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Preamp and Soundcard - Challenge for gurus!!!

Member for

21 years
Hi folks

I have a gear-related challenge which, if it's the evening in your part of the world, and you've had a beer or two, you might (fingers crossed) be willing to take up!

Summary: I'm changing PCs, and have decided to also splash out on a new preamp and sound card to go with it. I have some specific criteria, which after a review of the market I'm starting to believe I'm going to be disappointed....

The challenge: can you recommend the hardware that will work?

Current signal path: Neumann U87Ai => Focusrite Voicemaster Pro => M Audio Audiophile 192 => new PC (will be Intel Quad Core, running Sonar 7 and two PCI UAD-1's) => Tannoy Reveal 8D. Currently whole signal path is SPDIF. My belief is that the pre and interface are both going to compromise what might otherwise be a good quality setup. This is a home/project studio, and all the mixing is in the box.

New gear - Must have's:

1. Must be a decent pre, that's commensurate with the U87 (i.e better than Voicemaster Pro)
2. Recognise that soundcard could be PCI, PCIe, Firewire or USB2 - but want good quality AD/DA converters (again in keeping with the system)
3. Absolutely want some form of zero-latency monitoring, along with monitor reverb for the singer. This could be either on-board the card/pre, or supplied by my Lexicon Alex...quality less important, but want something (e.g had looked at Focusrite Saffire Pro 10, however no way of patching in reverb to monitor signal!! :(
4. Recognise that the solution may lay in either separate audio interface and mic pre, or some kind of high quality audio interface that meets the needs of 1-3 above... just can't find it though!
5. Currently appreciate the 'channel strip' nature of the Voicemaster Pro, especially simple monitoring options and availability of light compression for tracking. Latter would be a 'nice to have' in the new hardware.

As usual, I would be grateful in any thoughts (and pathetically grateful to any audio Genius who can put me out of my misery)

Thanks and kind regards, Bill Hester


Member for

15 years 6 months

Spase Fri, 03/07/2008 - 15:17
You could get another preamp with the S/PDIF outputs - such as the API A2D or the Grace Lunatec - and keep your current card. As the AD converter is in the pre, I don't think the card will make much difference as long as it has the right formating options for you (Hz and bit depth). If you're set on another card, I use an EMU 1616 (upgraded from the 1212) and those would work well, I think the 1212 is $150 ATM - the 0404 is probably cheaper (I think it has the S/PDIF). There are a few other fairly inexpensive cards that would have the S/PDIF and would therefore be bypassing the cards converters for the preamps.