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Best 8 channel preamp under $1000? Multi-Channel Preamps
Old 19th September 2008
  #31
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I haven't used all the preamps mentioned here, but I'll add another vote for the Presonus Digimax FS. It doesn't have tons of gain, but it's clean, quiet, and all the extra ins and outs make it a very useful piece of gear. I've also been pleased with the Studio Projects SP828, which has internal summing if you need it. While it has higher gain possibilities than the Digimax, the SP828 has a lot more noise at higher gain levels, which makes the higher gain uses essentially useless for me.

If you are going to be using an SM7B a lot, you might consider getting a good, single channel pre for it, and then use whichever 8 pre box you get for more utility purposes. I tend to use a Safe Sound P1 when I'm using an SM7B.
Old 22nd September 2008
  #32
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by phillysoulman View Post
Focusrite Octopre
yes but i also heard that the octopre isnt very reliable ive heard it has major bugs like one day the audio sounds great the next day no signal flow is going thru and ive heard this from a lot of ppl and actual reviews
Old 22nd September 2008
  #33
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elamberth's Avatar
Yamaha MLA-8. Eight of the preamps from the i88x. Very good. $550. Individual HPF, Pad and Phantom power. XLR input only. DB8 outs.
Old 22nd September 2008
  #34
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I have the M-Audio Profire 2626 and a Focusrite 26 I/O and have been happy with both units.

Initially I purchased the Focusrite box, and later bought the M-Audio because it works with ProTools...I cant afford and HD rig, and really dont want any Digi gear until I'm ready to go HD.

I mainly use the M-Audio unit, but when I track drums I sync the focusrite box via ADAT to give me another 8 I/O. Works pretty well and gives me flexibility to use any DAW on any platform.
Old 22nd September 2008
  #35
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jomo1234's Avatar
 

Another +1 for the Line Audio 8MP pre. I used one a few years ago on a record and was really impressed by the quality. No DI, but they have individual +48, HPF and pad on each channel.
Old 22nd September 2008
  #36
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Firestudio is very good and the Ashly MX508 is awesome with up to 84 dB gain. Very clean and works well with ribbons.
Old 22nd September 2008
  #37
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JustinAiken's Avatar
 

lol... nearly every post in this thread is a different suggestion... heh
Old 22nd September 2008
  #38
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peeder's Avatar
 

So I finally got around to testing the Audient ASP008 vs. the M-Audio 2626. My Audient unit was a deal, and the problem I found on it was that the HPF doesn't work on channel 8. It sounds like a sine wave generator. But that's OK I guess given the discount.

The real problem on it is of course the fekking fan on it. This is seriously noisy, on my standards, even in a tight rack. In fact demoing the unit I was picking up the fan noise in the mics. Far worse, as you get closer to the fan, on channels 6 7 and 8 there is audible hum getting into the preamp circuits. Channels 1 through 5 are much cleaner. The fan destroyed the product; making it 2U (or just external power supply!) would have been a far better compromise.

The impedance options are kinda stupid and these days it seems variable impedance is passe. Initially various manufacturers were marketing variable impedance for ribbon mics, but then Royer, AEA etc started saying ribbon mics should have at least 2400 ohms and the higher the better. Sure enough, an R121 sounds much better on the 5kOhm setting on the ASP008, more detailed and punchy. Condensers didn't seem to care, and dynamics were a lesser approximation of the ribbon effect. So I would just leave these all on 5kOhm; maybe if I wanted to dull down a track I'd use the 1.2kOhm setting now and then, but probably not.

The sweepable HPF is a nice touch and sounds good. The knobs don't really confuse me in practice. The retro-illuminated buttons are nice. The pad buttons on 1 and 2 clearly seemed to raise the noise floor making me think there was some kind of compensation going on. Switching the buttons caused loud pops in my headphones. Polarity on each channel and 48V on each channel is nice. I despise the "line" setting going into the preamp circuit; to access the converters it should be a fixed -18dbFS or whatever level and avoid that circuit (something the 2626, bless its heart, does in fact do, though it requires a physical repatching of an XLR to a TRS cable, which sucks).

So how does the ASP 008 sound? It sounds quite even in frequency response, which may strike some as "midrangey" and a touch "pastey." It is definitely not a character pre, nor does it really do anything for you, other than, to my ears, apply a slight silk to the top.

The 2626 OTOH, and yes I did the comparison running through the 2626 converters to be fair to each, is an EXTREMELY scooped preamp. In fact after getting used to the sound of the ASP008 on this test I said "oh my gawd" when first hearing it. It offers a really fast, hard, polished sound instantly, though not particularly musical.

The biggest problem is the "high shelf" effect starts around 4KHz on the 2626, making it SIBILANT AS A MUDDAFUKKA. Although sccoped pres (like the Pacifica) can be really nice for vocals, I wouldn't sing through this particular pre unless I had an industrial-strength de-esser at the ready...which since there is no insert point, and no realtime low-latency plugin support, will have to be done as post-processing...meaning the poor singer gets to suck lemons through the entire vocal session. Fortunately I have quite a variety of outboard choices for vocal preamps.

I didn't test drums through each yet, which is how I'd use them. I'd suspect the ASP008 will give a more natural and controlled drum sound, and the 2626 a hyped one. Which might be better in practice for some placements. The 2626 sounds like it offers a bit more gain, but that might be the presence peak. Both gain pots have fairly awful tapers IMO.

Yet I'm still hesitant to return the ASP008 because of that weakness of the 2626 design. I stand on my chair applauding M-Audio for being the first to actually grow a brain and let line-level inputs bypass the preamp circuits on their way to the converters. I don't want gain control on a line-level signal (sometimes, like on the API A2D, an attenuator would be nice...but not gain tutt)!

Where this brilliant (yet totally obvious ) innovation slips and breaks a tooth is the fact that M-Audio made the choice of which circuit you're using based on what type of cable you plug in. Plug in an XLR, you get the preamp, plug in a TRS, you get the direct line input. Since I have a patchbay, and often switch from tracking to mixing tasks, I don't want to have to crawl back there and repatch 8 different cables all the effing time. Switches on each channel, ideally on the front panel, would have been a godsend. Yes I would have paid $50 more for this convenience.

So having the ASP008 feeding it through the patchbay (my unit doesn't have the ADAT card, nor is it one of the newer units that can support SMUX operation) gives me access to those line ins without having to repatch. But then I lose the hyped MAudio pre's. And the ASP 008 isn't truly gawd's gift anyway. Sweepable HPF's aren't that critical on drums. Hrm....

Old 26th September 2008
  #39
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Onyx bump

I'm pretty new to the recording stuff but have run live sound for a few years. I've just started using a Mackie Onyx 1640 board with the firewire option and I'm pretty darn happy with the Onyx pre's. I'm no expert, just a new guy, but my ears don't lie.
Old 26th September 2008
  #40
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Thanks for the detailed comparison peeder!
Old 26th September 2008
  #41
Gear Head
 

Another +1 for the Line Audio 8MP
Old 26th September 2008
  #42
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I received my 8MP and as soon as I have tested it I will report back.


/Peter
Old 26th September 2008
  #44
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carlheinz's Avatar
 

I purchased a used presonus m-80(jenson tranny version) for 1k.I'm very pleased with it for the price.
Old 27th September 2008
  #45
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This is awesome!
Old 27th September 2008
  #46
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thestranger's Avatar
 

digimax FS

another vote for the digimax FS... 8 very usable pres, good a/d, and a very usable clock.

it also has a bonus... 8 channels of D/A.
Old 27th September 2008
  #47
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dr_love6977's Avatar
 

Put me down for the 800r as well.
Old 27th September 2008
  #48
Gear Nut
 

another big vote for the 800R. really, really good for the price.
Old 27th September 2008
  #49
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
I received my 8MP and as soon as I have tested it I will report back.


/Peter

I'm very curious about this one. Let us know!
Old 28th September 2008
  #50
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by elamberth View Post
Yamaha MLA-8. Eight of the preamps from the i88x. Very good. $550. Individual HPF, Pad and Phantom power. XLR input only. DB8 outs.
+1

The older MLA-7 is also a good pre and can be picked up very cheap these days!
Old 28th September 2008
  #51
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peeder's Avatar
 

I returned the audient.
Old 28th September 2008
  #52
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
I returned the audient.
So are you gonna get on the 800R bandwagon? heh

Seriously, Peeder. I know you're skeptical of the extra line-in stage, but I'd like to hear your opinion after you've had a chance to work with one.
Old 29th September 2008
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peeder View Post
The real problem on it is of course the fekking fan on it. This is seriously noisy, on my standards, even in a tight rack. In fact demoing the unit I was picking up the fan noise in the mics. Far worse, as you get closer to the fan, on channels 6 7 and 8 there is audible hum getting into the preamp circuits. Channels 1 through 5 are much cleaner. The fan destroyed the product; making it 2U would have been a far better compromise.
Hmmm... that's pretty odd. I've never noticed any issues withe the fan on my 008. It's almost dead silent. Perhaps it wa a bad bearing in the fan (or something else).
---
c
Old 29th September 2008
  #54
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peeder's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
So are you gonna get on the 800R bandwagon? heh

Seriously, Peeder. I know you're skeptical of the extra line-in stage, but I'd like to hear your opinion after you've had a chance to work with one.
I am OK with just the 2626 for now. An 800r would be the next thing to try. That or a True Precision 8 if I can get a break on one.

Update: I found a ridiculous price on an 800r and it's coming here on approval...
Old 30th September 2008
  #55
Gear Head
 

I have the Audient as well and I really like it. I never noticed the fan either. I have recorded acoustic guitar with it and the unit was only about 5 feet from the mics and I never heard any fan noise. I feel the Audient is a wonderful unit the the pre amps are very clean and uncolored (they sound like my Grace 101's). With the adat option the unit is above the price range though. I have not had any problems with the build quality either. Maybe try another one that is not an open box sale item.
Old 5th October 2008
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
I'm very curious about this one. Let us know!

First quick and dirty test. Seems like a steal. Clean and noise free. Further testing is needed to se if noise or hum is an issue at high gain settings but so far at 40dB or so it's fine and i don't expect anything else at higher settings.

Going to do some bypass before/after testing when time allows and also some "lab-bench-measuring".


/Peter
Old 5th October 2008
  #57
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tnjazz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
First quick and dirty test. Seems like a steal. Clean and noise free. Further testing is needed to se if noise or hum is an issue at high gain settings but so far at 40dB or so it's fine and i don't expect anything else at higher settings.

Going to do some bypass before/after testing when time allows and also some "lab-bench-measuring".


/Peter

I loved mine when I had it and never had any issues at all with it. Only got rid of it because it wasn't getting much use. I'd definitely buy more Line gear again though based on my experiences with it. Right now I'm very interested in the Quad mic and the CM3's, especially...
Old 6th October 2008
  #58
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hgen's Avatar
 

Doesn't he sound exactly like George Bush? Close your eyes, you'd swear it was Bush!!
Old 6th October 2008
  #59
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hgen's Avatar
 

BTW, The best preamps I've heard about are the Steinberg MR816 with Yamaha N12 preamps which are better then i88x according to Yamaha. plus integrated dsp!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOZyZzMfV_s&fmt=18
Old 6th October 2008
  #60
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jslevin's Avatar
And the answer is still ... Yamaha MLA8.

You can get it for under $600, and I swear, I can't even find a better FOUR-channel preamp for that money, let alone eight channels. Decent little feature set, too — dual balanced outputs, 26db pad, etc. Only thing that could come close is if you picked up a Presonus M80, cheap and used, and hotrodded all the opamps and transformers, maybe you could bring it in under $1000.

I haven't heard anything better than the Yamaha until you get up to the True Precision 8 price point — that is, nothing in an 8-channel format. Someone could make an argument for a pair of 4-channel Syteks, but they cost almost as much as the True and to my ears aren't quite as good. Anyway, the Yamaha is less than 1/3 the price of either of those options. Keep in mind, these are the same preamps that they put in their $10,000 consoles.

I've used most of the others suggested here -- SP828, DigiMax, OctoPre, Onyx, etc. -- and frankly, it's not even really a close call. The Yamaha is just clearly better, and the only downside is that it doesn't have the built-in converters. But there are lots of converter options -- and anyway, the original question was just about preamps.

Speaking of consoles, another way to approach this is to get a high-quality small mixer that happens to have direct outputs on each channel. The A&H MixWizard3 and Soundcraft FX16ii are two models that are under $1000, and include 16 mic pres, and with genuine balanced direct outputs for each of the 16. Plenty of folks will tell you these pres sound as good or better than Mackie Onyx — plus, hey, free mixer with built-in effects! That "free" mixer, by the way, will make a better cue system than a lot folks are running.

JSL
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