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Langevin am-16 or Api 312 as first preamp?
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sampler80
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#1
26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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Langevin am-16 or Api 312 as first preamp?

Hi!

I have to choose between them for my first pro preamp.
A friend of mine will rack them so I can't hear their sound before.

I've worked in the past on an Avalon 737 (which I don't like that much) and a JoeMeek Vc1 (not really pro).

What would you suggest as a "general purpouse" pre?
I have to record drums, guitars (el and ac), vox... and passing synths thru them to add some color.

Thanks, Nick.
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26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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API.

I've never heard a Langevin AM-16, but as an answer to your question about what I would suggest as a general purpose preamp, API. No matter what it's up against.
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26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sampler80
Hi!

I have to choose between them for my first pro preamp.
A friend of mine will rack them so I can't hear their sound before.

I've worked in the past on an Avalon 737 (which I don't like that much) and a JoeMeek Vc1 (not really pro).

What would you suggest as a "general purpouse" pre?
I have to record drums, guitars (el and ac), vox... and passing synths thru them to add some color.

Thanks, Nick.
The AM-16 may be vintage, and it may sound nice...but the issues many have with vintage mic pres (and old gear in general) can be found in the AM-16. (Slightly high noise specs, increased IM distortion and lower headroom.)

It may be what you are looking for.

I think you will find much more utility with the APIs...plus they will have excellent resale value.

Good luck,
David
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26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David@MVS
The AM-16 may be vintage, and it may sound nice...but the issues many have with vintage mic pres (and old gear in general) can be found in the AM-16. (Slightly high noise specs, increased IM distortion and lower headroom.)

It may be what you are looking for.

I think you will find much more utility with the APIs...plus they will have excellent resale value.

Good luck,
David
If you have an AM-16 that is noisy and has distortion or lower headroom then you have a unit that is seriously ****ed up. I have 4 along with about 10 other channels of Langevin mic pre's sitting next to my 6 API 312's and while they may have different flavors I have never had any of the problems mentioned above. Get someone competent to rack them and they will be amazing units.

As far as which one to pick? The 312 is sort of a standard that everyone knows and will add some bling factor to your clients but the Langevins sound just amazing. So I guess the answer is you need both.
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26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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I was in a similar situation when I bought my first respectable pres. I went with a racked pair of BAE312s and never looked back. I use them on everything (obviously, they are the only ones I have worth mentioning!) -- guitars, synths, bass, and vox (drums are ITB) and they sound wonderful to my ears. You can't go wrong with any API as a general all-around pre.
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26th April 2006
Old 26th April 2006
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I have both, I guess I'd go with the BAE 312 first.
I think the AM-16's don;t seem quite as hmm, HiFi, they are vibey.
They seem to end up on OH's for me, and acoustic guitar in a rock mix.
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27th April 2006
Old 27th April 2006
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Get the API's!
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27th April 2006
Old 27th April 2006
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I have a pair Langevin mic pres. I'm not much of a gearslut because I have no idea what the model number is, maybe someone can help me. It does not have tubes, it has a push button attenuator, hi and lo shelving eq and a big output knob.

These are huge sounding pres, very musical, the eq is great, and they are ultra quiet.

As of now I prefer them to my APIs, but my tastes change with the seasons.

It seems like the langevins are harder to find but you can buy APIs anywhere. I don't think you could go wrong with either one.
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27th April 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clearwave
I have a pair Langevin mic pres. I'm not much of a gearslut because I have no idea what the model number is, maybe someone can help me. It does not have tubes, it has a push button attenuator, hi and lo shelving eq and a big output knob.

These are huge sounding pres, very musical, the eq is great, and they are ultra quiet.

As of now I prefer them to my APIs, but my tastes change with the seasons.

It seems like the langevins are harder to find but you can buy APIs anywhere. I don't think you could go wrong with either one.
Are they a channel strip? If so they are the Langevin Am-401 or as I call them the AM-4a after the console they were taken out of. I had a console with 7 of them. I sold 2 cnls, 1 is totally screwed up, and I have the other 4 racked. I agree. They are huge sounding and the eq is actually quite nice for most things. Mine are some of the later ones that I have seen. I don't have the attenuator knobs, mine have Duncan faders.

Michael Greene
sampler80
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1st May 2006
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Any other suggestion?

Thanks, Nick.
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1st May 2006
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As a Langevin lover & owner, I have experienced more gearLUST reaction from people over API. If you care about how they sound for YOU, either pre is ROCK SOLID SEXINESS soundwise when they are in good shape, but if its about your BUSINESS and people choosing your studio because of your equipment list, the APIs are a step above. My $0.02.....
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1st May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen
As a Langevin lover & owner, I have experienced more gearLUST reaction from people over API. If you care about how they sound for YOU, either pre is ROCK SOLID SEXINESS soundwise when they are in good shape, but if its about your BUSINESS and people choosing your studio because of your equipment list, the APIs are a step above. My $0.02.....
Exactly. Nobody even noticed my Langevin's until Brain Roth re-racked them and I put on the bright green chicken head knobs. Now they stand out like, well, a green chicken?
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1st May 2006
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Michael, well, the original racking left a bit to be desired, but the green chicken heads probably FIXED all remaining issues <G!>.

Bri
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1st May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianroth
Michael, well, the original racking left a bit to be desired, but the green chicken heads probably FIXED all remaining issues <G!>.

Bri
Easily the understatement of the year. But Brian made them look sweet. The Green Chicken Heads were just the icing on your delicious cake!!!!

To everyone else who needs a racking job done. Brian kicks some serious butt!!!!!
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1st May 2006
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god knows i love all things api, but if i faced the choice you are facing i wouldn't hesitate to nab the langevins.

i'm all about the secret weapons.


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1st May 2006
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I agree about "the secret weapon". In fact everyone seems to have Api...
I still haven't understood the sound of the Langevins but I'm completely in love with them... they're so beautifully made, while Api are only...a card...

Going technical... what about db? I've heard Langevins have 45db... Has Api more gain?
What are the sources where Langevin excel?

Thanks for these precious contributions to my limited knowledge.
Nick
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2nd May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sampler80
I agree about "the secret weapon". In fact everyone seems to have Api...
I still haven't understood the sound of the Langevins but I'm completely in love with them... they're so beautifully made, while Api are only...a card...

Going technical... what about db? I've heard Langevins have 45db... Has Api more gain?
What are the sources where Langevin excel?

Thanks for these precious contributions to my limited knowledge.
Nick
Yep. The AM-16's are only 45 db of gain while my API's seem like 55-60 db. What do they sound good on? Pretty much everything. I love them on drums, elec gtrs, ac gtr's with a mic to give you enough gain, piano sounds really solid and beefy, I like them on vocals especially rock vocals. Very solid, punchy, Little more lows than the API's and the mids don't seem as forward. Just a very punchy well balanced class A mic pre.

I am going to stop talking about them now so that I can still get them on ebay for less than the API's. I love my API's though, they are just a different great flavor.
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2nd May 2006
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The AM-16's were somewhat "typical" of the time that they were made. They have a fixed 45 dB of gain.

Is that enough? Too much?

Welllllll......

"Enough" gain would depend upon whether or not you are recording a flute at 50' away with a ribbon mic.

"Too Much" gain could be a problem with a high output mic closely located to a Marshall stack with the volume contol at "11".

The second situation I mentioned is easy to correct, though. It's called PADDING, although you have to be careful how the pads are designed so the tonality isn't seriously compromised.

Later preamp designs, such as the API opamps, allowed a change of gain of the amplifier stage, but that is not without problems, either.

OTOH, the Langevin amps were intentionally designed to operate at a fixed gain, and various "kludges" to vary the gain that I've encountered are just that..a kludge!

To properly use something such as the Langevins, you need to use them as intended (and NOT as some folks have tried to mod them as "variable gain")...with input and/or out pads.

Bri
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2nd May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianroth
The AM-16's were somewhat "typical" of the time that they were made. They have a fixed 45 dB of gain.

Is that enough? Too much?

Welllllll......

"Enough" gain would depend upon whether or not you are recording a flute at 50' away with a ribbon mic.

"Too Much" gain could be a problem with a high output mic closely located to a Marshall stack with the volume contol at "11".

The second situation I mentioned is easy to correct, though. It's called PADDING, although you have to be careful how the pads are designed so the tonality isn't seriously compromised.

Later preamp designs, such as the API opamps, allowed a change of gain of the amplifier stage, but that is not without problems, either.

OTOH, the Langevin amps were intentionally designed to operate at a fixed gain, and various "kludges" to vary the gain that I've encountered are just that..a kludge!

To properly use something such as the Langevins, you need to use them as intended (and NOT as some folks have tried to mod them as "variable gain")...with input and/or out pads.

Bri
Just to give everyone an idea of what Brian is talking about: My previous racking job of the Langevin AM-16's was done by a well known tech in Southern California. He blew all sorts of smoke up my rectal cavity about his skills. When I got the units back not only did they look like total crap they never actually seemed to work as well as they should. They sounded good but they never had enough gain for most things except maybe drums. After spending a number of years with them only working off and on and also that tech not returning any calls or emails I had pretty much shelved them as unreliable. Last year I decided that it was time to get them re racked and found Brian through Gearslutz and PSW. When I sent them to him he mentioned that they were wired wrong. The impedance was wrong, and the pad structure was wrong. We talked about how to properly pad the inputs and outputs and he went to work.

When he returned the units to me they looked great, Were racked really strong and bullet proof, and sounded amazing. Much more open, clear, and robust than I had ever heard them before. The other amazing thing is they had more gain than I ever would have thought. I rarely ever run them wide open now. With todays hot output mic's the gain is usually more than sufficient.

In my research I have seen a number of ways that guys are racking these and most of the time it is wrong. With these modules it will really affect the functionality of the pre's.

FWIW, The only people I have found who rack them correctly are Brian Roth, Helsing Audio, and JLM in Australia. All these guys do incredible work and are very reasonable on price. There are some who charge quite a bit more and do ok work but I have never felt that confident about when talking to them.
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2nd May 2006
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The Langevins are cool-a-riffic, and if you had not said FIRST mic-pre, I'd say, great, get 'em. If you can afford both Langevin and API, do that. But if you can only choose one, it's clear cut: API API API. Gotta have it, first and foremost. I've been using 312s and 512s for 20 years and I still use them every session. They are IMO the best-sounding, most versatile pres ever made. You can use them on anything and everything. The only other pre I'd say the same about would be a Great River MP-2NV or MAYBE a Neve 1073/1084.
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2nd May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJGreene Audio
When he returned the units to me they looked great, Were racked really strong and bullet proof, and sounded amazing.
Could you post a pic of the units?
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2nd May 2006
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2nd May 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steamy Williams
Could post a pic of the units?
Green knob unit below the Vintech's.

The bottom unit is one pair of my 4 Langevin 401 (AM4a modules)
Attached Thumbnails
Langevin am-16 or Api 312 as first preamp?-mikesrack-small.jpg  
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3rd May 2006
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Hi Brian!

You seem to be the right man to rack these Langevins... but I live in Italy, I think it's gonna be very expensive to ship the units seaside twice.

Could you get me some advices for racking them properly?

I'll not do it myself, the man who sells them to me is a good techician but has never racked Langevins. He racked lots of Api, Neve, Telefunken, Rca...

Is racking Langevins that different? What are the most important things to take care of?

Thanks, Nick.
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