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Sytek quad mic pres?

Any experience with these? Looking for something for straight-up acoustic recordings...


rivers Wed, 01/02/2002 - 09:51

I've had the Sytek for about 6 months,mine has 2 channels with a Burr brown transformer mod and 2 channels "plain".In my experience it seems fairly neutral and transparent probably better suited for acoustic type stuff and I think it does sound good on acoustic Gtr.The BB channels seem to add a little grit but not much(or not as much as I want).I got mine for about 750$ used so they are a good deal.However,I'm wishing at times for a pre with more color or personality to add to the arsenal.I've heard other people describe mic pres as having a 3D depth to them and I'm not sure the Sytek does....then again it's probably my engineering
I'll be interested to see what other folks think.

Ted Nightshade Wed, 01/02/2002 - 10:31

I haven't figured out where I am as far as the whole transparent/colored thing for solid state. What I'm recording sounds gorgeous in the room, and I wish I could just set the audience down right there. However I love tubes, and have had some of my most compelling "being there" experiences with tube gear, everything from mics and preamps to power amps. I'm pretty well covered for tubes, but I'm increasingly convinced that some of my problematic recording situations where tubes plus a live room are just too lush might be greatly helped by a good solid state mic pre. Now what that might be I wonder?
I record many many things with one or two close mics and a distance pair, so the quad thing appeals, plus it would be convenient for doing four and eight track work live. Of course some of the eight channel pres are also enticing- Millennia (wish I had the dough) or I've heard good things about the True Systems Precision 8....
Thanks folks!

Lobstman Wed, 01/02/2002 - 12:10

I have also had a Sytek (2 stock, 2 BB) for about 6 months- and I just added a pair of Daking pre/eq modules. The Syteks are certainly "clean," but not sterile or lacking in bottom. They sound good on everything I've thrown at them- electric, accoustic and bass guitars, (male & female) vocals, drums, horns, strings, it hasn't failed me yet.
The Daking on the other hand is a little more picky, and sounds great on certain sources (and certain mics), and not so hot on others. I'm still learning the likes/dislikes of the Dakings, but the Sytek always works.
Honestly, I can't tell a night-and-day difference between the stock and BB channels on the Sytek, but I haven't done any serious critical listening tests, either. Also, these are the only outboard pres I have much experience with, so take this all with a grain of salt.
If I'd had the budget for a quad Great River I'd have bought one, but at under $1K for 4 channels of quality preamp, I say go for it.

rivers Wed, 01/02/2002 - 17:21

I agree with you about the differences b/t the Sytek BB and regular channels... its hard to tell the difference most times.
I've been looking at the new Great River and also curious about the Dakings.What differences good/bad do you hear between the Sytek and Dakings?I'm wanting something great sounding on Gtrs ,drums,vox and Bass(did I leave anything out :)

noizboyz Thu, 01/03/2002 - 05:41

I do alot of acoustic stuff(string quartets,folk,bluegrass)with theSytek's direct to dat with pretty good results.One thing that really helped the sound of my recordings was the Lucid 9624 ad converter.It added alot more space and depth to the recording.


Jon Best Thu, 01/03/2002 - 09:39

I'll throw in my 2 cents- I have had the Sytek for a couple of years, and I've never had any reason to complain about it. Clean and even, with a decent amount of gain. When I borrowed the Great River for a couple of days, I decided that they were in the same camp, although the GR sounded a bit cleaner. It'll do a similar job, but someday I will get around to the Great River as well.

I've got two channels of Burr Brown as well- they're a tiny bit thicker, but not so much that I really sweat the difference. Sometimes I can't hear it at all.

Bottom line, it's a nice piece of gear- even if I eventually get to 20 channels of outboard pre, I think I will still use the Sytek on some stuff.

rivers Thu, 01/03/2002 - 17:56

Here's a question I've been real curious about.
I'm real close to getting a Great River Nv,Api or a Vintech to use in addition to my Sytek.My Sytek is the only decent mic pre I'm familar with.

How much of a step up are the "better" mic pres when compared to the Sytek?(I get the feeling it will be a step up but not a night/day difference (or maybe it is...if so I will get one tommorrow) :) My mic collection is decent; (Royer121,At4050,Rode Ntk,Octava mc012,Senn421,etc).So it seems a nice mic pre is the next logical step

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atlasproaudio Thu, 01/03/2002 - 18:04

Really good mic pre's make the most impact over the course of a lot of tracks. I personally would take 24 tracks of Vintech-Neve and API over 24 tracks of Sytek any day. Not that the Syteks are bad, I just think everything would sit in the mix better making the whole mix having to be "worked" less with processing.

CyanJaguar Thu, 01/03/2002 - 22:35

You guys just saved me about $100 on upgrading with burr brown chips.

I can add that to the fund for the peavey vmp-2 which will give me the choice of either colored or clean. I like the sparkle of the sytek. I compared it to other pres and thats the word I got to describe it. It sparkles. I think it works better with some darker mikes too. It makes my sm58 sound better on vox than a blueberry because the bberry is really bright.

The tracks can be heard here:

The first one is the blueberry and the second one is the sytek.

Masternfool Fri, 01/04/2002 - 08:57

Originally posted by CyanJaguar:

I can add that to the fund for the peavey vmp-2 which will give me the choice of either colored or clean.

I don't how much clean! you'll get out of the vmp2 but you will get color. I use a d8b and found the mackie to actually be a little cleaner,but the vmp2 will get more tone and more gain than the d8b pre's....Best

k.w.blackwell Sun, 01/06/2002 - 20:24

Originally posted by CyanJaguar:
You guys just saved me about $100 on upgrading with burr brown chips.

Even my relatively virgin ears could hear a noticable but subtle auditory difference in the sound of an acoustic piano via TLM-103s through the stock versus Burr Brown op amps in my Sytek.

The stock channels had a more "noticeable" mid range, maybe around 1KHz, but I'm not sure if was really louder or cleaner or what. Almost sounded nasal in a bad way by comparison. The BB channels were more extended, fuller bass and a bit more sparkle in the highs, which I assume is due to better transient response. To my ears and those of a colleague whose piano was being used in the test, the BB channels were definitely winners, but the stocks were not exactly hurting.

I even liked the stock channels better than his Presonus MP-20 we were comparing against, though afterwards he replaced it's op amps with BB's and it's transformers with Jensens and we haven't done another shoot out since. Other than Mackies, those are about the only mic pre's I've done critical listening to, so obviously I can't give any "accredited" evaluations except to say that the relative differences were independently noticeable by both people doing the listening.

But I didn't rush out to have Burr Browns replace my two stock channels. I like the idea of having some variety from my Sytek. It'll probably be a long while yet before I get to buy a better mic pre. I still haven't done any critical comparisons on other sources with good mics, so for all I know, the stocks might beat out the BB's one day in some future situation. When I don't have time to do the comparison, I'm going to make a default assumption that the BB channels will be the superior performers.

I posted a more detailed report about this "shootout" on R.A.P. back at the time, which was probably early in 2001. Use google if you're interested, but there isn't a lot of extra info there.