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Do I need a Pre-Amp?
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JBr33zymusic
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#1
26th March 2012
Old 26th March 2012
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Do I need a Pre-Amp?

#2
26th March 2012
Old 26th March 2012
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The interface you're using has built-in preamps. Generally external preamps are of higher quality (and yield a better sound), but if you're happy with the sound you're getting right now, then there would be no reason you'd need an external preamp.

Jason
#3
19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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What about me? the specs don't mention a pre-amp

The following is with respect to recording my guitar's signal into a PC...dry...no processors or amps:

My PC's onboard Realtek sound card's 3.5mm input isn't loud enough, so as a result, when recording into a DAW like Reaper, the recorded amplitudes only use up maybe 10-15% of the 16bit headroom. This forces me to increase the post-input volume, which results in a too noisy signal.
Years ago I bought an M-Audio Delta44, only to find that it's input was lower in volume than even my 15$ sound card's input..but I'm hoping, even on lower-end hardware, that modern equpiment has solved this volume issue.

I'm looking at a $299 TASCAM US-1800 USB audio interface for my PC (multiple ins/outs, headphone monitor, MIDI in/out, etc.). But will it have a decent input level?
#4
19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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...I don't really know what I'm looking for, spec-wise

From Page 20 of the manual (...talking about inputs 9 & 10):
http://tascam.com/content/downloads/...1800_om_va.pdf

Guitar Inputs (Unbalanced) terminals (GUITAR 9-10) Connector: 6.3 mm (1/4") TS Standard Phone jack
(Tip: HOT, Sleeve: GND)
Input impedance: 700 kOhm
Nominal input level: -6 dBV (0.501 Vrms)
Minimum input level: -52 dBV (0.0025 Vrms)
Max. Input level: +10 dBV (3.162 Vrms)
#5
19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selection7 View Post
The following is with respect to recording my guitar's signal into a PC...dry...no processors or amps:

My PC's onboard Realtek sound card's 3.5mm input isn't loud enough, so as a result, when recording into a DAW like Reaper, the recorded amplitudes only use up maybe 10-15% of the 16bit headroom. This forces me to increase the post-input volume, which results in a too noisy signal.
Years ago I bought an M-Audio Delta44, only to find that it's input was lower in volume than even my 15$ sound card's input..but I'm hoping, even on lower-end hardware, that modern equpiment has solved this volume issue.

I'm looking at a $299 TASCAM US-1800 USB audio interface for my PC (multiple ins/outs, headphone monitor, MIDI in/out, etc.). But will it have a decent input level?
The 'volume issue' has been solved for awhile now.

The Delta44 wasn't designed to address it.

Read the manual, as they say.

edit:

SPOILER: you need preamps.
#6
19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selection7 View Post
I'm looking at a $299 TASCAM US-1800 USB audio interface for my PC (multiple ins/outs, headphone monitor, MIDI in/out, etc.). But will it have a decent input level?
Hi selection7!

I have a Tascam US-1641; from what I've heard, the preamps are similar on the two units, and I use it to work a Studio Projects CS5. I used it in the vocals for this project, in a REALLY small, boxy, and untreated room. SP CS5 right into the Tascam:
http://soundcloud.com/rep43/warrior-rocky-paterra-original
It's not the line-ins, but hey, it should still help a bit, ya?

Best,
Kierkes!
#7
19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kierkes View Post
Hi selection7!

I have a Tascam US-1641; from what I've heard, the preamps are similar on the two units, and I use it to work a Studio Projects CS5. I used it in the vocals for this project, in a REALLY small, boxy, and untreated room. SP CS5 right into the Tascam:
http://soundcloud.com/rep43/warrior-rocky-paterra-original
It's not the line-ins, but hey, it should still help a bit, ya?

Best,
Kierkes!
Hey, that's really nice.

But I guess I still need to know if it has a pre-amp on any non-mic inputs. And the manual never even mentions the word pre-amp...other than saying an external pre-amp will allow for even more mic inputs, and that's disconcerting.
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19th May 2012
Old 19th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selection7 View Post
Hey, that's really nice.

But I guess I still need to know if it has a pre-amp on any non-mic inputs. And the manual never even mentions the word pre-amp...other than saying an external pre-amp will allow for even more mic inputs, and that's disconcerting.
I think that refers to the ability to send outs from a preamp to the line-ins on the back of the unit. As you know, the US-1641/1800 has 10 preamps and 4 line inputs without preamps on the back.

Come to think of it, I've definitely connected my keyboard to the front inputs. Although I now have it connected to the back, because it doesn't exactly need a preamp, I could really drive the thing in 9 and 10...

Man, annoying for you. I just bought an acoustic guitar, almost got an acoustic-electric.

I can definitively tell you that the levels will be fine on the US-1800, but since I have no way of really proving it to you, you'll have to take me (and just about everyone on this forum should they see this) at my (our) word(s)
#9
20th May 2012
Old 20th May 2012
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Thanks for the info, Kierkes. Part of the reason I asked here is b/c Tascam has no forums or sales support, just a pre-sales question form that I figured would mean a reply by Monday at the earliest. I wrote them anyway and I'll see what they have to say, but those inputs on the back are surely line level, so if guitar inputs on front are high gain in comparison, that's probably all I need.
#10
20th May 2012
Old 20th May 2012
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Yeah; Tascam is pretty notorious for having no customer service presence, so I'd keep that in mind when charging into ownership of a Tascam interface.

A lot of people who own the US-1800 report issues with Lion; look it up on YouTube. There isn't even a Lion driver for the US-1641, but a nice 5% of people somehow got it to work. I plan on keeping my Windows 7 64-bit (and that's important, Tascam has lately abandoned 32-bit, or so I've heard) PC for a long time, because it could be another interface as soon as this computer kicks the bucket, which hopefully won't be for another three or so years.

It's still a great unit for the price though; just know that very little of that goes back to the consumer experience.
#11
4th June 2012
Old 4th June 2012
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So after all that I decided not to get creative. I just went with the USB audio interface "Focusrite Scarlett 18i6". Signal to noise is ridiculously low compared to when I was plugging into my PC's onboard soundcard input. I didn't know what I was missing. I like its software faders (called Scarlett MixControl) for setting the volumes and routings of its multiple inputs and outputs.

The only negative I've come up with is that every time my PC goes into hibernate mode, when I come out of it, the 18i6 doesn't reconnect. That and I'd gladly trade one of it's stereo input pairs (there's 4 of them, not counting the 8 ADAT digital inputs I can't use...and only 1 pair are pre-amped, though the line inputs are louder than I would have guessed...a good thing.) for another output pair (there's only 2 of them, not counting the SPDIF output I can't use).

At most, I'll have a mono bass, a stereo guitar, maybe a mono guitar, and a stereo electronic drum kit being inputted all at once (which requires only 6 inputs). Yet I can only output 2 different mixes for players to monitor themselves...likely I'd do a "drums loud in the mix" and a "drums low in the mix" so the drummer could hear himself well and everyone else would hear him fairly low in the mix.
#12
4th June 2012
Old 4th June 2012
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If you see the bolded sentence in my above post, you'll see that I found even a non pre-amped line in (on my Focusrite) provided a louder input than my old onboard soundcard did, both in an absolute sense and with respect to signal to noise. So that makes me wonder out of curiosity if maybe the TASCAM US-1800 USB would have been acceptable for plugging in a guitar directly (without a D/I box) and then using some high gain patch on Guitar Rig or something, yet still being able to feed it enough input to get a fully driven sound yet without being super noisy.

Can anyone tell me if the specs on it reveal something about how close these line ins would come to approximating a pre-amped signal? What's the telling stat? Impedance? input level? the noise rating?

For example, the TASCAM's line inputs were:
Guitar Inputs (Unbalanced) terminals (GUITAR 9-10) Connector: 6.3 mm (1/4") TS Standard Phone jack
(Tip: HOT, Sleeve: GND)
Input impedance: 700 kOhm
Nominal input level: -6 dBV (0.501 Vrms)
Minimum input level: -52 dBV (0.0025 Vrms)
Max. Input level: +10 dBV (3.162 Vrms)

But the Focusrite's line inputs are:
Line inputs 3-8
• Input level: +10dBu for 0dBFS (balanced inputs)
• Noise: -100dBu (22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
• Input impedance: >10k Ohm
#13
4th June 2012
Old 4th June 2012
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Quote:
Can anyone tell me if the specs on it reveal something about how close these line ins would come to approximating a pre-amped signal?
A guitar into any line level input gives a pretty dull lifeless signal.....extra gain on your amp sim is not going to compensate for the impedance mis-match.

Options for instrument DI start at under $20 so it's really not worth trying to work with a poor source recording.
#14
5th June 2012
Old 5th June 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stella645 View Post
A guitar into any line level input gives a pretty dull lifeless signal.....extra gain on your amp sim is not going to compensate for the impedance mis-match.

Options for instrument DI start at under $20 so it's really not worth trying to work with a poor source recording.
Thanks anyway, but I'm not looking for general advice anymore. I've already got a Focusrite 18i6 now...so that's a done deal. I know I said I wonder if the TASCAM's line ins "would have been acceptable for plugging in a guitar directly", but don't get hung up on that. By "acceptable" I really meant anything a step above unusable, out of curiosity.

The real issue was that all those specs remain jargon to me, and I bet if someone out there answered my question the way I posed it, I'd understand better why it's important to list those specs in the first place .
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