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Preamp and A/D converter ideas

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by niclaus, Sep 22, 2018.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    hello,

    I have a question for you guys.
    For our archive digitizing works, we are currently using a couple of neve 1073DPD.
    We will be needing 4 new channels, which would mean 2 other 1073 for around 5000$.
    So I was wondering if you guys would have any ideas of some other gear that could do the trick for a little less money.
    It could be an interface (all included), some other preamp+converter (standalone) or even preamps and converters (separately).
    I mean, I love the 1073, but it start to add up in terms of money and I was wondering if there would not be a cheaper alternative.

    Thanks for your time.

    N.
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
  3. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Mmmh it looks really interesting.
    Have you ever tried them?
     
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    77 Sunset Lane.
    no. actually i've retired mostly because my ears aren't so good anymore. but they've had lots of great reviews on all their stuff by people who have the originals.

    the thing to consider is even between 2 or 3 different original vintage pieces, you will most probably hear slight differences because components will drift at different rates. manufacturers generally shoot for the "in the neighborhood" or a "flavor". consensus is the Warm gear is right in there.

    if i could get around and hear as well as i did when i was younger, i would build a studio around a collection of Warm equipment and a MARA Machines refurbished MCI 1" eight track and 2 track along with one of the new versions of the Tanner or Tree Audio consoles available.

    there's a big move back to analog and recording live off the floor these days.

    featured_sidecar.png

    JH24_8Track.jpg



    http://auroraaudio.net/company/history#
     
  5. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    I had no idea you retired. How long ago did you stop?

    Actually, I don’t the console part of things. I just need some good pres and ADC.

    Do you think the RME stuff could do the trick?
    I mean how would you rate their pres and converters in 2018 compare to some more expensive stuff (such as the 1073DPD which has a really good conversion stage.).
    Would the RME Fireface UC, for example, be a real step down compare to what I get from the 1073?
    It has the advantage of being an interface as well which would save me some bucks too.

    But while some people seem to love them, some say they are not that great.

    N.
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    77 Sunset Lane.
    RME has been a good investment for a lot of people probably some of the best "affordable"pre amp / converters. not Nevish though. Completly different animals. RME has "no hair" to speak.

    i retired about 2005. i closed KFRS in 2001 and moved to the McKenzie River Valley. I installed a smallish but well equipped computer based home studio in my house but i soon learned that there was not really any demand for recording services in Eugene Oregon. plus, i really didn't like the sound of mixing in the box and everyone has a computer. i really regret having to sell my MCI 636.

    i would be available to produce if any one wanted my help but i would absolutely need to have an assistant / engineer with great hearing. i don't hear much of over 10 k any longer.

    Happily, things are beginning to change. a lot of people are beginning to understand home studios don't cut the mustard for the most part. big rooms, hi volts are a must and and recording live off the floor is often the key to great records.

    there are some things i really like that are done one or two tracks at a a time or midi / vsti based like Thunderclouds, but for the most part i still prefer real music played on real instruments by real people at the same time.

    that coupled with increasing age and the ensuing slight loss of hearing as well as the ability to stoop kneel and in general put up with clients it was time to retire. i had a very good run, left some footprints in the snow. i'm-a-happy. :LOL:
     
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  7. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Mmmh thanks for your advice on the RME stuff. That pretty much sums up what I heard about it then.

    It is a shame you had to retire as it looks like you really enjoyed every part of the business.
    Hopefully things will get better.
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    i'm 65 now. time to take it easy. i do want to try to pass on anything i might have to offer to those who might care. i'm very interested in the history of the business.
     
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Hi Niclaus,

    Other than implying that another pair of Neve 1073s would be too expensive, you don't give a budget for a new pre-amp/converter.

    From what you say about your project, it sounds as though something like a Focusrite ISA428 with optional ADC card would work well for you. That box has 4 transformer-coupled mic preamps, plus 4 ADC line inputs that would accept the outputs of your existing 1073s. All you would need then is a simple audio interface card such as an RME PCIe board that would receive a pair of ADAT light pipes to give you 8 channels at 96Khz. Marco (@pcrecord) might be able to offer a better user's view on the ISA than I could.

    At the next level lower (in budget terms), the Audient ASP880 would do a similar job, but with 8 native mic pre-amps, each with balanced inserts that give a direct ADC route in for external pre-amps.
     
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  10. cyrano

    cyrano Active Member

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    I'm curious. Why would you need microphone preamps for archiving?

    I can imagine some sources providing low output levels. But still, why would one use colored preamps for archival purpose?

    I'd think something like an RME would fit the bill. Can't get much cleaner than that.
     
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    You could use the ISA 828 as well. For more neve style BAE is highly respected and even sourced the st Ives xformers I believe from the original factory. The grace m108 is 3k and has 8 Pres and AD, stereo out DA, and is remote controllable. A high performance unit for the price, and its pristine, transparent sound mast be better suited to archiving than the colorful have, or at least a nice alternative.
     
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  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    The ISA 428 gets a lot of love at my studio, I had 2 ISA Two prior buying the 428, so I was already spoiled.
    ISA preamps have a Rupert neve design if you didn't know. They are not 1073 but sounds as good with maybe less mojo and more transparency.
    Getting the 428 with the optionnal digital card gets you 4 preamps giving 80db of noiseless gain and 4 extra line-in with direct path to the converter.
    So you could have transparent conversion for archiving and still have 4 preamps in case you also want to record mics...

    RME firefaces are excellent audio interface. Their onboard preamps are very honnest and fonctionnal but they aren't 1073 nor ISAs.
    Since we don't know much about your archiving needs and workflow, it's a bit hard to tell you what to get. .
    But if transparency is the priority, Kmetal's suggestions for grace is right on point as preamps goes.
     
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  13. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Rme makes good converters and interfacing but their preamps are not worth investing. I haven’t heard all their pres but I’ve owned a few and wouldn’t buy them for their preamps.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Man, If I was investing in a new pre/ converter combo, I’d be looking at the new Apollo x generation.
     
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  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    If you want clean and pristine - which it doesn’t sound like you do, LOL, you might want to consider Grace or Apogee.
    While no pre is 100% “transparent” - that’s a term that gets thrown around a lot these days - they are likely as clean as you’re going to get.
    But because they are, you’re not gonna get any mojo out of them...
    Apogee makes great converters, too.
    I love my Focusrite ISA pre’s. They’re not as clean as those above, they do have a “sound”, but they’re nowhere near as edgy as a Neve. Then again, guys who like Neve lijevthem hecause they are edgy, and have a sonic signature of their own.
    For alternates to Neve, you may want to look into BAR or Heritage - I’ve worked with real Neve gear in the past, but I’ve never worked with those “knockoffs”, so I can’t say how they sound in terms of accuracy or being authentic; but I’ve heard comments from those who have who have been very happy with them as a less expensive Neve alternative. Then again, as I’m sure you already know, you could have several 1073’s next to each other and each can sound different from the others...
    If I recall, I think I read that the BAE pres have either Carnhill or St Ives XFO’s, and both of those have been used in a lot of Neve pres and consoles over the years. Though, while the XFO’s are an important contributor to the sound, they’re not the only thing that determines it.
    You may want to research them and see ( or hear) what you can find out, because they certainly are cheaper than real 1073’s.
     
  16. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Hey!
    Sorry I have been traveling a lot lately and I did not noticed all of your replies.
    So thank you guys for all your good advices.
    I will sure look into all of them.

    I did not gave a budget because I don’t really have one, just wondering what would be good for no more (or hopefully a little better) than what we already have.

    Donny, yes, what we are looking for is clean and pristine, I am not sure if that was a joke or not but I do think the neve ADC is really good.
    Yes, that is true that the preamp stage might not be of the more “cleanish” but we don’t, obviously, push them hard in the archiving work, it is only used for leveling of the different output of the different machines. And then we can use them when in need of mics recording that would call for a Neve-ish kind of sound.

    So if I understood correctly I could use something like a RME for interfacing and for their ADC that seem good but would need something else, like an ISA, for leveling.
    Anyway, I will take a look at all that.

    Again, thanks a lot for your replies , this is much appreciated.
    And sorry for the late reply.

    N.
     
  17. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Just took a look at all that and specially at the grace m108.
    It looks great! Especially for that price.
    I have never been able to work with grace stuff but from all I read and from what you all say, I shouldn’t be disappointed.
    I could use it as a stand alone box and then just send it’s digital outputs to some RME fireface on each protools rig. That way I can use all converters at the same time and route them to the different rigs, and use the Firefaces DAC for monitoring.

    The apogee x 6 looks great too but probably harder to be used that way.

    Thanks a lot for your advices.
     
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  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    That's the thing, we don't really know what are the sources you are achiving. If it was already line leveled, no preamps are needed.
    Also we don't know what you are archiving to. If it's a pc, the leveling can be done in the DAW..
    All in all I think the ISAs came out because they are clean and give a ton of gain without noise but also because the ISA428 and 828 have optionnal ADC card. So you could have it all in one box. The all you need is any interface with ADAT inputs...

    What's to be avoided is interfaces that only have preamp inputs. even if they can be switched to line level, the signal still go throught a part of the preamp circuit and therefor it can alter the sound. When investing for Neve Grace ISA or other highend preamps, the last thing you want is to color them with another preamp... (my humble opinion)

    Hope this help ;)
     
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  19. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    And your humble opinion is totally agreed upon
    Thank you for that.
    They would be used to digitize optical, magnetic, 35, 16mm,..., soundtracks mostly.
    The machine are supposed to output line level signals but you never know what is going to happen with those old soundtracks, if you know what I mean. Sometimes we still need a pretty decent amount of gain for reasons we do not control and because of decisions that were made 60 years ago...
     
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  20. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    If the audio content is already line level; you might look at a unit that allows you to bypass the pre section and go right to the conversion stage.
    If it’s not line level, I’d be looking at a very clean preamp with great converters. Apogee fits this description, as does Grace in terms of clean pres ( though the M Series has no conversion, they may make a combination pre/converter, I don’t know). I’ve heard good things about RME from others, but I’ve never used any of their gear ( at least not that I can recall) so I can’t comment either way.
    But.. it would help to know a bit more about what you’re doing.
    Even if you’re not “pushing” the Neve, you still very likely be picking up more coloration and the character that Neve is known for... More so than something like the Grace or The Apogee.
    Both of those units are very beefy in gain as well, should you want that for future use with low output dynamics and Ribbons, though for that scenario, I really like the Focusrite ISA because it has great gain (78db? Maybe it’s 80db... we could ask Marco about that, though I don’t think that +/- 2db will really matter (@pcrecord). What I really like about the ISA stuff is that it has selectable impedance(s), which can be very important with moving coil/ ribbon mics.
    If transferring is all you are planning to do, and you currently like the sound of the Neves you have, then you may want to look into some of the Neve “clones” that have emerged, like BAE or Heritage Audio, though these are strictly pres and don’t have conversion stages.
    :)
     
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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