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desert island 500 series pre for vocals 500 Series Preamps
Old 12th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

desert island 500 series pre for vocals

hi guys,

any suggestions on a single 500 series pre that will play nice with vocals Both Male&female?

basically i'm looking for a single 500 series pre and simply change mic for tone/colour/character etc, what pre would you guys recommend?

im trying to stick with a 1 slot pre but might consider a 2 slot pre, i live in the UK and find it hard to demo any 500 series gear at all, so i can only go by gut feeling and recommendations.

Cheers
Old 12th September 2011
  #2
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skybluerental's Avatar
 

Classic API VP 26.
Old 12th September 2011
  #3
RiF
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RiF's Avatar
I have been in the same boat and did put a Neve 1073LB on the list (alongside an API 512c for the 2nd slot). But then went for a BAE 1073MP, because the 500 format turned out too restrictive for me.
No regrets.
Old 12th September 2011
  #4
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Avedis MA5.

There are certainly other preamps available for the 500 series that will work for vocals... but, I still feel the MA5 is the top unit.
Old 12th September 2011
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Avedis MA5 is my fav. I've used 512c, P1, MP500NV, Mono Gama, and I just keep coming back to the MA5. Build quality and sound quality of this thing is fantastic.
Old 12th September 2011
  #6
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ScumBum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
Classic API VP 26.
I agree .

I've been using a VP26 and just a 57 , it sounds great .
Old 12th September 2011
  #7
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8thnote's Avatar
 

One more vote for the MA5.
Old 12th September 2011
  #8
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Amun Ra's Avatar
 

Love my Great River 500 for vocals. Nothing I've tried comes close.
Old 12th September 2011
  #9
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
I've used 512c, P1, MP500NV, Mono Gama, and I just keep coming back to the MA5
I'm glad to see people adding these types of clarifications to their responses.

One thing people often fail to mention in posts... is that they have never tried anything else, or their experience with preamps is very limited... I think a more accurate response from a not-so-insignificant amount of posters could consist of the following:

"You should get the XYZ, because I bought it and I love it and you, should too. Even though I have no idea what anything else sounds like, and I have no idea what your tastes in sound, music or anything else is." heh

Many of the posts in these open ended/ opinion based threads will consist of people recommending the thing they bought.... because let's face it, this stuff isn't cheap and some folks can get quite emotionally attached to their gear. So, it's refreshing when people clarify if they've tried a half dozen other units, or not.
Old 12th September 2011
  #10
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8thnote's Avatar
 

LOL. OK how about
Tube Tech, early Focusrite ISA110, SSL, Manley, API, BAE, Mono Gama and Adesigns P1. I'm sure there are others. They all have up sides. But in the 500 series I always come back to or my clients ask for the MA5 through an early Red3.
You are right in that everyone hears it different. The cabling alone can change the sound. O wait, that's another can o worms. So.......what the heck, try em all.
Old 12th September 2011
  #11
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KFMG's Avatar
 

I like either a Great River MP-500NV or an Electrodyne 501.
Old 12th September 2011
  #12
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Guitar Zero's Avatar
Very happy with the ma5 here. If I could only have one, that would be it. Have used it extensively on male and female vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, fiddle, even upright bass. It always sounds good, and usually great. Really want to try the VP26 as well.
Old 12th September 2011
  #13
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cowboycoalminer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amun Ra View Post
Love my Great River 500 for vocals. Nothing I've tried comes close.
Have you tried a Burl? Just curious because I have both and find I reach for the Burl more. Cheers.

Sent from my ADR6300 using Gearslutz.com App
Old 12th September 2011
  #14
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Guitar Zero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8thnote View Post
So.......what the heck, try em all.
Old 12th September 2011
  #15
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VT-MHE's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
Avedis MA5.

There are certainly other preamps available for the 500 series that will work for vocals... but, I still feel the MA5 is the top unit.
I second this notion!
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
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bexarametric's Avatar
 

I got rid of my MA5 (which I am a dealer for) and went with Juggernauts (which I am not a dealer for). I would take Juggernauts as my desert island pre any day. I wish we were dealers for them because they rule. I traded my Mono Gama straight up for a Juggernaut and dont regret it at all. It's simply what I'm looking for.

I didn't dislike my MA5. I just have everything that I needed in my arsenal with my 512C's and Juggernauts. I may get another MA5 down the road though. I would be perfectly happy with nothing but Juggernauts because they are versatile.

I also recently tried the Radial Power Pre and was floored by it's sound considering it's almost half the price of most other 500 series pres. If I ever add anything down the road, I will probably start with those.

At the end of the day, most 500 series pres can succesfully be operated by a capable engineer to the point where their clients will be happy with the results. My clients are my boss so I stick to my last sentence. It's also why I'm gravitating toward the Radial Power Pres as my next upgrade because they can hang with the MA5, 512C and Juggernauts and are way less overhead for my studio as far as price. They also have three very distinctly different sounds with the character switch.

I'm getting excited just thinking about an BAE 11 space loaded with 2 512C's, 5 desert islands juggernauts and 4 Power Pres. I could enjoy tracking drums with that.
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
Gear Addict
 
outUVphaze's Avatar
 

Shadow Hills GAMA
Great River
Old 13th September 2011
  #18
More cowbell!
 
natpub's Avatar
a-designs P1 my all around fav for that--got buzz, shadowhills, api ----depends heavily on style of music--for most things P1, but, for exmple, prefer using buzz on country/folk/americana/nugrass, etc. type vox. but for most rock, r/b, pop, the a-designs rules
Old 13th September 2011
  #19
Gear Nut
 
ChuckG's Avatar
 

+1 on the Great River. Get one now. Use it for vocals. It is great for tons of different styles of mics and singers too. Very clean. The coloring it does is very subtle, but always very nice. Down the line get another cause you will be wanting to use these if you track drums. Best overhead pres I have ever used and that's saying a lot. They are super versatile. Tons of headroom.
Old 13th September 2011
  #20
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Electrodyne 501 .
Old 13th September 2011
  #21
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James Lugo's Avatar
 

Seems like there's a lot recording happening on desert islands...mmmm Where's Mary Ann?heh
Old 13th September 2011
  #22
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Raj Smoove's Avatar
out of a 512c, a P1, and a 573, the vintech is my fav
Old 13th September 2011
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
Many of the posts in these open ended/ opinion based threads will consist of people recommending the thing they bought.... because let's face it, this stuff isn't cheap and some folks can get quite emotionally attached to their gear. So, it's refreshing when people clarify if they've tried a half dozen other units, or not.
Amen. I count myself sometimes to this kind of people heh It's hard to stay objective with your own gear, that you bought for a lot of money.

Nevertheless it's great to hear from others, which gear they love, abeit most didn't or can't compare. Popularity can be a part of an advise.
Old 13th September 2011
  #24
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RedWallStudio's Avatar
 

I was able to compare a few 500 Series pres (thanks to V.K. for that). I tried the LaChapelle 583s, Avedis MA5, Shadow Hills Gamma, Purple Audio Biz and Great River MP-500NV. My test vocalist has a raspy quality to his voice (think John Lennon meets Billy Corgan via Elvis Costello). Up until that point I had only been using API 312-C's or Neve 33115's (in my 5315 console), so those were my basis for comparison. My vocal mic is a vintage U-87 (sorry high enders, I don't have a bomb microphone yet).

I was able to eliminate the Biz right away. It was too bright and brittle sounding for this particular vocalist. I did find the Biz useful on Acoustic Guitar and undistorted electric guitar.

The MP-500NV sounded very similar to my 33115's, so I also eliminated those from contention. If you want that Neve sound, the Great River is the way to go.

The Shadow Hills Gamma accented the high end "air" quality in my test vocalist in a way that I found unpleasing. There was a certain "static electricity" feel to the high end that both of us noticed right away. I also felt the big knobs and tight controls of the Gamma to be a little cumbersome, especially in a packed 500 series rack.

The MA-5 and LaChapelles were the clear winners. The MA-5s were clear and punchy without sounding harsh and had lots of headroom. The build quality is great and they are simple and uncluttered. The LaChapelles were warm and round sounding and took the hard edge off this vocalist for quieter "singer/songwriter" type of material. They also have plenty of headroom and the build quality is probably the best of the bunch.

I purchased 2 of each of the MA-5 and the 583 and got the free 500 series rack from VK and have never been happier. There have been quite a few more 500 series pres added to the market since I bought these though and the gearslut in me has me considering trying out the Helios Type 69, the Daking Mic Pre 500 or the Chandler Germanium. I've had a rack full of 312-cs for quite some time and while they sound great, they are not nearly as versatile (or controllable) as the other pre's on the market.

Anyhow.. hope this helped some. Thanks!
Old 13th September 2011
  #25
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
I'm glad to see people adding these types of clarifications to their responses.

One thing people often fail to mention in posts... is that they have never tried anything else, or their experience with preamps is very limited... I think a more accurate response from a not-so-insignificant amount of posters could consist of the following:

"You should get the XYZ, because I bought it and I love it and you, should too. Even though I have no idea what anything else sounds like, and I have no idea what your tastes in sound, music or anything else is." heh

Many of the posts in these open ended/ opinion based threads will consist of people recommending the thing they bought.... because let's face it, this stuff isn't cheap and some folks can get quite emotionally attached to their gear. So, it's refreshing when people clarify if they've tried a half dozen other units, or not.
Exactly . You say the Avedis MA5......but have you tried the VP26 ?
Old 13th September 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Tone Laborer's Avatar
I'm guessing Tony probably is familiar with the general API tone. And while the CAPIs have their own cool slant on that tone, I don't think it's enough to render someone uninformed.

I don't know what the best pre for vocals is but I do know this;

Alison Krauss' voice bears little resemblance to death metal vocalist, Lars Goran Petrov's.
Old 13th September 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedWallStudio View Post
Up until that point I had only been using API 312-C's or Neve 33115's (in my 5315 console), so those were my basis for comparison. My vocal mic is a vintage U-87 (sorry high enders, I don't have a bomb microphone yet)
Ah Gearslutz, the only place where you can own a NEVE console and still not feel like you're high end heh
Old 13th September 2011
  #28
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamrock View Post
Avedis MA5 is my fav. I've used 512c, P1, MP500NV, Mono Gama, and I just keep coming back to the MA5. Build quality and sound quality of this thing is fantastic.
+1 with this and with what Tony said..

The MA5 is a GREAT preamp, awesome build quality, seldomly saw in the 500 series IMO. My go to for vocals fwiw. Need to say more?

There are others good option though, especially if you like clean: Forssell or the upcoming Hardy heh

The match really depends from the source and the mic used, but most of the times the MA5 is the winner

Just my 0.02$,

Bests,

Cheu
Old 13th September 2011
  #29
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Guitar Zero's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bexarametric View Post
I got rid of my MA5 (which I am a dealer for) and went with Juggernauts (which I am not a dealer for). I would take Juggernauts as my desert island pre any day. I wish we were dealers for them because they rule. I traded my Mono Gama straight up for a Juggernaut and dont regret it at all. It's simply what I'm looking for.

I didn't dislike my MA5. I just have everything that I needed in my arsenal with my 512C's and Juggernauts. I may get another MA5 down the road though. I would be perfectly happy with nothing but Juggernauts because they are versatile.

I also recently tried the Radial Power Pre and was floored by it's sound considering it's almost half the price of most other 500 series pres. If I ever add anything down the road, I will probably start with those.

At the end of the day, most 500 series pres can succesfully be operated by a capable engineer to the point where their clients will be happy with the results. My clients are my boss so I stick to my last sentence. It's also why I'm gravitating toward the Radial Power Pres as my next upgrade because they can hang with the MA5, 512C and Juggernauts and are way less overhead for my studio as far as price. They also have three very distinctly different sounds with the character switch.

I'm getting excited just thinking about an BAE 11 space loaded with 2 512C's, 5 desert islands juggernauts and 4 Power Pres. I could enjoy tracking drums with that.
I had a pair of juggernauts and ended up keeping the ma5 pair. Not necessarily because it was better. In fact, the juggernauts sound fantastic and are way more versatile. The impedence switch is a great feature. The ability to switch out input and output transformers was a great feature. But the rub for me was that I spent so much time tweaking, that it gave me paralysis of analysis, always trying to decide which sounded better. With the ma5, turn it on, adjust the input and output level, adjust the mic position and record. Wallah, great sound every time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedWallStudio View Post
I was able to compare a few 500 Series pres (thanks to V.K. for that). I tried the LaChapelle 583s, Avedis MA5, Shadow Hills Gamma, Purple Audio Biz and Great River MP-500NV. My test vocalist has a raspy quality to his voice (think John Lennon meets Billy Corgan via Elvis Costello). Up until that point I had only been using API 312-C's or Neve 33115's (in my 5315 console), so those were my basis for comparison. My vocal mic is a vintage U-87 (sorry high enders, I don't have a bomb microphone yet).

I was able to eliminate the Biz right away. It was too bright and brittle sounding for this particular vocalist. I did find the Biz useful on Acoustic Guitar and undistorted electric guitar.

The MP-500NV sounded very similar to my 33115's, so I also eliminated those from contention. If you want that Neve sound, the Great River is the way to go.

The Shadow Hills Gamma accented the high end "air" quality in my test vocalist in a way that I found unpleasing. There was a certain "static electricity" feel to the high end that both of us noticed right away. I also felt the big knobs and tight controls of the Gamma to be a little cumbersome, especially in a packed 500 series rack.

The MA-5 and LaChapelles were the clear winners. The MA-5s were clear and punchy without sounding harsh and had lots of headroom. The build quality is great and they are simple and uncluttered. The LaChapelles were warm and round sounding and took the hard edge off this vocalist for quieter "singer/songwriter" type of material. They also have plenty of headroom and the build quality is probably the best of the bunch.

I purchased 2 of each of the MA-5 and the 583 and got the free 500 series rack from VK and have never been happier. There have been quite a few more 500 series pres added to the market since I bought these though and the gearslut in me has me considering trying out the Helios Type 69, the Daking Mic Pre 500 or the Chandler Germanium. I've had a rack full of 312-cs for quite some time and while they sound great, they are not nearly as versatile (or controllable) as the other pre's on the market.

Anyhow.. hope this helped some. Thanks!
Yep, those are the two I ended up keeping as well. The LaChapell on female vocals has a finished sound right out of the box. There's so many good choices though. Anyone on the fence should get a bunch to audition and keep the ones you love. We aren't all going to end up loving the same box.
Old 13th September 2011
  #30
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum View Post
Exactly . You say the Avedis MA5......but have you tried the VP26 ?
I have plenty of experience with the various 312 based preamps on the market. There's not a lot that you can do to dramatically alter that circuit. It's possible it could sound marginally better on vocals than the dozens of other preamps which also have copied that same exact circuit. But, I'm not convinced that is the case after trying the large majority of other copies on the market... And not particularly loving any of them on vocals when compared to a Neve-ish unit.

None of them would be an option over an MA5 for vocals, specifically. But, that doesn't mean you can't make a good recording with any one of the 312 copies out there (API 512, BAE 312a, etc).
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