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Preamp 20db pad question: Happy Accident!

Discussion in 'Preamps & Processing' started by millionvalve, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. millionvalve

    millionvalve Guest

    I was recording my singer, Mattie, in the basement the other night for the first time in months.

    First my setup:

    Blue Baby Bottle
    Speck MicPre 5.0
    Speck ASC EQ
    > A/D converter (S/PDIF)>Echo Mia

    So, the signal was pretty hot. I engaged the
    20dB pad on the Speck MicPre and boosted the input gain accordingly.

    When I went to listen to a test track I was shocked: The only sound I heard was Mattie; there was no audible ambient noise whatsoever. I am used to having everything from room noise to me (quietly) setting down a drink on my table 6 feet away.

    I always assumed the pad was just a (big) volume offset. What I got, though, was something else. There is no audible artifacting at all, either--nothing like a gating effect. When Matt stops singing, it's just naturally dead quiet.

    BTW, the RNC was on in SuperNice mode, and it didn't appear to really affect anything--the release settings are way more gentle than in the normal mode, so it wasn't that.

    Can anybody explain this to me? Can someone tell me about the workings of the pad button: Is it just an offset, or have I noticed a cool property of pads?



    [ February 09, 2004, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: millionVALVE ]
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    In simple terms, a pad is a volume switch. What you experienced is that by using the pad, you no longer were hearing all the background noise because what you were hearing was 20dB quiter than before you used the pad. If you turned up the gain to compensate for the pad, you would have the same result.

    Depending where the pad is, if on the mic, mic pre input, mic pre output, pre or post transformer, external inline adapter pad, it can or will affect the tone. Some use this capabilty to obtain tone such as overdriving the preamp or saturating a transformer then using a pad to reduce the gain within the cirucit or on the output or on the input of the next device in the chain.
  3. mkruger

    mkruger Guest

    I find that interesting because normally when you pad something your noise floor would rise accordingly. Because you have to turn up the input to compensate for the pad you should have more of an airy background when the singer stops. It's interesting you experienced the opposite. Your not using a gate or compressor are you?
  4. millionvalve

    millionvalve Guest

    Thanks fellas.

    As I said, I *was* compensting for the pad by increasing the gain and, yes, I was using a very little bit of compression.

    I was surprised by these seemingly counterintuitive results--hence my post to make sure there wasn't some kind of pad secret I never knew about.

    I'm going to have to do a little testing now to isolate the cause of my...success, which
    I hafta say is way better than the usual need to isolate problems!

    Maybe I'm just good. ;)

  5. mkruger

    mkruger Guest

    I bet the compressor had more to do with it then you think. That's why I asked... Play with it more, but remember write down the settings you have now for future reference, since there so good.
  6. Sonicanger

    Sonicanger Guest

    Hi Nick,
    I have come across the similar issue in my home setup. I get the preamp/mic to the point where the signal sound nice and open. At this point there is usually a substantial amount of ambient noise, as the room I record in is def. not ideal (10X15X10, lower portion of room concrete foundation, upper wood, DAW Mac and all other rec. gear in the soom)including hum from the amp itself. I then engage the 20db pad, and the ambient noise floor improves greatly, and using the gain knob I can get an adequate singal into the DAW, but the tone of the material changes substantially, loosing definition and becoming darker in contrast to the original signal...

    maybe some of the more knowledgeable heads around here can help us with some solution to the aforementioned dilemma?
  7. millionvalve

    millionvalve Guest


    What gear are you using?

  8. Sonicanger

    Sonicanger Guest

    The basic recording setup is as follows:

    Pro Tools 001 Le v.6.1
    Sebatron VMP 2000
    Presonus Digimax 96
    Joemeek VC6Q

    and a variety of other FX Processors and mics.

    The issue seems to be the same no metter what set of pres is used. The last time I set up, it was vmp->rnc->digi 001 for guitar tracks.

    I was using a sennheiser e609 silver right in the grill and Studio Projects B1 farther back.

    I tried this on both an Orange AD 30 and a Vox AC15 both set to light breakup volume.
  9. millionvalve

    millionvalve Guest

    Yeah, but it's those compressors I'm wondering about, now!

    I'll get my settings tonight and post them tomorrow.


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