External Preamp, best input to Multitrack is ?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by johnyyguitar, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest

    How do you use an external preamp, I mean like what input do you plug it into on a multitrack?
    My understanding is that coming out of the preamp is a 'line level'. And if your multiitrack doesn't have a line level input and you go thru another input you are just going thru the multitrack's preamp, which is what you are trying to avoid even though you may have 'warmed' up your sound with the external preamp.
    But I really don't understand it, so that's why I'm asking.
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Do you have inserts on your mixer?
  3. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest

    Actually I'm making reference to using an external preamp with a multitrack like a Korg1600/Zoom1608/Boss1600, that have self
    contained mixers.
    I doing my homework before buying one.
    The Zoom has a line level input, so I'm assuming the external preamp will go to that. The other units don't appear to have line level inputs. So where would you plug the exteranl preamp in? My understanding is that you'd want to avoid the multitrack's internal preamps. If I sound confussed, I am, I'm trying to get a better understanding with this before moving ahead with a purchase.
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    You're right to try to avoid the unit's built in pres, but only if you have a truly nice external pre; pres like ART, Behringer, etc. will be no better than the onboard pres. What external pre do you have in mind? If the multitracker has insert points, those can be used for a line level post preamp input. Also, auxilliary inputs can be used. I've never used one of the units you mentioned; perhaps someone who has is lurking around here and can give you specific info.
  5. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest

    Pah-a-leazzz help

    The multitrack units have the usual 3 bin and phone jack inputs for channel input, like a regular mixer has, the multitracks also have separate guitar inputs.
    With my limited knowldege I know the 3 pin mic inputs go thru the internal pres, they have to because the need a preamp for the incoming signal, but I don't know enough about phone jack type inputs to make a guess.
    I'm assuming that the guitar inputs, must go thru an internal preamp, 'cause you need a pre-amp in any guitar amp.
    But about those other phono jacks, I assume they are for those cheap mics, (what are the hi-z or is it low-z mics, I can never remember, I'm an artist.ha ha) and I'm thinking they must need a preamp to, right? Seems like I'm answering my own question.
    So where do you plug an external preamp into those type of multitrack units. And are most people just fooling themselves using an external pre when in fact it is still going thru the internal one.
    OK, someone set me straight, I'm a big boy I can take it....or is this just getting a little to technical.
  6. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Have you consulted the manual yet? This should clear up any remaining questions.
  7. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest

    Yea, I been checking out the various manuals I can find online, but I couldn't seem to find the answer in them, I think this is one of those things you are just suppose to know, like what are proper line levels and why, etc.
    This is all part of my research before buying a unit, trying to understand things, simple as they my be, before making a move.
    Daddy (or was it Mommie) always told me, always check the pool first before you go diving in, "that may not be cystal clear water, it may be no water at all"
    Us musicians have a bad habit of getting affixiated on something and having to have it, like all those guitars and other junk in your (not you) closet.
  8. Snatchman

    Snatchman Guest

    Hey johnyyguitar, I think the 1/4" inputs are " line level inputs. If the input is a "dual/combo", you have the XLR (mic level) or 1/4' (line level). On most of these units, I think the 1/4' is line level, not intented to plug a guitar or bass etc. directly into. (unless specified) 8).....Hope this helps! :cool:
  9. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest

    Right on

    I'm sure your right SnatchMan, that answers that question, time to move on.
    Thanks guys....great forum
  10. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    Houston, TX
    I know most Roland units have mic-pre's on ALL inputs - so the only way to "bypass" them is to use an external A/D converter, and come in with a Digital Signal. The DPS24 has 12 mic and 12 line inputs - switchable. With cheaper all-in-one DAW's, I'd bet unless it specifically says "LINE INPUT" on it, it will contain some form of mic pre (even the 1/4" inputs).

    FWIW - TONS of people use all in one DAWS with external preamps while passing through the DAW's own pre-amps, too. If you are not doing high caliber Major Label stuff (sonds like this is more of a project studio, no?), you will be fine coming in the Mic Pre's input. You WILL still benefit from the "color" of the external pre, but the DAW's pres may "shrink" your sound slightly... (This is not Abbey Road here - we are talking about a project studio). Just leave the DAW's Pre Gain as low as it will go - and possibly engage any "PADS" if you can get a hot enough signal from the external pre (you want the DAW's pre to do as LITTLE amplifying as possible in this case).

    PS - I know everyone hates ART - but the Tube Pro-Channel channel strip, and the Tube Pro-VLA Comp/Limiter realy are good units, and are a HUGE step up from any on-board DAW preamp or limiter (sorry, David - but I DO agree with the cheaper ART stuff being fairly pointless). The Pro-Channel is like $300 (Tube Mic Pre, Tube+Opto Compressor/Limiter, Tube EQ), and is far more appropriate on vocals than any "on-board" mic pre I have tried (even when passing through a cheaper "on-baord" pre). Sure, it is NOT the same as my HHB Classic 80 going into the RME AID-8 Pro, but it IS better than the DAW's pre's IMO.

  11. johnyyguitar

    johnyyguitar Guest


    Randy thanks for weighing in on this.....

    Just when I thought I was getting a handle on it all, so we're thinking there is preamp on the phone/line inputs.

    The Zoom 1608 I'm interested in has 2 guitar/bass phone inputs(500 kilohm), 8 XLR mic inputs balance( 1 kilohm) /unbalanced(50 kilohm), and a line level input it does have is RCA connects (10 kiloms, -10 dbs)

    I'm hip, it ain't Abbey Road, but still wondering, what do you think...

    OK I gotta hit the showers and load the gear, hope they dig the blues up on the res (reservation) tonite, else it's gonna be a long nite.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Most of the "potty studios" have 2 or 4 XLR mic inputs to accommodate mics that require phantom power and the rest of the mic inputs will be on 1/4" phone jacks ... These are still mic inputs that pass through a mic pre ...

    I have a friend that has a KORG D1600 and the pres in it are pretty dismal ... We plugged a SP VTB-1 into it as Randyman described with the gain on the KORG turned all the way down and I thought I heard an improvement ... but I wouldn't swear to it ... it could be me thinking "it has to sound better because we did something different" ... This happens all the time.

    One thing that I found that did really help the sound of the pres in the KORG was to use a mic that doesn't have that high end presence peak around 10/12k that a lot of the Chinese mics do ... The KEL HM-1 really warmed up those cheesy pres in the KORG ...
  13. Brock

    Brock Guest

    I agree with Kurt. I have a BR-864 and I use a DBX pre and maybe its just me but I swear I do hear a better sound on my mix downs.


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