Preamp Upgrade?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Atmosphere, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. Atmosphere

    Atmosphere Guest

    Hi there folks. It's been awhile since I've been here but alas, I have another question.

    Right now my main recording rig is:

    Desktop PC w/ XP
    Emu 0404 USB Interface
    AKG Perception 220
    Shure SM57

    I'm looking for some type of upgrade. I believe for now my mics are okay, but let me know your INPUT (ahaha) on that. I do all sorts of styles of music.

    I was looking into perhaps a preamp upgrade such as the ART Pro Channel Tube Mic Preamp. Would this be worth the upgrade? My budget is right around $300.00 more/less. The built in compressor sounded appetizing.

    My main problem right now is getting a good electric guitar sound. I have quite the guitar rig and I'm an experienced player so I know my tone is great and exactly what I want but I am just having a hard time getting it to sound good through my current recording rig. I've tried different miking techniques but am having a hard time getting the sound I want in my recordings.

    Would this preamp help overall? Or please suggest what you think my next upgrade would be. Thank you for putting up with me!!!
  2. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    You should be able to get the guitar sound you want with your rig if you do have a good guitar and good tube amp.

    When it comes to preamps, or anything for that matter, you can't spend less than $500 on tube equipment and expect it to sound better than its cheaper solid state counterparts. The Brick is a popular recommendation around here; I haven't tried it but it sure gets suggested a lot. Speaking of cheap preamps, I have a Studio Projects VTB1 that is actually not bad at all when run completely on solid state mode; the tube mode produces some of the worst sounds I have ever heard in my life.
  3. Atmosphere

    Atmosphere Guest

    I see. Thanks for your prompt reply :)

    I guess I'm not necessarily going for just tube.. just anything that sounds good really - solid state or tube. I'm running a Bugera 333XL tube amp and I got a whole rack full of gear and pedals and blah blah and I love my tone but I just can't seem to get a good recording tone.

    And yeah I've heard The Brick mentioned a couple times before... hmm...

    Any other suggestions?
  4. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    What might benefit you is really learning what good electric guitar recording tone is. Just about every guitarist is clueless on how to really dial in an appropriate tone until he or she starts recording and figuring out mostly what doesn't work. Of course, there's the whole idea of having all the links in your chain being appropriate for what you do, but for now we can look at some of the common misconceptions guitarists have regarding good tone.

    Firstly, you need to think of the mix, and more specifically, where each instrument will sit in the mix. You've got drums, bass, at least one guitar, and vox. It should be pretty obvious that the bass drum and bass guitar are going to be occupying the subs and lows. If the guitar has subs and more than a minimal amount of lows, this is going to be fighting with the bass drum and bass. Once you get the boom out of your guitar tone, you're going to want to leave those mids alone. Just try putting them in neutral to start with (300 - 2,000 Hz). Then see if you can't dial in enough bite using your treble control. If you have presence you might want to attenuate it a bit. Then there's distortion. :? So many people crank their gain and think it sounds good. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dial in the least amount of gain necessary for you to do pinch harmonics. No, I didn't say easy pinch harmonics; I mean pinch harmonics that are loud enough with some effort and proper technique. More gain does not equal a more aggressive sound, it equals a less aggressive sound, because distortion distorts your signal, making it muddier and less clear.

    After all the knobs are set, you're going to want to get your master section as loud as possible. If that means keeping your preamp volumes down to .5 then do it. Driving the power tubes hard is what creates a lot of that full bodied, saturated tone that is still clear. Driving the speakers helps too, but you practically need to be loud enough to set off you car alarm to really push speakers.

    Then there's mic placement. Where the mic is plays a big role in the recorded sound. The closer the mic is to the speaker, the more "aggressive" and "in your face" the sound will be. The farther away the mic is, the more ambient the sound will be. When a mic is fairly close to a speaker, what part of the cone it's by plays a large role in shaping the sound. Close the center it will be very bright and harsh, while the further away from the center it is, the darker the tone will be. If I use two mics (typical), I will usually put one as close to the speaker as I can a tad off of the center, and I'll put another mic back farther for more of an ambient sound. Of course, that's just me, and other people have their personal winning combinations.

    So, there's some stuff to think about regarding your recorded guitar tone. And last but not least, If you did upgrade any of your guitar rig, I would recommend ditching the Buger@, because Buger@ is really the unmentionable B brand in disguise. From what I've heard, they essentially copied Peavey amps while using the cheapest components possible. But what else would you expect from B$hringer? If you want a relatively cheap tube amp that's worth owning, you can check out Carvin: the X100B and V3 are both excellent amps that are priced to sell. Good luck and God bless.
  5. Atmosphere

    Atmosphere Guest

    Thanks, but it really isn't the guitar tone I'm concerned about. I feel bad for people who give Bugera a bad name just because of Behringer. Like I said, I'm an experienced gigging musician and I know my tone. I know all about gain (my gain is not even at 1) and it's heavy as can be. I work at a music store and work around many other professional musicians who LOVE Bugera as well... but anyway!

    It's most likely my mic placement that I need to work on... I've tried many things but I guess more work won't hurt.

    But still is there anything around the $350.00 range, tube or solid-state, that would be an upgrade from my EMU preamps? Thanks :)
  6. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    Central Indiana, USA
    I'm not sure how the folks around here feel about this unit, but I've been happy with my dbx 386 preamp. I bought it to take advantage of the S/PDIF connection with my PreSonus FirePod to add two more microphone inputs. Nice headroom. It retails for about $650, but you can usually pick up one on ebay for under $300.

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