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Blind Test: Manley vs Hancrafted vs DAV vs Langevin vs D&R Single-Channel Preamps
Old 27th October 2007
  #1
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anne_paranoid's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Blind Test: Manley vs Hancrafted vs DAV vs Langevin vs D&R

Hi guys, this is my first blind test for comparision purposes. The recording platform is PT HD2.

The pres used are:

Manley Voxbox
HandCrafted Labs Affinity S2
Langevin Dual Vocal Combo
D&R Orion Strip Channel
DAV Electronics BG1

The mics used are:

Neumann U89i
AKG 414 B ULS

All files are wav 16 bits. No compression or eq used. I tried to set up all levels as close as possible, same for the voice, trying to make all takes as similar as possible.

Voice by Sofia, lead singer of AGNOS. More info under request.

Song by Queen. We choose this fragment because is well known

To make easy to compare mic pres ( the main purpose of this blind test ), first 5 takes ( A 1 to A 5 ) are one mic with different pre´s and last 5 ( B1 to B5) are the other mic.

Have fun!
Attached Files

A1.wav (1.73 MB, 1288 views)

A2.wav (1.63 MB, 1707 views)

A3.wav (1.73 MB, 1772 views)

A4.wav (1.75 MB, 1777 views)

A5.wav (1.71 MB, 1663 views)

Old 27th October 2007
  #2
Gear nut
 
anne_paranoid's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
More files to continue! The second mic in the test
Attached Files

B1.wav (1.77 MB, 1545 views)

B2.wav (1.72 MB, 1525 views)

B3.wav (1.70 MB, 1484 views)

B4.wav (1.77 MB, 1535 views)

B5.wav (1.64 MB, 1537 views)

Old 27th October 2007
  #3
Gear nut
 
anne_paranoid's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
I promise next time i´ll do it better, it´s been make all in half and hour! Hope you enjoy and take the test as is, a small fast guide to some pres sound
Old 28th October 2007
  #4
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Tom Hakala's Avatar
 

thanks for the test!

i did a quick listen for the first set of flies and I like the 1 and 3 wav the most.
Old 28th October 2007
  #5
Gear addict
 
underworld's Avatar
 

here's some comments:

a1
a bit aggressive sounding ...
maybe a bit "honky" sounding
might cut through well

a2
somewhat transparent and airy
might sit well

a3
something sounds odd in the upper mids -
kinda "fluffy" sounding

a4
not very exciting - not overly transparent, not overly colored

a5
not bad sounding - not quite as exciting as A1 ... but not as unexciting as a4

b1
nice airy sound with good aggressive mid sound

b2
sorta transparent - somewhat airy

b3
as with a3, i hear something strange in the upper mids ...

b4
not enough aggressive-ness ... kinda dull sounding

b5
not bad - similar to a4

i'm assuming that a1 and b1 use the same preamp, as well as a2,b2, and so on. they have similar characteristics in each sample.

anyway - the preamp used for a1/b1 seems to work really well for this vocalist, in my opinion. it's a tad overdriven, but it works nicely with her tone. it's clear when it needs to be clear and lights up and responds when she digs in. contrast that with a4/b4 which sounds somewhat dull and lifeless by comparison.

interestingly, the preamps seem to make a bigger difference here than the vocal mic - to my ears. i'm interested to see which is which. while i don't have the exact setups you are using, my main vocal pre is a manley mono and my main vocal mic for a while was an akg c414 tlii ... the #3 pre seems reminiscent of the manley - but there's something going on there that sounds "off". maybe it's a funky tube or something ...

thanks for sharing!
Old 28th October 2007
  #6
Gear Head
 
Herb Utsmelz's Avatar
 

It's hard to tell the difference because each file is a different section of the performance.

If I were able to hear one specific cut with the different parameters, I might be able to judge them.
Old 28th October 2007
  #7
Gear nut
 
anne_paranoid's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Here the test results:

A1- U89 + dav electronics
A2- u89 + handcrafted labs
A3- 89 + langevin
A4- 89 + manley
A5- 89 + d&r channel strip
B1- 414+HandCrafted Labs
B2 414+Langevin
B3 414 + D&R Channel strip
B4 414 + DAV Electronics
B5 414+Manley

As i told, main purpose is " how it sounds " not " which one sounds better ". As you can see, vocal takes as close one to another, but not the same (it´s the problem of live recording! ) so it would be wrong to judge the preamp in these conditions. Next time i´ll try to do something to use the same take for all preamps. Any advice?
Old 28th October 2007
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
ericzang's Avatar
 

this might be a helpful test for minimizing the variables when comparing preamps or mics: put the mic up to your monitor and record an identical excerpt of a complete full range mix for each item in the test.

I had read that this test is not helpful for comparing converters though, as it has already gone through a generation of A to D. Perhaps the same could be said for mics and preamps, but so far I think it can be helpful to some degree.

for converters, fortunately I have a preamp that has up to 3 outputs (speck micpre) which I can send to different converters and then compare the identical live take.

I remember reading somewhere that someone had success with a kind of mic Y-cable that could then be sent to two different pres. I don't recall if it was suggested to split right after the mic or just before the preamp. (hmm, maybe I read that here, searching...)

...ok, well, on a quick scan of posts, the y-cable thing seems to not have unanimous support as an approach. Buying a mic splitter box could be a more reliable option, but these may not be just a cheap buy, such as this one: Radial Engineering - JS-3 Jensen transformer equipped mic splitter
Old 28th October 2007
  #9
It sounds like the Manley has the gain on 45, and it needs to be at 50. Also if she was closer to the mic, the Manley would of sounded better, fuller and big. However you can still hear the softer tube character of the Manley over the Langevin. It's not over done, but j u s t right. heh
Old 30th October 2007
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Hi thanks for the test!
One Question: Did you name the B files right? If i compare the B4 to A1 which should both be DAV, i wonder how different it sounds. B4 is more similar to the Manley A i think...

Thanks
Old 30th October 2007
  #11
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anne_paranoid View Post
As i told, main purpose is " how it sounds " not " which one sounds better ". As you can see, vocal takes as close one to another, but not the same (it´s the problem of live recording! ) so it would be wrong to judge the preamp in these conditions. Next time i´ll try to do something to use the same take for all preamps. Any advice?
That advice would be to put it in some kind of context. A solo'd track with no reference to the other tracks that will comprise the presentation of the song is entirely worthless... there needs to be a contextual refrerence.

It's a neat excercize... I've done them before and if you're in the room, listening to the material live and in some form of context to what YOU are trying to achieve then these sort of tests have great relevance and merit... if they're just hanging in space with no context then you have less than zero idea of which [if any] of the textures will be relevant to any particular presenation.
Old 30th October 2007
  #12
Lives for gear
 

anne_paranoid ,.
i found those snippets very interesting.
they confirmed a number of things for me.,

now let me preface my next comments in this post
by saying i'm NOT trying to upset anyone.
and have NOT posted this just to be a idiot.
these are just my v honest feelings. which will follow.

and i DONT claim to be a ace audio engineer , just a songwriter
who has used lots of recording gear over the decades.
i'm also coming from the viewpoint of a "normal listening consumer".

so heres my comments..for better or worse.
in summary i dont hear much difference than if a decent mic was used into a
inexpensive art tube mp.
there..ive said it.
sorry, but its my honest feelings.
yes..there is some difference.
but i suggest respectfully the "normal listener consumer" prolly wouldnt notice. particularly if an mp track was "conditioned" a little after a vocal trak was recorded.

now before you hi end guys jump up and down on me.
and blast away at me...
perhaps anne paranoid, you might redo a blind test and see if folks can pick out the tube mp
within all the other products.
twould make things "interesting" i feel.

i'm sorry if anyone takes offense.
this is NOT my purpose.
i'm just offering my honest feelings. thats all.
mebe they are totally erroneous.
dunno.
(ps....before anyone asks, i'm not affiliated with anyone.
just a retired bloke that writes songs for fun. )
Old 31st October 2007
  #13
Gear nut
 
anne_paranoid's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
Hi thanks for the test!
One Question: Did you name the B files right? If i compare the B4 to A1 which should both be DAV, i wonder how different it sounds. B4 is more similar to the Manley A i think...

Thanks
I,ll check, but i was surprised about the differences between mics. Also, you have to realiza that the singer was not in exactly the same position and singing exactly the same take, so there are differences.
Old 31st October 2007
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anne_paranoid View Post
I,ll check, but i was surprised about the differences between mics. Also, you have to realiza that the singer was not in exactly the same position and singing exactly the same take, so there are differences.
The mic differences are big. I noticed that the vocalist is movin during the perforamance. The vocals get brighter some times, that must be the point when singing direct into the mic?

I did a quite similar test to yours month ago, Voxbox, DAV and some preamps we build on our own. Mics were the Brauner VMA, Nevaton MC-412, Studio Projects B1 modded, Groove Tubes Model 1A and SM7B. There were differences in mics, of course, but i could recognize the preamps every time. A bright and open preamp wont sound dark with another mic. Its just that a dark mic + this preamp will sound darker than this preamp and a bright mic...

Fletcher is right, he said that you´ve got to put the snippet into a music context.
I do this every time when i test equipment. We mostely cover a classic rock song or whatever and then test the audio equipment in this song. This gives really more conclusions to me. If you havent got the time to cover a song, a karaoke song can help, if you got a voice to record. Add a little compression and reverb, maybe some chorus, delay and pitchifting stuff and hear how the voice sits in the mix. There its easy to hear what a great preamp/mic combination can do, i think.
Old 3rd November 2007
  #15
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HandCrafted Lab's Avatar
 

Hmmm we can recognize our baby more clips else, please Anne
Old 7th January 2008
  #16
Gear Addict
 
skygod's Avatar
Langevin wins for me

Quote:
Originally Posted by anne_paranoid View Post
More files to continue! The second mic in the test
I liked the Langevin best on both mics clear, airy, kinda naturally slightly scooped midrange esp with the U89 ( I like that mic and the U87 and U67 as well for female vocals: soft pop/rock to screamer rock to jazz in that order). Not crazy about C414s on vocals. Kinda bland? Yup. Better suited for me for nylon acoustic instruments and other weird instruments that I won't use a small condenser on in the mix.

The D&R channel strip had more natural lower mid range and not as airy for her voice anyway.

I still preferred the Langevin on both mics. D&R solid second.

~skygod~
Old 3rd June 2012
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Better late than never.

I am very happy to comprobe that the Orion console preamps have better sound than the handcrafted labs Affinity S2 preamps.
Old 3rd June 2012
  #18
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