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USB 2.0 Compatible Preamp

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by homemadespeed, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. homemadespeed

    homemadespeed Active Member

    Hello, I need some help. I'm looking for a decent preamp or preamp/mixer, but it has to be USB compatible, since I happen to have the late 2008 model of MacBook that doesn't have firewire (very frustrating).

    I'd like something of fair quality, I'm willing to spend up to around $1000, new or used. Also, something with two channels (or more) would be fantastic. If nothing great is available in this context, I at least need something that will get me by.

    I use Logic and do some home recording, piano, voice, guitar. My gear is pretty limited right now, but I'm planning on purchasing a Shure SM58 and a matched pair of Rode NT55s and perhaps a midrange condenser.

    Please share any suggestions you have, even if it's "get a computer with firewire!" though more creative solutions are encouraged
    Thank you
  2. homemadespeed

    homemadespeed Active Member

    Also, if something I said is ridiculously ignorant, feel free to set me straight. I'm just now beginning to learn the basics
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Your Macbook should have an optical S/PDIF input as part of the line in 1/8" minijack, so that opens up a larger field of digitizing pre-amps. You would need the type of optical cable that has the square Toslink connector on one end and the thin minijack connector on the other.

    For the usage you have described, I would try the Audient Mico pre-amp. It gives you two high-quality channels, one of which has a DI input option that is very useful for guitar. A unit like this is a much better investment than a dedicated USB pre-amp, as it can be used via its analog outputs when you later upgrade to a serious multi-channel interface.
  4. homemadespeed

    homemadespeed Active Member

    I looked into it, and I must say, it's precisely what I'm looking for. Thanks!
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The Audient Mico is a great dual-channel pre-amp with a lot of features and a very clean (transparent) sound. It's not transformer-based, so it's no API , but it is remarkable value for money (at least here in the UK).

    Do check that your MacBook has optical I/O. I have not seen one that doesn't, but Apple shuffle the detailed specs around regularly, and don't include optical on their main feature lists.
  6. homemadespeed

    homemadespeed Active Member

    Coming back to this topic: would I need some kind of interface or sound card to work with the S/PDIF compatible preamp?

    Also, the Mico looks good, but I'd also like to know how the Aphex 207 compares. They seem fairly equal, I'm curious as to which one would be best for me to have.

    Thanks everyone
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Purely considering the interfacing, the Mico will connect directly via optical S/PDIF to your Macbook (assuming your model of Macbook has the optical input). No other sound card or interface is needed.

    The Aphex 207 (original model) is an analog-only preamp which will not connect to your Macbook without going through another interface (such as the Mico!). The newer Aphex 207D model has an ADC fitted, similar to the Mico, but the S/PDIF output is on coax only. You would need an external coax-to-optical converter to use this with your Macbook. These converters are cheap, but it's another component to connect and power.

    As to sonic qualities and other features, the two pre-amps are worlds apart, but both good. The Mico prides itself on being feature-packed and sonically transparent, whereas the 207D exists to give you a valve (tube) sound, and does not have so many other goodies built-in.
  8. homemadespeed

    homemadespeed Active Member

    Alright, great. That's just the information I needed, thanks again Boswell!

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