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Hey Guys,

Looking for some serious answers for a good pre for my Shure SM7B.
I particularly do lots of voice over reads for radio and looking for something to give me that added oompf from my dynamic mic.

thanks for any input in advance...looking to spend no more than $200

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anonymous Mon, 09/24/2007 - 22:11

That's a pretty low budget, most of the pre's in that area are no better than a mixer's. The only preamp that comes to mind is a dbx 286a, which is basically a channel strip. It has a compressor, a de-esser, and a downward expander, in addition to the preamp. It also has some sort of hi & lo exciter-type EQ which is so-so, but the rest is pretty good. You can sometimes find the 286a on e-Bay. I haven't tried it on an SM7, but it works very well on a 58, the EV RE-20, and many others. It seems to like dynamic mics.

anonymous Tue, 09/25/2007 - 03:41

On another forum, a lot of folks are very 'big' on the FMR RNP for the SM57 but the price ($450) is higher than your budget. There were also a lot of good comments about the M-Audio DMP3 (around $150 for 2 channels). The Rane MS1B has also been suggested as good (around the $200 mark). None of these pres have the bells and whistles (EQ, etc.) but you likely don't need those for recording since those effects can be added in the computer.

anonymous Tue, 09/25/2007 - 23:41

Well, I do a lot of voice-overs, and have as part of my work for over 20 years. A channel strip with onboard dynamics processing is not merely "bells and whistles", it is a vital tool to get the "oomph" that the poster stated he/she desired...for VOICE-OVERS. There are other strips out there that do a great job for this, the Valley Audio Air Force One (Model 301) comes to mind, but it'll set you back a lot more.
The Aphex 107 that Link mentioned can help do this, in that the tube circuit acts as a subtle compressor on the signal. And a lot of people mod that puppy with tube substitutions. Too bad Aphex stopped making it and replaced it with the noisier, duller-sounding 207. I had one of those for about 72 hours. It was no 107, it made sibilants so smeared-sounding it drove me up the wall. It went right back...

anonymous Wed, 09/26/2007 - 03:23

You can apply EQ and similar effects either in the pre-amp or during processing in the computer. Either way can work, clearly. If you are using the pre-amp for a live show, then the EQ has to be done live. However, if you are only recording, then there are disadvantages to doing EQ, etc. at the pre-amp stage. The main one is that you can never 'undo' the EQ if you decide you don't like it. On the other hand, if you record the original, dry signal, you can experiment with a wide range of EQ and other modifications, always being able to return to the original signal to try again. GIven the high quality of modern software, you can get the same 'ommph' through software as through hardware.

My comment about 'bells and whistles' was that, if you do EQ in software, then an EQ on the pre-amp is never going to be used. Hence, you are paying for circuits which are unneeded. This will either put up the cost or reduce the resources the manufacturer had available to build good amp section. With a limited budget, it would seem to make sense to put all of the money into the circuits you need (the amp) and not into circuits which are needed essential.

moonbaby Wed, 09/26/2007 - 05:25

OK...All we know is that this person has an SM7, uses it for VO work, and wants to give it more power without spending over $200.00...That's ALL we know. He said nothing about recording, and even if he did, his target is clearly pod/broadcasting, which is a very different animal from recording. The SM7 is a great mic for this, and is a very good start.
What do you have as a mic pre now? Are you using any signal processing? If so, what?
Telling someone about what people say about a given product on other forums is no advice. People on THIS forum have panned the newer M-Audio mic pre's because of some chip changes they've made recently.
Does that mean that they're no good? I don't know, I HAVEN'T USED THEM. That is the bottom line...This person wanted some feedback from actual USERS of these products.
FWIW, preamps/processors that are found in successful broadcasting studios:
and there are others, but they are $$$$. The Symetrix 528 is a bargain on e-Bay, and they can be readily modded to upgrade the preamp. You can probably find the dbx 286 new at your price point, another bargain.
The Aphex 107, also previously mentioned, is a cool piece. I have one hooked up to their Tubessence EQ, it's another steal.
One advantage of buying used gear like this on e-Bay is because, for the most part, broadcasting gear is better-maintained than stuff in a 'project studio', broadcasters tend to spend a bit more for the more reliable gear to begin with, and many of them are selling off their analog gear cheap to switch to digital. Now go out and do a little window-shopping and come back and tell us what you've found!

dickiefunk Thu, 09/27/2007 - 02:10

moonbaby wrote: People on THIS forum have panned the newer M-Audio mic pre's because of some chip changes they've made recently.
Does that mean that they're no good? I don't know, I HAVEN'T USED THEM. That is the bottom line...This person wanted some feedback from actual USERS of these products.

I have a DMP3 and have had excellent results with it - Loads of clean transparent gain! I was speaking to one of the techs of at M-Audio a few weeks ago about the components and he told me that the chips haven't changed. It uses a Burr Brown INA 163 which is a decent opamp used in a lot more expensive pres. I was so impressed with this little budget pre I recently purchased their M-Audio Tampa. I haven't yet tried it but have read tons of positive stuff about it. I managed to pick it up for $190.
I've also used the Focusrite Trackmaster Pro, SPL Goldmike, Studio Projects VTB1 and pres in Behri mixers.
I really liked the DMP3 and VTB1. The SPL Goldmike was very nice but I didn't feel it was worth the extra money over the DMP3. One thing I was surprised at is the VTB1 uses the same opamps as the Behri mixers :shock: However, it does sound better and the circuit design is better.
I've been told the Rane Ms-1b may be a step up from the DMP3 but on hearing both of them in action the difference is very marginal and considering the Rane is 1 channel and the DMP3 2 I went with the latter.
One other pre that may be worth looking at in your budget is the JOE MEEK 3Q. This pre also uses decent quality components and offers EQ and a Compressor aswell.


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