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Ideas on a Good Mic and Preamp?

Ok, I have been looking for a short while for a good mic and preamp combo. The main purpose of these is to record studio vocals, acoustic guitar, and maybe piano as well. Mainly Vocals. Im looking possilbly for tube gear that will give me the warmth, character, and coloration of vintage gear. I have a 2-$3,000 budget to work with, and Im not in a rush to find anything.

Ive had my eye on the Mojave Audio MA-200 tube mic (wish it had a pad though)

I also have been looking at the Universal Audio LA-610, and SSL Alpha Channel.

Any other mic/preamp suggestions?

Any body using or heard any good/bad info on the above gear?

Im open to any ideas/suggestions.

(Currently running Logic Pro Audio 7.x on a Mac G5 with a Motu HD192 audio interface. I'm monitoring through Mackie HR824 monitors and acustom subwoofer.)


RemyRAD Thu, 01/18/2007 - 22:52
The warmth, character and coloration from vintage equipment, doesn't necessarily come from tube equipment.

In fact, most of my favorite sounds, that came from vintage equipment were all transistors. No chips. No tubes. Lots of transformers. Lots more transformers. Some more transformers. And the combination of both class A and A/B biased discrete transistor operational amplifiers.

So for you, I might recommend an API 312/512 microphone preamp with the API 550 or 550A equalizer. Or from the other side of the pond, an original Rupert Neve 1073/1081/3115/1272 or any of the other similar newly manufactured knockoffs? With either of those manufacturers devices, you will get that classic hit sound. I actually don't have many recollections of rock-and-roll hits recorded with tube equipment other than the microphones. Except for perhaps some of the oldest and deadest rock-and-roll icons?

Not dead yet
Ms. Remy Ann David

jonnyc Sun, 02/04/2007 - 12:31
aqualand666 wrote: everyone uses the 610 and the LA-2A somewhere on the recording. and a lot of people integrate tube gear much more nowadays since the engineering of it has also progressed.

No they don't, I know lots of people that don't use either one. Much more nowadays? Tube gear's always been used somewhere in a studio it's not something that's just now catching on and the engineering of it isn't just now catching up.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/13/2007 - 18:11
Well, here's my $0.02. I've been recording with a Soundelux U195 and a Manley Dual Mic Pre. I'm very happy. The plus is that I can use the DI for tracking bass and guitar. Sometimes it's just to comp the track. Sometimes it sounds good enough to use as a final. I'm not too pickey about what's right and what's wrong. What sounds good it the key.

I will say, that limiting the frustration factor is a big thing for me. Meaning - I'm a singer/songwriter as well as a producer/engineer. On a small scale, of course. If I can flip some switches and record a decent track with a minimal amount of tweaking. I'm happy. I think I got that with the U195 and the Manley.

therecordingart Tue, 02/20/2007 - 07:26
That UA610 doesn't qualify as a hi-end mic pre in my book, but it doesn't suck either. It's just not exciting in any way. A lot to be desired from that box for the price. YMMV

If you are recording acoustic guitar, vocals, piano, etc....I would look into purchasing a pair of the Seventh Circle Audio N72, and a pair of the A12.

That way you have a slower Neve-ish sound and a quick/snappy API-ish sound. Plenty of warmth, colour, character, and "insert next buzzword" at your disposal.

As far as the mic is concerned you can go many ways. I personally love the SM7b on vocals, but I've never tried it on acoustic or piano and the gain requirements would have me worried about noise trying to get a good level at the acoustic guitar.

I've heard fantastic things about the Peluso mics. Around $1k for a U47 clone...not bad!

You can easily get going with your budget and get quality gear to boot. I would recommend that you not limit yourself with only looking for tube pres unless you want to spend your budget on the pre alone.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 01/30/2007 - 11:00
remy is right in the fact that more people use solid state than tube, but i wouldn't go so far. everyone uses the 610 and the LA-2A somewhere on the recording. and a lot of people integrate tube gear much more nowadays since the engineering of it has also progressed.

i think you might be surprised to find out who is actually using tube microhpones, variable mu, or a pultec in their recordings.

oh yeah not to mention of course all guitar amplifiers and bass amplifiers

RemyRAD Mon, 02/05/2007 - 18:35
jonnyc is quite correct. But in all my years, I've actually never used a LA2 A but only a couple of times. I have used Pultec's on numerous occasions and the venerable Ampex 300/351 series recorders. But, tube technology is not progressing! It's taken a huge step backwards. The Russian and Chinese tubes are inconsistent at best. Some are downright awful! Tube equipment is making a bit of a comeback because of the brittle, sterile, metallic nature of digital. Because digital isn't generally better, it's just cheaper. Obviously easier to accomplish certain impossible tasks with a little bit of mathematics instead of going to incredible Rube Goldberg patching schemes and equipment manipulations.

See aqualand666, you don't even need to be smart or talented anymore! Just like you! So you should have no problem convincing people that you are a professional recording engineer, because, after all, you read it here at Recording.or by those who know, like me.

Smarty panties
Ms. Remy Ann David

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 02/05/2007 - 19:16
okay everyone uses the LA-2A at least on vocals. i'm assuming what you mean by tube technology not progressing is BS out there like GT Brick or whatever. i don't see how that means it has taken a step backwards though?

i guess if you mean in the box dynamic processing when you say digital, then sure it can be cheaper. but tube technology in itself is not generally more expensive than solid state technology.

the vintage stuff you pay top dollar for (like the ampex 350's most of which need some serious work done on them) was not necessarily expensive back in the day. chances are you are paying for these kind of things because they are "vintage," sure you might make an arguement for the transformers and what not involved in the old designs but none of it adds up because the engineering and materials needed for tube design costs the same or less than that of solid state design. generally speaking,

RemyRAD Mon, 02/05/2007 - 20:05
Generally speaking aqualand666, I can't believe your continuous idiotic assumptions?? Really? And so why isn't RCA, Sylvania, Raytheon, Telefunken, GE and others not making tubes anymore?? Because some guy who's brain is thick as a Brick, purchased some crappy tubes from China and built a microphone preamp?? I don't think so. There is no more money in it, that's why. Its old inconsistent and wasteful technology. It doesn't make any difference if it still sounds good, it's expensive and good tubes are scarce.

"i'm assuming what you mean by tube technology not progressing is BS" Tube technology is a lot more expensive!! They have to be made by hand! That means real people and more money. Where'd you get these ridiculous assumptions?? That's right, tube technology is not progressing. Its a rehash. There is nothing new in tube technology. One of the most incredible tubes ever developed was the VF14 for the Neumann U47. Nobody's making that one anymore. Why aqualung666?? I'm sure you have an answer for that one?

I like wearing tube tops (if I don't fall out)
Ms. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Tue, 02/20/2007 - 19:50
Isn't it amazing Arthur that you also perceived the API as being "fast" and the Neve as being "slower" and mushier? Interestingly enough, the API 2520 has a slew rate of 1.5 volts per microseconds. That's as slow as a TI-741. Whereas the Neve operational amplifiers are all rated at 15 volts per microseconds in slew rate. I'm one of the few who knows about the API slew rate. LOL!

But that's a good example of how people can misinterpret product specifications as audible perceptions, when in fact it is the other way around, technically. Yes, we all recognize the same fact about your associations. It's true. I agree.

So, just so people know here that what we are referring to is the fact that the API had a more faster sounding straight ahead sort of tonality to it while the Neve had a fatter lazier sound, with lots of punch. Or is that paunch?? Pretty amazing when you think that more Americans are obese than the British???

But like Arthur also indicated the UA610 is not a high-end mike preamp and neither is the API nor Neve. By today's standards, these are costume microphone preamps. Only lobster tastes like lobster and that lobster flavored "surimi", doesn't really taste like lobster. It's sort of like a Mackey compared to a Mackie. It's all good. But this is a question I rarely have to ask myself...... Jockeys or Boxers?? I could see how that could affect your judgment throughout an entire day. Being a liberated woman, I burned my bra way back in the seventies and so decision-making is much easier for me that it is for you.

Honestly though, jog bra on those long drives in the remote truck.
Ms. Remy Ann David

AudioGaff Tue, 02/20/2007 - 21:19
Don't get all caught up in the specs when it is the pure sound that counts no matter how well it is percieved to actual circuit facts. If you always use or buy high end pro analog gear, you don't need to worry about such things as specs. Spces are only one indicator and for the most part, and cannot be taken at face value without fully understanding how the spec values were generated and under what specific conditions. Many people perceive that the Neve is slower than the API. I also used to think this way until one day many years ago I understood and discovered that there is more nuance to sound in gear such as preamps than just fast and slow. There is the extra dimension of hard and soft. It is not that the Neve sounds is slower than the API as much as the Neve sound is softer sounding than the API. On top of all this, it also depends on what signal source is going to each as well as how hard each is driven in terms of signal stength and how it is used.

As far as the UA 610 being a high end mic pre, just because it doesn't blow someones socks off doesn't mean it isn't a pro peice or have a great tone and sound. I sure would prefer to use the UA610 over many of the other mic pres that are being made today. The UA610 mic pre is sure good enough to be currently used by many pro engineers, studios and bands. It was sure good enough to be used by the Beach Boys and Van Halen to just name a few. In my book that makes a pro peice of gear.

The SSL outboard stuff can be considered pro and have good specs, and sounds good. But with anything SSL being about 2X-3X the price of most other compatible high end pro gear, it has higher value in saying that you own it than does as having high value as an audio tool for the money spent. Your money would likely be better spent elsewhere.

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 03/06/2007 - 08:08
I love the Neve Portico mic preamps. If you need some assistance in picking mics and preamps or any pro audio gear and getting a good price I call Washington Professional Systems (wps). there number is 301-942-6800 ask for extension 132 they usually give me an awesome price on professional audio gear. They are like B&H and sweetwater but with alot better prices.

Cucco Tue, 03/06/2007 - 16:14
Well back to the original post (thanks avid!)...
For $3k, you certainly have some options.

Consider some OSA pres. They're wonderful, affordable and scalable over time.

Also consider the Langevin DVC. It's a huge sounding pre with unbelievable amounts of headroom.

Don't dismiss transparent pres such as millennia, grace,dav, etc. They may not have flavor but they can sound friggin glorious with the right mic and the right source. (I've done numerous rock, country, rap and jazz recordings through Millennias.)

As for mics think Soundelux U195, TLM49, TLM193, M930, CharterOak, AT4060, Royer 121....dare I say Rode K2?