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Lynn Fuston's MIC/PRE Comparison CDs - Do the job right?
Old 22nd August 2005
  #61
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gamrecords's Avatar
 

i assume 1-6 is the scoring points. this is the order?
kind of confused

michael
Old 22nd August 2005
  #62
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamrecords
i assume 1-6 is the scoring points. this is the order?
kind of confused

michael
Correct - If anyone's REALLY interested in how I compiled my notes, I can put all the details in a spreadsheet and post them - PLEASE don't make me do that. Just kidding, if anyone's interested, I can do that.
Old 22nd August 2005
  #63
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gamrecords's Avatar
 

so then what your saying is, your ears tell you the Mackie 1604 sounds as good as a Great River? Or that the Art tube pre sounds a lot like the Neve 1081?
....... and why is there 2 Focusrite (110 vintage) graded on here differently?

not being a smart ass or anything, i just haven't heard the cd's myself.
but if that's the case, there has to be something wrong. Maybe it sounded different in the "room" when they were recording it then how it came out on the cd.

michael
Old 22nd August 2005
  #64
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamrecords
so then what your saying is, your ears tell you the Mackie 1604 sounds as good as a Great River? Or that the Art tube pre sounds a lot like the Neve 1081?
....... and why is there 2 Focusrite (110 vintage) graded on here differently?

not being a smart ass or anything, i just haven't heard the cd's myself.
but if that's the case, there has to be something wrong. Maybe it sounded different in the "room" when they were recording it then how it came out on the cd.

michael
Thanks for the response.
Just because a piece of gear got the same rating number from me does NOT mean it sounds the same as others with that rating to me AT ALL. ALL the pieces sound almost entirely different to me. If you read what my aims were for this, you'll see that what I'm going for is a clear, frequency balanced, at least somewhat dynamically balanced, non-sibilant, present and articulated vocal sound that does not overly accentuate the proximity effect in the recording.

As far as the Focusrites, I don't know the details regarding the 2 pres other than the fact that one is supposedly balanced and the other is not.

I've heard great 1081s and ****ty 1081s - there are so many different ones at this point, and you never know exactly what you're getting. I've heard only ****ty Arts, and I've heard boring, but fairly clean and reliable Mackie vlz's.

If I had've guessed, I would've ASSUMED all the things you're implying, but that's why the CD is interesting. Based on some of the response about the cd, I believe it may not have been recorded in the most optimal way (which is friggin impossible, anyhow - optimal to whom? EVERYONE has different taste), and people won't necessairly hear it in the most optimal listening conditions, but it's interesting - and all the pres definitely do sound different.

I'm still trying to figure out what's valid. Like Zappa said, if it sounds good to you it's bitchin', and if sounds ****ty to you, it's bad!
Old 22nd August 2005
  #65
84K
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11
Are you talking to me?

I liked you in Taxi Driver...
Old 22nd August 2005
  #66
GMR
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What this cd represens to me is not to listen to it and say "this ___ pre"sounds good so I'm gonna buy it, that would be plain stupid. and that is what the test kind of makes you do.

But I have pres that are on this cd and I know their character, so I can see what the other pres might sound like and I look for what I want and get the pre for a tryout in my studio! For a guide like that it can be useful!
Old 22nd August 2005
  #67
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMR
What this cd represens to me is not to listen to it and say "this ___ pre"sounds good so I'm gonna buy it, that would be plain stupid. and that is what the test kind of makes you do.

But I have pres that are on this cd and I know their character, so I can see what the other pres might sound like and I look for what I want and get the pre for a tryout in my studio! For a guide like that it can be useful!
Absolutely - I think it's generally ineteresting to see how various pieces of gear translate in any environment. Oh, and by the way - those are Brent Averill 1081s - which, I believe at the time WERE completely, or mostly completely vintage - but, hey I DIDN"T FRIGGIN BUILD THEM! So, whaddo I know?!

I always think that any test is at least worth checking out - and that one should never assume anything before hand (experience-wise). Unless, of course, you know everything - which I know many folks here do (at least a GOOD deal more than I). That's the problem when people tell you, oh, you're going to do a hand percussion session? Well, that's easy - you just put a akg yada, yada off axis on the blah blah, and for ohs, yada, yada - we all know it's often not quite that simple. Sure, I can set up a 47 with a 1073 or 1084 and spend the rest of my life celebrating sameness, as Zappa would say (and SOMETIMES I do)- no disrespect to those pieces of gear - they're wonderful, and, you can also go the extreme and try every combination of gear on every sound source every time you do a session. Alan Parsons said in an interview that he was tired of the SOUND of the 87 because it was so over used, and actually preferred the sound of the 4033. Now I'm no Alan Parsons (along the lines of fine British engineers, I have done a bit of work with Hugh Padgham, and the like) but I do have an incredible amount of respect for his work. So, you NEVER KNOW.

(of course, Alan probably has his 4033 plugged into a secret custom 4033 instant signal repair device at some point in his chain). Just joking, no dis to AT - their condensers have worked for me many times.

But I've found that I'm constantly surprised by various combinations of equipment, and it can be fun to try new stuff, new methods, chains, etc. using only YOUR ears to evaluate, as opposed to what everyone tells you - because I believe therein the truth lies.

BTW - I feel sure that there are a fair number of professionals here who LIKE and USE the Earthworks pres along with other decent pres. Because I know many folks who love them!

Now, I figured I would get a bunch of folks going, what, you're crazy - you picked the EARTHWORKS pre over the 1081, the GML is LAST on your list, dude - WTF? You must be deaf.

Also, no responses regarding the Vintech pres? Does anyone swear by the Aphex 1100? I've only used Aphex compressors, and I didn't like them very much.

Have any of the heavies at this site checked out Lynn' s pre CD. I'd be REALLY curious to know what other folks thought, or if anyone took detailed notes - or if everyone here is just too far above that sort of thing.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #68
Moderator
 
Tim Farrant's Avatar
 

As you have soooooooo accurately portrayed Sqye - it's ultimately different strokes for different folks - and if you find the GML rates a low #6 below a VLZ, then that's your opinion, and you are entilted to it - and that my friend IS the intention of these CD's.


The ultimate purpose of these recordings (correct me if I am wrong Lynn) has been to try and get "on tape" the differences one might expect between the different preamps and let others form their own opinion. The recording chain might have had it's flaws, but in the end, ALL preamps were subjected to that flaw. Not many of us actually own a "flawless" recording chain, do we?

I was involved in the design of the monitoring switcher used to select between all the preamps along with Dan Kennedy and John La Grou, and I think the simplest possible method with a minimal signal path was obtained.

Some might say that passing the signal thru a OP275 opamp destroyed the sound. I would say that this is typical of a "real" set up in ones studio - just about all A-D convertors have chips in them. Hell Jim - doesn't your preamp use chips?

Anyhow, I think the bottom line is, Lynn actually went and did this, no one else has stepped up to the mark and produced something comparable in terms of a professional approach and accurate repeatable results with the performers.

So I don't think it's fair to trash it - it's not complusory to buy these CD's. It's there if you want it and "hats off" to Lynn for undertaking these time consuming projects.

Looking forward the next one...
Tim.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #69
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natpub's Avatar
What's especially fun on your list, Sqye, is that your least favorite is Lynn's favourite
Old 23rd August 2005
  #70
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u b k's Avatar
 

okay, i'll share a few things about my experience with the pre cd's.

at first i was writing down my impressions of the tones i was hearing, but after a while that got tiresome so i just started rating them 1 to 10, similar to sqye but with an extended top .

when all my blind impressions were recorded, there were 5 preamps that got a 10 out of 10 from me on all 4 sources. i do have slight preferences for one over the next, so here they are from most to slightly-less-than-most loved:

daking 52270
martech mss-10
vac rac
api 512
focusrite red 1

i'd never even heard of martech, but it was so gorgeously pristine and as a color hound i was surprised to find such a beast near the top of my list. people have been telling me i'd like the vac rac, looks like they're on to something. api, no shocker, i am a complete api slut, every single thing they make thrills me. the focusrite, well, it's so flashy looking and people always slag it, i admit i had a negative bias for no good reason. i guess there's a reason trevor horn's racks are loaded with them.

i'm happy to report that all the budget pre's --- sytek, presonus, mackie --- scored 1 or 2. apparently, i know cheapness when i hear it.

a big surprise was the aphex 1100, which consistently scored 8. aphex? who knew?

some pre's which i thought i'd adore i only found to be 6 or 7's: fearn, great river nv, 1081 (!). and i actually disliked a few that i didn't expect to dislike so clearly: millenia, crane song, amek 9098, all coming with 4 and 5's.

the above were my impressions which were consistent across all 4 sources. the rest of the pre's scored differently on different sources, so there ya go.

last little tidbit: the langevin dual mono, which i own, i gave a 4 on male vocals with the 414, but an 8 on the same guy thru the manley ref. so for those who say that preamp/mic matching is a bogus pursuit, i say bosh and flimshaw to you.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 23rd August 2005
  #71
Lives for gear
Regarding the Aphex 1100: I was surprised too that I loved it so much on Lynn's CDs, even more so than my more expensive reference.

I bought one and have loved it ever since.

By the way, it doesn't only sound great, but it's high-pass filtering, metering, limiting, digital options, and great looks are all terrific bonuses.

Not an advertisement, just a statement to show how valuable those comparison CDs have been to me.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Farrant
As you have soooooooo accurately portrayed Sqye - it's ultimately different strokes for different folks - and if you find the GML rates a low #6 below a VLZ, then that's your opinion, and you are entilted to it - and that my friend IS the intention of these CD's.

The ultimate purpose of these recordings (correct me if I am wrong Lynn) has been to try and get "on tape" the differences one might expect between the different preamps and let others form their own opinion. The recording chain might have had it's flaws, but in the end, ALL preamps were subjected to that flaw. Not many of us actually own a "flawless" recording chain, do we?

I was involved in the design of the monitoring switcher used to select between all the preamps along with Dan Kennedy and John La Grou, and I think the simplest possible method with a minimal signal path was obtained.

Some might say that passing the signal thru a OP275 opamp destroyed the sound. I would say that this is typical of a "real" set up in ones studio - just about all A-D convertors have chips in them. Hell Jim - doesn't your preamp use chips?

Anyhow, I think the bottom line is, Lynn actually went and did this, no one else has stepped up to the mark and produced something comparable in terms of a professional approach and accurate repeatable results with the performers.

So I don't think it's fair to trash it - it's not complusory to buy these CD's. It's there if you want it and "hats off" to Lynn for undertaking these time consuming projects.

Looking forward the next one...
Tim.
Thank you SOOOO much for your response - I'm really happy that you posted. I was so looking forward to being privy to more of the actual facts of the pre testing recording scenario, in addition to some logical, practical and relevant perspective on this whole issue, as well as on the undertaking itself. You've helped to clarify some of the logistics, which is wonderful.

As regards Lynns' efforts (and everyone else involved) - Here, here!!!! Here's to you all for doing the work. Like I said, it MUST have been a labor of love on some level, and THAT to me is where the gold is. Also, to reiterate - I've done this kind of more academic work before - and it is VERY intense.

It's so easy to sit back and say, yeah throw that 57 off axis on that cone (I've always LOATHED 57s on guitar cabinets - MAYBE it was because I, along with every other engineer/producer/ae/designer and techie I've worked with - some of whom have long histories of platinum selling service in our industry, were just coincidentally OFF with the set-up or mic choice on that particular day - EVERY SINGLE DAY I TRIED IT BECAUSE SOMEONE INSISTED ON IT).

ON that note, I've also always perceived the drum set to be a VERY random collection of percussion instruments. I, personally, and not to offend any drummers who love that particular arrangement of sound generating objects, would never have assembled and established such a collection (OF COURSE I can't help myself with players who's FEEL transcends this, in spite of - or because of - this traditional collection: Bonham, Elvin, Grohl, Gadd, etc.). I got so tired of hearing the same friggin ride symbols pounded on (be-bop) from the top to bottom of a song - I always thought - what DOES that symbol have to do with that song, harmonically and timbre-wise. That's why I LOVE the fact that Pat Metheny goes out of his way to choose all those tuned rides with Paul Wertico - it's a REAL treat to the ears (I'm not even going to get into the whole BAR CHORD UNIVERSE, and again I'm NOT saying all bar chords suck - Gb is a good one, actually), etc. etc. I'm not trying to be a musical snob - I'm just saying - we don't HAVE to do things exactly the same way every time just BECAUSE (of whatever).

And another thing - our perception of even a particular sound, or combination of sounds, can change to us from day to day. Maybe we have a build up of wax one day in only one ear that prevents us from hearing enough 10k one day (or we've had a row with a friend or recent tragedy in our life), and our opinion about a certain piece of gear is subsequently tainted.

I believe it's impossible to be truly objective EVER. I think even Ghandi (maybe especially Ghandi) would've attested to that.

I also believe that poeple's egos, or attachment (or visual attraction, or vulnerabilities to company marketing) to a particular brand or piece of gear, or what that gear symbolizes to them, can get in the way of the what the ears might hear. That's why I LOVE this test.

I am curious, though, what monitoring folks have used to audition this pre CD, as well. Because, again, it's all so subjective. Like I said, and I wasn't joking - there WAS a friggin tree cricket in my studio for a little bit of the audition. I know this may sound like a Monty Python bit, but I couldn't find the sucker, and I wasn't going to wait until October when the little guy is at the end of his life cycle to continue the testing. However, I've worked in multiple studio facilites with adjacent recording and rehearsal spaces before when I had to buckle down to get the job done, and I know how to put my ears in tunnel listening mode.

Thanks so much - I really appreciate your contribution to my thread and queries. I knew if I was persistent, I'd finally start to get some more detailed responses.

Sorry for all the digression - I'm just trying to espouse the fact that I'm NOT particularly attached to many things, and I think it's REALLY important to try to remain open, as much as possible to what our ears might be telling us. JMHO

I'll try to ditch some of the philosophy, and stick to the facts at hand.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #73
Quote:
Originally Posted by natpub
What's especially fun on your list, Sqye, is that your least favorite is Lynn's favourite
That's hilarious. Can you tell me more? Thanks for the posting.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Confusionator
Regarding the Aphex 1100: I was surprised too that I loved it so much on Lynn's CDs, even more so than my more expensive reference.

I bought one and have loved it ever since.

By the way, it doesn't only sound great, but it's high-pas filtering, metering, limiting, digital options, and great looks are all terrific bonuses.

Not an advertisement, just a statement to show how valuable those comparison CDs have been to me.
That's great - I was VERY suprised, as well. I was thinking Aphex? Something's strange here - as I've said, I'd used their compressors a bunch, and didn't like the sound of them.

Thanks for the reponse!! I'm tempted to get one, too.
Old 23rd August 2005
  #75
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
okay, i'll share a few things about my experience with the pre cd's.

at first i was writing down my impressions of the tones i was hearing, but after a while that got tiresome so i just started rating them 1 to 10, similar to sqye but with an extended top .

when all my blind impressions were recorded, there were 5 preamps that got a 10 out of 10 from me on all 4 sources. i do have slight preferences for one over the next, so here they are from most to slightly-less-than-most loved:

daking 52270
martech mss-10
vac rac
api 512
focusrite red 1

i'd never even heard of martech, but it was so gorgeously pristine and as a color hound i was surprised to find such a beast near the top of my list. people have been telling me i'd like the vac rac, looks like they're on to something. api, no shocker, i am a complete api slut, every single thing they make thrills me. the focusrite, well, it's so flashy looking and people always slag it, i admit i had a negative bias for no good reason. i guess there's a reason trevor horn's racks are loaded with them.

i'm happy to report that all the budget pre's --- sytek, presonus, mackie --- scored 1 or 2. apparently, i know cheapness when i hear it.

a big surprise was the aphex 1100, which consistently scored 8. aphex? who knew?

some pre's which i thought i'd adore i only found to be 6 or 7's: fearn, great river nv, 1081 (!). and i actually disliked a few that i didn't expect to dislike so clearly: millenia, crane song, amek 9098, all coming with 4 and 5's.

the above were my impressions which were consistent across all 4 sources. the rest of the pre's scored differently on different sources, so there ya go.

last little tidbit: the langevin dual mono, which i own, i gave a 4 on male vocals with the 414, but an 8 on the same guy thru the manley ref. so for those who say that preamp/mic matching is a bogus pursuit, i say bosh and flimshaw to you.


gregoire
del ubik
Hey, thanks a lot for the detailed feedback. It's very useful hearing your impression, and I really appreciate your taking the time to summarize

Again , those pres that you'd thought you'd like a lot may have been tainted in the recording, slightly colored individual units, etc. Who knows? Maybe Lynn re-ordered all the pres just to f*%k with us, or they were all the same pre (highly doubtful - but I'm open to any reality).

Also, there are always the usual considerations - vocalist, mic choice, vocal durability/ strength longevity and consisitancy, voice type, room size, shape, textures, changes in humidity, light, climate, mood, material, proximity effects, distance from the mic, etc., etc. But for those of us who have recorded 8 gagillion vocalists and vocal takes across a broad range of material, we're already considering that stuff when we're listening. I wish the api had been done on vocals.

Thanks, again - your opinion and account is very helpful.
Old 24th August 2005
  #76
More cowbell!
 
natpub's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye
That's hilarious. Can you tell me more? Thanks for the posting.

I just recall reading around his forums and seeing him frequently cite the Focusrite 110 as one of his favorites and kinda like a desert island choice for all around workhorse in most any situation. My post kinda exaggerates, since I think he is clearly a big proponant of the right pre for the right situation--I doubt he really has a "favorite."
Old 24th August 2005
  #77
Quote:
Originally Posted by natpub
I just recall reading around his forums and seeing him frequently cite the Focusrite 110 as one of his favorites and kinda like a desert island choice for all around workhorse in most any situation. My post kinda exaggerates, since I think he is clearly a big proponant of the right pre for the right situation--I doubt he really has a "favorite."
Thanks for the explanation.

I actually rated the isa 110 twice (since it was presented twice) – once a 2 and once a 5 (testament to the fact that my choices weren't completely consistent, although I know in the case of great river pres - there was a balanced versus imbalanced consideration - I can't imagine that it made THAT much of a difference – although who knows.)

Again, though, I think the context of all these pre-amps IS very important (as you and Lynn and others here are intimating), and when we hear a focusrite signal with THAT voice and THAT mic directly after auditioning any other pre amp, the pre will sound different to our ears, also different when using it on it's own in a separate context).

In other words, if I hear the isa 110 after a mackie 1604 vlz pro, versus hearing it after a vintage 1081, my perception of that device will most likely vary at least a little bit IMHO. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it will vary EVERY time, or even that much at all, but if I’ve just, say, heard a really harsh and thin pre, and my ears are still recovering from that sound, my perception might be tainted going to the next, say, much more pristine and accurate or beatifully colored pre, and I might in fact find it to be a bit TOO dull. That’s just an example of what I’m thinking.

When I listen, I try to focus in a very concentrated manner on JUST what I’m hearing, listening for all the things I want – wide frequency response, clarity/articulation, presence, punchiness, and a protective interpretation and treatment of any proximity effect (I know this last one is a bit of a fantasy, but to my ears, the Earthworks pre delivered this more than the others, and again, it may have been the sequence in which they were all presented.) It could also be that the Earthworks liked that particular mic, which I don't like so much.

But I also did like the Vintech neve clone, Aphex 1100, Avalon VT-737sp, Great River MP-2MH (balanced) Focusrite ISA-110 (Vintage) Mackie 1604 VLZ pro and Sytek - they were all at the top of my list.

I’m aware of the facts that the:
Mackie is a low end, but still fairly clean pre, and I’m used to the sound of it, so it makes sense to me that I’d pick it – it doesn’t bother me the way it bothers some people here who love to slam it (I know plenty of great engineers and producers who use mackie pres for tracking - including even some guys with golden ears at Masterdisk).

I’m also aware of the fact that the sytek is a budget pre, as well – I’ve never used one.

But all the other pres I liked are good pieces of equipment, so I don’t think my ears were doing so bad. It did surprise me that some of my presumed favorites were not a the top of the list - 1081, etc. But it is still true that with respect to the older units or replications of them, there can be some inconsistancy - not to say that this isn't possible for newer units, as well.

I’m also aware of the fact that the Earthworks is more of a reference pre – which is probably why I picked it, because I was looking for an over all consistent, detailed and even sound – clinical accuracy to me is a treat. I can always screw around with the signal once the detail is there.

However, I still don’t know how the Earthworks unit handles high spls – and that is a BIG concern to me.

So, for me, and for my purposes, I’m happy with my testing results.

BTW - I've been very busy this week thus far, so sorry for the delay on the mic cd test - if anyone's waiting
Old 5th October 2005
  #78
Lives for gear
 
Tone Laborer's Avatar
10 years after the fact, I finally got the Pre Cd.

I did a few blind tests before looking at the key. FWIW, here are my impressions.
Lots of great preamps but I'd put these at the top,in no particular order.

1.Cranesong-badass, thick, warm, versatile, I want one,too damn expensive
2.DBX 786-very natural, open, sweet
3.Buzz-I see why they get the hype, nice
4.Martech- natural and nice
5.512- of course

Other notables

1.Great River-both, nice class a
2.Oram, good depth
3.Milliennia-both clear, open
4.Vintech-silky, full

Expensive pre's that didn't light me up

1.Focusrite Red-like Jessica Simpson, beautiful , but no depth
2.Tele V76-Can't remeber my notes,didn't score well
3.Earthworks-not bad, a bit boring,middle of the road
4.Audio Upgrades-on vocals,restricted , ok on gtr
5.Grace-flat and hard on vox,decent gtr

Some were good on vox or gtr, but not both. GML-good vox, so so guitar, Amek-sibilent vox, silky gtr. And then there were lots of impressive sounding "honorable mention" pres like Daking, Fearn, Langevin.

For the cheaper pres I liked the Presonus and the Art tube mp, I thought held up well. I didn't like the DBX 386 much.

It occurred to me after reviewing my notes that I should add a disclaimer to the above. For example, the grace wasn't so bad on gtr, just not as sweet as some others. You could make great records with almost all of these pres.Sometimes the neutral pres, when ther are soloed don't stand out as much as the colored pres so that puts them at a disadvantage. Also, this is just one stoner's opinion, no statement of "fact" intended.

I thought the singer did a good job, but the cut could have been shorter. It was interesting how the hard strumming vs. finger picking of the gtr, would bring out different elements of the pres.
I have NO problem with Lynn charging money for this product.
People who turn this into a religious attack/debate should please kindly get their head out of their ass.
Old 6th October 2005
  #79
Thanks for the responses, guys - I know there are other Lynn Fuston shootout guys here (some of them here long before I came along), and also plento o GS doing their own mic shoot-outs - keep 'em coming!! I'm too tired to use my brain now, but I'll respond ASAP.
Old 11th October 2005
  #80
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k
well, the pre cd confirmed one very important fact for me: i don't like christian vocals sung by a dweeb.

not even thru a daking. heh


gregoire
del ubik
HAHAHAHA. That might be the funniest thing I've ever read on Gearslutz, ever. Definitely the funniest thing I've read here not written by me.

Jasper
PS -- I should add that I love the CD and could listen past any ecumenical considerations.
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