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Preamp vs A/d Converter

Discussion in 'Preamps & Processing' started by edaub1, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. edaub1

    edaub1 Active Member

    Jun 10, 2009
    Right now im running an sm57 through a Presonus Firestudio project into Cakewalk sonar , to record guitar. My question is..would a preamp such as an avalon make a huge difference? someone told me it wouldnt make any difference at all unless i buy a high end a/d converter..is this true?

    and one more question. How do studios seem to get their stereo spectrum so much wider then mine?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    There are two separate thing here. Improving the preamp and improving the converters.

    You can improve the preamp and run it through the same converters and possibly see some improvement provided your existing AD converters are of a certain minimum quality. The cost benefit ratio is up to you to decide.

    You can run the same preamps through a better AD converter and see good and sometimes dramatic results.

    Since you have a unit the has built in preamps that run into built in AD conversion the question for you has to do with scenario #1. Will the converters (of the Presonus) hold back significant improvement of a new preamp (running into line inputs).

    I certainly don't know the converters in the Presonus line enough to tell you. If it were a FF800 I'd tell you that the converters are top rate and are not going to hold you back.
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    I've had a little experience with the A/Ds in the PreSonus and I can tell you for a bona fide fact that the person who told you this is an idiot.

    As John states - if the A/D is of even the most basic of quality (somewhere at or above Soundblaster level), then the preamp will make a noticable difference.

    However, on the other hand, the Presonus preamps aren't bad and I just don't think going to an Avalon is going to do that much for you. If you're looking in that price range, you really should consider something else - ADL 600, Langevin DVC, API 3124 or Lunchbox (500 series) or similar. The Avalon is unremarkable and overpriced.

  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I'm with these guys. While I don't know the Presonus unit, I think you will find the difference between "mixer quality" preamps and top quality preamps clearly audible as long as the converters are of reasonable quality.

    I have to say that (unlike Jack and Jeremy) I'm a bit of a converter skeptic. I'm sure they make a marginal difference, but there are clearly people (like your friend) who exaggerate the difference. In fact, given the difficulty of isolating the converters in most "prosumer" level systems for blind A/B tests I doubt there are many people who have actually heard a comparison between the converters in a system they criticize and converters in another. When people start to talk about something that is hard to compare directly and used a lot of "wine tasting words" to describe the difference, hang on to your wallet. On the other hand, preamps can easily be compared directly. There are shootouts all over the web. Everyone can hear the differences. There are lots of disagreement over what sounds best, but no disagreement that they sound different.

    Another point. Preamps are stable technology. Twenty year old preamps are still worth good money. Twenty year old converters are garbage. Analog is a better long term investment.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Hey Bob - I'm right there with you!
    I'm a converter skeptic all the way. I laugh, often and loudly, at those who buy $10,000 stereo converters. I die a little inside when I hear some schmuck talk about how he/she was able to hear the difference between a $20,000 CD transport and a $500 one. I really chuckle when I see hardened audiophiles declare the CD player/DA converter in the Sony PlayStation 1 as one of the finest on the market!

    I've had Myteks, Lynx Auroras, Apogees and my trusty RME in the studio and while I could hear minute differences, the biggest difference still didn't equate to the difference one achieves by moving the mic even 1 inch.

  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Lake Ki-Chi-Saga, Minnesota USA
    Hello edaub1 and RO!

    I am a recording musician, always have been. I much rather spend my hard earned money on instruments than on gear, its only after years of recording at studios and at home I realize the importance of making the best decisions for the future of my recordings.

    Bob is right on the money! Analog gear / Microphones is always your best investment for your recordings.

    I made the decision to buy a firestudio based on that decision. I think it performs wonders, although the mic pres are nothing expensive they do a fine job for getting the ball rolling.
    This forum Rocks!

    Keep up the good work you guys.

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