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Mic Pre-Amp Poll--$800-2000 and beyond

Preamps are one of the MOST important links in the audio chain. The better ones are unavoidably expensive. So before you plunge, learn about what is out there so you can make the Right choice for your studio and your budget.

Moderator: Tweak

Which Preamp is MOST worth the money spent?

Focusrite ISA220
18
9%
Avalon VT737SP
58
30%
PreSonus ADL600
18
9%
GML 2032 Microphone Preamp
1
1%
Grace Model 201
7
4%
Lavry Engineering LavryBlue MicPre
0
No votes
Millennia HV 3-C
7
4%
Universal Audio SOLO/110
15
8%
True Systems P2 Analog
2
1%
Apogee Mini-MP
8
4%
Great River MP-2NV
36
18%
API 3124+
24
12%
Phoenix DRS-2
2
1%
 
Total votes : 196

Mic Pre-Amp Poll--$800-2000 and beyond

Postby Tweak on Fri May 05, 2006 9:32 pm

Which Preamp is MOST worth the money spent? Please mention worthy candidates in this range that are not listed.


Focusrite ISA220 Session Pack Microphone Preamp and Compressor

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--FOCISA220

Image


Avalon VT737SP Class A Mic Processor

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--AVAVT737SP

Image


PreSonus ADL600 Anthony DeMaria Labs Microphone Preamp

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--PRSADL600

Image


GML 2032 Microphone Preamp and Parametric EQ

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--GML2032

Image


Grace Model 201
http://www.gracedesign.com/products/201/model201.htm

Lavry Engineering LavryBlue Mic Pre
http://www.lavryengineering.com/index_html.html

Millennia HV 3-C
http://www.mil-media.com/docs/products/hv3c.shtml

Universal Audio SOLO/110
http://www.uaudio.com/products/analog/S ... index.html
Image

True Systems P2 Analog
http://www.true-systems.com/products.html

Great River MP-2NV
http://www.greatriverelectronics.com/

Apogee Mini-MP
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/minime.php

API 3124+
http://www.apiaudio.com/3124.html

[url=http://www.frontendaudio.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=phoenix+drs&Click=3779]Phoenix DRS-2

Image[/url]

Manufacturers website
Last edited by Tweak on Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:02 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby Blue Bear Sound on Sat May 06, 2006 5:49 am

You're missing the Phoenix DRS-2, the Great River MP2-NV, and at this level, you can't not include the API 3124 (even though it's $2400 - since for that price it gives you 4 channels and is outstanding!)

Again at this end of things, the specific coloration of each pre is what someone is interested in, so summing them up as an "overall choice" is difficult -- at this level of mic pre distinction, each engineer is going to hear very slight differences across each pre that reflects their own personal sonic preferences - and it will vary from source to source.

However, in a mic pre listening test held a while back at one of the other studios in the area, we reviewed over a dozen or so mic pres on several sound sources. Each pre brought a different flavour to the source, sometimes drawing it out, other times simply capturing. Each pre had their strength and weakness on the 3 sources we tried (snare drum, female vocal, ac. guitar). As well, opinions about the flavours each one brought to the source varied from engineer to engineer.

As I said, at this end of the mic pre scale, you're buying pres for the color they impart to specific sources.... APIs are widely liked for the color they impart to drums, but probably less so for vocals. They would still sound excellent on a vocal, but wouldn't draw the sound of the vocalist out as much as the GML might.

In any case I was fortunate to be part of those listening tests and it gave me a solid frame of reference for the specific characteristics of each pre we tried, and while all were exceptional, the one that was the most usable overall (meaning if you only could buy one for a variety of sources, the one that would be the most accessible on the largest number of sources) was the Great River MP2-NV.
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Postby Tweak on Sat May 06, 2006 7:03 am

Thanks Blue Bear. I meant to include the Great River, but was only dimly aware of the others, being more of a home studio guy. I am doing this poll for my own education as well as helping others get grounded. I've been really close to getting the half rack Great River. Thanks!
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Postby 1620drum on Sat May 06, 2006 6:39 pm

I cast my vote for the Api 3124. It brings my drumset to life. There's NOTHING better for my drum studio than Api.
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Postby Shadowing on Thu May 11, 2006 9:12 pm

Hey, Tweak

I have spent some pretty good money on my home studio nearing 40 grand.
The only thing I accually dont have is these mic preamps I hear so much on this site about.
Only had my home studio for about 5 months so far so I'm still by far done with tweaking my instruments with my audio gear. I'm working on vocals and drums now though. I noticed pluging a vocal mic into a small yamaha mixer I had huge hiss noise ratio. So that tells me the reason of all your information on weak preamps. Doesnt seem to affect my sm57 mics though. Which I use a small yahama mixer Mg10/2 on my bass drum and then another for my drum set. Of course now im using my Mackie 1642 pro mixer for vocal preamp.

My question I guess is are these huge preamps mainly just for vocals.
I havn't yet started on messing with compressor settings and so forth for my vocal mic. I have a small room too. The main thing my studio lacks is a condensor mic for vocals. I guess I dont see the need for it. Any chance you can add some information on your website about why condensor are a better choice for vocals. I read the site real good I cant find any information or detail as to what condensor mics really do for vocals that dynamic doesnt, other then the fact its more sensitive.
Also these preamps all listed. Is the real reason they are just beter for the reason of the effects and sound enchancers that is all in one unit?
I noticed in songs vocals really sound way out there in there own spot in the mix. Am I not going to beable to do this with out a better mic.

I know all studios use condenser I just wish I knew why before I go buy one, since they cost money. Anyways if you could maybe add some information on your site that is more in detail on that. or maybe give me a link that I missed. :) Would be most greatful Tweak
Sorry for spaming your voting page




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Re: ....

Postby Blue Bear Sound on Fri May 12, 2006 3:40 am

Shadowing wrote:Hey, Tweak

Any chance you can add some information on your website about why condensor are a better choice for vocals. I read the site real good I cant find any information or detail as to what condensor mics really do for vocals that dynamic doesnt, other then the fact its more sensitive.

I know all studios use condenser I just wish I knew why before I go buy one, since they cost money.

Condensers are by far NOT the only choice for vocals.... plenty of vocals are done with dynamic mics. Dynamics like the EV RE20 or the Shure SM7 are used on vocals just as often as condensers are - it all depends on the singer's voice, delivery style, and sound you're going for in the song.

The high-end pres are not just for vocals at all -- they're for any source. They really draw all the potential sound quality from any given mic, where the cheap ones don't even come close. A Shure SM57 thru a high-end preamp sounds like a completely different mic than it does when using it with a budget pre.
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Postby _controlfreak on Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 am

Is anyone familiar with the True Systems line of preamps? I loved my P-Solo, and I've had the privilege of using the True Precision 8 a couple times. It sounds absolutely fantastic!
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Postby Tweak on Fri May 12, 2006 6:30 am

>Condensers are by far NOT the only choice for vocals.

I'll second that. I am beginning to think the better the preamp, the more viable dynamics become. With a poor preamp a condenser may give better definition because more transients actually make it through, but that is just a theory at this point.
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Postby ALunarLullaby on Fri May 12, 2006 8:02 am

I would suggest going with one either the A-Designs MP-1A or MP-2A. I own an MP-1 (the previous model) and I love it! It's a very clear pre and doesn't color up the sound much.

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Postby Shadowing on Sun May 14, 2006 7:31 am

Alright thanks alot for the information. That was really helpful.
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Postby Free trade inn on Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:47 pm

What no TL Audio C1 on the list?
ITS GREAT.
Hello by the way :)
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Postby dloadu on Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:01 pm

Hi Guys,

Nobody's menntioned the Chandler Germanium or Avalon M5.

I'm in the market for a class A solid state but my experience is only with mid range stuff (I currently use an spl track one - but just the pre and deeseer, not the comp and eq). So I don't want to just go out and buy as this level starts to get expensive!

So I was wondering what people thought about these? And how do they compare to the Great River/Mercenary ME-1NV?
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Postby _controlfreak on Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:25 pm

I'm going to link this out until the day I die (thanks to skopje for digging it up): http://www.target-music.ch/studio/sounds.htm

Have a listen to both of them for yourself - scroll down a little bit to the "Female Vocals" section. :) That Chandler sounds fantastic!
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Postby dloadu on Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:55 pm

Wow! Thanks for that link Controlfreak. You've just given me the gift of sleep. I'm grateful! Thanks!! Long may you link.

To me the Avalon M5 has that little extra smoothness over the Germanium, with that having the edge over the Great River. I think the M5 will provide that female rnb tube mic diva sound best, which is what I need at the moment. I also liked the DAV. These four definitely seem to outclass all the others in various ways. But I've no doubt thyat's just me, of course!
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Postby Stephent28 on Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:27 pm

Once you start getting above the $2000 range, it really becomes a matter of taste because they all sound great!

I have a Chandler LTD-1, a Great Rivers MEQ-1NV, a Pendulum Audio Quartet, and a DAC BG1.

Best is subjective but my current favorite is the Pendulum.

HOWEVER, for the money, the DAV BG1 is probably the best [darn] preamp I have ever used. It sounds FANTASTIC with almost any mic and improves the sound of instruments that are DI'ed also.
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Postby Stephent28 on Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:29 pm

Oh yeah, the DAV BG1 costs around $700 while all the others I mentioned are between the 2-3 grand range.

Samples of the DAV are on the sound clips link that Controlfreak provided.
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Postby Jude on Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:19 am

is this just for new still able to be bought at the shops preamps?


cos if not i recon the TL Audio 2051 (indigo series) is a ripper. more character than any pre ive ever used. and by far the best for rock vocals out of the focusrite, neve, avalon, etc bunch
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Postby jes&music on Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:37 am

Avalon all the way. 8)

Which Preamp is MOST worth the money spent?


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Postby Nanashi on Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:39 am

Avalon all the way.

Id rahter spend my money on an API3124+ more bang for your buck personally.

But actually the point of saying that is that when you get to pres in this bracket there are no best preamps. The preamp is bought for flavour. So whats the point in saying that if skys the limit i want them all great river me1nv, ADL6000,Avalon, API, ISA.

I think for the moment i'll worry about treating my room and getting an RNP.
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Postby jes&music on Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:06 am

Well I like the coloring that avalon gives that girls voice on Target music. And of all the amps on that site, well you know what I'm gonna say.
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Postby realm on Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:37 am

Does anyone have an opinion on what is the best one for male vocals?
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Postby _controlfreak on Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:48 am

"Male vocals" is probably too broad a term to mandate its own ideal preamp.
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Postby Nanashi on Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:13 pm

I agree with the freak here. In generally most people like thicker sounding preamps it seems on vocals, usually stuff with transformers and colour in contrast to more neutral preamps. I'd imagine for that reason, as an educated guess. that the Grace 201, P2 Analog, Apogee Mini MP would be the less popular choices of this list.

But these are all highend pres and I doubt theres anything one may be really disappointed with.
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Postby realm on Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:20 am

^Thank you.

Sorry to use the word 'best' i already see it's hated around here hehe. To reword my question what would be the general favorite for male rap vocals? I'll be using a U87 with whichever one i choose. However whichever mic sounds better on my voice is the one i'm going to stick with most of the time. Any suggestions?
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Postby Nanashi on Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:18 pm

Rap vocalist seem to like the Avalon 737 a lot, and its common choice for the signature rap sound. However, a lot of people feel its sort of over rated. The one thing is if you produce more than rap music... Its kinda sucky also for versatility. Out of all the pres listed here its probably the only one, I'd probably sell on ebay if someone gave me one for free. The API3124+ would probably be my choice, its supposedly nice thick sound really popular on drums and vocals. that or the MP2NV.

If your doing rap. I'd probably pick up an API A2D there not listed here but there 1700$. You need an interface that hase either an AES Digital input or SPIDF. It has 2 of your 312 Preamps and a highend convertor built in. Of course I'm under the assumption your using a basic interface.

The other thing I'd do is pick up a Shure SM7b/Electrovoice RE20 (400$) if you don't have one. Between that in the U87 you'll have your bases covered for a vocal studio. The SM7b and the RE20 are probably two of the most used vocal mics out there, and for a lot of vocalist are better suited for vocals than a lot of condensors,
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