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Preamp priced between 100 - 200? Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 12th February 2018
  #1
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Preamp priced between 100 - 200?

Are there any decent microphone preamps for vocals out there between 100 - 200?
Old 12th February 2018
  #2
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagetones View Post
Are there any decent microphone preamps for vocals out there between 100 - 200?
Not really. Sorry. Even with things getting better and better, and often cheaper and cheaper in recent years with analog gear....that's really not possible for the criteria I would want first. Maybe a low level API clone you could build yourself...maybe. But it's just not what I would want first.

I would look at units by Warm Audio and Stam Audio if you can save up a bit more.

CAPI preamps and Seventh Circle Audio would also be good choices if you are handy with a soldering iron and aren't afraid to try to build your own with the help of some youtube tutorials.

If you can put together $600 I would call Seventh Circle Audio and ask them to make a "ONE SHOT" handheld N72 for you. (you'd need a bit more for shipping).

That's a VERY good Neve 1272 preamp clone, and I've been very public about dozens of those types of designs, and why many of them are simply overpriced/don't deliver the goods. That unit is worth the money and then some.

Also there's a great looking N72 with a custom wood enclosure for pro looks in the GS classified ($450 is a steal).

Amazing Seventh Circle Audio N72 Preamp in One Shot Chassis and Dark Wood Enclosure (<---- LINK TO THE LEFT UNDERLINED)


If you can spend about a Grand and need two channels I would look at Stam and Warm Audio carefully with their new Neve style designs. Paying more for the custom Sowter transformer is highly advisable with the Stam, it's just a better/more authentic to a vintage Neve sound, and the depth of field/realism will outshine even the Seventh Circle N72. The new Warm unit looks to be very similar in design to the upgraded Stam with custom output transformers and Bryce is a gentleman and scholar, so I would trust he's put time into trying to get it right too.

I wouldn't worry about spending more for an EQ, but having two channels is far more powerful for stereo mic technique alone than having just one.

If this is primarily for vocals I would go in a "Neve" kind of direction first personally if possible. I can get into technical reasons why that's advisable, especially if you have a lower budget if you want. Feel free to PM me.

There's plenty of great preamp designs, I just think this would marry well with most inexpensive microphones to get a usable sound.
Old 13th February 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Not really. Sorry. Even with things getting better and better, and often cheaper and cheaper in recent years with analog gear....that's really not possible for the criteria I would want first. Maybe a low level API clone you could build yourself...maybe. But it's just not what I would want first.

I would look at units by Warm Audio and Stam Audio if you can save up a bit more.

CAPI preamps and Seventh Circle Audio would also be good choices if you are handy with a soldering iron and aren't afraid to try to build your own with the help of some youtube tutorials.

If you can put together $600 I would call Seventh Circle Audio and ask them to make a "ONE SHOT" handheld N72 for you. (you'd need a bit more for shipping).

That's a VERY good Neve 1272 preamp clone, and I've been very public about dozens of those types of designs, and why many of them are simply overpriced/don't deliver the goods. That unit is worth the money and then some.

Also there's a great looking N72 with a custom wood enclosure for pro looks in the GS classified ($450 is a steal).

Amazing Seventh Circle Audio N72 Preamp in One Shot Chassis and Dark Wood Enclosure (<---- LINK TO THE LEFT UNDERLINED)


If you can spend about a Grand and need two channels I would look at Stam and Warm Audio carefully with their new Neve style designs. Paying more for the custom Sowter transformer is highly advisable with the Stam, it's just a better/more authentic to a vintage Neve sound, and the depth of field/realism will outshine even the Seventh Circle N72. The new Warm unit looks to be very similar in design to the upgraded Stam with custom output transformers and Bryce is a gentleman and scholar, so I would trust he's put time into trying to get it right too.

I wouldn't worry about spending more for an EQ, but having two channels is far more powerful for stereo mic technique alone than having just one.

If this is primarily for vocals I would go in a "Neve" kind of direction first personally if possible. I can get into technical reasons why that's advisable, especially if you have a lower budget if you want. Feel free to PM me.

There's plenty of great preamp designs, I just think this would marry well with most inexpensive microphones to get a usable sound.
My current USB interface has a few preamps built in. What would be the need of me going to the effort of buying more preamps to feed into preamps?
Old 13th February 2018
  #4
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TurboJets's Avatar
Absolutely. The Electro Harmonix 12AY7 Tube Mic Pre is under $200 and great for vocals IMO. I think you'll have to buy Used.

Also, the Audient iD boxes feature really decent preamps and the iD4 is less than $200 I believe. Plus you get a fantastic JFET DI. The preamps are the most "analog" sounding interface pre's I've heard yet.
Old 13th February 2018
  #5
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FMR RNP all day long.... 2 channels and great!....
Old 13th February 2018
  #6
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Old 14th February 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagetones View Post
My current USB interface has a few preamps built in. What would be the need of me going to the effort of buying more preamps to feed into preamps?
If you capture a vocal (for example) with an exceptional preamp, that is the initial sound that your “vanilla” interface preamps or line-ins are perfectly capable of reproducing. They can’t create that initial sound, but they can reproduce it and get it into your DAW. That’s why the hits are still hits, even on a crappy system. The initial capture is where a character preamp adds some mojo. There isn’t an “un-mojo” circuit in any interface.
Old 14th February 2018
  #8
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Absolutely. The Electro Harmonix 12AY7 Tube Mic Pre is under $200 and great for vocals IMO. I think you'll have to buy Used.

Also, the Audient iD boxes feature really decent preamps and the iD4 is less than $200 I believe. Plus you get a fantastic JFET DI. The preamps are the most "analog" sounding interface pre's I've heard yet.
Haven't tried The Electro Harmonix. I'm not saying it's bad or anything (I wouldn't know), but I'm wary of cheaper tube designs. I find that solid state preamps typically work far better until you start hitting more of a boutique level in term of tube based designs. I've had bad experiences with cheaper tube units, and artists using them prior to sending me sessions that would have sounded better tracked off of interface preamps.

The Audient is really good in terms of it's preamp design. I know that there's some reliability issues in terms of longevity unit to unit (some last forever, some don't. It's mass manufactured. So take care of it while it's under warranty).

I didn't list the lower tier one channel Audient because I thought we were talking about external preamps only. But I agree that it's above a lot of similarly priced designs for sure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardis View Post
FMR RNP all day long.... 2 channels and great!....
Awesome stuff. The FMR RNP is actually a high end design. Worth way more than the price tag. Great DI's on them too, not just preamps. But I would say that's the single best dual channel unit sub $500 anyone can buy.

If you need two channels for stereo, get the FMR.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Strick9 View Post
That N72 has sold already. I saw it on reverb and it went quick.


Bummer.

Last edited by herecomesyourman; 14th February 2018 at 09:12 AM..
Old 14th February 2018
  #9
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razorboy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagetones View Post
My current USB interface has a few preamps built in. What would be the need of me going to the effort of buying more preamps to feed into preamps?
The first job of a preamp is to increase the power/size of the signal, otherwise only a dog could hear it. Most outboard preamps discussed here, however, are lusted after because they lend some particular flavor to the signal and thus to the sound. That's why people buy them and pay what they would pay to buy an apartment in Kampala. Preamp lust is much like electric guitar lust, but less well known.
Old 14th February 2018
  #10
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Find a used M-Audio DMP-3 for < $100. Not a giant killer, but still does a decent job.
Old 14th February 2018
  #11
Here for the gear
I would go with: Digital MPA-II
ART Pro Audio
for the money you cant go wrong. in many high end blind tests this unit won over many.
Link: ART Pro MPA2 |
If you replace the tubes with JJ's 12ax7's this baby purrs like a kitten.
I have other high end preamps and still today I go back to this unit.
hope this helps

From Sound on Sound
"Despite its relatively low cost, the ART Pro MPA2 delivers on both sound quality and versatility. It doesn't match the transparency of some of the more costly high‑end preamps, but it gets close enough for most home studio applications — and out-performs many audio interface on‑board preamps — while also having the ability to produce very controllable tube character. The two tube‑voltage options provide another subtle but useful variation in tonality, and the variable input impedance is invaluable for use with passive ribbon mics or other insensitive dynamic models.

I was also pleased to see the M/S facility built‑in, as M/S recording is a very useful technique that's often neglected in the smaller studio; having on‑board decoding means that anyone with a suitable figure‑of‑eight mic plus one other mic can have a go and hear the benefits of this approach for themselves.

You may not feel you need an additional mic preamp if you have some built into your audio interface already, but I find that many of the mic amps built into audio interfaces, especially at the more affordable end of the market, are susceptible to picking up digital interference from the Firewire or USB circuitry when run at high gain settings — and this, again, is a particular problem when using passive ribbon mics. The MPA Pro 2 would be an ideal remedy for that particular disease.

Verdict
In a nutshell, the Pro MPA2 is great value for money. Not only does it sound pretty good, but it's one of the few budget tube preamps to run the tubes at a suitable voltage, and it's extremely versatile, with several useful tricks tucked up its sleeve that many of its competitors lack."

Last edited by Templeisland; 14th February 2018 at 04:18 PM.. Reason: new info
Old 14th February 2018
  #12
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dickiefunk's Avatar
I picked up an Audient Mico secondhand for £180 and it is my favourite preamp that I’ve owned (previous preamps were Focusrite Liquid Channel, ISA One, UA Solo 610, GAP PRE73 mk1, ART MPA Gold, SPL Goldmike, Presonus Eureka and DMP3).

None of the others were bad preamps but the Audient gives me the widest range of tones. It is the cleanest, most detailed detailed and transparent sounding of the preamps I’ve owned but can sound noticeably thicker more rounded with the HMX feature. It also has two channels, and built in A/D converters.

From the others I have tried I liked the ISA One, SPL Goldmike and Presonus Eureka the most. The GAP PRE-73 was also potentially a great preamp though mine was one of the early ones with the grounding issue. This has been rectified on the newer models and I’m considering trying one again.
Old 14th February 2018
  #13
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
Haven't tried The Electro Harmonix. I'm not saying it's bad or anything (I wouldn't know), but I'm wary of cheaper tube designs.
Not a starved plate design, 2 tube stages, definitely has a magic to it. No need to be "wary".
Old 14th February 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I picked up an Audient Mico secondhand for £180 and it is my favourite preamp that I’ve owned (previous preamps were Focusrite Liquid Channel, ISA One, UA Solo 610, GAP PRE73 mk1, ART MPA Gold, SPL Goldmike, Presonus Eureka and DMP3).

None of the others were bad preamps but the Audient gives me the widest range of tones. It is the cleanest, most detailed detailed and transparent sounding of the preamps I’ve owned but can sound noticeably thicker more rounded with the HMX feature. It also has two channels, and built in A/D converters.

From the others I have tried I liked the ISA One, SPL Goldmike and Presonus Eureka the most. The GAP PRE-73 was also potentially a great preamp though mine was one of the early ones with the grounding issue. This has been rectified on the newer models and I’m considering trying one again.
I don’t have the Audient, but I have had much the same experience. I have owned five of the preamps you list. I sold all but the ISA after I bought a Steinberg interface. Each preamp sounded a slight bit different, but after much comparison, I thought “different” didn’t equal “better”for anything apart from the ISA and a True Precision, which is so clean it sounds sterile but has an excellent DI.
I eBay’d everything else. Why deal with extra cabling and boxes if it doesn’t make the sound distinctly better? The PreSonus Eureka was almost a keeper, but my fat fingers didn’t play well with the tiny knobs (I HAD to keep the fingers!).
Old 14th February 2018
  #15
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Yes the Presonus Eureka is surprisingly good. I picked one up for £120! I’ve also seen an ISA One go for £200.
Old 14th February 2018
  #16
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Not a starved plate design, 2 tube stages, definitely has a magic to it. No need to be "wary".

Good to hear. Most Presonus, Behringer, and like style tube preamp designs which were popularized in recent years for example are pretty darn terrible sounding to my ears (sorry to any who might own them, and I'm not trying to flame about it, just going off of what I know I'm hearing). I'm not saying you couldn't get an intentionally low fi thing out of them...but I didn't like any results clients were getting in terms of tracks I was given to mix.

I'm also not a snob about owning the most expensive things Vs. cost effective solutions. But I know my craft and had serious training under one of the worlds best mixing engineers...and I've developed professional software (some award winning) for nearly a decade now. If there's a cost effective way to get somewhere I say take it. But make sure you actually get there.
Old 14th February 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
Yes the Presonus Eureka is surprisingly good. I picked one up for £120! I’ve also seen an ISA One go for £200.
I'm so sorry, not trying to be jerk here I promise...but I hated the Eureka. It just was not for me. The ISA is a good unit though in my opinion.
Old 14th February 2018
  #18
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the DAV preamp is also super ind inexpensive per channel. When I was looking that was another one. I actually got a UA 610 Solo that is wonderful, if I was going for a different color I'd go for Daking. Way above the price range....... Audient's are inexpensive and have conversion as does the Tascam converter which is not much used......clean is good!
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