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I'm seriously considering getting one of these. Before my aI'm was at SSL Alpha VHD or ISA 428 but my sales rep asked me to consider this.
With 1176 style compression on each channel, variable tube distortion and an AD converter to expand my FF 800 it seems like a pretty solid deal.

But how does it sound?


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BobRogers Fri, 02/10/2012 - 03:39

I bought one of these this summer to go into my FF UFX. I've posted several comments that you can find with a search in the archives, but here are the highlights. Nice, solidly built unit and great looking. Very musical and colorful preamps on both the tube and solid state side. Very easy to drive both the solid and tube side to distortion. It's good sounding distortion, but that makes it a touchy unit to adjust when you just want clean (e.g. vocals for me.) The compressor sound good if you get it just right, but don't expect to hear the "big iron" of a real 1176. But again, it's a bit touchy to adjust. The 1176 is a fixed threshold input adjusted preamp, so you are using the gain knob to control both the compression and the input/distortion level of the preamp. No problem if you want to squash. Touchy if you want some subtlety. The converters seem quite transparent to me. (I haven't tried to send it into the analog channels of the UFX and compare the UA conversion to the UFX conversion.)

Comparing it to my other preamp options (UFX, AEA TRP, API 3124, Langevin DVC) it gives the widest range of color, but I tend to use it on a narrower range of sources (kick, snare, guitar cab are where it really shows off.)

BobRogers Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:11

The 4-710d is a good value if you are using the conversion. But I think of the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.sweetwat…"]API 3124+[/]="http://www.sweetwat…"]API 3124+[/] as a more basic, versatile preamp. Tons of headroom, so you can record clean with no problem. Goes from classical to rock drums. A classic sound on drums. You can get it to distort, but you need an external pad. It won't distort until it hits a very high output. It's also a "safer" purchase. It's been around forever. Resale value is stable.

Lurri90 Fri, 02/10/2012 - 12:57

The 3214+ is out of production right?
As far as coloring goes, I should have mentioned my usage for them.
99% of the time I will be recording metal guitars, bass, drums and a wide range of male vocals, sometime I'll attempt recording traditional rock.
As far as sound goes, I'm more into vintage sounds in metal e.g. Opeth and Mastodon, not the Polish bands that sound like they were recorded and played by Jedi e.g. Behemoth.
With that in mind tube distortion and coloring is something very appealing to me.

Davedog Fri, 02/10/2012 - 16:31

Its really amazing how LITTLE color you really need on a preamp when you have a lot of color already at the source.

I think you want a complete set of tonality and frequency response with no noise floor and a bunch of depth of field.

Good thing the 3124 has that in spades.....Focusrite 428 also works like that as does the True Systems pres. Also the Dakings.

Davedog Sat, 02/11/2012 - 11:31

Noise floor (in this case)is a term related to how much extra noise, not associated with the source, is being generated by the devices in the chain. High end gear usually has a very low level of 'self-noise' or 'noise floor' when the gains are applied at a high level.

With Metal or heavier music theres already enough noise associated with the source being recorded. Distortion on guitars, high gain levels for basses, all things that add to the noise level in a recording. Certainly something you can audibly 'hear' when a track is solo'd.

Having devices in your recording chain that add noise of their own is simply defeating the purpose or adding to the mess however you want to view it.

'Depth of field' is a characteristic demonstrated by some gear as making the source seem 'larger' than its sound in free air around it. This is the BIG sound you hear about or maybe even experience. Certain gear does that. Probably why these pieces are so popular.

Take, for example, a True Systems mic pre. It doesnt have anything you could describe as 'distorted' or even a tendency towards 'distorted' in its soundscape. It provides a clean clear signal that contains all the information given it by the mic or transducer and reproduces it faithfully to the recording device. It does have a circuit designed to give it not only lifelike reproduction but also it gives it the feeling of space and largess and therefore makes anything you put into it, BIGGER. ala, Depth Of Field.

Davedog Sun, 02/12/2012 - 11:02

pNo, it does have all that, its a fine piece of gear. It has a bit more 'edge' if you will and is easy to drive into distortion. A nice distortion at that. My point being that perhaps you look into something that keeps its solid clarity since you are running a highly distorted signal already. Distortion on distortion even though its a desireable distortion can sometimes lead to muddiness and mud is hard to clear up after the fact. I would use the 710 to get its warmth but try and keep the signal strong and clear and then use its bloom as an effect to reamp through to add that massive wall-o-guitar sound. I'm sure it will do that without a problem.

I mentioned the other pres as being in your price range except the 3124 is a bit more. The thing about the 3124.....or ALL API preamps..... is once you plug into one and capture through it.... the second you hit playback the light comes on in your head and you go..."OH! THATS how they got that sound!!" because you've heard it on a million recordings for a long time. Same with the Neve stuff. Its enlightening to learn just what the big guys have known for so long. That doesnt mean you need to adhere to the norm, just that its available for anyone with a little cash and some skills. Our founding father here at R.O. (the audiokid) is discovering that the vocal sound of rock music (and most things actually) has always been an LA-2A comp.

Love it!

RemyRAD Sun, 02/12/2012 - 19:38

Most of that classic rock 'n roll sound comes more from transistors than tubes. Everything after the 1950s went transistorized for the most part. First came the warm and noisy germanium's. Then everything went to the slightly lower noise and less colored silicon's. Everything was going into an out from Transformers from Germany to the US (which also includes that little island just west of Europe where other folks speak charmingly sounding English). A lot of that middle to late 1970s sound came from IC chips with output transistors. And with that also came the beginning of lower weight, lower-cost, transformer less stuff. Along with the associated marketing hype and test data to tell you it was better sounding than going into any transformer. That, along with the onset of digital which made for that great sounding fizzy crunch of clarity enough to make you barf. And where are we today even with our improved converters? It's hard to improve on the Mona Lisa. But the more I use my vintage equipment, the more I think she's smiling.

Where's da Vinci now when we need him?
Mx. Remy Ann David


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