Mic pre upgrade with onboard A/D capability



First of all, I'm impressed by the level of professionalism and passion that people bring to these forums. A lot of very useful information is floating around in here. I've lurked on this board for a number of months and finally joined. I'm seeking some input on planned upgrades.

I've got a Yamaha mLan system (01x controller + i88x expansion box) giving me 16 channels of A/D (found the converters to be pretty solid). The expansion box has an ADAT in allowing for additional inputs, but requires external A/D.

I'm looking to upgrade to a more "pro" front end using outboard mic pres to provide extra dimension to my recordings. I've got a UA 2-610 tube mic pre and LOVE it - I swear the guitar and bass tracks I pump through that thing bring tears to my eyes. I typically record rock/funk music (style of early Police, early primus, occasionally zappa-esque), usually needing 14-18 channels in a live recording environment, thus the need for extra A/D beyond my current 16 in limit. I prefer to track live to get a better feel and need a few more quality pre's to fill it in. Unfortunately, the inputs on the 01X controller are modest at best and lack that extra dimension. As a controller for Cubase SX, the Yamaha box is rock solid though. I've found the 2 pres on the i88x to be pretty solid and useable.

I'm looking to add another 4-8 channels of high quality mic preamps, preferably in one box with on-board A/D that I can route via ADAT on my expansion box. Here's my set up:

SX 3.0
2.4ghz, 1.5GB DDR, 2 x 250 ATAHD, XP pro
Blue sky/Tannoy monitors
Presonus central station control
UAD-1 Studio Pack (+ precision EQ plug)
2 x RNC
UA 2-610 tube pre
ART Pro Channel Tube Pre
ART Pro VLA Compressor
Rode NTK, SM57 (4), AKGD112 (2), AT4040, modified MXLV69 (upgraded tube and capsule), SM58 (3), Sennheiser MD421 (3), Samson C03 LDCs (2)
Live room treated with Auralex room treatments

Any recommendations from the board on possible upgrades? Items I've looked at are primarily in the focusrite line, e.g., ISA428 or Octopre. I'd primarily be using the upgrade box for drums, especially kick and snares. Budget ~$1500-2000.

Any feedback appreciated.




Many of the focusrite pres have either a digital out, or the ability to add one later.


Check out the Aphex 1100Mk2. Two channels of tube mikepre, word clock and A/D converter. Silent, transparent and warm...