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Transparent pres. Any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by baslotto, Jul 28, 2005.

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  1. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    Hi everybody. I have to upgrade my studio and I'm thinking of a couple of channels of pres. I'm really in love with transparecy, so I like the clearness of the True Precision 8, John Hardy or Benchmark. Not the Neves 10... series (yet).

    I'm just looking for 4 channels so I can't buy the Precision 8 because I would need converters too but If I could find something for that "price per channel" I would be ready to go. I mean: 4 cristal clean channels for about 1000 or 1400 dollars (since the Precision 8 is given for an amazing $2200 list price).

    People: any suggestions?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and have a wonderfull day.

  2. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    4 channels for $1000-$1400 will not be of of A+ professional quality (and it looks like that's what you are looking for). I think the True systems is so cheap one because it's all IC based (instead of discrete or Class A), it's good bang for the buck though. But as you'll see their two channel version is a lot more expensive per channel, I'm assuming because the cost break on the parts is significant @ 8 channels for the manufacturer. The ONLY piece of gear that is going to be in your budget, and fit your criteria is the FMR RNP (that I personally know of and have used, there may be something else). It's a little two channel box, that to my ears sounds better and more musical than the Grace 101. The Grace is slightly cleaner, but it's also not as smooth.
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Nathan's slamming one of my fav's - I love Grace so much, I named my dog Grace...

    Of course, the FMR stuff is nice, but for transparent, I dig, dig, dig the grace stuff.

    Of course, I also like the True Systems, but I'd check the price again - MSRP is much higher than $2200 - MAP is $2495.

    The Benchmark pre and the Sytek are both great options. Be prepared to wait for the benchmark - they're made to order.

    Also, check out the Broadhurst Gardens 1 (DAV Electronics). You could get 2 of them (4 channels total) for around your budget price. I don't know this pre all that well, but they're favored by many of the dudes in the acoustic forum.

    You might also want to look at the Focuswrong ISA 428. It's got 4 pres with the inexpensive capability of adding 8 channels of AD and it's relatively transparent.


    Good luck!

    J. :cool:
  4. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Definitely not slamming...it's just I did a pretty decent A/B of the Grace 101 versus the RNP, and the Grace to my ears just came across as a bit 'hyper-real' and a little aggressive above 8k. Maybe a bit brighter than reality, really hard to describe. The RNP in comparison was definitely more colored and forgiving (the test was drum overheads and close mic'ed piano, pretty dynamically and harmonically complex stuff), but no where near as colored as something like a Neve or even an API. So I think it could be very appropriate with the right microphones on 'legitamite' forms of music. I've heard some gorgeous records of orchestral work from the 60's and 70's, and it's a given they were filled with iron core transformers, very possibly tubes, and tape. Take away the tape, take away the transformers in the mics (like in most modern situations) and it's going to be a lot less colored, even if the engineer was to use a pair of 1073's (and I wouldn't be surprised if it sounded great).
  5. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    Yes I heard really good things about the FMR RNP I was actually going for that, but I wanted to hear from someone who used it. Thanks a lot for your suggestions so far, I feel I'm on the right track!

    Thank you so much guys!

  6. Albert

    Albert Guest

    This seems to be pretty much what you are describing:

    Link removed

    Four channels and right in the pocket as far as price.
  7. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    Yes, but I heard that that Benchmark needs a little modify to the circuitry because of a low output gain in order to be at the same level with the others mentioned before and it costs a couple of hundred bucks on top of its list price. Does anybody know anything about it?

    I'd like to know a little more about these Broadhurst Gardens 1 mentioned above, did anybody try them?

    Thanks again people, what a great forum this is!! :D
  8. freelight

    freelight Guest

    Cranesong Flamingo

    transformerless 2 channel preamp....might be a little out of your budget, but if you want 'transparent' this is the king!

    i haven't had any experience with Sytek's units, but apparently they're quite transparent...

    something to check out anyways

    good luck.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    (The following is only my opinion. It's nothing to get upset about, it's only what I think)

    mmmm .... RNP. I don't like it. Harsh and brittle ... sounds more like a Mackie than not. In a "taste test" RO readers preferred the sound of a Mackie pre over the RNP. The sound stage is flat and dimensionless. Cheesy power supply and built cheap. It's a toy. The one I had here took a 3 foot drop off the top of my rack onto a carpeted floor and a volume pot shaft snapped off. What a POS (IMO).
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Damn Freelight! You sure do love your Cranesong, don't you?? :D

    Well, considering the asking price and he's wanting 4 channels, I'd say you hit that WAY out of the ballpark...

    Yeah, the Cranesong is really nice, but I can think of a few others in or lower than that price point that I find to be more "transparent" such as the Millennia, Grace 201, Buzz, Earthworks (though I'm not a big fan of this one - dry as hell.)

    As for the Benchmark, I'm not familiar with any complaints about the gainstaging on it - what's your source for this?

    The BG1 is one of the favorites of some of the heavier hitters on the acoustics forums, mainly loved for its transparency. Check out that forum and do a search. I don't specifically recall, but I think Mick Hinton may have actually checked in on that forum once or twice. (Or maybe I'm wrong and was hallucinating???)

    J. (y)
  11. DanKennedy

    DanKennedy Guest

    That was kind of harsh Kurt.

    By the way, are you going to ever return that MP-2NV I sent to you for review several years ago, or should I just bill you???
  12. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    Thank you so much for your help and opinions guys!
    I think it's good to know about people who have had a bad experience with this gear because 99% of the time we read great reviews (online)about anything, and it seems we live in a perfect world. So it's good to have a real critique from another common mortal like me who actually tried the equipment.

    About the Benchmark. A friend of mine could find a MPS-420/2000 for a "ridiculous" price (used) and he could afford a little modification to boost the gain a little. I talked to him today and he told me that I could shurely live without it.

    I'm being attracted by the idea of getting 2 "2 channels" though. I think that for the music that I record (mostly rock bands) it would give a little more color to my palette (I already have 4 other channels of the same kind) so I'm getting interested in these little 2 channels boxes like the RNP and the BG1.

    Thank you again for your suggestions, if there is anybody totally against the things that have been said until now please speak your mind loud, it's the best way for us to understand what is really worth the money and what's just "a good review" found on the internet.

    Thank you guys again, this forum is great!

  13. Kurt,

    I honestly don't believe this is your opinion. You know why you slam FMR, and I know why you slam FMR, and it has NOTHING to do with the quality of the gear. You should keep your personal issues with Mark out of this forum (let it be known that you are probably the only person on this planet that has issues with Mark.)

    Sounds more like a Mackie? The sound stage is flat and dimentionless? Good freakin' grief... If this is what you believe, then you have absolutely no business reviewing gear. Trying to cover your tracks by saying "in my opinion" over and over doesn't work, Kurt. People are smarter than that...

    Disclaimer: Yes, I am an FMR dealer. Yes, I own a music store. Yes, I am biased. Yes, the FMR product is FAR better than MANY more expensive items I sell where I would make MUCH more money selling.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Not harsh at all IMO. It's how I really feel about the RNPs.

    It wasn't several years ago maybe 1 year? .... lol. :lol:

    I never head from you after the review ran . I thought you were so happy with the review that you decided to let me keep it.

    I would be happy to return it. Please send the pick up tag to the same address that the unit was sent to. Let me know when I can expect to see it. I will have it boxed and ready to go. Thanks for the use of the unit. It's a great pre.


    Then what is my opinion? Please tell me. I suppose I have a secret stash of RNPs in the closet that I never take out unless no one is watching? I did test the unit, although I declined to review it seeing as it sorta sucked. You can ask Fletcher ... he lent me the unit and I told him about the broken volume pot shaft ... he admitted it was a design flaw the FMR was aware of and that there was a fix in the works. I still have all the E Mails to prove it.

    The "in my opinion" thing was something that another person that had issues with me suggested I should use. So I adopted it. I am not "trying to cover my tracks", as you suggest. If you think it's better not to say that, I wiould be happy to drop it.

    RNP vs. Mackie
    What I said was ... "More like a Mackie than not." Please if you want to quote me, quote me ... don't make things up. I'm not the only one who felt that way after listening to the sound comparisons. You should take a look at that thread.

    Personal Issues
    As far as the personal issues, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I do not know Mr. McQuilken other than through a few exchanges on RO where he made posts incognito as "Ferd Berfel". There is absolutely no chance that there are any personal issues between he and I as we have no personal relationship. I am sure he is a great guy and aside from a discussion re;" RNP", he and I might even get along. A lot of my friends say I'm a nice guy. I just really don't like cheap pre amps (especially ones that run on 8 volts). :shock:

    Now, a question from me to you
    It's interesting that this is your first post. Thanks for you candid comments regarding your occupation .... Perhaps you can educate us all as to how you make a lot more money selling dozens of cheap pres like the RNP over one piece of high quality gear like a Millennia or a Vintech. Then everyone else will have a grasp on why it's always gear manufacturers, dealers, reps and distributors who have issues with my remarks. They hate it when they see posts like:

    I'm interested in seeing your reply.
  15. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    I see there's a kind of fight going on. :shock:

    Ok so let me take the word again for a second and ask Kurt this question:

    Are you saying that in your opinion it's stupid to buy little 2-channel boxes for about $600? Besides the RNP which you don't like, do you know any little box (2 ch.) that could sound decently clear for less than $800? Or do you suggest me to avoid getting "cheap" stuff and to buy very expensive pieces like Millennia, John Hardy and so on?

    PS: Please avoid suggesting $4000 pieces of gear like somebody above because my answer would be that I have spent money on my Ferrari F50 Modena and I'm trying to save on preamps, but I like my car a lot... :D
  16. baslotto

    baslotto Active Member

    I forgot to say people!

    My budget at the moment is between $1000 and $1400 but it doesn't mean that I want to get absolutely "new" gear. If anybody knows the used market price for a couple of good pres please let's talk about those too. Here is another question: where could we find good used gear online? Any particular website that is not Ebay (which I don't trust too much)?
    PS: By the way, my friend found the Benchmark for less than $200. How lucky is this guy... hehe!

    Thanks again for your effort people I couldn't expect this much help!
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I am happy to say there is one alternative. For $800 you can get a pair of "The Brick" from Groove Tubes. Perhaps if people like us on these BBs keep the pressure on, more manufacturers will recognize that they have to pony up with some substantial quality in order to sell product. As it stands, there guys exploit the fact that a lot of people do not know what to look for in a quality mic or mic pre. (uh-oh! That's gonna leave a mark!)

    The Brick is a very good mic pre. There' s not a lot of features, they are very basic no frills / no nonsense. Inzanoutz, on, off, switchable phantom power, phase switching and a volume control. Enough gain (55dB) for almost any mic except perhaps some ribbons. That's it. But these pre can keep up with any other pre around (IMO). Waaaaaaay better than an RNP and I really don't think anyone will argue that point.

    I'm sorry your thread got drug off topic. This happens a lot when I make posts for some reason, which is why I said in my first post that it was only my opinion (to which I am entitled) and nothing for everyone to get uptight about. It seems there are some things that a lot of industry types don't want people to say. That the RNP is not all it's hyped up to be, is one of them. :roll:

    For anyone to insinuate that I have personal motivations is nothing more than character assassination.
  18. schizojames

    schizojames Active Member

    So much venom spews forth about mic pre's every time...

    Anyway, I have this preamp that is completely transparent. It sits on my desk in front of an old turntable. It's not the tube-pre... no no! It's the one in the foreground. Now that's a transparent pre.

  19. impro

    impro Guest

    RME Octa mic.
    No color at all!!
  20. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Here he goes with the "character assassination" thing again.

    This is funny.
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