Preamp and A/D converter ideas

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

  1. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    I give a wry smile these days whenever I see the integrated circuit manufacturers calling the ±15V to ±18V rails high voltage. I am guessing it's because the largest quantity of devices currently sold have a maximum supply voltage of ±5V or less.

    In several of the audio designs I have done, I used carefully-regulated ±17.5V rails in order to get the largest voltage swings I could out of devices that had absolute maximum ratings of ±18V. Without exception, in all the designs of this type I used internal power supplies rather than wall wart or cord lump types. However, it has been only relatively recently that I have managed to find reliable switching PSUs that are electrically quiet enough to power professional audio gear. Before that, I was still designing in 50/60Hz mains transformers, sometimes specified with overwinds if a 48V output was needed.

    One of the designs I was most pleased with used ±45V rails. The front-end circuitry was made up of discrete devices, but since there are op-amps available that will run off that voltage, I used a few of them as well in the later stages. The transient performance of that unit was amazing, partly helped by having no coupling capacitors in the signal path. It was a real pity that the company who comissioned the design got taken over before the unit got to market, so only the pre-production prototypes got built before the new owner canned it.

    They were developed for a particular market sector, and it was not the audio one. The lower-end audio people seized on them as a way of saving production costs.
     
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  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    @kmetal
    Kyle, I’m not sure what the PS voltage is in a Pultec. Nor am I sure if the newer clones stay true to the original designs or not.
    I’ve worked with them on occasion over the years at various studios, but I never owned any of the models myself.
    @audiokid
    Chris might know... I’m pretty sure that he had a few Pulse Technologies EQ’s at one time.
    I did a quick search on the web and wasn’t able to find that info, though I’m sure that if I had spent more time searching, that the info is probably out there somewhere.
    And ...
    To a degree, I think it’s pertinent to keep in mind that The “classic” Pultecs do hold some value in their name alone. Not that this reputation is undeserved, but the name recognition alone - like with Neve, or Telefunken, or Neumann - helps to keep these things sought after, because of their history.
    I don’t know enough about whether today’s technology and materials has allowed manufacturers to now make things to the original specs of their historic namesakes, and make them cheaper, too...or not.
    Again, that would be a question for Bos. @Boswell
    ;)
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I've owned a few MEQ-5's http://www.pulsetechniques.com/products/classic-pultec-tube-eqs/meq-5-detail
    To my understanding http://www.pulsetechniques.com/products/ are the closest to the originals but to my knowledge made quieter. If I had enough money I would own one MEQ-5 for every input channel needed PLUS a few
    EQP-1A3 for the mastering bus
    These pultecs are amazing. They are extremely easy to dial in what you want.

    I've compared Pulse Technique analog pultecs to plug-ins and there is no comparison. Pulse Technique analog pultecs are unbeatable. I read other clones are nothing like pulse technique pultecs. Very expensive but well worth it to me.

    imho
     
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  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    @kmetal @Kurt Foster @Boswell

    I’ve developed a sort of “like/dislike” attitude towards vintage gear.
    I love the thought of owning a classic piece, and sonics aside, simply for the notion that it would be great to have a piece that has become historic, and that has become so much a part of the sound of recordings in the “Classic Recording” age.
    But then, that romantic notion turns logical, and I start wondering about what it would cost to actually own some of those pieces from yester-year.
    Let’s say I was able to buy a U47 or 48 from 1960... on the surface, that’s something to be proud of. But...what if it needed parts at some point?
    Am I able to get the exact parts I need from that time period to keep the mic intact in its origin?
    I’m sure some parts are out there; but because they aren’t as common anymore as they once were, I would expect to pay a pretty serious premium on them - if I could find them.
    Even original parts that are perhaps still available are now nearly 60 years old, and you have to ask yourself if you could trust those expensive replacement components to perform the way they did when they were new in 1960.
    And, if I can’t find the original parts, and I’m forced to use something similar - but not exact - that is more recently made, do I still truly own an actual 1960 U47?
    I’m not singling out only Telefunken here, it was more of a blanket statement about any vintage gear.
    U87’s are still being made... but they’re not the exact same U87 that was available in the early 80’s. And... I’m not implying that new 87’s are bad. But if I need a replacement part for an old 87, what are the chances that I’d be buying the original 80’s component... or one from the newer line of 87’s?
    I’m just thinking out loud with this stuff.
    Of course there’s a side of me that would love to have some of that original, classic gear. But then I start thinking about the potential for added costs to keep them working - with original parts - and I become very gunshy.
    It’s all academic anyway. I don’t have the money to buy any of that stuff.
    But it kinda makes you wonder if it would really be worth it, or if some of that stuff would just turn out to be giant holes in space that you could end up throwing endless money into to keep them working.
    FWIW.
    :)
     
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    you have a very good point Donny. however there are companies like Sphere, former Neve employee Geoff Tanners Aurora, AMS Neve, Rupert Neve systems, who are manufacturing brand new consoles and outboard gear that utilize the older designs as in Rupert Neve's Sheffield compressor. Sphere has actually sourced all the original components down to the transformers for their mic pre and they are in the process of manufacturing the Eclipse console again under a new owner.

    then there's WARM audio. i've never use their stuff but i have heard some very good reactions to it. it certainly hits the mark in dollars / what the market wants and apparently the stuff is in in the ball park in terms of how it sounds and functions. it seems to be a great bang for the buck. at what they are charging for a mic or compressor, it's hard to get hurt. if you hate it you can sell it. if i were spec-ing out a new studio i would absolutely be loading it up with a selection of Warm mics and outboard and a Mara 2" 8 track / AMS Neve BCM 10. in the right rooms, i think that would make for a wonderful studio.

    as far as vintage mics, that's always going to be a crap shoot not only in acquisition but also in use. for your big buck purchase you never know what your getting and how long it will continue to work. and yes, you are correct sir when you wonder about replacement parts. some components are no longer made and their equivalents / substitutes can alter the sound and performance.
     
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  7. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I don't know about this anymore. Its not easy selling any hardware (new or used) today.
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i've been very successful selling my stuff locally on CraigsList and they come and pick it up and pay cash. no mail or paypal bs.

    i've noticed that $500 seems to be a limit for people. once you get into the plus $1000 range people don't seem to have the cash. with the WARM mics you are only out 400 to 800 bucks. you will take a loss because it's used but you will get most of it back. my bet is not too many people are selling them as i haven't seen any for sale used.
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I don’t think people are buying much of any kind of hardware anymore.
    Software and products like the Apollo, Antelope Audio getting into DSP too... are going to become the standard everywhere.

    Converters with pres or preamps with conversion... that’s where it’s all going.

    To my ears, cheap analog gear is inferior to software. Cheap so called character preamps are a complete waste of money as well. I think if people are going for cheap gear none of it is even worth comparing. It’s cheap and don’t expect much other than having fun and laying down tracks for demos. (y)
     
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  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I’m think there will always be a market for well-made hardware- but as to how big that market is, you’re probably correct, considering the biggest market these days is the home recording/hobby level... a level to which the majority of users look at anything over $200 as being “too expensive”. When your average home recording hobbyist is looking at preamps in the $500 range as being “overkill” ( “I can get the same sound out of my Tascam as I can any pre that costs more than that!”) or, using cheap condenser mics in the $89 range and thinking they are the same as a Neumann, Mohave, or upper line AKG or AT...then yeah, hardware of any quality is not gonna be on their radar screen - not to mention that a vast number of them likely don’t have the ears to even hear the differences between pro and consumer level gear, anyway.
    But... there are guys like you Chris, or Dave Hawk, me, Bos, Marco, or at one time, Kurt ... or any of the other RO members who have done this for a living..- who do realize the differences between budget and pro, and can hear how quality gear can have such a positive effect.
    But, you’re right...
    the numbers of “those” pros are diminishing.
    My guess is that there are a number of us here who aren’t operating full time studios anymore, either because the market fell into the basement (literally), or, even because of our age range. After awhile, you get to a point in your life where you just simply get tired of trying to chase that dollar in the studio business; and when you realize that far too many potential clients are only looking at the cost, and choosing the cheapest “studios”, that are run by people who have been “in the business” for only a few years (if that), as opposed to paying for a studio with good gear, staffed by experienced cats who know what they are doing...and getting a great product ...
    It’s not a great motivation to continue beating the horse.
    ;)
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    My daughter bought the new Akai MPC x a few months back. It sounds great. It actually blew me away. $2700.00 and you can track, mix and sequence good enough all in a self contained box. To improve on it, I could see Akai adding more inputs and you’d have an amazing production system.
     
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Out of curiousity I checked the MPC x, 2in and 4 midi outs ?? You don't see that everyday !!
    Those with old synth hardwares would certainly like this !! ;)
     
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    The preamps are about RME quality. Not great but good enough for project production that sounds better than the last generation of converters >
    If someone made something like this with 24 I/o wow.
    It connects to your computer so you can either use it stand alone or part of your main DAW .

    After I got onto it... I could produce a song fast.

    You can dump all the tracks to import them to any studio you may want to collaborate or track example higher quality vocals etc.

    The preamps lack that big rail creamy sound but for many musicians wanting something you can pack up and take with you... very cool.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Indeed.

    The MPC midi section has always been world class. The original MPC 60 was the same. The concept of MPC's are designed to connect all midi arsenal to it. The MPC would be the programming and music production core of a studio.
    I must get one for myself now.
     
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Honestly? If I were looking at getting into that kind of audio gear, I’d much rather go with the examples you mentioned (along with Warm), then take my chances on vintage pieces.
    That old gear, as I mentioned previously, scares the hell outta me. It’s just too much of a crap shoot. Even if there were all-original pieces in mint condition available ( which if there were, we could expect to pay a lung and a kidney for), they are still many, many years old; and the years are rarely kind to that type of gear.. especially gear that gets hot. At some point, something is gonna need repaired - it’s not a question of “if” but a certainty of “when”- and that’s where things can begin to get very expensive.
    Perhaps if I had the electronics knowledge of Bos (@Boswell ) I’d be more inclined to look at some of that vintage gear. But even if I did have Bos’s amazing knowledge with electronics and circuitry, I’d still have to find the parts to do the repairs myself.
    Just as a hypothetical...
    What are the chances of finding parts for original Fairchild 670’s/660’s these days? I mean, the price of those limiters themselves is absolutely prohibitive... but even if you were lucky enough to have one, can original parts still be found for those? Or would we be forced to have to buy another Fairchild ( stbhowever many thousands of dollars) that also needed repaired, and hope to hell that the parts we needed for the first one were still good in that second one?
    I’m not telling... I’m asking. ;)
     
  16. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

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    Hey guys!
    Just wanted to let you know that, though it took a while, we finally ordered and received our Grace M108.
    It is great, we are really happy about it.
    So thanks to all of you here. Great advices. As always.
    Have a great day.

    N.
     
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