tube vs solid state pre amp

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by malamusik, Nov 26, 2007.

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  1. malamusik

    malamusik Guest

    whats the difference in sound generally?

    and though i know ultimately i should try out pres for myself, which type would you suggest for recording vocals and acoustic guitars for a singer/songwriter and why? (any mic info would be great too.)

  2. You really opened up a can of worms.

    It's really not anything to do with tubes or solid state as much as it has to with the design of the preamp.

    As in what class of operation and which harmonics it produces.

    Bottom line is how much money you have to spend and what do you need in the way of a preramp. There are DI's, pure preamps and channel strips.

    Do you want clean? Or colored?

    I would rather spend about $400-$500 on a really good pre like RNP or Grace 101 than the same amount on a tube pre that runs the tube on what is called starved plate. Starved plate means basically the tube is not used as a gain stage but just to add harmonic content and really are bogus in my book. Also cheaper pres add a lot of noise to the signal.

    So it's all a matter of money. The more money the more choices and the better the pre, but you can have overkill. It all depends on your setup.

    The best way to record from what all the real pros will tell you is about having skills not necessarily equipment. Microphone placement, a few different mics, a good room, good monitors and a good recording device is more important than the preamp.

    If you have a nice selection of mics, a good room and a good recording device then preamps can be an important part of the equation.

    A good solid state preamp like the ones based on a Neve console can be just as warm and 3D as any tube pre. Maybe sound even warmer and fatter with much better tone.

    Again it's also about how much money you have to spend and how many channels you need. Do you need more of a channel strip or a pure preamp or even just a DI.

    As for mics there are more choices and opinions on that then there is candy at your local candy store.
  3. malamusik

    malamusik Guest

    thanks big daddy...

    i appreciate the helpful response. didnt mean to open a can of worms though ;)

    i just want to upgrade my set up to something that will produce (with lots of practice on my end, i know) better quality recordings. i am currently using an MXL 2001 large-diaphragm condenser, and a Bellari RP220 pre. the sound is ok. but i've read many places that a good mic and good pre can make a huge difference. i know i need to keep practicing the engineering aspects of recording to see a difference too. but i thought investing in a good mic and a good pre would be a good idea. i was thinking about spending somewhere around $2000 for everything -used. so that would be roughly $3000-$4000 if it were new.

    i want a stereo pre thats flexible - one that i can use for tracking and eventually mastering. not sure if i want color or not. and i was thinking about using the eqs, compression, etc on my logic program. i am running logic express on a G5 1.6 Ghz, and an M-Audio Firewire 410.

    as far as mics i'm torn between tube and non-tube. but i know i like condensers for vocals for the style of music i am recording.

    basically, i want to record good vocals and solid acoustic gtrs. i'm looking for a modern sound - not trying to emulate the sound of classic artists/bands or anything. more into putting together something you'd hear on the radio today [but written much much better :) ]

    does this even make any sense??
  4. malamusik

    malamusik Guest

    "It's really not anything to do with tubes or solid state as much as it has to with the design of the preamp.

    As in what class of operation and which harmonics it produces. "

    -- also could you suggest a link where i can read up more on pres. i'll make a much more informed decision.

    thanks again
  5. In my opinion buying used tube mic pres is not a good idea unless you know how to change the tubes and have a source for good replacements that are properly tested.

    Just google mic preamps and start reading. I don't know how much you understand, only you know that.

    If you buy a used tube pre then just get one that's fairly new. I would look into a UA 610. Ones that are a step up are over $2000 and even higher but might not sound better than the UA. Tube pres that have real quality are very expensive, it the nature of the beast. Used ones retain their value because of the quality. I'd rather have a good solid state pre than a cheap tube pre any day, dollar for dollar.

    There is a lot out there and you need to know what type of sound you want. Do you want something that is clean and clear or somewhat colored.

    I did a lot of listening and the best site I came up with was one called the listening room. They do a host of preamps and a few common mics.

    Click for help files

    My favorite was the Great River so I bought one, the single channel ME-1NV, they make a dual channel model. But I have never seen one selling used and they go for over $2000. Mine was $1075 new, the dual is twice that. I bought it at Sweetwater.

    I also found another site but lost it due to PC malfunction and they had the 610 against other pres and I liked it so I got a SOLO 610. They had one on a female voice and it really made her voice fat and more pleasing to my ear than the other pres.

    So I have a SOLO 610, the Great River and a Summit for it's versatility. I only need one channel at a time and will be doing everything direct except for vocals. For that I have a SM58 and a Rode NT-1A. I'm familiar with the 58 but have no idea about the Rode. I bought it because after reading countless articles and opinions from every source on the internet I could find, I came up with something that was in my price range and what I thought would fit my voice. I will probably end up using the 58.... :wink: But maybe not. I'm still a bit away from putting down vocal tracks, I just got the Roland VS 2400.

    It's important to know were your vocal range is when it comes to mics, they all have there own nuances and if you know your voice it will help.

    Do you like the MXL 2001? From what I understand it is a lowend mic but a lot of people seem to like it. If you are happy with the way it reproduces your voice then maybe stepping up to a similar mic but with a better quality like the Rode might be what you want to do. I really can't wait to hear the Rode through the Solo 610, I think that might be a great combo for my voice.

    The Bellari model you have is no longer made but did get good reviews for the price range it was in. They also improved it by using better quality tubes. It has 280 volts on the plates so it is probably being used as a true gain stage. You might want to get some higher quality tested and matched triode tubes for it, they use 7025's from what I read which is just a industrial designation for a 12AX7. It was also said that they were a little noisy. But it did really warm up a condenser mic.

    So maybe you want to invest in a better mic or 2 and retube your Bellari first. Maybe contact Bellari for tube recommendations.
  6. Crankitup

    Crankitup Guest

    why not get a used tube mic for under $500 and then spend the remainder on a nice 2 channel mic pre?
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I've got vintage tube stuff like vintage custom-built preamps with transformers as big as your fist. I'll use those once every few years.

    I've got vintage tube microphones from well-known German manufacturers. I'll use those once in awhile.

    I usually grab my vintage transformer transistorized preamps with my cheap SM57's and/or good old transistorized German/Austrian condenser microphones when I want that nice big round fat warm sound.

    You won't get much warmth from transformer less microphone preamps and inexpensive Chinese condenser microphones. They just can't deliver that. It all sounds like potato chips being crunched up inside a sealed bag to me. And everybody will try to tell you that is a state-of-the-art sound. It's great if you like pulverized potato chips?

    Corn chips and guacamole for me. Smooth and creamy with a little crunch.
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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