Proper use of the preamps

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Brother Junk, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    My converter and i/o is the Mbox Pro (3rd generation in case it matters)

    It uses the preamp if it's switched to Mic. It does not apply the preamp section with line inputs.

    I have a set of Roland TD-11's that have a line out, L/R. When I first set them up I got almost no volume at all. With everything cranked, it was barely even audible. The kind people here helped me figure out that it was the fact that I was using stereo cables instead of mono. I didn't know it mattered going from S > M, but I switched out the cables for mono, and the volume problem was gone.

    So, it's mostly gone. If I plug the drums in the rear (this post is just full of double entendres) it's line level, no preamp. There is a sensitivity switch in the back of -10db or +4db (iirc) which is set to +4 and the drums are fairly quiet. With the brain showing 5 bars of output (clipping) PT maxes out at 3 bars. I have to crank the track the whole way to get the right volume. So one question I have is, if I turn down the volume from the brain so it's not sending clipped signal (the brain of the TD-11 has a volume knob that controls headphone out and line out) but kept the PT track at +12db, is there anything inherently wrong with that?

    My second question is about the mic section. If I move the drums to the front side of the Mbox, it's mic level (is there a better term for that?) input so it runs through the preamp section of the Mbox. When I connect them this way , I can turn the volume up, and THEN, I don't have to crank the PT track.

    Is there anything "wrong" with doing it that way?

    This is what I would think is ideal; turn the volume on the drums down so it's nowhere near clipping. Run them through the preamp section and amplify the signal from the Mbox, bc it's probably the best piece of equipment I have. But I'm not sure if there is something I'm not thinking about/aware of, e.g. am I going to cause a failure by running the drums through the preamp section. I would think it doesn't matter so long as the signal isn't too hot, which it obviously isn't.
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    use the -20 setting on the line inputs. most keyboards / drum machines and other line level devices run at -20 or -10. it's rare you will find a line level device that runs at +4 unless it's a piece of pro gear like an LA2a limiter.
    btw, i'm pretty sure the line level ins on the MBox still go through the mic pres. they are just padded down. it's not a true preamp bypass. (just for future reference)
     
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  3. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Thanks, in the back there is only -10/+4. They are both way too quiet.

    The -20db is only on the front inputs, if you pull the knob out.

    But I think they just need to go in the front inputs. Plugging it into line level is just way too quiet. And I think this is why, (from the manual)

    "DI Input (Front Panel) Instruments such as elec- tric guitar or electric bass that usually have a lower level of output than line level instruments use the front panel DI (“Direct Inject”) input. " So the Rolands must just fall in that category.

    I looked everywhere for where I found that and I can't find it. I believe you are correct...it didn't make sense to me either, but I'm positive I didn't pull it from thin air. I would think that it must run through the preamp stage. But that's what I read....it's gonna bug me till I find it.

    The front inputs, at 11 o'clock, with the soft limiter on, and with the brain set to about 75% output and it sounds good.

    I was just worried that I might damage something, but apparently those two front inputs are fine for any level input.
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    From the SOS review of the MBox 3rd generation:
     
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  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    to add to Boswells post, the combo ins on the front are both line and mic ins so using them as described should not be an issue. .
     
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I have a TD-9 and always used it with a DirectBox. Lately I also used the instrument input on my ISA preamps.
    A DI might be something to try (if you have one)
     
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  7. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    If you mean direct inject, that's what the two fronts are apparently. To be humbly honest, I've never heard that term. Alas the front of the Mbox is labeled "Mic/DI"
    So, I guess the fronts are a free for all. It's got the -20db attenuation, so a very hot LI, a normal LI, instrument, mic, whatever.

    My question was based on the premise that the LI's don't use a preamp path. And also that the TD-11's are line level out. Neither of those is correct. So I needn't worry about damaging anything.

    TY
     
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I was talking of DI boxes..
    Here's an idea about levels you can find :
    +4 dBu is "professional" line level, common in modern pro recording gear, and it is about 1.25 V.
    0 dBv is an average line level, typical output from rackmount guitar/bass preamps.
    -10 dBv is "consumer" line level, common with older and cheaper recording gear.
    -20 dBu is roughly in the neighborhood of a typical instrument's output.
    -30 dBu is again in the neighborhood of a typical microphone or DI box's output.
    However, instruments and microphones can have a very wide range of output levels in reality, so it is most practical to think of instrument-level and mic-level in/outputs as just "a lot lower than line level", rather than calculating specific dB amounts.

    If you plug the TD11 in a DI box, the DI XLR to a mic input, you should get better levels without adding noises (common of long unbalance/mono cables)
    In any case, you may already have your recipe with the front mic inputs.

    Did you consider recording the midi only and use a Vsti in the DAW ? Like Addictive drums or others..
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    For the record focusrite interfaces and apogee interfaces with built in pres also route the line in thru the pre amp. For the price point it's a bit shocking about the apogee stuff. I didn't verify w them but I did read it on GS so it must be true ;)
     
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    most all interfaces do not have dedicated line ins on the mic pre channels. it's a cost saving feature. i'd love to see an affordable interface with line only ins as i think the pres we get on most of these boxes are a compromise to be kind. the last inexpensive interface i found that had line ins only was the Alesis AI3. 24/48. no good.
     
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  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    The focusrite clarett 8preX has dedicated line in jacks.

    Now I'm not sure if this completely bypasses the pre amp sections op amps or whatever else might be in the path, I'm not great w my understanding of Circuitry yet.

    The review says the sound quality is pretty high for a project studio oriented device comparable to apogee and ua.

    http://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/focusrite-clarett-8pre-8prex

    I think your point brings up a very important issue a lot of us may not have considered.

    The more I learn about these all in one interfaces the more I dislike them. They offer a lot of compromises to Some of most important parts of the chain the pre amp, and adda.
     
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    they always say that. o_O and again, it's thunderbolt. that means a new computer and not a cheap one.
     
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  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Lol they do always say that. Sos in particular has a soft spot for focusrite in general.

    New computer not necessarily. You can put a $25 pcie TB card in if you have an open slot. As long as it's the pcie x4 type which would be on anything 6 years or so or newer your in cheap.
     
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    but you need the ram and the HD capacity to run it and you need a 64 bit system that means windoze 7 or better and if you go there you might as well update to the newest os and that means chasing bugs ..... lol. this is what i'm saying. it's a constant go round of new computers , os upgrades and then a DAW upgrade to take full advantage of the updates on the computer. by that time, there's a new and better interface on the market that will do everything except wipe your bum (or so they promise). meanwhile that MARA machine in the corner still works in spite of it being 30 years old.
     
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much. It's pretty much a given that every 3-10 years your computer system and audio conversion will be completely replaced.

    basically it's about 15k over that period assuming you've established a bassline of stuff.

    To maintain a basic modest daw/converter setup is about 1-2k per year on average all (most) things considered. Start talking anything more than pro standard the number doubles or triples.

    It doesn't seem like the trend is slowing either.

    Last time I bought a setup was an 800 laptop and 500 interface. I used it for 8 years, and didn't upgrade at the 5 year mark when it really needed it cuz I worked at the studio.

    Interestingly the Mics and speakers are worth about 80% or more of what I paid back then in '05.

    It's a terrible business. I'm just s sucker for the best and biggest sounds. I'm a fan. For money im gonna end up doing some real estate or something. Or teaching or something. For fun, listening to tunes in a dark room is still amazing.

    To me the worst part is knowing that your buying something that's obsolete because it is by the time it's released in most cases. That hurts. Lol.

    But when you get a thunderous sound system in a good room time stops.

    So is it a good business move nope. Practical nope. Worth it? For me it still is. I just don't connect w anything else.

    Fortunately I'm good with numbers and there's allowances for whacked folks like me so I won't starve completely and I'll have a place to stay of my own.

    Frankly I've invested fairly lightly and I've gotten about 3-4of the 8-10k I put in back. So it's certainly a financial loss, but I call it cost of entry. I've had some great moments w that old m audio interface and mackie HRs. Worth every penny from a fans perspective. Buieness wise, they barely paid for themselves if at all. Being a tech and consulatant and designer made the money.

    I'm just chomping at the but to hear my VSL thru a 6 core playing realtime in surround. lol that's a 2k ball of fun. Completely impractical.

    The speakers and Mics are places to safely drop big coin. Good quality speakers last decades.

    Acoustics and speakers won't change significantly until we start employing new space age materials.

    So ^#$% it. Damn right I'm putting a 15kw surround system in. It'll make me smile...

    As for the computer. It'll be worthless in a year and I'll ride it till it chokes.
     
  16. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I bet you are lol, (note your typo ;)
     
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Well, yeah, except that most who are doing DAW production already have those things. You're the exception to this, Kurt. I'm not saying that to be a d i c k ... I'm just confirming what you've been saying about your computer rig all along.

    No one who is serious about DAW production is using Windows Vista anymore, or using a single ( or even dual) core, 32 bit system with 4 gig of RAM and a 50 gig HDD.

    Most are using 64 bit, 2.5 ghz (or better) quad-core cpu's, an HDD with at least 500 gig of storage, and running an OS of W7 or later.

    For you, it's a much bigger jump to get current, because you stopped upgrading so long ago. ;)
     
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  18. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Was anyone ever really using Vista? I don't think so. It's more like battling Vista. ;)
     
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  19. bouldersound

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

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    By now someone should have asked what you are considering to be the right volume. What exactly is your idea of "the right volume"?
     
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    actually Donny, i upgraded my computer for audio a couple of years ago.

    i have a asus 1-5 with 8 gigs ram and 500gig hd / with firewire. the audio still sounds like ass. no matter what computer it's still PCM 24 bit .....

    it has windoze 7 and a partition to run Linux when i'm on the interweb thingie.
     

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