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Need Help Choosing High End Pre!
Old 9th July 2005
  #1
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

Need Help Choosing High End Pre!

I finally sold my Universal Audio LA-610 and need some sage advice on choosing a replacement high end mic pre. I'm looking for something that sounds great on just about anything...electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, and bass (need DI). So far I'm looking at the Great River ME-1NV paired with a RNC 1773 ($1250), 2 channel Old School Audio OSA module set up ($1400-1600), Chandler TG-2 ($1650?/PSU?), and the Grace 101 ($550). Don't think the Neve Portico will work as it does not have DI for bass...but it is a pretty great deal for two neve channels at ($1450).

My UA channel sounded wonderful on vocals, bass DI, and acoustic guitar, but after 3 months of working with it, I never got close to a decent electric guitar sound. Pretty much took a beautiful sounding Mesa MKIII and made it sound like a fuzz box. So I'm really looking for something that will excel first and foremost on electric guitars, but again, still work well on everything. I also need something that won't sound hazy in the final mix if I track everything through it.

The Great River sounds like a great choice, particularly as you can insert and balance an FMR compressor for $175. I read that the OSA L3 is on par or better than a Neve 1073 and an API 512, but the module set up just doesn't really work for someone needing a maximum of two channels. I will never be able to drop a grand plus on a module compressor, so ultimately I'm stuck with a mostly empty lunchbox that I can't rack or put anything else in. Still, I love the idea of being able to set it up with two very different sounding pres and the trade in policy is pretty awesome.

I see the Chandler TG-2 advertised at around 1600, but I'm not sure if that includes the PSU. Why in god's name these companies don't just include the price of the power supply in the cost is beyond me.

I hear the API's are mostly suited to drums and might be a bit dark for my purposes. Alternatively, the Grace may be too clean for someone doing indie rock.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The pre is going straight to an Apogee Rosetta 200 and into Pro Tools. Thanks,

-Chris
Old 9th July 2005
  #2
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I like both Great Rivers. That said, I'd look seriously into some of those Seventh Circle kits.

If you still had your UA, I'd get a Shure mike pad for it. They sound very good provided the front-end isn't overloaded and you aren't trying to drive a difficult load.
Old 9th July 2005
  #3
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maskedman72's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
I finally sold my Universal Audio LA-610 and need some sage advice on choosing a replacement high end mic pre. I'm looking for something that sounds great on just about anything...electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, and bass (need DI). -Chris

end your search with a great river mp1nv or mp2nv if your budget allows. that thing is awesome and i have tracked entire records with it many times.
it was my only pre and it kicks ass on kick,snare,vox bass(the di is friggin perfect) heavy rock gtrz,djembe,flute,congas,digeridoo...you get the point.
Old 9th July 2005
  #4
Gear Addict
 

Second the Great River endorsement.

It's my golden channel pre. I just spent a long weekend getting to know it very well; had it on vox, electric guitar, a Wurlitzer (DI and amped/miced), backing vox, room mic--everywhere, and it's just undefeatable. Within the relatively narrow confines of what we're talking about here--high end pres--it's remarkably flexible. The impedance switching and output tranny loading option give you a subtle expansion of colors and you can use the two gain stages somewhat creatively. Plus, it has coarse input and output metering, which, after using desk pres and other outboards with only a peak meter, is very welcome. So easy to set up mics and levels quickly when working under pressure.

Needless to say, no matter how you set it up, it sounds gorgeous. I mostly had AEA mics going through it, or the keyboard, and once or twice an SM7, and those combinations were just fantastic.
Old 9th July 2005
  #5
Gear Nut
 
DrC:Drive's Avatar
 

DW Fearn VT1 or 2 sounds incredible on pretty much anything
James
Old 9th July 2005
  #6
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Doublehelix's Avatar
 

Yep, love the sound of a bass through the GR...sweet!

The APIs sound great on guitar too however...
Old 9th July 2005
  #7
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enharmonic's Avatar
 

I'm in the same boat, and I am going with a Great River MP2NV. I will add eq later.

Everything I have heard the MP2NV on has been wonderful. I wouldn't mind having 8 of them...and likely will before all is said and done.
Old 9th July 2005
  #8
Gear Nut
 
Bloodz's Avatar
 

My next shop is for a GR Mp2nv. The release of the portico has delayed the process, but i think i'll give the GR a go first. My next hurdle is deciding where to get it from?!?!?!?

cool as,
bloodz
Old 9th July 2005
  #9
Lives for gear
 
chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

Thanks for the responses guys! Indeed, the Great River looks to be the obvious frontrunner as of now. I'm going to demo one at wind over the earth studios in boulder this friday. Bloodz, I would make a purchase through Mercenary Audio as they provided design consultation for the MP-2NV. I spoke with them on the phone and they were awesome--extremely knowledgable and friendly with a great satisfaction guarantee.

-Chris
Old 10th July 2005
  #10
Here for the gear
 
JimmyPills's Avatar
 

Hey Chris, I just purchased 2 OSA MP1-C Vintage Mic pre's from Nathan at Atlas. They should be here on Tuesday. I'll keep you posted... Jimmy
Old 10th July 2005
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
high end mic pre. I'm looking for something that sounds great on just about anything...electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, and bass (need DI)
These are the only two I kept, because they sound great on just about anything:

A Designs MP-2





doesn't get any "higher-end" than this one
Gordon Model 2




Steve
Old 10th July 2005
  #12
Lives for gear
 

I have a nearly new A DESIGNS MP-2R tube pre for sale.
60 db model - top of line.

See the classifieds ... $1550 + shipping.

jls.
Old 12th July 2005
  #13
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

Again, thanks for the responses/suggestions. Can anyone comment on whether the prices I'm seeing on the Chandler TG-2 (1600-1700) are inclusive of the PSU? I'm set to demo the Great River ME-1NV, a Grace 101, and hopefully a Chandler unit as well this Friday. I'll let you know the results.
Old 12th July 2005
  #14
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mikey's Avatar
 

what about the chandler channel have you checked it out
Old 12th July 2005
  #15
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
The Great River sounds like a great choice, particularly as you can insert and balance an FMR compressor for $175. I read that the OSA L3 is on par or better than a Neve 1073 and an API 512, but the module set up just doesn't really work for someone needing a maximum of two channels. I will never be able to drop a grand plus on a module compressor, so ultimately I'm stuck with a mostly empty lunchbox that I can't rack or put anything else in. Still, I love the idea of being able to set it up with two very different sounding pres and the trade in policy is pretty awesome.

I see the Chandler TG-2 advertised at around 1600, but I'm not sure if that includes the PSU. Why in god's name these companies don't just include the price of the power supply in the cost is beyond me.

I hear the API's are mostly suited to drums and might be a bit dark for my purposes. Alternatively, the Grace may be too clean for someone doing indie rock.
Where are you getting all of this information?????

I can't believe someone would tell you that an "OSA L3 is on par or better than a Neve 1073 and an API 512". How is it better? Considering the fact that an API 512 and Neve 1073 are world's apart in terms of tone.. Be wary when someone is talking to you about a preamp and starts throwing buzz words like API and Neve around.. and tells you something is better than both of them. Considering how many hit records were recorded using Neve 1073's and API's, and knowing how great they sound, I can see why someone would want to compare the product they're selling to them.

API's aren't "mostly suited for drums", and I wouldn't classify any API product as "dark sounding"... Punchy, and in your face are words that come to mind... or more specifically "aggresive in the midrange". Certainly not dark. If I were only going to own one mic pre and needed it to sound good on "everything", it would probably be an API 512, or......

The other product I would seriously consider if I were you is the Aurora Audio GTQ2mkIII... Now this is something that sounds very much like a Neve 1073, but with a more enhanced top end. It is made by Geoff Tanner who frequents gear sluts ( he goes by Geoff_T ), and I can say it is incredible. This thing has the character that I would expect when using a 1073, and it also has a built in DI which sounds amazing on bass. I own one and love it

http://www.auroraaudio.net/main.shtml

Aren't you tired of buying gear and finding out it just wasn't right for you??? I have a feeling the people who have been selling you gear are feeding you the wrong info...
Old 13th July 2005
  #16
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

We did a shoot out that included 1073's 1081's 512's and the [OSA] L3's. The L3's were the unanimous choice. They had a nice big extended low end and they were fast so there didn't have to be a decision or sacrifice of warmth verses transient response. I'm not sending them back. Excellent work Dale and thanks Nate for your help."

-----Rob Schnapf
(Beck, Foo Fighters, Moby, Elliot Smith, Rancid)

Tony, thanks for the response. Your remarks regarding people "pushing" products are well taken. And yes, I am tired of buying gear based on subjective reviews and look forward to demoing some pieces this week with my own ears. With regard to the OSA stuff, I have certainly never heard it, but would be greatly interested to hear if you have and this was your assessment. The comments regarding API were per my discussion with Mercenary earlier this week. I understand they have a pretty great reputation around here...

-Chris
Old 13th July 2005
  #17
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
We did a shoot out that included 1073's 1081's 512's and the [OSA] L3's. The L3's were the unanimous choice. They had a nice big extended low end and they were fast so there didn't have to be a decision or sacrifice of warmth verses transient response. I'm not sending them back. Excellent work Dale and thanks Nate for your help."

-----Rob Schnapf
(Beck, Foo Fighters, Moby, Elliot Smith, Rancid)

Tony, thanks for the response. Your remarks regarding people "pushing" products are well taken. And yes, I am tired of buying gear based on subjective reviews and look forward to demoing some pieces this week with my own ears. With regard to the OSA stuff, I have certainly never heard it, but would be greatly interested to hear if you have and this was your assessment. The comments regarding API were per my discussion with Mercenary earlier this week. I understand they have a pretty great reputation around here...

-Chris
hmmmm, I wonder where that quote came from? Press release quotes shouldn't have anything to do with you buying a piece of gear... Avalon has 100 comments from some huge names concerning their 737, but it doesn't mean you should buy one. I can tell you that the Foo Fighters have done a lot of recording at Grand Master in LA and they have always brought in GTQ2's to track vocals with. And that they own a rack full of them... I'm not trying to knock OSA at all, but some of those comments in your post didn't seem right. I can't tell you how many preamps have come out over the last several years that say they sound like a 1073 AND/OR an API 512... I have been disappointed many times ( btw, I am a studio consultant who has put together studios all across the country, and get to play with a lot of this gear, and use it myself as I am also a producer/ engineer )..

I don't have any problems with Mercenary Audio or Fletcher or any of the other guys on here who sell gear.. ... I would agree API pre's are fabulous on drums, but they are much more versatile than what you may have been led to believe, or perceived from your conversation.
Old 13th July 2005
  #18
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mikey's Avatar
 

I like Tonys choice here the Aurora -- I want one now. ..Tony do you have a sound sample of some male vocals or electric guitars done with the Aurora
Old 13th July 2005
  #19
Gear Head
 

Buy the damn GRME1NV's you'll be very happy. Also for a different but great vibe try a UA2108, they are very well suited for electric guitars, toms, vocals, and synths. Having both is great as I.
Old 13th July 2005
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont
hmmmm, I wonder where that quote came from? Press release quotes shouldn't have anything to do with you buying a piece of gear... Avalon has 100 comments from some huge names concerning their 737, but it doesn't mean you should buy one. I can tell you that the Foo Fighters have done a lot of recording at Grand Master in LA and they have always brought in GTQ2's to track vocals with. And that they own a rack full of them... I'm not trying to knock OSA at all, but some of those comments in your post didn't seem right. I can't tell you how many preamps have come out over the last several years that say they sound like a 1073 AND/OR an API 512... I have been disappointed many times ( btw, I am a studio consultant who has put together studios all across the country, and get to play with a lot of this gear, and use it myself as I am also a producer/ engineer )..
.

Tony misinterpreted the quote. The quote obviously came from our website (as we are the only dealer...). Looks to me like Tony only saw the words "OSA, Neve, API" in the same sentence and flipped out. Nobody claimed an L3 sounded like anything, all Rob said was that in his opinion the L3 sounded better than a 1073, 1081 or 512. He didn't say anything about them sounding anything like those other preamps. But all that aside, the OSA L3's do kick ass; and their sound quality is of the same caliber of the best preamps currently made and vintage (obligatory disclaimer: in my opinion).
Old 13th July 2005
  #21
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
Tony misinterpreted the quote. The quote obviously came from our website (as we are the only dealer...). Looks to me like Tony only saw the words "OSA, Neve, API" in the same sentence and flipped out. Nobody claimed an L3 sounded like anything, all Rob said was that in his opinion the L3 sounded better than a 1073, 1081 or 512. He didn't say anything about them sounding anything like those other preamps. But all that aside, the OSA L3's do kick ass; and their sound quality is of the same caliber of the best preamps currently made and vintage (obligatory disclaimer: in my opinion).
Like I said in the PM I sent back to you, which I hope you read.... I wasn't talking about Rob's quote, I was referring to the original post of the thread where it was stated that the L3 is "better than a 1073 and an API 512". Maybe that comment came as a result of the quote you have on your website... but as you have already stated above the L3 doesn't sound like a 1073 or API so there is no need for me to discuss it further.
Old 13th July 2005
  #22
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

Okay, first of all, the quote was "I read that the OSA L3 is on par or better than a Neve 1073 and an API 512." I never said it was better and I never equated the tone of one to the other. I do not make a habit out of spontaneously buying gear based on one-off reviews, hence the whole point of the post to solicit feedback enabling a more informed decision!. If you have used the OSA stuff and think it is garbage, or won't fit my stated needs, then please let me know! Pontificating about why I am supposedly buying into marketing hype when I am merely trying to do some research is not going to get me any closer to choosing a piece of gear.
Old 13th July 2005
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrulesmore
If you have used the OSA stuff and think it is garbage, or won't fit my stated needs, then please let me know!

Or, maybe the best thing to do is use the search function and see comments by customers, for good or bad. I agree with Tony that a person should not solely base their purchase decision on user quotes. But on the other hand it's a possible loss of a really good situation if you don't consider something because of end user quotes. Being skeptical is healthy, but being overly skeptical because people are in print saying good things isn't IMHO. Endless talk and recommendations or non recommendations on the forums don't mean anything, in the end it's all about the sound in context of your situation, and until you hear something there is no way for you to make a legitimate decision regarding any piece of gear. That's why I personally feel the forums are as much help as they are a hindrance, you often never know (although sometimes it's apparent) who is behind the screen typing, what their experience as an engineer is, and what their subjective tastes are. For me personally, you can see everything about my professional life by going to my two links below (especially the studio).
Old 14th July 2005
  #24
Gear Addict
 

well said eldred.

As with anything subjective (we can all agree that a bottle of ketchup of whatever brand IS a bottle of ketchup) all the feelings and opines are sound and fury signifying nothing.That being said reading all these reports and reading between the lines can give you a good idea of how to narrow your choices down.For example I have learned that for my work classical and jazz the short list is gordon,fearn,millenia,grace.I can't really screw up my buisness or my integrity with these choices...so there is a value if only that it narrows an idiotically wide choice of pres down to a few sane ones.
Old 14th July 2005
  #25
Gear Head
 
larry zip's Avatar
 

a friend of mine has some of the osa preamps in a rack with real apis and brent averill apis and te old school pre's arenet even close to having hte biggness of the apis

the brent averil and the real api just sound fuller and creamier the old shcol sound very flat
Old 14th July 2005
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by larry zip
a friend of mine has some of the osa preamps in a rack with real apis and brent averill apis and te old school pre's arenet even close to having hte biggness of the apis

the brent averil and the real api just sound fuller and creamier the old shcol sound very flat

My case in point, in regards to the comments I made three posts up...thank you, this totally proved my point. While everyone has the right to their opinion and all things in audio are subjective, however this experience sounds like 'he said she said' (which it may or may not be), this person is a true alias and for all we know is deaf, crazy or 16 years old (no offense to the poster, but I'm trying to make a larger point here). I say that because the above comments just go against everything I know and have heard and used on quite a lot of recordings, along with a lot of other people around here (and who aren't around here).

Real API, OSA, and BAE all are easily on the same level, I've got original refurbed BAE API's in my studio...anybody in Florida is welcome to come by and compare with drums, guitars, voxs, etc with instant realtime results. But, the Brents and new ATI/API's sound different than the OSA MP1-C's (at least the ones made for the last 3 years which are the only OSA's I've ever heard). The OSA's are puchier and clearer and more extended on the top and bottom, the Brents are softer and more bandwidth limited (i.e. more mid emphasis around 300-700hz). Same Genus, different Species. I really like the rule George Massenberg has over at PSW, that every person who posts on his board has to use their real name. That way it legitamizes what is said much further. YMMV.
Old 14th July 2005
  #27
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There are a ton of very nice pres out there these days. Tons of original sounding pres....a bunch more that are clones, or attempted clones of classic pres like API and Neve. I've bought and used a lot of them...in addition to vintage API and Neve desks.
This is going to be really simple. You want to do guitar based indie rock, as I believe you called it earlier? Get API. You can't afford API, look at OSA or BAE.
I believe the lunchbox will run you about $500 and the pres about $450-600 ea...depending if it's OSA/BAE or API.
I think you're getting too worried about the DI and inserts. Don't worry about all that stuff. Just worry about getting the best sounding pre you can. You're saying that electric gtr is your primary concern here, right? Well, you're probably not going to chain in a compressor when recording guitar I wouldn't think. If you do, then an RNC isn't going to be your first choice, I hope.
I spent the first few years of my purchasing studio gear looking for bargains and other brands that were "just as good as...." or "better than...." some of the well known devices out there, but really, just as there's no substitute for a Les Paul into a Marshall, there's no substitute for an SM57 into an API pre.

That, my friend, is the sound of rock and roll.

later,
m
Old 15th July 2005
  #28
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

Thank you for the advice everyone. I really appreciate it and look forward to checking these suggestions out first hand in the coming days/weeks.

-Chris
Old 16th July 2005
  #29
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chrisrulesmore's Avatar
 

GR ME-1NV First Impressions!!!

Well, yesterday I took home a brand new Great River ME-1NV, an FMR RNC1773, and a Mogami TRS insert cable--cost of admission was $20 for the weekend which will be credited if/when I decide to keep the setup and purchase everything. I did some quick and dirty tracking (the RNC was bypassed) and was immediately impressed with the warmth and clarity of the ME-1NV. A/B'ing tracks I had recorded with my LA-610 made the UA channel sound horribly muddy in comparison. The GR definitely adds color, but does so in a useful way. Guitars sound wonderful and the DI bass tracks were simply amazing. Overdriving the GR yields an amazing tone whereas the LA-610 resulted in static distortion. That being said, I do miss the flexibility of the eq section on the LA-610. I'll also make mention of the enormity of headroom on the GR...unless your guitar amp is absolutely cranked you have to use most of the Gain and sometimes most of the output level trim to get a full signal--even with a high output condenser! I don't notice a huge difference in the loading feature, but the impedance button is not subtle whatsoever...one push of the button and you have an instant edge to whatever you are recording: great on electric guitars. Vocal tracks sounded a bit dark at first until I listened to the mix and they were sitting perfectly! Recording on the LA-610, I ususally dialed in some boost on the high end. The ME-1NV is touted as being an improvement on the 1073 as it pertains to stacking up numerous tracks recorded through one preamp--I've never used a 1073, but I can say that my GR 2 bus mixes retained the clarity of all of the individual instruments to an amazing degree. Did I mention that I won't be taking this back on Monday? Seriously, thanks to everyone who made suggesstions, especially regarding the API stuff. Hearing how passionate people are about these pieces of gear leads me to believe that they are worth checking out. If anyone has any trade secrets with regard to using the GR, I would love to hear them.

-Chris
Old 16th July 2005
  #30
Gear Addict
 
wilkinswp's Avatar
 

Just bought a used GR MP-2NV several weeks ago from the maskedman72 (good guy by the way) and am loving that thing.

Working with a singer/songwriter friend of mine doing mostly acoustic material with some edge, we decided to run his acoustic direct into the GR and pushed the input gain really hard and got a great edgy but mellow sounding muted guitar sound when raking his top two or three strings. Just randomly tried it since we didn't have an electric working at the moment. All I can is that I was pleasantly surprised and my friend who's a ridiculous perfectionist liked it too. . . .

That's all I got. . .

Also understand the MP and ME are a bit different, but wanted to mention this anyway. . .

Last edited by wilkinswp; 16th July 2005 at 08:52 PM.. Reason: addl info
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