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Using all same pres for "glue" or different pres f

Discussion in 'Recording' started by centurymantra, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. I've encountered a bit of discussion regarding the potential benefits of using the same pre-amp for the majority of the tracks in a recording as a means of providing "glue" to the recording and gaining a cohesive sound. Up until recently I would have steered towards the notion of using a variety of pre-amps for a wide range of flavors in the sonic palette, but some recent observations have led me to re-think this idea. I'd be interested in hearing some input and opinions from folks on this forum about this topic. Thanks!
  2. It's an interesting idea. My thought is that audio engineering is all about creating the illusion of an actual performance. Why is it an illusion? Because the process of tracking an album rarely involves having all of the musicians in the same space recording all of their parts simultaneously.

    I feel like the way that you create the illusion is up to you. Some possibilities:
    1. Record everyone in the same room (simultaneously or at different times) and place microphones back far enough to pick up some room tone (requires a great room).
    2. Apply the same effects, especially reverb, to the overall mix. This essentially simulates being in the same room.
    3. Use the same signal path and gear for all of the tracks. IMO, this limits your sonic possibilities - kind of like painting with the same color.

    My quick $.02.
  3. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    because we want the final result to come out of a pair of speakers or ... mp3 and an iPod ... etc

    it is an illusion
    as much as making a feature film is an illusion
    it's not a documentary ... :shock: :roll: that's another story

    to hear a live performance requires ... obviously ... you go and see the performance
  4. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2005
    Home Page:
    Making records is an artform practiced (to varying degrees) by everyone from hobbyists to professionals; from musicians and composers to engineers. And personal interpretation of "what makes a record a record" is left to the individual "artist".

    I may be wrong but "Glue" (as it applies to making records) is typically a term used to describe the effect compressors can have on a track or mix. I've never heard it used when talking about preamps.
  5. TornadoTed

    TornadoTed Guest

    I've never thought about a 'glue' issue with pre amps as CayoteTrax said. I guess great sounding records have been made with both methods, lots of different outboard pre amps and also all the tracks being recorded through one console. However I have read about engineers saying that old big consoles such as Neve's vary greatly in sound from channel to channel because they are constantly being repaired or modified so there's an interesting twist on the arguement :)

    I remember reading about a producer once, can't remember who, he mostly used the same studio for tracking with an old Neve desk who used certain channels for drums, bass, vocals, guitars etc every time.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Use what you have
    First, just use what you have. What ever works for you is what you should do. If you're happy with the pres in your PDS or Mackie board, fine .. If you feel the need for some sonic options, then pres would be a good place to start. Nothing else makes as much difference IMO, even mics (although good mics are crucial as well).

    The Short answer
    I feel it's good to have some pres that match .... and some other choices as well. I used to be pretty set in my ways in the 70's / 80's / 90's, when I was working with the same technology (2" tape / outboard processing & large console). I never felt the need for a load of boutique mic pres. The ones in my MCI console sounded fine and if I really needed something, I could always rent it from Steven Jarvis or David Denny. With analog, the choice of pres didn't seem that critical, because there were other elements in the signal path (like how hard I hit the tape, limiters & eq's) that could carve out a little slice of sonic territory for the track. With a DAW, there's usually no way to do this, so the choice of the front end becomes more crucial. Moving to DAW forced me to rethink my approach in order to get the same results that I did with an all analog system. If I had to rent everything I need now to get "that sound" to the recorder, I would go broke. So I became the mic pre pig of my neighborhood.

    Fast forward to the present.
    I recently tracked basics for a Punk band. With analog I would have recorded very hot to 456 so I could get tape compression. I like to use a mix of the approaches ... the same pres for the drums, a different set for the OHs and perhaps something even different for some other tracks. I have been using the JLM TMP8 on my drum tracks. This is a clear and aggressive sounding pre ( sounds a lot like an API) with soft limiters built in that engage 3 dB before the clip point of the DAW, that do a pretty decent job of emulating tape compression. On the overheads I used 2 pairs of mics. 451's through 9098s and 4033's through a MP2NV and a 1178 (with all the buttons pushed in and the threshold set for 10-15 dB of reduction). For the bass I took a direct from the instrument and ran it into a Seb THORAX with a little eq and a sh*tload of compression. Guitars and scratch vocals recorded with KEL HM-1's, went through the Sebatron vmp 4000e. The resulting rhythm tracks really sound fat and punchy and need very little EQ'ing.

    What I am currently using
    I have 3 sets of stereo pairs pres ([2]9098's / MP2NV / [2]The Brick) ... one four channel pre (Sebatron vmp 4000e) and one eight channel pre (JLM TMP8) as well as two "channels strip" pres (Sebatron THORAX / Millennia ORIGIN) that have EQ and compressors built in. Between these, I never am at odds as to which I should use. If something it is not sounding right, I try something else. This happened yesterday. We were working a vocal track with a 4033 and the THORAX ....and it just wasn't coming together correctly. So I tried the 40333 through "The Brick" and the 1178 and it was killer!

    The bottom line: Cost!
    Yes, a good collection of pres is a large investment. So is a 2" tape machine. So is a 1/2 track mix machine. So is an 800 lb. seven foot wide console. So are the racks of outboard gear (not to mention all the necessary cabling) needed to process all that audio in order to produce a professional sounding product (not to mention the expense of tape). With DAW, you don't need those things any longer, so the expense of a rack of quality mic pres, really doesn't seem like that much of an imposition to me. When you look at things in the light of what it used to cost to run a studio and what it costs these days, $20,000+ for mic pres, doesn't really seem like that much.

    I started my pre collection in early 2002, with a pair of 9098s .... and I added something every few months as I could afford it. Now I have 20 channels of high quality mic pres. If I can do it anyone can. I'm not rich and I am not the best at budgeting my finances. So my opinion is not influenced when someone cries "poor". For me, it's all about priorities and how serious you take audio, as well as thinking of ways to get something done, rather than thinking of reasons you can't do it. With a little patience and planning anyone can get there. I did!
  7. Thanks all for the perspectives on this topic. It's something I've been pondering a bit as I've embarked on assembling a small pre-amp collection to augment my recording set-up. Especially, thanks to Kurt for his detailed and informative post.
  8. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    I've asked/researched this question a lot i the past, and kept coming up with the same conclusions:

    - Preamps matter a LOT, but only to the source they are working on at the time....ditto mic

    - The 'glue' comes from proper arrangements and mixing, finding the proper place for each instrument/voice, and having it sort of fall into place rather than forcing it...

    - A little mixbus compression and mixbus reverb can make things really gel together...as the idea is to create a 2 dimensional illusion of the listener actually being in the midst of the performance....this elusive illusion can be manipulated by toying with the overall ambience and presense...

    - Kurt's advice of using what you have, and making maximum use of it when combined with your skills, is DEAD ON! Great mixes can be made using 2 dozen different pres or on a lower end all in one console....

    - I don't think its a matter of gear, I think its a matter of ear.

    Feel free to disagree.

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