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Where to Set Preamp?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by rbf738, May 2, 2010.

  1. rbf738

    rbf738 Active Member

    This is a very basic question, but I was just wondering how high to set the preamp for recording vox and guitar. I've heard set it as close to clipping without it clipping and elsewhere I've heard to keep it low and just use the compression later. I use compression either way, so what's the consensus on this?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The consensus is leave headroom. Your peaks should be somewhere in the -12dB to -6dB range. You shouldn't be anywhere near clipping. Pushing the "red" was for the old analog tape days. Never for digital. Period.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Jack isn't exactly correct here. He is correct in that over driving digital is a no-no. But over driving gain and inputs of certain pieces of equipment can change the characteristic sound of the preamp in numerous ways. For instance, in old-school microphone preamp's, most have a pad switch at the input to the microphone transformer. These types of preamps can be tailored in many ways because of this pad. If you pad the microphone input down, you must gain up the preamp. This creates a more open loop situation around the op amp. The preamp then sounds more open, fatter, larger, bigger, in many cases. Without the pad switch and gain further down, the op amp is actually operating with more negative feedback. This creates a more stable amplifier with better headroom but at the same time can make the op amp sound more bland, squeezed less articulation in some instances. So since half of our signal chain is still very much analog, you might as well take advantage of what analog has to offer. It's not going away anytime soon. We don't have any actual digital microphones or any actual digital preamps quite yet. So half of the fun of this equipment is not finding stuff that is always " neutral" sounding. But everything sounded neutral we'd all be eating McDonald's hamburgers. We need coloration and body to make our decisions neutral is akin to neuter. Which is fine for certain dogs and cats and some people. Now not everybody is supposed to know this strictly through advertising claims. This is one of those boxer or jockey decisions. Underwire or no underwire brassieres.

    Didn't Chicago have a song called color my world? It wasn't called make my world neuter.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Loved that first album with Terry Kath. Neutered came later when Pete Cetera took over.

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