Preamp/Mic Advice



Hi all -

I'm a film composer (attempting to) climb the ladder in LA. I've budgeted $3k for a pair of mics and a pair of preamps...They'll be used for everything from drum overheads to room mics for string quartet or woodwind ensemble, brass ensemble, etc. I currently own a Millennia TD-1 and Audio Technica 4060. A friend recommended the combo and I've been really happy with it. (I plan on using this combo for spot micing, etc.) Also in my collection I've got my share of generics - Studio Projects C1, Marshal MXL 2003, an AT-422 field recording mic (stereo) and finally a SM58.

So here's what I've narrowed down the possibilities to. I'd love to come in at less than $3k as possible, but hey - we'll see.

Mics (in pairs):

Schoeps CMC64 ~ $2700 (yikes!)
Earthworks SR30 ~ $1700
Gefell M300 ~ $1700
AT4051 ~ $1000
Josephson C42 ~1000

OR....another AT 4060 (about $800) to make a pair and maybe get another different $500 mic for diversity.

Pres (in pairs)

Millennia ~ $1800
Grace ~ $1800
UA 2108 ~ $1400
Brent Averill Neve 1272 ~ $2000
FMR Really Nice Preamp ~ $500 - this would enable me to go with the Schoeps

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I've got about a 10x12 foot recording room. I've done a few sessions in it with the 4060 and it's sound pretty good!

Thanks all - I'm really grateful!


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Well-Known Member
Mar 24, 2005
Well, personally I would choose the Earthworks mics and the Grace 201. That would be a very clean and versatile setup in my book. I'm a huge fan of earthworks mics. I've used a pair of QTC-1'a (I think they renamed them recently) for choral and symphonic recordings with great results, also they did wonderfully for room mics on a drum kit.

The other mics and pre's are all very nice too though, except the RNP, which is just out of the league of those other pres (decent though). Except I've never heard the UA 2108 that I know of.


Well-Known Member
Apr 24, 2001
Buzz Audio SSA1.1 dual preamp $1400 at Atlas ($1700 with the Sowter output transformers.)
Very fast, clean preamps. Sound better than the Grace to my ears.

... actually, Atlas have a TapeOp Con 2005 Demo model avaiable with the Sowters for $1595. I'd grab it now!


If you are interested in saving a little $, you can spend about $1100 for two single channel Grace 101's - the only thing missing would be the Phase reverse and -20DB pad. You might also want to check out Sytek preamps which are noted for their tranparency, there are a couple of fans of that brand on this site.

As for the mics, I would find a retailer that you can work with and ask to demo them side by side in your studio, that is the only way to really tell the difference on what you like. You might want to also want to consider a pair of Neumann TLM 103's ($1400-$1500) or a pair of Neumann KM 184's ($1300-$1400)

Good Luck


Two Grace 101's do not equal one Grace 201. There are differences beyond the missing phase reverse and -20 pad. It's still good but not the same thing. I own a Grace 201 and love it, great preamp.


Well-Known Member
Dec 3, 2003
Whittier, California, USA
I own a grace 101 and also a sytek- the grace is cleaner with more headroom but the sytek is very similar in sound. I prefer the sytek (with the bb option) for rock vox as the grace is way 'too clean.' the grace is great for jazz, folk and classical type voices, especially paired like I do with a great ribbon mic. On percussion a pair of graces works great but so does the sytek. - the grace captures transients a little better but the sytek has a 'fatter' tone. On acoustic guitar I prefer graces. I also like them as a direct box for bass guitar and certainly for keyboards. I think the syteks are a great value when you consider you can get 4 good sounding channels for about 800 bucs- the burr brown optin on 3 & 4 give you more tonal possibilities as well. The bricks and the sebatrons also get good reviews around here. I have them on the short list of gear to get-


Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2004
the sebs should be on your list, but i think that the bicks are too colored for what your after.


Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2001
Tampa Bay, FL
Mark is right, there isn't much else that is going to give you the quality that the Buzz SSA1.1 will give you for $1400 IMHO. I'd do the Buzz and a pair of Gefell M300's. That pair is THE best & most flexible combo for your budget IMHO. And I'm not just saying that because I sell them, there are other dealers for Buzz and Gefell in America if you don't want to buy it from me. Tim Farrant from Buzz makes A+ level gear, and I would own and recommend his stuff regardless. YMMV.