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New preamp - colorless please...

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by RAIN0707, Oct 11, 2004.

  1. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Simply looking for a clean, transparent mic pre that is versatile. Colored mic pres are nice but for my applications I really just need a good transparent one that has versatility. I mostly record hard rock clients and the such and would all of you guys' opinions on some good color-less preamps. Please reply with preamp models, costs, and their strengths. Thanks, I appreciate the forthcoming replies.

    My budget is from 800-2500 and I would like to possibly find 4 pre's at that price point. They can be separate modules or in one unit. Thanks.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Why you want a colorless pre for rock production is waaaaay beyond me ... Usually rock and pop music are recorded using pres like APIs and Neves .. The "colorless" offerings are usually applied to classical and acoustic recordings where "transparency" is a desirable thing.

    Millennia HV3 pres are generally accepted as being the benchmark for "colorless" mic pres .. also to be considered would be the Grace 201 and 801's ... Digidesigns 8 channel digitally controlled mic pre retails for around $2200 and is reported to be very "colorless". The PreSonus M80 is pretty neutral sounding, in spite of it being transformer balance on the inputs .. I imagine the 8 channel firewire version PreSonus (for $800) would be about the same as well ..

    The new Mackie ONYX pre would be worth considering as well IMO ... Mackie makes a pretty decent "colorless" mic pre all things considered.

    Hope that helps a bit ...
  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    I agree with Kurt. The Millennia is very nice. We have (2) 8 channels at my studio and and they are great on everything, period.
    But... They are a bit out of the price you want.
    HV-3D-4 is about 3k.

    I would suggest a hard look at the Earthworks 1024. I've sold several in the last month and use them often. I think they are one of the closest examples of wire-to-tape (er, hard drive) there is.

    Probably the best $2,500 you could spend, imho.

    Can't say enough about them.

    Hope this helps,

  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    DOH!!! I fergot to mention the Earthworks stuff ... my bad! Thnx Chris ...
  5. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    thank you guys for the suggestions...Why I wanted a colorless pre is that I assumed (I could be wrong and correct me if I am) a colorless pre would be applicable to more situations. I was advised to get a colorless pre since they are transparent and I can use them on anything...I just want, for right now at least, a pre that will capture many sounds accurately and clear. I will attempt to warm up any tracks with some tube compression and such if thats what I need. Thanks guys maybe I will save for the Millennia if it is an 8 channel unit for $3k. Right now all I have is a Mackie 24-8 board and I have been using the pre's on the board and using the shortest path out into my Motu unit. I use the board only for monitoring and the pre's right now. I am happy with the board for monitoring but the pre's seem to me to be very "cold" sounding and have a "rigid" feeling with their representation. I know sound good colored pre's are wonderful to have but at this juncture in my recording career I think it is wiser and more economical for me to gradually make the step up. I just need something less shrill than the mackie pre's and more transparent. Thanks guys.
  6. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    I have to agree with Kurt here for a lot of reasons.

    1. You say you want to do rock production, but most rock is done with preamps that lend warmth, fatness, spice, color and weight to the tracks. The Neve 1073, Trident A Range and the API 312 are the quintessential rock preamps for a reason, and that reason is not transparency.

    2. The Millennia Media preamp, while lauded as excellent, is, IMO, largely used by guys doing jazz, orchestral, acoustic and bluegrass, not rock. Same goes for Grace.

    3. You say your Mackie preamps are cold. Doesn't that indicate you need warmth?

    I record hardcore/nu metal/hard rock stuff from time to time and the most useful preamps have been Neve 1272 type. The drums, bass, overdriven guitars and strong/screamo vocals really benefit from the girth these preamps seem to impart.

    Just my opinion.
  7. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    I understand your response screws but I think you have missed the point of my post - I do mostly rock production (not all) and I would like a preamp that is more transparent than the mackie preamps on the 24-8 board...Understand that I am not saying that I don't want any high end preamps that are colored...I do...just not at this time...for one I don't have the money to buy all the different colored pre's required to have the needed versatility to record many different instruments and styles. Eventually as money comes in I will add colored pre's...but right now I need versatility to be able to get some jobs done. Thanks.
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    There is a misconception going around that preamps that add warmth and color are not suitable for tracking all things and that studios need to have a variety of pre types available to avoid a "stacking effect" that accumulates as you overdub more tracks. This is pure unmitigated bull sh*t .. If a pre sounds good on one source, it is likely that it will sound good on most.

    There are lots of examples of records being recorded using only Putnams 610 pres, Neve types, APIs and Tridents to mention a few. It has only been the last several years that a racks of different types of pres have become commonplace in a lot of studios.

    While it is nice to have a collection of choices, it's not absolutely necessary.

    You said that you want something that is more transparent than a Mackie pre ... this is going to be difficult to find. IMO Mackie pres are pretty colorless ... and that's the problem with them. Even great pre designs like the Grace's, Millennia's and Earthworks are cold and sterile to my ears. The better designs provide a more dimensional effect but the overall tonal balance of these types are generally pretty vanilla. This is why I lean towards the API / Neve types for rock and pop production. I like the warmth.
  9. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Thank you Kurt...see that was a great eye-opener to me and what I consider a good and helpful post. I was under the assumption, and was told by someone, that colored pre's are far less versatile...I guess that is not the case. So Kurt lead me in the right direction of a good enough preamp that can be used on say everything in a normal rock production...allowing the same budget listed...if it were you...what would you buy considering I would like to get 4 channels if possible...if not I'll take what I can get for now.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Check this out. JLM TMP8

    I think this 8 pack of pres is a best value at $2250 (last time I checked). I am planning on buying one for myself to round out my collection as soon as I can swing it.

    For what you are asking for, the TMP8 is the answer. Most opinions on this pre say it is relatively uncolored. I found it to have attitude and an aggressive quality but without the low end coloration exhibited by the API pres. The new version of the TMP8 includes di inputs. There are soft limiters built in and the harder you push the pres, the more color it imparts, all while the limiters keep you from generating overs on the DAW. I really liked this pre and hated sending it back after the review period elapsed.

    Other pres to consider ... the GRMP2NV (of course), APIs ... can be found used at good prices ... Vintechs are good as well. The new UA 610 LA comp combo at about $1350 street is very interesting. There are so many to mention ... some I don't go nuts for but that are still good ... at this point the choices become subjective.

    Some rule of thumb criteria I use for for selecting mic pre types ...

    Class A operation.

    Discreet components.

    Power supplies should be 24 volts or more.

    Low power wall wart types should be avoided. The TMP (and others) use external power supplies ... some are even "line lump" types, like the TMP8 ... These are cool as long as they run 24 or more volts.

    Transformers at least on on the inputs and outputs if possible.

    The TMP8 has trannies on the inputs only. That's ok but I would probably like it better if they were on the outs as well ... but that would probably raise the price considerably. In spite of this, the TMP8 still sounds great.

    Through the board construction ... and point to point wiring..

    This is good for future servicing. Any competent tech, armed with a shematic, can perform any necessary repairs. I cannot say if this is so with the TMP8 and it wouldn't surprise me if this were not ... At the price point, I am guessing that it is not. When I got the review unit, I was advised by Joe Malone, that I should not attempt to take the case apart as I would likely damage the "integral factory heat sink bond", so I was unable to see what was going on "under the hood". I still think the thing sounded freakin' awesome.

    At the price point the TMP8 is at ... for 8 channels, it's hard to complain.

    I will say the unit I received for review was used previously by a sound company and had made the rounds via Fed EX shipping ... and it seemed to withstand the shipping apes just fine. In the field servicing could be an issue, but I don't think this is much to concern yourself over.
  11. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    the 4 ch sytek I find very transparent- about $800 or so for 4 ch
  12. radioliver

    radioliver Guest

    he doesn't want transparent anymore
  13. sdelsolray

    sdelsolray Active Member

    Besides those mentioned already, check out GML and Pendulum Audio.
  14. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Kurt I think the TMP8 is the ticket...for 8 channels you can't beat the price. PLus the new ones with the limiting feature is very nice. I think I will get one of these. Can you recommend a dealer of these...can't seem to find a place on the net that has them. Thanks.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Depending on your recording environment, a pre will give you all sorts of versions of your source....even clean and transparent pres can be driven to distort the source ...some good some bad....Its my understanding that the pres of yesteryear were not being built with 'warmth' character or any of that stuff in mind but simplty a pristine signal path using the best techniques and materials available at the time.The warmth has become much more important as the digital age has creeped upon us and the sounds need fattening and enhancement. I agree that certain types of pres lend themselves to certain styles of music but....A BIG BUT!....the source will always be the key to great sound....no sickly guitar noise is gonna get real big andf in your face simply due to the electronic gizmo at its front end...Your source has to be able to deliver the goods first and formost and most times this involves a serious look at the room and its aspects......After all of that buy yerself an API pre...the 312 oor the 512 and rock steady...For a pristine path try a True Systems P2 Analog....They really do ROCK
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The only place I know of to get the TMP8 is from JLM directly ..


    is the website. Please mention to Joe Malone that you heard about the TMP8 from RO .... thanks!

    BTW, Davedogg heard the TMP8 at my place once and he said then he thought it was a lot like an API in sound quality .. I agree ... it has the agressivness of the APIs without the low end build up ...

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