Old 12-25-2020, 05:09 AM   #1
Dork Lard
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Default Acquiring a high end pre amp to improve my mixes

Hey everyone.
I'm at a point where I feel I've just about reached the maximum result I could achieve with my current setup of software instruments, voice and gtrs in my bedroom. Incremental improvements are still possible without a doubt, but I'm really contemplating getting one of those pieces of studio console/powerful pre amps.

My goal with one would be to run all my instruments through it and see if its natural distortion can color and modify the tones of my instruments to give them more depth, more life, more of a natural sound. Help them "lift off the ground" so to speak and acquire a bit more of a 3D feel.

If anyone has ANY experience with those whatsoever, please give me your opinion on what's the bare minimum I should spend to get the most bang for the buck (like, I won't spend 3000$ on this !), and how I'd go about re-recording, say, my software drums through it, I heard a re-amp box isn't necessary.

Thanking you.
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Old 12-25-2020, 05:45 AM   #2
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The last thing that you should be considering is a posh preamp. I`ve got 2, both of which I bought only because I got an incredible deal on them.
Before you lash out 3000 on a preamp, re-examine your existing setup. Also, I get more use out of the instrument inputs on both of them as a good D.I. for my bass and guitar.
Do you have your bedroom adequately treated in terms of audio response?
$3000 would get you an awful lot of room treatment once you did an analysis of the actual room, if you havent done so already.

Next in my book was the quality & performance of my audio/MIDI interface.

Followed by the quality and appropriateness of my audio monitors and their placement. (this goes hand in hand with eh acoustic treatment of course)

The next step would be to make sure your computer system is powerful enough to not be a bottleneck on your creativity.

Followed by a re-examination of your available microphones, assuming you do any live instrument and/or vocal recordings.

And finally we come down to the esoteric stuff like plugins and last of all preamps.

Another aspect of this would be to make sure that you know enough about how to record and how to mix stuff, which would again have more effect on the finished article than a posh preamp would, all else being equal.

P.S. I forgot to add that recording a plugin THROUGH a preamp channel is completely useless. Far easier and better to add colour using a plugin or a purpose-designed hardware equivalent if you really feel you have to.
One hilarious way to affect your stuff would be to do what a friend of mine does in his studio. He has a 24 track MCI 2 inch tape recorder & runs the recorded items from his ProTools HD rig through it to "impart a little bit of an analogue sound". Unfortunately even the full 3000 bucks wouldn`t even cover the down payment on a MCI recorder in good nick.
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Old 12-25-2020, 06:08 AM   #3
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Default I concur!

Everything Ivan said.
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Old 12-25-2020, 06:20 AM   #4
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Ivan had a nice response for your question.
Despite a preamp can make a good difference for you audio recording there is maybe some things to consider. Room acoustics , a good converter and a nice speaker setup.
There are great outboard devices that most of us dont substitute with plugins, its just the laws of physics...that being said take in consideration all that Ivan said and read a bit more on room treatment
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:01 AM   #5
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I'm going to agree with everyone else. You should only get audible distortion if the preamp is badly overdriven, and then different preamps are going to sound different when driven that hard. Some will hard-clip just like an ADC or DAC and others will more soft-clip and they'll all have different distortion characteristics.

You'd probably get bored with the same preamp distortion after a short time.

If not overdriven the differences will be subtle-subtle-subtle. You'll get a much bigger difference by using a different mic, or just changing the mic position.

But with mics the main difference is frequency response and you do a LOT more with EQ for a LOT lower cost than having a big selection of mics.

It's like guitar amps. They all sound different and a more expensive amp/cabinet doesn't necessarily sound "better" and it depends on your preference. Except guitar amps are designed to alter/distort the sound a lot more than a mic preamp, and you wouldn't put vocals (or almost anything else) through a guitar amp unless you're looking for a special effect.

A better preamp can have lower noise so if you're using ribbon or dynamic mics you'll get less hiss. (With a condenser you get a higher signal-to-noise ratio so it's not as critical.)

But with modern electronics it's cheap & easy to make a good low-noise preamp and the preamps built into interfaces & mixers are usually excellent.

It costs more to built, market, and distribute a stand-alone preamp because they are built & sold in small quantities. And sometimes the reputation makes them more desirable (to some people) and they are willing to pay more, and they can jack-up the price. It's like the audiophile market... The more it costs the more desirable it becomes! And if you're looking at tubes, building with 1950s technology is much more expensive. It's easier to get clean-accurate sound with modern electronics. With tubes it's "easier" to get a certain kind of distortion from tubes & transformers (again like guitar amps but more subtle). But, plug-ins are a lot cheaper and more flexible/adjustable.
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
The last thing that you should be considering is a posh preamp. I`ve got 2, both of which I bought only because I got an incredible deal on them.
Before you lash out 3000 on a preamp, re-examine your existing setup. Also, I get more use out of the instrument inputs on both of them as a good D.I. for my bass and guitar.
Do you have your bedroom adequately treated in terms of audio response?
$3000 would get you an awful lot of room treatment once you did an analysis of the actual room, if you havent done so already.

Next in my book was the quality & performance of my audio/MIDI interface.

Followed by the quality and appropriateness of my audio monitors and their placement. (this goes hand in hand with eh acoustic treatment of course)

The next step would be to make sure your computer system is powerful enough to not be a bottleneck on your creativity.

Followed by a re-examination of your available microphones, assuming you do any live instrument and/or vocal recordings.

And finally we come down to the esoteric stuff like plugins and last of all preamps.

Another aspect of this would be to make sure that you know enough about how to record and how to mix stuff, which would again have more effect on the finished article than a posh preamp would, all else being equal.

P.S. I forgot to add that recording a plugin THROUGH a preamp channel is completely useless. Far easier and better to add colour using a plugin or a purpose-designed hardware equivalent if you really feel you have to.
One hilarious way to affect your stuff would be to do what a friend of mine does in his studio. He has a 24 track MCI 2 inch tape recorder & runs the recorded items from his ProTools HD rig through it to "impart a little bit of an analogue sound". Unfortunately even the full 3000 bucks wouldn`t even cover the down payment on a MCI recorder in good nick.
Well fellow Franglais speaker, I'd say first of all thx for that comprehensive response. So:
- I use a Countryman 85 DI Box for the guitars and my audient USB interface, an AT4040 mic for vocals. Bass/synths/drums & everything else is software.
- I use an i7 PC with 32GB RAM, and even then struggle at times but use buffer/rendering options to make playback smoother.
- I've got a decent pair of Yamaha MSP5 studio monitors. They sit either side of my desk.
- I'd say I'm at least adequate at mixing now. Not a wiz, but adequate.
- No acoustic treatment in my room yet. I'm sure it'd help, but I'm more preoccupied with the actual improvement of the mix in terms of sound, so I'm more interested with next level plugins, or gear.

I'm not willing to spend thousands on a pre amp, but I reckon if I could find sth decent for around 800EUR, say, that really improved my drums, vocals, synths etc... I'd go for that. But I'd need to MAKE SURE it did improve in a way no current plugin can. I've got a variety of Tape saturation, analog sims ...etc plugins atm. They do help, but if a piece of actual physical gear with powerful expensive circuitry could help, and it wasn't millions of $$$, then I'd like that.
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
I'm going to agree with everyone else. You should only get audible distortion if the preamp is badly overdriven, and then different preamps are going to sound different when driven that hard. Some will hard-clip just like an ADC or DAC and others will more soft-clip and they'll all have different distortion characteristics.

You'd probably get bored with the same preamp distortion after a short time.

If not overdriven the differences will be subtle-subtle-subtle. You'll get a much bigger difference by using a different mic, or just changing the mic position.

But with mics the main difference is frequency response and you do a LOT more with EQ for a LOT lower cost than having a big selection of mics.

It's like guitar amps. They all sound different and a more expensive amp/cabinet doesn't necessarily sound "better" and it depends on your preference. Except guitar amps are designed to alter/distort the sound a lot more than a mic preamp, and you wouldn't put vocals (or almost anything else) through a guitar amp unless you're looking for a special effect.

A better preamp can have lower noise so if you're using ribbon or dynamic mics you'll get less hiss. (With a condenser you get a higher signal-to-noise ratio so it's not as critical.)

But with modern electronics it's cheap & easy to make a good low-noise preamp and the preamps built into interfaces & mixers are usually excellent.

It costs more to built, market, and distribute a stand-alone preamp because they are built & sold in small quantities. And sometimes the reputation makes them more desirable (to some people) and they are willing to pay more, and they can jack-up the price. It's like the audiophile market... The more it costs the more desirable it becomes! And if you're looking at tubes, building with 1950s technology is much more expensive. It's easier to get clean-accurate sound with modern electronics. With tubes it's "easier" to get a certain kind of distortion from tubes & transformers (again like guitar amps but more subtle). But, plug-ins are a lot cheaper and more flexible/adjustable.
thx DVDdoug for your reply.
I've given up on recording live gtrs. I got myself Fishman Fluence pickups for my 7string and now solely use decent amp sims and IRs, and I reckon that's enough for my use of gtrs. So for preamps, I'm not concerned with mics and with potential noise, but with a potential noticeable improvement in clarity and space and adding meat to the instruments I'd run through it.
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:11 AM   #8
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There is tiny difference between 30$/channel preamp and 3000$/channel preamp. I own Neve preamp, whatever. I can use Behringer as well, same thing in the end.
If you cannot make it sound good with built in preamp on your USB audio box, your problem is somewhere else. Rather invest in production techniques and mixing. Buy yourself some good personal training.
I see Kygo is giving himself for 300$/month. Find online tutor for your specific genre. I bet training like that will do more good for your sound than any new preamp.
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dork Lard View Post
- No acoustic treatment in my room yet. I'm sure it'd help, but I'm more preoccupied with the actual improvement of the mix in terms of sound, so I'm more interested with next level plugins, or gear.

800EUR, say, that really improved my drums, vocals, synths etc... I'd go for that. But I'd need to MAKE SURE it did improve in a way no current plugin can. I've got a variety of Tape saturation, analog sims ...etc plugins atm.
Quote:
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So for preamps, I'm not concerned with mics and with potential noise, but with a potential noticeable improvement in clarity and space and adding meat to the instruments I'd run through it.
I honestly dont think you're going to get the results you want by just running recordings thru new kit. No offense, and its only IMHO, but the results you are wanting sound more like production issues, not an issue of having the wrong hardware.

Acoustic treatment of your room will help you get to the results you want quicker as the mix will sound more accurate, meaning when it sounds good on your Yamaha speakers, it'll translate well to other speakers.

But that finishing, make every better, sprinking of pixie dust you want on a mix can be done with plugins, for sure. Yes, you can do the same with hardware, but you'd still have to know exactly how you're doing what you're doing to make things sound better, by which time, you could have just done it with what you already have.

Personally, I'd go for acoustic treatment before buying anything else. The kit you list is more than enough to get great sounding mixes.

EDIT: What Sonicowl said
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:54 AM   #10
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Yep, DEFINITELY acoustic treatment first. It doesn`t matter how much fancy equipment and great monitors you have if the room response colours the sound so much you have no idea what it will sound like in someone else`s room/car/headphones/bathtub.

Room Wizard free software with one of Behringers cheap omni pattern calibration mics will help you see what needs fixing in your room & then it is down to finding the cheapest way to fix it.

I bought a pair of double bed sheets & had my wife make me four long triangular sacks from them. I then cut four triangles of thin (3mm) plywood and screwed hooks into them. I then cut some rockwool RW3 insulation slabs up into triangles & filled the bags, sewed up the gap that I used to stuff them & then hung them in the corners of my studio room using brass hoops screwed into the corners.

Just this made a huge difference to the clarity & consistency of my music. I have since added some cheap home made reflectors and diffused the sound better by sticking a CD case along the back wall and a bookcase underneath it. Already had them elsewhere, so that bit was free. The room still isn`t perfect but no more holes or bumps in the bass & no more excessive larsen/reverbs/standing waves.

This was all very cheap and very easy. Hardest part was cutting the rockwool slabs up cleanly. I bought a Tesco electric carving knife for 12 UK pounds & it did a great job, plus we are now going to use it to carve the turkey today!
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:59 AM   #11
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what are you already using? didn't see it posted. can you post a snippet of some music showing your frustrations?

gain staging is the study of how signals are amplified throughout your system, a lot can be gained in sound quality by keeping your recording levels optimized so that the noise floor is low and the instrument level is high.

a new pre-amp would have a lower noise floor and more gain to amplify the input signal(s). there isn't a magical coloring of the sound, it's high gain with a low noise floor.

IMO people don't seem to invest in pre-amps other than the occasional deal and random obsessions. there are a lot of other places to spend that kind of money.

BUT a pre-amp isn't just a pre-amp, do you want a new sound card with that? how many channels of input? for a better guitar tone you do not need a special pre-amp.

for a new sound card I'd love a Focusrite Clarett series. on the lower end the Behringer Midas pre-amps get great reviews and Behringer are making some interesting lower end boxes. for a mic pre-amp, if I had to throw out an idea I'd go with a Rhodes pre-amp. LOTS and LOTS of people make them though.
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Old 12-25-2020, 09:12 AM   #12
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Ivansc already laid it out pretty well. Mic preamps are a ways down on the list.

If you have something ratty right now... Like a budget Mackie mixer plugged into a Soundblasticator pci card or some budget Presonus interface with a couple crude mic pres from 20 years ago. Yeah, upgrading that will make a very noticeable difference. Budget audio interfaces include pretty darn good mic preamps nowadays. So a new cheap Presonus would fix everything wrong with the old one. Better: Those Behringer/Midas interfaces (X-32 rack, etc) have Midas preamps. Lots of bang for the buck!

You'd notice that kind of thing over some old ratty cheap preamp right away. Going to something boutique after that is in the 1% or 2% return area. Not so much bang for the buck. Everything Ivansc mentioned about technique, room, mics, and post production (mixing) is big.

And if it's a distortion character you're after as opposed to the part where you capture the sounds in the first place, any distortion plugin will do that for you.

As long as you're not truly mangling your source recordings, 90% of what your mix sounds like is your mix work. Even if your sources are a little lo-fi and your room sucks.

3D?
Get your ambient components under control. How you create reflections and reverb from your sources.
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Old 12-25-2020, 01:49 PM   #13
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Just to put some actual, quantifiable, hard numbers on this subject rather than the endless cork sniffing and baseless claims, or even kicking you off the forum for asking for ANY evidence,

Some idiot with "no experience" went out and tested this stuff and posted the results

https://pipelineaudio.net/gear-refer...s/mic-preamps/
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Old 12-25-2020, 02:43 PM   #14
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AT4040 can be a harsh mic to sing loudly into
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Old 12-25-2020, 04:04 PM   #15
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Thanks to all for the replies, I appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonicowl View Post
There is tiny difference between 30$/channel preamp and 3000$/channel preamp. I own Neve preamp, whatever. I can use Behringer as well, same thing in the end.
If you cannot make it sound good with built in preamp on your USB audio box, your problem is somewhere else. Rather invest in production techniques and mixing. Buy yourself some good personal training.
I see Kygo is giving himself for 300$/month. Find online tutor for your specific genre. I bet training like that will do more good for your sound than any new preamp.
Noted.
But seriously ? NO difference ? Wth is the point of building a state of the art device that's ridiculously priced then ? I've read quite a few comments (not from websites, from actual users) that said it boosted their mixes. Obv there are no miracles, and you still need to mix judiciously, but that little of a difference ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxdembo View Post
.
Alright thank you. I'm going to really have to look into this room acoustics thing then I guess. It's true that so far, what comes out of the speakers in my bedroom isn't what comes out of the phone, or the crappy Logitech PC speakers in the other room which I use as tests.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
I bought a pair of double bed sheets & had my wife make me four long triangular sacks from them. ...
damn, sounds daunting as hell ! I've no experience with that stuff. Plus, I don't even have a wife. Well I guess I should look into some of those large foam panel thingies. Turn this bedroom into a torture chamber. Why not, I mean, screw it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Deft View Post
.
I currently have an audient iD14 USB interface. I upgraded to this from a previous basic Behringer, as it was praised for its good preamps. It's much more expensive than the previous, but nothing outrageous either. For the guitars I go through a Countryman T85 DI box and then into the audient interface. I'm sure better results could be achieved with better equipment though, yes.

And yes I'll post something I've made in a few days, I guess I owe that to the ppl who've replied on here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post

3D?
Get your ambient components under control. How you create reflections and reverb from your sources.
I know and I try hard to make my mixes as 3D and non-linear sounding as possible. But I reckon if you've got excellent tracks to deal with initially, that most of the work is already done. Like an avg sounding voice captured off a so-so mic is going to be 10x harder to make sound right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
AT4040 can be a harsh mic to sing loudly into
initially got it to pair up with the SM57 and mic the guitar cab, but I'm doing the guitars 100% in the box now and have kept that mic for vocals. I used to own a Rode NT1-A but the AT4040 is definitely a bit clearer. I guess one could always improve on that for vocals, but the post-processing makes it alright overall.
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Old 12-25-2020, 05:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dork Lard View Post
Alright thank you. I'm going to really have to look into this room acoustics thing then I guess. It's true that so far, what comes out of the speakers in my bedroom isn't what comes out of the phone, or the crappy Logitech PC speakers in the other room which I use as tests.



damn, sounds daunting as hell ! I've no experience with that stuff. Plus, I don't even have a wife. Well I guess I should look into some of those large foam panel thingies. Turn this bedroom into a torture chamber. Why not, I mean, screw it.
Dont get just lightweight foam panels, ya want bass traps. There are loads of DIY plans around to make em. Personally, for one reason or another, that wasnt an option for me, so I bought mine, b-stock (half price, all mismatching colours, I just bought whatever became available) and its the biggest difference I've ever known. Cant recommend it enough. Just listening to music generally is now a better experience.

Bass traps for the corners of the room is where I started and the difference was mighty noticeable.

GIK Acoustics were happy to answer all my stupid questions - https://www.gikacoustics.com

https://www.gikacoustics.com/acousti...ls-calculator/
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Old 12-25-2020, 09:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dork Lard View Post
I currently have an audient iD14 USB interface. I upgraded to this from a previous basic Behringer, as it was praised for its good preamps. It's much more expensive than the previous, but nothing outrageous either. For the guitars I go through a Countryman T85 DI box and then into the audient interface. I'm sure better results could be achieved with better equipment though, yes.

And yes I'll post something I've made in a few days, I guess I owe that to the ppl who've replied on here.
very cool, sounds like well curated gear, I'm intrigued.
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Old 12-26-2020, 12:35 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dork Lard View Post
...

Noted.
But seriously ? NO difference ? Wth is the point of building a state of the art device that's ridiculously priced then ? I've read quite a few comments (not from websites, from actual users) that said it boosted their mixes. Obv there are no miracles, and you still need to mix judiciously, but that little of a difference ?

...
When it comes to the "Comments..." aspect?

Don't recall exactly who, but I heard a guy on the radio say that his father had told him "Don't Believe Anything That They Tell You, And Only Believe About Two-Thirds Of What They Actually Show You."

When It comes to preamps, that is one to live by.

Some of my favorite recordings ever have wound up having been recorded with really modest preamps.

Take whatever time you would put into researching a preamp purchase, and put twice as much time into trying to figure out if it will actually make much of a difference.

One other possibility...

Is renting a nice preamp from a rental place an option where you are? It won't be hard to sort it out if you just have a more expensive preamp for a short while to record some of the stuff you record regularly.
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Old 12-26-2020, 04:56 AM   #19
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Just to give you an indication of my true feelings on this subject, I own one of the original GAP73 preamps, which is a rather good copy of the Neve Classic 1073`s mic and line preamps, plus a Hi-z instrument input. At the time I bought it, all the nerds were raving about how much it improved if you switched the input transformer for a modern version of the original Neve transformer. As I had been a commercial customer of the company who had (and still do) make the original Neve transformers for Neve, who were based in East Anglia/Herts at this time, I had a chat with their tech department guys.
They told me that they regularly switched GAP73 transformers on both input and output for their versions actually produced for Neve.
And then they laughingly added that on tests they had done, two things emerged. The Gaps with their current issue transformer sounded literally NO different to the ones they had converted, although there was a miniscule difference to recorded waveforms.
The hole they had to hack in the chassis of the GAP73 to accommodate the "new improved" transformers made them look ugly as shit & most likely made mounting them two in a half-rack "tricky".

Mine cost me about 200 UK pounds and performs very, very much like the original ones I heard when they were brand new in Neve desks at the factory.
At the time our roadie and our lead guitar both worked at Neve, as did several other friends, so we all got a LOT of experience of how the stuff sounded & how well it was built.

That is just one example, but I hope you get the message. As far as the sacks are concerned, that was a fancy version. All you really need to do is cut the rockwool into large triangles and stack them in the corners of your bedroom where you ca, floor to ceiling & then glue or tack some sheets of thin cloth over the top to stop the rockwool fluffing about the room. Could not be any easier.
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Old 12-26-2020, 09:11 AM   #20
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Get acoustic treatment.

You've been told by basically everybody. We're not looking to send you in the wrong direction we only wish to give you the right advice.

Preamps aren't magic. I've had em..and I sold them. Maybe if I was running a commercial studio and I needed to power certain esoteric ribbon mics or something having a choice of preamps would be worthwhile. But just for executing my own vision..everything is about mixing. All thats needed is a good clean recording to work with..which my Scarlett provides beautifully!

10 or 15 years ago interface preamps were pure gash but those days are long gone . Happy Christmas!
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Old 12-26-2020, 09:14 AM   #21
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As far as the sacks are concerned, that was a fancy version. All you really need to do is cut the rockwool into large triangles and stack them in the corners of your bedroom where you ca, floor to ceiling & then glue or tack some sheets of thin cloth over the top to stop the rockwool fluffing about the room. Could not be any easier.
@OP, Just be careful with the rockwool, it can be quite an irritant. Keep it away from pets.

GIK also do panels with extra low end absorption. I dunno what material it is in conjunction with rockwool, but I reckon they would be more than happy to tell you so you could make your own. They were incredibly helpful when I spoke to them.
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Old 12-26-2020, 09:53 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by numberthirty View Post
Is renting a nice preamp from a rental place an option where you are? It won't be hard to sort it out if you just have a more expensive preamp for a short while to record some of the stuff you record regularly.
this is great advice. maybe a local store will have a return policy, even if the return policy is for credit only this would be time very well spent. I'd love to hear your personal experience from this.

doesn't acoustic treatment depend on how loud your room is? I have a wall mounted dB meter in my home 'studio', maybe at 65-70dB in here I imagine would be a threshhold where room treatment would matter. certainly if I was over 80dB a lot I'd consider room treatment but there's no way in hell I'm spending hours in a room at 80dB, that's uncomfortable.

treatments seem like a whole different topic, unrelated to this. my $0.02.


my feel for this is that one wants FIDELITY in the recordings, that's what a great system does, it's totally neutral and transparent, ZERO coloring of the sound going through it. again, it's high gain with low noise to me, nothing more. I would NEVER spend money on ANY recording device that colors the sound.

monitors and mics color the sound because science is hard. pre-amp is just a fancy name for amplifier. this is not a guitar setup nor is this is a live PA environment with a pre-amp feeding a MAINS amp (dangerous currents and voltages!) directly. this is just one stage of amplification changing a signal from the millivolt level to the maybe +/-12V level (output ranges vary, just throwing a number out there, clarify if you want, that's not the point.)


are you clear on what headroom really means? not to be a pedant, just checking in that the big picture is accounted for. what's really going on here. I'd guess you've looked at spec sheets for pre-amps, do the charts and language make 100% sense to you? there are wise people around here that would love to discuss that stuff.
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Old 12-26-2020, 10:02 AM   #23
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there's no way in hell I'm spending hours in a room at 80dB, that's uncomfortable.

treatments seem like a whole different topic, unrelated to this. my $0.02.
I dont think we all spend hours at 80db. I certainly dont.

I'm a big fan of low volume mixing and music listening. Room treatment made all the difference. It made so much difference with just half of two corners filled with traps, that I did the entire room.

Its not a different topic, its not unrelated.
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Old 12-26-2020, 10:12 AM   #24
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doesn't acoustic treatment depend on how loud your room is?
From my experience I can say absolutely not. Maybe if you play your monitors so low that the soundwaves don't have the energy to reach any reflection points ..but that would be very low volume indeed would it not?

Also, the quality of what the microphone picks up, goes up in direct relation to quality of the acoustic environment. Far exceeding the effect a preamp would have,bar overdriving the preamp for distortion, naturally.

So treating the room has benefits on both ends of the signal . And besides,acoustic treatment is a trivial enough matter to sort out. So why the hell wouldn't you? Theres nothing to lose except a few hours handicraft

And not to be patronising,but I once thought the same until I saw the error of my ways. I've built an entire shed out of rookwool..in which I now sit lol.
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Old 12-26-2020, 10:16 AM   #25
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From my experience I can say absolutely not. Maybe if you play your monitors so low that the soundwaves don't have the energy to reach any reflection points ..but that would be very low volume indeed would it not?
Imperceptibly low

I can listen to music at lower volumes now and still hear everything so clearly. Its been quite an amazing difference. Been kicking myself I didnt do this 30 years ago. Dumb of me.

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And not to be patronising,but I once thought the same until I saw the error of my ways.
Totally the same. I've wasted so much time dealing with the fucking room sound of various houses I've lived in, and had no idea thats what I was battling.

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Old 12-26-2020, 10:41 AM   #26
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And not to be patronising,but I once thought the same until I saw the error of my ways. I've built an entire shed out of rookwool..in which I now sit lol.
advice greatly appreciated!! I do recognize that the knowledge base here runs deep and I will take any advice given. your post will ring in my head until I give my own room a proper study. since I've ignored the topic I should have some obvious errors in my room, if I take the time to look. my loud listening environment example was a bit of a straw man argument, it didn't seem logical, mixers treat their hearing with love and care, or regret it for life.


I can get behind this. maybe his mixes are totally Kool & The Gang but if he can't hear the mix ring out because of other factors there's not much he could do. even if he searched high and low for a VST to clear things up.
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Old 12-26-2020, 01:59 PM   #27
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*sigh*
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Old 12-26-2020, 02:45 PM   #28
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all mismatching colours,
hahaha, absolutely sounds like something I'd do. Has it really changed your listening experience altogether that much ? Heh, now I really am going to have to look into this...

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Originally Posted by numberthirty View Post
.
renting equipment ? No, not really in my small town here. I'm getting a lot more responses AGAINST buying expensive preamps vs any comments at all favoring that option. I'm a lot less keen now.

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Just to give you an indication of my true feelings on this subject, I own one of the original GAP73 preamps, which is a rather good copy of the Neve Classic 1073`s mic and line preamps, plus a Hi-z instrument input. At the time I bought it, all the nerds were raving about how much it improved if you switched the input transformer for a modern version of the original Neve transformer. As I had been a commercial customer of the company who had (and still do) make the original Neve transformers for Neve, who were based in East Anglia/Herts at this time, I had a chat with their tech department guys.
They told me that they regularly switched GAP73 transformers on both input and output for their versions actually produced for Neve.
And then they laughingly added that on tests they had done, two things emerged. The Gaps with their current issue transformer sounded literally NO different to the ones they had converted, although there was a miniscule difference to recorded waveforms.
The hole they had to hack in the chassis of the GAP73 to accommodate the "new improved" transformers made them look ugly as shit & most likely made mounting them two in a half-rack "tricky".

Mine cost me about 200 UK pounds and performs very, very much like the original ones I heard when they were brand new in Neve desks at the factory.
At the time our roadie and our lead guitar both worked at Neve, as did several other friends, so we all got a LOT of experience of how the stuff sounded & how well it was built.

That is just one example, but I hope you get the message. As far as the sacks are concerned, that was a fancy version. All you really need to do is cut the rockwool into large triangles and stack them in the corners of your bedroom where you ca, floor to ceiling & then glue or tack some sheets of thin cloth over the top to stop the rockwool fluffing about the room. Could not be any easier.
still doesn't mean Neve equipment isn't better than regular affordable commercial equipment, but I see your point.
Thanks again for the explanations.

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Get acoustic treatment.

You've been told by basically everybody. We're not looking to send you in the wrong direction we only wish to ...
WELL I DON'T KNOW THAT FOR A FACT NOW DO I ?! You guys might all be failed musicians who don't want to see anyone else succeed, or you might be a rare anti-expensive preamp cult ! ..
Sorry i uhm.. had been normal for a bit too long there. This had to come out at some point. Merry Christmas to you too, and your opinion is noted.

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@OP, Just be careful with the rockwool, it can be quite an irritant. Keep it away from pets.

GIK also do panels with extra low end absorption. I dunno what material it is in conjunction with rockwool, but I reckon they would be more than happy to tell you so you could make your own. They were incredibly helpful when I spoke to them.
thank you but, no pets here. I'm the only animal around.

OK so.

Takeaway from two days of this thread:
screw overly expensive preamps, they're just posh sluts for posh people. And praise room acoustics. They are sacred and must not be disrespected. They will guide you to the promised land regardless of your gender, religion or daily calorie intake.
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:21 PM   #29
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Takeaway from two days of this thread:
screw overly expensive preamps, they're just posh sluts for posh people. And praise room acoustics. They are sacred and must not be disrespected. They will guide you to the promised land regardless of your gender, religion or daily calorie intake.

AMEN TO THAT BROTHER!

And happy christmas!
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:28 PM   #30
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OK so.

Takeaway from two days of this thread:
screw overly expensive preamps, they're just posh sluts for posh people. And praise room acoustics. They are sacred and must not be disrespected. They will guide you to the promised land regardless of your gender, religion or daily calorie intake.
Yes, that sums it up nicely
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Old 12-26-2020, 03:51 PM   #31
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hahaha, absolutely sounds like something I'd do. Has it really changed your listening experience altogether that much ? Heh, now I really am going to have to look into this...
I mean, every space is different, and I've lived in a lot of places with square rooms, not much furniture and hard wood floors so I was making a rod for my own back, but yeah, the difference I got from just a few of GIK's tri traps in the corners of my room was immediately hugely noticeable. Realising that buying quality monitors and not doing any room treatment had just been mostly pointless. I'd have been better of with shit speakers that suited the rooms rather than buying monitors.

Thats how it felt anyway, I'm not saying those last few points are facts, but just how noticeable the difference was.

Another thing I noticed, was that listening to loud music was so much less fatiguing on the ears and so much more rewarding in depth. I couldnt previously get thru all of Nick Cave's Abattoir Blues as it just got too impossible to hear what was going on in the noisier tracks.

Not a problem any more. I could suddenly hear more in Talking Heads work (possibly my most listened to band), and I could hear more in 'noise' music, way more detail in how it had been put together.

There were more examples but I forget them now. YMMV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dork Lard
Takeaway from two days of this thread:
screw overly expensive preamps, they're just posh sluts for posh people. And praise room acoustics. They are sacred and must not be disrespected. They will guide you to the promised land regardless of your gender, religion or daily calorie intake.
Spot on
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Old 12-26-2020, 04:18 PM   #32
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...

OK so.

Takeaway from two days of this thread:
screw overly expensive preamps, they're just posh sluts for posh people. And praise room acoustics. They are sacred and must not be disrespected. They will guide you to the promised land regardless of your gender, religion or daily calorie intake.
Personally, I wouldn't really say "Screw Overly Expensive Preamps..." Same would go for a particular "Family..." of preamp design. For all I know, a Daking preamp/eq might wind up being able to solve your existing issues.

All that said, it just seems like a couple of things are worth pointing out.

Electrical Audio has a pair of Neotek consoles, and a lot of that studio's recordings are console preamps.

Bottom Line: A lot of really great sounds come out of there for reasons we can assume are not "If Only I Had Better Preamps!..."

Second -

The whole "Can I add 'Life...'/'Depth...'/'Whatever...' To VST Instruments?..." could be a tough nut to crack. Even more so if you are looking for a silver bullet that will solve that problem and more problems past there.

Not saying the solution might not be in a preamp. Just thinking that being realistic about just how involved the overall fix could be in your particular situation could wind up being a worthwhile approach.
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Old 12-26-2020, 04:30 PM   #33
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I am very much in favour of the tone of this thread, there is an awful lot of repeated nonsense out there. You can't mix well (on speakers) in a bad sounding room, no one can, that's logical but so easy to overlook. The preamps on your interface are very unlikely to be the weak link in anyone's chain these days, its not quite as bad as the people talking about gain staging in floating point digital signal chains (you definitely can't hear mathematically identical ) but if you can't hear the difference between two preamps then you should definitely trust yourself.

So, with all that said : if it suits the kind of music you are doing, to me a pushed Neve-style preamp is a HUGE difference for a vocalist. Personally I'd rather use a 'nothing special' mic into a lovely thick Neve than a Neumann into a neutral preamp, any day of the week, its a profound and completely different experience that I'd liken more to using a nice valve guitar amp. Speaking of which I'd use the same chain for most mic'd guitars, and DI bass as well. And I do; I got the bug from the real thing but following advice just got myself the Golden Age one, which totally does it. I wanted a second one so I sprang for the expensive blue one with the fancy bits in it, and though I haven't critically AB'd them, one must wonder whether I think ...does it sound better? Erm ...well, the knobs are nicer and its a nicer colour and you're not my mum, leave me alone.
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Old 12-26-2020, 04:41 PM   #34
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One other sort of obvious thing...

These VST instruments that you think don't have life/depth/whatever?

Exactly what does that look like inside of a given project? Specific details please.
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Old 12-26-2020, 05:01 PM   #35
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Just to add to all of the above.

You can definitely hear the difference between even 2 channels of Neve on the same console !!

To anyone who says ANY coloration is bad and the preamp should be a straight wire with gain hasn't heard how lifeless and clinical that can sound, in CERTAIN environments, with CERTAIN program material.

So, let's say you've got, oh I don't know, $30,000 worth of ATC monitoring, a control room, recording space, console, outboard, AND the talent to operate it that's up to par with the ATC's, THEN you can indeed hear all of these things, often amazingly easily.

Does it really matter as far as capture goes ?

YES, but not because of what you may think.

The talent (e.g. vocalist) gets INSPIRED by the great sound, just like any guitar player does when their rig tone feels right, and THAT is where the magic is.

As everyone knows, performance BEFORE the mic, beats the mic, preamp, console, etc. down the line by a LOT.

So if you are at home, getting comfortable and inspired is WAY more important than what you spend on mic preamps -- above a very low bar that is cleared by almost everything nowadays, as most everyone has said.


Now, to bust that pet peeve urban myth about not "exciting" the room -- WRONG.

If you walk into any well treated room and simply speak in a normal voice, you can immediately tell it is a pleasant acoustical space.

Let that sink in -- a normal speaking voice.

So if a normal speaking voice is loud enough for you to hear the difference in treatment, ANY volume as loud or louder will be exciting modes.

You may not HEAR the lowest ones due to Fletcher-Munson, but trust the science, they are there and they have been excited.

As has been noted Room EQ Wizard and the very reasonably priced Behringer ECM 8000 are your friends -- use them and you can get a very good result with minimal dollars spent, depending how low you need to go -- low gets way expensive real fast
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Old 12-26-2020, 06:06 PM   #36
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One other thing along the lines of some of what has already been said...

If you had to try to put it into practical terms, how would you describe "Where You Are..." versus "This Is Where I Want To Wind Up..."?

Sometimes, having something like a target can help folks to suggest a means to get there.
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Old 12-27-2020, 02:37 AM   #37
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One other thought for you. I am 76 and pretty deaf, so I generally send my tracks to a buddy who mixes then for me these days. He is way younger than me so his ears are still reliable.
Fortunately I love how he mixes my stuff. I just wish I could still do it, but he is perfectly capable of turning a fairly weedy guitar recording into a nice full, fat groove without having to change the performance. Yet another prequel to you being able to get a really good, fat sound. I learned the hard way how good recordings are done, doing my first released recording in the early sixties in a spare room over a pub in Cambridge on a Phillips Pro two track mono tape recorder! Actual recording was done by Granta Records, a one-man enterprise based in Cambridge who some time later put out the Jokers Wild half-LP. We actually managed to sell a few of ours, too.

So. Treating your room first.
Make sure your monitoring system then gives you a reliable, flat sound (Room Wizard is a good free helper as I said before)

Only then should you start thinking about yes or no regarding preamps, assuming you already have good mics that suit what you are recording.
And of course you`ll also need to get some education about the hows and whys of mixing.

It is never as easy as it seems, especially for us one-guy-doing-it-all shamateurs.
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Old 12-27-2020, 06:10 AM   #38
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I think I want a new preamp now. And a compressor
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Old 12-27-2020, 06:22 AM   #39
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Fancy buying my Joe Meek 19" rackmount VC1 studio channel?

It`s got both these AND an aural exciter!
Very characterful & I rather like my bass though it, but I have sorta outgrown those hardware "character" pieces.

If you like sixties style sounds, this is the one.

P.S. I won`t be offended if you say no.

P.P.S. Welcome back to the forum, you have been missed.


(insert wink icon here) :;
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:35 PM   #40
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As everyone knows, performance BEFORE the mic, beats the mic, preamp, console, etc. down the line by a LOT.
acoustic foam, microphones and performance. not a great album title but makes for all the great qualities in a studio setting.

this is an ITB guy looking to start going OTB. (In The Box vs Out Of The Box production.) I've read threads on this topic, probably magazine headline articles about it. I assume it's been kicked about around here.

OTB - "You have to hear a signal through such and such board/console to get it." I knew the guy, he worked with me, then a console company then back with me, back and forth, he would never BS me to win a debate. I've heard that sentiment in other contexts since.

OTB ideas- the OP mentioned getting a bit of distortion to fatten the sound up. one bit of kit I would kill for is a Shermann Filter Bank to get some AMAZING sounds out of EVERYTHING. I messed with one a lot in friend's studio with mostly EDM gear. truly anything we could find to play through it was amazing. surely it can be used in a subtle context. expensive, hard to find.

get an Ibanez TS-9 overdrive guitar pedal. I used to put one on a friend's Rhodes piano, so tasty. he doubted me at first for the blasphemy, great discovery as a general use overdrive box.

I'd love a Strymon Iridium to replace my Hot Rod Deville outside my studio.

Tech 21 SansAmp is a great bass guitar pre-amp.

it might be the pickups in the guitar. if you're solid with your gear choices I assume you've tried guitar stomp boxes. using stereo stomp boxes has some amazing routing/production abilities.

are you used to hearing yourself with the Direct Monitor with IN mixed in with the out? I've done that, it sounds fatter suddenly, then I fix it and it sounds normal again.

not sure about what kind of music you play. you use a lot of VSTs so I guess you're synth heavy but I'm not reading that. if you're using VSTs to emulate real instruments, well there's your problem.

did you remember to divide by pi?
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