The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
$5 mic preamp beats $1500 pre Single-Channel Preamps
Old 11th August 2008
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
virtualsamana's Avatar
 

$5 mic preamp beats $1500 pre

Come on slutz take this challenge and see if you can honestly tell the difference.

Microphone preamplifiers - can *YOU* hear the difference? (with audio)
Old 11th August 2008
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I got it right, but its hard to hear on these laptop speakers. Spoken voice IMO isnt a great way to test preamps, lots of other people feel it is, but I think full frequency material is a must. I probably just got lucky.


-Freq
Old 11th August 2008
  #3
Gear Addict
 

wow, I chose the 5$ pre as my first pick then the UA LA610, and the behringer was last (i heard some ugly distortion on it)
Old 11th August 2008
  #4
Gear Addict
 

also the reason I did not choose the UA first was that I felt it was kind of missing a lot of highs/presence which you need for voice, probably would of been a better test with 3 different types of material, like guitar and drums or something.
Old 11th August 2008
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

This is a totally misleading article that has been discussed about 1000 times before. If a company actually built and marketed that preamp, it would probably cost somewhere in the price range of a UA 610 solo (they compared it to a UA preamp AND compressor unit). By the time that thing is put in a case with a real power supply, it would easiely fetch $500. Look at the prices of good preamps based around this chip or similar ones and you'll find this to be true.

However, that is a nice chip, and using it with a simple circuit can produce great results.
Old 11th August 2008
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Heartfelt's Avatar
saw the schematic. I wish there were instructions for us less electronically inclined types.
Old 11th August 2008
  #7
Gear Addict
 

where did you find a schematic?
Old 11th August 2008
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

All this tests confirms to me is that the LA-610 is a massively overrated piece of gear that I frankly don't like much at all

Any ol' preamp beating out the Bear Wringer is not suprising. Ho hum.

Let's put that "$5" pre up against a GR or John Hardy for starters, shall we? I prefer those preamps to the LA-610...yes, you're getting the compressor to boot, fair enough.

As was already said, if you put that thing together for real and market it, it's not $5.

I chose the "$5" pre. It is the best of that bunch, and the Bear Wringer was painfully nasty. I didn't like the LA-610, but I don't anyway. My first impression was "unfortunately tubey and veiled."
Old 11th August 2008
  #10
Gear Addict
 

thanks for the link.

This does not confirm anything about the UA LA610 being overrated. I'm sure it works out great on certain sources. Like mentioned if this $5 pre was manufactured it would easily be $500, maybe more, maybe around $800 and once you get to that point then you are in the same price point as the UA. The solo610 is $800 and then figure a compressor is another 7-800 which brings you to the $1,500 of the LA610. I haven't been on these forums long but I have noticed a lot of people that trash talk products that I hear other people use that turn out fantastic results.

To each his own.
Old 11th August 2008
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Matt, you're right about the issue of the cost of the compressor on the LA-610 which is even more reason why this "comparison" is ridiculous. As for my statements about the UA gear, I'm sorry, I just don't like it but I'll try to tone down the "trash talk". I shouldn't have written such disparaging remarks and I'll go back and edit them out. Sometimes we need more limiter and less exciter on our comments.
Old 11th August 2008
  #12
Gear Addict
 

haha I probably do the same too sometimes, like how I purchased a Drawmer 1960 used, but brand new it goes for 2,700 and I like my Presonus Digimax LT going through a distressor more. I guess that is more money per channel though going the distressor route. But I know someone that has a M610 he doesn't like it on everything but everything he has sent me that he does like it on I think sounds great. Also I really like the 1176. UA is probably more known for there compressors than there preamps.

I don't know if all of that made sense it's too late at night/ early in the morning to reread it. ha
Old 11th August 2008
  #13
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
If someone really believes that the $5 preamp sounds better, then that's what they should use. No "ifs", "ands", or "buts". Same thing with an SM57. If it sounds better than a U87, then there's just no excuse for using the wrong mic or spending more. (note: I also seriously doubt the $5 preamp would come to $500 in a retail solution. There are plenty of preamps in the $100-200 range, and even more guitar effects that are more complex in the $75+ price range)

However, I think anyone paying attention to their sound will probably find some limitations to this signal chain somewhere in the process. Occasionally it may be exactly what's needed. After all, an SM57 sometimes is the best mic for the job. However, it's painfully clear that the test doesn't show much. A test using a single male voice speaking in an extremely limited dynamic and pitch range is almost deceptively narrow. As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to imagine a test more limited than that one.

It seems to me that the goal was to write an article that was more sensational than informative. I doubt anyone recording seriously, even as an amateur, would ever describe one chain as a "killer" over another - any more than a painter would say that green is an orange killer.
Old 11th August 2008
  #14
Lives for gear
 
The dman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
However, it's painfully clear that the test doesn't show much. A test using a single male voice speaking in an extremely limited dynamic and pitch range is almost deceptively narrow. As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to imagine a test more limited than that one.
Agreed. I understand the concept of what he was trying to achieve but the test would have been much better with real instruments and performances, much more complex in the frequencies and the details.
Old 11th August 2008
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
(note: I also seriously doubt the $5 preamp would come to $500 in a retail solution. There are plenty of preamps in the $100-200 range, and even more guitar effects that are more complex in the $75+ price range)
after you add transformer, gain stage section, pots, chassis, possibly meters, ect. it's not a $5 preamp anymore. Now add on cost of expenses to operate, the cost will leap. It's possible to have a unit cost $75 to build and charge $2,000 for it, and it's possible to have a unit cost $100 to build and charge $400. It's all about the design and what sound you get out of it for how much it's worth / people are willing to pay.
Old 11th August 2008
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The dman View Post
Agreed. I understand the concept of what he was trying to achieve but the test would have been much better with real instruments and performances, much more complex in the frequencies and the details.
+3

That test was about as fun as reading a white paper on Red book specifications. (took it a year or so ago. I don't remember my impressions other than what I just stated)
Old 11th August 2008
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Svens's Avatar
 

Well, I thought it was funny. And a good lesson those students had while making this preamp. I'm quite sure a lot of people here at GS don't know the basics of a preamp....

I agree, its easier to compare when real instruments where used...in other words, you have to listen very good with a human voice behind the mic. As the test said, it was a limited one.

I agree, when you add transformers, meters etc, it will not be a $5 preamp anymore, but then again, what does that say about the Universal Audio preamp and the Behringer preamp?
Old 12th August 2008
  #18
Here for the gear
 
muzikborn13's Avatar
 

i actually liked the test. i think it's nice that you can build a $5 preamp and maybe use it on certain projects... you know, change it up a bit. the way the economy is right now... i don't think i mind that preamp just the way it is... i'd use it on a song or 2, and maybe for layering tracks, or even, maybe on a certain intrument throughout an entire album... for cohesivness. why not... experimenting helps to find new sounds,...isn't that what music is about anyway?
Old 12th August 2008
  #19
Lives for gear
 
omtayslick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toxostoma rufum View Post
Any ol' preamp beating out the Bear Wringer is not suprising. Ho hum.
Took me a minute to figure out what "Bear Wringer" was referring to. I've always called 'em "Bear-injure".

I thought the test was rather humorous, and the obvious winner was the $5 pre.
Old 12th August 2008
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigmorris74 View Post
This is a totally misleading article that has been discussed about 1000 times before. If a company actually built and marketed that preamp, it would probably cost somewhere in the price range of a UA 610 solo (they compared it to a UA preamp AND compressor unit). By the time that thing is put in a case with a real power supply, it would easiely fetch $500. Look at the prices of good preamps based around this chip or similar ones and you'll find this to be true.

However, that is a nice chip, and using it with a simple circuit can produce great results.
Read this article some time ago.

As I think the author pointed up in the first or second article, the better-than-expected performance of the "$5 preamp" seems quite likely related to the true DC power supplied by its batteries (and didn't someone figure out it would take about $25 or $30 of batteries to run this thing with phantom?) Getting an AC-driven power supply that could approach the clean power supplied by the batteries would apparently drive production costs right up.

I thought of the article(s) as a kind of thought piece -- and not a bad rainy day project for those with some breadboarding chops.
Old 13th August 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 
firby's Avatar
 

thats not a 5 dollar preamp. The thing takes 9 9 volt batterys. That makes it about a 25 dollar preamp right there. Also it needs a gain stage. it needs to sound good when it is soft and loud. Also, how about a pad, phantom power and a line input ?

Just saying its not quite ready to go.

sounds nice though. I like how it sounds.

If I ever have a need for a 50 dB fixed gain silly lookin preamp that runs on a bunch of nine volt batteries for microphones without the need for phantom power well then ... that would be the only ticket in town.

Now. If only behringer could have made the ultragain pro sound as good as that thing. I have one of those gaylord behringer preamps sitting in my basement in a milk crate right now. So if anybody liked it in the shootout then PM me an offer. Its in great shape.
Old 13th August 2008
  #22
Lives for gear
 

The INA217 chip in this example has a fixed resistor setting the gain. Solder a pot at the same place and you have gain setting.

Other alternatives is THAT1510/12.

It sounds good indeed and very much better than the other preamps (especially the tube thing).

Nothing strange with that. A piece of audio gear is often good if it has flat FR, low distortion and low noise... as this little chip happens to have.


/Peter
Old 13th August 2008
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Ok lets say do a whole song with the 5$ mic pre maybe 12 tracks?
Happy mixing....you will
Old 13th August 2008
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Heartfelt's Avatar
so someone read the schematics and write me some directions for a build, aready!
Old 13th August 2008
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Well, I could see $500 if you manufactured a well engineered power supply and used high grade resistors, connectors, bypass caps etc and a good enclosure (all of which would be my choice). But it could be manufactured for a lot less. It doesn't look like they exactly used anything fancy in the article. And I believe this is the basis for at least one preamp as implemented in a mixing board somewhere. Other people have used older versions of instrumentation amps in previous preamps (Joe Meek anyone?). Application notes on this go back at least 20 years. So this isn't new stuff.

Also, I think you really need to evaluate something like this over some period of time before you really have a handle on how good (or mediocre) it really is. I don't see where these tests really show much of anything. And I certainly wouldn't draw inferences about the LA610 over internet clips.
Old 13th August 2008
  #26
Lives for gear
 
illacov's Avatar
 

Talking Ok...

The preamp costing 5 bux sounds better than the behringer. As far as cost vs performance etc...

We can look at it this way.

The power supply isnt something I could solve without speaking to my tech but when you consider the cost of the individual chips, caps and resistors which judging from a quick glance seems about maybe 20 dollars a preamp if you don't skimp on parts and subbing in the pots instead of the resistors for volume control you'd probably end up with 20 to 25 dollars for each unit.

Multiply that by 8 and you'd get 160 to 200 dollars in parts just for the units internals and you could solder it all up on one piece of breadboard I'd reckon.

Power supply would leave me guessing around 80 to 125 for a good clean external power supply. Still has to be built but you could probably order one from Five Fish Audio.

So now we're looking at 325 dollars for an 8 channel version of this unit.

Enclosures made professionally are usually 75 bux for a 2RU box.

You'd need connectors for each channel I/O so 16 bux in connectors.

We haven't added in labor yet.

If you paid the tech 25 dollars an hour and the unit took 4 hours (yeah right) to assemble more like 8 with error testing/troubleshooting and dry runs then it would be 200 bux in labor.

600 dollars so far for 8 channels!


When you consider that you could get a Mackie Onyx for around this kind of money, you've just met the concept of diminishing returns.

It is impressive for a "$5" but it isn't really 5 dollars by any measure unless you do all the labor yourself.

Then you have 400 bux for 8 channels, but no eq, no lo pass filter or ruff and ready gain control and on and off, with phantom power.

In closing though, all this leads me to believe is that the 610 is still a colored pre that some people may not find desirable on all sources, mics or scenarios and the same is true for the other mics.

I hardly if ever use Behringer preamps for anything unless I'm strapped for preamp channels and that's been a rarity.

I would far more likely recommend you get some Yamaha PM1000 or PM700 channels racked. You will get WAY more flavor(s) out of those pres than the ones in this post.

They go from pretty normal and plain to downright funky wunky if you want, that also includes old school eqs and phantom power. They are much more slutty of a pre and considering they come assembled would be less involved for the accomplished tech.
If you want a tech I can give you a reference for someone right off this board!

Peace
Illumination
Old 14th August 2008
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Illacov seems to have a decent grip on things! heh

Here is a chip based pre (2 and 8 channel) that uses discret transistors at the input. Neutrik XLR's, pad, phase, phantom.

LINE AUDIO DESIGN

I have a bunch of chip laying in a box, and connectors and stuff but time is expensive these days so I ordered this unit instead of putting my own design together.

Will compare it to a Earthworks 1024 next month.


/Peter
Old 14th August 2008
  #28
Lives for gear
 

I love to see the suprize of the high end preamp guy's..then watch them try and make an excuse for why they chose the low end....Frickin awsome!!heh
Old 14th August 2008
  #29
Gear Nut
 
Hard2Hear's Avatar
 

To be fair, the 610 is a $500 preamp (probably costs UA more like $250) and I doubt a single "high end preamp guy" would consider it "high end".

Lets see if your Ferrari outruns my F-350. Now let's hook up a chain to our bumpers and see who outruns who. doesn't make sense, does it?
Old 15th August 2008
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Corran's Avatar
 

I think that a small, $50 or so DIY kit of this preamp would be awesome. I really want to start doing DIY preamps but I don't want to spend $150-$200 on something and then SCREW IT UP! So spending around $50 would be a lot easier to stomach, at least as a first-time thing.

I would be extremely interested in hearing this against the Earthworks 1024, Audiop. I would love to have like 24 channels of Earthworks pres but that ain't happening anytime soon
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Sam Judah / Low End Theory
7
ddeez / So much gear, so little time
6
GREENFENDR / Low End Theory
3
thudclakboombap / So much gear, so little time
6
ddavid / High end
24

Forum Jump
Forum Jump