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How important are preamps if you have an interface with built in pres?
Old 9th October 2009
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

How important are preamps if you have an interface with built in pres?

Everyone seems to be fighting over which preamps are better on these forums. If you had something like an RME Fireface 400 (which supposedly has pretty decent built in pre's), would there be any advantages to buying a separate preamp?

I would imagine it would be sort of stupid running a preamp through a preamp.

Am I wrong?
Old 9th October 2009
  #2
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yes.
Old 9th October 2009
  #3
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Ca$h Marty's Avatar
 

Different pres will give you different textures and colors. Different technologies like tube and transformer based designs will give you completely different sonics. Furthermore different mics function different with assorted preamps due to impedance.
Old 9th October 2009
  #4
CKK
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For me, I would rather have a 300 dollar mic going through a 3000 dollar pre-amp - than I would have a 3000 dollar mic going through a 300 dollar pre-amp. You would be amazed at how good an ordinary sm57 can sound through a nice pre.

YMMV.
Old 9th October 2009
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ca$h Marty View Post
Different pres will give you different textures and colors. Different technologies like tube and transformer based designs will give you completely different sonics. Furthermore different mics function different with assorted preamps due to impedance.
That doesn't answer my question at all. From what I understand, the main function of a preamp is to get whatever your running through it at line level. If the interface you are using has built in pres, the signal will be at line level whether you use a nice preamp or not.

In other words, wouldn't a nice preamp be practically useless unless you are running through an interface that is strictly used for AD/DA conversion and doesn't have any built in pres? Or would it be a matter of just turning down the input on the interface and using the preamp for all of the gain?
Old 9th October 2009
  #6
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Tracking through either my LA610 or SSL Alpha Channel I can hear the vocals loud and and clear. That's important to get good results. There is a big difference between the two above compared to my Mbox2Pro pre's. Mbox pres ar not bad, but sounds closed/narrow and flat compared to the above. When used "right" LA610 and SSL sounds warm, clear and open.

But both the SSL and LA610 can sound dull to if not tweaked right. So how you use the gear is also important.
Old 9th October 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisdee View Post
Tracking through either my LA610 or SSL Alpha Channel I can hear the vocals loud and and clear. That's important to get good results. There is a big difference between the two above compared to my Mbox2Pro pre's. Mbox pres ar not bad, but sounds closed/narrow and flat compared to the above. When used "right" LA610 and SSL sounds warm, clear and open.

But both the SSL and LA610 can sound dull to if not tweaked right. So how you use the gear is also important.
So when you run your LA610 or SSL Alpha, do you run them through your Mbox 2? Or do you use a different interface?
Old 9th October 2009
  #8
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Well if you have something like a api a2d or a neve 1073 dpd not much of a problem at all. If you have a presonus, rme or whatever well then ......
Old 10th October 2009
  #9
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
Everyone seems to be fighting over which preamps are better on these forums. If you had something like an RME Fireface 400 (which supposedly has pretty decent built in pre's), would there be any advantages to buying a separate preamp?

I would imagine it would be sort of stupid running a preamp through a preamp.

Am I wrong?
You may use a preamp and plug its output(s) on the line input(s) of the FF400 rather than to plug directly the mic(s) in the mic input(s) of the FF400. Do you need that to get a good sound? It depends on your expectation about how good shall be the sound that you want. Here attached three takes with a FF400 alone, a FF400 + a DAV Electronics BG1, a FF400 + a Fearn VT-2. You may consider that the FF40O preamps are good enough or you may consider that the Fearn sound is worth its price tag: that's up to you only.
Attached Files
Old 10th October 2009
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
You may use a preamp and plug its output(s) on the line input(s) of the FF400 rather than to plug directly the mic(s) in the mic input(s) of the FF400. Do you need that to get a good sound? It depends on your expectation about how good shall be the sound that you want. Here attached three takes with a FF400 alone, a FF400 + a DAV Electronics BG1, a FF400 + a Fearn VT-2. You may consider that the FF40O preamps are good enough or you may consider that the Fearn sound is worth its price tag: that's up to you only.
To be honest, I don't hear the slightest difference between any of those recordings. I'm not listening to them with studio monitors though, I'm in my room right now using Klipsch THX certified speakers. Either way, I hear absolutely no difference.

I would definitely like to hear a comparison of that nature using vocals though. Anyone?
Old 10th October 2009
  #11
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musicbydesign's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
Everyone seems to be fighting over which preamps are better on these forums. If you had something like an RME Fireface 400 (which supposedly has pretty decent built in pre's), would there be any advantages to buying a separate preamp?

I would imagine it would be sort of stupid running a preamp through a preamp.

Am I wrong?

I use the Fireface 800 (big brother to the 400) and only use external
Preamps with it. Sure you can use the internal one's with decent results
but I like having different 'flavors' of pres and sometimes that is what
can make a decent recording sound like a million bucks. As far as a
"preamp thru a preamp", you just run the external preamp into the line ins and bypass
the internal preamps. Use what you've got but if you want to go
to another level, get a good external preamp. If you want several, I recommend
the 500 series with a Lunchbox as they are high-end without
high-end prices.

Check here "500 Series" Microphone Pre-Amps | VintageKing.com
Old 10th October 2009
  #12
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AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
Everyone seems to be fighting over which preamps are better on these forums. If you had something like an RME Fireface 400 (which supposedly has pretty decent built in pre's), would there be any advantages to buying a separate preamp?

I would imagine it would be sort of stupid running a preamp through a preamp.

Am I wrong?
get yourself a 002/003, much better, run great front end through the line in of the convertor box, no mic preamps please, yes that would be stupid.
Old 10th October 2009
  #13
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TheRealRoach's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
Everyone seems to be fighting over which preamps are better on these forums. If you had something like an RME Fireface 400 (which supposedly has pretty decent built in pre's), would there be any advantages to buying a separate preamp?
If you're asking from a functional point of view, then no there is no point. The gain amplification in the RME will do just fine.

If you're asking from a creative point of view, then yes there is a point.

To illustrate my point: if you already own a Fender Strat, what's the point of getting a Gretsch 6120? They're both electric guitars, and functionally, anything you can play on the Strat you can play on the 6120. The difference is that they will deliver different tones and will be useful in different creative situations. Same thing with pres.
Old 10th October 2009
  #14
Gear Addict
 

If you have to ask, stick with the RME. A lot of people here spend a lot of money to have dusty equipment hanging around... And to put a $200 condenser mic through a $2000 preamp.

If you dont care, why try to care? I guarantee you a band can make a record with RMEs that destroys a Neve console with a suck band.

Its pathetic how much people spend on going sideways...
Old 10th October 2009
  #15
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chrisdee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
So when you run your LA610 or SSL Alpha, do you run them through your Mbox 2? Or do you use a different interface?
I use the Mbox2 Pro S/PDIF on the SSL Alpha Channel. On the LA610 i use Aux Input on the Mbox2Pro. There is not much headrom on the aux input thow, but it bypasses the Mbox2Pro preamps.
Old 10th October 2009
  #16
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Frankly....

Until one handles the acoustics, mics, mic placement, performance, tuning (drums, etc), arrangement, material, etc, the preamp question is moot. Fun, though.
Old 10th October 2009
  #17
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
I use the Fireface 800 (big brother to the 400) and only use external
Preamps with it.
RME points out the high quality of the preamps of the FF400, which they do not for the FF800. Indeed, the preamps are different. The FF400 preamps are the same like in the Prism Orpheus and Apogee Ensemble.
Old 10th October 2009
  #18
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Good grief.

This thread amounts to asking - in the "High End" formum, no less - "is there any point in using high end equipment".

Well one might think... yes, there is a point, but is there any point in asking that question in this particular place??! ...Until one reads some of the responses and realizes that quite a few people who are reading the High End forum are equally unclear about that very issue.

At least Haikus is on point on this one, with his "If you have to ask..." ... Well put.
Old 10th October 2009
  #19
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2Loud's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeraBrite View Post
To be honest, I don't hear the slightest difference between any of those recordings. I'm not listening to them with studio monitors though, I'm in my room right now using Klipsch THX certified speakers. Either way, I hear absolutely no difference.

I would definitely like to hear a comparison of that nature using vocals though. Anyone?

There is plenty of shootouts over GS, can give a clue a bit
Personnally I dont and would not track via interface pre´s
As working with hw synths / samplers / guits mostly, everything goes through some really nice DI/pres into DAW,and it makes audible and sweet sonic difference.
Old 10th October 2009
  #20
Gear Addict
 

i think the short answer to your question is that a lot of high end studio environments use pricey preamp modules to feed separate high end A/D converters... stuff made by lynx, apogee, lavry, etc.

Mic --> Preamp --> A/D converter --> PCI interface --> DAW

they are not feeding preamps into multi-purpose firewire interface boxes like yours. those boxes have the preamp and A/D converters built in right next to each other. yes, you can bypass them, but its the scenario described above that is most common when people are discussing preamps.

so yes, youre right. it is silly to send a preamp into a preamp. those multi-purpose boxes arent necessarily intended to be used with outboard preamps. but there are ways around it (line in!)
Old 10th October 2009
  #21
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by haikusoftruth View Post
If you have to ask, stick with the RME. A lot of people here spend a lot of money to have dusty equipment hanging around... And to put a $200 condenser mic through a $2000 preamp.

If you dont care, why try to care? I guarantee you a band can make a record with RMEs that destroys a Neve console with a suck band.

Its pathetic how much people spend on going sideways...
Well, i don't agree with you about this one.
Not long ago we tried $200 Behringer condenser into $3000 preamp vs the same mic into Digi002 rack.
Source was vocal and difference was very, very big. A guy who is not experienced at all immediately heard the difference, i was quite surprised too.
We also tried SM58 into DAV BG1 and the same $3000 preamp with the same result.
I think very good preamp makes "bad" mics sound much better. This is my experience of course.

Miha
Old 10th October 2009
  #22
Deleted User
Guest
An sm57 is already a great sounding mic. But seriously, it all starts with the room/mic/placement. This, in most instances will make more of difference than preamp. It also depends upon which preamp youre talking about and why. You have to have great mics to begin with. A crappy $30 radio shack mic would quite possibly sound like mega **** going through a nice preamp. As long as your rme preamps are quiet and detailed enough for what u r doing, buy a great mic/s.

Analogy: It doesnt matter if your stereo cost $20,000, if your playing a bad recording it will still sound like ****. If the source sounds like **** your mega fresh preamp will make it sound like super ****. But take a great recording and put it thru a mediocre stereo system and it's very nice. There is a balance of course, but if your going to start somewhere and your monitoring is adequate, get some nice mics.

And about the rme: if u bought an outboard preamp it would plug into the line input of the rme and not the mic preamp. You could put it into the rme mic preamp but it would just most likely raise the noise without any added benefit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKK View Post
For me, I would rather have a 300 dollar mic going through a 3000 dollar pre-amp - than I would have a 3000 dollar mic going through a 300 dollar pre-amp. You would be amazed at how good an ordinary sm57 can sound through a nice pre.

YMMV.
Old 10th October 2009
  #23
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

High End?
Old 10th October 2009
  #24
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKK View Post
For me, I would rather have a 300 dollar mic going through a 3000 dollar pre-amp - than I would have a 3000 dollar mic going through a 300 dollar pre-amp. You would be amazed at how good an ordinary sm57 can sound through a nice pre.

YMMV.
I'm keen to listen to such a comparison, provided that the low cost preamp is chosen with the same care that the low cost mic. That's not in agreement with my experience at all. I already put the files here below on Gearslutz: AKGC3000Bs + Fearn-VT2, Brauner Valvets + Fireface preamps,
Attached Files

AKG C3000B - VT2.wav (5.48 MB, 826 views)

Valvet-Fireface.wav (5.60 MB, 816 views)

Old 10th October 2009
  #25
Gear Addict
 

TeraBrite, you might be interested in listening to this shootout: Homebrewed Music − ABX Testing (and a new audio interface) . The first two sets of files compare the built-in preamps of a ProFire 2626 against a John Hardy M-1/LynxTWO chain.
Old 10th October 2009
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann View Post
I don't know who you talk to; TeraBite's question was related to high end product even if he couldn't hear the difference from shootouts.
My preamp was Redd47, and i thought it was worth mentioning that "bad" mics sound much better through it.
But of course there was talking about micpre into micpre connection, do you find that surprising?
I prefer threads with real examples and first hand reports over no ending threads about always the same pieces of gear.

Miha
Old 10th October 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKK View Post
... You would be amazed at how good an ordinary sm57 can sound through a nice pre.
.
Yes. I definitely would be
Old 10th October 2009
  #28
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rotation View Post
I don't know who you talk to; TeraBite's question was related to high end product...
Hardly. The only product the OP mentioned was the Fireface 400, which scarcely qualifies as high end. The preamp into preamp stuff is also newby fodder that seems equally misplaced here.
Old 11th October 2009
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rotation View Post
Well, i don't agree with you about this one.
Not long ago we tried $200 Behringer condenser into $3000 preamp vs the same mic into Digi002 rack.
Source was vocal and difference was very, very big. A guy who is not experienced at all immediately heard the difference, i was quite surprised too.
We also tried SM58 into DAV BG1 and the same $3000 preamp with the same result.
I think very good preamp makes "bad" mics sound much better. This is my experience of course.

Miha

OK no. Nope. Just the fact that you shot out a Behringer and an sm58 and this is in high end says it all. Relativity my friend...

Your studio shootout consisted of gearslutz foolish syndrome- an expensive pre in your bedroom and BS mics and a crap room... We have a tuned room. A real mic locker. Real mics. And real talent... Oh and real clients.

This place is a joke...!

But go for it! Tell me how even the "unexperienced guy" heard it... Was that your brother or dad?

There used to be real engineers here...
Old 11th October 2009
  #30
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fossaree's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
You may use a preamp and plug its output(s) on the line input(s) of the FF400 rather than to plug directly the mic(s) in the mic input(s) of the FF400. Do you need that to get a good sound? It depends on your expectation about how good shall be the sound that you want. Here attached three takes with a FF400 alone, a FF400 + a DAV Electronics BG1, a FF400 + a Fearn VT-2. You may consider that the FF40O preamps are good enough or you may consider that the Fearn sound is worth its price tag: that's up to you only.
I'm just curious to know how did you set up this test ...

BTW , Beethoven is really a master ! Man , I'll say ... !
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