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Which is the $85 pre and which is the $2200 pre? Condenser Microphones
Old 6th December 2008
  #211
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

A few thoughts,

First, the $2200 pre is actually a channel strip w/eq. The pre only version (actually a 2 ch pre) is about $1000 a channel.

Second, the pre only version of this 'expensive pre' is known to excel on Gtrs, very few around here use them on vocals.

3rd, the tone of this expensive pre changes quite a bit depending on how hard/soft it is driven.

And finally, the expensive pre-only version has a impedence switching option that changes the tone too, the pre+eq version used on this test does not.

Old 6th December 2008
  #212
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radiant's Avatar
 

I liked "b" the best on the dry takes and "a" the best on the mixes. To me it sounded like "A" got more attention to detail on the mixes than B did. To me the "B" mix sounded like it was compressed harder and needed some EQ treatment. When listening to "B" dry I can tell the B pre has better depth and dynamic. IMHO If you like extra dirt and some compression try cheap stuff, it works great! I know some guys in Nashville that use the heck out of that A.R.T. Tube MP on lead vocals. Thanks for the test!
Old 7th December 2008
  #213
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fanriffic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
First, the $2200 pre is actually a channel strip w/eq. The pre only version (actually a 2 ch pre) is about $1000 a channel.

Second, the pre only version of this 'expensive pre' is known to excel on Gtrs, very few around here use them on vocals.

3rd, the tone of this expensive pre changes quite a bit depending on how hard/soft it is driven.

And finally, the expensive pre-only version has a impedence switching option that changes the tone too, the pre+eq version used on this test does not.

..hey...this could be developed into The GS board game..(patent pending)..in time for next christmas!!!..

'..mmm..lets see...actually chan...with eq..(ok)..excell on guitars..(mnn..).tone changes..hard/sof...i..I'VE GOT IT !!!..'
heh
Old 7th December 2008
  #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobalou View Post
how right you are!

AND lets make one thing clear:

A great voice AND "performance"will even the playing field regarding gear in the blink of an eye!

we all like to justify our purchases no matter how much they cost! Give me the voice with the performance every day of the week!

nice job on both Johnkenn



+1 DITTO....
Old 7th December 2008
  #215
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
Obviously, there will be some difference, but most pop oriented music is going to get compressed to the point where you can't tell the difference between a SM57 and an ELAM. So who cares? LOL...
First off: I like 57s and use them often. But the 'once it gets compressed it doesn't matter' mindset is TOTALLY wrong. Rather it's the opposite, think of photography to illustrate the point: A high-quality Ansel Adams print is incredible in its power of expression, depth and dimension but it still works as well when re-printed in a newspaper. The resolution will obviously be way lower and a lot of the details will be lost but it's NOT the same as if Adams had taken a Polaroid and deemed it 'good enough for a lowly newspaper'.

This has a lot to do with the artistic greatness per se that simply transcends the medium but it also has a lot to do with the amazing quality of the original work that simply can handle downgrading.

Call me an optimist but really believe that fidelity will make a comeback, with the current Internet/Multi-tasking hype we're just suffering quantity over quality but once that people come back to their senses (especially their hearing) you will deeply regret having lowered your standards.
Old 7th December 2008
  #216
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weemies's Avatar
 

I vastly preferred A on both dry and processed tracks... until the results were posted. Then I understood what a fool I had been, and it became clear I actually preferred B. I mean really, is it so wrong to like the sound of MONEY? Most people seem to. heh
Old 7th December 2008
  #217
Gear Maniac
 

I think both of those preamps are fine, different, but not by that much to my tired old ears.

If you did those vocal takes in 10 minutes without pitch correction, that is amazing.

Your voice (and the cool song) is 99.999% of the equation to me. Your voice through an SM58 and an Audio Buddy would still be that voice. I would give my left nu...... well, no.... I would give up my Great River to have a voice like that.

bilco
Old 7th December 2008
  #218
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Stisse's Avatar
B contains so much more 'quality' information compared to A. I would have a much easier time sculpting B. However, A is no slouch and I could easily record something with only that.

A sounds more 'demo', B sounds pro, though maybe not the best pro for this particular situation.

My couple of cents...
Old 7th December 2008
  #219
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I liked B and that was before I found out the results. I will agree Stisse that A sounded more demo and B sonded more pro.
Old 8th December 2008
  #220
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duvalle's Avatar
 

nice little shoot out!
since i am way to late here, i am not going to comment the results.
just this: i own a vtb-1 too and i think it's a nice clean pre if you are not
using the tube! right now i use it a as an efx in the insert of my voyager with
the tube turned all the way up!

beside that: who cares?
use what ever sounds good to you!!
Old 8th December 2008
  #221
Quote:
Originally Posted by getarzan View Post
Do you have any idea how many people in this world mix and record ? I'm not talking about 19 year olds and their pods,laptops,and interfaces. I'm speaking in terms of people who have worked with and experienced pro audio equipment over the years in varying degrees. (but has no famous clients) That includes the ones who got their start in audio because they knew someone who was already involved in the business or their own curiosity and creativeness led them to apprenticeship. There are THOUSANDS. Do you think Universal Audio and Manley advertise their pro audio gear to a secrete society of "special" engineers who solely possess the power to create great recordings? Let's face it, if you're looking at or seriously considering buying high end gear you probably have a pretty good grasp on what would justify spending the cash. So yeah , thousands. Does it take time to learn how to use any new piece of gear thoroughly? Yeah. I also think the learning curve for thousands of mixing enthusiasts worldwide would be small enough that they could handle it without being too overwhelmed. with a deep voice I'd say.."Pardon me son, you can set the controls on that RNC unit pretty well, but can you do the same on my $7000 Manley?" " Don't be scared now"

And finally, when I say "there are only so many tricks of the trade" I mean that the more experience you have recording and mixing , the less these methods seem like tricks. Trial and error lead you to the best ways and that's it. That's why some of the "vintage" gear we use is still sought after. It didn't go any further. The design was great. That new plug-in you've got doesn't cut it. As far as "mixing" goes ,... there I would agree the possibilities are infinite. Peace Mike. I don't know how I became a pro advocate for guys mixing without all the gear they ever wanted. I don't know a thing about you other than some of your comments sounded a bit arrogant. Some sounded intelligent though. I just wanted to point out that it's a big world and there are a lot of talented people who lack the resources to show their potential. By "elite" I mean talented and proven. Best wishes to you and all who love good gear!

I'm not completely following what you're trying to say.

Learning a piece of gear has nothing to do with the the controls. Once you've learned an RNC, you know how to use a Manley or whatever, but that doesn't mean that you know the Manley and which one would be the better choice. Learning to operate a piece of gear and knowing the piece are totally different.


I'm guessing the comment that sounded arrogant was about the cliche. I think the statement about great engineers with bad gear vs bad engineers with great gear is ultimately a harmful statement in the guise of profound wisdom. Or maybe it's the use. It's pretty much never used in a way that's relevant to the topic or the initial question.
Old 8th December 2008
  #222
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
I'm not completely following what you're trying to say.

Learning a piece of gear has nothing to do with the the controls. Once you've learned an RNC, you know how to use a Manley or whatever, but that doesn't mean that you know the Manley and which one would be the better choice. Learning to operate a piece of gear and knowing the piece are totally different.


I'm guessing the comment that sounded arrogant was about the cliche. I think the statement about great engineers with bad gear vs bad engineers with great gear is ultimately a harmful statement in the guise of profound wisdom. Or maybe it's the use. It's pretty much never used in a way that's relevant to the topic or the initial question.
Well Mike , I'm not really sure what you're trying to say. Learning a piece of gear has EVERYTHING to do with the controls and how those controls ; each different in respect to their own relationship to each unit , effect the overall sound. Because each piece of gear will indeed have a distinct sound of it's own ; despite "knob" settings , it's up to the engineer to find and use the one best suited.

The arrogance I depicted wasn't from a specific quote. It was from a tone of "all knowing," that I don't believe anyone should have.
The comment about great engineers with bad equip. vs bad engineers with great equip really wasn't too harmful... as you stated. In fact , it's quite relevant to the topic since the starter of the thread was comparing an $85 pre to a $2200 pre.

A wise man once said , "only an ignorant man thinks he knows everything." I come to gearslutz so I can share experiences and knowledge and to learn from others. Some people come here just to hear themselves.
Old 8th December 2008
  #223
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radiant's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stisse View Post
B contains so much more 'quality' information compared to A. I would have a much easier time sculpting B. However, A is no slouch and I could easily record something with only that.

A sounds more 'demo', B sounds pro, though maybe not the best pro for this particular situation.


When I first listened.. I was thinking, "is he trying to trick us or what?.." because "B" sounded so much better than "A" on the dry takes. When referencing the depth and dynamic of the 2 "mixes" it sounded like Mix "B" had the life sucked out of it. I thought maybe he had switched the A & B dry takes to confuse us. (which would have been funny to a certain extent) To me it sounded like "A" on the mix version was louder and less compressed than the "B" mix version. But I agree, I could do much more with "B" however, I think think the cheap pre did a pretty good job of capturing the singer/mic combo.
Old 8th December 2008
  #224
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Which mic did you use for the sample? Thanks.
Old 8th December 2008
  #225
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A Wunder CM7...which could have more to do with the mid-rangey, bitey sound than anything...
Old 8th December 2008
  #226
Gear Addict
 

Thanks...also, thanks for taking the time to do the sample. It certainly was an eye opening experience. I had a VTB a few years ago and I really liked it. I've since gotten rid of it and may look into another one.
Old 9th December 2008
  #227
Quote:
Originally Posted by virtualsamana View Post
Agreed. No reason you can't make a pro record just as easily with a Presonus Firepod or a Mackie Onyx w/ firewire versus expensive converters and expensive clean pres. The difference now is so subtle that bias has so much more of an influence on our perception than the actual sonics of the gear. All hail the march of technology, the great equalizer.
When you do that, let us know.


I'm sure there are big records here one of those things was used for a piece, but not the whole thing.
Old 9th December 2008
  #228
Quote:
Originally Posted by getarzan View Post
Well Mike , I'm not really sure what you're trying to say. Learning a piece of gear has EVERYTHING to do with the controls and how those controls ; each different in respect to their own relationship to each unit , effect the overall sound. Because each piece of gear will indeed have a distinct sound of it's own ; despite "knob" settings , it's up to the engineer to find and use the one best suited.

The arrogance I depicted wasn't from a specific quote. It was from a tone of "all knowing," that I don't believe anyone should have.
The comment about great engineers with bad equip. vs bad engineers with great equip really wasn't too harmful... as you stated. In fact , it's quite relevant to the topic since the starter of the thread was comparing an $85 pre to a $2200 pre.

A wise man once said , "only an ignorant man thinks he knows everything." I come to gearslutz so I can share experiences and knowledge and to learn from others. Some people come here just to hear themselves.
The "all knowing" is a projection.
Old 9th December 2008
  #229
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobalou View Post
how right you are!

AND lets make one thing clear:

A great voice AND "performance"will even the playing field regarding gear in the blink of an eye!

we all like to justify our purchases no matter how much they cost! Give me the voice with the performance every day of the week!

nice job on both Johnkenn
These are the kinds of statements that drive me nuts around here.

A great voice and performance may be the most important thing (within certain genres), but a great voice and performance will have no effect on gear. It's simply not true and it dismisses what engineers are fundamentally responsible for and ultimately hired for.

It's the only thing I agree with Albini about - performance is not the responsibility of the engineer.

I don't agree with his views on producers. Producers are responsible for performance.

Producers and clients/artists can choose to make everyone responsible and taking too hard a line against responsibility is absurd, but engineering is a micro role, not a macro role.


And, if you truly believe that gear doesn't matter, why record on anything besides a microcassette recorder or a laptop's built in mic direct to MP3? Put the whole band around it. The guy's got a great voice and a great performance, it will sound just like the gear on OK Computer.


Fine, maybe you need multi track for overdubs. You can still use one mic since the gear doesn't matter.

Ok fine, we'll use a dozen 57s so that we can multi-mic the drums and get some isolation. But we'll use only mic pres, no compression or EQ, because it's only the performance that matters, so if the guy's got a great voice and great performance it will level the playing field with the gear at Abbey Road.

Ok fine, we'll allow EQ for clarity and to hear the lyrics better. But just a one band EQ because the vocal and the performance will level the playing field.

What if someone donates some Mackie, Presonus, Neve, Chandler and API gear. What do you use? How about alphabetical order API for the first instrument, Chandler for the second, because the vocal and performance will level the playing field.

Ok, fine take an hour to audition the different gear and match it to the source. Or take two hours. Or ask on Gearsluts. But why bother since the vocal sound and performance will level the playing field?

I totally respect anyone's decision about where they want to draw the line, but the idea that nothing else matters besides the vocal sound and the performance is wrong.

Send me any great song, or any great Beatles song and I guarantee you I can make you a mix that destroys it and takes any and all enjoyment out of it for everyone. hell, I can probably do it with mastering.


The statement that the vocal sound and performance levels the gear playing field is essentially the inverse of taking a crappy vocal and crappy performance and running it through great gear to make it better. They both opposite sides of the pendulum.

If you want to make a great recording all aspects have to be balanced and all aspects need to be done as well as the possibly can. If that means using gear that is not the best possible gear, so what? You've done your best. But when you are striving for a great record it's not accurate to say that the vocal and performance allow you to imbalance the important aspects of making a great record just like you can make a great record with imbalanced fundamentals that come when there's no great vocal sound and performance.

It's about getting every fundamental aspect to that top level (or as close as possible), not just the one that's easiest for you and then saying that the playing field is level.


Bobalou this is not directed specifically at you, it's a the clcihe that comes up all the time around here and then gets applauded and the reality is it's not a healthy mindset for what most of the people here are trying do to. Prioritizing and emphasizing the priorities is very important, but not to the imbalanced place that the cliche pushes it.
Old 9th December 2008
  #230
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
A great voice and performance may be the most important thing (within certain genres), but a great voice and performance will have no effect on gear. It's simply not true and it dismisses what engineers are fundamentally responsible for and ultimately hired for.
.


Engineers use gear to engineer, no other way around it.

All the great engineers care about the gear they use.

I for one am getting mighty tired of all the 'it's the song that matters', 'it's the performance', 'it's the musicianship'....No ****. It's such obvious knowledge, yet it seems like spam here--it gets posted so much. This is 'Gearslutz', not songslutz, or musicianslutz....this site is about gear. A freaking 10 year old knows the song/performance is more important than the recording, yet everyone seems to remind us of that as if it's a revelation

I hoped my sig line would quell some of the noise....I can only hope....
Old 9th December 2008
  #231
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Chaellus's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
When you do that, let us know.


I'm sure there are big records here one of those things was used for a piece, but not the whole thing.




Agreed maybe one instance of pre of such might go undetected but a song were all instances have been used with cheap gear wouldnt sound great next to Song crafted in the highest calibre of gear no matter how good the engineer is ...
Old 9th December 2008
  #232
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post


Engineers use gear to engineer, no other way around it.

All the great engineers care about the gear they use.
I agree too.occasionally you get stuff to mix were the vocalist is great but someone didn't take the time to do a proper mic shootout before tracking.just threw up whatever was around or the most fancy hi end mic in the locker, which doesn't automatically equate the "right" choice...[and i'm talking some tracks coming from studios with good mic selections]..usually ends up adding extra tweaking and fussing to make it right in the mix.


..
Old 9th December 2008
  #233
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
...If it costs $5000 to get .00001% better you should absolutely spend the money unless you can't afford to.
.00001%

Excuse me!

You are kiddin'....right.

Music is not so scientific - who on earth is able to detect that kind of difference in a mic pre? and if they can, are they gonna spend an extra $5000? C'mon now.

Likely a choice of eq, compression or mic placement, head placement!, room sound, etc etc - will make a more significant difference and render the .00001% difference obsolete.

Personal perception will also.

I am tickled that you would drop that many Pop dollars ($5000) to achieve such a minute difference in sound.
Old 9th December 2008
  #234
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Mike Caffrey
i see where your coming from re the microcassette recorder.
you make many good points.
but the laws of physics are weird beasts.
heres a true story.
that taught me a big lesson, and told me i was stupid..lol.
(i like experimenting with circuits for fun.)

i once made a diy mic pre useing absolutely the lowest noise parts
ever available.
i used components with one or two nvroothertz noise.
eg transistors. low noise metal film resistors.
low esr caps etc etc.
in summary just the finest components.
then did some test vocals.
the result ? clinical as heck.
the laws of physics laughing at me.

i was sooo cheesed off at my failure i opened a bottle of wine,
and rarely for me i got "dwunk"..lol.
somehow in my drunken sleepy state i mucked around with the circuit
n inserted in the signal path a junky no name biggest piece of junk
transistor. i dont even know why i did it.
recorded vocs n played em back. my ears couldnt believe it.
a crap component had given me a sound picture/vintage character i really liked.
i mean the component was total junk with lousy specs n noise etc.
yet i preferred the vocal character to even vocs i had done in big studios
useing nice gear.
the laws of physics slapping me around n laughing at me again.

the whole stupidity of the affair was my stupidity in tearing apart the test
rig, thinking the next day i could easily recreate it.
i never did which i rue to this day.
somehow i had stumbled across a piece of magic that one time.
never to be repeated.

in summary in my travels thru circuit land n gear i suggest respectfully
one cant be definitive about gear.
(i wouldnt use a microcassette recorder though.)
ie whether low or high end gear , there can be pieces that can do magic and others that cant.
in summary i keep an open mind.
ive done vocs where a neumann mic wasnt doing it for me but a cheap 57 was.
ive done guitar traks with a beat up old guitar amp my wife found at a yard sale for
a few buks that sounded better than a costly amp i had bought at a store just a couple of days before.

thus the only rule i know is there are no rules..lol.
the problem or quest in life is finding those magic pieces of gear.

a magical vocal for me character wise is gene autry singing rudolf the red nosed reindeer.
on the radio the other day for the nth time. done in 1949.
for me, and others might disagree, its a magical vocal full of character.
i wouldnt be surprised if it was soloed on its own given the time frame that it had a noise component. my suspicion (per the laws of physics laughing at us again..) is the right kind
of noise components can give help impart character. and that ultra clean -129dbm noise
specs in lots of gear today actually might not give people the character they yearn for.
thus contributing to the clinical sound i hear in so much gear today.

mebe that vtb1 is just right for johns nice voice.
Old 9th December 2008
  #235
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post


Engineers use gear to engineer, no other way around it.

All the great engineers care about the gear they use.

I for one am getting mighty tired of all the 'it's the song that matters', 'it's the performance', 'it's the musicianship'....No ****. It's such obvious knowledge, yet it seems like spam here--it gets posted so much. This is 'Gearslutz', not songslutz, or musicianslutz....this site is about gear. A freaking 10 year old knows the song/performance is more important than the recording, yet everyone seems to remind us of that as if it's a revelation

I hoped my sig line would quell some of the noise....I can only hope....
Totally agree, it's very cliched and patronising. Also there are plenty of examples of great artists who suddenly sounded worse when they recorded on worse gear, witness the 80's.
Old 9th December 2008
  #236
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Has the OP said what the expensive Pre was yet? If not any chance of a clue? Initials or something.
Old 9th December 2008
  #237
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GREAT POST John!

Ya, I've been following your thesis about the mic being more important than the pre.

Something to keep in mind before I get ANOTHER pre.

You inspire me to keep my mind on the SONGWRITING not the damn seXXXY gear.
Old 9th December 2008
  #238
Here for the gear
 

Mic pres

Enjoying this thread I just found...

So, I listened to the samples before reading the results. I suspected from the samples that B was the more expensive pre though.

But, my actual preference was in between, A has more high end and a bit of air, B is a bit sweeter in the low & mid and a bit smoother.

So, maybe you could double track the voclas and blend them. Or just move the microphone a bit...

tc
Old 9th December 2008
  #239
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FeatheredSerpent's Avatar
 

Having just picked up a VTB1 for $30, I'm pretty glad I found this thread too heh
Old 9th December 2008
  #240
Quote:
Originally Posted by noiseflaw View Post
.00001%

Excuse me!

You are kiddin'....right.

Music is not so scientific - who on earth is able to detect that kind of difference in a mic pre? and if they can, are they gonna spend an extra $5000? C'mon now.

Likely a choice of eq, compression or mic placement, head placement!, room sound, etc etc - will make a more significant difference and render the .00001% difference obsolete.

Personal perception will also.

I am tickled that you would drop that many Pop dollars ($5000) to achieve such a minute difference in sound.
By only quoting part of my statement you've completely changed it's meaning.

Anyone who would say the words you've put in my mouth would have to be surrering from some form of altered mental status.

However, if you take the whole thing I wrote where I prefaced it with it being a function of what you can afford to do, then my statement stands.

Let's put it in numbers that fell more realistic. IF you can get the extra .0001% for a nickel, what would you do?

Now, say you're in a position where $5k to you is like a nickel to all of us. You spend the $5k and make it the best you can. Why would you bother to record anything and not make it the best you possibly can?

Can someone perceive a .0001% improvement? There are a couple of ways to look at that. The short answer is that "improvement" is subjective in the context that I'm talking about, so if the difference wasn't perceivable, then I wouldn't be judging it an improvement. Second, there's the cumulative effet of all of these small improvements.

Third, there was no scientific basis for my choice of that number. IT was a symbol to communicate a point. It would be foolish to debate that because that's not what I or anyone else here is discussing.

Maybe we should start a thread called what's the smallest amount you can hear. I know that in certain contexts I and even my inexperienced clients can hear a 10 sample difference. Sometimes less.
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