Preamp and A/D converter ideas

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

  1. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    I knew I came to the right place for advice like that.
    Thank you so much guys, that is great!
    Again, I think the grace sounds perfect for me.
    Now I have to convince the money guy!
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    30-60 + the 20db trim = 80db ;)
     
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  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Yeah... m108 looks really nice.

     
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Yeah it sure sounds great on this.

     
  5. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    I get to use some Grace M101 preamps. They are quite nice sounding, silky smooth.
     
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  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    If you only need stereo adc, you could go with mytek Brooklyn which if I recall correctly has a 129db dynamic range, and def does 382k sample rate. Which may be better for future proof archiving. It's priced at 2k, and is a high end unit.

    https://mytekdigital.com/storeus/catalog/product/view/id/241/s/brkl-adc-b/category/35/

    You could also go the RME adi pro which is a stereo ad/da with something like a 123db ad Dynsmic range and 126db DA dynamic range, and goes up to 764khz sample rate! It's got a $2k price tag as well.

    You could also use the lymx e44 or e22 pcie converters which are 4 ch snd 2 ch adda cards with something g around a 117db ad Dynamic range, and 121db DA dynamic range. They are $650, and $850 or close to that, from JRR Shop.com
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    My own take on the Grace 101, based on the experiences of the three occasions I was able to use them, is that the M101 shines - but not because of any character or sonic coloring that other preamps are known for - but because it allows the mics you are using, (and the sources you are capturing), to sound the way they are supposed to sound; without adding any character of its own.
    On one session I was working on a few years ago at a colleague’s studio, we used a ribbon mic ( Royer 121) as a second/distant mic on a very nice-sounding Marshall (tube) guitar amp; and that gain-chain of the Marshall, the Royer, and the M101 sounded fantastic.
    IMO, it was due to the guitar amp and the 121. The beauty of the Grace is that it allowed the mic and amp to sound as they were supposed to. Usually, I like the combination of a dynamic and a ribbon on a guitar amp, but on that session, we ended up not even using the dynamic mic (421) that I had placed in-tight on the speakers. It sounded great - using just the ribbon mic that I set back a few feet off the amp.
    The other great feature that the Grace M-101 has, (similar to other clean pres I’ve used, like the Focusrite ISA-1 and the Millennia HP-35) is that it offers LOADS of available gain ( and it also has a +10db boost function for Ribbons and low-output Dynamics), yet it is also incredibly quiet, too.
    I’ve used the Grace with other mics as well. For one session, at the same studio several months later, I brought my pair of 414 EB’s to a drum tracking session, and we used two 101’s with the 414’s for drum OH’s. The top end was indeed silky smooth; but I credit that more to the 414EB’s (and the drums, cymbals, and the room) But... the 101’s were wonderful, and a perfect choice, because they allowed the mics (and the drums) to sound the way they were meant to sound.
    (FWIW, I recall having to do very little afterwards with those tracks, using that gain chain.)
    IMO, that’s the real magic of Grace preamps, and where they truly shine: they “stay out of the way” of the other links in the gain-chain that do add their own form of color/character.
    Based on my own - albeit limited -experience with them, that’s really what I came away thinking that this is what the M101’s really do best.
    IMHO, of course.
    :)
     
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  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Donny's right on the money about the Grace M101, and most of what he said can be applied to other top-quality transparent pre-amps.

    However, the other side of the coin is that pre-amps of this type won't hide a poor-sounding microphone, and this doesn't necessarily mean that the microphone is inherently bad, simply that it may be being used in an application for which it's not suited. That leads us on to the result that there are very few top-end microphones that work well in almost any situation. The AKG C414 that Donny mentioned is one of the few. In the realm of dynamics, the Shure SM57/58 is up there as well.
     
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  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Lol, yeah... I neglected to mention that the Grace is so neutral, that it will very accurately capture bad sounds, too; as Bos (@Boswell) mentioned. Whether that’s caused by a wrong mic choice, or placement, or a poor-sounding vocal, instrument, amp...or even a poor sounding room, the Grace will capture those things accurately.
    There are preamps that offer their own unique type of coloration, ( most are known for their character and are chosen because of it) and sometimes, these sonically colored pre’s can be a bit more forgiving, when it comes to tones that don’t sound as good as others. Sometimes you can “hide”- or distract attention away from - poor sounding frequencies, by driving a colored preamp hotter ... models that are known for their color and character, such as Neve’s, Avalon, API’s, or other preamps that can drastically change in tone as you ramp the gain up on them.
    But, that’s not really a “fix”, and is not advised. You’ll very likely end up working a lot harder to get those “not so good” sounding tracks to sit nicely in a mix, and most of the time, it doesn’t really work.
    You’re always better off to capture your sound sources as close to the fidelity that you want to work with. Recordings that sound good to begin with are far easier ( and more satisfying) to work with, than captures that will require a lot of processing in an attempt to make them sound “passable”.
    This may require a different mic, or a different mic placement...but it can also be the source itself that can sound bad to begin with.
    I love my AKG 414EB’s, and as Bos mentioned, those mics are known for sounding good on pretty much any application. But, I could use them, along with the Grace, on a terrible sounding kit of drums, or in a poor sounding room, and it’s not gonna matter.
    Your capture is what matters first and foremost. The Grace is a great pre to use for tracking, but because of its transparency, it will accurately capture both good and bad-sounding sources.
    ;)
     
  10. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Wow I had no ideas that thread was gonna go this far deep into the grace pre’s.
    Thank you so much guys for all you good words and advices.
    Now I definitely want one!!

    More seriously, I really think, from the fonctionnalities, and from everything you just wrote that this is the way to go for us.
    Thank you so much.

    It is not going to happen before a few months as it will be used in our new premises but as soon as we will be all set up, I will definitely need one!
     
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  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    This is what many newcomer will experience and lead them to say preamps do not mather.
    They start recording with cheap mics and interface and at some point try a Highend preamp and it sounds bad.
    Why? because the highend pre reveals more of the source / mic / room than the equipement they are usually using.
    Many of them fail to realise, they need to be better at mic placement and every other aspect of recording including ear-training before they can appreciate highend gear.
    When I switched from a live mixer to ISA and UA preamps, I had a hard time adjusting and needed to re-think my whole approach to mic choices and placement.
    The ISA preamp made me re-evaluate each of my mics and relearn their behaviour.
    This was a period when I learned a lot and I'm thankfull I did put the time!

    (I thought it needed to be said in case someone finds this thread from a google search.. ;) )
     
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Ditto for me when I got my 414. I realized how bad my room sounded.
     
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  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Marco’s (@pcrecord ) experience with working with high end preamps mirrors that of my own. Working with high end pres for the first time made me recognize the other factors involved, putting more focus on things I hadn’t considered beforehand: mic quality, mic placement, how different rooms can play a major factor in the sound quality of what you are capturing within that space, as well as conversion... though when I first came to these realizations, I didn’t think about conversion quality, because I was still working in analog; but it’s definitely a factor with digital.
    And, I think Marco is totally correct about first time users of high quality preamps not being very impressed, because they look at those high quality preamps as being some kind of “instant fix”, or “silver bullet” answer to what they’ve experienced previously with cheaper preamps.
    I’m not saying the quality of preamps doesn’t matter, because it absolutely does... but I think many beginners expect high quality preamps to be “the” answer to a poor sounding room, or using a cheap sounding microphones.
    The TOTAL gain-chain matters - and I’m including the very first step in that chain as being the sound of the instrument/voice, the room where the recording is being done; and then onto the mics, the pre, and the conversion. The chain will only ever be as good as its weakest link.
    ;)
     
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  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    there are many different approaches to building high end mic pres. some employ lots of transformers and discreet components, some have op amp designs of varying types and some can even be surface mount tech. they can all preform wonderfully in spite of them all being very different in design. some may be better suited to certain applications like a requirement for more gain and the ability to switch input impedance as required for ribbon mics.

    there is however, one very important thing that all great designs have in common and it is very easy to tell if a mic pre has or not. that is the POWER SUPPLY.

    all mics generate very low voltages and require a lot of power to boost gain to line level. even more so for older ribbon mics that need a lot of gain and low impedance's to function to their specification. not only does a power supply for a mic pre need to provide plenty of power but it also has to be well regulated CLEAN POWER. it's not cheap to build a powerful well regulated clean power supply and i suspect that dealing with varying voltages required for international use only exacerbates difficulty.

    some claim a 9 volt wall wart power, oblivious to polarity as employed in rack crap like BARFINGHER or ARRENNPEE electronically step up voltages to acceptable levels but that's at the cost of amperage. there is no free lunch. both high amperage and voltage are necessary.
     
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  15. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    So true but every time I read that, I am wondering if it ain’t me who is the weakest link!

    Anyway, I got the approval of the COO. We are going to go with the grace m108.
    A big thank you to all of you for your time and advices.
    Great thread!

    I will let you how I like it once everything is set up!
     
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  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    @Kurt Foster

    Great point, Kurt.

    Is there a recommended minimum voltage that you like to see for mic preamps; a voltage level that can power all mics sufficiently?
    And, besides “sufficiently”, what would your recommended optimum voltage be on a mic pre?
    (For example, let’s say you’re working in recording scenarios where low output dynamics and ribbons are being used)...

    (Lol, I think we can leave out the 9v wall-wart as an option). ;)
    -d.
     
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    I think this holds true across the board with electronics. When u see pultec emulations for $500 youve got yo wonder why.
     
  18. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    This is where I put my professional designer's hat on. Apologies in advance.

    The reason that commercial wall-warts have (rightly) got such a bad name for audio units is that they are designed to be cheap, and that means skimping in all aspects of design, component selection and production. There is no reason in voltage terms why even very high end pre-amps could not be powered by a wall-wart supply, 48V phantom power (PP) and all, if the same standard of design and production that went into the pre-amp also was applied to the wall-wart.

    The specification for studio-standard phantom power is 48V +/- 4V. The spec also says that a 48V PP microphone has to be connected via 6K8 resistors from the two signal output lines to the PP supply. This implies a maximum short-circuit current of about 15.3 mA, so the pre-amp has to be capable of supplying that to at least one input connector without overheating or other failure. It's not in the specification that the non-shorted inputs must still be at 48V, so most pre-amps are able to supply about 6mA per channel without the PP voltage falling below specification. This puts a total current and hence an overall power specification on the circuitry that generates the PP, whether that be a separate line from the power supply or is generated by an inverter from one of the other internal power rails. PP generation is one of the trickier aspects of pre-amp design, both from a specification point of view and also in terms of keeping the inverter switching noise out of the audio signal paths and EMC radiation from the cabling.

    I could go on. Sorry.
     
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    please do go on Bos. i'm positive you know a lot more about it that i do.

    i believe that a bi polar power supply of at least+/- 15 volts is a good rule of thumb minimum and yes a line lump can do that but once again it would need to deliver well regulated +/= 15 volts of clean power.
     
  20. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    And that’s why you’re “our Boswell”
    ;)

    So, you are saying that it’s not that a wall wart couldn’t be of sufficient and consistent voltage, it’s just that the manufactures take shortcuts in that component - to keep the pricing down -so that by and large, they are not usually capable of delivering either..
    Have I got that right?
     
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