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8-channel preamp for Classical
Sput
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#1
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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Question 8-channel preamp for Classical

Hi again Folks!

I'm in the process of building my new studio and in the meantime I'm working at other studios and doing quite a bit of On-Location recordings. I've been doing classical for a while, but only 3 or 4 times a year so I never really thought of investing more money on preamps.
So far I've been using 2 TLAudio 5001's to have 8 channels. I always felt that those were just ok and in case something "happens", well I'm not really risking much.

I haven't seen many 8 chn boxes out there, so I guess the quest won't be too long.

- Grace Design m801 / m802
- Millennia HV-3D / HV-3R
- Shadow Hills golden age
- Audient ASP008
- Universal Audio 8110
- Rack of 500 series or other modular systems loaded with 8 preamps

I intentionally skipped the new 8-chn Focusrite because I don't like that preamp.

Then there are cheaper pres by RME, Focusrite, ...

So here's the situation, if I buy an expensive one I'll probably want to use it at the studio as well. If I buy a cheaper one, I'll keep it just for In-Location recordings.

Any recomendations? Are there any other that I'm not aware of?

Sorry for the long post, mates. Thanks in advance!

J.
#2
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
  #2
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try this

dav bg8
#3
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
  #3
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DAV is an excellent preamp with many positive words about it on this forum.

True Systems P8 and ATI 8MX2 are other options for your consideration.
#4
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
  #4
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MILLENNIA!!!
#5
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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I have used the Millennia HV-3D (8ch) for 5 years now and it has always done a good job but...

It can be quite hard and unforgiving in a less than stellar room. I have a DAV BG1 and I am starting to like it alot. Maybe a little slower but very high quality. I am buying another one in a few weeks. The TLA5001 sounds OK but is very noisy compared the ones on your list.

I would go for the DAV BG8.
#6
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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Millennia HV-3 sounds IMO a bit hard sometimes and has a bit hyped HF and lacks some low frequencies (I don´t think it is a question of "unforgiveness"), generally a bit "arid" feeling. DAV sounds more smooth but does not have completely balanced frequency spectrum, transient response is rather slow and 3D feeling a bit limited. Otherwise very pleasant and excellent value for money

If you want to make a step higher and 6 ch would be enough, Forssell JMP-6 could be an excellent option, if 8ch are needed, I personally am waiting till Fred makes 8ch version of his stellar SMP-2 preamp (should be slowly on the way ...). For me the most transparent and musical preamp I have ever tried
#7
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
  #7
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The Millennia is a great mic pre, but in my experience it is a bit delicate and needs to be handled with care. If you go for one of these, make sure you put it in a good shock-mounted road case. Soundwise, it really is "that sound." If you do many on-location classical recording sessions to me this box is a must-have.

The ATI 8MX2 is a pretty good box, but it has a noisy fan which can be a problem if you end up having to be in the same room with the musicians (as is often the case). From what I understand, this fan can be disconnected if necessary. It is very handy to have such a compact 8x2 mixer for live concert broadcast mixes or quick 2-track reference mixes. Nice and open sounding, but not quite like the Millennia. These are the equivalent of a top-of-the-line console mic pre.

Another preamp you may want to look into are the John Hardy M-1 or M-2 mic amps. These are 4-channel 1U modular mic amps. The M-2 has stepped gain pots, the M-1 is continuously variable; the M-2 also has a variable impedance switch which is designed to optimise it for Schoeps or Neumann KM100-series mic's. 8-channels of Hardy fit into the same rack space as 8 channels of Millennia (though they weigh quite a bit more). It will also cost a bit more to purchase, but you can buy them over time.
#8
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
DAV is an excellent preamp with many positive words about it on this forum.

True Systems P8 and ATI 8MX2 are other options for your consideration.
+1 for True P8

I'm actually surprised that more people haven't mentioned this one. It's a very common choice for this task.
#9
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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The Millennia is fantastic on orchestra, the Grace will also serve you well.
While there are other great pre's out there that some here may prefer for their particular rooms, the millennia is smooth as silk, clean and dead quiet with a set of M150 or M222 on orchestra in a good large hall.
#10
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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The ATI Is a great box! The nice thing is it will also serve you well on the other two types of music as well. Country and Western! I love the ATI on rock and Jazz drum kits, and I use mine every week on the SPCO as well. The Hardy is known to work well on many styles as well. In other words, as many engineers of acoustical music use them as pop/rock folks. I love the Millenia and Grace as well but tend to think they work better on acoustical music where great instruments and nice acoustical spaces should "always" sound as close to themselves as possible.

I am curious to ask Steve Remote, I have noticed he has several ATI and True pre's. I wonder when he pulls out one over the other, never having used the True myself. They seem to be similarly marketed and both highly regarded. What do you hear differently in each Steve?

Cameron
#11
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
  #11
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For me, for classical especially, the Millennia 8 channel is a no brainer. It's never let me down, nor have I had any problem with it on any of our many remotes. I also have a Millennia Quad, I no longer have the need to take out. It stays in the studio. But they've both been solid performers, especially for acoustic music.
#12
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locosoundman View Post
The Millennia is a great mic pre, but in my experience it is a bit delicate and needs to be handled with care. If you go for one of these, make sure you put it in a good shock-mounted road case. Soundwise, it really is "that sound." If you do many on-location classical recording sessions to me this box is a must-have.

The ATI 8MX2 is a pretty good box, but it has a noisy fan which can be a problem if you end up having to be in the same room with the musicians (as is often the case). From what I understand, this fan can be disconnected if necessary. It is very handy to have such a compact 8x2 mixer for live concert broadcast mixes or quick 2-track reference mixes. Nice and open sounding, but not quite like the Millennia. These are the equivalent of a top-of-the-line console mic pre.

Another preamp you may want to look into are the John Hardy M-1 or M-2 mic amps. These are 4-channel 1U modular mic amps. The M-2 has stepped gain pots, the M-1 is continuously variable; the M-2 also has a variable impedance switch which is designed to optimise it for Schoeps or Neumann KM100-series mic's. 8-channels of Hardy fit into the same rack space as 8 channels of Millennia (though they weigh quite a bit more). It will also cost a bit more to purchase, but you can buy them over time.

Not my experience w/the Millennia at all. I've had four of their different models, and now have the HV-3D 8-ch. Never had any issues with any of them. It's heavy and built like a tank. In fact, it could be the best-constructed piece of gear I've seen. If you go Millennia, you won't have to worry about its durability OR sound.

Regards,
-0.9
#13
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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I will say that though Millenia's are built like tanks, They do blow zener diodes very easily if you are not extremely careful about shutting off phantom power before pulling mics. I have seen this on three different millenia's with three different owners. Meanwhile the Neve 88R and API legacy at work hardly ever shuts off any phantom power unless ribbons or tube mics are being used and they never fail. They both use a tt bay which should only magnify the problem.
Cameron
#14
16th February 2008
Old 16th February 2008
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Quote:
Not my experience w/the Millennia at all.
Well, it's been mine, and I was always very careful to shut off the phantom power before pulling mic cables...

What I can say is that Millennia's service has been top notch.
In any case, Millennia is still the sound I like best for orchestra.

FWIW my own take on the True Precision 8's are a bit like the ATI - I think of them as a good console mic amp. One nice feature is that you can split the output right off the back of the pre for instant 8-channel redundant feeds (without using nasty Y-cables).
#15
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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Hard to go wrong with Millennia, and I agree that they're built like a tank.

Cheers,
--
Don
#16
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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While I, too, love the Millennia, a real sleeper to consider is the Earthworks 1024. Totally underrated! When dB matched & compared to HV-3D, no one could tell which was which, myself included.
#17
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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I have always used Millennia... especially now that they have a remote option where you can put it near the stage/mics.

Now we have the DAD AX24 with built-in pre's. We got rid of the Millennia.


Regards,
Bruce
#18
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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8 ch preamp for classical

I have used the Grace Design preamps on several classical albums and love them. I find them extremely accurate. Just clean gain with nothing really added or taken away. The new m801 has dual outputs which make it nice for feeding two systems without a splitter. If I could have only one 8 ch preamp it would be a Grace.
#19
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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Dual outputs is now also available on all millennia 8ch models.
#20
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klaukholm View Post
Dual outputs is now also available on all millennia 8ch models.
Do they come with dual outputs stock? I thought it was only an option for extra $.
#21
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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I think you may have to pay, but its really a trivial cost
#22
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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I'm going to buy the m802 for its pres and the remote control capability. I'm also going to gamble with the A/D conversion option and will probably exceed my expectations.

The upcoming Neve 4081 looks very interesting due to its remote capability and A/D option. Although known for their color, if the pres aren't driven too hard, I would have no problem using this box for classical too. 4 channels is exactly what I need for a nice portable solution... like setting up a double M-S array.
#23
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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nobody's mentioned a cranesong spider ????? guess i just did.
0VU
#24
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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I used to use Millennia a lot but it's getting closer and closer to my disposal list as I hardly use it these days. It's an excellent preamp and I've always found it well built but there's a hardness in the sound when the music gets loud that I don't like. Some things it works on but for orchestras it's not my first choice. The Grace 801R (original version) is another nice pre but again I find that it can tend a little towards being a little over bright at times, particularly on big complex programme material, however I'm finding it slightly preferable to my Millennia pres (HV8D). I'm planning to give the remote version of the Millennia a go, just to see how different they are at the other end of the cable; the Grace sounds different depending upon which end of the cable run it's used so I'm interested to hear whether the Millennia is similarly affected and if so whether it makes a worthwhile difference for me.

For extra portable setups needing quick and simple balances that aren't hyper critical, I like the ATI 8MX2. Otherwise, the DAV BG-8 is a very neat package that sounds far better than its price would suggest - really up there with the much higher end products.

On more critical work, I'm really enjoying the Cranesong Spider - but it's a lot more than just an 8 channel preamp - and priced accordingly. A remote controlled rack of Cranesong preamps would be very interesting.

In most cases, however, for things worth the effort of carrying external preamps, I find myself returning to my Crookwoods. They can be optioned with extra outputs, ADCs and a forthcoming MADI interface and so far I've not found anything else as sonically vice free and universally well behaved, especially with long cable runs.

I've yet to try the Forssell pres that Ivo is keen on but I'll hopefully get around to it soon. In critical work I usually prefer remote controlled pres that let me shorten the mic level cable runs so I might wait to see whether a remote version is forthcoming.


When all's said and done however, there are so many things more important than preamps in the grand scheme of getting a good classical (or any other) sound. My comments above are pretty nitpicking and just compare one great preamp to another, making the differences sound large. These days, more or less any decent quality preamp will do a 'good enough' job, even the preamps in fairly run of the mill consoles, and you'll make a much bigger sonic difference by moving/changing a mic than you ever will by swapping preamps. I'm lucky enough to have a choice of some generally well thought of pres but the decision often comes down to questions of facilities and practicality as much as details of ultimate sound quality.
#25
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Hombre View Post
nobody's mentioned a cranesong spider ????? guess i just did.
That's a price issue..... those are great products but their price is a bit inflated. Quality is one thing.... value per dollar is another. If you only need the preamps it's overkill.
#26
17th February 2008
Old 17th February 2008
  #26
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Grace m801

I love the Grace. The dual outputs are very handy, I use them all the time.

This preamp has no sound of its own, just a box of incredibly pure gain. I wish it had level meters on it like my API 3124 does and i wish it could do D.I. function like my API but for classical recording with great mics, the Grace is hard to beat.

I have been using my latest m801 for a little over a year and it is awesome.

If you love well built gear the m801 is a fine piece of art.
#27
18th February 2008
Old 18th February 2008
  #27
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My best experience was with Crookwood.
#28
18th February 2008
Old 18th February 2008
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sput View Post
Hi again Folks!

I'm in the process of building my new studio and in the meantime I'm working at other studios and doing quite a bit of On-Location recordings. I've been doing classical for a while, but only 3 or 4 times a year so I never really thought of investing more money on preamps.
So far I've been using 2 TLAudio 5001's to have 8 channels. I always felt that those were just ok and in case something "happens", well I'm not really risking much.

I haven't seen many 8 chn boxes out there, so I guess the quest won't be too long.

- Grace Design m801 / m802
- Millennia HV-3D / HV-3R
- Shadow Hills golden age
- Audient ASP008
- Universal Audio 8110
- Rack of 500 series or other modular systems loaded with 8 preamps

I intentionally skipped the new 8-chn Focusrite because I don't like that preamp.

Then there are cheaper pres by RME, Focusrite, ...

So here's the situation, if I buy an expensive one I'll probably want to use it at the studio as well. If I buy a cheaper one, I'll keep it just for In-Location recordings.

Any recomendations? Are there any other that I'm not aware of?

Sorry for the long post, mates. Thanks in advance!

J.
you could try 8 channels of BUZZ audio in api500 format!!
#29
17th July 2008
Old 17th July 2008
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Millennia HV-3 sounds IMO a bit hard sometimes and has a bit hyped HF and lacks some low frequencies (I don´t think it is a question of "unforgiveness"), generally a bit "arid" feeling. DAV sounds more smooth but does not have completely balanced frequency spectrum, transient response is rather slow and 3D feeling a bit limited. Otherwise very pleasant and excellent value for money

If you want to make a step higher and 6 ch would be enough, Forssell JMP-6 could be an excellent option, if 8ch are needed, I personally am waiting till Fred makes 8ch version of his stellar SMP-2 preamp (should be slowly on the way ...). For me the most transparent and musical preamp I have ever tried
Do you know when the 8ch SMP-2 is coming out? I was thinking of picking up a jmp-6. What is the difference in sound?
#30
17th July 2008
Old 17th July 2008
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arashaw View Post
Do you know when the 8ch SMP-2 is coming out? I was thinking of picking up a jmp-6. What is the difference in sound?
Has anyone recorded a comparison between the sound of the SMP-2 and JMP-6? Ivo?
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