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Upgrading Front End

I am getting ready upgrade my front end (or maybe just add to it). I'm looking to get the best possible vocal chain as funds allow. Here's the scoop:

Currently have:

TLM-103 (also have an at4033) into A-Designs mp-2 into Lucid ad9624 into RME soundcard.

Looking to either add a new mic: at4050, 4060, u195, or CharterOak SA538 (the laters requiring more saving)


Add another channel of preamplification in the form of Hardy m-1 or ME-1NV .

What do you think? Am I way off basis here? Should conversion be upgraded before any of the others?


StevenColbert Wed, 04/05/2006 - 05:04
Not sure if this helps at all but...
IMHO a good preamp and a nice mic with some quality cables will be all you really ever need to get raving results.
I like your suggestion on the Great River preamp you listed. Not that the Hardy wouldn't be killer. A Vipre might be good for your taste as well. I've read so many nice things about the Groove Tubes Vipre on vocals. I don't know the answer about your converter question.

therecordingart Wed, 04/05/2006 - 06:20
After lots of thinking.....don't waste money on converters.....I'll get to that in a minute.

The TLM103 is a good mic and so is the AT4033. You also have a good pre and good conversion.

Are you just looking for another "flavor" of sound? Are your intentions for the gear just for vocals?

The reason that I say don't blow the wad on conversion is because analog to digital circuitry is still a very fast developing technology. A kick ass converter is going to be crap a few years down the road with another latest and greatest being released. Preamps and mics are different.....that is something that companies don't want to improve (other than build cost) and they keep going back to the designs of the 60s and 70s to base their circuit around.

That might be too broad of a generalization, but just look at how many companies make really good preamps. Wouldn't you say most of them are knocking off the designs of API and Rupert Neve?

CoyoteTrax Wed, 04/05/2006 - 11:27
If you want a great lead vocal channel I'd recommend spending the meager cash it costs for the new EH 12AY7. No, I'm not joking. You'll flip out when you hear this thing.

Secondly, TRA is right, you've already got a decent outfit there. If you really want to do yourself a favor and increase your palette exponentially without spending hardly any money I'd personally recommend investing in a decent assortment of replacement tubes. Tubes will literally make your pre sound like an entirely different pre; hence varying the sound you get from your mics as well. Also, if you're not already using tube dampers, buy a few of those as well. The difference in microphonics you experience from using tube dampers is worth a few xtra bucks.

atlasproaudio Wed, 04/05/2006 - 11:51
therecordingart wrote: A kick ass converter is going to be crap a few years down the road with another latest and greatest being released.

I have a hard time believing this. I think we are at the point of diminishing returns for PCM digital technology. The analog sections of converters certainly are not going to be improved as this portion of the technology has been developing for 100 years. The digital portion of an A/D has also been developing for quite a while (25+ years). Quality of conversion doesn't always have to do with the capability of the technology, it's an economics game. Manufacturers are going to build to a price point. That's why you pay $6000 more for a pair of Lavry gold A/D as compared to Lavry Blue A/D. 5% "better" costs thousands in the pro market, mainly because of R&D. Quality of that level will never be in the hands of the kid in the bedroom. And there isn't going to be a technology that supercedes PCM in the near future (you might see hi-res formats in the future but this won't change the sound of your current 24 bit 96k converter). So I'm pretty sure my trusty Lavry Blue or Apogee DA16x are going to still sound great in 10 years.

CoyoteTrax Wed, 04/05/2006 - 15:16
J - I also meant earlier to recommend snatching up a decent ribbon mic to broaden your mic locker a little. You've got 2 decent mics but it seems like you could use a ribbon since you're looking to upgrade a little. Even something as inexpensive as a shiny box with the lundahl or cinemag tranny would sound great with your mp-2.