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MH ULN2 2D, add mics+pres or use budget on (more/better) mics only?
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lhan
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#1
27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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MH ULN2 2D, add mics+pres or use budget on (more/better) mics only?

Starting up my first own project studio after collecting years of experience in other places. Most things decided, only one question left now:

I am thinking about a Metric Halo ULN2 2d (due to all the good stuff I read about it). I understand the pres are really good for clean purposes, I understand you can add the "character" plugin for colour, but I am not so confident that this emulation can substitute the real hardware thing.

I have some additional budget (ca. 3000€) and see two options to spend it:

1. Trust the character plugin gives me enough quality to put some nice colors in and spend the money completely on microphones. That would be something like a Shure SM57, SM7B and the Lawson package. (I do not have to mic up drum kits, no place for that here - mostly vocals, guitars, and synths via line in etc.)

2. Go cheaper on the mics - SM57, SM7B, Avant CV12, MXL V69M and Audio Technica AT3060 for having several colours - and spending the rest on some additional pres. Thought about an API512c and a Vintagedesign M581 in this A-Desings 19'' rack for 2 500series units. Gives me Neve and API sound, mainly for vocals or guitars.

Which option would you choose? I am of course especially thankful if those who have a ULN2 2d and can judge on the character emulation would chime in, but everybody's general opinion is welcome.
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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I have a 2882 and a ULN2. I've used the character emulations, but can't really judge how they compare to the 'real thing'. The word on the MH list is they compare very favorably (and there are some links in the New Product Alert forum/MH thread, of them being used on drums), but I don't really care how they compare and don't think much about having pres for color, but think a lot about using the best achievable sound for the source and the best mic to capture that source. So, my opinion is marginal mics produce marginal sonics, colored pres (whatever they are) produce marginal sonics with color.

Moral of my story: by the best mics you can afford to go with your ULN and enjoy the sonic quality of the ULN pres, they are quite nice.
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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I agree with swafford- spend the money on the best mics you can. Even if Character doesn't do exactly what you want, you could always add pres later. I'd rather have a good mic through a good pre that sounds "too clean" instead of a mediocre mic though a "dirty pre". That said, I find Character great for putting extra polish on my tracks.

Keep in mind that you can use Character on busses and outputs; for example you could run your vocals through one Character setting and send them to a vocal bus that has a different Character on it as well. Two passes through SoftSat should be more than enough color, or a tube input and a transformer summing bus. You can also use Character on channels from your DAW and digital inputs. Using a virtual instrument B3? Throw a transformer front end on it via software. Mastering? Take your 2 track from your DAW and hit it with a tube front end. That's a lot easier than looping the interface through external pres.

Allen
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lhan
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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That's already two votes for spending it all on mics...

Allen, if I understand it right, the ability to route the signal from the DAW to the ULN2 and back again via firewire would even give me the option to record dry and add character later in the mixing stage? That would be cool, I could totally focus on capturing the best performance and add the desired colour later...
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhan View Post
That's already two votes for spending it all on mics...

Allen, if I understand it right, the ability to route the signal from the DAW to the ULN2 and back again via firewire would even give me the option to record dry and add character later in the mixing stage? That would be cool, I could totally focus on capturing the best performance and add the desired colour later...
Absolutely. I do this often; I mostly multitrack live events. I track dry using the Record Panel in our Console software as 24 bit AIFF then load the files into Logic for editing and mixing. Each track is sent to the interface on its own channel where it is Charactered (if I want), eq'd with MIOStrip (the onboard version of ChannelStrip) and mixed in our mixer. Then the mix is sent via FW back into Logic. You can also use our interfaces as outboard dsp processing- each interface can send/return 18 channels of audio to your computer.

Allen
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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I own two 2882 units, and used to have a ULN2.

I wish I still had the ULN2.

Get great mics.

Instead of the 57/sm7 try the Beyerdynamic m201/m88 combination for excellent results with the ULN2.

That plus those Lawsons will go a loooooooooong way.
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhan View Post
That's already two votes for spending it all on mics...

Allen, if I understand it right, the ability to route the signal from the DAW to the ULN2 and back again via firewire would even give me the option to record dry and add character later in the mixing stage? That would be cool, I could totally focus on capturing the best performance and add the desired colour later...
This is what I do, sometimes I put an outboard compressor in, though most times not.

Softsat rules.
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27th October 2008
Old 27th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
I own two 2882 units, and used to have a ULN2.

I wish I still had the ULN2.

Get great mics.

Instead of the 57/sm7 try the Beyerdynamic m201/m88 combination for excellent results with the ULN2.

That plus those Lawsons will go a loooooooooong way.
I'd vote Heil PR30/SM7, though the M88 is a great mic.
lhan
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27th October 2008
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Well, ok, I will put the budget on mics then... you helped me lots, guys, thanks!

Just have to sort out which mics then actually. Thanks for the suggestions - I am pretty set on the SM7B, and the Lawsons look really really good to me and seem to cover lots of possible sounds. Of course, there are the other contenders from the 251 and 47 area... the Pelusos look tasty, too, but with Lawson I get more options (thanks to the tube and FET bodies) for the same or even a bit less money. I would be very happy to find four or five mics on a 3000€ budget to cover most uses - as I said, mostly vocals and acoustic guitars, and then randomly other strings, woodwinds, or electric guitars. The Lawsons and the SM7B simply look to me like being the best mix of quality and quantity, but I would be open to something completely different - like SM7B + AT4050 (two general workhorses) + Peluso 2247LE (main vocal mic) + a nice ribbon for a smoother, darker sound (R121 almost blows the budget then... maybe a Blue Woodpecker or a Sontronics Sigma)... have to do some research on that...

In any case, thanks a lot guys, you helped me to make the pre / mic decision already, that brings me already a good deal forward!
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6th December 2008
Old 6th December 2008
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Funny, saw this thread and have to make a decision soon myself. Have a Great River - which I really like and I would rather not part with. I pretty much know what I will get with the ULN-2. The Great River is one hell of a preamp. Could I get "some" of that back with character ? Hmm. If I could - I could reach for that Neuman that I think will ace flute and acoustic guitar parts. Tough, tough call. I'd be giving up something for sure.

Is there anyone with extensive experience with character that would want to chime in, given the context I have described ? Thanks and rgds,
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7th December 2008
Old 7th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melgueil View Post
Funny, saw this thread and have to make a decision soon myself. Have a Great River - which I really like and I would rather not part with. I pretty much know what I will get with the ULN-2.
How do you pretty much know what you will get with the ULN-2? Have you used one before? I'm not sure I understand what this means in the context of your question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melgueil View Post
The Great River is one hell of a preamp. Could I get "some" of that back with character ? Hmm. If I could - I could reach for that Neuman that I think will ace flute and acoustic guitar parts. Tough, tough call. I'd be giving up something for sure.

Is there anyone with extensive experience with character that would want to chime in, given the context I have described ? Thanks and rgds,
If you are planning on getting the ULN-2 anyway, why not do the comparison yourself and report back. If you find that it doesn't do what your GR does, hang onto the GR. OTOH, if you find that it does (and maybe more) then you would consider parting with the GR.

What are you particularly looking for in the preamp? My guess is that you like the transformer coupled output characteristic. You can definitely do that with Character...
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