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Yet another annoying mic and preamp idea solicitation

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by mmcfarlane, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    I'm looking to widen my palette of mics and buy a single 'transparent' preamp of decent quality and value.

    Here's my current setup:

    Preamps: ART MPA Gold Digital, Yamaha 01V96
    Mics: ADK Hamburg, Rodes NT1a, various Audix OM-7, OM-6, OM-3s, SM57
    Music: Rock, Celtic-Bluegrass fusion, Contemporary Christian & 9-singer vocalist group.
    Potential mic Use: Vocals, acoustic guitar, congas, whistle, fiddle, bazooki, digiredoo(sp), guitar and bass amp micing, occasional acoustic piano

    My budget is about US$2000 for new mics

    * acquire a set of mics that each sound different,
    * will work on the above instruments and vocals.
    * nice if mic was rugged enough to use on stage to record a live gig.

    Here's the mic list I am thinking of. I already owned the x'd mics

    [x]ADK Hamburg
    [x]Rode NT1a
    [x]Audix OM7, OM6, OM3
    [ ]AT2020
    [ ]AT4050 (pattern control)
    [ ]Node NTK
    [ ]Shure SM81-LC
    [ ]Audix i5

    I would appreciate any suggestions like 'those 2 sound very similar', or 'have a look at this mic as an alternative to abc'...

    Regarding a new preamp, I'd like one or two channels of something uncolored and of enough quality to let me really hear the mics. I'd like to keep the price around/under US$1K-1.5K for the preamp. (FWIW I also plan to purchase a Mackie 800R (ADAT Out) to front end my live recording rig and I can use that in the studio as well. The 1-1.5K budget figure is on top of the Mackie.)

    * Either a channel strip or a straight gain device would be OK.
    * I like the concept of some dynamics amd EQ but don't want to give up too much quality.
    * prefer a 1U rack mount preamp due to how my studio is laid out and my workflow
    * nice if the preamp had an output that I could put unbalanced into the inserts on my 01V96 without adding more 'crap' to the signal path
    * 120V, oh how I hate wall warts (yeah, I understand the design tradeoffs)

    Preamp ideas
    Drawmer MX60
    Grace 101

  2. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    One more note, I live in a remote part of the world with no local source to audition or borrow gear, so I have to buy everything 'sight unheard', as it were.
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    If I understand correctly, you have a 2K mic budget and a 1K-1.5K budget for the preamp.

    Lets flip that and go with a Presonus ADL600 for the pre and two AT4050's for the mics. Keep the change for something else.
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I suggest trying DAV BG1s as outstanding transparent preamps that fall within your budget. When I have to use an 01V96, I drive the BG1 outputs into balun transformers to feed the 01V96 insert returns. The +24dBFS spec on both is a good match and gives excellent headroom.

    Don't overlook a pair of Rode NT-2As as versatile LDCs that can be set up X-Y, M-S, A-B or as individual vocal/guitar mics.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Another device to consider -
    Summitt 2BA-221 (a pair of them with the rack mount).

    It meets your 1U requirement, plus it can go from super transparent to VERY tubey with different gain structures.

    Add to that, it has an unbalanced output (albeit, I believe it's before the tube stage) which will help with your 01V96.
  6. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    Well, the DAV BG1 looks interesting, especially the 1U rackmount versions with 2-8 channels, but I can't seem to find a source through Google that sells them in the USA. Any ideas?
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mick sells them direct only. His prices include shipping but not customs/duty.

    Trust me - get ahold of one and you won't want to return it. If for some reason you don't like it, put it on Ebay, you'll get at least 90% of your purchase price on it. (or hit me up - if it's at the right time, I may be able to swing the $$ for it!.)

  8. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    Sorry, newbie... who's Nick?
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mick...not Nick.

    Mick (Hinton) - the owner/proprietor/builder of DAV gear. He was one of the former techs at Decca records in its glory days.
  10. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    From what I've read the ADL is moderately colored. Can it run more transparent at lower gains? Do you just think it's a great preamp everyone should have?
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeah, it can add color to the track....Its the kind of color thats really big and sweet. I wish I had spent more time with it to truly answer your question about transparency. I will say that it never got in the way of the few tracks I used it on. I used an older U87, an AT4033, and a Russian Oktava MK319 through it as well as a bass through the DI. All were sparkling clear and right upfront with very little manipulation.

    Yeah...its on my short list of 'things to own'...............

    Its a way different beasty than the Summit and the DAV.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    That's the truth!!

    The DAV is solid state OpAmp to the max (clean as hell with just a touch of warmth). The Summitt is "hybrid" with a tube in the gain stage (IIRC) or at least one of the gain stages. The ADL600 is all tube - tube input, tube output.

    Please realize though that all tube does not mean:

    These are terms which some piss-poor marketing idiots came up with (and some mal-informed reviewers) to describe gear that they have no clue about!

    A good tube preamp (whether it be a microphone amplifier stage or a true stereo preamp) should be as clean as a nun's criminal record unless it's designed poorly or intentionally overdriven.

    In fact, the adjectives that SHOULD be used with this type of gear is:
    since tube gear usually excells at broad bandwidth amplification under good conditions (good temperature, not TOO much or TOO little voltage, etc.)

    Transformer based gear should have the reputation as "colored" gear. I'd say a good xfrmer based preamp should be as clean as a congressman's criminal record...

    Bad transformer gear just sounds like sh*t. That is to say poorly wound, cheap transformers which do not maintain their linearity across a broad frequency spectrum.

    In the case of the Langevin, they (Manley) uses large, hand-wound and hand-tested transformers and they too sound friggin huge!

    When you get into this kind of money for a preamp, you have plenty to choose from. Don't fall victim to poor marketing schemes though - at this price point, you shouldn't have to. The kinds of pres being recommended here are all of the caliber that:
    1 - you more or less can't go wrong
    2 - if you want answers about their design, you can actually call and talk to a human at the company who makes it (often the actual designer or builder) and find out the kinds of answers we just can't give you here.

    Good luck,

  13. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    Davedog and Cucco, thanks for being extremely patient and helpful. I'll study up some more on your recomendations. I've got 3 more weeks until my annual shoppping spree to the USA.

    The non-linearity problem makes me wonder - I just got a garage sale 1970's vintage guitar amp back from the shop yesterday and they rewound the output transformer (that's fed by 4 6L6GC's). The amp now blooms on certain notes, about 6db up from notes 1.5 steps away... (to their credit, it didn't work at all when I bought it and brought it in) But that's another topic, don't want to hijack my own thread :)
  14. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    So I have recomendations for the AT4050 and Rode NT2A, about a $150 price difference with shockmounts per mic.

    Here's a loaded question - is it worth the extra $300 for a pair of the AT4050's? Perhaps a better question is how you would characterize the differences between these 2 mics.

    My Rode NT1A has been a litttle flakey since the day I bought it (intermittant short, I think in the IC chip inside the mic) and after a year their tech support never returned my email so I am a little down on Rode. I need to scrape off the darn epoxy they put on these boards and seeif it is a cold solder joint.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    My money would be on the AT4050s simply because I like their sound a little better than the Rodes.

    As for Rode tech support, I've only ever had nothing but positive support from Rode. I would suggest calling them, perhaps your e-mail has inadvertantly fallen through the cracks.
  16. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    Does eiher the Summitt 2BA-221 or the ADL600 need an open rack space above the preamp for thermal dissipation?
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It certainly helps. Any tube gear for that matter.
  18. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    While it is always a good idea to have proper air flow all around any unit, refer to your product manual. It will, or should state it's air flow requirements and if you need a empty rackspace above and/or below the unit.
  19. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    I'm a little late jumping in here but wanted to add the GT SuPre to the mix here. While the SuPre is not my favorite pre it would me your requirements on price range and transparency. It's got a huge sound with gobs of headroom but remains very transparent IMO. Good quality pre.

    I'll 2nd Cucco's recommend on the 4050's. It's hard to beat AT mics for clean response on acoustic instruments and there's virtually no self-noise. Watch your upper mids on percussion effects though, they can get a little brittle.
  20. mmcfarlane

    mmcfarlane Guest

    thanks everyone. I seem to be deciding on the AT4050 and Summitt preamp. I'll chew it over for a few more days.


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