Need help selecting preamp and monitors

Discussion in 'Monitoring' started by jbexp, Jun 11, 2004.

  1. jbexp

    jbexp Guest

    Hi all, I am new here and I have a few questions. I have come into a bit of money for mic pre's and nearfield monitors. I am part of a rock band, and we play live a lot but we'll also be cutting some tracks in the near future using my digi 002. For mic pres I am considering the following:

    Focusrite OctoPre
    Digimax LT
    Mackie Onyx 1620

    Our current mixer is just an Alesis Studio 12R rackmount, so I am tempted to kill two birds with one stone and get the Onyx. Plus, it would be easier to buy the firewire card for it and just take my laptop to gigs and leave the digi 002 home. But are it's mic pre's in the same class as the other two? I saw Cedar Flats prefers using his Mackie preamps to a presonus M80 which is a similar amp to the Digimax LT.

    I have heard that the Digimax sounds better than this particular Focusrite, but I haven't been able to AB them. Haven't heard anything about the Onyx. Any thoughts on which of these would sound the best overall? Remember, this is a rock band going into a Digi 002 and the preamp will need to be used to record vocals too.

    Now, onto the subject of nearfield monitors. Right now I am considering the following:

    Blue Sky ProDesk
    Mackie HR824
    Event Studio Precision 8
    Event 20/20bas V2

    Right now the Blue Sky is definitely at the top of my list. I have heard very good things about them, but have not been able to listen to them in person. Any thoughts on the various monitors above? Does Blue Sky make a good sounding setup or should I steer clear of them?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    IMO, from your list, the Blue Sky 's are the best bet .... however there are others that I like that cost much less.. I really like the Yamaha MSP5's and have always been a fan of KRKs as well. Genelec and Dynaudio are at the top of my list. I also like the older concentric Tannoy's.

    As far as the mic pres go, I don't think any of the ones you have asked about, are a significant improvement over what you have in the Alesis mixer. These are surface mounted, robot stuffed devices that employ LSI chips and smallish power supplies that are difficult to service, requiring return to the manufacturer, where most of the time for the sake of ease (surface mount chips are difficult to replace) whole entire assemblies are replaced instead of the individual offending component.

    Often as time passes and the manufacturer stops supporting the product, assemblies become difficult to find, making the units essentially, non servicable. These are not a good choice for a long term investment. If you want a disposable pre, then they may be just what you want.

    Until you get into high end transformerless designs like Grace, Earthworks or Millennia, none of the electronically balanced pres sound very good either.

    My personal preference is for mic pres that are transformer balanced and sometimes tube types.. Current faves of mine are the Great River MP2NV (solid state) and the less expensive Sebatron VMP (tube) series of pres ...
  3. jbexp

    jbexp Guest

    Thanks for the advice! My situation involves having about $2000 to spend before we start this project, but this is my dilemma: We play really well live, so I want to capture the energy and feeling of all of us playing together at the same time. This is why I am interested in 8-channel mic pre's. Are none of the afforementioned pre's really sonic improvements over the pre's on a $300 mixer? I guess what I'm asking is, aside from vocals which we plan on tracking later, what can I gain by spending my whole budget on one good 1 or 2 channel mic preamp? Only one or two of our tracks can benefit from it since we will be recording everything at the same time. All the other tracks would still be going in through the Alesis 12R or the pre's on the Digi 002. Do you have any suggestions/ideas?

    Also, I want to get a sweet set of monitors since I truly believe it will help with our finished product. Therefore I want to spend about a grand on the Blue Sky's- currently I do mixing with a pair of Sony MDRV900's, and although my ears are good it can be hard to get the mix right. Are there any Genelecs or Dynaudio's that are even in the one grand price range? Since I feel like I have well-tuned ears, will I benefit from a nice set of monitors like the Blue Skys or should I go with something cheaper like the MSP5's or KRK's as you suggest? This could open up another $500 for the mic pre budget.

    I guess based on your recommendations I would think about the Great River MP1NV and the Blue Sky monitors, but what can I do to get more of our tracks to benefit if I only have one good preamp? I checked some reviews of the Sebatron VMP, but I am a bit affraid of it since it would be my only high-end pre and the reviews that I read say it colors the sound.

    I guess any advice on how to track or what to do with a budget like this would be most welcome since I am still relatively new to home recording. (I've been doing stuff with an Akai DPS16 for the past 3 years, just got a Digi 002, but haven't done any full-length projects on either setup)

    Also, just to hear the type of stuff our band plays, you can visit our website and hear some low quality live recordings taken from the mic of a camcorder :) At least that way you can hear the overall sound of the band live that we hope to capture.

    Should we consider laying down tracks separately rather than all at once?

    Thanks so much for your help and feedback!
  4. jbexp

    jbexp Guest

    Just done a bit more looking around: What about the FMR Really Nice Preamp? Is that worth considering? Are there any other preamps that are in this price range that might be worth considering? Also, I might as well ask it now: are FMR's compressors any good?

    Thanks again,
  5. frais_cafe

    frais_cafe Guest

    Hi, Jim.

    About the RNP, here's a good link for you to follow:

    Just to warn you, it's a REALLY long posting, and bits of it tend to turn into a flamewar, but all in all a good read. Basically, Kurt got a hold of one and put some samples up of how it stacks up against other pres. It's apparently good for cleans, but according to Kurt and others more in the know than I, it doesn't seem to be much better than a Mackie pre.

    From what I've read in the Pro Audio Gear forum, two that you could look at would be the Sytek (it's only a 4 chan, but you could get two) and the JLM TMP8. (There's a great review on it by Kurt in the Reviews section)

    The problem is that you've got a budget or $2000 and either way those will put you close to that mark. (either with one TMP8 or 2 Syteks)

    A thing that you might want to look at, which may be into what Kurt was mentioning as "disposable channels" is something from Allen & Heath, like the PA12 or PA12-CP. (The CP has a built-in stereo mains amp) It's a portable mixer with 8 mono and 2 stereo channels (10 - 12 pre's, however you look at it), so it would fit your needs and it sounded really good when I used one a couple weeks ago. (For live sound at a dance recital, though it should be good for recording)

    They go for around $800 for the PA12 and $1300 for the PA12-CP at Musician's Friend, to give you a price range. They've also got a 20 channel and 28 channel board (20 chan is around the same as the powered 12, I think), incase you need more pre's quick.

    As for the monitors, well the KRK's look sweet, so that should be a starting point. Try searching for post's on the Yamaha's. What I remember some people saying is that when they got them, their mixes translated well to other studio's. Are they perfect for that cheap? Probably not, but if you can take your stuff to other studios and not have it sound like crap (accepting that your acoustics in YOUR mixroom are sorted), I'd say that's worth a couple hundred bucks.

    Just a sum-up from what I remember reading on various posts here.

    Hope this helps.

  6. mcguin

    mcguin Guest

    hi there
    I bought a used pair of Genelec 1030's for less than $1,000 last year - look around - there are great used gear deals out there.
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I would go the way your trying to .. and record all at once.
    I don't think so .. do they sound different? A bit, but not better. That's my opinion ... others may not agree. The pres in your digi 002 are essentially the same pres found in the less expensive versions of the Foucusrites you mention.

    Jean-Pierre mentions the JLM pres ... I had the 8 channel TMP8 here for a while and I liked it a lot. It has transformers on the ins and outs and is an op amp style pre like the API and the better Focusrite Red range of pres.. these go for a little over $2100 for the 8 channel unit.. The Syteks he mentioned sound okay but also suffer from low headroom issues..

    The RNP is a decent pre amp but not better that those found in the Mackes and the like. It's the same thing, robot stuffed sub assemblies, low volt power supplies ... It is fine as a stand alone pre for someone who needs a couple channels into a soundcard but it ain't nothin' to write home about (IMO once again, some may disagree). I can't speak to the RNC ...

    As far as the Yamaha MSP5's, I like them quite a bit. I think they compare favorably to my larger and more expensive Tannoy System II DMT12's ...

    If you guys can scrape together another $600 or $700, I think the JLM TMP8 and a pair of MSP5's would get you going ...
  8. jbexp

    jbexp Guest

    Thanks Curt, that sounds like a really good idea! If we can scrape that last little bit of money together we might go with that. One more question: we are a 3 piece, and we plan on dubbing the vocals later, so essentially we would have 6 channels available to drums. Assuming we have enough microphones, what would be the best way to mic up the set given 6 channels? Our drummer has a pretty standard set: two toms, a floor tom, one crash and one ride.

    Thanks again!
  9. Dk0r

    Dk0r Guest


Share This Page