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User opinions on preamps

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Link555, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    I have a few more gigs lined up and should be able to expand my mic pre selection in the near future.

    Currently I have 2 Portico 5012’s, a Aphex 107 (slightly modified) and a heavily modified ART tube PAC.

    I will be able to test out my top 3 choices, but in order to narrow the field

    I would appreciate the input of people actually using the gear.

    I want to purchase 8 channels of transparent pre-amps, and one flavored 2-4 channel pre.

    I am liking the following for more transparent pre’s:
    Millennia HV-3D
    True Precision 8
    Buzz Audio MA2.2
    Earthworks 1024
    Sytek MPX-4Aii

    I also like the looks of the following:
    Cranesong Flamingo
    API 3124

    If you have any of the above I would love to hear your thoughts on the gear.
  2. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    I've got the Sytek with Burr Brown option on 3/4. No complaints, no amazing wow factor but works well for a transparent quality pre and a decent price.

    For my ears, side by side with the pre's in a DIGI 002r/ 003r they are both relatively neutral (used on jazz/ classical/ choir) but there's a nicer sheen to the sound of the Sytek that make it something I use regularly. I know maintiger used his on aux percussion and liked it there a lot, and certainly more headroom and less "wonk" when using it on multiple tracks than the digi.

    Others have complained about the headroom but I've never had an issue. I tend to track on the lower side because of the large dynamic range of the music I tend to record.


  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The only ones I have a bit of experience with are the True Systems 8 and the API3124.

    The infamous Cucco ala Jeremy was recently sighted head down shuffling back and forth trying to decide how much crow to eat after spending a few years lambasting the True Systems stuff which in reality he found he loved much. :wink:

    I recommend both of these peoducts. The width and depth of field as well as the musical definition they bring to a source is quite outstanding.
  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the feedback. I read about Jeremy's "True" confession.

    Davedog: Would you consider the True a very transparent pre, or does it have some flavour?

    What instruments do use your API for mainly, what do you use the True for?

    Phil: In your opinion What's the sonic difference between the Burr Brown pre's vs the standard?
  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The Sytek is ok, True Systems is ok. Never used the 8-channel version, but talk has it that it is not quite the same as the dual channel version.

    The Millennia and the Buzz are full step up. Earthworks doesn't do nothing for me. It is not bad and it is nice and clean, and it qualifies to be on the list, but there are just other choices available I would rather choose ahead of it.

    Now, the API. There ya go. (insert stupid ass thumbs-up cartoon)

    I would sell all that other stuff and go with two API 3124 or maybe one 3124 and one 3124M (adds an 4x2 mixer with aux bus)

    And don't let dumb ass talk on the net fool you or anyone else. The API is clean and transparant. It is not as clean or transparant as many others, but everything that goes through it, sounds great, clean and clear.

    One secret I will share about the API that makes it very desireable, more so than all others is...........

    that since the API has much more obvious color and tone than most other brands, it compliments and enhances live performaces that tend to sound distant and thin when using other brands. This can make a huge difference. It can also bring out as well as tame the harsh, brittle and dryness of cheaper mics being a great help when you to mix latter on.
  6. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Audiogaff, the API 3124+ is one box I can try out with a certain amount of ease. I do a lot of acoustic based music, some rock but mostly acoustic world and jazz music. In your opinion would the API excel in this area as well? How is the transient response?
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The transient response is great. You can push it hard and get great results. Sounds wonderful on drums. I use it for exactly the kind of music you are working on and love it. When my budget gets a little healthier I'm going to buy another one.
  8. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input Bob, I have listened to all the clips I can on the listening sessions. com. I do like the sound of the api 3124+, hopefully I can get my hands on one this weekend to test drive. When you say 'push it hard' do you mean it clips nicely?
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    More that the fast transients on drum hits don't clip or distort at all - even if you don't "baby" the pre. With cheaper pres I keep them much farther away from the red than with the 3124. Push a cheap pre and the sound gets worse fast. Push the 3124 and the tone gets better (so I guess that is a kind of distortion). I have not experimented with putting bass or guitar through it and actually pushing it to clipping - which I understand a lot of people like. I always have it hooked up for drums and percussion. Sometimes use it for acoustic guitars.
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that info. I will be listening for that. I find on acoustic instruments 2nd and 3rd order harmonics do not sit nicely. Glad to hear the API is gentle in that regard.

    How is the API3124 on vocals?
  11. AudioGeezer

    AudioGeezer Active Member

    very very very good for ANYTHING!
  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input, I know of a lot people like the API 3124+, I am hoping to get feedback on the + and - of pres I listed.
    Thanks guys, great info so far!
  13. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I use an API 3124+ for channels where I need good transient performance, headroom and that classic API colour. Note that it does not really have enough gain for use with low-output ribbon mics unless you are close-miking the sound source.

    For 8 channels of transparent pre-amps, try the Millennia HV-3D or DAV BG8. I use the DAV BGx range when I need clean gain. I also find the gain switch (not a pot) very useful for accurate resetability.
  14. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Boswell, so are you saying the transient preformance in the API 3124+ is faster than the MIllennia or DAV?
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    No, I'm not saying that at all. Any of the really good pre-amps (Milllennia, Grace, DAV, API, Langevin etc) are good because they have a great all-round mix of characteristics, only one of which is transient response.

    Lesser products may be just as good in certain departments such as noise or bandwidth, but it's the excellence of the all-round sonic package that makes the better products stand out, and also makes them so versatile.
  16. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Great thanks for that. How does the DAV and Millennia do for low output Ribbon mics?
  17. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Either should mostly be fine, but it depends on the sound source. If you are using a ribbon mic at a distance from acoustic sounds, you may need to consider a specialized pre-amp such as the AEA TRP.
  18. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Coles 4038 as overheads or room mics is what I was thinking of. Thanks again Boswell.
  19. AudioGeezer

    AudioGeezer Active Member

    I like the API's with Coles as overs/room. API's with Royer 121 is also nice for perc and egtr.

    I have the Sytek with BB'S on 3 n 4. Not a bad budget pre. Probably the best for the $. Transparent is not the right word. Little color with solid performance is how I'd describe them. The BB's are edgier than the 5534's. I wouldn't put the BB channels in the same league as other more $ pres with "color"....If I were buying another Sytek I'd probably get all 4 channels with BB's

    You didn't mention these in your post but:

    For color the Chandler TG Mll is very nice. And the Pendulum Audio Quartet is rocking for vocals. The GR NP2NV is very nice...so many pres....so many $.....It's like chosing from a big box of really expensive crayons........

    You can also get "color" from the eq's and comps you choose. You can even put transformers in your patchbay to patch through if you want....
  20. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    A couple thoughts before my battery dies -

    I've owned an dused the following:
    Aphex 107

    The Millennia is a great and transparent pre. The biggest difference between it and the True is that the True somehow sounds "closer" as in less distant than the Millennia. The Millennia has a little bit better top end (only on the very top).

    For what it's worth - I use ribbon mics on the Millennia, True, Grace and Buzz at distances in excess of 150' on a regular basis with no issues.

    I've really started to like the True a LOT. If I can, I'll send you two audio samples - both with the same mics but one with the True and one with the Millennia. Two different concerts but the same ensemble.

    I completely disagree that the Millennia and the Buzz are "steps up" from the True and the other pres in the bunch. They're just different.

    BTW, the True has an input impedance of 5500 ohms. While this may be a tad low for ribbons, but I haven't had any issues at all.

    I'll try to add more when I have a little more battery power.


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