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wandering about upgrading mic pres

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by frob, May 15, 2004.

  1. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    hello right now ive got a makie 1604 vlz pro i was looking for a desent preamp upgrade i was thinking of the grace 101 as i have heard good things about it. the pres in the vlz are really my highest quality, please help. my budget is around $500 though more could be scweezed if need be.
     
  2. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    There are quite a few mic preamps in the range you're looking at that you may perceive as improvements over the Mackie preamps. What kind of sound are you looking for?

    -Duardo
     
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Keep saving. You getting real close to being able to afford a really great mic pre that will last you a lifetime.
     
  4. What don't you like about the Mackies? Have you had a chance to demo any other pres?
     
  5. I think the Mackie preamps sound really clean, super transparent, but, in my opinion, they make the sound really cold... no color, no life... but, for the money, you can't get a better board, live or in-studio.
     
  6. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    i dont like how cold and transparant they sound. i want somthing with more life, but not super-grity mainly for vocals i hate the sound i get vocals with it. im using rode nt1a shure sm57 i all so have some old sure mics they look to be the predisesor to the 58 but i cant remmember the name.

    it all goes down on a delta 1010 analoge inputs into cubase
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    You probably want something that will warm up the signal a bit and take the edge off without loosing the "air". The Mackie pres are lifeless but accurate and I think the Grace will simply give you more of that. Pres that warm things up usually have transformers and or tubes incorporated into their design.. and are a bit more expensive than what you have saved up..

    One solution I have come across recently that may help you (within your budget) takes a different approach.. This would be the CAD M9 tube mic.. I used one of these the other night recording some guys on a KORG D1600 through a cheap mic pre and I was very impressed with the results. We used it on vocals, drum overheads and on a stand up bass track and it performed well under all these conditions..

    I think this mic is a perfect choice for small studio owners who need to add a bit of warmth and fatness to their recordings but can't afford to shell out $2K on front end. The M9 very well may be a good band aid for those sterile sounding Mackie pres ...

    Kurt Foster
     
  8. deanp920

    deanp920 Guest

    Audiogaff,
    Anything in particular?

    Kurt,
    I really have no experience with the Mackies, but may I infer that the Mackie preamps don't derade or damage the signal insomuch as they simply pass it along unaffected? These Neve and API preamps, then, are changing the balance of frequencies/compressing/distorting the signal in some significant and pleasing way that most engineers find useful? Is ultra clean/flat/linear preamp tone not really the answer for rock tracks needing big label sound?

    Dean
     
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    There are two schools of thought, one feels that accurate mic pres are good for all types of recording and the other camp that dictates the use of mic pres that "sound good" in the production of rock and pop music and clean accurate pres for classical and acoustic recordings.

    Mic pres with "color" were around first ... tube amps with point to point wiring, big power supplies and transformers on the inputs and outputs to balance them ... These are the Neves, APIs, Trident, and a host of clones and other boutique designs like JLM and Sebatron, Great River MP2NV etc..

    Later beginning in the 70's, recording engineers and producers came to want pres that were "transparent" or without a sonic signature of their own. These are the Millennia HV-3, Grace 201, Earthworks, and to some degree the Mackie vlz and the mic pres found in just about every small format mixer that claims to have "world class" transformerless (or servo balanced) mic pres.

    You will often find these "colorless" pres mated to a section that runs the signal through a tube to add warmth or color. These are hybrid designs attempting to take advantage of the best of both worlds...
     
  10. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm here to tell you that even the clean, transparent high-end pres are MUCH nicer and bigger sounding than the Mackies.

    I recently purchased a Buzz Audio SSA1.1 and my first direct A/B test was with a Mackie XDR on vocals. (the mic was a Superlux Tube LD, which is quite nice sounding, but low-mid level at best.)
    The Buzz just totally blew us away. Untill we heard the Buzz track, we thought the Mackie was giving us quite adequate results, but now we won't track anything through it unless we REALLY need to.

    In comparison to the Buzz track, the Mackie made the vocalist sound like he was singing through his nose. Whereas the Buzz track was clean and full, and sat in the mix like nothing we'd ever recorded before.

    I'm a big convert to high-end gear. It is worth every cent.
     
  11. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    For colored tone, I'm a very big fan of API and any of the older neve's or Neve type clones (Vintech, Chandler, Great River, AMS-Neve re-issue) For non-colored, John hardy, Great River, and many others.

    You might do yourself a service by doing a little research and using the search function, then reading the many comments about mic preamps that have been discussed dozens of times already.
     
  12. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Its pretty simple really:

    Warm instruments do not need warming and tend to sound better with very accurate pre's (assuming you are not going for an effect).

    If you have a great sounding acoustic guitar, a "warm" pre could make it sound muddy. That's why some people stick bright nasty sounding mics like Neumans in front of them. If you use a very accurate pre and very accurate mic a great sounding acoustic will be bigger, fuller and warmer than useing a warm pre.

    Cold instruments like human voice, tend to sound better when they warmed up a bit.

    None of this is true in all cases so use your ears in the end.

    Steve
     
  13. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    yea i dont need somthing for a new front end (frankly i cant afford it, no matter how good it sounds) what im really looking for is something better for over heads and vocals. the over heads need to be more saturated.
    and the vocals just need to sound better.
     
  14. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    oh yea ive also got an old tascam m-35 any comments?
     
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Then the CAD M9 is just what you need ... when I used it on overheads I was very impressed... I actually could have pulled a full mix out of it alone.. When I added a bit of the kick mic for extra lows the sound was phenominal..


    Kurt Foster
     
  16. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    how does it far up against the likes of ps and k2 valves
     
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure what you are referring to. Please elaborate ....
     
  18. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    the project studio t3 and the r0de k2
     

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