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two preamps in one chain?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by BoomTastic, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. BoomTastic

    BoomTastic Active Member

    i just bought a presonus digimax d8 preamp.

    I'm thinking about sometime in the near future to buy the studio live 16.4.2 digital mixer. it has the same preamps as the digimax d8, the only difference is that it says it has 67 DB of gain, vs. the digimax's 60db.

    lets say i bought the studiolive, and i need more gain. If i plugged the digimax into the studio live, would that give me 120db of total gain? or is this a no no? Not that i would ever need that i guess. Or does plugging in an external preamp to the mixer bypass the internal preamps on the mixer?

    I'm asking this because im wondering if i buy the studiolive mixer, will i need the digimax preamp.

    Also, in respects to gain only.....do cardiod mics need the most gain vs any other equipment that needs to be plugged into a preamp?

    For my shure SM8, i have to nearly max out the gain to get the levels to where i want them.

    And that brings me to another question. Why does presonus say their xmax 67DB preamps have a lot of headroom, when a cardioid mic needs like 55-60db's?

    thanks guys
  2. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    A microphone preamp takes a mic-level signal and converts it to a line-level signal. I don't think you're going to get 120 dB of gain by attaching your Digimax D8 to your console (someone pipe in if I'm wrong here) - it's all about gain structure and signal strength with low noise. Yes, using a balanced cable you can insert the preamp into the line-level input (may need to activate the PAD on that channel) or the "insert" of your mixing console to bypass the console's mic preamp if you want. Because the signal coming out of the Digimax is at line-level I don't believe it would be safe to plug it into the microphone inputs on the mixer as it might damage the mixer.

    I wouldn't think that the Digimax D8 would be of much use if you're looking at the StudioLive and they have the same pres in them.

    As far as the microphone requiring gain, a cardioid microphone is a mic that has a cardioid polar pattern (heart-shaped, hence the name). You're probably meaning to ask about the difference between condenser, dynamic, and ribbon microphone types. From what I understand, dynamic microphones require the most gain (around 60 dB) to operate optimally and need a preamp that can provide the hi-gain requirement. I also have a Digimax D8 and to use my Shure SM57 dynamic the gain is almost maxed out on the D8. Most ribbon mics are omidirectional, but condenser and dynamic mics commonly come in the following polar patterns: omnidirectional, subcardioid, cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid, bi-directional (figure 8), and shotgun. Check out the wikipedia web site for diagrams of these polar patterns here: microphone polar patterns

    Your Shure SM58 is a DYNAMIC mic with a cardioid polar pattern. Your nearly maxed out gain makes sense because it is a dynamic mic, not because it is cardioid.

    Headroom is the difference between the normal operating level of a device, and the maximum level that device can pass without distortion. If there is not enough headroom the equipment may clip (distort) during brief high-level transients. In the end, headroom is going to depend on how you set your gain structure and not necessarily on the amount of gain a device can provide. If you use a condenser mic on that preamp your gain would probably be set at mid-way (depending on the strength of the sound source - quiet or loud vocals for example). The "headroom" of the amp may be referring to the fact that it could give you far more gain if you needed it. Unfortunately, your dynamic mic needs most of that gain. You can give yourself a lot of headroom with the SM58, but your signal will be weak and the signal-to-noise ratio will decrease. To be able to turn the gain down on the preamp, eat your microphone and scream into it. :)

    I'm new to this sound engineering stuff so if I've lied to this fine fellow, let me have it.
    1 person likes this.
  3. BoomTastic

    BoomTastic Active Member

    thanks for the reply.

    well damn...i just bought the D8....should i keep it? maybe i will need it later?

    or should i sell it and invest in a high quality two channel preamp with lots of head room. Say for recording vocals, acoustic guitar etc....things that need a lot of clean gain.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have both, Studiolive and highend pre's that cost more than the 16.4.2 itself. I've only had the SL for a few weeks, but its really sweet and has it all covered for a full project studio including live work. Its an impressive product and the software really completes it all. My personal experience tells me the company is one of the best out there too. If you can't make it with that console,( as Sheet , our Controller Console Live Sound Forum Moderator said to me a few weeks back regarding the StudioLive) you need to hang your hat up. Its a great piece of equipment. Hope that helps confirm one part of your question here.

    That being said,

    What are you planning to do in the future? Project Studio or high end? Once you start adding high end into the equation, it starts coming down to the weakest link in the chain. $$$. Priority, acoustic treatment, choice mics, choice pre(s), choice converter and interface, high end cable, excellent monitors, software and so on.
  5. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    Check the specs for the StudioLive carefully, or query them on their forum. I'm quite certain the Digimax D8 can be used with the StudioLive to get an additional 8 channels of pre, but you'd need to send it through a firewire A/D converter like the Presonus FS2626 first because the D8 is only an 8 channel preamp and not an interface. It does have lightpipe to transfer the 8 channels digitally, but no firewire connection. I think the StudioLive is Firewire. Check it out.

    I wish I had a pro-quality 2 channel preamp. They're so bloody expensive though.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    "Most" ribbon mics are figure-8..(and the ones that aren't are usually hypercardioid) . Never seen one that was "omnidirectional"...
  7. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    Ya, sorry for that. You're absolutely right... that's what I meant to say. I don't know what I was thinking there.
  8. BoomTastic

    BoomTastic Active Member

    right now, project studio. I have a band that is interested in recording. I am still a novice, but i know this is what i want to do ( recording)

    Currently i have the m audio fast track ultra, and its not going to cut it for recording a band...barely has channels to mic a drum set. I've read,watched just about everything i can on the studio live the past week, and it seems to be the way to go for me. I've looked at the others, mackie, yamaha, A&H etc....but the presonus seems to win out with features.

    My main concern with a console like the studio live is exapandability. And it seems to offer it. it has everything built in, compressors, EQ etc....but should i want to use higher quality outboard gear later on, preamps, comnpressors etc...i can do that...correct?

    My room is very well treated already, and sounds great. I plan on buying mogami cables, i already have some great mics....good monitors.

    question: With the studio live, can you bypass its A/D converters, and use higher end ones later, like the aurora?

    thanks a lot for the help.
  9. BoomTastic

    BoomTastic Active Member

    ok thanks, ill check it out.
  10. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    If you're able, build your own Mogami cables. I build all my own and it's far cheaper. I'm even trying to sell some of them on ebay, but that's not going so well :(
    Get a soldering gun and shop Redco.com for the mogami cable and neutrik connectors.
  11. BoomTastic

    BoomTastic Active Member

    actually, i found a company that does a really good job of building them. Their soldering jobs look like they came out of mogami's factory....they do excellent work. And they use the neutrik connectors.

    and i calculated that im paying around 4 dollars extra per cable vs. building my own.

    but the thing is that i can get stuff so much cheaper thanks to the euro being worth more than the dollar.

    I can have the cables made, and still get them cheaper than if i bought the connectors and cables seperatly, and soldered them myself.

    Thats why i try to buy all my stuff from the states when i can.

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