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Just curios what people been using I've been really enjoying the Pacifica by a designs just a great piece if well made gear there's others but just curious what people are using these days

Comments

pcrecord Sat, 11/08/2014 - 18:43

Pacifica are great pre. For me the choice of pre depends on the source. Everything you do and buy should depend on the source ! ;)

I really enjoy my LA-610, 4 ISA, UA 4-710

If money wasn't an issue, I'd like to add, a couple of Grace Design, Vintech x73, Manley slam,  and presonus ADL 700 to my collection !! :whistle:

anonymous Sun, 11/09/2014 - 03:14

I don't own any boutique pres at the moment; I'm currently using a PreSonus 1818vsl - and while I really like it for its transparency and power, I also recognize that it isn't quite the same caliber as certain high end pre's.

Out of all the nice preamps I've ever used as a hired-gun engineer, I would say that the various pre's by Manley, Vintech and Millennia all had "that" sound... the pro sound.

I can tell you of one that I thought was way over-rated, both in its claims of sound and its price tag, and that was the Avalon 737. I found the color to be more than a little bit on the muddy side; thick and dark.
I tried several nice mic combinations with it - AKG 414's, U87's, U89's... and the results were always thick and dark.

I suppose there are some who may like that particular sound, or, the occasional scenario where that sound is desired, but it wasn't a choice that I would have personally made, especially considering the price tag.
I'll even go one step further and say that I have an Aphex 107 Tube Dual-Channel Pre ( around $250) that I think sounds infinitely better - all the way around - than the high priced Avalon 737.

IMHO of course. ;)

d.

Paul999 Sun, 11/09/2014 - 09:21

I played the boutique preamp game. The truth (according to me) is that a good pre comes in all shapes and sizes. I actually like and chose my D&R console pre's instead API, shadow hills, Audient and a bunch of others. All of them are fine and work well. Getting color from a pre is like getting color from the wrapper of a crayon. It may helkp you decide which color to use but the source is the actual color. If you want some grit record something gritty. I've never listened to an album and been able to tell what pre they used.

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 10:35

Regarding source, I also agree with Paul.

Which is why big rail, transfomerless pre's are my choice in comparison to others I have. If I had a choice and the need, all I would have is a rack of Millennia m-2b's . Once I owned one, I want no other. But they are heavy and very expensive. The difference between those and everything else I have or had at one time, is like comparing FM to AM. Vocals, LA2A, 1176, MEQ-5 into an M-2b is crazy. So, I choose source, and outboard to shape and expect the pre to deliver it to the AD. I don't want the pre to squash or degrade.
Its also easier to hear what outboard gear is doing when your console and your pre's aren't degrading your signal.

I did not hear this difference early on but when I started investing in mics like DPA. Royer SF24, Bock etc, through Prism conversion,into a clean big rail console. This is also why I choose the Neos to mix and the Dangerous Master for the mastering matrix. Both those two console are colourless. And to continue, why I also want a transparent monitor system that is connected to the mastering bus, not somewhere else.

As an example, an MP 2NV vs M-2b through the the exact chain, the tranny is more dirty and smaller.
I used to wonder why people didn't go for the ultimate pre they could buy, I mean, once I heard this, its easy to hpf to the tracks you want inside the space. When you use something with big rails like the m2b, and mix though a Neos, its a no brainer. But, I can see using the MP 2NV for guitars or drums that you don't want size or such clarity, or fuss and you know it does "exactly" what you need. So, pre's can be perfect for groups. ( bass, drums, keys, guitars, percussion, vocals). I look at them like one can group stems mixing.

Then there are boutique SPL Premiums. These two have a big rail sound with the added lundahl in and out. You can shape that by over driving then too! They aren't as pure and sweet and an M-2b but have the sheen with a slight smaller footprint. I suspect that's what the lundahl's add / do or take away.

So, I bought eight of those for tracking drums or a group of mics that I want consistent. In suppose we can group pre's like I group tracks. Pre's for drums, pre's for acoustic instruments etc. But to contradict this, again, if could afford 32 channels of M-2b, I would.
So, as I learn more and more about source vs mix, lower end pre's might be choice for something you need less transparency and size I guess. But the best I've heard without question is transformerless big rails. The tube in the M-2b adds a slight silk. I should actually say I would like a mixture of HV3 with a few m-2b. Pre's are what delivers my source to the AD. The less they degrade my chain, the better I hear what I am doing with the source.

Thats how I hear it.

Kurt Foster Sun, 11/09/2014 - 10:41

i tried some Avalons in the past. i rented them for a session because i was curious . didn't like them. while i wouldn't call them "dark" i did sense a "palastic-iish" sound to the highs that i really disliked.

choice of pres is much like the choice of milkshake flavors. some really like vanilla, others crave chocolate and others go for the more exotics. what one person likes has nothing to do with what others will take a shine to. you have to use you ears and try different ones to find a pre that you like. it takes experience. if possible try renting different pres to learn what they are good for. listen to recordings, the ones that catch your ear try to find out who and what recorded them.

i have found that a lot of the recordings i really like were tracked with Neve boards. i also dig the sound of API or any other pre that is transformer balanced for the most part. i am currently using the JLM TMP8's and a Millennia Origin STT-1. JLM's for color and the Millennia for accuracy.

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:12

Kurt Foster, post: 420910, member: 7836 wrote: i have found that a lot of the recordings i really like were tracked with http://www.rupertne… Neve boards

Indeed, but is that the song and era influencing this too? That was of an era that large consoles only existed?
I would suspect so. The recordings I like are all in my vinyl collection but I'm pretty certain my love for them has absolutely nothing to do with the Neve, noisy Pultec's, smoke lathered diaphragms, vinyl or tape.
They are a product of the times, not the gear per-say. I'm pretty certain I would be happy with just about anything if I was tracking music I loved. But, we have choices and it is indeed a lot of home work.

I think ACDA, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Santana etc would all sound great with the new boutique products available today too. To me, its all about the source and who is at the wheel. Big consoles are the logical choice because its all there. There are standards that worked and still work.

But in today's world, we have way more choices. And, these choice are every bit a good as the old days, actually superior but that's another topic..

I think the worst sounding music was around the beginning of digital. I think accumulative plug-in over use is more to be concerned over than all the emphasis people are putting into hardware. We need to stop editing with all that crap and pay more attention to the creative part. I do stand strong in saying, great pres' don't degrade my source. The choice ones are the ones that keep the size and may or may not have trannies. The rest is in the mix. Consoles are a choice, but absolutely unnecessary for world class sound. One DAW and a 2 channel pre will produce music that could be loved for centuries.

Paul999 Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:15

Until I invested time into room treatment micpres made a huge difference. A ton of room treatment evened the playing field. I have had the heavy hitter mics and pres. Vintage Km 84's etc. The difference became uninteresting to me. Workflow became very interesting. I've not tried the Millennia so I can't comment on it per say. I can say I am uninterested in trying a pre that costs 2k.

Kurt Foster Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:34

room and room treatment is step one.

that should go without saying.

 

i have found that a lot of the recordings i really like were tracked with http://www.rupertne… Neve boards

 

audiokid, post: 420915, member: 1 wrote:

Indeed, but is that the song and era influencing this too?.

i don't think so. like i mentioned, i have the Millennia here as well as the TMP-8's in addition to an older Yamaha ML7 and i have to say (although i haven't been tracking much lately) that when i do record i am going to the TMP-8 or te MLA7's much more than the Millennia.

i will say i could use any of them and get by. i really think the content has much more to do with getting a great recording than the mic pres (or any other gear).

anonymous Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:38

Tommy osuna, post: 420907, member: 48582 wrote: Wow I've never heard of the Avalon making things dark there must be another product in the chain I have one and there's nothing dark about it clear and clean no color at all

The 737 that I used - brand new out of the box by the way - was colored big time. It just wasn't a good color.

BTW... I'm a tad bit insulted that you would just automatically assume that there must have been "another product" in the chain to have caused the issues I heard. There was no other product in that chain when I heard what I heard. Otherwise I would have said so. Contrary to what some may believe, I'm not an idiot. Jeez... :cautious:

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:47

That pre isn't the same Kurt, but I do agree with you on performance!!

I think we all agree and stress, before you even invest a DIME IN THIS BUSINESS! The first place you start is the room and treatment. I suspect Paul, you have been spinning your wheels for a while. Glad you are on the treatment now. I can't imagine performing in a garage without acoustic treatment above me and very thick draping behind me on a stage.

I don't know if you are aware of this, but I toured for 18 years and quit! playing in rooms that where boxy halls concrete chambers. So, I think like a musician, not a guy who needs gear to make me sound good. If the room sucks, I don't even play and that is my approach to music. But, I do know what I like in the rooms that are a pleasure to perform in. Which again, is where I base all my opinions and steps towards recording, mixing and mastering.

This topic can get very confusing and very misleading. I have the luxury to use LA2A, 1176, (MEQ-5 added choice) in a chain. Which is pretty much all I would use when using big rail pre's like the m-2b and vocals. But if I don't have the choice for those tannny based comps, then it could be, I would be better off using a pre with less transparency. So, all this is very subjective to who's coming at it with what they have or hear. . And we haven't even touched on monitoring and mixing.

Kurt Foster Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:32

audiokid, post: 420898, member: 1 wrote: the [="http://www.mil-media.com/m-2b.html"]M-2b[/]="http://www.mil-medi…"]M-2b[/] is by far one loved most. Nothing quite like it

Kurt Foster, post: 420916, member: 7836 wrote: ike i mentioned, i have the [[url=http://="http://www.mil-medi…"]Millennia[/]="http://www.mil-medi…"]Millennia[/] here as well as the TMP-8's

audiokid, post: 420920, member: 1 wrote: That pre isn't the same Kurt, but

actually [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.mil-medi…"]it is[/]="http://www.mil-medi…"]it is[/] .....

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:40

I've read that Kurt, but to my understanding, its different. The M-2b is a beast with a rail that must have something to do with it. Its not hybrid / twin topology like the NSEQ-2 either. But, I'm not a tech guy so maybe Joel will chime in. I'll ask him.

But never the less, again, I base my love for this particular Millennia because I use an LA2A/1176 combo in front of it. So, I am not the thinking type that pres of colour are actually the best choice for my chain. There comes a point where its too much copper. Which is why we get misinformation about a pre or mic etc. If you notice, I always share my chain. I NEVER trust an opinion to be accurate if the user isn't taking their chain into the equation.

Kurt Foster Sun, 11/09/2014 - 13:16

Regarding the Millennia, i will say both pres are exceptional.

The Origin has two selectable mic pres .... the HV3 and the M-2b. it also has a tube/solid state selectable eq and EL -OP comp which is very much similar to an LA2a. I wish i could find a second one i can afford so i can put a pair on the summing 2-bus going from one computer to another .... that would be sooooo cool.

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 15:01

Tommy osuna, post: 420930, member: 48582 wrote: I did not desire you to feel any disrespect on the Avalon any use of that pre has always been clean and clear so I was just thinking if a possibility that added that darkness

It's all good in the audio discussions

No worries I sure, Tommy. I got your intent which might have been taken wrong from Donny based on him thinking you were doubting his ear. Its a passionate discussion gathering! Aren't we having fun! :love:

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 15:52

Paul999, post: 420914, member: 42110 wrote: Until I invested time into room treatment micpres made a huge difference. A ton of room treatment evened the playing field. I have had the heavy hitter mics and pres. Vintage Km 84's etc. The difference became uninteresting to me. Workflow became very interesting. I've not tried the millennia so I can't comment on it per say. I can say I am uninterested in trying a pre that costs 2k.

Paul, I would love to hear more about this experience and then why you feel the 2k mark is uninteresting ?

Davedog Sun, 11/09/2014 - 16:46

I really like my +2K pres.....but NOT because they cost +2K. If they were a lot LESS, I'd own a lot MORE.

I think you get used to the stuff in rack and if you do enough work on something you start to really understand the why's and why-not's of what it imparts to a source. Then you can make informed decisions about what to use on what. I also think it helps a lot to be somewhat flexible in these choices simply because every now and then you'll hook something into a chain that will surprise you even though you've used it many times.

I borrowed a 737 Avalon for a session and wasn't all that impressed with it. It does have a distinct sound, however, and such a thing could be exactly what some genre's need in order to be those genres.

There are circuit designs throughout the history of electronics that impart that special stamp on particular sources that cannot be denied. I'm with Kurt about this. Regardless of genre, when you run musical instruments through the 1073 and 1084 Neve circuit, it SOUNDS like it. Its almost an immediate reaction of "Oh. Yeah.....There it is...." API mic pres do the same thing to my ear and while there are literally HUNDREDS of takes on mic preamps and some even faithful replicas of vintage (as in OLDER...er: invented a while back....) that impart a particular STAMP on a source, there's something musically correct about a few that can't be mistaken.

Now, I don't know whether its just our ears that become acclimated to this "musical stamp" simply because so much of popular music since 1950 has been replicated on similar equipment or is it because of the actual design and engineering achieving the goal of the inventor?

Something that is of a newer nature to the palette is the ability we now have to achieve a semblance of the SPACE a lot of special recordings have been made in. Chris is a great proponent of this with use of the Bricasti. There are other verbs and delays that allow approximation of space through modeling and convolution of the signals. Digital has certainly made this possible. Not visiting the natural reverb imparted to a guitar from something like Abbey Road Studio 2 via a reverb convolution and sample is indeed something to miss out on.

Just like recording guitars and bass through a Neve, Drums through an SSL, and vocals with a great mic through an LA-2A in hardware. Its what music sounds like.

Davedog Sun, 11/09/2014 - 17:14

Chris, you alluded to it earlier in another thread I think.....I get much much better saturation with software that hardware. Better control and more variety. Hardware , for me, has to have the clarity, size, depth of field, fidelity and can even have the 'stamp' of a circuit design as part of its flavor...it just can't be ALL the flavor when I'm committing to something.

Kurt Foster Sun, 11/09/2014 - 18:37

Davedog, post: 420937, member: 4495 wrote: Now, I don't know whether its just our ears that become acclimated to this "musical stamp" simply because so much of popular music since 1950 has been replicated on similar equipment or is it because of the actual design and engineering achieving the goal of the inventor?

the old chicken or egg question .... i think Mr. Neve was going for "that" sound from the get go but yes, it has become a sound that is associated with what records "sound" like.

Davedog, post: 420937, member: 4495 wrote: Something that is of a newer nature to the palette is the ability we now have to achieve a semblance of the SPACE a lot of special recordings have been made in.

i have had the good fortune of having access to a lot of great verbs. i have also had the pleasure of having some really nice rooms to record in. i can do it either way but i will say they are completely different experiences with very little in common to each other and the results are different as well ... just not the same thing at all. again it can be done both ways. which is "better"? that's subjective.

Paul999 Sun, 11/09/2014 - 20:06

audiokid, post: 420920, member: 1 wrote: That pre isn't the same Kurt, but I do agree with you on performance!!

I think we all agree and stress, before you even invest a DIME IN THIS BUSINESS! The first place you start is the room and treatment. I suspect Paul, you have been spinning your wheels for a while. Glad you are on the treatment now. I can't imagine performing in a garage without acoustic treatment above me and very thick draping behind me on a stage.

I don't know if you are aware of this, but I toured for 18 years and quit! playing in rooms that where boxy halls concrete chambers. So, I think like a musician, not a guy who needs gear to make me sound good. If the room sucks, I don't even play and that is my approach to music. But, I do know what I like in the rooms that are a pleasure to perform in. Which again, is where I base all my opinions and steps towards recording, mixing and mastering.

This topic can get very confusing and very misleading. I have the luxury to use LA2A, 1176, (MEQ-5 added choice) in a chain. Which is pretty much all I would use when using big rail pre's like the m-2b and vocals. But if I don't have the choice for those tannny based comps, then it could be, I would be better off using a pre with less transparency. So, all this is very subjective to who's coming at it with what they have or hear. . And we haven't even touched on monitoring and mixing.

I stopped spinning my wheels on room treat a few years ago. I totally could see why you might think I would be though.

Paul999 Sun, 11/09/2014 - 20:19

audiokid, post: 420935, member: 1 wrote: Paul, I would love to hear more about this experience and then why you feel the 2k mark is uninteresting ?

As a business I need to be able to make records and be profitable. There are plenty of pres below $1000 that you can make records with. API, Shadow hills, and a million others. In the sub $500 it gets tougher. The audient asp stuff is solid and you can get 8 pres for $1400. You can make a world class record with those. They are transparent. My D&R console pres are also transparent but they are a little slower with transients. I like that. They don't over hype the highs and have nice deep lows.

Bottom line is that if I can make an album with $150 pres I feel like I've won by not buying a $2000 pre. I am not saying that the Millennia isn't a great pre. If I can make a great product at 85% less cost I am running a successful business.

audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 21:26

Paul999, post: 420914, member: 42110 wrote: Until I invested time into room treatment micpres made a huge difference. A ton of room treatment evened the playing field.

You've really touched on an interesting point here, which I absolutely agree. Can you elaborate more on why your pre approach has changed this much before and after treatment? What were you thinking when the light bulb went off?
I'm envisioning you listening to source/mic placement and then thinking, okay, API here, but now that you've treated your room can you share a deeper explanation that readers can identify with?

Paul999 Sun, 11/09/2014 - 22:27

audiokid, post: 420959, member: 1 wrote: You've really touched on an interesting point here, which I absolutely agree. Can you elaborate more on why your pre approach has changed this much before and after treatment? What were you thinking when the light bulb went off?
I'm envisioning you listening to source/mic placement and then thinking, okay, API here, but now that you've treated your room can you share a deeper explanation that readers can identify with?

  • Absolutely. Good pre's like API's tend to have tight low end, less mud in the low mids and a sizzle in the high end that feels like silk etc. When my room had out of control reflections the low end clarity of a quality pre somewhat combated the build up of low frequencies in particular by not exagerating the mud. The clarity that my absorbtion made was awesome. After a while when doing shootouts of vocal mics and etc. I started to notice that there was so little difference in them unless I really drove the pre that it was rediculous. I finally sat down and did a shootout of the sources that felt the biggest differences to me. Kick Snare electric guitars and overheads. I shot out Audient vs Focusrite vs API vs my D&R console. There were differences betwen pres. No doubt but I asked myself. Are there any of these pres that I would be unhappy using on any of these sources. The two I was most partial to were my console pre's and API's when driven. When the API's were not driven I could not tell the difference between them and the audients. None of the shoot outs had low mid trouble and they all had nice extended low end.
  • This was nothing like the experience I'd had before room treatment. Differences were far more dramtic. Certain pre's felt unuseable on certain sources. Suddenly they were all useable on everything pretty much.
  • Before room treatment I compared my stock apogee pre's in my ensemble to my outboard pres. The one that stick out in my memory is when I recorded snare. When I heard the result I literally thought there was a broken cable or something massively wrong. I tried to fix it and tried the next pre. It sounded the same. No low end. Nasty highs. Yuk! I tried a cheap presonus I had laying around and it sounded the same as the apogee or there abouts. It was startling. It convinced me my highe end pre's were worth the doe.
  • Once I had a treated room I ran the same experiment with stock pres. I was much better sounding! Not nearly the low end of my other pre's but the nasty highs were not nasty. If I wanted lows eq got me there without bringing up a ton of unwanted junk. It was totally usuable!
  • I decided I do want the robust low end of "quality pre's". I do not want to work as hard a I'd need to with stock pres. I do not use the apogee pre's.
class="xf-ul"> I hope this helps!

anonymous Mon, 11/10/2014 - 03:42

audiokid, post: 420934, member: 1 wrote: No worries I sure, Tommy. I got your intent which might have been taken wrong from Donny based on him thinking you were doubting his ear. Its a passionate discussion gathering! Aren't we having fun! :love:

I wasn't disappointed because he doubted my ears... I could accept and respect that. We all hear things a bit differently and there will always be some drift in one person's audial perception over that of others. There's also a difference in one person's preferences over that of others. Some may like hyper-bright, some may prefer "dark" or "thick"... others may prefer an edge of distortion, others prefer ultra transparent and clean. It also depends greatly on the use at hand, and what the song calls out for.

I was offended that he made the assumption that I must have had something else in the gain chain that was skewing the sonics...as if I didn't know how to test or A/B gear and was dumb enough to have another device in the gain chain somewhere at the same time skewing the results.

Anyway, it doesn't matter, and makes no difference... I'm over it.

d.

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