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The real diff between cheap and pricey preamps? Condenser Microphones
Old 31st March 2010
  #241
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elevteros View Post
(see Einstein theories superseding Newtonian physics).
Well, remember that while Einstein's paradigm supersedes Newton's, Newtonian physics still works.

The Air Force can still drop a missile right down your chimney from a continent away using nothing but those hopelessly outmoded Newtonian calculations.

IMO, The real shame is that people seize upon the evolution and revolutions of science as 'mistakes'. They think that if science can be 'wrong', then perhaps their magical theories can be 'right'.

If something made it into what we call 'science' in the first place, it is because it works.
Old 31st March 2010
  #242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Price is a difference but it's far more than just a pretty package with lights.

Look inside some high-enders and you will see why the price is higher.

Sure, you can go down to Radio Shack and build a decent capable mic preamp. You can also buy a Smart Car but that won't go off road.

If you use 12 cent resistors instead of 1 cent resistors, that's 12 times more manufacturing expense. Same applies to quality silicon and capacitors. You can buy some 5534's for 20 cents each. You can get low cost caps from Japan. You can also buy top end silicon and quality film caps, those run several dollars each.

It's more expensive because it's more expensive to build. You don't see high end preamps with a fancy front panel and a 3 buck SSM or that chip inside, well, not usually but I have seen those too.

Sometimes you get your money's worth. Know the designer and their work to be sure.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades

Looking at this a little differently, a company must sell a product for more than it cost them to make, otherwise they will cease to exist.

While more expensive parts cost more than cheap parts, buying the same exact quality parts in small volume and using less efficient manufacturing processes will also cost a lot more.

I have experience with large scale manufacturing and when you run production lines 3 shifts a day, you don't risk shutting down lines by using crap parts. But when you buy a million signal diodes a month you get a very good price... and a very good part. Those 12 cent Resistors don't cost 12 cents when you by them by the truckload.

I have always taken umbrage at the knee jerk reaction to discount the quality of mic preamps built into consoles, using the logic that more than two channels in one chassis must be inferior.

In the marketplace perception is reality, but products from small companies are expensive mainly because they are made by small companies in modest numbers. If I am starting out already more expensive than my more cost effective competition, I might as well use some highly visible very expensive components to conceal my manufacturing cost disadvantage against the mass production guys, and justify or excuse my already higher price. It is no accident small companies mainly exist in the high end.

There is a halo around high priced gear that is not necessarily deserved. There is good and bad, cheap and expensive gear. The price tag does not tell us which is good, only which is expensive.

JR
Old 31st March 2010
  #243
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Wavebourn's Avatar
 

I can second what Jim and John said;

and add that when labor cost is high because of unique production more expensive parts like nice transformers, resistors, capacitors, increase price of the item less than in case of mass production when labor per item is much cheaper.

But it does not mean that all boutique preamps are better that mass production ones: very often they were built by entrepreneurs who care of profit only so they tend to use well advertised parts instead of better ones, or by people who are fair self-taught believers in fashions. Some of them no doubt are reading this thread right now to learn what is right, or what is fashionable, or what is in demand.
Old 31st March 2010
  #244
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Power supply rejection ratio: it always degrades with higher frequencies. A 130dB PSRR can drop down to 60dB at 100kHz. Taking care of this is tricky, especially since many loads won't be linear, and even if they are, you're still looking at a (small) source of intermodulation distortion. The six-layer PC board can go a long way to solving this problem.

Common-mode rejection ratio: getting this to be very high is very hard. This covers all kinds of interference from 60Hz (hum) to multi-MHz (RFI). Inject a few hundred watts of RF into a mic cable (using a coupling transformer) and see how the preamp behaves. I have to do this test for the automotive control units that I design, so I have the gear. I might try it some day when I have some time. We test these by injecting about 200mA of RF current ranging from 100kHz up to 5GHz and with a 1kHz AM modulation into the wiring harness. That's a lot of juice, and I would not be surprised to find that very few preamps deal with it that well.

Sufficient open-loop gain to be effectively 'infinite'. This is also hard. I have the AD797 datasheet in front of me, and its gain out at 100kHz is only 60dB. If I use feedback to control the gain (the way an op-amp is supposed to be controlled), I don't have that much room to play with. If I ask for 10dB of gain, it should be pretty good even out to 100kHz. If I ask for 50dB of gain out of the same stage, I might run into troubles.

Slew-rate limits. Any slew-rate limit causes distortion. However, you don't normally build any component with a practically infinite slew rate because it is hard (or not possible) to get stable. The slew rate normally is set by a compensation capacitor somewhere in the circuit - usually on-chip. Also, slew rate limits can be asymmetrical which can really wreck the sound.

Asymmetrical gains - a simple emitter follower can add a lot of grunge and distortion (eg. the Soundcraft 2400 EQ section). It looks good on paper, but in the real world, roughly the same things that cause an asymmetrical slew rate of a resistor-loaded emitter follower also manifests itself as asymmetrical gain, and a grungy-sounding EQ (IMHO). Same applies in a preamp or any other single-ended class-A circuit. This takes attention to get right.

Layout. That can have an adverse effect on frequency response and stability. Say you have an SSM2019 preamp, if you make the lines long to the gain set pot, you can make the preamp sound a whole lot worse than it does if you solder a resistor right across the pins and have no capacitance to mess up the IC. That attention to detail separates the good from the great.

Design mistakes. They happen.

Pretty much every transformerless mic pre - everything from a cheap Behringer to some very expensive units - use pretty much the same couple of circuit designs - a pair of transistors on the input, a couple op-amps around them, and a diff amp at the output. But check out things like compensation capacitors, resistor values, I've even seen inductors used.

RF filtering. A Mackie may be designed to survive higher RF environments such as on-stage when compared to something designed for only in-studio use. To actually pull that off, the designer may need to filter heavily and that can extend down into the audio range. This is a conscious design compromise. Look for additional RF filtering in the input stage when compared to something else. On-stage, I think I'd rather accept some HF rolloff than hearing the buzzing from the lamp dimmers in the mic lines. In this case, it is not necessarily a budget difference, but rather, an intended-use difference.

Design for manufacturing. If you design something to be put together and barely tested (eg. a Mackie), you need to design for worst-case conditions. It needs to be stable if it works at all. If you design for best performance, you need to test and possibly tweak, and even reject some parts. Perhaps you need to match transistor or resistor values?

Everything that matters in an electrical circuit can be measured, and if there is a difference that you aren't measuring but you can hear, then you are not measuring the right thing. It is exceedingly hard to always measure the right thing, especially if you don't know exactly what you are looking to measure. A good audio example is the action of an opto compressor. The cell has a 'memory' that standard tests will totally miss - the 'standard' test may not see a significant difference between a 160 and an LA4 but you certainly hear it. You need to design a new test to actually measure that difference, but that difference can be measured. Existing tests may be insufficient but new tests can be invented.
Old 31st March 2010
  #245
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

^^^ Great post Dale. And yours too John.

--Ethan
Old 31st March 2010
  #246
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TheMarqueeYears's Avatar
 

I love it when the "flat Earthers" get together, always makes for a fun thread.


TMY
Old 31st March 2010
  #247
Gear Maniac
 
Elevteros's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
The Air Force can still drop a missile right down your chimney from a continent away using nothing but those hopelessly outmoded Newtonian calculations.
A real triumph of science that we certainly couldn't do without.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
IMO, The real shame is that people seize upon the evolution and revolutions of science as 'mistakes'. They think that if science can be 'wrong', then perhaps their magical theories can be 'right'.
"Superseded" does not mean "proved wrong".

Which magical theories? Oh yes, enjoying oneself, I guess. That's magic, isn't it?
Old 1st April 2010
  #248
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkunkWorks View Post
There's a local band here doing very well... sort of Coldplay-ish. When I first heard their first single I salivated over the vocal quality and production values. I ran into the guy a while ago and got to talk to him about the album. It was done locally at his buddy's studio which doesn't have much high end stuff. Turns out it was a Rode NT2000 through a Presonus pre. The Rode is a bit sibilant but that could have been de-essed.

I own a Great River. I'd love to get the sound they got out of that "cheap" gear. The guy does have a world class voice though... and probably sounds like that through anything.

EDIT
Here's the song...

YouTube - Jason Zerbin - In Your Arms - Official Music Video
Id really like to know more about this production i know its off topic so maybe a new post. I see on there you tube they are using KRKs any more details, did they mix it them self's, what about mastering?
Old 1st April 2010
  #249
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tringboy View Post
Id really like to know more about this production i know its off topic so maybe a new post. I see on there you tube they are using KRKs any more details, did they mix it them self's, what about mastering?
pm'd you
Old 1st April 2010
  #250
Gear Nut
 

...
Old 2nd April 2010
  #251
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elevteros View Post
I of course agree about the flat earth remark but the geocentric model and the bleeding are not urban myths.
At the risk of going waaaay OT, a very quick addressing of these. It is important.

The geocentric model is interesting as it is a good case of real science. You assume the model with the least information internal to it. Before the advent of the telescope, the best reasonable model you could have was that the Earth was the centre. What else might you reasonably posit that made any sense, and more importantly had anything more than wild speculation or religious belief (in the form of revealed truth) to back it up? There is a difference between assuming that the Earth is the centre, because we had no better information, and asserting that the Earth is the centre, based upon some wierd logic or revealed truth. The latter is non-science. Again, certain religious views found it convenient to assert this.

Bloodletting was never science. Indeed it is a good example of psuedo-science at work. The ideas were based upon the humoral philosophy of bodily process and disease. These were essentially a revealed truth. No blood letter would have even recognised the term science, and blood letting mostly came from a time before science as we know it actually existed. As scientific method was applied to medicine, one of the things it wiped out were practices like blood letting. In modern medicine we still see some issues like this. There is a movement termed "evidence based medicine" that seeks to apply much more scientific rigor to medical procedures. Mostly asking for statistically valid results. You might imagine that modern medicine is already so based, but the reality is that there are still quite a few places where this would help. These places are not where the science is wrong, but where science needs applying.

The bottom line is that science is not something that has existed as long as we have. It only really came into existance as a philosophy and methodology in the last few hundred years - with generally accepted codification less than a century old. Its application came at different times in different areas. Practices and beliefs that predate this introduction are not examples of failed or wrong science. They are examples of practices and beliefs that science came along to correct.
Old 2nd April 2010
  #252
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JohnRoberts's Avatar
 

Science still hasn't reached every neighborhood...

JR
Old 7th April 2010
  #253
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRoberts View Post
Science still hasn't reached every neighborhood...
Much less every studio.
Old 9th June 2010
  #254
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edjay's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerbrain View Post
.....I sort of expected it to make me sound better ..not more like me.
I experienced exactly the same thing when I went (in the home "studio") from my SM58 to a Rode NT2-A. Spot on Roger, thanks.
Old 9th June 2010
  #255
Gear Head
 

I'll take a GREAT engineer recording a record using only Mackie pre's over an O.K. engineer recording a record using an array of API's or Neves. I promise the record WILL sound better
Old 9th June 2010
  #256
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Wavebourn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
The bottom line is that science is not something that has existed as long as we have. It only really came into existance as a philosophy and methodology in the last few hundred years - with generally accepted codification less than a century old. Its application came at different times in different areas. Practices and beliefs that predate this introduction are not examples of failed or wrong science. They are examples of practices and beliefs that science came along to correct.
Ancient mystics-philosophers-healers-priests knew that tactile, olfactory, audio and video perception is perception of different frequencies of one and the same media
However, Isaac Newton created a new science, a new scientific model, about mechanical things that are separated from each other, and the only way of communication between them is direct mechanical impact. So tactile, olfactory, audio and video perception are perceptions of different kinds of matter.

But German scientists proved recently that ancient mystics-philosophers-healers-priests knew better!
They genetically modified a fruit fly so it smells the light now!

But despite of this proof I am pretty sure that masses would not know about that. As well as despite of many experiments and scientific articles masses know nothing about perception of sound and it's distortions. Engineers still learn and teach how to measure wrong things, and honestly believe that such measurements are backed up by a science.

Back to the topic:
I can record using couple of large diaphragm condenser microphones with a single vacuum tube inside, connected directly to a good modern A/D converter, without any famous console nor outboard gear, without any preamp, and it may be the best you can get for any money.
Old 9th June 2010
  #257
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavebourn View Post
Ancient mystics-philosophers-healers-priests knew that tactile, olfactory, audio and video perception is perception of different frequencies of one and the same media
However, Isaac Newton created a new science, a new scientific model, about mechanical things that are separated from each other, and the only way of communication between them is direct mechanical impact. So tactile, olfactory, audio and video perception are perceptions of different kinds of matter.

But German scientists proved recently that ancient mystics-philosophers-healers-priests knew better!
They genetically modified a fruit fly so it smells the light now!

But despite of this proof...
the only thing proven by this experiment is that through genetic manipulation, scientists were able to trick cells in the fruit flies into releasing a protein normally reserved for food by the stimulation of light. That protein went to the brain of fruit fly and convinced it it was smelling food.

This hardly 'proves' the synthesis of all subjective phenomena into one big mystical ball. In fact, it proves the opposite: a mechanistic thesis that the mere release of a specific protein is the sense of 'smell'.

If you would prefer to believe in ancient mysticism and so on, that is your right, but then you shouldn't need to grasp at scientific experiments to 'prove' your beliefs. It is unseemly to seek the imprimatur of mainstream science in your attempt to reject mainstream science.
Old 9th June 2010
  #258
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Wavebourn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
the only thing proven by this experiment is that through genetic manipulation, scientists were able to trick cells in the fruit flies into releasing a protein normally reserved for food by the stimulation of light. That protein went to the brain of fruit fly and convinced it it was smelling food.
It seems to me you don't see trees in the forest. The same cells react on different "kinds of matter", activating the same sensation through nerves consisting of different cells. The same structure of cells, but different specialization.

Quote:
This hardly 'proves' the synthesis of all subjective phenomena into one big mystical ball. In fact, it proves the opposite: a mechanistic thesis that the mere release of a specific protein is the sense of 'smell'.
You speak like one my friend, who said "Huh, it is just a gravitation!", but when I asked him what is gravitation he could not tell anything except empirically observed properties.
What is protein?
What is a cell?
Why a cell is in dynamic equilibrium, despite of main law of thermodynamic that is true for a dead cell only?

Quote:
If you would prefer to believe in ancient mysticism and so on, that is your right, but then you shouldn't need to grasp at scientific experiments to 'prove' your beliefs. It is unseemly to seek the imprimatur of mainstream science in your attempt to reject mainstream science.
I would prefer if you explain non-locality, coherence, dynamic equilibrium in physics of elementary particles, cosmology, bioilogy, from outdated multiple times long time ago mechanistic Newtonian point of view.

But please this time without arguments similar to "The wind blows because power station's propellers rotate!"

I never said that I prefer to believe in ancient mysticism. I said that according to modern science ancient mystics knew better than Newtonian physicists. However, they did not have such weapons that use Newtonian model for delivery of bombs that can't exist in Newtonian model. They were quite happy without such bombs.
Old 10th June 2010
  #259
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoePooch View Post
I'll take a GREAT engineer recording a record using only Mackie pre's over an O.K. engineer recording a record using an array of API's or Neves. I promise the record WILL sound better
truer words were never spoken, however unsluttish as it may be.
Old 10th June 2010
  #260
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

Of *course* it's preferable to have a killer engineer over a so-so engineer. It's also preferable to be in a good sounding room than a crappy sounding one, and to have real maple syrup on homemade waffles rather than aunt jemima on eggo's.

What does any of that have to do with cheap vs. pricey preamps?

I've noticed almost all of the killer engineers I know use pricey preamps; this ensures that the limiting factor is not the gear, it's the people involved and the music itself.

Maximize everything that you can, as much as you can. Don't pull your hair out over things you can't control or change, keep your focus on productivity over process. And, wherever possible, use the higest quality tools you can get your mitts on, it just makes life easier.

And never EVER let the quality of your tools dictate what you do and don't get done, that's irresponsible and disrespectful to yourself as well as the muse.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 10th June 2010
  #261
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fossaree's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Of *course* it's preferable to have a killer engineer over a so-so engineer. It's also prefereable to be in a good sounding room than a crappy sounding one, and to have real maple syrup on homemade waffles rather than aunt jemima on eggo's.

What does any of that have to do with cheap vs. pricey preamps?

I've noticed almost all of the killer engineers I know use pricey preamps; this ensures that the limiting factor is not the gear, it's the people involved and the music itself.

Maximize everything that you can, as much as you can. Don't pull your hair out over things you can't control or change, keep your focus on productivity over process. And, wherever possible, use the higest quality tools you can get your mitts on, it just makes life easier.

And never EVER let the quality of your tools dictate what you do and don't get done, that's irresponsible and disrespectful to yourself as well as the muse.


Gregory Scott - ubk
great ;-)
Old 10th June 2010
  #262
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Of *course* it's preferable to have a killer engineer over a so-so engineer. It's also preferable to be in a good sounding room than a crappy sounding one, and to have real maple syrup on homemade waffles rather than aunt jemima on eggo's.
as my friend's mother used to say:

"it's better to be rich and happy than poor and sick"
Old 10th June 2010
  #263
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
And never EVER let the quality of your tools dictate what you do and don't get done, that's irresponsible and disrespectful to yourself as well as the muse.


Gregory Scott - ubk
better words will seldom be spoken!!!!!!
Old 17th June 2010
  #264
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Barish's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
I was moderating a panel at Tape Op back when it was in Portland, Oregon (maybe 2004?) that was titled "What's the difference between a $1000 preamp and a $100 preamp?"

[Just checked my records. It was 2003.]

The seats on stage were filled by Dan Kennedy (Great River), Dave Hill (Cranesong), George Massenburg (GML), John LaGrou (Millennia), John Hardy (Hardy), Greg Gualtieri (Pendulum), Geoff Daking (Daking), Doug Fearn (DW Fearn) and Fletcher.

Geoff Daking gave the ultimate answer to this question as he said with a straight face....

"The difference is $900."
Beautiful.

B.
Old 18th June 2010
  #265
Moderator
 
Tim Farrant's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dale116dot7 View Post
...Pretty much every transformerless mic pre - everything from a cheap Behringer to some very expensive units - use pretty much the same couple of circuit designs - a pair of transistors on the input, a couple op-amps around them, and a diff amp at the output. But check out things like compensation capacitors, resistor values, I've even seen inductors used.....
Pretty much - but definitely not all!
Old 18th June 2010
  #266
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sonicdefault's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
Of *course* it's preferable to have a killer engineer over a so-so engineer. It's also preferable to be in a good sounding room than a crappy sounding one, and to have real maple syrup on homemade waffles rather than aunt jemima on eggo's.

What does any of that have to do with cheap vs. pricey preamps?

I've noticed almost all of the killer engineers I know use pricey preamps; this ensures that the limiting factor is not the gear, it's the people involved and the music itself.

Maximize everything that you can, as much as you can. Don't pull your hair out over things you can't control or change, keep your focus on productivity over process. And, wherever possible, use the higest quality tools you can get your mitts on, it just makes life easier.

And never EVER let the quality of your tools dictate what you do and don't get done, that's irresponsible and disrespectful to yourself as well as the muse.


Gregory Scott - ubk
One of the most astute posts ever on this forum


-SD
Old 18th June 2010
  #267
Gear Head
 

Re: The real diff between cheap and pricey preamps?

Clicked on this post. Titled; "the real difference between cheap and pricey pre amps"

I'm reading about metamorphosis, telescopes, Newtonian law and ancient mysticism.

Very funny! Reminds me or every debate I get in.

Good to be here! Second post ever.
Old 18th June 2010
  #268
Gear Head
 

Re: The real diff between cheap and pricey preamps?

Clicked on this post. Titled; "the real difference between cheap and pricey pre amps"

I'm reading about metamorphosis, telescopes, Newtonian law and ancient mysticism.

Funny that! Reminds me of every debate I get in.

Good to be here - I'm new HI!
Old 18th June 2010
  #269
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sonicdefault's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charliewonder7 View Post
Clicked on this post. Titled; "the real difference between cheap and pricey pre amps"

I'm reading about metamorphosis, telescopes, Newtonian law and ancient mysticism.

Funny that! Reminds me of every debate I get in.

Good to be here - I'm new HI!


Hi,

Good to see you made it! Welcome...!


-SD
Old 18th June 2010
  #270
Lives for gear
 
brianroth's Avatar
 

Quote:

"Geoff Daking gave the ultimate answer to this question as he said with a straight face....

"The difference is $900."

Hmmmmmmmm....

Bri
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