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Audio Interface or High End Mic Pre? Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 28th August 2007
  #1
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Audio Interface or High End Mic Pre?

I have only recently discovered this fantastic forum and can't keep away...

I have some lovely high end gear (matched pair of Pultec EQH-3, Neumann M149 and a few other bits and bobs), but also some pretty basic gear such as a small Mackie desk, Drawmer 1960....

I am looking at spending a bit of hard earned and I am very interested in getting a decent audio interface. (Currnently using MOTU 1208 and 1224 - BOTH MK1 !!!.... recorded several albums - sound OK to me!) I ONLY record my own material now, which is best described as classic rock and after browsing this site over many hours, I think that the UA 2192 is the way to go for me.

My question is: Do you guys think that I would get more mileage out of a high end mic pre rather than an audio converter? Budget is limited to around £2k. If I need live drums, I go to my friends' studio, so don't need multi-channel setups ... all the rest is dubbed over at mine.

Can currently get a good price on True Systems P2 mic pre, so just not quite sure at the moment .... UA 2192 or a nice mic pre

Any advice gratefully appreciated.
Old 28th August 2007
  #2
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KingBugsy's Avatar
 

I had this same question a year ago. Without a doubt, spend your money on a great mic pre! The converters are important, but no where near as important as a great pre. The pre's will make a greater difference in your final product.
Old 28th August 2007
  #3
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Definitely Mic-Pre.

The difference my Tube Tech MP1A has made is astonishing even with an RME fireface.

If you read Behind the Glass, a book of interviews with some of the world's leading producers/engineers (Phil Ramone, Geoff Emerick, Alan Parsons, etc.) they all have been asked the same thing and they all say the Pre amp.

This assumes your converters are not total rubbish and yours are not so get a high-end pre.
Old 28th August 2007
  #4
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For £2k you could have both if you buy in the US.

£2k is $4000.
$4000 would get you a Pacifica and a Lynx Aurora 8.
Or you could get a pair of API 512c's in a luncbox and the Aurora.
Old 28th August 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundgeeza View Post
Currnently using MOTU 1208 and 1224 - BOTH MK1 !!!.... recorded several albums - sound OK to me!
Hi Soundgeeza

Can't speak for the 1208 but I know for sure that the 1224 is pretty good because I use one myself - with the PCIe 424 card. I've A/B'd it with the Apogee Rosetta and the Lavry Blue, both times with the respective dealers in my studio, and it was a real struggle to discern differences. The monitoring was Dynaudio BM6A and Genelec 8250. If there was any difference it don't think it was in frequency range but possibly in speed of transients. I know this may cause a fair bit of scoffing but in all honesty that's what I found. I've always had a sneaky feeling that the 1224 was an excellent converter for it's day - quite a different league to the original 2408.

The difference however between any of the many (too many!) preamps I've auditioned here is easily distinguishable. So IMO I'd improve first on a couple of pres, maybe another mic, monitoring if you need to and decide where you're going with mixer etc etc before worrying about high end converters.

I think to audition the UA2192 against the 1224 a.s.a.p. would be the fastest way to decide on your next step...!

Good luck
Old 29th August 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octatonic View Post
For £2k you could have both if you buy in the US.

£2k is $4000.
$4000 would get you a Pacifica and a Lynx Aurora 8.
Or you could get a pair of API 512c's in a luncbox and the Aurora.


I would definitely recommend the Pacifica.
The lynx aurora is also great.
Old 29th August 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
Depends on how good the MOTU stuff is - I have no idea...I would have said the interface was the most important thing...I would go with a Rosetta though...you can probably get one for $1500 US on ebay...
While a nicer mic pre is definitely important, I think the ADDA conversion is the basic building block for everything else in your chain...You can have the nicest mic and pre in the world and if your ADDA sucks, you won't hear it the way it should be heard. It ain't sexy, but I would go for that first.
Old 29th August 2007
  #8
amd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walth View Post

I would definitely recommend the Pacifica.
The lynx aurora is also great.
Good combo!!!!
Old 29th August 2007
  #9
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The MOTU 1224 boxes are nice. I'd stick with that. If you want an upgrade, send it to Black Lion and spend the $350USD to get it modded. Night and day differences. Heck, go nuts and get their clock as well for another $350. So, now you've spent $700USD and have your interface upgraded. Spend the remaining on two really nice pres.

later,

m
Old 29th August 2007
  #10
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Great advice guys - thank you very much.
Old 29th August 2007
  #11
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I agree that the differences between preamps can be dramatic. The differences between converters are more subtle. If you are considering spending this amount of hard earned money as a one shot deal you will get more bang for your buck with a preamp. However, once you are flush with premium preamps you will bump everything up a notch by stepping up to better converters. I have a 1208 and consider it solid adequate but not as good as my Apogees or RADAR.
Old 29th August 2007
  #12
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dlmorley's Avatar
SSL Alpha Link SX converters. If you want 24 I/O then these are a great deal.
Old 31st August 2007
  #13
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Am i the only one to think the converter is the most important key in a modern recording chain?
Old 31st August 2007
  #14
CKK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexstringer View Post
Am i the only one to think the converter is the most important key in a modern recording chain?
Yes!

Old 31st August 2007
  #15
Gear Head
 

Mic Pre first. 2K almost enough to buy both in UK. Pacifica £1300 Lavry Blue i got for not much over £1000 inc vat. In fact talk to unity audio, germanium plus lavry blue A/D might be possible. Or one channel of great river pre plus lavry. etc. etc.
I did some listening tests with lavry vs apogee, they are both great. I decided to get lavry and if i wanted more mojo i'd put more iron or whatever in the chain.
Old 31st August 2007
  #16
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The DA side of things on the old Motu 1224 is quite good, i have not heard the AD however if its as good as the DA than i dont think getting the Lynx Aurora would make much difference.

You could buy a 2ch Lavry Blue AD + M.Sync (£975 inc VAT) and spend the rest on a preamp of your choosing, this way you could also clock the Motu's with it which does further improve there DA performance.

The preamps left in your price range would be: DAV BG1, Great River, Vintech X73i, Germanium, Sebatron VMP, even LavryBlue Micpre!

Or failing that theres allways the API A2D, or Neve 1073 DPD

Old 1st September 2007
  #17
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"Am i the only one to think the converter is the most important key in a modern recording chain?"


....i couldn't say most....but I would say very,very important...a lot of folks in here may be disregarding it because it isn't as sexy as a great new pre ....it may not be as noticible when recording one instrument, but after 24, 30 50 tracks recorded it becomes everything....my vote goes to the 2192. I have one. Get one. Rent different pre's for different projects or just use what you got...seems nice enough.
Old 1st September 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexstringer View Post
Am i the only one to think the converter is the most important key in a modern recording chain?
I tend to agree...I think lots of times people are mislead by the fact that many of these pres have very different equalization...that doesn't mean that everything sounds better. We're talking about depth, width and general space. A pre doesn't do that. A great converter adds it. Does a Pacifica have a great high end sheen to it? Well, yes, but it sounds even better with a great converter that serves as the basic foundation. It ain't sexy, but to me a good ADDA should be the first thing you buy. Then you'll be able to tell what the pre really sounds like...
Old 1st September 2007
  #19
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The impact a high-end pre will make is easier to discern then say a jump between an RME FF versus a Lavry Gold. Not that you can't tell between the former, just that for most people it's quite obvious and the difference is smaller.

They're both critical but in the end a high end mic pre makes a bigger difference.

Pre 1, Converter 2
Old 1st September 2007
  #20
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He's using a 1224 now. That's a pretty nice converter. Especially with the BL mods, it's going to be pretty hard to beat for the money. Unless you're talking about going with the Apogee or other, but that's going to run about $3-4K per 8 channels.
later,

m
Old 1st September 2007
  #21
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A440's Avatar
For around £2k. How's about Phoenix Audio DRS-2 into Metric Halo 2882...amazing pre, very nice converters. You could always get 2 channels of super-premium converters later on (Mytek for example).
Old 1st September 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxis360 View Post
The impact a high-end pre will make is easier to discern then say a jump between an RME FF versus a Lavry Gold. Not that you can't tell between the former, just that for most people it's quite obvious and the difference is smaller.

They're both critical but in the end a high end mic pre makes a bigger difference.

Pre 1, Converter 2
Have you even heard the difference between a Lavry Gold and RME?

I assure you the difference is really huge and affects everything you record, process, or print. The Micpre's are used once, the AD gets used for everything and is the most used piece of equipment, in my studio at least.

Preamps are good for adding different flavours/ colours on individual tracks but the converter goes on everything and in the end gives you your sound.

Old 1st September 2007
  #23
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I'd save a little more and get the 2192 and a good mic pre. I think both are equally as big of a factor. With a great mic pre and decent converters, your sound is good. With great converters and decent mic pre, your sound is good. With a great converter and great mic pre, your sound is great. But if you really need one now, go with a mic pre.
Old 1st September 2007
  #24
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janek 68's Avatar
Using cheap converter you just don`t hear enough differences in sound -that`s why somebody said that another preamp will give you better result than converter upgrade.I`ve recorded many things using Motu 1224 and because it has cheap converters i didn`t noticed how poor quality equipement i use....( akg c3000 and focusrite platinium "channel strip").After testing Mytek converter i discovered HIGHS!Then i bought real monitors ( ADAM S3 ) and joined Gearslutz .Now choosing and testing gear for my studio became real pleasure.
Maybe you should upgrading your monitors at first.......
Old 14th December 2009
  #25
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Ok, I confess I'm out of my depths here.. you guys know way the hell more then I'll know anytime soon but...

So the average kid listens to your work on crapy ear buds with how much MP3 compression these days? Are you going to hear the difference between high end A/D D/A at that point, and like.. sorta.. I don't know.. more mid range? High end pre's versus like.. mid range pre's?

I think there's a certain depressing facts about how people consume music that should be considered in this topic... and maybe distribution implications..

I don't have experience with the above mentioned motu interface.. but my guess is that its sorta an ecology question.. like crappy A/D D/A with awesome Pres or Crapy Pres with awesome A/D D/A.. its the crappy part that's the problem.. and so what's more important might depends on your starting point?

I'm stuck in project studio land where its all kind of relative to what your trying to do so I'm thinking.. depending on what the likely end consumption pattern is, what your personal goals are, how good that motu is, along with the rest of the tools in your studio.. all that sorta defines what's more important between the a/d d/a and pres.

I don't know.. but lets say you're using a lot of software based effects to create your sound, would that perhaps mean you might want better A/D so the software effects have more to work with.. and that in the end does more to shape your sound then the pres?

It sounds like production styles mean something to.. if A/D D/A means a lot more when you have a zillion multi tracked guitars.. versus.. lets say some kind of improvised avant guard Jazz where you probably don't have a lot of tracks for each instrument?
Old 14th December 2009
  #26
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It does depend I'm afraid!
Depends what you are recording. If you are recording multiple takes then AD is more important than if just recording a couple of tracks.
Then again, this is the same with preamp..
Luckily there are very good affordable solutions in both categories.
I needed 24 channel recording capability so my needs are different to yours. Having said that, I got SSL alphalink converters and am very happy with them. Not expensive for 24 channels (actually a massive bargain IMHO)
In your case, perhaps one serious channel strip would give you the sound you need. AD conversion will probably be less noticeable than say getting a very good channel strip
Pre/EQ/Comp Channel Strip Units
Another thing is that if you have been happy with your Motu, then you could choose to get them modded by Black Lion and at least improve what you have without having to invest in a new converter.
Black Lion Audio | MOTU Audio Interfaces
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