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Replacing mic preamps

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Jarci, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Jarci

    Jarci Active Member

    I have the Maudio project mix and would like to replace the preamps!! What pre's do you recommend that i should replace it with?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    What kind of color are you looking for? Clear blue? Deep red? Purple? Gold? What about dazzling yellow?

    And you are displeased with your current preamps, why? They're 100% usable already. Are you looking for a classy boutique microphone preamp costing beaucoup Dinero's? Or just a different color for 25 bucks? Most anything else in the low-cost budget area are all pretty similar to one another and similar to what you already have.

    Are you having problems with your recordings?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    There's little point in getting external analog-output pre-amps and feeding the outputs into the line inputs of the ProjectMix. However, as well as its 8 mic/line inputs, the ProjectMix has both ADAT optical and S/PDIF coax inputs, which by-pass all the internal analog circuits. Depending on your budget and how many external channels you want, you could look for digitizing pre-amps that are either dual-channel with coax S/PDIF output or 8-channel with ADAT lightpipe output. Good ones are not cheap!

    As Remy indicated, don't buy the first external pre-amp you come across, as it may not sound any better than the native ProjectMix. Come back to us with some more details of things like number of channels and your budget, and we can make some recommendations.
  4. Jarci

    Jarci Active Member

    I'm want to get that "clarity" sound which i'm not getting while recording live instruments/vox. I was thinking about buying 3 and replacing only those three and leave 5. depending on how much. I'm looking to spend 600-700 for the three. i was looking at the ADAT to add on to the channels i have already but right now there is no need. I'm trying to get that clearer sound without turning up the gain so much. 8 channels!
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You are very unlikely to see a big quality difference at $200 or so per channel. All the preamps in that price range I'd refer to as "mixer level" and would not be a huge upgrade over the maudio pres (which are in the same basic category).

    How high are you turning up the gain? What level are you recording most of your tracks?
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Clarity comes from recording technique more than anything else. The system you currently have is not going to be any clearer with anything else unless you step up to spending thousands of dollars. And clarity certainly doesn't necessarily mean you'll get clarity with any other budget equipment unless you technique can already deliver that. This is why we work so hard at what we do. No musician starts off being a great musician unless they are a wunderkind (translated means baby/child genius). So you think you're going to plug in a microphone and become George Massenburg/Bruce Swedien/Geoffrey Emerick, et al.? Don't you think that's a little bit unrealistic? I mean there's no reason why you can't be making good recordings that sound clearer & clean with what you currently have. If you want some color, if you want "old school" "Altshule" style preamps with Transformers, expect to spend + $300 per channel not including any analog to digital conversion. Then expect to spend a couple of grand on some good analog to digital converters.

    Of course, you could purchase one of those lovely 8 channel microphone preamps in a 1u rackmount. There are many like that ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to many thousands and you know you get what you pay for. There are some good bangs for the buck such as the Presonus brand which I found to be a lovely rugged professional build internally.

    Then you might want to look for a used Alesis HD 24xr. Not the plain Jane HD 24 mind you but the "XR" version which are no longer made. This particular unit offers nearly boutique sounding analog to digital converters. The disk drives can then be digitally transferred into your computer. This method may actually cost you far less since stand-alone converters that sound good are rather costly. With this recorder & your ADAT light pipe inputs on your computer interface, you then have 24 high quality sounding " Clean/Clear" analog to digital converters straight out to light pipe. You should be able to find one of those recorders for under $1500 when they come up on eBay. The stock unit, won't have any better converters on it then you are currently using in your current interface. I've used those also and my recordings are with a great deal of Clarity just the same. It's my technique. The bonus caveat here is that this recorder can also be utilized just as a stand-alone 24 channel, analog to digital converter and back again, without ever rolling onto its internal disk drives but instead onto your computers. It gives you a huge amount of versatility for an unbelievably affordable price.

    Then again, you didn't indicate what kind of microphones were in use or anything else that has to do with the sound. You know some microphones sound like mud where others are just crispy wispy which is probably what you want.Musical genre? Or whatever particular "sound" you are trying to achieve because you already have "clarity" in your current equipment. What you don't have is technique or understanding of the current capabilities of what you have. I can tell you it ain't the equipment that's at fault here. This is something you have to learn. It can take years to get the results you want. Better equipment is not going to improve your technique is what I'm also saying. A great guitarist sounds like a great guitarist regardless of the instrument they play. From entry-level beginner guitars to beat to death pawnshop guitars to their custom guitars. Skunk Baxter still sounds like Skunk Baxter, regardless of the guitar he plays upon. My engineering sounds great regardless of the equipment presented before me. I've made great recordings on broken 20-year-old Peavey PA boards, TASCAM boards at all sorts of crap! And the whole time I had Clarity, Punch, Warmth, HEADROOM! Which a lot of folks just don't know how to reap from their gear. That's because I also understand the equipment and its limitations. If you know the equipments limitations, you'll have none of your own. You are being limited by your equipment because your technique is still yet limited. And I'm not talking dynamics processing here. That's for another day...

    That day is coming soon
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    If you just want more signal out of your dynamic microphones so you don't have to turn the gain up so much on your ProjectMix have a look at the Triton Audio FetHead signal boosters. They are about $100 apiece, so you would still have enough change from your budget to buy some SM57s.

    Use of a signal booster would not improve the quality of recorded signal emerging from the ProjectMix. To do that, you need a different signal path, preferably using an external pre-amp and the digital inputs of the ProjectMix, as already mentioned. You are not going to get anywhere near 8 channels worth of decent external pre-amps in your budget, but have a look at the Audient Mico dual pre-amp. This 2-channel unit with ADCs is within your budget and has considerably better pre-amps and ADCs than the ones in your ProjectMix. It can connect directly to the ProjectMix S/PDIF input.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    What's worth getting for $300 per channel?
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Bob, you can find used API 312 cards in that pricing area. So with a little DIY & a card frame, one could have an API 3124 like Box for $1,000.00 US less than what a used 3124 costs. How about some Neve 3415A's with some crapped out output transistors (easily replaced) for nearly the same cost? You all know how much the similar modified 1272 preamps sound like & cost. They're upwards of $800 per channel. And it's all 100% vintage Neve. What about some used Auditronics 501 Tom Scholz/Boston style complete channel strips with 4 knob, 8 band air core inductor equalizers, that sound like a cross between a Neve/API/SSL for even less?

    Those items above while not state of the art, like John Hardys top shelf preamps, come mighty mighty close. Besides, the above mentioned is that old school stuff that everybody formerly made hits upon without much need of " plug-ins". The sound these items produce is already PLUGGED IN & rockin'.

    In fact you don't need a lot of compression and/or EQ when you hear these things do their things.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

    The above really isn't spam advertising but it could be. Apply via PM to find out more.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I was wonder if that was where you were going. I agree that there are good DIY solutions at that price range (not a huge D required). It's just my impression that in terms of off the shelf price the $200-$400 per channel price range is a pretty dead area with stuff that's closer in quality to the lower priced mixer-level preamps then the stuff in the $500-$700 range.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I've seen a couple of the newer compact Mackie Onyx with USB & FireWire interfaces. One as low as $129 with 2 Onyx preamps. The FireWire version for $500 has 8 and both are supplied with Traction multitrack software. So that's a great bang for the buck.

    Things are getting cooler by the day as the weather warms up
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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