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Tascam US2000 preamp upgrade

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by jordan_nalley, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. jordan_nalley

    jordan_nalley Active Member

    I'm shopping for a nice preamp.

    I've spent a lot of time working on my technique to get the best out of what I have, and my recordings definitely sound good, but I want to take it a step further and really start building onto my library of gear. Plus, there are some things that I really can't fix with technique, and it pisses me off. Like the audible self-noise that cuts through the mix at the quiet part of a very dynamic acoustic track. I don't want to be so limited by my gear.

    At the moment, I'm only using the built-in pres in my Tascam US2000.

    I want something legit, and I want at least three channels. These don't all have to be on one preamp, but I don't have an infinite bank account.

    I found someone who is selling an NPNG QMP-4B for $2000, and I was considering it, but I had never heard of it, and I don't know anybody else with first hand experience using it.

    A friend of mine said that for cheaper, I could get a Presonus Digimax 96K and have eight channels. I'm extremely skeptical about this because A.) It's only $1400 for eight channels NEW, and B.) Presonus isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when I think nice preamp.

    I know a much more common four-channel preamp would be an API 3124+. I don't know of anybody selling one, so I'm not sure how good of a price I could get on it, but I was still thinking about it.

    Or I could get a two-channel preamp and another preamp, but I haven't looked into that as much.

    Does anybody have any opinions on this?

    My biggest question is... How would you compare the NPNG QMP-4B to the Digimax 96k? (Factor price into the equation.)

    Between the NPNG QMP-4B or a different preamp in that tier.. Should I go with this one since I already have a good deal on it? Or should I look around for something else?

    Basically, if you were limited to only one or two preamps, which would you pick?

    (By the way, I mainly record very modern rock and metal, and acoustic/folk music. Just in case that's important to know.)
     
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Hey, Jordan:
    NPNG products are sold through Fletcher at Mercenary Audio. They don't show that particular model, but the 4-channel one that they DO show is like $4000+. Typical Fletcher high-priced gear, and they give it high praises. Apparently NPNG is based in your area (Hotlanta), you might try to look them up and give them a call, see what they say about this unit you are considering.
    As far as REPLACING the Tascam with this, the Tascam is a multi-functional interface. It has the mic preamps you don't like, plus an A/D converter to feed the USB port. I doubt that the NPNG preamp will have any such conversion. When you get into that higher-priced gear, it is definitely "a la carte", you pick your pre(s), you pick your A/D-D/A boxes, etc. That there's the matter of the whole USB thang, which is really only a simple 2-channel format. You should be looking at Firewire to do multi-tracking work. That is a whole other can of worms...
    BTW, API gear RULES!!!
     
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Some Presonus stuff is really pretty good. For example, theres an M80 pre on ebay right now for a grand. Thats 8 channels and this is an early one with the jensen transformers and the burr-brown updates on the op-amps. PLUS these have a stereo master so you can use them as an 8X2 mixer with inserts.....they do sound really much better than the price would indicate and WAY better than that thing you're using.

    But thats just a response to a particular brand.

    As Moon said...." API RULES"
     
  4. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Given my experience w/ Presonus Firestudio, Digimax LT, TubePre, old and new BlueTube...
    If what Dave says is true, grab that M80.
    That's a very nice piece of gear for that price.

    Otherwise, I'm with Moonbaby as well. I recently upgraded to an RME interface from the Firestudio (couldn't be happier), and that API is on my short list.
    The NPNG sounds like a fantastic unit, too.
    I don't think you could go wrong w/ any of the options mentioned.

    I think you need to consider how serious you want to get with this.
    How many tracks would you be recording simultaneously in a year? Two years?
    What quality does your signal chain need to be for what you do?
    How much are you willing to invest in this? Do you realize it gets worse?
    If you start going down our road, it can get scary fast.

    FWIW - I still own all of my Presonus gear. And still use the Digimax LTs.
    It's really pretty nice stuff for the price point.
    But there is a reason we're both looking at API, right?

    Seriously, these are tough decisions.
    All of our praises/cautions amount to little - you gotta decide what's right for you.
    Focus on your short-term plans and budget first...

    Then grab whatever that budget allows for!

    :wink:
     
  5. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    m2c
    RME and Presonus do a great job at my studio setups.
    Some as old as 11 years and still no problems, at all.
    But I am sure, there are others that can be well worth testing.
    It ain't easy...lol...
     
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    That M80 is a good deal, to be sure. I had an MP20 several years ago, and sold it thinking that I could always get another one later. Mine was an earlier unit, with Jensens (which is why I bought it), and I was disappointed when they later dropped the Jensens :(
    Lately I have been reading where the guy behind the company is wanting to get the quality of Presonus back on track, back to where it was in the early years.
     
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think that any manufacturer who sockets their op-amps and isnt afraid to help the DIYers modify their own products deserves a Hell Yeah....
     
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    If you have some time & basic DIY electronics skills, I think you should go for the Seventh Circle Audio box. For about $8-900 you get a good solid power supply, a rackbox which will hold up to 8 preamps, and your first kit - for only a little more they will assemble it. This kit can be Neve clones, John Hardy clones, API clones or something else which I forget.

    You can then add each additional channel for about $2-300 dependent on type and assembly. This gets you to 3 very good preamps, with some choice, for only $1500 and if you then want to add more of the same of any type, $300 per channel upgrade cost.

    I really don't know why more people don't use these.
     
  9. laemmle

    laemmle Active Member

    the preamp I have that I use all the time is a racked quad 8 mm71. If you do some research there are top quality preamps that were used on some of your favourite recordings (assuming you like classic pop- sorry!) that you can have racked for a reasonable amount of money.
    my 2 cents
     
  10. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Jeemy - what is your opinion of the 7CA clones? How well do they compare to the originals?

    I've long thought about this route, and in the end it certainly is cheaper and more versatile - I can have my 4 APIs, fill the other 4 slots w/ other clones, and only spend a little more than I would have for some of the other preamps mentioned....

    Good call.
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    For those thinking about API 3124/API 312/API 512 microphone preamps... And those even thinking about some popular vintage Neve consoles... One should consider some used circa 1970s Auditronics 501 modules. You either get the original transformer or in the later release you get the Jensen 110 series transformer. All of these 501 input modules were updated to accommodate the Signetics 5534AN chips. Now these chips were the same used in many late 1970s Neves, still in use in Nashville and other studios today. Meanwhile, the microphone Transformers are identical to what is used in the API 3124/312/512. And one can obtain these Auditronics 501 modules for between 150 to $200 US, each. Then all you need is a ± 15 V bipolar power supply and you'll have a set of microphone preamps that will blow your mind. Not only that, you get air core inductor equalizers, very similar to a Neve. And you then get that vintage API/Neve quality sound for between $150-$200 per track/channel. What could be bad? So, 4 would cost you $800 US as opposed to $2500 US for a 3124 without any equalizers.

    Did I mention that I had somewhere around 46 of these for sale? I've also got plenty of P. & G. faders & the 16 channel bus assignment switch modules as well. The 501 modules have 4 band equalizer's in comparison to the 110 series that had only 3 band equalizer's. Otherwise, these are identical and is the same that Tom Scholz recorded Boston upon. How cool is that? Not quite good enough? Probably not as it only sounds like good rock 'n roll. Perhaps you are in pursuit of recording crappy rock 'n roll? So then you wouldn't need these.

    They look like all the other pictures of the same modules
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. bicasaur

    bicasaur Active Member

    I scored a True P-8 on ebay a while back for $1400. It's an 8 channel pre in 1 rack space, and it sounds reeeeeeeaaaaally clean. I love it. For certain things. It has none of the color you would get from neve/api/tube gear, but when I upgraded to it from my M-Audio Profire, all I could do was gape like a fool. Instead of sounding like my guitar cab mic'd up in another room, it suddenly sounded like my cab was sitting on the desk in fromt of me.
     
  13. Signature Sound

    Signature Sound Active Member

    I think the NPNG is a good choice, as are a lot mentioned in this thread. Can you get a chance to listen to some of the preamps before you buy for your setup? If you can listen to them in your setup that's ideal.
     
  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I just bought a Focusrite ISA 428. I didnt get the AD conversion card yet but this is great bang for the buck stuff. For under 2K you can get 4 excellent pres and 8 channels of extremely quality AD conversion.
     
  15. fezzle

    fezzle Member

    Hi man,
    I noticed you can buy a 4 channel NPNG for 2000 dollars.... do it.
    They are absolutely wicked, best thing ive ever used, sounds so big n 3d.. amazing sound quality, clear and lush. Ull need converters though to get the best out of them.
    At 2000 dollars that is a steal, (just make sure theyre not dodgy or breaking)

    I really wouldnt look at anything else youve mentioned, these things are next level. Or maybe next 2 or 3 levels
     

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