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Gordon vs. Pueblo (vs. Forssell, Pendulum, NPNG, Audio Upgrades...)
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Rumi
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#151
8th October 2013
Old 8th October 2013
  #151
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As the thread starter, I would like to say some things.

I have already stated that I'm thankful for any input, but that in the end I will carry out these tests in a way that is practical, and seems to me to give the most meaningful data for my future work with those tools.

I have learned some valuable things in this thread, including input about comparison tests, but now it seems to have gone into an area that has little practical value. In the end these tests shall be a help to know more about the "sounds" and behaviors of certain mic preamps. And most of all give us an impression about when to use which, and why. This is independent from the question whether this impression was gained through scientific tests or not. It can even be utterly irrelevant for someone else - but if your recordings got better because of that impression, the goal is met.

For me music recording is not primarily a scientific endeavor. And I have enough experience to know that science is not the ultimate truth. It's just one way to approach things, and like every approach it has its limitations and filters, and unquestioned premises. The important thing is to know your "filters" to the best of your ability. Scott has just sent me an e-mail, saying that the main thing if you intend to get meaningful answers is to understand your question (my paraphrase). I fully agree with that. If you know your limitations the answers have more meaning. Or more concrete: know what you intend to find out, find the best ways to do it, and know the limitations of your way, and how they affect the outcome.
The best way is to get a "feel" for a piece of equipment through continuous use. Such comparison files can support that, but not replace it.

Maybe it's time for a "splitter thread". I am not moved to contribute to that discussion, but also don't mind if it goes on here. People will hopefully still find the posts that have meaning to them.

BTW, I'm looking forward to hearing more of your impressions, Plush!

My first impression about the Pueblo is: Very clear, very 3-D (depth / reach), very smooth frequency-wise, which will likely translate into great stackability in a mix, and very lively.
The MIO 2882 mic pre sounded a bit harsh and flat in comparison, somewhat like the sound was constantly banging against something, but not that bad, considering that this box was not meant to be primarily a mic pre.
The ZAG has mojo, and this great mid-forwardness. The Pueblo "leans back" a little more, which makes it sound clearer, but maybe also less exciting, depending on what you like (and are used) to hear.
The Pueblo has a very relaxed sound, not in the sense of loose, but like it can handle everything. It sounds "ready for whatever will come", which is probably related to high headroom. On the other hand nothing "sticks out" - there was a part in my recording where I played the guitar really hard; in the ZAG recording that jumps out, while the Pueblo has the same (or even more) vivid dynamics, but it's more integrated in the whole picture.
As said, this is my first impression.
#152
8th October 2013
Old 8th October 2013
  #152
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Can you not get them to demo?
I have sent out MANY of my Pres, compressors, DI Pres ect for demo...
Absolutely.I'm in the process of borrowing some.
It's just the thread was helping add insight as well.
............:
Rumi
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#153
8th October 2013
Old 8th October 2013
  #153
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I sat down and made a completely unscientific first test. And had some fun!

So, if anyone would like to hear some music - the number indicates the take, the letter the mic preamp (there were three of them involved in total), and the instrument name stands for the instrument name.

I did my best to match levels, but it was not always easy. You might find some flaws.

To add to the irrelevance, I made those recordings in the control room, the computer fan caused some low-frequency rumble in the mics and added noise, and the bouzouki strings are terribly old, and one string has been replaced with the wrong gauge at the last concert (thus adding some interesting microtonal variations). And I played guitar along the bouzouki while it was playing through the monitors.
So I hope no one feels tempted to state that this test might be flawed, or shows signs of lack of a scientific approach.

I did use the same cables, though (Van den Hul and D.H. Labs Silver Sonic), and phantom always came from the Pueblo unit.

It was fun. And it's not meant as a replacement for the upcoming tests, it's just a first impression.

These are WAV, 16 bit, 44.1 kHz (due to upload restrictions).

Signal flow: instrument (Fylde short scale bouzouki and McIlroy A25 guitar) - MKH 40 pair (roughly 2 feet away, aimed at the soundhole) - Pueblo phantom - mic pres (2 at a time; remember there were 3 total, so A in test 1 is not necessarily A in test 2) - Metric Halo MIO 2882 A/D. 24 bit 88,2 kHz.
Attached Files
File Type: zip 1_A_Bouz.wav.zip (4.86 MB, 57 views) File Type: zip 1_A_Guit.wav.zip (4.75 MB, 58 views) File Type: zip 1_B_Bouz.wav.zip (4.85 MB, 44 views) File Type: zip 1_B_Guit.wav.zip (4.73 MB, 55 views) File Type: zip 2_A_Bouz.wav.zip (5.03 MB, 40 views) File Type: zip 2_A_Guit.wav.zip (4.95 MB, 38 views) File Type: zip 2_B_Bouz.wav.zip (5.01 MB, 40 views) File Type: zip 2_B_Guit.wav.zip (4.94 MB, 36 views)
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#154
8th October 2013
Old 8th October 2013
  #154
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
The MIO 2882 mic pre sounded a bit harsh and flat in comparison to the Pueblo, somewhat like the sound was constantly banging against something.
Today it seemed that the ZAG also shows some of this "stiffness" compared to the Pueblo. "Unrestricted" and "effortless" are words that fit the Pueblo well.

As for level matching, I fould that I get better results if I listen to as little low frequencies as possible while playing both files with polarity reversed, instead of looking for the lowest RMS number.
#155
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #155
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I gave it a quick listen, and keep going back to 1B. Hmmm......
#156
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #156
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Thank you, Rumi, very very much for going to this trouble! I really enjoyed listening to your samples, which clearly showed (in some cases) significant differences. I used cheap headphones, but I think they are sufficient to make some qualified judgments.

I went through the bouzouki samples first. 1A and 1B were spacially similar to my ears, and by that, I mean they both emulated a nice, full stereo field across the left to right. Although I didn't use a spectrum analyzer on the clips, 1A is probably pretty flat, and offered a lot of high frequency detail. However, with the slightly de-tuned bouzouki, the high frequencies are where much of the discordance is, and I found this difficult to listen to quite quickly! 1B had a lower frequency enhancement, and not as much upper frequency translation, and "tamed" the instrument nicely. I might even imagine some sort of unquantifiable "smoothing" going on? 1B was my clear favorite for this application, even though, as a purist, 1A probably offered the most complete audio spectrum.

2A and 2B both sounded spacially "small" by comparison, with a narrower stereo field. This made them sound slightly further away and more difficult to detect nuances, although I would give a slight edge to 2B. Even though I preferred 2B over 2A, these samples were light-years behind 1A and 1B.

I've always found that acoustic guitar is difficult to evaluate in samples like this. There is just so much cross-resonance and harmonics that I have trouble. So why would this be any different than the bouzouki? I don't know. I did not detect the strong difference I noted previously with the stereo field. One or two strings of the guitar were slightly out-of-tune as well, which was distracting to me. I found that these clips were closer to each other than the bouzouki, although I appreciated the warmth and "bottom bigness" of 1B the most...and it was the one I could listen the longest to. I suppose if one were to make a recording of an acoustic guitar, then the MKH 40 would not be my choice...but that's not what this was about.

Thank you again, Rumi, for going to this trouble. I look forward to more samples at some point, if you are able!
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#157
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #157
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Rumi, I cannot listen for the next few days but I wanted to thank you for being persistent and following thru with what you set out to do. That's admirable!

I have been absolutely loving my Pueblos these past few days and am so relieved that they aren't going anywhere this time.

I know its just another high end preamp, among many many great pres available today, but this one does stand out to me. It is, as you said, "always ready" for any type of signal or microphone, and the sound is truly "effortless" compared to other preamps in the same class.

It does take some time to really understand what any new preamp is doing to your microphones, but if you have used your mics for many years and thru many different pres (in consoles and with outboard), then what is likely perceived as a subtle difference to most people may not be so subtle to you. And this is definitely the case for me, especially on microphones I have had for 20 years! My beloved 1948 Telefunken U47 has never sounded this extended and deep. I know this as FACT, and it has reaffirmed the theory that the purest tonal colors come from a microphone that is audibly unaffected by subsequent amplifiers.

You want great tone? Get an amazing guitar and feed it into an amp that lets it sing. OR Get an amazing microphone and feed it into a amp that lets it sing. The tone should come from the source, not a plugin.

I feel that the Pueblo preamp is the most frictionless preamp my mics have ever made voltage love to. The more I listen, the more I am noticing that my ribbons, tubes and condensors (oh my!) are all sounding like they have been living in a cave since birth, but now are suddenly overwhelmed by data that never meant $hit to them before - stuff like room decays and wood resonances are right there saying 'look at me!'.

Also, the high headroom and freakishly low noise level makes the signal suddenly appear from 'black'. I have never heard the Royer's noise floor until the Pueblo, and under certain circumstances, you can easily be fooled into thinking the preamp is not turned on.

And yes, I also think this is a pre that's gonna stack well in a mix - we'll see. There is nothing that pokes out like many other pres do in order get your attention upon first listen (in SOLO) and then the honeymoon wears off once you start mixing... hello fizzy top, hello muddy bottom, hello etched mids. In a nutshell, the Pueblo gets out of the way BETTER than any preamp I have heard or owned to date, including the Forssell and Buzz MA2.2 (transformerless output), both of which I absolutely love to death as well.

Looking forward to experimenting more with the Pueblos after I get back from AES. I will also find a way to post recorded files on GS that I feel are worthy enough to allow proper deduction of a preamp's quality over the internet. I am also soon getting a JCF Latte to play with, and Jonte Knif is sending me his awesome Soma soon as well! Ok, now I am bragging...

So lucky and grateful to have access to such wonderful gear by top designers. Modern day heroes!
#158
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #158
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i like:
guitar 2b/1a (2b gordon?, 1a forsell?)
bouzouki 1a/2a (1a forsell?, 2a gordon?)

thanks so much rumi!!!

michael
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#159
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #159
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I am sorry for the out-of-tune instruments. These recordings were done just for fun as a quick first test, and I didn't intend to share those files, until after listening to them for a while, when I had the impression that they might be useful for some others, too. I will do proper recordings soon.

Someone from Switzerland has offered me his Schoeps for the tests, and he might even contribute some flute playing, or at least attend the tests. I have checked his music projects on the internet, and like the music very much.

The instrument's intonation was likely affected by the hot air current coming from the computer's fan. Next time I will record in the recording room!
This noise helped disguise the MIO, though. Since the MIO 2882's mic pres are pretty noisy, it would have been easy to distinguish them from the Pueblo by the noise (you can still do that, if you listen closely, though).
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#160
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rici View Post
i like:
guitar 2b/1a (2b gordon?, 1a forsell?)
bouzouki 1a/2a (1a forsell?, 2a gordon?)

thanks so much rumi!!!

michael
Hi my friend!

As you should know (well, if you were able to keep track...), I have not had the pleasure of recording with a Gordon yet. And the Forssell wasn't involved in those tests
You have actually worked with two of the three units used for these tests. And it shouldn't be that hard to find out what the third unit is...

I would like to hear more about your voting, since it looks interesting (and poses some questions ). Let's talk soon!

Best,
Rumi
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#161
9th October 2013
Old 9th October 2013
  #161
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcfromfl View Post
Thank you, Rumi, very very much for going to this trouble! I really enjoyed listening to your samples, which clearly showed (in some cases) significant differences. I used cheap headphones, but I think they are sufficient to make some qualified judgments.

I went through the bouzouki samples first. 1A and 1B were spacially similar to my ears, and by that, I mean they both emulated a nice, full stereo field across the left to right. Although I didn't use a spectrum analyzer on the clips, 1A is probably pretty flat, and offered a lot of high frequency detail. However, with the slightly de-tuned bouzouki, the high frequencies are where much of the discordance is, and I found this difficult to listen to quite quickly! 1B had a lower frequency enhancement, and not as much upper frequency translation, and "tamed" the instrument nicely. I might even imagine some sort of unquantifiable "smoothing" going on? 1B was my clear favorite for this application, even though, as a purist, 1A probably offered the most complete audio spectrum.

2A and 2B both sounded spacially "small" by comparison, with a narrower stereo field. This made them sound slightly further away and more difficult to detect nuances, although I would give a slight edge to 2B. Even though I preferred 2B over 2A, these samples were light-years behind 1A and 1B.

I've always found that acoustic guitar is difficult to evaluate in samples like this. There is just so much cross-resonance and harmonics that I have trouble. So why would this be any different than the bouzouki? I don't know. I did not detect the strong difference I noted previously with the stereo field. One or two strings of the guitar were slightly out-of-tune as well, which was distracting to me. I found that these clips were closer to each other than the bouzouki, although I appreciated the warmth and "bottom bigness" of 1B the most...and it was the one I could listen the longest to. I suppose if one were to make a recording of an acoustic guitar, then the MKH 40 would not be my choice...but that's not what this was about.

Thank you again, Rumi, for going to this trouble. I look forward to more samples at some point, if you are able!
Thanks for your notes!

Did you notice that you can play the files together per take? That is, if you're at all moved to listen to those out-of-tune sounds again.

The differences in the takes you perceived were likely due to different mic placement. The mics were fix, but the second time I might have sat down differently, or held the instrument differently (I didn't focus on proper or consistent mic placement). And 1 seems to be louder, as far as I recall.
BTW, they are all mono files. But of course mono files can behave very differently in relation to "perceived stereo spaciousness". I would also check how the instruments "talk with each other" when you listen to them both together in those files (panned to the sides a bit), and how they "sit in the space".
As an example, in another test with all mono recordings, the MKH 40 files sounded much closer and more defined than the Gefell M 94 files. The M 94 files sounded like the instruments were a big distant haze, while the MKH 40 files showed them as clearly defined dry instruments.

I found the MKH 40 to be a very "truthful" mic for stringed instruments. Why don't you like it for that, and what would you use instead?

Best,
Rumi
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#162
10th October 2013
Old 10th October 2013
  #162
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Karl has just informed me that my new NPNG is on its way! I am very much looking forward. Karl obivously has an amazing commitment in relation to his units. He went over the secondhand unit, made sure that it is up to specs, installed two more channels, replaced the frontplate, and now gives me full warranty for a unit that I initially bought secondhand!
#163
10th October 2013
Old 10th October 2013
  #163
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
Karl has just informed me that my new NPNG is on its way! I am very much looking forward. Karl obivously has an amazing commitment in relation to his units. He went over the secondhand unit, made sure that it is up to specs, installed two more channels, replaced the frontplate, and now gives me full warranty for a unit that I initially bought secondhand!
Labour of Love! Every unit that NPNG builds is ALL done by Karl's hand! He takes his product really serious and takes his time to hand tweak them for each customer's order.

It's not just "assembled" it's conjured!

Karl is one of the most amazing dudes on this planet, he is always going out of his way to make sure ALL customers are happy. His time is worth a lot of dough, [I know this because I always ask him to build me cool stuff..] He is a master tech and is always working on fixing something!

I cannot wait to see what he does next with new NPNG hardware.

Also, watching to see which preamps ya'll prefer,

Nothing beats using the stuff to find out,


peace
a.j.b
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#164
13th October 2013
Old 13th October 2013
  #164
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Hi Rumi,

I loaded the samples into Cubase and have been listening to them in stereo slightly panned L and R. Most definitely, 1B and 2B have an openness and sense of space far beyond the other two samples. I really look forward to trying out my new Pueblo preamps, they should arrive by Friday.

Thanks again for the clips! Did your NPNG arrive yet? How does it compare?

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#165
13th October 2013
Old 13th October 2013
  #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Labour of Love! Every unit that NPNG builds is ALL done by Karl's hand! He takes his product really serious and takes his time to hand tweak them for each customer's order.

It's not just "assembled" it's conjured!

Karl is one of the most amazing dudes on this planet, he is always going out of his way to make sure ALL customers are happy. His time is worth a lot of dough, [I know this because I always ask him to build me cool stuff..] He is a master tech and is always working on fixing something!

I cannot wait to see what he does next with new NPNG hardware.

Also, watching to see which preamps ya'll prefer,

Nothing beats using the stuff to find out,


peace
a.j.b
Already seeing how the unit was packed gives you clear indicators that Karl is devoted to the smallest detail. It was very thoroughly packed, and every tape was overlapping at its end, so that there was a "handle" to tear it off.

The NPNG micpre seems to sound great. First impression: very meaty and neutral, somewhere between the grip of the Forssell and the airy sound of the Pueblo. But I need to make more tests and recordings to really say something about those preamps.
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#166
13th October 2013
Old 13th October 2013
  #166
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabasa View Post
Hi Rumi,

I loaded the samples into Cubase and have been listening to them in stereo slightly panned L and R. Most definitely, 1B and 2B have an openness and sense of space far beyond the other two samples. I really look forward to trying out my new Pueblo preamps, they should arrive by Friday.

Thanks again for the clips! Did your NPNG arrive yet? How does it compare?

Yes, B is the Pueblo in those samples. 1A is MIO 2882, 2A is ZAG.

The NPNG is here, and we compared it to Pueblo, Forssell, and DAV. Erich, the owner of the DAV, said "Well, let's put that DAV away" after hearing Pueblo and Forssell. His conclusion seems to be that there is indeed sound quality beyond DAV. The DAV seemed to be interesting for this certain thick coloration, but doesn't seem to be in the league of Pueblo, NPNG, Forssell & Co.
#167
13th October 2013
Old 13th October 2013
  #167
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Nonsense! I cannot agree with what you write about d.a.v. electronics Broadhurst Gardens mic amp range. I have and use them up against the best and I mix and match them on the same recordings with Gordon, Pueblo, Hardy, Schoeps VSR-5, Fearn, etc. The d.a.v. electronics mic amps sound just as good as the other ones.

When one gets to the level of using very good neutral mics, the mic amp is only amplifying what the mics hear.

Files are a junk way to compare mic amps. The important defining reason is because no one listening to the files knows how the test was done nor can they hear the console feed to compare and contrast the various sounds.

Once you encode a file, it could be a junk encode.

Please continue testing, please continue listening. Listen for a week to each mic amp with the same mics and the same instruments. Then switch mic amps and live with that one listening each day for a week. Then the next mic amp the same way.

The best mic amp will be the one you want to hear more of after those weeks of listening.

Call us in 6 weeks.
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#168
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
  #168
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Hi Plush,

I fully agree! The only way to get to know a preamp is to use it over a long period of time. The procedure you describe sounds like a lot of fun. I wish I had the time for such thorough tests.
What I'm currently doing is direct comparisons, though, to get a first impression of them.

Erich came and brought his DAV, that was the first and only time I had one in my studio. What I wrote in my post were paraphrases of his comments. I haven't worked with the DAV long enough to say much. What I've noticed though in comparison to Pueblo etc. is a certain sound that I described as "thick", which seems to be somewhat related to your "syrupy".

Since I played on those recordings and recorded them, I indeed know how the source sounded and what the setup was, so these files have meaning to me.
What seems obvious though is that it is very hard to compare preamps (or anything else) if you don't use the exact same take (we only had two Schoeps MK2 Hs, so we recorded AB stereo with one preamp, then switched preamps, and recorded the next take. I got up after each take to change cables). If you know the sound of the preamps, you can hear it in those files, but those files alone are no real help to determine how a preamp sounds. Too many unknown variables.

I will continue to make comparison recordings through these preamps, and likely also post them here. I don't mind if you're not interested in them.

What I do wish though is that you let us know your findings with the Pueblo. That would be highly appreciated.
I am even willing to wait six weeks for that.
#169
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
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I agree with Plush about DAV preamps. My BG No. 8 gets a lot of use. The sound comes out nearly mixed and mastered. 4ch of Gordon Model 5 provide a deep, detailed reach with long quiet tails. I hope to soon put 2 Forssell SMP-500s in an API lunchbox next to the LaChapell 583s that deliver tube/XFMR sound. Forssell is subtly tube-like but quieter, faster, punchier.

Nothing in my kit does microdynamics like the Gordon. Pueblo seems to also have a detailed deep reach and black quietness, but something else going on that's still mysterious. I've only heard clips and comments and can't wait to try one out myself.
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#170
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
  #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
I agree with Plush about DAV preamps. My BG No. 8 gets a lot of use. The sound comes out nearly mixed and mastered.
I guess someday I will get/borrow a DAV and really try it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
4ch of Gordon Model 5 provide a deep, detailed reach with long quiet tails.
Ah, Gordon is still on my wish-to-try list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
Forssell is subtly tube-like but quieter, faster, punchier.
Yes!
How would you describe the LaChapell?
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#171
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
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Here are some more comparison clips.

This time I recorded in the recording room, and the intonation is better. The bouzouki still has the same old strings, though.

Microphones are two mono Sennheiser MKH 40, around 2,5 feet away, pointing to the soundhole from slightly above, and slightly from the neck side, each feeding one preamp at a time (so 2 preamps per take and instrument).

In file 4 I played around on the guitar, while the bouzouki was re-tuned on the previously recorded track that was playing in the headphones. When I listened to it afterwards I had the impression that it shows quite a bit of the two mic pres' characteristics, so I included it here.

These are 24 bit mono 44,1 WAVs.
5, 6 and 7 are too big for gearslutz. I have to bounce them again in 16 bit.
Attached Files
File Type: zip 3A_Bouz.wav.zip (9.02 MB, 37 views) File Type: zip 3A_Guit.wav.zip (8.83 MB, 48 views) File Type: zip 3B_Bouz.wav.zip (9.03 MB, 42 views) File Type: zip 3B_Guit.wav.zip (8.84 MB, 42 views) File Type: zip 4A_Guit.wav.zip (6.39 MB, 33 views) File Type: zip 4B_Guit.wav.zip (6.41 MB, 34 views) File Type: zip 8A_Bouz.wav.zip (3.88 MB, 31 views) File Type: zip 8A_Guit.wav.zip (2.48 MB, 32 views) File Type: zip 8B_Bouz.wav.zip (3.89 MB, 27 views) File Type: zip 8B_Guit.wav.zip (2.48 MB, 30 views)
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#172
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
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These are the 16bit files. I only have the 44,1kHz 24bit files with me, so I bounced them to 16bit with noise shaping dither.
Attached Files
File Type: wav 5A_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 30 views) File Type: wav 5A_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 37 views) File Type: wav 5B_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 22 views) File Type: wav 5B_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 41 views) File Type: wav 6A_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 23 views) File Type: wav 6A_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 57 views) File Type: wav 6B_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 22 views) File Type: wav 6B_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 45 views) File Type: wav 7A_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 34 views) File Type: wav 7A_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 38 views) File Type: wav 7B_Bouz.wav (3.87 MB, 40 views) File Type: wav 7B_Guit.wav (3.87 MB, 34 views)
#173
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
  #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
How would you describe the LaChapell?
It depends on what tube you have in it and how hard it's driven with relative ratio of input knob vs output knob. The sound is very sensitive to your input gain; the mic output level is also a factor. Gain is not calibrated, it's fully variable.

The RCA blackplate tubes I use are pretty fast and "clean" sounding as tubes go. Telefunken and some others are described as smoother, slower, creamier, warmer, fatter, etc.

This is totally different from a Gordon Model 5 which is carefully engineered to sound precisely the same at all gain levels under any output load.

The 583s has a sweet, subtle tubey sound with some XFMR fattening of lows and swelling of mids which get bigger as the tube is pushed harder. Detail is less than solid state. But for mixes where a small number of instruments or voices, for example, need to have body to fill a soundstage it can be very helpful. It's a creative tool that way. Add some room mics or a good verb in post and you're there.
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#174
14th October 2013
Old 14th October 2013
  #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
It depends on what tube you have in it and how hard it's driven with relative ratio of input knob vs output knob. The sound is very sensitive to your input gain; the mic output level is also a factor. Gain is not calibrated, it's fully variable.

The RCA blackplate tubes I use are pretty fast and "clean" sounding as tubes go. Telefunken and some others are described as smoother, slower, creamier, warmer, fatter, etc.

This is totally different from a Gordon Model 5 which is carefully engineered to sound precisely the same at all gain levels under any output load.

It has a sweet, subtle tubey sound with some XFMR fattening of lows and swelling of mids as the tube is driven harder. Detail is less than solid state. But for mixes where a small number of instruments or voices, for example, need to body and must fill a soundstage it can be very helpful. It's a creative tool that way. Add some room mics or a good verb in post and you're there.
Thank you very much for this detailed review, Michael! That description reminds me of the TAB V76, which I still have great associations with.

I was too reluctant when a LaChapell 992EG was on ebay for $2500 recently, and no one bid. It was sold the second time round for $2600.

And now I have bought 16 channels of solid state preamps... It will take me a while to get to know them. If I find that I still need some tube preamps after that, LaChapell might be considered. The ADL 600 also seems interesting.

I've got the Mercury M72s for that thick "already mastered" vocal sound, as well as the Pendulums, and then the Forssell for that special grip you described so well. And the NPNG seems to be quite full yet dry and precise sounding. Quite a palette!

I feel it's starting to be more about microphones now...

I have been doing music recording for 30 years, 15 as a professional studio owner, but have gone through quite some changes in the last years, and have only recently started to really work with audio again. I am currently in a bit of a honeymoon with it...
#175
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
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583 is LaChapell's least colored series. I favor cleaner pickup for acoustic instruments and 583 does it beautifully. Not too much, just enough tube/XFMR to do the job.
#176
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
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Again, Rumi, thank you very much for your generous contribution and sharing with GS members hungry for that elusive perfect pre!

First, some general comments. I know you were paying careful attention to level-matching, but the samples are at too low a volume to be able to tell much. I had my audio driver turned up to 100%, and still the samples weren't quite at what I would call a satisfactory, comparative "listening volume." (Normal listening levels on my computer are about 25-30%.) I found whatever subtle differences were audible in the 24-bit files only -- the 16-bit files are so close to each other that it must be written off to compression issues and/or loss of resolution. And finally, for me, this sort of test is only useful if the sound source is the same each time. For that reason, I only found the 3A and 3B samples matching my "evaluative criteria."

Unlike before, the differences in the bouzouki didn't jump out as they did previously. Between 3A and 3B there was a slight bass emphasis in 3B, but that's all I could really determine.

What struck me this time were the guitar samples, which I usually am not able to apply much weight to. Like the bouzouki samples, 3B came across a bit richer because of the bass. But there was clearly another difference, that made me prefer 3A. There is a subtle "sweetness" to 3A that I can't quite put my finger on. Sweetness may not be quite the right word, as the sound itself wasn't necessarily "smooth" or "perfectly in pitch." What I mean by "sweet" is the detail that caused my emotion to feel MORE like I was listening intimately to a guitar in front of me, vs. 3B. Is it perhaps a slight boost to a coincidental higher frequency (high mid or low high?) that resonates especially well in the instrument, or is the preamp actually successful in capturing a detail that 3B misses? This is a case where it would clearly be the better choice to go with the preamp in 3A, and EQ in the lower frequencies slightly. BTW, you're a great picker!

This is pure conjecture on my part, but is it possible that the sweetness I noted in 3A would become annoying upon further listens? I don't know. Perhaps some slight compression would tame whatever discordant harmonics are jumping out of this frequency, while still preserving the detail? I'm not an engineer...

I, too, wish that I could hear a Gordon someday. So far, I think you deserve top honors as one of the few that have gone the extra mile in posting samples that pay the closest attention to leveling the playing field! Thank you again for your efforts!
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#177
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
  #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
583 is LaChapell's least colored series. I favor cleaner pickup for acoustic instruments and 583 does it beautifully. Not too much, just enough tube/XFMR to do the job.
So is the 583 not a 500-version of the 992EG?

I also prefer clean for acoustic music. Still there are some mic pres (like the V76) that do "sweet clean", which can enhance it very nicely, as you wrote about the LaChapell.
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#178
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
  #178
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcfromfl View Post
Again, Rumi, thank you very much for your generous contribution and sharing with GS members hungry for that elusive perfect pre!

First, some general comments. I know you were paying careful attention to level-matching, but the samples are at too low a volume to be able to tell much. I had my audio driver turned up to 100%, and still the samples weren't quite at what I would call a satisfactory, comparative "listening volume." (Normal listening levels on my computer are about 25-30%.) I found whatever subtle differences were audible in the 24-bit files only -- the 16-bit files are so close to each other that it must be written off to compression issues and/or loss of resolution. And finally, for me, this sort of test is only useful if the sound source is the same each time. For that reason, I only found the 3A and 3B samples matching my "evaluative criteria."

Unlike before, the differences in the bouzouki didn't jump out as they did previously. Between 3A and 3B there was a slight bass emphasis in 3B, but that's all I could really determine.

What struck me this time were the guitar samples, which I usually am not able to apply much weight to. Like the bouzouki samples, 3B came across a bit richer because of the bass. But there was clearly another difference, that made me prefer 3A. There is a subtle "sweetness" to 3A that I can't quite put my finger on. Sweetness may not be quite the right word, as the sound itself wasn't necessarily "smooth" or "perfectly in pitch." What I mean by "sweet" is the detail that caused my emotion to feel MORE like I was listening intimately to a guitar in front of me, vs. 3B. Is it perhaps a slight boost to a coincidental higher frequency (high mid or low high?) that resonates especially well in the instrument, or is the preamp actually successful in capturing a detail that 3B misses? This is a case where it would clearly be the better choice to go with the preamp in 3A, and EQ in the lower frequencies slightly. BTW, you're a great picker!

This is pure conjecture on my part, but is it possible that the sweetness I noted in 3A would become annoying upon further listens? I don't know. Perhaps some slight compression would tame whatever discordant harmonics are jumping out of this frequency, while still preserving the detail? I'm not an engineer...

I, too, wish that I could hear a Gordon someday. So far, I think you deserve top honors as one of the few that have gone the extra mile in posting samples that pay the closest attention to leveling the playing field! Thank you again for your efforts!
Hi,

you could download Reaper for free, and load the files into it, and raise the master volume by 6 - 8 dB. That way you could also compare them directly, by putting them on different tracks, with the same starting point. It is hard to hear the differences if you can't switch immediately, and at the exact same place of the performance. The SWS extensions for Reaper allow some great possibilities with snapshots to switch mutes (or whole mixes).
I have switched from Logic (and Pro Tools way back in the 90ies) to Reaper, and it's like finally having a professional tool to work with.

Gord has just sent me the correct guesses for take 7 (I had asked him to send me his comments about number 7, because I find that the most interesting comparison). He guessed the correct preamps, and described their sound differences in the same way that I do. So if it's not telepathy, it must be the preamps!

There was no data compression (or audio compression) involved for the 16bit files, only bit truncation and dither.

Try to listen at different volumes. I find it easier to hear differences between those files at rather loud reproduction levels.

Every number has the identical sound source, e.g. takes 6 were recorded simultaneously with two mics close together. Between takes I got up and changed cables, so the mic placing could be slightly different, and also the levels don't match between takes.

I did my best to level match the corresponding pairs, but it is still useful to slightly vary levels during comparisons, and listen to the effects that has.

3A: Thanks for the compliments! I guess I have to change the tune now, in order to not drive us who listen to those files mad!
The sweetness of that preamp has been described nicely by Michael. There is indeed something going on in the mids. And for my ears it has a slight low-mid boost that makes tracks "sit" more.
For stacking this low-mid bump could become an issue. I don't get that the sweetening could become one. It's still a very clean mic pre.

By the way, 3 and 5 only differ in the pick I used (and maybe very slight mic position changes). In 3 I used a soft Fred Kelly nylon pick for both instruments, and in 5 a Dunlop Ultex .60, which is crispier sounding.

Thank you for saying that those files are useful! I find them to be more revealing than most comparison files I've found on gearslutz (Ivo's files are often very useful, and Syra's test supported my buying the NPNG blindly).
#179
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
  #179
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
So is the 583 not a 500-version of the 992EG?
No, the 992 is a harmonic cream box with 8 tubes and two transformers (input and output). Adjustable cream but inescapable character at all gain settings.

The 583/983 models have one input tube and one transformer per channel and solid state output stage.

The 992 is a super sweetener with "warm melodic character and rich low-end response". While the 583/982 have the same character or DNA, they don't pour it on, they give you a small drop of cream with a little sugar. The shorter and simpler signal path is definitely faster and more detailed.
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#180
15th October 2013
Old 15th October 2013
  #180
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Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
No, the 992 is a harmonic cream box with 8 tubes and two transformers (input and output). Adjustable cream but inescapable character at all gain settings.

The 583/983 models have one input tube and one transformer per channel and solid state output stage.

The 992 is a super sweetener with "warm melodic character and rich low-end response". The 583/982 models have the same character or DNA, but they don't pour it on, they give you a small drop of cream with a little bit of sugar. The signal path is shorter and simpler, sounding quite a bit faster and more detailed to my ear.
Wow, thanks alot for that info, I wasn't aware of that!

"inescapable character" - I like that wording!
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