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Chossing a decent preamp under 700$ Single-Channel Preamps
Old 11th March 2018
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Chossing a decent preamp under 700$

I'm looking for a pretty decent preamp to record my album. To get the picture, right now I'm working with the 18i20 audio interface and my go-to microphone is a RODE NT2-A. With that being said, I feel like something is missing in my audio quality when recording. So I have this debate in my mind whether invest in a more expensive mic or a good preamp. I decided that a preamp would help my recordings soung warmer and more good. Maybe I'll invest in a better mic in the near future.

Now the questions are:
1. Will the preamp help my NT2A with my vocals and guitars?
2. Does the 18i20 input gain must be all the way down in order to bypass the internal preamp? Also, I found that the 48V switch must be turned off when using the external preamp.

My list of preamps in my budget are:

ART Pro MPA II
ART Pro Channel II (though i don't know if it's worth investing in something with EQ and Comp built-in)
SPL Goldmike 9844
Focusrite Isa One

The questions are:
3. Which one would you recommend me from the list above and why?
4. Do you guys have other recommendations?
Old 11th March 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Wink

Still a sleeper pre... Aphex107. Chris
Old 11th March 2018
  #3
Gear Addict
of those, I would take the focusrite, or maybe the goldmike but I've never used it.

If you shop used there are tons of options. Channels strips can definitely give you more options and can make more obvious changes to the signal than just a preamp switch, but you can also make more mistakes with them.
Daking is a great preamp I think in your budget. If you shop used there's a lot more to look at. I think DBX made a good channel strip that didn't sell well and can be bought cheap. Also a used BLUE Robbie is a very good preamp.
Old 11th March 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
DougS's Avatar
 

Daking Mic Pre One or the ISA One

If your interface has dedicated line ins - of course, use those.
If you cannot bypass the interface's preamps - keep the interface preamps at Unity and use the gain on the external preamp for all adjustments. Unity is usually where the interface's built-in preamps have the best signal-to-noise ratio.

If you can swing it - look at a channel strip with Pre and Compressor.
Old 12th March 2018
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Jake_SJL's Avatar
 

Ye out of those, id get the ISA one, if you can find a digital version, even better, you can use the spdif or adat out of the isa one to bypass the converters and preamps on the interface.

It’s a great sounding preamp with lots of great features, huge step up from typical interface pres.
Old 12th March 2018
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Cool. I thought about it but let's talk a bit more about it. And if we ignore the ISA One, what would choose between the rest of the options from my list? How's the MikeTube and the ART PRO MPA II handling the sound?
Old 12th March 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
Warm Audio WA12. (No TB12, I doubt you need all of those options... WA12 should be enough for voice)

And get a Mike Joly mod on the mic. I'm not sure if he does the NT2-a, but definitely worth the inquiry from what I read.

Together it puts you over $700 but not by far, and that should be as good of a sound as you could hope for at this mid-range budget. I would space it out and get the preamp first, then the mic 1-2 paychecks later, so you don't feel the full hit. Or order from somewhere like American Musical Supply or somewhere else with a good payment plan. Their interest free 8-pay for the WA12 is $58/month. That + the Mike Joly mod is about $475 for the initial hit (include taxes up front on the WA12), and $58/month for the remaining payments.

Next stop would be stepping up your A/D conversion but that can probably wait. I did preamp & conversaion upgrade all in one shot and it blew my mind (TB12 + BLA Red Sparrow mkii).
Old 12th March 2018
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
I don't know guys. I only heard and recorded with the Goldmike and the ISA One, but not at the same time to have a A/B comparison. I know nothing about the ART Pro MPA II, rather than it's a decent preamp. This is though because it's not a cheap investment and I wanna make sure I choose the right thing for my studio.
By the way, besides voices, I also record guitar (or other instruments) with my mic.
Old 16th March 2018
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
The GoldMike must have the tubes changed after some time?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
I took the decision to buy the Warm Audio TB12 and hook it up to my 18i20. The microphones that I'll use will be the Rode NT2A, the Audio Technica AE5400 and the Neumann TLM 102 (which i'm planning to buy in the future).

Now the questions remains:

1. Will the preamp help my NT2A with my vocals and guitars?
2. Does the 18i20 input gain must be all the way down in order to bypass the internal preamp? Also, I found that the 48V switch must be turned off when using the external preamp. How do I bypass the internal preamps in order to use TB12's one
3. What do you think about this unit. Does anyone use the Warm Audio stuff? Worth the purchase?

Thanks!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 
esldude's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreineagu View Post
I took the decision to buy the Warm Audio TB12 and hook it up to my 18i20. The microphones that I'll use will be the Rode NT2A, the Audio Technica AE5400 and the Neumann TLM 102 (which i'm planning to buy in the future).

Now the questions remains:

1. Will the preamp help my NT2A with my vocals and guitars?
2. Does the 18i20 input gain must be all the way down in order to bypass the internal preamp? Also, I found that the 48V switch must be turned off when using the external preamp. How do I bypass the internal preamps in order to use TB12's one
3. What do you think about this unit. Does anyone use the Warm Audio stuff? Worth the purchase?

Thanks!
I don't think you can bypass the preamp in the 18i20. If memory serves me, straight up 12 o'clock is unity gain on the 18i20 (I have a 1st gen version). This is what you want is unity gain. This by the way is feeding line in on the 18i20 which is how you'll want to send signal from the TB12. Use the TRS out from the TB 12 to the TRS input on the 18i20 with that one set to 12 o'clock on the gain knob of the 18i20.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
JAT
Lives for gear
A better preamp can help on vocals/guitar recording. Or anything you record. The TB has transformers (in fact you can choose which one or none) which … "round' out the sound usually. It is not necessarily better, but is a familiar stamp on sound heard in professional recordings. I'll often run the TB w/o transformers because my other pres have transformers, and use the choice of op amps etc. to dial in the sound. But anything on the radio has likely been tracked or shuffled through some outboard w/ transformers.

Outboard pres usually have other good points, too. More gain, so you can use the room (next stop- room treatment), and you can run into the red without crapping out, etc. etc.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
I use to have a Focusrite Octopre MKII and I had to measure myself where unity gain was for real, I asked Focusrite support but they didn't really know it (now they do because I told them but probably only for the Octopre)
anyway, it was not at 12 o'clock
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
I don't think you can bypass the preamp in the 18i20. If memory serves me, straight up 12 o'clock is unity gain on the 18i20 (I have a 1st gen version). This is what you want is unity gain. This by the way is feeding line in on the 18i20 which is how you'll want to send signal from the TB12. Use the TRS out from the TB 12 to the TRS input on the 18i20 with that one set to 12 o'clock on the gain knob of the 18i20.
By TB12's TRS do you mean the one in the front or the one on the back?
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Addict
 
esldude's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreineagu View Post
By TB12's TRS do you mean the one in the front or the one on the back?
I am referring to the TRS output on the back of the TB12 and fed into a TRS Line input on the 18i20.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
If you got the space for it the old Yamaha EM300 and it's smaller siblings in the same series can do wonders softening up some of the plastic like treble on cheaper condenser and generally adding a bit of trafo 'meat' to the signal.

By no means a fancy piece of hear but an interesting one. As a bonus has a lot of gain and can drive an old ribbon without too many problems. It's a bit filthy but used with care doesn't sound cheap or lofi. Can be huge on electric guitar and if you drive the pres you can get really close to the guitar sound of The Stooges with just an AC15.
Decent graphic EQ and a chappy spring reverb that can have its uses.

Downside is that you need an external phantom power but they can be had for next to nothing. Mine are still going after seven years.

Got decent mics and a proper console now but my old Yamaha still sees frequent use as a pre and never had any complaints... at least when leaving the spring reverb off
Old 1 week ago
  #17
ISA One would probably be my most confident choice....with a nice DI. All kinds of gain.... SOS did a huge drum article and chose ISA 428, so that says something imo.

ART MPA can sound great and its two channels SOS had a great article on that years ago.

Ive had both and ISA One just built like a professional heavy metal unit and simple. ART was lighter, my VU had issues, but it sounded fine....good gain.
the APHEX 107 mentioned above had a bit more HiFi sound and needs a louder source, but like the sound.

Had the Pro Channel and the one up and they lost the simplicity imo and the EQ imo for my low skills is better left off...MPA was simple and easier, maybe slap a VLA on it would be helpful?

Going clean I think you can save some money because theres not much going on anyway....RANE DMS22 for $150 or something or whatever clean IC chip circuits can do for you.

ISA stuff is clean but with a sound that works. Sometimes you can grab a ISA Two for $500 or a ISA One for $275...but seems prices have bumped up lately.
MPA + VLA for $400 is pretty attractive in the Low End..

Never tried the Goldmike you listed.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 

I had the MPA II and Aphex 107. The Art was always preferred but the Aphex was decent sounding. Aphex was leaner and more airy, the Art was rounder, warmer, more girth.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
rafferty's Avatar
Well under 700 you could get a Blaack lion audio b12a (api sound alike) or a b173 (neve 1073 sound alike) both of them are great. For a more transparent preamp you could try a grace m101. The isa one is great, transparent but it does tame a little bit bright microphones and add a little transformer character. The Warm audio TB12 is a great option because you can select between more than one “color” options.


The rode mic you have, sounds great, so by adding a preamp you’ll get awesome results.


PD: Sorry, for answering after you bought the preamp, missed the part of the post that says that you buyed the tb12.
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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mikeyman's Avatar
 

I vote for the Black Lion B173 maybe you can find a used unit
Old 6 days ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by andreineagu View Post
The GoldMike must have the tubes changed after some time?
after 50 years maybe yes
Old 5 days ago
  #22
TB12 should handle some various tracking tones....good choice!
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