8 channel preamp for semi/pro studio

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by grega60438, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    First off I am an electrical engineer, and I assume I have expert audio experience, so talk deep.

    (Please attention to the goal and equipment)
    Goal: Recording studio at $40 /hr designed to record a full band live in an anechoic studio. The recording area is mostly(75%) anechoic chamber with acceptable dual wall sound baffles between the sources.
    Equipment: (That matters, I also have other low budget equip 2 that is not mentioned)
    MOTU 896HD (Firewire)
    (3) TC Electronic PCI Powercores (Including plugins)
    Sony Oxford EQ
    Sony Oxford Dynamics
    Sony Oxford Inflator
    TC Electronic Master X3(Finalizer-3Band Compressor limiter)
    Monitor system= Monitor Audio S10 and FB212 sub (Excellent transducers and a large anechoic space for mix/mastering)

    I assume:
    Acceptable pres on the MOTU 896HD
    Acceptable Oxford EQ
    Acceptable 3 band Compressor and limiter (Big IF you know what your doing)
    Mic's=Neumann U89, Rode NTK2, Shure 52(kick), (3) 57's

    I had no idea of how huge the learning curve was. All I can say is wow... I am finally comfortable with ALL the mic techniques and almost becoming second nature with the equipment. Although my wife misses me...I am just now comfortable all the mixing EQ techniques to make everything sit pretty. The most important thing I have learned is my ears are starting to be trained and knowledgeable.
    I am ready for the next level. No longer a snot nose know it all, I open my ears.
    I realize that the one pre/limit is not going to allow me to hit my goal of mostly live recording in a studio. The drums use at leats 3-4 channels in a XY config. Then the bass is a 5th channel. Vox is typically redone, so I really don't care about that.
    The other instruments really have not been a show stopper in my experience as long as I have used good mic and mixing techniques. So basically I have come to the assumption that the next step in my journey is to aquire a decent 6 or more channel pre.
    I have 2-3K. Experienced. I am an engineer and have built from scratch my own tube amp and my own studio. So DIY builds are OK too.
    JLM audio TMP-8 has raised my interest as my wife would see me a little more. But if it is not significantly better than the MOTU 896HD pre's then it wound be waste of my resources. I have been messing with the Avalon 737, which is OK. But one strip may not meet my almost live goal. I assume with good experience and decent pre's I can pass up the one nice pre limitation. I have the X3 compressor and limiters....So I ask what is a decent multi channel pre for my application.
    Alcorn Studios
    Greg Alcorn
  2. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    what people here say all the time is the following!
    good pres cost good money! if you only have around 2500 to spend on 8 pres i would recommend the following!
    buy some "cheap" ones like the m-audio octane! do some recordings! when you have around 5000 shop around!
  3. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    Take a look at the the Audient ASP-008. It is getting some RAVE reviews from some people I respect very highly. With the digital AES card included, you can pick one up for about US$2200 or so.
  4. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    maybe you should check out the seventh circle audio stuff. Pretty cool DIY kits and I hear awesome things about their stuff. PLus they have 3 different flavors including a Neve 1073 clone that is supposed to sound quite comparable to the original. YOu can buy a 8 pre rack unit and fill it up with any combo or number of pres that you like.
  5. doulos21

    doulos21 Member

    May 26, 2003
    bhennies the seven ciricle clones are not the 1073s but the 1272's only the 2 gain staged pres they sound nothing like the 3 gain stage pres e.g. the 1073s which sound way better the 1272s are ok but really wernt designed to be a mic pre so the output is a lot lower usualy 50-60db cause its mising the makeup gain stage that the 1073 has and 1073s cost the consumer around 1500 a channel to replicate correctly clearly out of this guys price range

    i suggest that you look at the reviews page on the mic pre you were looking at kurt gave it a great review so its worth looking into
    (Dead Link Removed)
  6. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    I really appreciate the replies.
    I agree that you usually get what you pay for.
    I really think my only sure way is to more than likely build my own. As I have learned there are really no shortcuts, and building it would really not be a short cut because it still costs me labor. Maybe I should just buckle down and build an excellent pre.
    Ok who has a really good design?
    I have an idea for a design, but one of you may have another better design.
    I'm thinking along the lines of Jenson transformers, metal film resistors and Polypropylene caps.
    I already have alot of 12AX7 and 12AT7 tubes. So I am considering a tube design with variable negative feedback. 3 stage tube design. The design I am considering is a design similar to:
    RA-100 by Fred Nachbar.
    It is nothing new really. Just applying current OP amp design principles to tubes.
    But before I go down that path, if anyone knows of something better please by all means let me know. Or if anyone lnows of any suggestions on the build please let me know.
    Then when we are done maybe I can have one of the experts here give it a test run.

    Greg Alcorn
    Alcorn Studios
  7. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    Further research has really tweaked my interest and lead to further decisions and confusion, which lead to more searching the internet. Hard decision when dropping what is considered alot of cash to me.
    At this point I am really considering purchasing the JLM TMP8 as the typical input to my MOTU896HD. Considering that the JLM TMP8 has soft limiters built in also has given it extra points.
    I can do most of my coloring after recording using the Sony Oxford, X3 and TC Electronics powercore and can even run through a tube later if required .
    I typically use a Neumann U89 for VOX which also has a pre built in.
    Can always build a DIY tube pre and add tube warmth later. Hmm...
    This JLM TMP8 is the direction I am leaning at this moment.

    Greg Alcorn
    Alcorn Studios
  8. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    The JLM is probably what I would choose in your situation as well. The only other one I can think of that I would use is the "True Systems" 8 channel pre.
  9. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Home Page:
    Actually, the Seventh Circle Audio version of the 1272 has 70db of gain.
  10. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Here are another couple of things to consider:

    Buy a used broadcast or side car type board and rebuild 8 channels. If you are really an EE than you know how to beef up, ground power supply rails and component quality. Using a used board to start with gets you a case and the connectors you need.

    If you go DIY, you might consider doing different flavors i.e:
    - 2 channels of API (its pretty easy to find an API OPAMP
    - 2 Channels of the very John Hardy like Jensen design with servo FB
    - 2 channels of aggressive tube
    - 2 channels of class A tube.

  11. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    Is there any reason why you want the room to be anechoic? If the room is really small and sounds like crap I guess its a reasonable tradeoff. But have you tried running some RT60 spreadsheets to see if you couldn't have a slightly live room using normal construction materials?

    Its not that hard. And it feels a lot better to play or sing in a room that has decent RT60 performance.
  12. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    I agree completely a live to dead mix creates the best sound. Especially if you can achieve early reflections.
    The recording room is 24x18 feet. The floor is concrete. The walls are not really completely anechoic. It is bit hard to describe so maybe a picture will do better.
    X = anechoic 3.5" depth
    - = drywall
    ignore the periods as this was the only way I could do the drawing.

    DEEP..................<--------- anechoic ceiling-------->|

    |<------------------------24 feet------------------------->|

    The window is for the mixing control room. The mixing control room is 6x24 feet and completely anechoic.
    So as you can see really only about 2/3rds of the area is almost anechoic.
    The anechoic area is really only 2/3rds anechoic. The anechoic walls alternate about 2 feet anechoic then 1 foot drywall. The ceiling in this area is completely anechoic. The alternating anechoic and live serves to give early reflections.
    I also have the ability to move from partially anechoic to almost live.
    The 1.5' deep anechoic area really absorbs the low end and contributes to the use of the live area.
    I seem to be getting a wonderful X-Y drum recording right in the center, just barely under the anechoic area.
  13. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    How high is the ceiling?
  14. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    I originally mixed live sound and performed live at my Church. I had (4) Mackie SRM450's and (2) SRS1500's. Then after two back surgeries I had to figure out how to take this talent and transfer it to something productive and with less backache.
    Enters, the poor mans studio:
    Originally this was an quad A frame garage. The peak of the garage is about 14 feet, at the center, sloping down in four directions. I framed in a ceiling at 8 feet. I then then covered it with 1/2" sheet rock. Then I added about a 1-2 feet of blow-in insulation on top. The outer garage walls where previously insulated and somewhat finished. I built a second new set of walls not quite touching the existing outer walls. The new walls are attached to the ceiling but not the outer walls. I also framed in a control room with window and door. I also built an airlock to enter the control room. Then I wired, insulated and added drywall and finished the drywall. I also built my own low noise ventilation system from 8 computer fans that are rated at 11 dB. There are 4 fans for supply and 4 fans for return. I also added an AC unit and natural gas heater directly below the supply vent. The supply vent has turns to cut down on the sound transfer and are up high at opposite ends. I also found the vent covers only produced more noise and took them off.
    At that point I blew hard stucco everywear and then painted many times.
    After that I built the anechoic boxes. I made the boxes out of 2x4's. These boxes run from floor to ceiling and vary in width from 1.5-3 feet. They vary so as not to resonate at just one frequency. I wrapped fiber-cloth around the boxes. This fiber-cloth does not itch and looks like black cloth and is guaranteed not to rip. I used this assuming that the sound would be able to pass through. I left the top and bottom open on the inner side for mounting access. The side that would face the walls was completely closed.
    I then adhered the boxes to the 2nd inner set of walls only at the top and bottom. l then closed the bottom and blew in insulation from the top access, repeatedly beating the boxes so that the insulation would settle. What a messy job. I looked like frosty the snowman. Then I closed the top access to the boxes. The boxes when completed really bow out at the center to about 6 inches in some cases. Then built an anchoic ceiling across the 2/3 of the ceiling on the anechoic side. I basically framed another ceiling that would be supported by the anechoic boxes only. Then covered the underside with the fibercloth and the blew in insulation on top of the new ceiling. So the new ceiling is completely passive and bows in like the boxes. Then I did a lot of cleaning.
    Then I put down grey industrial plant epoxy on the floor. The kind that fork lifts can drive on.
    I then closed the very nice steel insulated garage door and unplugged the chain drive. I then sealed the cracks with duct tape.
    I then purchased many bales of the very tightly packed blow-in insulation of about 1.5x1.5x3' cubes. I left the bales in the original packing and was very picky to pick only sealed bales. I put these bales like big bricks across the garage door extremely tightly packed via my friends taking turns rushing the wall like football. That worked OK, and was fun, but then we figured out how to use leverage beams and football. We started the bales at the outside and the last bale being in the middle. I had to cut some of the bales to size. I used garbage bags when I had to cut them. I left them in the original package when possible. I then got lots of little ziploc bags and stuffed them full of insulation and pressed them into every crack I could find. I then covered the bales with the same fiber-cloth black house wrap, just for looks. The AC unit was replaced later on because it was inadequate to keep the temperature at 70F. The incadescent lights and equipment produced enough heat that I rarely used the gas heater at all.
    When I am not in the garage I just leave the lights on and the temperature has never dipped below 65F on the coldest day. I live in Chicago. I guess all of that insulation really made a huge difference. This took every available moment for a year to complete. Then came adding the wire frame shelves and all the extra finishing. This job is not for the light hearted. Then after all of that I have spent a very extremely intense year of actually learning studio. I thought my live experience would make it a breeze. Boy was I suprised at how much I had to learn on top of that. I know it takes years of extremely hard work. I was blessed enough to have some understanding pros help me along the way. Joe Bader pre-owner of the Playroom Studio in Chicago (just sold to his engineer Pat) and John Mantel have been huge personal helps in this learning experience. I would also like to thank you guys right here.
    Thank you all!
    Greg Alcorn
    Alcorn Studios
  15. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you all. I did get an Avalon 737 from Joe Bader for 1.3k used mint from the Playroom Studio.

    Greg Alcorn
    Alcorn Studios
  16. grega60438

    grega60438 Guest

    I also purchased the JLM TMP-8.
    It cost $2300 including the shipping and customs charges.
    It does have transformers and you can vary the degree of transformer sound, by adjusting the level or using the built in pad.
    The soft limiting has been designed to mimic the sound of going to tape.
    It is known to perform extremely well on drums.
    I have been recording through it for about 3 months now and it has performed excellent in all areas. It has become the general work horse input to my MOTU 896HD.

    IMHO, I rate this in the excellent range as a most bang for the buck and holds up very well against others at way higher prices.
    I am extremely pleased.

    If you are interested:
    (Dead Link Removed)

    Greg Alcorn
    Alcorn Studios
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Glad to hear you are enjoying your TMP8. I have been spouting off about this 8 channel pre for some time now since I first used it and wote a review on it. I am hoping that Joe Malone will send the upgraded version to me soon for a re-review update. I'm going to but it this time, so it won't be going back. I should have never let go of the first one I had here.. oh well, live and learn.

    IMO the TMP8 is the very best bang for the buck mic pre on the market at the moment.

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