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This is a follow-up from a [[url=http://[/URL]=""]previous post[/]=""]previous post[/] where I was asking questions about 500 series preamps. The good news is that my daughter was accepted to a couple of good colleges and got some good scholarship offers. The bad news is that she is choosing the more expensive of the her top two options (Duquesne's Pappert School of Music) so there is going to be a little belt tightening around here. As far as gear purchases for the studio that means that instead of going for a 500 series rack and starting to fill it this summer, I'm going with the cheaper price per channel option and get an API 3124+. That will give me a pretty solid start and it might be the only major purchase I make this summer.

However, the next step is a bit hazier. I may want to stay with the 19inch rack units rather than going with the 500 series units, but I want to keep looking within the style of API/Neve inspired pres. Great River and Pacifica make interesting units in the $1K per channel range, but people have also been saying good things about the Langevins. Is the Dual Mono worth looking at, or should I save up for the Dual Vocal? What other units in this style should I be considering?

sshack Thu, 03/27/2008 - 06:24

Hey Bob. I'm right there with you. I'd love to get some APIs and the lunchbox route seems like a no brainer, but I like the rack too.

Something that I ran across recently that seems like a viable option is this (scroll down to the middle of the page and look at the pic:

I appears that your able to get the best of both a certain degree.

I was struggling for a while about the DVC (and still do), but I opted, for now, to go a different route (UA LA-610) as I reasoned it would be better suited for what I need at this time.

Best of luck, please keep us informed with what you decide and how it works out.


BobRogers Thu, 03/27/2008 - 06:54

The Revolver has a low initial cost, and it might make sense as a space saving device in certain situations. But its cost per channel is high - $150 vs. $70-$80 for the larger 10 or 11 unit racks. I don't think the revolver makes sense for me in the long run. On the other hand, the 3124+ is probably a good buy even if I end up getting a rack of 500 series units down the road. But with the 3124 in hand (assuming it gets in my hand) I'd consider going with 19" units rather than 500 series.

Boswell Thu, 03/27/2008 - 07:12

The only real problem I have with my 3124+ is the settability of the gain trim. If I am recording a multi-set gig with different artists, I have to make VERY careful notes at the soundcheck as to where the gain trims are positioned, and have even resorted to taking digital photos of the knobs. I run mixed racks of API and DAV pre-amps, which I use on a per-instrument basis depending on the sound source and what colour (if any) I want on that channel. The DAVs have stepped gain switches, which makes them a breeze to re-set to previous positions.

You do have to be a little careful about what you run these pre-amps into. I use them ahead of an Alesis HD24XR, and if I want to drive the APIs hard to get the transformers working nicely, I have to put inline attenuators (12dB) on the output, as the 0dBFS on the HD24XR is only +19dBu.

You won't regret getting a 3124+ as it sounds lovely on the right material.

sshack Thu, 03/27/2008 - 08:08

BobRogers wrote: The Revolver has a low initial cost, and it might make sense as a space saving device in certain situations. But its cost per channel is high - $150 vs. $70-$80 for the larger 10 or 11 unit racks. I don't think the revolver makes sense for me in the long run. On the other hand, the 3124+ is probably a good buy even if I end up getting a rack of 500 series units down the road. But with the 3124 in hand (assuming it gets in my hand) I'd consider going with 19" units rather than 500 series.

I'd love a 3124+ too, but realistically I don't have the justification for 4 pres on top of what I already have....not now anyway. I've peeked at the A2D.

Cucco Thu, 03/27/2008 - 08:14

Duquesne...nice choice! Several of my horn player colleagues chose that route. They don't suck - must be a good school... ;-)

Anyway -
I think, to be completely honest, that you're in that horrible pickle right now of having a little bit of money, maybe burning a little hole in the pocket and a real (or heavily perceived) need for new/better gear. I'm in that EXACT boat right now myself. It's a wonderful and awful place to be.

The 3124+ is a great tool. My ONLY advice (beyond Boz's advice about the output attenuators), would be to consider the MB version which allows you to run a redundant stereo mix at the same time.

Regarding the Langevin stuff - again, I think it's wonderful. The dual mono pre is the same pre and EQ that's in the DVC. The DVC just adds the ELOP, which rocks. Is it something that's necessary? Nah. I like it a LOT on bass and when used sparingly, it can save a vocal part. The EQ is a thing of magic too - especially for sculpting vocals.

Have you also considered the Focusrite 428? It's starting to take a downturn on popularity, which doesn't make any sense to me. It's a great, very flexible and amazing sounding pre that's quite affordable. I think it's one of those things where some people find it easy to trash on mid-level gear based solely on the fact that they don't own it and are trying to justify reasons why they don't.

Anyway - let us know what you decide. Truly, anything in that range is going to be just fine.

Cucco Thu, 03/27/2008 - 08:30

Yeah...the OctoPre and the ISA series are two different beasts. The Platinum range is "usable." That being said, they generally have a decent amount of headroom prior to clipping and overall a non-offensive sound. However, if you drive them hard, they start to collapse pretty quickly and get gritty and bright with a somewhat artificial sounding low end.

When the platinum range was released several years back, I was excited...I rushed out and bouth one of the units (don't recall which one's been a few years.) I used it on one session and promptly took it back. Some things are too good to be true - the price on the platinum series for sure.

Will they work for a single vocal or maybe a pair of overheads...sure.

The ISA range blows the Platinum out of the water.

BobRogers Thu, 03/27/2008 - 09:03

The reason I want to upgrade now is that I have some projects scheduled this summer with some friends that may not be repeatable (including a reunion of my daughter's rock band The Snax who are going to try to put together a show before they all go off to college). The equipment I have is nothing I'm ashamed of, but better gear will help - even if the most important limitation is my skill at recording. If the numbers don't work out, I'll be happy with what I have and do the best I can.

I've probably said this elsewhere, but what I am working with now is:
Digi 002Rack
Focusrite Octopre
GT Brick

The RNP is easily my favorite of these. In response to sshack's comments on the octopre, I've found it to be an OK unit. You don't want to try to milk the last few dB of gain out of it, but it sounds OK if you don't push it. Also I really have not found the compressor/limiters to be very useful. So while it isn't a bad unit, it is a disappointment and in the long run I plan to replace it. Plan A was to build up a collection of 500 series pres starting with 5 or 6 this year. But Alice chose Duquesne over Georgia and the furnace and air conditioner both died last year, so here we are with plan B.

UPDATE: Cross posted with Jeremy. I see we are pretty much on the same page on the Octopre.

sshack Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:28

So then you already know... :D

The session that involved the Octopre was running a lesser named tube mic, that again, sounded pretty good.

Cucco, can you elaborate on your impressions of the differences between the ISA 428 and the DVC? I'm fairly certain that you favor the Langevin in most cases, but I'd like to know why.

Having a smokin' pre primarily for vox is on my list.


Cucco Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:50

The platinum line can sound just fine as long as you don't push it too hard and as long as the source is something that works fine within the narrow capabilities of the sonics it has to offer. Voice works just fine through it - especially spoken word and chesty male vocals.

Regarding the DVC versus the ISA 428...different beasts altogether.

The Langevin is a big bottom, huge width open sound which works well on certain things but beautifully on other things. The ISA 428 is more of a jack-of-all-trades. It's relatively transparent, but still retains some of the weighted bottom end and width that Langevin has.

I'm actually considering a 428 in my studio mainly for the flexibility of the (pretty darned nice sounding) ADC. This would allow me to patch 8 more channels into the RME via lightpipe - 4 being the 428, 4 being Grace, Millennia, DAV or whatever else I choose to pipe through.

If I were to get it, the 428 would reside in studio, not in my mobile rig and would primarily get its workout on vox, guitar (acoustic/electric) and drums. Maybe some bass, but probably not as it's not my favorite DI for bass.

Davedog Thu, 03/27/2008 - 18:21

I'm with all of you and have a nagging little query to Bob.

You indicated that you wanted to stay with the 19" rack units.....

You are aware that a lunchbox is a 19" rack unit as far as the power supply and mounting cabinet go........?

I realize that its ...errr....5 spaces high(is this right or is it four???) but it is a 19" rack. Unless we're talking the 11 module may be wider.

Okay. DVC. Jeremy said it all. This is a GREAT unit. The size of things that come through it is phenomenal.

The 428 is a lot more neutral, but it has that older Focusrite vibe to it and lots of twirly knobs and such to play with.

It is NOT the Focurite Red series. Its cheaper....but only a bit. I love the Red series. Simple gigantuous sound. One knob. Hard to get it wrong.

For those who record a lot of acoustic instruments and are cautious on the side of dollars per channel, dont forget the True Systems stuff.

Real clean gain for days. I've never been able to find the clip point on one of these.

For that ONE special channel, theres the ViPre. Got a big mic collection? Get a ViPre and triple your mics without even buying another one.

True variable impedance baby!

Ask Bent how he likes his.

bent Thu, 03/27/2008 - 19:10

I like the impedence that my babies variably give me...

No, wait - Yes, that's it, I do like the ViPre.

Recorded on it and (ironically) an Octopre last night - two room mics on a drum kit, nothing more. 414 through the ViPre, SM81 through the Octo.

I may post this unfinished work a little later.

BobRogers Fri, 03/28/2008 - 03:06


Yeah, I understand about the lunchbox and the 10-11 space units. Probably should have used the terms "self contained" and "modular" or something.

Thanks for the input on all this. From the descriptions I'd be inclined to go with the DMC or the DVC after my wallet recovers from the 3124.

But you guys have to stop talking about he ViPre. It has me composing speeches about how a hitch in the army before college is really good for building character...