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Preamp for acoustic, 'classical' styles?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by jzahos, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. jzahos

    jzahos Guest

    Those of you with experience in recording chamber, orchestral and other types of live purely acoustic musics, what type of preamp have you liked the most?

    I'm thinking of building a stereo recording set up for only these purposes. (2 Mics, 2 Pre's, 2 analog tracks). I thought I'd start by asking about preamps first.

    Jeff Z.
  2. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    I like super clean and accurate with very low to no distortion for this application. That means Grace or Earthworks pres to me. Earthworks or DPA omnis for mics and an extremely good set of ADC and DAC converters.

  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    I concur with Steve and would also include mic pre's from Martech, John Hardy, Millennia Media, True Presison, Great River and even the older Neotek MicMax.
  4. gerardh

    gerardh Active Member

    And for ADC/DACs? Apogee Rosetta? Or?
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I'm a fan of the Hardy stuff... not colored, but the transformers give you just enough "interest" in the sound. I'm not overly fond of sound that is too transparent as it can get boring. The other pres I love are the Vac Rac tube stuff (if you can find them).

    As for mics, my go-to mic for location acoustic stuff is my AKG 426 stereo mic. It has to be one of the most versatile mics ever made- sound great everywhere and you can make up any stereo mic pattern with it (9 patterns for each capsule). Otherwise, the MK5 capsule is great for Schoeps, and in DPA, I love the whole line- especially 4011's and the high voltage omnis (blanking on the number right now). The Sennheiser MKH 800 is also a pretty stunning mic.

    For converters- Probably your best bet would be something like the Lavry Blue series. Put a ADC as well as DAC in a frame. Other good manufactures include Mytek, Genex, Prism, and Benchmark (in no particular order). On the esoteric side of things, DCS, Pacific Microsonics, the Lavry Gold, etc...

  6. oak

    oak Guest

    Jzahos, I ´ve read this post yesterday.´Sorry my english.
    I don ´t know why Gordon ´s pre isn´t mentioned here. You can see http://www.gordonaudio.com.
    I ´m a little surprised because you mention mics - pre - ANALOG 2 track, and it seems that nobody read this.
    Wich is your idea ? I do classical recordings too, and I was thinking in purchase a used 2 analog track recorder,and record in it.
    After reading many articles , I ´m surprised in this: first, it seems that all the world were desesperated in digital 16/44.1 gear, and putting apart analog recorders.
    Now, you can read that recorders record in 24/196 and are near in get ANALOG quality in audio (???) And DSD , perhaps, is near it. (DSD records in 2.8 MHZ)
    Well, then lets record in analog.
  7. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    We traditionally use a pair of omni DPA small diaphragm microphones. They have the extremely flat frequency response that is desired for classical music.

    oak, no need to excuse your English, it's absolutely fine!
  8. oak

    oak Guest

    Ellegaard: thank you very much for your opinion.
    Sorry , I ´m late in this reply. I ´ve read some of your posts here in R.O.,I know you do classical recordings, too.
    What about my question ? If now you can read that new machines are near to get "analog quality", why , in doing classical recordings, people don ´t use an analog recorder ?
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    one word ... MAINTENANCE..

    tape is getting hard to find too... I personally love analog and the business the format fostered. Only a few could afford it, and these studios trained new engineers and supported techs and many others. But those are days past ... it's the home recording revolution now ...
  10. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    I think most classical musicians actually prefer recording digitally, partly because, as Kurt says, the analog tapes get worn, are expensive and hard to find, but also because of the ease of editing. Somewhere else on the forum, one of the mastering guys talked about how a recent string quartet project of his had averaged one edit per bar, and this perfectionistic approach many professional classical musicians have gives the digital media a huge avantage. Besides, 'digital' sounds much clearer and noise-free than 'analog' to us classical musicians, perhaps because all that cassette tape hiss that for decades has been an pain in the arse for us!

    The key word to classical recording is always transparency, not coloration. The instruments must define the sound, not the gear used to record them. Purists will keep the setup as simple as possible - and a stereo pair is often enough for recording an entire symphony orchestra - but with the highest quality gear available. EQ and compression is absolutely a no-no. I'm a classical musician doing some home recording with my own ensemble, so my knowledge about expensive gear isn't great, but I would definitely look at some of the preamps suggested in this threat. Like I said, small diaphragm omni condensers are preferred for classical recording, like DPA microphones, or Sennhieser's MKH series.
  11. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Part of the issue where digital recording shines in classical recording is not so much the coloration of analog (one of the premiere audiophile label- Waterlilly Acoustics- uses all analog), but rather the low noise floor that it offers... On another board, I was just talking about the issues of mastering a very high dynamic range recording that I made. Even after mastering, I still had upwards of 45 dB of dynamic range... Getting performances like that captured to analog is difficult because of the noise floor that is inherent on all but the very best gear out there. Try getting 50 dB of dynamic range on an Otari 5050.

    Another advantage of digital in classical recording is with record time. Even at the advent of digital recording, you could still get my time recording on a tape with digital than analog. When you consider the length of a lot of the pieces of music in classical music, this is a big issue. Try recording a performance of Mahler 3 to analog tape- The first movement alone will take one reel.

    Lastly, there is the issue of portability. Most classical music exists in specific rooms. You aren't going to walk into most studios that are particuarly dead to record an album. If you are humping gear out there, digital can be really great because you can record multitrack without having to bring some huge deck out into the field.

    Personally, I think transparency is overrated in classical recording- at least in the way that it is usually used. Heck, some of the most famous recordings out there from our past used gear that was anything but "transparent" by today's standards, but we still love the final product (for example, any of the RCA living stereo recordings). IMO, Bring on the tubes! (and then put them through a nice Prism or Lavry converter)

  12. oak

    oak Guest

    Thank you very much, Misters. With your answers I have many things to think.
    I had though, perhaps, a pair of very goods microphones -Schoeps CMC6 cardioids.A beatiful pre -perhaps a Hardy. The best reel to reel recorder I could buy. Then, after , in a studio, convert the analog recording to digital with a very good converter, and there edit.
    But I ´m not convinced. I ´m researching about that.
    Thanks, again. Daniel

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