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Holy grail preamp: most versatile?
Old 28th July 2014
  #301
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IMO, there is only one Holy Grail and godfather of all preamps. Maihak V41
...if, you know the history of pres.
Old 28th July 2014
  #302
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
The NPNG may be nice ( and I would like to check out an NPNG someday ) but is in no way a new "Pacifica" ( don't care who mentioned it ). And I will also say the Pacifica is still getting orgasmic love!

I don't believe in the "Holy grail preamp" I'm in love with the Pacifica because it's worked on everything for a lot of great engineers! And as well they will never give it up.


See Pan, I'm in that camp that thought the Pacifica was alright, but it just wasn't my first or second draft pick.

Great River MP-NV preamps, yes. CAPI Heider FD312, yes. Vintage or quality Neve 1066/1073/1272 style design. yes. Chandler TG2 / JLM TG500 EMI style, yes. Etc. All that stuff is a game of "got it, got it, got it, need it!" I just plain prefer all of these choices to the Pacifica. I know it's a great unit, and I've used one extensively at a studio I used to run with another engineer who owned one. But it just wasn't my cup of tea (at the time we had a Great River MP-2NV and x8 vintage BAE racked 1272's for comparisons, so it was my odd unit out.)

The NPNG sounds like it rivals the John Hardy Twin Servo units, which are totally competitive to the list I made above, and in the cleaner camp. So I would absolutely pick it over the Pacifica on most sources...except for High-Hat. I friggin' loved the Pacifica on Hi-Hat...it has just the right amount of high end sweetening, and doesn't feel sibilant there at all. However I don't prefer it for overheads or underheads, it doesn't quite give me what I'm looking for even though it always does the cymbals justice.

I get why people love that preamp, but I wouldn't say it's for "everyone". Heck I think the Warm Audio Tonebeast can be "voiced" to be extremely similar sounding when you mess with it enough, and it's a LOT cheaper.

There are some A-Designs pieces which rock my socks, but as much as I like the Pacifica on Hi-Hat, so I don't think that justifies the cost for me ATM. Still it might just sound EQ'd already to some people...like what they hear in their head, and for certain electric guitar tones it's also a perfect choice, so again, I'm not ragging on the Pacifica, and I hope I'm not offending.
Old 28th July 2014
  #303
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IMO, there is only one Holy Grail and Godfather of all preamps. Maihak V41

You would never put V76s on vocal again if you got your hands on V41. Sorry slutz...

From now on V76/V72 on guitars and V41 on Vocals exclusively.

Old 29th July 2014
  #304
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
See Pan, I'm in that camp that thought the Pacifica was alright, but it just wasn't my first or second draft pick.

Great River MP-NV preamps, yes. CAPI Heider FD312, yes. Vintage or quality Neve 1066/1073/1272 style design. yes. Chandler TG2 / JLM TG500 EMI style, yes. Etc. All that stuff is a game of "got it, got it, got it, need it!" I just plain prefer all of these choices to the Pacifica. I know it's a great unit, and I've used one extensively at a studio I used to run with another engineer who owned one. But it just wasn't my cup of tea (at the time we had a Great River MP-2NV and x8 vintage BAE racked 1272's for comparisons, so it was my odd unit out.)

The NPNG sounds like it rivals the John Hardy Twin Servo units, which are totally competitive to the list I made above, and in the cleaner camp. So I would absolutely pick it over the Pacifica on most sources...except for High-Hat. I friggin' loved the Pacifica on Hi-Hat...it has just the right amount of high end sweetening, and doesn't feel sibilant there at all. However I don't prefer it for overheads or underheads, it doesn't quite give me what I'm looking for even though it always does the cymbals justice.

I get why people love that preamp, but I wouldn't say it's for "everyone". Heck I think the Warm Audio Tonebeast can be "voiced" to be extremely similar sounding when you mess with it enough, and it's a LOT cheaper.

There are some A-Designs pieces which rock my socks, but as much as I like the Pacifica on Hi-Hat, so I don't think that justifies the cost for me ATM. Still it might just sound EQ'd already to some people...like what they hear in their head, and for certain electric guitar tones it's also a perfect choice, so again, I'm not ragging on the Pacifica, and I hope I'm not offending.
No argument it may not be the pre for everyone. And I will say I also am a great river fanatic, my point was the Pacifica is still getting orgasmic love and will, it is not, a was, orgasmic love, but an is, and that was what I was replying to. My favorite A-Designs pre is the MP-2A the one A-Designs I use the most is an EM-BLUE 500 format pre.


But mostly I say there is no Holy Grail: )~ .
There are some smoking great press from a number of great guys and companies!

hope that is better put.
beer time!
Old 29th July 2014
  #305
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pan60 View Post
No argument it may not be the pre for everyone. And I will say I also am a great river fanatic, my point was the Pacifica is still getting orgasmic love and will, it is not, a was, orgasmic love, but an is, and that was what I was replying to. My favorite A-Designs pre is the MP-2A the one A-Designs I use the most is an EM-BLUE 500 format pre.


But mostly I say there is no Holy Grail: )~ .
There are some smoking great press from a number of great guys and companies!

hope that is better put.
beer time!
Truth...also I wasn't slaggin on your tastes. I get the appeal, I think I just generally prefer preamps with more low mid range if I can get 'em.
Old 6th August 2014
  #306
There may be no holy grail, but what for a while was a spirited debate has turned into a wealth of information. Thanks guys for sharing your experience!!
Old 8th September 2014
  #307
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McIntosh MM-4 with the Triad-HS-1's as the input trannies.
Old 12th September 2014
  #308
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Some Clarifications Re Gordon Pre

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
. . .On a personal note: it has some automatic optimisation functions, and slow rise of phantom power. Every time you change something the machine is going into some optimisation cycle with a blinking light, muting its output for 15 to 30 seconds. I don't like a machine that decides for me when the input impedance is best for the perfect sound. I also found the fixed steps in amplification too big, and there is no way for fine tuning of the gain. Definitely not a preamp that I would like to work with on a regular basis, but perhaps great for someone who doesn't want to be bothered with optimising the signal himself.
An ongoing point of confusion, the nominal input and output impedances are fixed--to automatically vary these would not be a good thing. The input impedance can always be changed manually with the use of external fixed or trim resistors if the Low Input Z setting does not suffice, but the high impedance seems to be preferred. With the output impedance fixed, the pre (output load compensation) reads the load impedance that is plugged into the output and adjusts the output stage operation to best drive that load.

The mute and ramping of the phantom supply combine to settle biasing and eliminate thumps at the output during phantom turn on and off.

Stepped gain adjustment is easy to repeat and to remote control, while infinite (fine) gain adjustment is not and comes with more sonic baggage. Gain is in 5dB steps such that each step is optimized for maximum dynamic range while maintaining full bandwidth across the entire gain range. This is a delicate balance and smaller steps would aggravate tradeoffs. Gain circuit complexity would double and calibration would be more difficult. Less performance, less reliability, more cost.

Automatic optimization does not supplant any user adjustments. All dynamic optimization is automated, in part, to avoid troublesome manual trims, but the adjustments are objective. Take the examples above. The adjustments made by the output load compensation are traditionally fixed, not user-accessible and are not given to manual control. The user would have to measure/calculate the load impedance, and do the math, to figure out which adjustments to make, by how much, continuously and inaudibly. Much is the same for gain and gain-staging. How the gain is controlled makes it unsuitable for direct manual control. The gain selector digitally controls multiple adjustments by algorithm to set gain, minimize noise floor and maximize headroom.

Thanks for the comments and Bill, thanks for your reply.

Grant Carpenter
Gordon Instruments
Old 14th September 2014
  #309
Gear Nut
 

I cannot say anything different. Other preamps used to sound artificial or at least unmusical when compared to well restored 60 years old V41. Hats off to Maihak. More humility please...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Simma Lugnt View Post
IMO, there is only one Holy Grail and Godfather of all preamps. Maihak V41

You would never put V76s on vocal again if you got your hands on V41. Sorry slutz...

From now on V76/V72 on guitars and V41 on Vocals exclusively.

Old 15th September 2014
  #310
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

I use Neve 1084s and Metric Halo's ULN8 mike pres a lot.

- c
Old 15th September 2014
  #311
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Skip Burrows's Avatar
 

Grove tubes VIPRE

Having just repaired one I can tell you the VIPRE certainly needs to be at the top. Most have never heard this pre however it has a beautiful sweet height end and is smooth as spun silk. The variable rise time allows users to smooth harsh sources like no other preamp I've ever heard of. It's quite and will go to plus 32 before problems. Now that's headroom! Everyone should hear this thing in action. IMHO.
Old 20th September 2014
  #312
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post

Before wading into findings that lead up to conclusions I want to emphasize that not one preamp is the best for everything. In this instance I am going to report about a specific comparison test made for a classical guitar. Repertoire to be played would be "modern classic" or "avant garde". This makes it a very interesting subject of testing preamps as it is very important to capture the full landscape of sound shapes, colors and depths, going from very soft to very loud and from very detailed to very massive. A preamp that can stand the classical guitar test will be useful for a number of other tasks as well.

First the guitar player and I took a whole day to find a microphone fitting this guitar best. For this we used the Lake People F355 with class A option, as this preamp has proven in the past to be extremely straight and sober in its representation, showing the particulars of any microphone in great detail. Another reason to use it for this purpose was because we had four channels of it, so we could compare four mics each time. We had a great number of quality mics available (Schoeps, Brauner, Sonodore, Violet, Sennheiser, Royer, AT, Blue, JZ, AKG, DPA, Line Audio, Røde) and finally settled for a Violet The Emerald. This is a limited edition LDC microphone (only 60 were made of it), with very low noise electronics and a custom wound output transformer. It runs on phantom power.

The setup was in a rather dry studio room with a very even frequency response that was further refined using movable diffusers on casters, as to give the instrument a larger sound body in space.

Included in the test was a Rens Heijnis battery powered preamp, but due to a misunderstanding about its phantom power operation, was placed out of competition. All I can say about it was that it was made beautifully, in a very specific minimalistic handmade design, with great switches and knobs. In no way a run-of-the-mill product, but almost made the way a loving hobbyist with a lot of talent would.

DAV BG1: this preamp sounded very well behaved and understated. Not thin by any means, but nothing was sticking out. A "British distinction" is the best wording I can find for it. For the guitar it was a bit too slow in its transients and lacked some sparkle. It's a preamp I would use to record spots in an orchestra, as they will probably blend in better to a main stereo signal than a preamp with more dynamic contrast (which would create too much presence in the more distant main image). DAV is made in the UK.

Gordon 5: in a way this preamp was also very well behaved, like the DAV, but it was more neutral with a further reach into the highs and a more effortless muscle. The Gordon is probably the solid state preamp with the finest weave of sonic texture that I have ever heard. It will report the most subtle dynamic information, which makes it extremely sensitive to room information. There was only one weak point in its sound signature: it sounded a bit "pale". So, transient and dynamic information was superb, but there was very little "musicality" for lack of a better word. On a personal note: it has some automatic optimisation functions, and slow rise of phantom power. Every time you change something the machine is going into some optimisation cycle with a blinking light, muting its output for 15 to 30 seconds. I don't like a machine that decides for me when the input impedance is best for the perfect sound. I also found the fixed steps in amplification too big, and there is no way for fine tuning of the gain. Definitely not a preamp that I would like to work with on a regular basis, but perhaps great for someone who doesn't want to be bothered with optimising the signal himself. Gordon is made in the USA.

True Systems P2 Analog: a very flat frequency respons, but with a rather "hard" dynamical character. Emphasized the bad things of the guitar and left the good ones unaltered. It would probably be a very good option for piano (and I have used it with great success in that role), but for classical guitar it is not recommended. This preamp does not have stepped or switched gain, which makes it handy for live use, as you can nudge up the gain almost inaudibly during a performance. For my purposes though I much prefer matched switched gain selectors, which will always give perfect stereo balancing. Nice features of the P2 are its phase correlation meter and its built in analog M/S matrix. True Systems is made in the USA.

Forssell SMP-2: the SMP-2 has a very open 3D type of sound image, with buttery soft highs and very detailed mids. The low mids are a bit thick and somewhat blurry. This is often an area where guitars have problems anyway, so in this case it did not help making a good presentation. Using it on a violin would have been more suitable. Really strong points of the Forssell are the exeptional Elma gain switches and the two microphone inputs per channel: one with phantom power and one without, which also does not have the filtering electronics for the phantom power. So especially for dynamic and ribbon mics the Forssell has an edge. My SMP-2 is the version with high gain, so it has plenty of reserve for these type of mics. Forssell is made in the USA.

ADT-Audio TM101: this is a preamp with input transformers from classical German brand Haufe. I have four channels of it mounted in the modular Toolmod frame with powering. It is a rather affordable preamp, so I could have four channels for a moderate sum. Originally I had purchased these to have just some nice quality extra channels. When I found out that I could have them customised very easily I asked the maker, Gerd Jüngling, to put special Elma switches in them instead of the standard pots for mic gain. He asked me to specify how I wanted the gain steps going up, and I chose a coarser range for the lesser used amplification levels and a finer range of steps for the often used values. The faceplates of all four modules were custom engraved for me, with the exact values as I had specified them. All steps between the four channels were handmatched within 0.1dB, at a moderate extra fee. Considering the cost of parts and labor the mods were a steal.

The TM101 modules sound very powerful, with a lot of "growl". At sudden dynamics the sound jumps out of the speakers at you, without the slightest trace of fatigue or distortion. At the same time it plays soft parts with great delicacy. The self noise is extremely low, especially at amplification levels that are often used. (Most preamps perform best with signal to noise at maximum amplification.) The highs are endlessly brilliant, but absolutely not harsh, with a shine that no other preamp of this test came even close to. Transients are slightly rounded, but appear very natural. The lows are tight and powerful. Not blurry, like the Forssell's. Mids have a very nice texture to them. The overall sound is neutral but with a most appealing saturation of the guitar tones. These preamps make for a highly "noble" presentation of the guitar, with beautiful depth and width. Both the guitar player and I were very surprised by such a massively luxurious sound out of such affordable preamps. Strong points are also: a sweepable HPF with a steepness of 24dB per octave and a sweepable LPF with a steepness of 12 dB per octave. Since the preamps have line inputs too, you can use the high quality HPF and LPF in your OTB mixes as well. ADT-Audio is made in Germany.

Lake People F355 (class A option): effortless, ultra flat frequency response. Switched gains, but you can switch in stepless pots additionally. Sweepable HPF of good quality (12 dB per octave), two identical outputs per channel. This is great when you want to record directly and through some extra outboard before AD in parallel. This preamp has extremely fast transient respons, and no tonal weaknesses. Brutally honest. Compared to the Gordon the weave of the sound texture is a bit more coarse, with a somewhat "contoured" transient representation. This can be a little too much for single instruments, like violin or guitar up close, but works extremely well on mains mics (especially omnis) in the neighborhood of the diffuse field. On spoken voice it also works great because of its very natural sound combined with a razor sharp imaging. Due to the class A electronics the low mids are not too clinical, but have a classical friendliness to them. Overall this preamp is about as "straight wire" as you can imagine. In comparison the DAV and the Forssell are simply color boxes. Lake People is made in Germany.

By now it will be no surprise that the ADT TM101 won the "contest" for this particular guitar with that particular mic. The listing that the guitar player and I could both agree upon was this:
1. ADT Audio TM101 (by a fair margin);
2. Lake People F355 class A (sounded very, very good at first listening sessions, but after a while the ADT kept winning more and more, particularly with its wonderful silvery brilliant highs);
3. and 4. shared by the DAV and the Gordon. Please note that they do sound very different, but both had their own strengths and weaknesses that put them on a similar level in this function. For microphone testing/determining the Gordon is probably the best of the whole bunch, although whether this makes it a preferred preamp for real recordings could be material for discussion. The DAV was great for its understated sound with musical thickness;
5. Forssell SMP-2. On average this would score better with many other instruments, but it was no good company for the classical guitar;
6. True Systems. Had no place for this instrument at all.

Attached is an image from the comparison session (testing different mic sets, as far as I can see), taken from the control cabin.

Thank you for sharing. Other than the Lake People I own, owned or tested all of this preamps and I agree with 90% of your findings and your ranking.

But imho and to my ears the Gordon is overall a (much) better preamp than the DAV. Not that the DAV isn't a very good preamp - especially for the money, but the Gordon is much quieter at higher gain levels, more accurate, provides much better transient response (much faster), more punch and works much better with ribbon mics (much clearer, less noise and better articulation).

So my favorite clean preamps of the bunch are the Gordon and the ADT (in my case the TM151, almost the same preamp than the TM101 but with "only" 60 dB gain, no separate line in and therefore slightly more affordable).
Old 20th September 2014
  #313
SEED78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Burrows View Post
Having just repaired one I can tell you the VIPRE certainly needs to be at the top. Most have never heard this pre however it has a beautiful sweet height end and is smooth as spun silk. The variable rise time allows users to smooth harsh sources like no other preamp I've ever heard of. It's quite and will go to plus 32 before problems. Now that's headroom! Everyone should hear this thing in action. IMHO.
Isn't there issues relating to repairing these though. From vague memory lack of parts or support?
Old 20th September 2014
  #314
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ViPre and SuPre preamps were made by Groove Tubes before the company was sold to Fender. Fender has made it very clear that they will not provide any type of support for preamps, guitar amps, microphones, or any of those sorts of things made by Groove Tubes prior to the sale. The best I could get from Fender at one point a few years ago was a PDF of a schematic (it was an STP guitar amp). I'm willing to bet that the Fender support guy e-mailed somebody from the old company (heck, it could have been Aspen Pittman for all I know) to get that, because he did not have any stuff like that immediately available to send to me; he had to get back to me after doing some informal checking around.

Bottom line: if you buy a Groove Tubes branded piece of gear, be ready to have it serviced by a tech who already knows what is going on under the hood, and will not need any help from the manufacturer, because there is no such help to be given.

It's a darn shame Fender could not figure out a way to provide at least a little more support for these legacy products. Groove Tubes made some cool stuff.
Old 20th September 2014
  #315
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzjoe View Post
Thank you for sharing. Other than the Lake People I own, owned or tested all of this preamps and I agree with 90% of your findings and your ranking.

But imho and to my ears the Gordon is overall a (much) better preamp than the DAV. Not that the DAV isn't a very good preamp - especially for the money, but the Gordon is much quieter at higher gain levels, more accurate, provides much better transient response (much faster), more punch and works much better with ribbon mics (much clearer, less noise and better articulation).

So my favorite clean preamps of the bunch are the Gordon and the ADT (in my case the TM151, almost the same preamp than the TM101 but with "only" 60 dB gain, no separate line in and therefore slightly more affordable).
I am sure the Gordon is a "better" overall preamp than the DAV, but in this particular use they ended on a shared level. I think I spent much time in explaining that caveat in my first paragraphs. I also mentioned: "For microphone testing/determining the Gordon is probably the best of the whole bunch, although whether this makes it a preferred preamp for real recordings could be material for discussion." The Gordon is a preamp I would avoid in many real world situations, as it is too revealing in details that our ears normally do not notice. Like you're "looking" at the sound through a magnifying glass. It's a great scientific tool though. Anyone testing microphones should have one, IMO.
Old 20th September 2014
  #316
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Rumi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
ViPre and SuPre preamps were made by Groove Tubes before the company was sold to Fender. Fender has made it very clear that they will not provide any type of support for preamps, guitar amps, microphones, or any of those sorts of things made by Groove Tubes prior to the sale. The best I could get from Fender at one point a few years ago was a PDF of a schematic (it was an STP guitar amp). I'm willing to bet that the Fender support guy e-mailed somebody from the old company (heck, it could have been Aspen Pittman for all I know) to get that, because he did not have any stuff like that immediately available to send to me; he had to get back to me after doing some informal checking around.

Bottom line: if you buy a Groove Tubes branded piece of gear, be ready to have it serviced by a tech who already knows what is going on under the hood, and will not need any help from the manufacturer, because there is no such help to be given.

It's a darn shame Fender could not figure out a way to provide at least a little more support for these legacy products. Groove Tubes made some cool stuff.
I tested the ViPre about 15 years ago, and liked it almost as much as a V76 with the high and low cuts removed by Dirk Brauner.
Off and on I was close to buying a ViPre secondhand. Some months ago I talked to a tech who had a ViPre in his workshop for repair. He told me that he wouldn't advise to buy that unit, because it's so complex and difficult to repair. So even a tech who knows the unit is reluctant.
It did sound nice, though, although after a while of working with it it seemed to me that behind all the great tone there is also something cold. That's how I described it back then, and it's too long ago to recall what I meant with that.
Anyway, I guess there are new tube units around that have an equally great sound, like Electronaut, Mercury, or probably Hendyamp (haven't tested those yet, but have heard great sounding samples).
Old 20th September 2014
  #317
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
I am sure the Gordon is a "better" overall preamp than the DAV, but in this particular use they ended on a shared level. I think I spent much time in explaining that caveat in my first paragraphs. I also mentioned: "For microphone testing/determining the Gordon is probably the best of the whole bunch, although whether this makes it a preferred preamp for real recordings could be material for discussion." The Gordon is a preamp I would avoid in many real world situations, as it is too revealing in details that our ears normally do not notice. Like you're "looking" at the sound through a magnifying glass. It's a great scientific tool though. Anyone testing microphones should have one, IMO.
Personally I think the Gordon shines "in many real worls situations" :-)

But I absolutely agree that the Gordon is very revealing and also great for testing microphones. Imho that's true for the ADT too. AFAIK Brauner test and develop their mirophones with ADT preamps.
Old 20th September 2014
  #318
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzjoe View Post
Personally I think the Gordon shines "in many real worls situations" :-)

But I absolutely agree that the Gordon is very revealing and also great for testing microphones. Imho that's true for the ADT too. AFAIK Brauner test and develop their mirophones with ADT preamps.
Unfortunately my test did not include the New Old Sound M-One, which I acquired later on. This preamp has a lot of the ultra fine texture of the Gordon, but with more musical weight. It sits somewhere in between the Gordon and the ADT TM101. The ADT is a little more rounded in the transients than the Gordon (and the NOS M-One), although the ADT is the clear winner in brilliantly smooth highs. (Everyone who thinks the Forssell SMP-2 is superior in smooth highs should try an ADT TM101.) For transformer preamps both ADT and NOS are remarkably neutral and fast. Very natural and dynamically powerful. Due to the output transformer the NOS can easily be pushed into pleasant coloration, which makes it a very versatile preamp, going from ultra neutral and refined to thickly colored. You will hardly find any online references to this preamp. It's a hidden gem, for a more than decent price. Beautifully built too.

Yes, Brauner uses ADT preamps as the reference for their microphones. After a visit to the Brauner factory I decided I needed to find out more about ADT. Much to my joy, now that I have many ADT modules.
Old 5th February 2015
  #319
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
Hmm, let's see... This is more or less in order of preference:

NPNG: Authoritative, fast, dynamic and lively, the most transparent mic pre I know, wide open, sounds like having a more extended frequency bandwidth than any other mic pre I know, without sounding harsh or boomy in any way, 3-D, very solid, not as sweet sounding as Pueblo Audio. Since the NPNG is great for acoustic music (transparency and 3-D realism) as well as for Rock (punch and solidity), as described in a previous post, I would call it "most versatile" (and that's what this thread is about, if I recall correctly).

Pueblo Audio: sweet sound, very 3-D, incredible reach, seems to zoom into every nuance of the performance, makes the room sound sweeter than it is, breathtakingly musical, not as authoritative, punchy and solid as NPNG. For classical distant miking probably most wonderful (haven't used it for that yet). For Rock maybe a bit too civilized, though I haven't used it yet for Rock music. Breathtaking musical hyperrealism.

Those two are the greatest preamps I currently know and use.

Gordon: seems to be in the same realm, but I haven't tested it enough to really say something about it.

TAB V76 without low pass filter: great sounding, "finished recording" sound, open, wide, clear (not clean!), solid. The signal is presented to you on a golden tray and has a halo around it. (This is from memory, I sold my TABs some years ago.)

Electronaut: seems to be great (depth and clarity while being nicely colored), but I haven't tested it enough to say much. It reminded me a lot of the way I remember the V76, and maybe even goes beyond it.

Pendulum Audio Quartet: Nice open sound, especially if you use the input without the transformer, a sweet coloration and special sheen that I like.

Avedis MA5: liked it in a short test. Nicely colored, discrete solid state bite and fullness.

Mercury M72s: not as balanced and open sounding as the TAB V76, but similar. Great thick bold tone.

Forssell SMP-2: rather transparent, but more colored and a little less 3-D than NPNG or Pueblo. Nice euphonic bloom in the mids, a little congested in the low mids. Stiffer dynamically than NPNG (but then again, what isn't!). With this preamp I had this impression of "expanded mono" that was described in a previous post for the first time with a transparent mic pre. With NPNG and Pueblo this is even more so. With mic pres like the V76 there is a halo around the sound, but it's different from this "expanded mono" through transparency and depth.

ZAG MLV10: A very rare discrete solid state mic pre from the Seventies, made in Switzerland (they still exist, their main quarter is very close to where Daniel Weiss lives, and nowadays they build elevator control systems. I once met someone from ZAG and euphorically told him that I have some great mic preamps from them. The reply was "Eh?"). Cool sound, versatile. Have 5 of them at hand and like them.

Siemens V78: Similar to Mercury M72s, but with a little more bite, and a bit dirtier sounding. The big similarity in sound is an indication to me how well a job David did with the M72s. I haven't heard the Mercury M76 yet, but I bet it's a great unit.

API 512c: aggressive, a little flat sounding (missing some depth), mids cut through, great for things that need to be upfront in a (Rock) mix. I still recall that smacking sound the API gave a Hohner ElectraPiano. No other mic pre did that. It was great for the track.

Groove Tubes ViPre: Liked it almost as much as the TAB V76 when I tested it many years ago, but after a while I had the impression that somewhere behind a great tone there was something lacking. Hard to maintenance.

Daking Pre/EQ: I liked it on steel stringed instruments, rather unobtrusive, but does its job very well. Traded them for some converters after testing NPNG and Pueblo.
On a side note, I repeatedly used the EQ for mastering. No switched gain, of course, but a very nice sound (for example, you can boost 500 Hz without getting mud as a result, and the bass is punchy).

Metric Halo ULN-8: I compared them to NPNG and Pueblo, which of course is not fair. Quite clean and open, but the mids are a bit hard and strident, compared to the other transparent preamps I own. Haven't used it much so far. The ULN-8 is certainly a great unit. It's worth having a Metric Halo product for the summing alone. But that's another topic.

DAV: only a few tests, seems to be great for the money. Yes, I can hear what Plush calls "syrupy", which I don't seem to like that much, except as an effect (but for what source and why?). Not in the realm of Pueblo and NPNG.

NTP 351-100: very sweet and special mids, not very authoritative, inspite of the M100 opamps.

Studer 289 desk: similar sound as the NTPs.

Revox D36 and G36: Thick tubey tone, can be great if you want character and color. It seems that Jakob Erland designed a Gyraf unit after the mic pre part of a G36 (these are actually reel-to-reel machines). I would like to have a D36 in good shape for that special sound. I still recall how impressive it sounded with a very old dynamic mic. Classy.

Metric Halo MIO 2882: quite useable, a bit too much in the lower part of the mids (slightly muddy), quite noisy - only useable for close miking of louder signals.

TL Audio EQ1: I once listened to a CD and thought "I know that sound! I bet they used a TL Audio mic pre". When I checked the liner notes it was actually stated that they had used a TL Audio mic pre. It is pretty unusual that liner notes state something like this, and while I at times recognize specific compressor models (and especially their settings) etc., I hardly ever recognize a mic pre in a recording. The TL Audio mic pre had quite an effect on me back in the early 2000, I had sort of a hate-love relationship with it. As far as I recall it sounded a little muddy, a bit like plastic, but not that bad. I quite liked the unit as a DI for electric bass - a thick glowing sound which somehow reminded me of playmobile figures.

Siemens V276: I didn't like them. Sounded a little thin and flat to me. No comparison to the great V76.

Manley SLAM!: in a short test I didn't like it, because the highs / transients seemed to be much too strong and disconnected from the rest, no body. It was only a short test. The price did the rest.

Amek / Neve 9098: that was my first "real" mic pre, and I found it strange, and was wondering if it was me or the unit. Someone whose knowledge and experience I respected greatly then told me that the only use he could find for this unit was for shaker. I came to the conclusion that I don't need a mic pre dedicated solely to shaker, and sold it. The EQ sounded strange to my ears. This is such a long time ago that I can't describe the sound of the mic pre, other than I didn't like it. The next mic pre I got was the TAB V76... and the world was okay again.

Avalon M5: Didn't like it. Sterile and strange sounding.

Millennia HV-3D: similar impression like Avalon.

Urei / JBL 7510 mixer: was hyped somewhere on the internet, sold it after a short test. Very midrangey, low-fi. Got much more for it than I had paid. So yes, it did a great job.

Studiomaster desk, Bellari mic pre: well, you have to start somewhere. They amplified mics and did good service back then.

I'm sure I've forgotten some.
I currently also have Great River and Electrodyne mic pres in the studio, but have not used them much yet.

I listened to these mic pres through ATC SCM100A, Bolero Grande with Pass Labs X-250, Acoustic Research LST with Pass Labs X-250, Auratones with a cheap amp, and Audio Data Partout II with a McIntosh 2200.

Music styles were mainly acoustic music, but also Rock, Jazz, Psychedelic, etc. Instruments were many acoustic and ethnic instruments, as well as drums, electric guitars, (grand) piano, etc.

BTW, for me "clear" is not "clean". Clear can very well be the result of harmonic distortion. Some tube preamps like the V76 sound clear to me, but they are not clean. Interestingly enough, I find the effect of this "harmonic distortion clear" to be somewhat similar to the effect of the "transparency clear" of NPNG and Pueblo. Both can lead to a "you are there" impression that grabs your attention and involves you.

Do you have any info about these zag preamps like piout diagram or schematic. I have one but don't know anything about it...its zag mlv10.How much dbs can I expect from these baby?
Old 6th February 2015
  #320
Lives for gear
 
Rumi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by peeping tom View Post
Do you have any info about these zag preamps like piout diagram or schematic. I have one but don't know anything about it...its zag mlv10.How much dbs can I expect from these baby?
I don't have schematics, but I will sooner or later be able to post the pinout (I've just bought three more on ebay). You should get plenty of gain from them.
Old 6th February 2015
  #321
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
I don't have schematics, but I will sooner or later be able to post the pinout (I've just bought three more on ebay). You should get plenty of gain from them.
Thats good news for me!(I'm happy for you too) I'll wait till you'll be able to post the piout and then maybe will share our toughts...
So you already have experience with these preamp?What do you think, is it good for vocal tracking?On how much volts does it work?
Thank you very much for your help!
Old 8th February 2015
  #322
Lives for gear
 
Rumi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by peeping tom View Post
Thats good news for me!(I'm happy for you too) I'll wait till you'll be able to post the piout and then maybe will share our toughts...
So you already have experience with these preamp?What do you think, is it good for vocal tracking?On how much volts does it work?
Thank you very much for your help!
It's a great mic pre. It has that Seventies discrete circuit bite / grab, but is fairly neutral, in the sense of not having something that "sticks out" (like the midrange bite of an API, for example). It should be great for vocals.
I am not sure about voltage, it could be 12V. But I need to check first.

Have you contacted me via e-mail as well?
Old 8th February 2015
  #323
Lives for gear
 
Rumi's Avatar
BTW, I have posted some comparison files of the ZAG vs. some other preamps in my thread about high end mic pres (Pueblo, NPNG, Gordon etc.).
Old 9th February 2015
  #324
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Good to see the old threads with legssssss. This is of course an impossible question ...

Yet what about the Nickel setting on the Shadow Hills? Was that mentioned? Great on everything if you like that nickel tranny tone.
Old 9th February 2015
  #325
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumi View Post
It's a great mic pre. It has that Seventies discrete circuit bite / grab, but is fairly neutral, in the sense of not having something that "sticks out" (like the midrange bite of an API, for example). It should be great for vocals.
I am not sure about voltage, it could be 12V. But I need to check first.

Have you contacted me via e-mail as well?
No, I haven't...can't find your email i'm sorry
I heard some files from your pre thread and the zag sounds very good to me.
The NTP was more "hi fi" sounding, but i liked the body of the ZAG
Is there any chance the pinouts of both pre's to be the same? If it's so I just have to find pinout for NTP351-100
Old 9th February 2015
  #326
Lives for gear
 
Rumi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by peeping tom View Post
No, I haven't...can't find your email i'm sorry
I heard some files from your pre thread and the zag sounds very good to me.
The NTP was more "hi fi" sounding, but i liked the body of the ZAG
Is there any chance the pinouts of both pre's to be the same? If it's so I just have to find pinout for NTP351-100
I have the pinout! It's just a matter of finding the time to check.

I sold the NTPs, and will replace the slots with the new ZAGs (I have a 10-slot rack with 4 NTP 179-250B limiters, 1 ZAG MLV10, 1 ZAG TAV10 - if anyone knows what that is for, I would be most thankful! - and until recently 2 NTPs). The NTPs have very sweet and unique mids, but they lack "bigness". They are shy and lovely. A very nice sound, but I don't know when I would want that. It seems that I'm more into big and real.
Old 10th February 2015
  #327
Gear Head
 
LegacyMix's Avatar
After owning 6 different recording consoles and the last 3 being MCI 416, Trident TSM and API Legacy and more racked preamps than I care to mention plus low end Behringer and Mackie consoles for light duty I am of the strong opinion that the Holy Grail is - 5 Great Musicians and Singers in your studio.
I'll take a Mackie board and top studio musicians anyday over a Neve or API and a bunch of mediocre players. Good preamps play a very small part in a professional sounding record. I know that's not what you wanted to hear.
Like the poster said above, "Anything made in the last 25 years will work."
Old 10th February 2015
  #328
Lives for gear
 
Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegacyMix View Post
Like the poster said above, "Anything made in the last 25 years will work."
Or the 25 previous to that.

- c
Old 10th February 2015
  #329
Gear Head
 
LegacyMix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Sonya View Post
Or the 25 previous to that.

- c
True! My Trident is 35 years old and still sounds as good as any and may be punchier than some.
Old 11th February 2015
  #330
Quote:
Originally Posted by LegacyMix View Post
I'll take a Mackie board and top studio musicians anyday over a Neve or API and a bunch of mediocre players. Good preamps play a very small part in a professional sounding record.
This is really two separate issues though. I'm not a professional race car or stunt driver, but I sure as heck wouldn't mind owning a mint Shelby Cobra or even a GTO. It would make driving to the post office a lot more fun.
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