, I see it as a must.

    I'm looking for possibly 2 dual channel preamps fairly soon to go with my new RME MultifaceII and am torn between two schools of thought. My price ceiling for each dual channel pre would be £750/$1500. Obviously, spending less than my limit would be desireable but not at the expense of quality.

    Being a former owner of an Ampeg SVT Classic Bass Head around 12 years ago which I used a Fender Jazz and Rickebacker 4001 with, I want a similar nice fat warm sound for bass and nice warm rock sounds for guitars. Hence my reason for wanting a tube pre.

    However, although I would like to record rock stuff, I would like versatility in relation to recording accoustic guitars and stuff like banjos and drums and perhaps even saxophones, violins and harmonicas and obviously vocals with the clarity and accuracy required in several different styles of music. Therefore, if I've done my research properly, I would like one of my pres to be transformer based with a clean accurate natural quality.

    Tube Pre
    I am aware that there is an Ampeg SVTMP thingy out there. However, I would rather not be limited to this as my Tubey thing. I would rather prefer to stick with 2 fairly nice quality dual channel preamps so that I can record drums if need be. One such shortlisted pre I had in mind was an inexpensive SPL GoldMike 9844. However, I can't find enough information on this one in order to make an informed decision.

    Transformer Pre
    I have been hearing lovely things about Neve pres with many saying that Rupert opts for more natural clean sounds with accuracy. I then stumbled upon the Portico 5012 whilst surfing. A bit out of my price range I know (by (£350/$700). However, if needed I am willing to push the envelope on one of my purchases for the sake of quality. Truth be told though, I'm now a little confused about this Neve pre having read that it's considered colourful. Wouldn't this push it up towards the Tube pre sound?

    My purchases have not been decided yet. I would appreciate some serious advice from you good folks on here as I'm not too clued up on the preamp market - sounds, technology, manufacturers etc. I would like to purchase just once with piece of mind that I've bought the right gear in my price range without regrets as I have a terrible tendency, as we all do, of buying and then wanting to uprade to something better.

    Which two Pres (warm tubey & clean natural) would you recommend in my price range? I would consider slightly above my price ceiling if a great 'must have' pre exists for not much more than I stated?

    Kindest regards

  2. Link555

    Link555 Distinguished Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    These are decent transparent pre amps.

    For colour Maybe a Neve 1073 copy such as Great river

    Bit out of your price range, but decent.

    Maybe buy a single ME-1NV and one Sytek...
  3. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Sometimes tube pre won't drive you home the way you expect. Especially cheaper models. Be patient about tube pre decision. Save the money for the beast.

    I don't know about Goldmike but I have experience with SPL Gain Station (it's hybrid). Very, very good pre. From pretty clean to the mojo land. I was impressed by this brick.

    Although Great River isn't Neve clone at all, it has somewhat similar sonic footprint when driven harder. Also very good, all rounder pre, from clean to colored sound.

    Believe me I know how you feel about it. That first step...

    There is another option (I did it that way 8) without regrets), buy a API 6B (or 10 slot) Lunchbox and fill it with different modules by the time. There are a lot of 500 series preamps, clean, colored... even tube.


    If you are looking for 1073/EMI vibe, with smoother transients and warm low middle range, than probably Avedis ME5 or JLM 500 TG is the way to go.

    API-ish fast and tight, cut through upper mids: 512c, Eisen, Buzz, Purple, OSA

    Something in between: JLM dual 99, GR, P1,

    ... and so on.

    This graph would also be helpful in orientation


    Happy hunting :cool:

    Just to add my 6-lunch vision:

    2 x API 512 – for anything that needs punch and front in the mix
    1x Avedis MA5 – Neve
    1x JLM 500 TG – Neve but different
    2x something transparent for acoustic work (I’m still searching for…)

    All basic colors covered.

    Then, selling a kidney and … 2x VIPRE :mrgreen:
  4. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Thanks People


    Thank you for you rkind replies Link555 and Groff. I really appreciate the advice. :D

    The graph's helpful too.

    I'm kinda still undecided. I'm now possibly considering the Sytek MPX-4Aii. alongside a Sebatron vmp-4000e. They appear to be quite a bit apart from each other in the spectrum. However, I'm a bit concerned about the Sytek's lack of DIs for guitars. The signal chain would be getting a bit complicated with a Di box>>Sytek>>RME Multiface>>PC...lol

    4 channels on each of these preamps for the price is pretty good going though.

    Sebatron vmp-4000e = £1000/$2000 (approx)
    Sytek MPX-4Aii = £450/$900 (approx)

    Does anyone have any more opinions on these choices regarding their quality?

    Off course, the other option would be to buy a couple of better quality 1 channel Pres instead, or even 2 channel. However, I would really like more than just 2 pres at my disposal.

  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    If you would like a very complete overview of the Sebatron, please scroll down to the gear section where you will find a forum by the manufacturer himself....
  6. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Re: Thanks People

    It is not, moreover, it's usual chain, and you certainly will need one or two (active, passive) of those boxes for tracking DI signal with miced amp.

    When you go around 1k or more per channel it's not more the game of better quality - they all are just fine tools with different colors ... a personal preference and style.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Hi lostindundee - you're getting some good advice here.

    I think it's interesting to consider an API lunchbox chassis and then choose what modules you would put in it. If you couldn't stretch to the API originals, there are many excellent modules available within your budget from third parties, some built and some in kit form. You can select coloured or transparent designs, and. of course, you need only buy the number of channels you can afford at the moment leaving slots for expansion later. If you are worried at the thought of building a module up from a kit, I'd be happy to help you there.
  8. lostindundee

    lostindundee Active Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    Thanks again guys

    Davedog - I noticed the Sebatron board and figured that the pres must be decent if they have their own board here. Will do some reading now.

    Groff - Thanks for the advice on the 1k stuff and the Lunchbox. The lunchbox just may be an option here. I don't know yet.

    Boswell - thanks again. I really appreciate it. I may ask you for some advice regarding which pres (for versatility) to put in a lunch box regarding transparentish through to coloured.

    I think I have some research and thinking to do now. Mmmmmmmm

    Thanks again people. You've all been very helpful here and I'm really grateful for your knowledgable input.

    Edited to add: - Does anyone have an opinion on the Neve 1073 DPA/DPD? And also the difference between the two? Twice the price of the 5012 = Yikes!!!



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