portable classical recording system

Discussion in 'Digital Recorders' started by soondae, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I think my best realisation in the past years was to discover the importance of preamps and get knowledge of different types and how they affect sound.
    Knowing that warmth is not what people would expect and neither how to get it. And specially that Tube preamps is not necessary warm and that some are very bright.

    Then a have better understanding about how converter chips are not so different and the quality of the conversion comes in great part from the analog circuit surrounding them.

    I learn and confirm knowledge everyday, by visiting RO, reading articles and listening to pros on youtube, but also by actually doing it in my studio.
    I didn't have a lot of customers this year so I had a lot of time to experiment and relearn the craft from mic placement to gain staging to mixing and approaching mastering.

    I'd be saying that the most important tool is our ears and they NEED to be trained to perform...
    Why ? How else could we recognise if it sound good or not ?

    THANKS to all RO members ! ;)
     
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I just have this internal issue with the notion of ultimate quality by spending more on preamps and equipment, when just a few inches and changes in angle and distance make (for me) a much more noticeable difference. When I was a music technology examiner, we'd have a candidate using the often complained about C1000 mics make a better recording than the one with a pair of U87s, and nice preamps, because they put the C1000s (and cheapish recorder) in the right place. Often, the photos would show the problem with side fire mics in an X/Y configuration, but the student unaware that they didn't pick up end on. The photos often made me chuckle. Seeing the expensive mics placed like that made the audio result very understandable!
     
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  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Mic choice and mic placement make a great difference on sound that's for sure.
    But, a cheap and Noisy preamp does it as well doesn't it ?

    BTW send me that cheap recorder, I have 4 x C1000s that I don't use very often !! :ROFLMAO:
     
  4. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I really don't agree - I've not heard a bad preamp for a long time. Sure, some are noisier than others, but even the modest ones are quiet if you don't need lots of gain. I firmly believe mic placement produces better results than poorer placement and better preamps. Quiet sound sources and distance would no doubt show the differences off of course - but I very rarely need bags of gain for what I do.
     
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  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    The topic of debate, is when you aim both the expensive and cheapest mics properly, can the cheap one sound as expensive as the other. Or subjectively 'as good as'. I'm saying that there is a point, yes with diminishing returns, where a certain level of quality is unattainable otherwise.

    A warm audio neve clone and a BAE neve clone are two completely different animals, and price points. This doesn't mean expensive is always better, it's saying that no, not all mid level stuff keeps up with the best. And there are some places like classical and jazz, where the best means detailed responsive and clear. High precision enginering is required for this type of equipment, and the price reflects it.
     
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  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I totally respect your opinion and share it to a certain extent. Poor placement, won't sound good. I think nobody is saying otherwise.

    My ISA preamps, that are the bottom of what I would consider high-end, they sound a lot better the Saffire I had and the FF800 I now have.
    They are quieter, more dynamic, faster with transients and produce a fuller sound. Put an SM57 on ISA and Saffire without changing anything else, the tones are very different. At least to me and I doubt anyone wouldn't here the difference with a minimum of ear training.

    But of course, is it better or just different ? I can only engage myself by saying they sound better. If only for the noise ratio and gain available. (the Saffire preamps have something like 40 usable db compared to 60-70 of the ISA)
    I admit that if I put up some overhead mics on a loud drum the difference is smaller, But make me record an acoustic or classic guitar and you'll cut me an arm before I'd use the saffire's over the ISA.
    I was recording with a Soundcraft LX7 4 years ago and one tube preamp the DBX silver combo and M-audio delta cards... I can't say my recordings from this time are bad... But when I compare them to today's, they just sound amateur...

    Thing is, if I had a 30k mixer, I wouldn't talk about boutique preamps like the ISAs (which design were originally created for a mixer). I'm sure the onboard preamps would be more than enough for my Home studio work. But if I'm rational, I won't ever have that kind of money.

    I'm just plain happy when I get a signer in front of a KSM44 and LA-610 and he/she goes WOW I never heard myself like that !!
    Isn't it the best goal for a recordist, being happy of what we can do with the tools we have (whatever they are) ?? ..

    PS. Paul if you can't hear the diffence or the difference is not appealing to you, YOU ARE BLESSED !! ;)
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    On thing I should add. When getting my first High-end mic preamp, the first thing that surprised me was how less I needed to EQ my tracks when mixing.
    I did use some pretty drastic EQ settings but I now sometime use very subtle ones. It's very rare that I do cuts more than 3db while with the preamps of my saffire interface, I often went for 5-6 db or more.

    My last recording was a lady who needed a demo for an audition for a big live production. I was very surprised that just cuting 2db around 300-400hz was all I needed to make her sound amazing !!
     
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    'Better' pres, take eq better as well, especially when talking digital itb eq. There's just more sound there in the first place. Less phase related artifacts from the better circuit design and components. Eq is really trying to compensate with phase adjustments. So when your adjusting phase, time/frequency stuff, with an eq, the less artifacts, the less eq and the better it will sound off the bat.

    I think the presonus eureka is a great pre amp. Put it up against the calrec and it's not too close. The eureka with its eq does still not sound full or defined as the calrec, with no eq.

    That said, everyone knows I think you get way more 'tone' out of an eq than a preamp any day. But the idea for the OP I belive is transparency. Good transparent aka expensive transparent, doesn't suffer the clinical, or thin sounds that it has a connotation for. It's vibe is about 'there ness' and there's nothing thin about the Boston symphony. I hope I get to do some classical recording work before I retire.! Jealous of the OP. Lol

    One off the topic consideration, is what are the headphones/monitors the OP is using. Ugh, I had to say it lol.
     
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  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    That could be at a certain level of sonic expectation and business approach. The ability to hear and expect good, better, best is subjective. Try telling these people.
    http://www.mil-media.com/clients.html

    If this was true we would be using the cheapest SS and be done with all this nonsense.

    From my own experiences (which is how I judge everything I talk about here) ... The Millennia lineup, specifically the M-2b (because thats what I use) is all I personally need and ever want now. Yes this particular product is expensive but worth every penny to me. I have minuscule interest in having a pallet of preamp flavours today. My DAW tools allow me to get a lot more done ITB so it really simplifies my choices of front end now.

    This is where subjective comes in.
    I personally prefer (big rail) transformerless pre's and summing consoles and if I need "colour" I get it other ways now.
    As an example: The SPL Neos , a 120 rail summing console is unnoticeable in an analog path that also includes a comparable ADC. I don't want to hear my analog gear on, I don't want to hear my converters either. I only want to hear the real world. The real world is what I am shooting for.
    What are we all shooting for?

    This is true with Millennial preamps too. My tracking source is like hooking a human up to a wire and it travels through to the DAW.
    That would never happen with example, an WA12 Warm Audio wall wart pre that can be had for $250. Or, the pre's found in a lot of low to mid level ADC .

    Gear doesn't replace a great song. But a great song and performance sounds better if you are using the gear that suits the style.
     
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  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I did an A/B of live choral work a few years ago (it wasn't clinical).
    Lavry Black ADC /preamp combo . vs FF800 ADC /preamp combo. The difference was not subtle.
    I can post it. Its two different days and songs but anyone with some sense of hearing can hear the difference.


    The mic was a Royer SF24 directly into these ADC into Sequoia. Nothing added.
     
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  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Of course,I'd like to hear that !! ;)
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Same Choir,
    Both of these products have their own ADC and mic pre's. In this very non clinical comparison (be sure to adjust the volumes),
    Which one do you prefer or does it even matter?

    Choir-Lavry-AD11-Royer-SF24


    Choir-Fireface800-Royers-SF24

     

    Attached Files:

  13. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I thought I'd give it a go with my system that I'm familiar with. Without any doubt at all, the second track with the fireface800 is cleaner, more real, less artificial and the only real thing that matters, sounds better to me. I've never actually heard of this device or the Lavry, so I am now off to Google them and see if my opinion makes sense. Good test - thanks.

    EDIT

    Oh - that wasn't what I expected at all? one thousand pounds for the one I liked and fifteen hundred for the one I didn't. I'm really not quite sure how to quantify that, or maybe I simply shouldn't?
     
  14. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I've been searching about for some recording I've made on much, much cheaper equipment for some kind of comparison (and squashed to mp3 format, as this is the download medium)

    I know the equipment that was used for these two, but I'm not sure if the difference is that clear. The microphone was a custom built multi-pattern stereo mic - two capsules one on top of the other that can be rotated through 90 degrees with respect to each other. Set to cardioid, 90 degree angle to each other. Quite close in, as the requirement here was for clarity, rather than concert style realism.

    http://www.earsmediastore.com/allegro-samples/excerptsmp3/27excerpt.mp3
    This is recorded with a Lexicon Omega in the music room of the pianist's house, with Yamaha C3 piano. There is some added reverb on this clip - which messes with it a bit, but I can't find the clean version, sorry.

    http://www.granthorsley.com/catching butterflies.mp3
    This one using the same microphone in almost the same position, but recorded using an HHB MD recorder's preamps.
    4809-hhb-mdp500-professional-portable-minidisc-recorder-large.jpg
    The live USB output went to the Macbook Pro - with the MD recording needed by the pianist - seemed a sensible thing to do, and I rather like the sound of this device anyway.

    So this is MUCH cheaper equipment than Chris's excellent setup.
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I couldn't get either file to play...

    Can you provide the samples using the "upload file" feature?
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I'm not saying the price has anything to do with sonics on my two files. Just posting it and curious what we all think.

    At the time of this test, the FF800 was about $400 more than the AD11. Both used on ebay, the FF800 will still cost more ;)

    Here is something interesting as well. What are these guys doing that RME or SPL can't or aren't doing? They want a minimum of $400 more to upgrade these.
    http://blacklionaudio.com/product/rme-fireface-800-mods/

    PS, I've uploaded the files to RO server so you can set the volumes or download them for that matter.
     
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I recorded about 10 choirs for a festival competition and some of them could really belt it out. Here was my observation between my two tracks.

    At the time of this session, what I noticed most between the two products :
    the FF800 lacked headroom and was challenging to keep it under control with dynamic vocals. I wanted to use a compressor but it was against the rules to use any electronic processors.
    1 Royer SF24 and the recording device is what we are hearing. The Mic placement was above the conductor, but not exact between the sessions, but close.

    @ the 16 sec mark, I hear the FF800 converter/preamps breaking up. Lavry never does this. It was more stable and consistent of the two products.
    I hear a smoother, more open sound to the Lavry.

    The FF800 is the better bang for the buck. Lavry is better sounding to me. Especially the mic pres. Lavry converters are also exceptional.

    Thats my two cents.
     
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Lavry sounds more like what it sounds like in a room w the choir the RME is much more upfront. It's shocking how much of a difference the AD makes. Honestly I wouldn't pick either one as ideal. RME had a bit too much bite, and the Lavry was warm at the expense of detail. Thanx for the post Chris. Just reinforces how important it is to lay ears on this stuff.
     
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  19. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    It's intriguing that you picked the FF800 Paulear. I hope it ain't nothing to do with the fact that the ff800 file is louder at the begining. I went for a quiter part and compared the two files at the most similar vocal content and I find the AD11 fuller with a more complete spectrum representation. What those that meen to me clear HF and deeper LF.
    This is intriguing me even more by the fact that I deeply respect your opinion and more skilled and experienced engineer than I am.


    Both pianos sound very good but a bit nazal to me.. Just my taste and I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the preamps used. There is so many other variables that the only valid comparaisons are when only the preamp changes.
     
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  20. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    No disrespect intended. This is shop talk.

    I was thinking the same. The volume is fooling and/or, his hearing or monitoring is pron to a more mid freq appreciation.

    I'll add a bit more to this discussion which is most interesting.

    (in another test)The FF800 converters sounded closer to the Lavry when it was tracked at 88.2 and 96k. But once I bounced the FF800 down to 44.1, the FF800 sounded mid heavy and lost the open sound that the Lavry retained at 44.1.
    The Lavry sounds better at 44.1 to a FF800 at 88.2. This was the beginning of my appreciation to better converters.

    Better converters sound better at lower SR. Cheaper converters need to sample much higher to compete. Prism is the same, stellar and rock solid. Both Lavry and Prism make excellent mobile converters . They are excellent for mastering which are my go-to for capturing mixdowns. They serve two purposes , mobile and capture ADC for the two DAW system. a win win.

    Better converters capture audio at 44.1 which means, you do not need to bounce down and your mobile or mastering rig CPU is more proficient.
    Lavry and Prism both sound more in phase as well.
    Thus, a more stable mobile system. Definitely a better choice for classical music.
     

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