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need some advice on buying a low end mic pre

Discussion in 'Recording' started by XYZ, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    hello i m looking to buy a mic pre to warm up my vocal tracks or acoustic guit track i m willing to spend $ 300 to 400 used or new
    any coments?
    i know some of you will say that i should invest more money into it but that s all i have at the moment
    how about the presonus eureka?
  2. vividsonics

    vividsonics Guest

    You didn't mention how many channels you need or what type of music you do, but you might want to look into picking up 2 of the Joe Meek 1/2 rack single channel units. I have the older VC1's that I use and I have used the previous versions of the 1/2 rack single channel at other folks places. These are not going to sound very clean but they get pretty fat and crunchy. My VC1's don't have the EQ and when I used it on the old 1/2 rack ones it was definatley designed to impart "character". I like the compressor for color as well. I think the Presonus stuff tries to sound sort of "Hi-Fi" and versatile and fails where as the Joe Meek, in my experience, tries to sound a little "Lo-Fi" and grimey (what some people think of as warmth) and succeeds quite usably. I will admit I have only listened to the Eureka in a music shop. I have owned an ACP88 and used the M80 several times. I sold the ACP88 the first chance I got and didn't regret it. I didn't like the M80 more than my mixer's pre-amps and wouldn't buy one. If you have a mixer or a sound card with mic preamps, the Meek stuff will probably give you the most variety from what you've already got.
  3. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    thank you for the answer
    i m doing rock /op music
    and i have heard of the joe meek vc1 i have one right here but have to give it back to my friend
    i like it a lot
    but they are hard to find ,the vci ,because it s an old unit
    what would you suggest to replace that vci ?
    i like that warm sound
  4. vividsonics

    vividsonics Guest

    I think you will have a lot of trouble tracking down a VC1. The unit I was thinking of for you however is the ThreeQ. It just came out to replace the previous line. It's a half rack mic pre, optical compressor and EQ for $199 USD or so. So 2 channels would run you about $400 USD. Most of the chain store retailers carry it. I did a search for Joe Meek on Musician's Friend's site and they had them. Good Luck!

  5. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    thank you
    but do you think the line line is as good as the vc1?
  6. vividsonics

    vividsonics Guest

    I highly doubt it. A Eureka to a Higher end single channel Joe Meek of the same price range (i.e. the OneQ) would be a fairer comparison. I would still go for the Meek. The half rack units don't have transformers on the input, have less flexable eq and wall wart power supplies. These are all strikes against it. However I think when you're talking about low end stuff, features like transformers and tubes etc., are only put in for marketing purposes. You said you wanted something that would "warm up my vocal tracks and acoustic guit track" Well, the meek stuff might do the trick. You may think it's a little grungey for acoustic guitar (I wouldn't use it that way). In the price range of "$300-400" I am extremely doubtful you can find something that is still useable in the long run like the meeks could be for you. A Eureka is something you would eventually upgrade. I would say if you're looking to get something a little more aggressive and meaty sounding than your run of the mill Mackie mixer or sound card preamps and software compressors the Meek stuff will work for a lot of people. I really like my VC1's but I have no way to directly compare them to the ThreeQ half rack units. But I think if you were into the VC1 that your friend brought by, you could get 2 channels of the same "vibe" within your budget with the ThreeQ. I hope this answers your question.

  7. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    thank you so much
    you are a very cool
    check out my link
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Groove Tubes "The Brick" is a low cost alternative that has the makings of a more expensive mic pre. Very solid construction through out, transformers on the inputs and outputs and a very adequate power supply. For rucks, I took one apart this morning to see how it was built and I was very (pleasantly) surprised to see through the board construction like that found in almost all high end offerings. The Meek, Eureka and RNP all use robot stuffed surface mount technology. While this holds the costs down, it virtually insures that if the manufacturer ever folds, you are not going to be able to service the unit, because the way they are repaired is by replacing assemblies instead of repairing them. "Field" repair of surface mount PCBs is next to impossible without the proper jigs to hold the components in place while they are re inserted.

    Just holding "The Brick" in one hand and a Meek, Eureka or RNP in the other, will be very telling. The Brick is quite heavy due to the power supply and transformers while the others feel more like toys. "The Brick" "streets" at $325.
  9. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    i look into that
    any comments from any one?
    keep in mine i do rock/pop music
    what about the joemeek vc1q studio channel 2 u rack unit any goods/ i just saw one on ebay for $425 ?
  10. alcohol

    alcohol Guest

    I read this somewhere:

    "Try RANE.

    Last month Eric Schilling did a mic preamp shootout. I brought over a cheap $150 Rane MS-1b mic pre. In every category from sax to snare to vocals it rated first or second against Avalon, GML, Manley, and everything else we could throw in the pile.

    I did it as a silly prank, but now I am very impressed and so was everyone else.

  11. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    You know what?

    I've learned a lot by creeping around here, and asking some questions periodically. The most important thing I'm learning here is this. The gear doesn't matter! Keep in mind I'm speaking as a musician/home recordist. The home recording geek side of me wants to buy all of this cool stuff, but in the meantime the musician side needs to record NOW! Not in two years when I've finally got the studio all put together. I don't know....my point is, to Kurt and other audiophiles who don't get it, sometimes you just buy what you can afford RIGHT NOW in order to get something recorded. It's that important. Just as important as a quality signal path is to you guys. Comprende'???
  12. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    budget is an issue here at least for me
    i have recorded songs and alsbums in million dollrs studios
    but can t afford to own one
    so yes we have to keep in mind that if all one can afford is a $500 gear then lets get the best gear for that $500
    so in my case what wuld would be the best micpre < tube > used for the money?
    so i m looking for a tube micpre used of course for around $500
    some may laught ... but that s all can afford
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Re: You know what?

    Sheesh! Even if I offer an affordable $325 alternitve, I get jumped on for "not getting it" ....

    I really do wish sometimes you guys would keep dragging threads off topic. Apologies to the original poster but I really want to reply on this one. Perhaps someday we can lay all of this to rest?

    It's not like I am some jaded individual that has had money out the tuchass all their life that has no clue what it is like to be financially challenged. Last year I had to sell 2 cars and a bunch of guitars and basses to keep the lights on and put food in the fridge. I do "get it".

    I "get it" more than most seem to think. The first gear I recorded with was Wollensak and Sony RTRs with no pres or mixers ... later I moved to a used BI AMP mixer and a pair of cassette recorders ... recording basics on one recorder then playing back through the mixer and overdubbing on the second recorder. Then I got a 1/4" 7.5 ips Dokorder 4 track and a TEAC 2A mixer (I still have the mixer) ... and it goes on and on. RO doesn't have the bandwidth to support a post containing all the steps I went through getting to where I am today.

    I learned a lot back then with that sh*tty gear (I "get it") but I always understood that I was a schmuck moron "playing around" with audio. I screwed around but when I wanted to make a serious recording, I visited the local pro studio, which was always a learning experience for me. I never made the mistake of thinking I was some kind of "genius" that was going to be recognized someday for producing superior recordings on crap gear who didn't need any direction or improvement in both the skills and equipment departments. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I seem to get that vibe from some people sometimes. That's usually when I go off on a "rant".

    The point is I have seen both sides. I have noticed that most who say gear doesn't matter are the people who have little or no experience with good equipment and the people who for the most part will say that gear can play an important role in a recording usually have used both good stuff and cheap stuff. Now that said, who is best qualified to offer really valid advice or opinion? Experience or ignorance?

    As always, what's recorded is the most important thing ... that's a given. Doesn't even need to be mentioned.

    Cheap gear (especially in the mic pre department) is for the most part, better now than it has ever been in terms of tone and noise specs but still often lacks headroom, dimension and the ability to pass low end without choking, because of poor power supplies that in some instances don't even supply enough juice to supply adaquate phantom power to your condenser mics and cheap capacitors used to filter dc components. Some designs like the PreSonus stuff cheezes out on the transformers which is just as much of a problem. To most untrained ears, used to hearing audio from a TV set or over a radio in a car, this is not so obvious.

    Cheap gear will wear out or break. Most of it cannot be repaired without spending more than it costs to just replace it. Where's the cost saving in that? (WOW! I could have had a real pre amp!) I prefer to purchase things that will last me 'till its time to take a dirt nap.

    Good gear lasts forever, can be repaired and to boot sounds so much better it makes doing the work easier. Instead of concentrating on squeezing the last ounce out of a crap pre and mic, I can throw up a mic and plug it into a high head room mic pre, get levels focus most on what really matters, my performance. If the pre clips a bit, so what? It still sounds very good, regardless of the slight clipping. But with a cheap pre, when it clips it sounds very bad.

    Good gear, often, appreciates in value. Some of it will hold more of it's value, even if it does depreciate. I would think anyone who "cries poor" would want to buy the best value, not something that will need to be replaced sooner than later.

    "The Brick" is a class A device that uses 3 tubes, transformers on the ins and outs, through the board discreet construction , a robust power supply and very good build quality. All knobs switches and connectors are nutted to the case, not soldered to the PCB .... all for $325 "street". A completely affordable quality mic pre that will be servicable until they pry it from your cold dead hands. What's not to like?
  14. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    hey Kurt, are you happy with the bricks so far?
    Are you considering 'keeping' them? That is the question of the moment- I know we'll see your review in time but maybe a sneak peak?
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Am I keeping them?
    probably not ... unless they give them to me for free (yeah! right!) . I think I might wait to see if they come out with a rack mount version before I buy. I would love to get them but I am also lusting for some Hardy pres. I may have to save my "Treena points" for them. Still, I may change my mind. They are definitely not "rack crap".

    First Impressions?
    I have some issues with where the in and out XLR connectors and the switches are placed. It would have been better IMO for the XLRs to be on the rear of the case instead of the front panel. I also would rather see the phantom power switch on the front panel. There's probably a good reason for the placement of these components and in the long run, considering the price these are really, small complaints.

    How do they sound?
    I did a quick check of the sound / tone using the U87 and a SM7a... very and nice on first impression. Full and robust with a nice top end. Seems to have a lot of depth but that's really hard to hear until one sees how things sit in a mix.

    I let them "burn in" yesterday for several hours and I hope to get a chance to use them in the next week or so on drum kick / snare and ohs. I will be doing some acoustic guitar and vocal tests on my own as soon as I get some time when the house is quiet.
  16. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Well then I think you have no choice but the Brick. Or that Summit tube pre that seems to be a fairly similar around $500. I don't know if you could find a used Peavey VMP in your price range. The Rane might be nice, but I don't expect it to "warm" stuff up. I don't think Sebatron stuff has been around long enough to find a deal on a used one. Most tube pres are more expensive than your budget.
  17. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member


    ...honestly, I wasn't trying to jump on you! I was playing devil's advocate on this one. I understand where you're coming from. Also, being broke, I understand the need for halfway decent cheap gear. No one thinks they're a genius. To do so would be to kill all future learning. Peace!
  18. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    you guys are talking about a summit
    which one?
  19. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Summit Audio 2BA-221
    Just under $600
    Froogle it, or I know Sweetwater has it.
  20. XYZ

    XYZ Guest

    thank you to your opinio is it better for the money then the joemeek vci or vc1q or then these 2 items i just found/
    i m a rock singer ao will do lots of vox with it

     Mar-29   Focusrite Platinum VoiceMaster Mic Preamp/Vocal Processor - $300

     Mar-29   Focusrite Green 3 Voicebox: Preamp Compressor EQ - $475

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