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Can't decide on 1st good preamp Single-Channel Preamps
Old 8th February 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

Can't decide on 1st good preamp

I know this has been covered and I've been researching on and off for years now. I've tried various cheap preamps over the years without finding that they are beneficial compared to my interface. I was very excited about the soon to be released Warm Audio WA73. I think this would be perfect for me as it's simple but has the basic functions I'm looking for such as an insert which some others don't include. I have read some stuff about the quality control/reliability of the WA stuff though that's making me hesitate.

I have a saffire pro 40 interface. I feel like I can get decent clean sound out of this if I want it so I'm leaning toward a colored preamp. I'm just a home/hobby recording but I want a pre I don't have to always wonder if it could be better. I'm not going to spend 2k on a preamp. I've got some things for sale now including a modified Presonus Eureka (too many knobs, want something more simple). So once they sell I'm hoping to have around $600 for this purchase. I'll probably go used unless I end up getting the WA73.

I record vocals, guitars and bass mostly. Would be nice to have something with a good DI for bass but definitely want something that will be good for vocals. I've got an FMR RNC so I'd like something with an insert to add comp on the way in to pro40. I've got an NT1A, , NT5, Joly modified MXL990 and some dynamic mics.

Going back and forth but leaning in this order presently

Daking Mic Pre One (gets lots of praise, too clean?)

UA Solo/610 (like the idea of adding lots of color if wanted)

ISA one (most affordable but afraid it would be too boring or not obviously different than interface preamps).

Grace M101 (too clean?)

I know many of you have been in the same boat. I really want something I can hear is clearly better than the interface and feel confident about using.
Old 8th February 2018
  #2
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CJ Mastering's Avatar
I like the Gracie. Some say its too clean, but what the heck do they mean by that, i wonder? do not even get me started on the term "Color" peole use.
When I select a pre-amp, I want it to capture the sound exactly as i hear it and the Gracie does that. If that is what they mean by clean, then ill take clean all day long.

Do you want your preamp to cut off any highs or lows or mids? I don't, so clean is good for me.
Old 8th February 2018
  #3
Gear Head
 

Thanks. The only thing I can really do is read and use the words that get thrown around. I wish I could actually try these without buying but no local music stores have any demo units and I don't know anyone with a studio setup. From what I can tell any of these pre-amps could work for me but I do like the idea that one could add something interesting to the tracks. I don't have a great room I'm looking to capture or any high end mics. Harshness is the thing I'm trying to avoid.
Old 9th February 2018
  #4
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CJ Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTNate View Post
Thanks. The only thing I can really do is read and use the words that get thrown around. I wish I could actually try these without buying but no local music stores have any demo units and I don't know anyone with a studio setup. From what I can tell any of these pre-amps could work for me but I do like the idea that one could add something interesting to the tracks. I don't have a great room I'm looking to capture or any high end mics. Harshness is the thing I'm trying to avoid.
any pre-ampo will not give you harshness, unless its in the original sound source that is passing through it.
Harshness will come in the mixing stage when you boost (most likely) a frequency that is harsh to human ears. So in the recording stage, no need to worry about it.

Here is something that will help you record vocals. This is from my website:


The lead vocal track needs special attention so it can maintain its visibility and impact throughout the entire song. Because the vocal, in most cases the primary focal point of the song. The vocal needs to have and maintain constant space in the mix.

1. You need to determine what the best sounding signal path is for that specific vocalist:

This is the most time consuming overly repetitious task. But in the end, when you find the right gear and positioning that fits your vocalist, your pay off will be golden.
2. Mic placement is an important in getting that great vocal sound:

There are two issue to consider. The position of the mic in the room. You need to find the the best part of the room to record in. Not all corners, spaces and walls sound alike. This needs to be done way before the vocalist enters the room/studio by trial and error.
The other issue is position of the mic, to the singer. There are 2 factors to consider that effect the sound. One is the angle of the mic, to the singer and the other is the space between the mic and the singer. Both are very important factors.
The Proximity Effect - The closer the singer is to the mic, the more bass frequencies are enhanced. This can be used as a tool, by having the singer move closer or farther away from the mic, depending on the mood of the vocal passage.
The mic of choice for most singers is a cardioid condenser mic and a good starting point for this mic is about six to eight inches away form the mic capsule. If the voice sounds to thin, then you move the singer up a bit to use the proximity effect. But be very careful. Moving only an inch or so will increase the bass and fullness allot. If the sound is too big, then move the singer back a bit. Its a balancing act.
If your using an omnidirectional mic or an omnidirectional pattern setting, there will be no proximity effect. Moving the singer back and forth will only create distance and the bass frequencies will not be enhanced as the singer moves toward the mic.
The omni pattern is a good mic to use if the singer cannot stay still and/or is inexperienced in vocal recording. but this mic has its fall backs, since it picks up all directions equally. You need a very quiet room to use this mic.
The effects of a condenser mic on axis and off axis with the singers mouth are very important. When a condenser mic is on axis to the singers mouth, the sound is harsher and brighter. When the mic is off axis to the singers mouth, the sound gets a bit warmer and darker. This is due to the sound hitting the mic capsule.The mic capsule captures the singers chest resonance and by changing the axis of the capsule, you change the sound that mic records. An off axis tilt towards the ceiling can help prevent popping and sibilance.
Now that you are aware that the slightest movements and the slightest change of positions can alter and change the sound dramatically. You should make notes on the distance and mic position relative to the singer, in case you need to Punch In.

Be aware of plosives. Plosives are loud and exaggerated sounds that occur with the letters P 's, B's T's and S's that are pronounced. Plosives are caused by a sudden rush of air from the singers mouth that hits the microphone capsule. A pop filter, along with mic techniques helps prevent the occurrence of plosives.

Have you ever wondered why you see Mic's hanging upside down? They do this so they can make room for lyric sheets and music stands.

3. Things that can ruin a vocal take:

Jewelry (necklaces, bracelets) can make allot of noise. If a singer cannot take them off, due to some reason, you can wrap the a towel around it and put some tape on it. Just as long as it doesn't move.
Early reflections form a music stand that is too close to the mic. Try to avoid the metal music stands, as they can cause early reflections more than a fold-able music stand. Yes! cheaper is better when it comes to music stands. Save when you can and this is where you can save some money.
Avoid wearing shirts with buttons and other things that could be noisy. A nice plain t-shirt is good.
Always have water close and available for the singer. A dry mouth can cause lip smacking and other noises.
4. Record in 24bit. this goes for vocals and everything else:

When recording in 24bit, there is no need to record hot. Recording hot could get you in trouble. One small clip can ruin your vocal take.
Record your vocals between -20dB and -6dB. Those levels are fine for 24bit
With 16bit, you have 65,536 possible levels
With 24bit, you have 16,777,216 levels
So in 24bit, your audio has more room in the digital realm
You do not have to record as hot in 24bit as you do in 16bit because of the noise floor. In 24bit you can record at a lower level while staying above the noise floor. Meaning you can record at lower levels because of the more headroom 24bit gives you.
5. Double tracking vocals:

It will make the vocal part sound fuller and more powerful. This greatly depends on the singers skill on reproducing the exact vocal take that he/she performed before.
During the 2nd take, you can change the singers distance from the mic. For example, if the singer was 7 inches away form the mic on its first take, then record the second take 14 inches away from the mic.
You can even try a 3rd pass at it.
6. Tips for vocal tracks:

Exciter is a great tool that adds clarity to your vocal.
EQ - If you used proper mic choice and technique, your vocals may not need any EQ. Except for maybe a high pass filter to cut the lows. Vocals, normally do not use anything below 60Hz to 100Hz. When using EQ on vocal tracks, try not to cut and boost dramatically, A little goes along way, especially if you want it to translate on different sound systems. to add a bit of clarity to your vocals, try boosting between 4 - 5kHz
Delay - A simple slap back delay can do wonders to your vocal track when set up in time with 8Th note triplets.
7. Compression tips for vocals:

Inconsistent vocal levels - The settings for compression depends on how consistent the vocal track is. If the vocal track is inconsistent, you will need a fast attack time withe a medium release time and a ratio setting of 6:1 to 10:1. Your threshold is adjusted for gain reduction on the loudest parts only. So most parts will go threw the compressor unaffected. You only want to even out the volume level of the entire vocal track without doing any extreme compression.
Breathy vocal effect - This creates a whispery and highly present vocal. Set the attack time very fast, the release time should be moderate, the ratio should be between 5:1 - 10:1 and the threshold level should be between 7 to 21dB below the peak level. You'll also need to add a bit of reverb to achieve this effect. Note that you will definitely need to use a pop filter with these vocals, as the intense compression will overly exaggerate lip smack, breath sounds and other artifacts.
Smooth vocal effect - This one is easy. Set your ratio between 2:1 and 4:1 with a moderately fast attack time, a slow release time and the threshold set from 2 to 6dB below the highest peak level (like everything, adjust to taste). Since this is a very low compression you may have some high peaks that cannot be tamed. To solve this, run it into a limiter after the compressor with a fast attack and fast release time and set the threshold to limit only those pesky peaks.

Sourced - Mastering Tips | Audio Mastering Facts | Mastering FAQ's | Mixing Tips

CJ
Old 9th February 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
I had both the ISA One and UA610. The ISA One got used the most and is certainly one of the best preamps I have used under £1000. However, I picked up an Audient Mico and this ended up replacing them all.
The Mico can do extremely clean and detailed or there is a feature called HMX which adds subtle thickening to the sound which actually sounds very nice. The Mico also is a two channel preamp and has high quality A/D converters built in which makes it a compltete bargain (especially for the seriously cheap price I paid secondhand).
I'm looking to add another channel of preamp and I'm seriously tempted by either the brand new Golden Age Projects Premium PRE-73 or a WARM TB12/WA12mkII.
Old 9th February 2018
  #6
Gear Addict
 
wilkinswp's Avatar
 

Get the Great River mp2nv or the one channel mp1nv. It is an excellent all-around mic pre.
Old 9th February 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Here is something that will help you record vocals. This is from my website:
That piece is a great read. Thanks for posting it.

Old 9th February 2018
  #8
Gear Head
 

I have had the WA76 compressor for quite awhile and have never had any issues and I think it sounds amazing. I do a ton of custom vocal work using my own voice as well as having singers and rappers in the studio constantly so the WA76 gets used every day without fail because if it’s not used on someone else it at least gets use on my own voice daily! It still works perfectly!

I have a friend who has the WA87 and the WA76 and has never had any issue with them and loves them both! I personally think they are a great company making great products for a reasonable price! I currently have an AMS Neve 1073dpx, but if I did not than I would get the new WA73 immediately because I suspect it will be made very well! Probably going to be your best bang for buck Neve style pre.... but it’s not officially available yet so we will have to wait and see. This is just my thoughts based on other Warm Products I’ve used!
Old 9th February 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
any pre-ampo will not give you harshness, unless its in the original sound source that is passing through it.
Harshness will come in the mixing stage when you boost (most likely) a frequency that is harsh to human ears. So in the recording stage, no need to worry about it.

Here is something that will help you record vocals. This is from my website:




Sourced - Mastering Tips | Audio Mastering Facts | Mastering FAQ's | Mixing Tips

CJ
Thanks for the tips. Good advice.
Old 9th February 2018
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I had both the ISA One and UA610. The ISA One got used the most and is certainly one of the best preamps I have used under £1000. However, I picked up an Audient Mico and this ended up replacing them all.
The Mico can do extremely clean and detailed or there is a feature called HMX which adds subtle thickening to the sound which actually sounds very nice. The Mico also is a two channel preamp and has high quality A/D converters built in which makes it a compltete bargain (especially for the seriously cheap price I paid secondhand).
I'm looking to add another channel of preamp and I'm seriously tempted by either the brand new Golden Age Projects Premium PRE-73 or a WARM TB12/WA12mkII.
This is what I'm most looking for is some feedback on personal experience with the mentioned pre-amps. I'm wondering if you found the UA610 to be not versatile enough for your needs. I'm sure the ISA would work for me but honestly I want something more simple. I don't see the need at this point for some of the extra features. Looks like that Audient Mico is not in production anymore and pretty scarce used but I'll give it a look.
Is there a new GAP-73 besides the newest MKIII version? That's all I saw on their site.
Old 9th February 2018
  #11
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioGold View Post
I have had the WA76 compressor for quite awhile and have never had any issues and I think it sounds amazing. I do a ton of custom vocal work using my own voice as well as having singers and rappers in the studio constantly so the WA76 gets used every day without fail because if it’s not used on someone else it at least gets use on my own voice daily! It still works perfectly!

I have a friend who has the WA87 and the WA76 and has never had any issue with them and loves them both! I personally think they are a great company making great products for a reasonable price! I currently have an AMS Neve 1073dpx, but if I did not than I would get the new WA73 immediately because I suspect it will be made very well! Probably going to be your best bang for buck Neve style pre.... but it’s not officially available yet so we will have to wait and see. This is just my thoughts based on other Warm Products I’ve used!
I've heard lots of good about WA and I'd love to try something. I was hot to get the tone beast for awhile but I decided I wanted something more simple so I wasn't always second guessing myself on the settings. Still considering a WA12 also but I really do think the WA73 would be great for me. I hear they are good about dealing with any issues but some have had issues. I may end up going that route still. So many choices......
Old 9th February 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTNate View Post
This is what I'm most looking for is some feedback on personal experience with the mentioned pre-amps. I'm wondering if you found the UA610 to be not versatile enough for your needs. I'm sure the ISA would work for me but honestly I want something more simple. I don't see the need at this point for some of the extra features. Looks like that Audient Mico is not in production anymore and pretty scarce used but I'll give it a look.
Is there a new GAP-73 besides the newest MKIII version? That's all I saw on their site.
I found the UA 610 sounded good but it was noticeably noisier than the ISA One when recording quiet sources.

There is a brand new Premium version of the PRE-73 just release and should be in stores very soon. The info is at the bottom of this page:-

Home Page
Old 9th February 2018
  #13
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Here’s a picture of the new Premium PRE-73
Attached Thumbnails
Can't decide on 1st good preamp-5cfbcbc5-06d3-46fd-bbf4-ddf134b5e443.jpg  
Old 10th February 2018
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I found the UA 610 sounded good but it was noticeably noisier than the ISA One when recording quiet sources.

There is a brand new Premium version of the PRE-73 just release and should be in stores very soon. The info is at the bottom of this page:-

Home Page
Cool. Hadn't seen that new pre-73 yet. Wonder what the price will be. Looks like WA and GAP will be releasing very similar products around the same time. Good for us!
Old 10th February 2018
  #15
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Price for the Premium PRE73 is 499 euros.
There’s an Audient Mico on eBay going for £310 at the moment.
Old 10th February 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
Summit Audio TPA-200. Got an insert for bass and I love what it does for my bass sound.

I also record vocals and guitars(both acoustic and electric) and am pleased with the results. Very versatile as it can go from clean to tube overdrive by turning the input gain way up.
Old 10th February 2018
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u87allen View Post
Summit Audio TPA-200. Got an insert for bass and I love what it does for my bass sound.

I also record vocals and guitars(both acoustic and electric) and am pleased with the results. Very versatile as it can go from clean to tube overdrive by turning the input gain way up.
Seeing a couple 2ba-221 on dbay. Same pre in single? Looks like a good versatile pre for my needs and under budget. Couple reviews saying inst input doesn't have enough gain for passive guitar or bass. Wonder if that's accurate.

Last edited by VTNate; 10th February 2018 at 04:37 AM.. Reason: Adding to
Old 10th February 2018
  #18
Lives for gear
I’m thinking no. Looks like it’s got different features than the 200, like the separate solid state and tube paths. But maybe it’s supposed to have the same or similar sound to the 200 for the tube path? I don’t know as I’ve not read much about it or used it. Perhaps there’s something in a GS thread about it.
Old 10th February 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

I guess it's different but reading some good things about the 2ba-221. I hadn't been looking at Summit. I might grab one used and see how I like it.
Old 10th February 2018
  #20
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MarkF48's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTNate View Post
Seeing a couple 2ba-221 on dbay. Same pre in single? Looks like a good versatile pre for my needs and under budget. Couple reviews saying inst input doesn't have enough gain for passive guitar or bass. Wonder if that's accurate.
I have a 2BA-221 I've been using a bit more lately. Good options for different ways to hook it up and does have an impedance loading control on the mic input which can give some variation to the sound of some mics. I hadn't used the instrument input much, but plugged in a bass with passive PU's this morning and was able to get reasonable gain with the input gain up most of the way and the tube output at about 2-3 o'clock.
Old 10th February 2018
  #21
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkF48 View Post
I have a 2BA-221 I've been using a bit more lately. Good options for different ways to hook it up and does have an impedance loading control on the mic input which can give some variation to the sound of some mics. I hadn't used the instrument input much, but plugged in a bass with passive PU's this morning and was able to get reasonable gain with the input gain up most of the way and the tube output at about 2-3 o'clock.
Thanks for checking the DI. I'm leaning toward this unit at the moment. Could prob resell without a loss if it wasn't for me.
Old 10th February 2018
  #22
Gear Head
 

Just pulled the trigger on 2BA-221. Was a good deal used and had the money without waiting to sell any more gear and can get couple other things I need like FW Deep Talkin' Bass strings . I'll report back how it works out. Appreciate the advice here.

Last edited by VTNate; 17th February 2018 at 11:41 AM..
Old 10th February 2018
  #23
Lives for gear
Great. Let us know what you think.
Old 15th February 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
Own a Tonebeast and WA87. No issues whatsoever.
Old 16th February 2018
  #25
Gear Head
 

Nice. Definitely wasn't trying to be negative about WA but I had read a couple things when I was searching around. I'll probably end up getting one of their preamps and maybe a WA 87 if I can afford it. Got the Summit today and got a chance to test it out. Seems good so far and works as expected. More options than some others I was looking at but can be simple if I ignore the extra outputs etc. I'll follow up once I've put it through the paces.
Old 16th February 2018
  #26
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTNate View Post
I know this has been covered and I've been researching on and off for years now. I've tried various cheap preamps over the years without finding that they are beneficial compared to my interface. I was very excited about the soon to be released Warm Audio WA73. I think this would be perfect for me as it's simple but has the basic functions I'm looking for such as an insert which some others don't include. I have read some stuff about the quality control/reliability of the WA stuff though that's making me hesitate.

I have a saffire pro 40 interface. I feel like I can get decent clean sound out of this if I want it so I'm leaning toward a colored preamp. I'm just a home/hobby recording but I want a pre I don't have to always wonder if it could be better. I'm not going to spend 2k on a preamp. I've got some things for sale now including a modified Presonus Eureka (too many knobs, want something more simple). So once they sell I'm hoping to have around $600 for this purchase. I'll probably go used unless I end up getting the WA73.

I record vocals, guitars and bass mostly. Would be nice to have something with a good DI for bass but definitely want something that will be good for vocals. I've got an FMR RNC so I'd like something with an insert to add comp on the way in to pro40. I've got an NT1A, , NT5, Joly modified MXL990 and some dynamic mics.

Going back and forth but leaning in this order presently

Daking Mic Pre One (gets lots of praise, too clean?)

UA Solo/610 (like the idea of adding lots of color if wanted)

ISA one (most affordable but afraid it would be too boring or not obviously different than interface preamps).

Grace M101 (too clean?)

I know many of you have been in the same boat. I really want something I can hear is clearly better than the interface and feel confident about using.



I have a ton of experience with vintage Neves.

I just heard this, get the Warm WA73. Or better yet a WA273. It sounds "right". I have never heard a clone get close to my old units until now.

Old 16th February 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTNate View Post
I was very excited about the soon to be released Warm Audio WA73. I think this would be perfect for me as it's simple but has the basic functions I'm looking for such as an insert which some others don't include. I have read some stuff about the quality control/reliability of the WA stuff though that's making me hesitate.
I predict the WA73 will be a killer product. You can't beat a 1073 for good overall preamplification with almost any microphone. The Wave Audio stuff is made very well and reliability is excellent. I have not heard of any consistent problems. You can always upgrade to better parts like better caps if you want an even better sound. When they come out, I may get one, though I already have several Neve Channels in my setup.
Old 16th February 2018
  #28
Gear Head
 

I might have splurged for the WA73 but I really wanted to get something in hand while feeling motivated. Definitely will be looking at that though for a next or second outboard pre.
Old 16th February 2018
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Just chiming in for future reference with my 3 most used pres. As far as an interface, the Apollo Twin preamps sound really good to me. Clean and clear. My favorite combination with the Apollo has been using the UA 610a plugin in unison mode. I had an Isa One and to me, also gave a clean sound, a little more airy but ok. My favorite is the Daking mic pre one. Sounds full and rich, sort of silky. They are all subtlety different, but that's my take. I agree with others, the WA73 sounds like a no brainer. I'm just waiting to listen to a few user reviews and demos before grabbing the 2 channel version.
Old 17th February 2018
  #30
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
I just heard this, get the Warm WA73. Or better yet a WA273. It sounds "right". I have never heard a clone get close to my old units until now.
]
Thanks for sharing the video. I've listened a couple times and it sounds fantastic. Makes WA look good and also good for Troy as he's on my radar now. Hell of a singer. I bet he would sound great through anything but here's the signal chain from the youtube notes.

Vocal chain -- WA-87 Condenser Microphone -- WA273 Mic Pre -- WA-2A Opto Compressor
Guitar chain -- WA-47 Tube Condenser Microphone -- WA273 Mic Pre -- WA-2A Opto Compressor
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