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The real diff between cheap and pricey preamps? Condenser Microphones
Old 25th March 2010
  #121
Quote:
Originally Posted by spoonie g View Post
I remember in a mass communications class I had in college, the instructor said that the difference between the generic product and the high dollar product is mostly marketing; that the actual difference would not usually exceed 5-10%. I think, in the end, that is probably the case with preamps. However, I think, especially with todays multi-multi-multi-tracked albums, that 5-10% adds up.
It's funny when people say stuff like that. It proves ignorance.

Dan Kennedy (as well as other designers) and I have had this discussion so many times. Just the transformers alone in Dan's preamps sitting on a kitchen table cost more than the sum total of the parts in some cheap preamps. Even more than some cheap consoles.
Old 25th March 2010
  #122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
My only comment was wanting to know how much of a difference and thought you had samples.
Two people now have mentioned either doing a test or wanting to hear samples. I should point out that it's been done. And the files are available. A full drum kit on 24 different preamps. Or a solo snare drum on 34 preamps.

That's only if you really want to hear them instead of just talking about them.
Old 25th March 2010
  #123
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Dan Kennedy (as well as other designers) and I have had this discussion so many times. Just the transformers alone in Dan's preamps sitting on a kitchen table cost more than the sum total of the parts in some cheap preamps. Even more than some cheap consoles.
This reminds me of a telephone discussion I had with a prominent (and popular on GS) audio designer/manufacturer. I mentioned my Hamptone HJFP2, and he quickly went to the website and started looking at the pictures of the preamp gutz.

He asked me what I paid for the unbuilt kit, and I told him $580 -- that was the price at that time (circa 2005). He responded, "Damn! He's not making a dime on that thing!"
Old 25th March 2010
  #124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
He asked me what I paid for the unbuilt kit, and I told him $580 -- that was the price at that time (circa 2005). He responded, "Damn! He's not making a dime on that thing!"
It's hard to put a $100 transformer into a preamp that sells for $100 and make any money. If someone figures that out, let me know how.
Old 25th March 2010
  #125
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Two people now have mentioned either doing a test or wanting to hear samples. I should point out that it's been done. And the files are available. A full drum kit on 24 different preamps. Or a solo snare drum on 34 preamps.

That's only if you really want to hear them instead of just talking about them.
Yeah, it doesn't get much better than "The Listening Sessions" IMO. Beats the bejeezers out of anything I've come across and they're constantly adding and updating this invaluable reference.

The Listening Sessions

...lest we forget.
Old 25th March 2010
  #126
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
It's funny when people say stuff like that. It proves ignorance.

Dan Kennedy (as well as other designers) and I have had this discussion so many times. Just the transformers alone in Dan's preamps sitting on a kitchen table cost more than the sum total of the parts in some cheap preamps. Even more than some cheap consoles.
ditto!!!
Old 25th March 2010
  #127
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

and thats just one of many many things.
Old 25th March 2010
  #128
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Yeah, it doesn't get much better than "The Listening Sessions" IMO. Beats the bejeezers out of anything I've come across and they're constantly adding and updating this invaluable reference.

The Listening Sessions

...lest we forget.
Either you have one seriously twisted/funny sense of humor, or you don't realize that Lynn was speaking about his own body of work.

Either way, I'm cracking up!
Old 25th March 2010
  #129
Lives for gear
 

One needs to be carefull when talking transient response. I would disagree with Ethan's off the cuff definition in the details. Transient response isn't just about frequency response, or even frequency responce at level. Clearly it is a close cousin, but it isn't the whole story. Jangling keys have a very sharp impusle, which Fourier will tell us has energy at essentially arbitrarily high frequencies. Ethan breezed past the key issue - slew rate. Feedback systems must never go into slew rate limiting - otherwise they fail in a spectacularly nasty way - leading to all sorts of sonic problems. As Ethan writes - the use of bandwith limiting on the input is nesessary to limit this. However again, bandwidth limiting isn't actually the same as limiting the slew rate - and you can still get it wrong. A very high amplitude transient signal may still get enough energy past the filter to get you into trouble. (And aggressive filters have sonic problems of their own.) Some of this is why transformers still have a place even when you are not after euphonic distortion. A very high quality transformer can sound perfectly clean and avoid many of these issues. Thus providing one of a range of design options to create a well behaved pre.

The jangling keys test also has a significant flaw. Whilst it can uncover issues in transient responce, it does not provide a clean bill of health. A device may or may not distort with the key test, but lack of distortion with the key test does not mean that the device is immune from transient distortion issues. A better test is to record a musical signal and whilst recording, then jangle the keys. It is the lack of intermodulation distortion producs you are looking for. A good pre will sail though this, but a poor pre may exhibit disturbing distortion of the music caused by the keys. This strikes at one underpining of an often noted quality. High end pres don't get into trouble with more difficult signals. There are good engineering reasons why this can be true.
Old 25th March 2010
  #130
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mikethedrummer's Avatar
OT, but I got into an argument about whether the pre or the mic is king.

My money goes with the pre. My points were an A/B between my $1000 414 and my $100 EV/Blue Cardinal. The difference was hardly audible. At the same time, take a 57 into a behringer mixer, and a 57 into a 512c.

Anyone have any thoughts or insight? (besides room, source, placement, etc..)
Old 25th March 2010
  #131
Lives for gear
something about different pres and drums. API, Neve, Trident
all have their flavor. 'The speed' of the pre is not a phenom
it is real. Maybe someone who has designed pres can elaborate?
seemd like the opamps in API? are faster than other pres
who knows? anyone? They seem to handle attack a certain
unique way
Old 25th March 2010
  #132
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Teddy Ray's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikethedrummer View Post
OT, but I got into an argument about whether the pre or the mic is king.

My money goes with the pre. My points were an A/B between my $1000 414 and my $100 EV/Blue Cardinal. The difference was hardly audible. At the same time, take a 57 into a behringer mixer, and a 57 into a 512c.

Anyone have any thoughts or insight? (besides room, source, placement, etc..)

1.) source

2.) room

3.) placement

4.)mic

everything else

transforming the signal from acoustic to electric(mic) and vice versa is much more difficult than when the signal is already in the electrical domain(preamp)

"1) Difference transducer technologies have different characteristics. Dynamics microphones tend to have poorer transient response, and are not so good in the top octave. Condenser microphones have a better transient response (due to light diaphragm). Large diaphragm condenser mics often have a boost in the high end due to a diaphragm resonance, if well controlled it can sound quite pleasant.

2)Microphones are often designed to (or end up somehow) suit a particular instrument. For example there are a variety of 'kick drum' microphones available which deliberately emphasise low frequencies and high frequencies to give a 'rock' sound.

3)Directional polar patterns (the cardioid patterns and bi-direction) exhibit 'proximity effect' which increases the level of low frequencies (relative to high frequencies) as the sound source is move closer to the microphone. This means that the frequency response is at its flattest at a certain distance from the sound source. further away and the low frequency level decreases, closer and the low frequency level increases.

4)A wide variety of different sounding microphones gives the engineer/producer the ability to manipulate the sound in ways that are not offered in other processing.
Old 25th March 2010
  #133
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
Either you have one seriously twisted/funny sense of humor, or you don't realize that Lynn was speaking about his own body of work.

Either way, I'm cracking up!
To be honest, I don't know Lynn and am unfamiliar with his body of work. But will check it out. Thanks Jimbo
Old 25th March 2010
  #134
Gear Guru
 
Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Two people now have mentioned either doing a test or wanting to hear samples. I should point out that it's been done. And the files are available. A full drum kit on 24 different preamps. Or a solo snare drum on 34 preamps.
Link???
Old 25th March 2010
  #135
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funka's Avatar
The difference is not always in price, so it must be good Vs bad instead of pricey Vs cheap, even if in general pricey ones and better than cheap ones, but in some cases not.

From my little experience, this is what could define a good preamp:
- Good headroom
- High value for maximum gain avaibable, and being able to set it without bringing to much noise
- Being able to capture sound without "muddying" it. Some great preamps are able to color the sound, without giving the impression of having muddyied the sound, that's a big difference.
Old 25th March 2010
  #136
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Kris's Avatar
Glenn, click the 3dB link in Lynn's signature. Or here: 3dB - Powered by vBulletin
Old 25th March 2010
  #137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Two people now have mentioned either doing a test or wanting to hear samples. I should point out that it's been done. And the files are available. A full drum kit on 24 different preamps. Or a solo snare drum on 34 preamps.

That's only if you really want to hear them instead of just talking about them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
Link???
33 preamps on one snare drum, available as download only:

3D Pre CD-Volume 2-Snare Drum Samples - 3dB

A full drum kit through 24 preamps, along with a whole rhythm section and vocal. Over 700 sound files that you can load into a DAW and then mix and match. The Preamps in Paradise DVD. There's a list of included preamps here:

osCommerce

Old 25th March 2010
  #138
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkf View Post
Don't try to insinuate I had meant anything like [magic].
Of course. That comment was more for others reading. Some people do believe in magic because they don't understand that audio parameters are easy to define and assess.

Quote:
You can hook up a SM7b or even a U89 (has a transformer) and would probably miss different transient behaviour, with e.g. a Schoeps you can hear a difference.
Agreed 100 percent. I don't own even one dynamic microphone anymore for just this reason.

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #139
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Just the transformers alone in Dan's preamps sitting on a kitchen table cost more than the sum total of the parts in some cheap preamps.
No kidding. The last time I bought a transformer, just a few years ago, I bought a Jensen that cost $115 for the one unit. With transformers, paying more definitely gets you better quality.

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #140
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Ethan breezed past the key issue - slew rate.
No I didn't. See my Post #119 above.

Quote:
bandwidth limiting isn't actually the same as limiting the slew rate
Not sure what you mean by that, but you'd never want to intentionally limit the slew rate. And nobody I know of adds low-pass filtering to a mic pre just to avoid slew rate limiting.

Quote:
The jangling keys test also has a significant flaw.
Of course. The best way to know how a circuit performs is to measure it with appropriate test signals.

All that said, there really is nothing more to transient response than being able to pass high frequencies at a high level. You can argue different design goals, and using transformers etc, but in the end a transient is simply a signal that changes level suddenly. Any competent preamp should be able to handle that without significant distortion. Indeed, a transient doesn't even have to 1) contain high frequencies or 2) be at a loud volume. Though that's probably how most people think of transient response.

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #141
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The Listener's Avatar
Now, while it is perceptually obvious that even the "clean" preamps sound different between each other, it would be interesting to know confidently why and what do we percieve as "better" - what technical and measurable differencies are responsible for making us say that one preamp sounds generally nicer than the other (price and graphic design put aside).

It would be interesting to hear "high end" developers, passionate about sound, to explain how do they design their products, what do they listen to, what do they change technically upon listening to prototypes to achieve the ultimate results and what are the "ultimate" results for them.

I don't buy the "myth" that all (clean) preamps sound the same and that even "colour" preamps can be simulated by using a neutral preamp and distort/EQ the signal in the mix later, but I would like to hear from the developers what do they have in mind when designing and what do they think about such newly founded myths as proposed here.

I hope someone from esteemed gentlemen like Fred Forsell, George Massenburg, Doug Fearn, Rupert Neve, etc. could drop a word about it. All in all it is also THEIR products that are being "relativised" here.

While there is overposting of a couple of self-proclaimed masters of audio truth, I miss the "other side" - relevant opinions and FACTS presented by succesful audio technology developers.
Old 25th March 2010
  #142
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
I hope someone from esteemed gentlemen like Fred Forsell, George Massenburg, Doug Fearn, Rupert Neve, etc. could drop a word about it. All in all it is also THEIR products that are being "relativised" here.

They do weight-in and drop a word about it on their web sites and have done interesting interviews over the years til they're probably blue in the face, LOL. Once in a while you catch one of these guys in an interview in Tape Op magazine for instance. You can google those names you listed and find fascinating interviews with them if you're willing to take the time to read them. In fact, here's a link to Fletcher interviewing George Massenburg ProSoundWeb | George Massenburg Transcript pg. 1

You're right, it would be nice if they'd join in forum discussions like this, especially when people start ranting about why their $200 box is "competent" enough to handle transients just fine and crap like that (just as an example and not directed at anyone in particular). But IMHO it's all out there for people like us to find and read or listen. Should they be in here defending their products? Why should they when they've already "nailed it" :0) They're customers are the ones in the forums happily singing the praises of their products. Just google for interviews and you'll be reading for days on end man.
Old 25th March 2010
  #143
There is a Tape Op review of my work done by Mike Jasper, but they've held off publishing it.

I suspect they need that space to tell folks how to integrate their fuzz tones into their mix path...

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 25th March 2010
  #144
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
it would be nice if they'd join in forum discussions like this, especially when people start ranting about why their $200 box is "competent" enough to handle transients just fine and crap like that
LOL, thanks for the link to the Massenburg interview. I saw some gems there that I'm sure will piss you off. Hell, his replies are right out of the script from my AES video. And remember this was 8 years ago! heh

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Massenburg
Yes it's [digital EQ] caught up and surpassed analog EQ! So, FLAME ON!
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Massenburg
I do not believe in the importance of "phase shift" as it pertains to the perception of supposed artifacts in a sound. I do not subscribe to zero-phase EQ. I do not "hear" phase shift as I move EQ around. I AM VERY careful when I'm micing a room, micing drums, in particular, so that the arrival times of the signals to different mics are, well, considered.
^^^ SOURCE
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Massenburg
I believe in my heart and my ear and my brain that my digital EQ comes very close to my analog EQ. I believe that my analog EQ has some artifacts that have been VERY hard to get rid of over the years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harvey Gerst
When you DO track to digital, how close to 0 dBFS do you go?
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Massenburg
I pound the **** out of level - how’s that??
^^^ SOURCE
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Massenburg
You know, I use MP-3 a lot these days. We send out tunes, ideas, rough mixes... everything on MP-3. And, you know, it sounds fine for what it is.
^^^ SOURCE
Thanks for all the fantastic ammo TurboJets!

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #145
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j-uk's Avatar
 

If someone can't point me in the direction of a inexpensive preamp that does what a 1073 does then I will gladly go cheap and be proud of it.
The search continues tho.......
Old 25th March 2010
  #146
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Of course it's important, but it's not special. Let's define transient response. I won't even go to Wikipedia, I'll just wing it here: heh
Transient Response is simply the ability of a device to pass high frequencies
at the same high volume levels it can pass lower frequencies.
That's it, end of discussion.
maybe with pres (electronics) not with mics or devices that convert pressure or mechanical energy into a different form of signal , different beasts .........natural response in general is more complex than your def.Transient Response as it relates to mechanics differs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
I can't speak for "most" because I haven't used even 1/10th of "most,"
--Ethan
1/10? I find that hard to believe, there are 1000s of preamp/consoles say there are 2000? (very conservative #) you've used 200 different pres and/or consoles? and analyzed them with all you're fft and oscilloscope thingies?
Old 25th March 2010
  #147
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
Transient Response as it relates to mechanics differs.
Not in this universe. But I'll be glad to read your detailed and highly specific explanation to the contrary.

And what, no comment from you on Massenburg's contention "I use MP-3 a lot these days ... it sounds fine for what it is?"

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #148
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer
I can't speak for "most" because I haven't used even 1/10th of "most,"
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
1/10? I find that hard to believe, there are 1000s of preamp/consoles say there are 2000? (very conservative #) you've used 200 different pres and/or consoles? and analyzed them with all you're fft and oscilloscope thingies?
He wrote "haven't" as in "have not". The key to understanding what he wrote is the word "not".
Old 25th March 2010
  #149
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

^^^ Reading comprehension is not one of Robert's stronger points.

--Ethan
Old 25th March 2010
  #150
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
^^^ Reading comprehension is not one of Robert's stronger points.

--Ethan
Oh, so you think he has pretty good reading comprehension skills, huh?!

Oh wait.....you said "not".
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