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OSA or any external Pre questions. Please help

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by McPhaul, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    I have just gotten my first "real" Pre. An OSA "C" model and have some questions about external pres in general.

    I use an Aardvark Q10 for i/o and have to run the out from the OSA in through the Q10 at line level or below. I recorded electric guitar yesterday using first AT4050s then SM57s. I recorded with a pair of each mic so the track was the same, not replayed, and saw or heard no difference between the OSA track and the Q10 track. The wave form looked the same no matter how tight you zoomed and there was not a red hair of difference in the sound. I was not able to really crank the OSA as the output was very hot but I did get the thing about 75% opened up with the SM57 but I expected more. Every post I have read says that "Good" pres make mics sound better, almost like new mics, but this didn't do anything.

    My question I guess is... Am I hearing the converters and not the pre? Does anyone have both that can give feedback of their experiances? Are the pres on the Q10 better than I thought?

    I have been happy with the Q10 but wanted to upgrade thinking it could sound better. I have listened to all of the posts of multiple pres to hear the textures each gives but just don't hear any change in my systems sound by adding the OSA. Can anyone help me make this work? Please!

  2. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    I find this suprising. I believe you, it's just mysterious.

    Are you sure that the test was done correctly (no offense)?

    You didn't happen to be recording the same source each time without knowing it, did you?

    I wouldn't rely on looking at wave forms for comparison, only your ears can tell the quality.

    It is a mystery. Maybe the Aardvark Q10 is the next vintage mic pre that everyone will be drooling over.

  3. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest


    On the 4050s the pre was set very low even with the pad on and the Aardvark line in at it's lowest setting the signal was hot. I changed to SM57s and that lowered the signal to where I could crank the input to around 50-55 and still no audible change in the two recordings.

    The way I recorded these was to set up two of mics (2-57s or 2-4050s) into two channels and recorded the same passage, one channel through the OSA and one channel straight into the Q10. I use Cubase and it was set for one channel on input 2R and one channel 3L, inputs 4 and 5 on the Q10. There was a VERY slight change in the waveforms and almost no audibal change.

    I took everything down this morning so I can't duplicate the test this evening, but they say Atlanta is ging to have an ice storm this weekend.

    My fear is that I am hearing the Aaqdvark converters and not the pres.

    With Aardvark gone I was hoping someone one this board would be able to help with my set up. (no offense taken - I can always use help)
    I have used an M-Audio Tampa as an external pre without any troubles but don't know what I may have done wrong here.

  4. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    That sounds stupid.

    If we get ice this weekend I will have lots of time to redo the test and play with the pres.

    That sounds a little better.

  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    You are running the OSA into the mic / line pres on the Aardvark and that is the problem.

    Try plugging the outs of the OSA pre into the 1/4" insert return jack on the Q10 .... This will give you a direct path to the recorder bypassing the Q10 mic pre / line input circuts.
  6. mikE@THECAVE

    mikE@THECAVE Guest

    Kurt your a Genius :roll:
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    When it comes to audio, I don't make final judgement on what I see only what I hear. Converters do change or mask what you hear but so do speakers and the room the speakers are in. It could very well be that there is a big difference and yet you are unable ot hear it.
  8. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    Thanks but I have a question as to how.

    1. The 1/4" inserts on it are send and recieve. You use a TRS "Y" cable.
    2. On the OSA I use an XLR to TRS Balanced cable into the mic / line inputs to go line level (the Q10 will not take line level XLR inputs)

    What would I have to use to go 1/4" Balanced TRS to UnBalanced TS for the return on the Q10? I never had to do that before. Also if there is no send on that insert will the recieve work? I think I can get around that if it is an issue by plugging in an XLR cable to the jack on the front panel for that insert (the able could just be a dummy - no signal but just to make it know the insert is in use)

    I still need something to go Balanced to UnBalanced though. Female on both sides if possible as I could still use the XLR to TRS and the Y cable I already have and just convert to UnBalanced between them.

    Thanks for the idea
  9. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    Very true but I am able to hear differences in the samples from various pres I downloaded prior to purchasing the pre. The samples I'm talking about were from some of the Listening Room stuff I think and were fairly controlled. (same source, same mic, same everything but pre)

    I also don't care what the waveforms look like if it sounds good.

    I'll try to retake some audio in the morning and post it up. Please take a listen and let me know what you hear.

  10. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    OK so I didn't want to post these as the playing is not that good and the guitar sound was not the best. I just wanted to hear if the pre changed the tone at all so I did not really work on the starting point.

    First is the OSAhttp://webpages.charter.net/mcphaul/OSA from test.mp3

    Then the Q10http://webpages.charter.net/mcphaul/Q10 from test.mp3

    I'll try some more in the morning and maybe repost then.

  11. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    What you download and listen to is very much different than what you do with the gear you have.

    I give free advice as I choose and see fit but when it comes to downloading, listening, making comments and giving advice it becomes consulting, and there is an hourly fee for that...
  12. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    You have to listen where you can to try and make a purchase based on soundnot hype. Wouldn't you agree?

    I hope your people skills are better with clients than on your board. I have a real problem here. It may be with my gear. It may be with my set up of that gear. But I don't need another problem to come from a place that has always been very helpful.

    It's been a $*^t week and I have a fairly short return period on this gear. I'd like to be able to figure it out and not have to return it.

    If you can help me please do. If you can't please keep the smart ass comments to yourself.

  13. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Ok Mr. Sensitive, Your problem isn't your gear it is your skills and education in using what gear you have.

    What even remotely makes you think that just because you downloaded and heard some examples that you will even be able to come close to getting those same results even if you had the exact same gear? Or that the gear you heard will sound like that when you get it?

    You see, it doesn't work that way. What you heard from examples like that is what was captured in that moment in time, in that specific room, with that specific gear, with those specific instrumets, with those specific musicians and with one set of skills to get it recorded. It is only a valid reference in the most basic and general sense and only a fool would use it as the sole guidelines of making a gear purchase.

    This is the real world, you have a bad week, tough $*^t. Bad weeks are part of the business and you damn well better get used them if you ever want to get good or great. Quit your whinning, open up your ears and mind and don't expect people to come running to give you free help in resolving your petty problems.

    And for the record, I'll make any comments, that I feel like at any time I want, directed to anyone I see fit be them smart ass or not in nature.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    You are correct .... what you need is a XLRF to a 1/4" unbalanced phone plug connector ... plug that into the insert .... (try to the first click first). Depending upon if the insert is configured to ring as the insert send or return, you will either plug the connector into the first click (like with a Mackie insert) or all the way in .... the send from the Q10's mic pre will be broken, either way .... it's very simple ...
  15. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest

    Look you self absorbed, self important, arrogant f#@k. I wouldn’t chalk up the death of a baby in the family to “This is the real world, you have a bad week, tough $*^t”.

    This forum is about gear and I have what I feel is a legitimate gear question. I was asking for help here and on another forum I read in the belief that these forums are in place to be able to exchange knowledge and discuss problems that someone may be having. If I were asking for the 1000th time “What is the best _____ for under $500.00?” I could understand maybe a little of your hostility, but this is a problem that I am having trouble with two pieces of equipment I own.

    Aardvark is out of business and I am unable to ask them questions. I posted here as I know there are several Q10 users on this board and thought one of them may have worked this type of problem out. The problem is very likely my own doing but without help from the manufacturer or some other outside source the likelihood of success is reduced. I’m not asking anyone to go out of their way to help me, and in fact it took more effort for you to be condescending than it would have for you to ignore me.

    Kurt Foster thanks for your input. You have been helpful.
  16. dasbin

    dasbin Guest


    I have an OSA MP1-A and I know where you're coming from. In lots of cases it simply doesn't sound noticeably different than running through my Mackie VLZ. I have decent converters and a decent monitoring setup so it's not that. Also, I figure that if I can't hear the difference some gear makes in my studio, why the heck would I spend the money to buy it so the end listener can't hear it even more? heh.

    That said, there are times when the OSA shows its colours. Recording vox with an SM57 for one. I find it takes EQ a lot better than the Mackie. I can EQ a lead vocal to actually sound printable from a 57 with the OSA, and I can't do that through the Mackie. The immediate difference with pres like OSA's, which are coloured but not hugely so, isn't as big as the immediate difference with a pre like a Neve, which immediately imparts a noticeable signature sound.

    Try this as a test: record some vocals with a 57 through each pre. See if they sound different to begin with - which they certainly might. And if not, try EQing each of them after the fact. You might find the OSA track a lot more compliant to do what you want.

    Also keep in mind that, IMHO, distorted guitars are one of those things that don't change as much no matter what you run them through.

    Very sorry to hear about your loss, and I'm also sorry you're running into conflict here. Let us know how the 57 vocal test goes.

    Pres make a noticeable difference, but as with everything, you have to keep in mind that people will defend their more expensive decisions to their deathbed. They paid lots of money for it so it must be good, right? Otherwise they feel less intelligent for having spent all that money... If you speak up against that, sometimes people will jump all over you and say xxxx must be wrong, or you just don't have the mad skillz, or you're missing crucial piece of gear Y to be making such a call! Reminds me a little of how psychics and clairvoyants defend their practices in the face of indisputable studies. Yeah, all you need to do is keep spending money, and at some point you'll be a believer too! Which is of course absolutely true, but for different reasons than truth.
    There's a little bit of "the emporer's new clothes" going on in audio forums that you have to be aware of when you read opinions.
  17. McPhaul

    McPhaul Guest


    Thanks for the input, and the kind words.

    I tried several sources over the weekend and saw very slight changes in the sound quality. I was able to hear a little more definition on some tracks but not enough to warrant the expense at my level of recording. I contacted Nathan at Atlas and sent the pre back to him today.

    I would really like to say that Nathan was very helpful about this whole deal. I hope that none of this sounds like he or OSA were at fault here. I am sure that my skill, room, monitors, and i/o all played more of a role than the pre itself.

    O.K. wipe the brown off my nose... No really he was great through this and I don't want my troubles with the product to reflect poorly on him or OSA. It was my issue not theirs.

    Thanks again,
    Will McPhaul

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