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Digi Mic Pre just arrived
Old 18th July 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Digi Mic Pre just arrived

Just got the new Digidesign MIC PRE in today .... installed in tonight before coming home and hooked up some stuff .... looks very promissing ....

I'll be testing it very intensly over the next couple of days .... I'll let you know here how it works / sounds / acts .....
Old 18th July 2002
Lives for gear

It's a great concept, a long time coming in practical form, assuming it sounds good.

In theory, close proximity to the mic should give it a leg up, sonically. But OTOH, it is made/marketed by Digi, which certainly leaves bit to be desired as far as hi-fidelity pedigree.

Brian T
Old 18th July 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

okay, how big of a deal is it really to have the pre's out with the mics? is it a kunt hair better or like the grand canyon better? would you consider a 20' mic run long? how about 30'?

im curious if i should put my pres out in the live room or not. if its REALLY worth it [big payoff sonically]
Old 18th July 2002
Lives for gear

I've spent cumulative stinkin' years of my life sitting around, forgetting to eat, with a sonic magnifying glass on this sort of quest.

IMO, the answer to "Is it better?" is "It depends".

When people talk about this mic pre or that mic rulez, then are contradicted by somebody else, it's not just different ears. It's the combinations involved.

Mics and pres are like guitars and amps. Very interactive, based upon impedence, capacitance, phase of the moon, etc. That's why something like the GT Vipre "should" sound cool, though the one I had did not. Don't know why.

The same way Strats and Les Pauls like different amps, C12s, U47s and SM57s do as well. I mean, what mic or mics was the designer using to audition with as he built the prototype? That had to influence him. It's the mic and pre combo that counts, IMO.

All that to say this. I guarantee there are mic/pre combos where the difference between 5' and 75' of cable (which cable while we're at it) would be obvious. But there are others where there would be little or no audible difference.

The only way to know is to try it in your room with your gear, IMHO.

Plus, I often find myself working the mic pre gain and a compressor against each other, looking for a certain sweet spot. Can't do that without a remote control pre. Losing that in your case (assuming traditional mic pres) might pick up a little bit of absolute fidelity with the mic pre close to the mic, but lose the bigger plus of freedom to twiddle at will.

Brian T
Old 18th July 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

thats what im really worried about. i tend to ride the pre at times while tracking... especially for VOX which might have very different gain happening between the verses and chorus'...
Old 19th July 2002
Lives for gear

One question is, "are there any artifacts when changing gain on the Digi Remote pre?"

Old 20th July 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

still testing .... looking good .... one thing is allready clear .... it is transparant allright. going to record some accoustic guitars with it on sunday ....
Old 23rd July 2002
Gear Maniac

Chris what the 411 on this? You are the first one to claim having this piece (hopefully not of ****) I am looking for one clean pre in my arsinal... I think either the Digipre or RNMP will be the top contestants... although I think a clean pre will be the last added to my collection... I am not sure if I ever want to go clean into you feel this pre has any "warmth" to it? I am worried going in through a pre like this might make the overall recording too digital or sterile sounding verses going through a bunch of API's, or neves or my avalon...

Old 23rd July 2002
Here for the gear

Originally posted by BrianT
But OTOH, it is made/marketed by Digi, which certainly leaves bit to be desired as far as hi-fidelity pedigree.
Now, nice. People said the same thing (and worse) about Ensoniq products and look what happened -- they gave you your beloved PARIS system. Miracles CAN happen!
Old 23rd July 2002
Lives for gear
StoneinaPond's Avatar
The following on the DUC will shed some light. But no riding the gain for AJ.


Old 24th July 2002
I would be suprized if you couldn't automate the pre via a controller
Old 24th July 2002
Stan Cotey
posted July 23, 2002 01:20 PM ___ __ _ _ _ _ __
Regarding the clicks heard while changing the gain on PRE, I thought I'd take a moment to explain what's going on and why these clicks occur. First though, the clicks are a normal and necessary result of the high-quality gain control method used in PRE. The highest priority item for us with PRE was the sonic quality and we worked hard to obtain the performance with the initial design and keep it there through the remote control process.
As some of you know, PRE is a precision, transformer-less design, and uses a high-precision differential transistor pair (actually, a bunch on 'em in parallel to reduce noise) as a front end in place of the traditional input transformer.
The gain control method used in PRE utilizes relays to place fixed resistors in the feedback path. To vary the gain of the circuit, you cross-couple some feedback from one side of the input to the other. There are very slight DC offsets present across these resistors.
When you change gains, some of the DC offset from one side of the circuit is injected into the other side and we get what is called a "step change". Basically, this comes out as a small transient or 'click'. There are plenty of non-remotely controlled mic preamps that utilize a variation of this type of design and they use a potentiometer for gain control, in which case the step change never occurs. On some of these preamps, you can quickly rotate the gain control and hear a "whoosh" or a scratching sound (depending on the type of pot used,) which is really the same artifact in disguise.
As a manufacturer, the real problem comes in when you want to remotely vary the gain of one of these circuits. You can easily use a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) or an MDAC (multiplying digital-to-analog converter,) which delivers the convenience and reduced artifacts of a pot but unfortunately impairs the fidelity and performance substantially. Remember, the audio performance of PRE in terms of noise and distortion is very, very good and due to the high-gain design and critical nature of the circuits, it's very easy to impair this excellent performance with a less-than-excellent gain control method.
When it comes right down to it, there are only two methods of remotely controlling a transformer-less mic preamp that I'm aware of.
The first might be using an actual servo motor to drive an actual pot. If you can get around the noise of the motor circuit leaking into the sensitive audio electronics, it's a workable solution. Unfortunately, servo motors cost serious money, as do motor drivers, as does the additional power supply required to run them, which would raise the price substantially, not to mention the fact that we would have to fit eight of them in the case and then deal with the extra heat, etc.
Then, you have reliability concerns since you now have an electro-mechanical assembly in a critical path. Topping that off, you now have to deal with the error of the pot, which means that unless you calibrate each pot to each mic preamp, you can't have reliable gain amounts, which in turn makes it hard to work in stereo. So the cost, size, complexity and heat all go up while the reliability and accuracy are reduced.
The other option is to use relays to switch fixed precision resistors in the circuit. The benefits are many; performance and sound quality are maintained, cost is kept reasonable, reliability is high and gain matching between channels is great. The downsides are simple but livable given the other options; you have fixed gain steps and there are small clicks when changing gain. Since most of the professional engineers I know rarely change the gain setting while recording, I believe it is a small price to pay for the increased sonic performance and benefit of being able to locate the preamp at the source.


Stan Cotey
Product Manager
Old 24th July 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

ok .... here it goes ..... you guys get the full story ..... a story which is probably tempered by the fact that I have to drive half an hour from the studio to my place and that has cooled my temper a bit. If I would have typed in at the studio I would probably get banned from the internet for foul use of language and

the dfegad PRE has kept me busy all day ..... ALL FREAKIN DAY ....

At one point I was at the edge of rippig it out of the rack and throwing it out on the streets ... hitting it with a sledgehammer. Rarely I have been dfegad by a new piece of gear like this.

BUT .... all that has NOTHING to do with the way it sounds ..... NOTHING

therefore ..... first the good part ..... or rather the only good part ..... THE SOUND :

here's my test situation. An expensive like a BOMB sounding Santa Cruz acoustic Guitar and a terryfying good guitar player to play it.

schoeps mic and 2 pre's .... the digi pre against my favourite avalon ad2022. transparant vs transparant. avalon 2 ch 3,000$ .... PRE 8 channels for 2,500$

THAT in consideration the PRE is qua sound a success. the avalon won .... but not hands down .... it took more then just a 2 minute recording to determine what exactly where the differences. it is when the guitar goes down in it's bass notes that the difference became clearer. the avalon kicks ass in the low frequencies where as the PRE started to loose a bit of definition. I don't like the word better in this situation because the avalon sometimes is OVER transparant and I grab for a neve or a drawmer pre in those situations or send it through a tube compressor just to add some warmth or colour to the sound. The PRE is an inbetween case ....

Another thing imho is that I found it enhancing the highs a bit compared to the avalon.

Overall I found it sounding every penny worth for an 8 channel 2,500$ mic pre. and it will find it's place and application in the studio ... no doubt about that.

BUT .... after the standalone use on sunday I hooked it up to the midi setup and now it starts madd :

4 synths patched to the instrument inputs .... hmmm .... strange .... switch to DI input .... oh ... that's better .... back to instrument .... hmm ..... VERY strange .... distorted with a high pass filter set to like 500 Hz .... hmmm ... module straight into PRE .... balanced TRS out to balanced TRS in .... right ..... the wiring is ****ed up .... mono jock out to mono jack in works fine .... mono to stereo works fine .... stereo to stereo is ****ed up .... this is not right .... but I dropped it there .... going to worry about that at a later time because .....

WHY THE **** does everything in midi get panned hard right .... even when I reset the controller to the middle. ...... input filter menu .... ah .... controller 10 is used for pan ...... PRE manual .... ah .... controller 10 is used to check the input mi / instr or DI ....

GREAT ... just dfegad GREAT .... unless I filter out the controller 10 from the midi input filters menu everything get panned HARD RIGHT every 15 seconds after I reset it to the middle because the PRE needs to use the same controller to check if it's input is still set to instrument. OK, at this point I'm like .... I must be doing something wrong and it must be me ... so I'll email digi about that and see what's up .... maybe a bug or something .... surely they don't intended this .... so maybe I'm missing something .....

but the worse is yet to come .... how about controllability from the PRO Control .... my baby ... my pride .... surely that works flawless .... dfegad ...... yes it does and it works GREAT .... BUT NOT FROM THE FADERPACK ..... PLEASE DON'T TELL ME THIS IS TRUE. testing testing .... hmmm .... looking at the mixer window it selects the right channel but when I turn the knobs it changes a corresponding channel on the main unit. GGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR ....... WHERE IS THAT SLEDGEHAMMER ..........

oh well .... it sounds good and I trust I will be back in a couple of days saying that I overlooked something and that it works just fine .....

Jules allready posted the Stan Cotey explanation about the pops .... which IMHO are a bit on the loud side .... and to add to that I can tell that the 6db step increments on the avalon ad2022 pop slightly too ..... but ONLY when you have the speakers turned up VERY FREAKIN LOUD and you listen VERY CAREFULLY ..... the PRE pops can be sampled with a sure sm58 two freaking blocks down the road and still clipping the sampler inputs .... and no need to turn up the speakers for that either.

but again .... I'll be back in a couple of days rectifying this as being something I did wrong.
Old 24th July 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Right right... sure you will... Yeah, the pre doesn't have flaws, it's all user error... grggt grggt
Old 25th July 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

have to rectify one thing .... the midi issue .... midi channels also have an input .... which I had forgotten about .... I allways left it on all .... since the PRE acts as a controller it was sending midi information to all channels with ALL selected as input. as soon as you leave out the PRE and select the correct input device everything is fine.

On another note ....

every single piece of gear has ground on pin 1 ... hot/ cold on 2 and 3.

not the PRE : PRE has ground on pin 3 hot / cold on pin 1 and 2.

GREAT if you want to hook up say the balanced outputs of the sampler to the balanced line instrument inputs of the PRE ..... Guess next thing digi is going to sell custom cables for its PRE too .... dfegad tut
Old 26th July 2002
Digdesign Tech

Hi all,

I just wanted to drop in and say that this is actually a misprint in the manual and we're certainly sorry for any inconvenience this has caused anyone. For the record, the pinout is; pin 1 = ground, pin 2 = hot or signal, and pin 3 = cold or return.

BTW, great site Jules!

Stan Cotey
Old 26th July 2002

Hi Stan!


Old 27th July 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Hi Stan .... nice to see you out here ....
Old 31st July 2002
Digdesign Tech

Hi Chris,

Well, it's nice to get out once in a while! I do fequently read this forum as well as Massenburg's site. I even read the topics on new control surface ideas. Go figure.

Old 20th September 2002
Lives for gear
Chris,now that you've had a bit of time to live with it, how do you feel about the Digi Pre?
Old 20th September 2002
Gear Maniac

After i finish my hunt for my primo 8 solution for my first 8 inputs i am gonna get another input card for my 192 and fill up with good enough pre's...

So..for that I might consider the Digi pre since it comes to about $230 per channel...So I am curious how the Digi pre compares to other pre's in that price range such as the Sytek, the RNP (2 weeks away) etc...

I was told that Digi might soon have a replacement for the 1622 for keys for HD...I am also curious how the sound of inputing keys compares between going though the Digi Pre/sytek and just going through the 1622 (or whatever replaces it)
Old 20th September 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Originally posted by FOURTHTUNZ
Chris,now that you've had a bit of time to live with it, how do you feel about the Digi Pre?

My opinion stands : it is a very high quality pre. Very transparent. great value for money.
Old 23rd October 2002
Lives for gear
Nowak's Avatar
Just got a PRE in.

It sounds great!, the gadget ****** in me loves the ProControl mapping.

Old 21st May 2008
Here for the gear

I have it for few years now and I was very happy with it now of course it is time for a new generation, seems strange that even if a system is fully functioning we have to upgrade it every couple of years as the technology changes so much.

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