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Complement Great River with DRS-2, Tg-2, Capi,etc.? Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 15th March 2019
  #1
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Complement Great River with DRS-2, Tg-2, Capi,etc.?

Just got a Great River free-standing preamp, and wow, really impressed! Looking for a different flavor to complement for an upcoming project.

My needs are a bit unique. Going for vintage 70's tone, rich and warm, trying to bring all the great tones out of vintage analog synths. Not a pro, small home studio (but this is the forum where people know this stuff), recording album on my own to release to try to get micro label interest. My music has drums, vintage analog hardware synths, bass guitar, but that's it. Analog synths are at least partially pre-saturated, so I find not all preamps work great on them, tried a couple things with less success (some more modern neve/api clones were great for drums but did little on the synths), but heard GR works with analog synths and wow, yes!

Here's some of my tracks (these are all recorded without preamps).




What complements the GR? Looking for preamps for vibe, not clean ones, but a complementary flavor.

I know GR is 'neve-ish,' so would a Capi vp-28 (or FD312?) for giving things more punch? I'm guessing the GR is a little too thick and slow for 2bus, I hear 'track neve, mix api.' Some people said it conflicts with GR, others that it complements, but likely depends on which sources.

I also hear TG-2 is excellent on analog synths in particular. How is its flavor different from GR? All I've been able to find is 'more midrange, less low-end, great on guitar, more limited than GR.' Are they too similar?

What about DRS-2? Heard it can complement GR nicely, but totally unclear how it compares to the other two, or the neve/api spectrum.
Old 15th March 2019
  #2
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oh btw, just got a summit tpa-200a in, first listen the tubes sound wonderful, haven't had a chance to compare yet to the GR, though my first guess is the GR despite being solid state does have a darker sound that reminds me of the summit's tube end of things.
Old 17th March 2019
  #3
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bowzin's Avatar
When you say on the vintage analog synths you are already getting a lot of tone from the synths, you can just leave the preamps output trim on Unity Gain, and back down the input as much as you can. On the color type pres Ive used, that usually makes things much more subtle and full-frequency, not messing with the signal as much.

I have a Great River, and two VP28's, one with a Red Dot 2520 into 1731, and one with a 1731 into 1731.

I think the Great River is "more subtle" than the VP28 overall. The VP28 is more thick/fat, and is doing API things to the midrange, more mid-forward. I love it on electric guitars, perfect fit. Drums also we've used it on, it even sounds good on vocals but less flexible in that area than the Neve, as it imparts a lot of color so it either works or doesnt but it's probably underrated there. The VP28 is one of their most expensive pre's, it has a lot of nice options like 3-position HPF and THREE transformers inside, it's a cool piece. I personally recommend a 1731 type DOA in position 2, position 1 do whatever, cant go wrong with any 2520.

I think the VP28's are really great, and it's a good excuse to get into the 500 series format, which has been a great move for me. CAPI is really affordable for what you're getting (which helps offset the cost of having to buy a 500 rack upfront), especially if you can find someone selling a used pre-built unit on Reverb/ebay/gearslutz-classifieds, or build it yourself from the kit.

Another one thats cool is the LTL Chroma, it has two preamp colors you switch between, Neve-ish or API-ish, and both sound really good. They add really nice color, but it's not extreme, and doesnt mess up the signal, so it also works well during mixing where you can run things thru it at line level and it dsnt mess up the signal, but adds nice color. It's really cool, still learning with it, but with the optional Color cards it can be super flexible getting cool tones on the way in. Good luck.
Old 18th March 2019
  #4
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thanks so much bowzin, really helpful input. I was able to briefly give a listen to a silver bullet, but it was at the start of my preamp journey, so maybe I didn't know what to listen for. it seemed a bit modern sounding to me rather than vintage, and very subtle unless really cranked and then breaking up too much, dunno, I did a lot of fidgeting and it never seemed right, vintage, or both, not sure. Whereas the GR immediately sounded 'vintage' to my ears, I clicked immediately. That said, it is thick and compressed, while the sb api side had very nice punch, just wondering if perhaps the capi vp28 has that, but with a little more vintage thickness or something like the GR has. do you find the chroma modern sounding and very clean, unless you really over push it? or perhaps I should give it another shot?

also curious about the daking, as it's based on trident A line, and I'm a huge fan of Dave Hentschel's recordings and he was a trident guy. I hear its much less colorful than the others tho. so far I find that preamps that work wonders on drums, for example, often do little to analog synths, so it's been a real process of experimentation so far.
Old 18th March 2019
  #5
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bowzin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fromthepuggle View Post
thanks so much bowzin, really helpful input. I was able to briefly give a listen to a silver bullet, but it was at the start of my preamp journey, so maybe I didn't know what to listen for. it seemed a bit modern sounding to me rather than vintage, and very subtle unless really cranked and then breaking up too much, dunno, I did a lot of fidgeting and it never seemed right, vintage, or both, not sure. Whereas the GR immediately sounded 'vintage' to my ears, I clicked immediately. That said, it is thick and compressed, while the sb api side had very nice punch, just wondering if perhaps the capi vp28 has that, but with a little more vintage thickness or something like the GR has. do you find the chroma modern sounding and very clean, unless you really over push it? or perhaps I should give it another shot?

also curious about the daking, as it's based on trident A line, and I'm a huge fan of Dave Hentschel's recordings and he was a trident guy. I hear its much less colorful than the others tho. so far I find that preamps that work wonders on drums, for example, often do little to analog synths, so it's been a real process of experimentation so far.
I only have one Chroma, not the Silver Bullet, but I think I know what you are saying. The way I phrased it somewhere else is that the Chroma really does not "mess up" your signal, it really respects your signal, which I think speaks to one of its primary intended purposes as both a mic pre and a line/bus amp, something you could run signal through multiple times in layers at different stages. It definitely adds color and character, it's obvious, and switching between the N and A sides is obvious, and does what you'd expect both of those to do. But I agree it's more subtle (maybe more about adding layer over layer), and it sounds like you want something un-subtle to really tone-shape some sources.

The Phoenix DRS I've never used, but I think it's supposed to be heavily Neve-inspired, so might be another flavor very similar to the Great River you already have.

The TG-2 I have no experience with, but wish I did. My understanding is it's a heavy-color type deal, not subtle. I'd love to try it on guitar amps. Could be cool in your situation!

Regarding the VP28, when you said "The Silver Bullet's API side had very nice punch, just wondering if perhaps the capi vp28 has that, but with a little more vintage thickness or something like the GR has." I would say that is a pretty good description of the VP28 actually, yes. The Chroma API side has an immediately noticeable "punchy mids" API quality, and yes the VP28 is similar but much more in-your-face, and thick/weighty. In my head-canon, the VP28 is more of an "extreme" preamp, and not necessarily something I would immediately pick for vocals, or acoustic instruments that I wanted to represent naturally, for example.

I love vocals through both sides of the Chroma (when I mostly already like what's coming out of the vocal mic, I think the Chroma is my new fav preamp, previously was the Great River). The VP28 is a little more picky for vocals, but kills on electric guitar, for example. I find most things I like on electric guitar I like on synths, but can't remember if I've used the VP28's on synths or not, but it's definitely something I would try.

In your case looking for heavy color and NOT being interested in delicacy for vocals or acoustic instruments... the VP28 seems like a good contender, along with that TG2 mentioned which I would like to try as well.

In the shootouts I've heard, the Daking was extremely similar to an ISA One. I had an ISA One and liked it as a 99% clean preamp, but both of those seem much more on the "transformer clean" side of things vs. heavy color.
Old 19th March 2019
  #6
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thanks, great input. yeah, the vp28 sounds like I gotta try it then. the api side of chroma with a little more intensity to the color but with the same punch sounds great. didn't realize the phoenix is neve based, just heard it's got a lotta character, but now that I google it, you're right. if the daking is as clean as you say, prob not then, def looking for color over clean. thanks again!
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