Skip to main content
forums, blogs, song critique, support & more...

pre only or channel strip??

Hey guys think i've decided to get a nice pre or three next. Then I'll do some mic upgrading. My question is if I should get pre only or something with some EQ as well. I'm using an Allen and Heath board to run everything thru (except bass I like my little Meek VC3Q). Most all things I just use the pre amp of the A&H and no eq or externall comps/limiters. The only exception is when recording drum kits. I like to do some pretty hefty EQing of the the kick and snare on the A&H before running into Nuendo 2. Once in Nuendo I do some more eq/comp etc and get nice results. (I use a UAD card and Waves Ren) I'd like to get a dual channel pre that I can use for kick and snare and then lots of other tracks as I go. My concern is getting a pre only with no eq and getting a nicer pre tone but not a proper eq setting going to nuendo. Should I be able to track kick and snare flat with a nice pre/mic setup and do all the magic in Nuendo or do you think since I'm used to EQ ing twice I'll be disatisfied with the new setup?

Also, I'm looking at getting a Seb 2000e to start with as my first serious pre. Any other suggestions in the $1000-$1500 range as a "wont have to buy again" pre. I know there will be others I'll want in addition to this but what do ya think. (I'm going to rent a Studio Projects VTB-1 for a month to play around, with might get one of those or a RNP for a different flavor)

Other considerations
Trident S20
?????? (feel free to add here)

Thanks guys


Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Mon, 10/06/2003 - 13:59

EQ considerations can always be subjective.One question I would raise is this.."does the eq in your mixer add any noise to the signal?" If not, then you already have a usable eq at your disposal.If the kick drum is all you basically eq for at tracking, then i would suggest a better mic for your kick that needs very little if any EQ.....the primary suspects in this would be.....Audix D6, ATM25,D12/D112, MD421...all of these will give you a great kick sound right out of your placement.And as if by magic, NO EQ!!! A good compressor might help too, but I'm from the school of thought that the less in the signal path at tracking the easier it is to mix.But you alreadyhave Nuendo so a comp is no problem after the track is down...

Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Mon, 10/06/2003 - 14:25

I understand the eqing twice thing. I like to do this also how ever the Audix D6 goes a long way to making this unnessicary for kick drum. As you just get started, there is no reason I can think of for you not to use the eq section on the Allen Heath. Just patch a pre into the insert return and eq your heart out. The higher quality pre in front of the Allen Heath can really make a difference.

In the $1500 range, I would recomend the JLM TMP8 pres. Eight Neve/Focusrite Red Range type pres that are stellar for recording drums. Very focused, solid, yet transparent sound. Lots of bang for the buck. These pres retail for $1850 for a one rack space 8 channel mic pre package. I love the one that Joe Malone set out for me to review and I am staying up late at nights trying to figure out a way I can afford to keep them after the review is done. BTW, the review on these pres will be posted very soon. Keep an eye out!

If you want a warmer and bigger sounding pre, check out the Sebatron. I have a VMP 4000 that I purchased after running a review. The combination of the four Sebatrons and the eight JLMs, along with my pair of Neve Amek 9098 mic pre / eqs, makes for a very complete package of pres for my DAW. I find that the textures available from this combination is exactly what is needed for just about any project I would see myself doing (mostly pop, rock, blues, country).

Profile picture for user AudioGaff

AudioGaff Mon, 10/06/2003 - 18:34

If you gonna buy an eq get something that is different and can't be gotten from the AH board or software. Since you were specific to mention drums, I'd start looking at API or Neve or the better Neve clones. The Focusrite ISA 110 pre and eq or the 220 and 430 with added comp are in the same range as the AMEK 9098 which is a very good Eq with a decent pre, but the AMEK/Neve CIB is a step better. And nothing can do what a GML or a Massive Passive can do.

There is also the newer stuff from Chandler, Daking, Vintech, Brent Averill and the AMS/Neve 1073 re-issue to choose from.

Jason James Tue, 10/07/2003 - 08:31

Well in reguards to mic selection and placement as to not need extra eq, I'm using a D112 on the kick and a SM57 on snare. The thing is, my main session guy uses a 22x18" DW kick with a 6" hole in the front head. The D112 placed properly with some EQ on the A&H board to add a little click and a little low end sounds nice. (sometimes it takes a hefty dose of EQ) Then once I'm mixing down I'll go into Nuendo and use Waves or the Pultec on my UAD card and then I can "fit" the kick in the mix. Same with the snare. All other instruments I keep the EQ's flat going to Nuendo. NOW, sometimes it's a 16" or 20" or even 24" kick that I'm micing. Sometimes no head, sometimes solid, somtimes a hole. That's why I like to eq, b/c every kick is different. BUT, If I can use a nice pre and insert into my A&H board for EQ that would be cool OR just a nice pre and EQ only after the fact. Is this how most people track Kick and snare no EQ going into the DAW?

As far as which pre to select, I'd like to get something that works well all around to begin with. Then get more specific. I don't have any experience with pres, I'm familiar with the name NEVE but don't know what that sounds like. I know my little VC3Q sounds nice for bass but thats all I end up using it on now. Tried it on snare and disliked the sound. I find it hard to believe that the SEB and the JLM 8 sound fantastic. Just b/c $1500 or so for 8 pres seems hard to swallow. Wouldn't I be better off to spend that 1500 on a dual pre that sounds great. OR does the JLM and SEB really sound world class, never need to replace b/c they rock? What are the options in this range and how do their sounds differ? What is the "best all around" box? Also do I need to find one that has 2 outs so I can monitor thru the A&H?

I know of the

SEB 4000e
AMEK dual pre
Manley 2-610
Trident s20

Profile picture for user AudioGaff

AudioGaff Tue, 10/07/2003 - 09:56

Most of the greatest hits from the 1970's onward used gear from Neve and API as well as a few others. Not just because it was great sounding stuff but it was also because there wasn't a lot of high quality stuff to choose from. I've never met or heard anyone to not like the sound from the classic Neve modules that came from Neve consoles. The more popular of these is the 1073 and 1081. Clean, Full, Warm, Musical are terms often described by these units. In recent years new companies have copied/cloned these Neve modules and even added improved features. Most of the Neve clone type products are close enough and much cheaper than the real thing by as much as 50%-75% DAW users like them for front end because they offer a tone that can not be gotten with any software.

API gear also came from consoles and is also described with many of the same terms as Neve but in general is more aggressive and HiFi sounding and handles fast transients like drums very well.

I own both Neve as well as API and couldn't imagine trying to record music without them. They are that good and make that much of a difference. Lots of products are good and get the job done but these are some of the few products that when you hear and use them, will likely blow you away.

BEWARE! After you hear this kind of tone and sound quality, you can't go back. You race to sell your Mackie and all your other cheap budget crap just to get one more piece of the good stuff. YOU WILL BECOME GEAR ADDICITED!

Today there are a lot of choices and a lot of new companies making great products. The Neve and API stuff are legendary, industry standards that have a classic sound, time proven, reliable, dependable and are still highly sought after. It is the kind of gear you never regret, works on every kind of source and with a little care will last your entire carreer.

Jason James Tue, 10/07/2003 - 12:37

Thanks Audio Gaff, very inspiring. What would some good dual channel preamp API and Neve clone be? Someting versitile to use on many tracks as I overdub. I could possibly get a Neve/API clone then a SEB 2000e or Manley 2-1610 down the road for a different feel. Does this sound like a great place to start with out buying gear that I'll want to replace later? Thanks so much guys.


Profile picture for user Kurt Foster

Kurt Foster Tue, 10/07/2003 - 15:12

Originally posted by Jason James:
I find it hard to believe that the SEB and the JLM 8 sound fantastic. Just b/c $1500 or so for 8 pres seems hard to swallow. Wouldn't I be better off to spend that 1500 on a dual pre that sounds great. OR does the JLM and SEB really sound world class, never need to replace b/c they rock?

I know of the

.... SEB 4000e
.... AMEK dual pre
.... JLM 8


You have heard these pres before, you just don't realize it. Just about every commercial release uses these types, with the exception of the vmp. It is still pretty new to the market however I expect it to become a standard in studios. Time will tell.

The JLM is a pre that is much like a Neve Focusrite type. Yes it really does sound good and will be a lifetime investment. you will not be disappointed.

The Sebatron is an animal unto itself. it is unlike any other mic pre i have ever used. It reminds me very much of an old vintage Fender pre amp like those found on the Tweed Deluxe with the mic inputs. It has that beefy low end and silkey sheen on the top end. Anything through the vmp comes out huge but not overwhelming. Fat and thick but still transparent.

The AMEK is very middle of the road, nuetral pre not much to write home about, pretty smmoth and not as aggresive as the JLM or an API.

The 2-610 is a United Audio pre not a Manley. Very thick and chunky sounding. Good for somethings but I don't think I would want it for everything. Still, a quality mic pre and it's like buying a piece of history. Kurt

Nate Tschetter Tue, 10/07/2003 - 17:06


If you're thinking of a 2-610 and want more of a "channel strip", check out the 6176. Its one channel of 610 and an 1176 compressor in the same box. As Kurt said, its a pretty "colored" sound and not the only thing you want in your rack.

white swan Tue, 10/07/2003 - 18:41

Anyone here used that Chandler "Abbey Road" 2-channel pre yet? Maybe something to consider.

I think it's around $1600, although I think the power supply is a little extra.

Jason James Wed, 10/08/2003 - 06:35

So I guess out of the pres that have been mentioned it will come down to the seb 2000 or the JLM. Of these two any thoughts on which is the best all around unit? It will be months (at least) untill I could possibly get the second one. Where is a good spot to find a JLM? Do they make a two channel version of this? A review of the JLM on their website said it was kind of dark, this scares me a little. Is there any other "starter that will be a long term investment" pre that hasn't been considered? Thanks.


Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Wed, 10/08/2003 - 08:00

JJ...The Sebatron is the most versatile of the two.Lots of switches and lots of variations available.Probably of the two, it would be the 'best' starter pre.The JLM is quite a forward in-yer-face kind of pre.This would be along the lines of a Neve/Focurite Red/API ...It produces a very 'hard' definate sound.Its not a bad thing and if you were to use it on a drum set, it would be no problem at all to get the drums UP in the mix.On other sources,such as certain types of acoustic instruments,ones that need a bit of 'air' around them, this isnt the pre for that.For electric rocking guitars it would KILL.The Sebatron will add 'color' also but in a different way.You really should hear these before deciding though I can assure you both are quite usable and a vast improvement over your A&H pres. Now let me say this and in no way is it a cut...Uncle Kurt likes color in his pres.He doesnt like the accurate,sterile,this-is-the-exact-sound,kinda stuff.This certainly not bad and many many many great recordings are and have been made on what would be considered colored equipment.You have to chose for yourself which direction to go in your initial piece of gear.Both of the ones discussed here will last you a career.Theres also pres such as the 9098 Amek which Kurt also has...I like em a lot but hes kinda....ehhh...on em...BUT he uses the heck out of em so go figure.I have used a True Systems P2 Analog with much success.Its very very clean and accurate.Not a lot of character but a LOT of what you put into it.It will simply bring your source right up front exactly like it sounds.Its in yer price range...Another pre to consider is the Daking.With or without eq...this thing has a sound all its own...its are all of the above.If you have a dealer nearby who stocks these kind of pieces, chances are they have a good return policy and most likely have demo models of different pieces.Use this to your advantage.Track a few things with several choices and then decide.Whatever you do decide, you'll find that without a doubt, all your work will come easier and sound better with this range of quality.

missilanious Wed, 10/08/2003 - 09:22

Just to clarify its a UNIVERSAL AUDIO 2-610. I own a M-610 and a 2108. The M-610 (mono 2-610) is beefy very harmonicly rich pre amp, great for vocals, drums, bass, and guitars. The 2108 owever gives you nore tone options. Two gain stages, so if its at lowest settin it sounds brighter and less colored, as you start cranking up the gain it starts giving you a plesent saturation to a harder more agressive distortion. A 414bTLII and ULS sound great on the 2108 with a moderate gain setting, it smooths out the agressive sounding top end and gives it more body. Though I must add SM-57's sound amazing going through the 2108.

Profile picture for user AudioGaff

AudioGaff Wed, 10/08/2003 - 16:28

I've never heard the JLM stuff and I may be way off the mark here, but with all due respect to Kurt & Davedog, I can't agree or understand how people or a company can describe/market a product as sounding Neve, Focusrite Red and API like at the same time? As a guy who owns all three and has had many years of experience with them all, they have as much in common as they do being different. The original Neve modules and Focusrite Red designed by Rupert Neve are very much different sounding with the API swinging way towards the other side. When you compare them to the ART or Mackie kind of stuff then ya, they all sound the same.... as in they all sound GREAT!

The Daking which is an updated version from the old Trident-A range consoles (from the same era as the older Neve and API) is more like in the middle of Neve and API but has a wonderful tone of it's own. Wish I had some of that stuff.

Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Wed, 10/08/2003 - 16:33

My description was meant to indicate it sounds very UPFRONT....none of the pres have what I would call a 'vanilla' sound...that is to say a neutral I getting clearer?