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SM Pro Audio gear - any good? Multi-Channel Preamps
Old 31st August 2007
  #1
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headwerkn's Avatar
SM Pro Audio gear - any good?

I'm in the process of setting up a mobile PT tracking rack which I can rent out to bands who want to record demos or whatnot... it's pretty basic, Digi001 and Powermac G4/OS9/PT 5.1, minimal outlay so it's affordable to rent out and not a huge risk, but can still get tracks down for mixing on more modern systems later.

Anyhoo, I want the 'solution' to have 16 mic ins, all recordable at once, which means some kind of analog-to-ADAT converter and extra pres. The Behringer ADA8000 came to mind but I'd rather not go that way for obvious reasons... searching around I discovered SM Pro Audio the following products:

EP84 8 channel mic pre - SM Pro Audio - EP84

PR8IIA - A/D ADAT board for EP84 -
SM Pro Audio - PR8IIA

PR8E - 8 channel mic pre -
SM Pro Audio - PR8E

The EP84+PR8IIA would give 8 mics into the 001's ADAT in and the PR8E would give another 8 for the analog line connections - for less than AU$1200. The Australian RRPs for these are pretty darn good - but do they sound any good? Anyone got any experience with them? I'm not after super high quality, just clean and 'not crap'.

Cheers, Ben.
Old 4th September 2007
  #2
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jitterybit's Avatar
we have their hp6 headphone amp and have been very happy with it.
sounds better than the headphone out on the 002r

all i can say
Old 5th September 2007
  #3
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hgen's Avatar
 

The Preamps are great, full bandwidth and low noise. Can't fault them at the price, and probably as good as Mackie Onyx imo.
Old 6th September 2007
  #4
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Sad but true, but the SM Pro Audio Preamps are serious crap. Your signal will degrade to the worsest homerecording quality. It has no dimension and is lifeless and boring. You cant get rid off this by using plugins or other hardware fx.
But many other preamps do this too. In the preamp world, quality has its price. I only use my SM PRo Audio for Drum triggering...
I doubt that the mackies sound this bad...
Old 6th September 2007
  #5
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hgen's Avatar
 

They are good for drums, which are going to be fixed with sound replacer anyway because us low enders don't have decent drum rooms anyway. I put the overheads thru i88x preamps the rest thru the sm pro uadio preamp, fix it with sound replacer neve sample drums and viola', I ROCK!!
Old 6th September 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hgen View Post
They are good for drums, which are going to be fixed with sound replacer anyway because us low enders don't have decent drum rooms anyway. I put the overheads thru i88x preamps the rest thru the sm pro uadio preamp, fix it with sound replacer neve sample drums and viola', I ROCK!!
Wow, I didn't know that "Low end" = "Low effort"

Old 6th September 2007
  #7
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frans's Avatar
Australia? That means a BlackLionAudio mod is too costly because of the postage and customs. But you can look the mods up on the net and have someone with solid knowledge and a soldering iron help you out.
Old 6th September 2007
  #8
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgen View Post
They are good for drums, which are going to be fixed with sound replacer anyway because us low enders don't have decent drum rooms anyway. I put the overheads thru i88x preamps the rest thru the sm pro uadio preamp, fix it with sound replacer neve sample drums and viola', I ROCK!!
Hehe, this rocked for me too many times :-) (although different overheads)...

SM Pro Audio should label them "DRSA-8", like Drum Replacement Signal Amplifier...

Seriously we made a test between the SM PR8 MKII and the newer black one. I phoned SM PRO and they said the black one is a huge improvement. lmao

We tested both. The black one has some more upper mids and less lower mids.
But they both distroy your signal... no kidding

Well, but whats an alternative if price counts?
Old 6th September 2007
  #9
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headwerkn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
Australia? That means a BlackLionAudio mod is too costly because of the postage and customs. But you can look the mods up on the net and have someone with solid knowledge and a soldering iron help you out.
I've already spoken to the guys from BlackLionAudio... they can do the same PR8E mod to the EP84, which is cool. The modification isn't what you'd call cheap but AU$900+US$350+say AU$100 postage for 8 genuinely good mic pres and lightpipe AD isn't exactly unreasonable either.... I can't think of many good 8ch mic pres with ADAT out for under AU$2K.

Customs would be interesting. Technically you're not importing the item, merely bringing it into the USA for 'repair' then mailing back to Australia where it was originally purchased in the first place. Australia is pretty generous with customs, I think the free limit is AU$1000 value before they want a slice of the pie.
Old 6th September 2007
  #10
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taturana's Avatar
Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by headwerkn View Post
Customs would be interesting. Technically you're not importing the item, merely bringing it into the USA for 'repair' then mailing back to Australia where it was originally purchased in the first place. Australia is pretty generous with customs, I think the free limit is AU$1000 value before they want a slice of the pie.
damn... i wish brazilian customs was like that... they charge 60% over the price and postage... and you would not believe the kind of bureaucratic s**t they make you go through.

any piece of equipment costs here about 3 times the U.S. price... plus we get paid about half of what people get paid in the Us for the same thing...
it´s not easy being a gear slut here...
Old 6th September 2007
  #11
XJR
Gear Maniac
 

I built exactly what you are gonna build, pictures here :

http://www.thesuperheroesonline.co.uk/angle.jpg


http://www.thesuperheroesonline.co.uk/side.jpg


I used a Dell Optiplex rather than a Mac, which is rubber mounted into a 19" rack tray. The audio drive is in one of those removable caddies so the session can be pulled out and put in the TDM system I have. In most cases though I do a lot of mixing with the rack system as it is. Although it's only a 2.8Ghz P4 it can handle quite a few plugs before running out of power.

Your right to be suspicious about the ADA8000, the unit I had in there went wrong only three days after the rack was built !! Shame cos it's such a useful unit if you need ADAT I also looked at the SM Pro unit but didn't go for it due to the Behringer offering better gain control.

The Digi 001 and Protools has been rock solid though, it works first time every time and so far hasn't ever stopped or crashed during all the live gigs I've recorded.
Although I will keep this unit I've actually just got some bits to build a TDM version of the same thing. A D24 and a couple of DSP Farm cards, which support 32 channels of in \ out without having to use ADAT or SPDIF
Old 7th September 2007
  #12
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hgen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisc_o View Post
Wow, I didn't know that "Low end" = "Low effort"

I'll let you in on a Trade secret. Even the BIG Studios use sound replacer, in fact probably 80 - 90 % of the time for Rock and Pop, even though its been recorded thru an SSL in a time alligned drum booth with gold plated microphones! keep it under ya hat ok! And it takes alot more effort and know how to get sound replacer samples just right than it does to record a kit! Recording a kit is a piece of piss!
Old 7th September 2007
  #13
no.. a lot of designfaults in their products.. actually I think Behringer has the better development team for budget gear.
Old 7th September 2007
  #14
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hgen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
no.. a lot of designfaults in their products.. actually I think Behringer has the better development team for budget gear.
Which products are those George?

Back to the topic, I think the SM Pro Audio mic pres sound fantastic, with a warm mic, almost outstanding notwithstanding theyre the bargain of the century.

The Behringer pre's are clean, but kinda brittle, you don't hear it until you realise that nothing will sit in the track properly, everything is edgy. I've mixed 12 songs from ad8000 from 3 different bands. I hate it, it sounds wirey and lifeless in fact my old 001 tracks sound better apart from being a little noisy, at least theres a sweetness you can draw out from it. Likewise the SM Pro Audio which is very clean.
Old 7th September 2007
  #15
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Ok,

i found a listening test weve done 4 weeks ago.
Maybe youre interested:

www.consolstudios.de/test834.rar

Its about SM Pro Audio PR8mkII, EP84, DAV and Vox box.
Old 8th September 2007
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by headwerkn View Post
I've already spoken to the guys from BlackLionAudio... they can do the same PR8E mod to the EP84, which is cool. The modification isn't what you'd call cheap but AU$900+US$350+say AU$100 postage for 8 genuinely good mic pres and lightpipe AD isn't exactly unreasonable either.... I can't think of many good 8ch mic pres with ADAT out for under AU$2K.

Customs would be interesting. Technically you're not importing the item, merely bringing it into the USA for 'repair' then mailing back to Australia where it was originally purchased in the first place. Australia is pretty generous with customs, I think the free limit is AU$1000 value before they want a slice of the pie.
DId you end up following through with the BLA mod? im really tempted to send my 002R over, but im trying to justify the price...
Old 8th September 2007
  #17
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entropy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by headwerkn View Post
.... I can't think of many good 8ch mic pres with ADAT out for under AU$2K.
Presonus Digimax FS? I'm not telling you it's a "great" pre but more than exceptable for the $$$

EP84? I've never used it but a customer of mine bought one with the ADAT card and had nothing but grief. They returned it when they tried to engage phantom power and the magic smoke was released
Old 8th September 2007
  #18
Here for the gear
 

My local pro audio music retailer said they stopped stocking SM PRO Audio gear because they had too much trouble with dodgy gear coming in.

That's got me wary about getting any of their gear now but I was very tempted.
Old 9th September 2007
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by beefybassandsub View Post
My local pro audio music retailer said they stopped stocking SM PRO Audio gear because they had too much trouble with dodgy gear coming in.

That's got me wary about getting any of their gear now but I was very tempted.
Old 9th September 2007
  #20
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headwerkn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by XJR View Post
I built exactly what you are gonna build
man, that's sweet! where did you source the cool slide out monitor rack thing? they're designed for server installations, yeah?

no, haven't done the mod yet - don't own any SM Pro gear currently. some of the responses here haven't exactly filled me with confidence. obviously i like to support local Australian companies where possible but not by laying over cash for crappy products. might just be a quality control issue with initial batches. hmmm... maybe I'll give them a call and ask directly ;-).

might check out that Presonus too.
Old 9th September 2007
  #21
can I convince you with an Audient ASP008? or not your pricerange.?
Old 9th September 2007
  #22
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headwerkn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
can I convince you with an Audient ASP008? or not your pricerange.?
if you kick in the extra grand... ;-) bit out of my price for this project.
Old 9th September 2007
  #23
ok.. because it rocks.. I have one

give me your paypal hehheh
Old 9th September 2007
  #24
XJR
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by headwerkn View Post
man, that's sweet! where did you source the cool slide out monitor rack thing? they're designed for server installations, yeah?
I just bolted a standard 75mm Vesa monitor swivel stand into a 19" rack drawer so it was cheap tp make. Most LCD monitors allow you to remove the stand they come with and bolt to a different type, normally Vesa 75mm standard

You can buy stuff like that already built minus the monitor though, here in the UK I use Farnell / Electronic Component Distributors / Suppliers / Electronics, Electrical Parts, Electrical Components and Wholesale Electronics.
Old 19th May 2008
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Kind of hate to say this but my SM Pro Audio PR8E's would give bland Audient
pre's a run for there money.

I swapped out all the 4558 chips and put 5532, LM6172's, OP275's and LM4562's, put NPO caps in and it's as good if not better than anything I have heard in an 8 pre unit.

To be honest, as stock it's not the greatest but with a little effort and not a lot of expenditure I have 24 pre's that EASILY rival Mackie Onyx and I have flavor too.
Old 19th May 2008
  #26
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Corran's Avatar
 

Documentation and pictures of your mod would be greatly appreciated by this community I'm sure if it makes these into quality pres...pretty soon I'm going to need 24 mobile pres for a new location system I'm building.
Old 24th May 2008
  #27
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I use the SM Pro Audio M Patch 2, it's a monitor controller/volume knob... it's passive and sounds just great, perfectly transparent, nice big knob, and some routing options
Old 24th May 2008
  #28
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Coyoteous's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I use the SM Pro Audio M Patch 2, it's a monitor controller/volume knob... it's passive and sounds just great, perfectly transparent, nice big knob, and some routing options
+1 thumbsup - better than I expected for the money.
Old 24th May 2008
  #29
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XLR2XLR, can you take a pic of the insides of your modded unit and give some more info about what you specifically did as I've got some 5532's and a few Nationals not doing anything right now. Are the IC's in sockets to make the swap easy?
Old 27th April 2012
  #30
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jude's Avatar
 

bump, any news on this mod?
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