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Mic pres

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Tommy osuna, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Just curios what people been using I've been really enjoying the Pacifica by a designs just a great piece if well made gear there's others but just curious what people are using these days
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Pacifica are great pre. For me the choice of pre depends on the source. Everything you do and buy should depend on the source ! ;)

    I really enjoy my LA-610, 4 ISA, UA 4-710

    If money wasn't an issue, I'd like to add, a couple of Grace Design, Vintech x73, Manley slam, A Designs MP-2A, Great River MP-2NV and presonus ADL 700 to my collection !! :whistle:
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Tommy, welcome!

    Many make me happy but the M-2b is by far one loved most. Nothing quite like it. MP 2NV, ADL 600, Lavry makes a killer SS in the Blacks, SPL Premiums are just beautiful.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I don't own any boutique pres at the moment; I'm currently using a PreSonus 1818vsl - and while I really like it for its transparency and power, I also recognize that it isn't quite the same caliber as certain high end pre's.

    Out of all the nice preamps I've ever used as a hired-gun engineer, I would say that the various pre's by Manley, Vintech and Millennia all had "that" sound... the pro sound.

    I can tell you of one that I thought was way over-rated, both in its claims of sound and its price tag, and that was the Avalon 737. I found the color to be more than a little bit on the muddy side; thick and dark.
    I tried several nice mic combinations with it - AKG 414's, U87's, U89's... and the results were always thick and dark.

    I suppose there are some who may like that particular sound, or, the occasional scenario where that sound is desired, but it wasn't a choice that I would have personally made, especially considering the price tag.
    I'll even go one step further and say that I have an Aphex 107 Tube Dual-Channel Pre ( around $250) that I think sounds infinitely better - all the way around - than the high priced Avalon 737.

    IMHO of course. ;)

  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Yeah I should add that one to my list.. LOL
  6. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    Wow I've never heard of the Avalon making things dark there must be another product in the chain I have one and there's nothing dark about it clear and clean no color at all
  7. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    I played the boutique preamp game. The truth (according to me) is that a good pre comes in all shapes and sizes. I actually like and chose my D&R console pre's instead API, shadow hills, Audient and a bunch of others. All of them are fine and work well. Getting color from a pre is like getting color from the wrapper of a crayon. It may helkp you decide which color to use but the source is the actual color. If you want some grit record something gritty. I've never listened to an album and been able to tell what pre they used.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Regarding source, I also agree with Paul.

    Which is why big rail, transfomerless pre's are my choice in comparison to others I have. If I had a choice and the need, all I would have is a rack of Millennia m-2b's . Once I owned one, I want no other. But they are heavy and very expensive. The difference between those and everything else I have or had at one time, is like comparing FM to AM. Vocals, LA2A, 1176, MEQ-5 into an M-2b is crazy. So, I choose source, and outboard to shape and expect the pre to deliver it to the AD. I don't want the pre to squash or degrade.
    Its also easier to hear what outboard gear is doing when your console and your pre's aren't degrading your signal.

    I did not hear this difference early on but when I started investing in mics like DPA. Royer SF24, Bock etc, through Prism conversion,into a clean big rail console. This is also why I choose the Neos to mix and the Dangerous Master for the mastering matrix. Both those two console are colourless. And to continue, why I also want a transparent monitor system that is connected to the mastering bus, not somewhere else.

    As an example, an MP 2NV vs M-2b through the the exact chain, the tranny is more dirty and smaller.
    I used to wonder why people didn't go for the ultimate pre they could buy, I mean, once I heard this, its easy to hpf to the tracks you want inside the space. When you use something with big rails like the m2b, and mix though a Neos, its a no brainer. But, I can see using the MP 2NV for guitars or drums that you don't want size or such clarity, or fuss and you know it does "exactly" what you need. So, pre's can be perfect for groups. ( bass, drums, keys, guitars, percussion, vocals). I look at them like one can group stems mixing.

    Then there are boutique SPL Premiums. These two have a big rail sound with the added lundahl in and out. You can shape that by over driving then too! They aren't as pure and sweet and an M-2b but have the sheen with a slight smaller footprint. I suspect that's what the lundahl's add / do or take away.

    So, I bought eight of those for tracking drums or a group of mics that I want consistent. In suppose we can group pre's like I group tracks. Pre's for drums, pre's for acoustic instruments etc. But to contradict this, again, if could afford 32 channels of M-2b, I would.
    So, as I learn more and more about source vs mix, lower end pre's might be choice for something you need less transparency and size I guess. But the best I've heard without question is transformerless big rails. The tube in the M-2b adds a slight silk. I should actually say I would like a mixture of HV3 with a few m-2b. Pre's are what delivers my source to the AD. The less they degrade my chain, the better I hear what I am doing with the source.

    Thats how I hear it.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i tried some Avalons in the past. i rented them for a session because i was curious . didn't like them. while i wouldn't call them "dark" i did sense a "palastic-iish" sound to the highs that i really disliked.

    choice of pres is much like the choice of milkshake flavors. some really like vanilla, others crave chocolate and others go for the more exotics. what one person likes has nothing to do with what others will take a shine to. you have to use you ears and try different ones to find a pre that you like. it takes experience. if possible try renting different pres to learn what they are good for. listen to recordings, the ones that catch your ear try to find out who and what recorded them.

    i have found that a lot of the recordings i really like were tracked with Neve boards. i also dig the sound of API or any other pre that is transformer balanced for the most part. i am currently using the JLM TMP8's and a Millennia Origin STT-1. JLM's for color and the Millennia for accuracy.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Indeed, but is that the song and era influencing this too? That was of an era that large consoles only existed?
    I would suspect so. The recordings I like are all in my vinyl collection but I'm pretty certain my love for them has absolutely nothing to do with the Neve, noisy Pultec's, smoke lathered diaphragms, vinyl or tape.
    They are a product of the times, not the gear per-say. I'm pretty certain I would be happy with just about anything if I was tracking music I loved. But, we have choices and it is indeed a lot of home work.

    I think ACDA, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Santana etc would all sound great with the new boutique products available today too. To me, its all about the source and who is at the wheel. Big consoles are the logical choice because its all there. There are standards that worked and still work.

    But in today's world, we have way more choices. And, these choice are every bit a good as the old days, actually superior but that's another topic..

    I think the worst sounding music was around the beginning of digital. I think accumulative plug-in over use is more to be concerned over than all the emphasis people are putting into hardware. We need to stop editing with all that crap and pay more attention to the creative part. I do stand strong in saying, great pres' don't degrade my source. The choice ones are the ones that keep the size and may or may not have trannies. The rest is in the mix. Consoles are a choice, but absolutely unnecessary for world class sound. One DAW and a 2 channel pre will produce music that could be loved for centuries.
  11. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    Until I invested time into room treatment micpres made a huge difference. A ton of room treatment evened the playing field. I have had the heavy hitter mics and pres. Vintage Km 84's etc. The difference became uninteresting to me. Workflow became very interesting. I've not tried the Millennia so I can't comment on it per say. I can say I am uninterested in trying a pre that costs 2k.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    room and room treatment is step one. (y)
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    that should go without saying.
    i don't think so. like i mentioned, i have the Millennia here as well as the TMP-8's in addition to an older Yamaha ML7 and i have to say (although i haven't been tracking much lately) that when i do record i am going to the TMP-8 or te MLA7's much more than the Millennia.

    i will say i could use any of them and get by. i really think the content has much more to do with getting a great recording than the mic pres (or any other gear).
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The 737 that I used - brand new out of the box by the way - was colored big time. It just wasn't a good color.

    BTW... I'm a tad bit insulted that you would just automatically assume that there must have been "another product" in the chain to have caused the issues I heard. There was no other product in that chain when I heard what I heard. Otherwise I would have said so. Contrary to what some may believe, I'm not an idiot. Jeez... :cautious:
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    That pre isn't the same Kurt, but I do agree with you on performance!!

    I think we all agree and stress, before you even invest a DIME IN THIS BUSINESS! The first place you start is the room and treatment. I suspect Paul, you have been spinning your wheels for a while. Glad you are on the treatment now. I can't imagine performing in a garage without acoustic treatment above me and very thick draping behind me on a stage.

    I don't know if you are aware of this, but I toured for 18 years and quit! playing in rooms that where boxy halls concrete chambers. So, I think like a musician, not a guy who needs gear to make me sound good. If the room sucks, I don't even play and that is my approach to music. But, I do know what I like in the rooms that are a pleasure to perform in. Which again, is where I base all my opinions and steps towards recording, mixing and mastering.

    This topic can get very confusing and very misleading. I have the luxury to use LA2A, 1176, (MEQ-5 added choice) in a chain. Which is pretty much all I would use when using big rail pre's like the m-2b and vocals. But if I don't have the choice for those tannny based comps, then it could be, I would be better off using a pre with less transparency. So, all this is very subjective to who's coming at it with what they have or hear. . And we haven't even touched on monitoring and mixing.
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    actually it is .....
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've read that Kurt, but to my understanding, its different. The M-2b is a beast with a rail that must have something to do with it. Its not hybrid / twin topology like the NSEQ-2 either. But, I'm not a tech guy so maybe Joel will chime in. I'll ask him.

    But never the less, again, I base my love for this particular Millennia because I use an LA2A/1176 combo in front of it. So, I am not the thinking type that pres of colour are actually the best choice for my chain. There comes a point where its too much copper. Which is why we get misinformation about a pre or mic etc. If you notice, I always share my chain. I NEVER trust an opinion to be accurate if the user isn't taking their chain into the equation.
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Regarding the Millennia, i will say both pres are exceptional.

    The Origin has two selectable mic pres .... the HV3 and the M-2b. it also has a tube/solid state selectable eq and EL -OP comp which is very much similar to an LA2a. I wish i could find a second one i can afford so i can put a pair on the summing 2-bus going from one computer to another .... that would be sooooo cool.
  19. Tommy osuna

    Tommy osuna Active Member

    I did not desire you to feel any disrespect on the Avalon any use of that pre has always been clean and clear so I was just thinking if a possibility that added that darkness

    It's all good in the audio discussions
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    No worries I sure, Tommy. I got your intent which might have been taken wrong from Donny based on him thinking you were doubting his ear. Its a passionate discussion gathering! Aren't we having fun! :love:

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