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Anybody bought a high end preamp/channel strip for their home studio - worthwhile?
Old 12th June 2009
  #1
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hemmick reef's Avatar
 

Anybody bought a high end preamp/channel strip for their home studio - worthwhile?

Has anyone ventured into buying high end pres or channel strips for their home studio.

I just wondered if the sound improvement is worth the price for a home studio environment: if the room and the rest of the equipment isn't quite so high end?
Old 12th June 2009
  #2
Gear Head
 

Hey,

i have a small home made studio that we treated all diy and is in any way near pro. From the start i was using my firepod pre's and eventually decided to buy sca pre-amps. For me an inexperienced engineer the difference was quite huge. But i spent alot of time getting to know ym room and the equipment ialready had.
Old 12th June 2009
  #3
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Jackie Moon's Avatar
The difference is huge man, no doubt.

I went for the 500 because I didn't have like 4K to drop at once. I am now very satisfied with my Avedis Ma5, Speck Eqs and Purple Action comps.

Huge upgrade from the FF800's pres and the plug-ins
Old 12th June 2009
  #4
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I bought a DAV bg-1 for my studio and there was an improvement, but noway near as much of an improvement as the same amount of money spent on bass traps! Shoulda done that first in hindsight :(
Old 12th June 2009
  #5
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rty5150's Avatar
 

it is a huge step. i remember when i got my first decent preamp, a focusrite trakmaster pro. was a huge step from my behringer pres and my art tube mp. from there, i went on a preamp spree. after that i got an ssl alpha vhd. tremendous upgrade.

now i have 4 outboard pres:
ssl alpha vhd
focusrite isa428
sytek mpx-4aii
chameleon labs 7622

4 channels each

also, i bought a soundworkshop 1280b for its pres, and a ramsa wr-s4424 for its pres as well.

it's an addiction.

BUT one great channel is better than a ton of mediocre ones.

BTW, my room was already treated by the time i went on my preamp binge. my mix location is close to flat.


rich
Old 13th June 2009
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Or how about decent instruments?

That beautiful Daking pre isn't going to make your Fender acoustic sound like a Martin.

I wish I had money....
Old 13th June 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli_W View Post
I bought a DAV bg-1 for my studio and there was an improvement, but noway near as much of an improvement as the same amount of money spent on bass traps! Shoulda done that first in hindsight :(
Bass traps are the best thing you will ever get.
Apart from a talented bunch of musicians with a really great song.
There is a good video on youtube and certainly this construction is easy and works well.
After that I would go for preamp/ better converters
API A2D is a nice combo

cheers
Old 13th June 2009
  #8
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TurboJets's Avatar
On my last purchase I wanted 2 channel strips (sans compression), couldn't afford the 500 series route and ended up springing for the ZED14 mixer, which is like 10 channel strips with 8 pre's and all the crazy features, right?

Turned out to be the best thing I'd done for my studio since having BLA mod my 1814FW. Super solid pre's with a hint of sweetness and totally usable EQ with nice perks that let me mix OTB now...all for $350. Something to consider.
Old 13th June 2009
  #9
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jchas's Avatar
 

A few years ago I picked up a GreatRiver and a year later a Sytek mpx-4aii and have never regreted spending the money despite it being a basement studio. The versatility of the GR, especially when coupled with a Sytek, covers all the bases you would use a pre for IMO. I had a couple nice mics before getting them, and was never all that impressed until putting them through a quality preamp.
Old 13th June 2009
  #10
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jchas View Post
A few years ago I picked up a GreatRiver and a year later a Sytek mpx-4aii and have never regreted spending the money despite it being a basement studio. The versatility of the GR, especially when coupled with a Sytek, covers all the bases you would use a pre for IMO. I had a couple nice mics before getting them, and was never all that impressed until putting them through a quality preamp.
on the same type of note. i had crappy pres with overly bright mics to compensate. ran through good pres...made me get rid of them. the c2000 and c3000. not bad, but when compared to the good mxl mics for the price, adk vienna/hamburg and mk319, those were fairly lifeless and way too harsh. good mics and great pres are awesome! now i bet that i'll go psycho whenever i get my hands on a peluso 22 251 and brauner phantom. with my ma-200, i am always ecstatic with my source tracks now.

rich
Old 13th June 2009
  #11
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
I did and would say yes, I heard an immediate difference. But this is a relative term: big difference compared to the difference between a piece of crap guitar vs. a great one? No. Big difference compared to crappy monitors vs. great ones? No. Big difference compared to Brand X stock plug-in EQ on 10 different tracks vs. the real thing in outboard? Definitely.

One thing about pres and chanel strips is that everything you record goes through them, not like a mic that may only be used on one source. And another thing, which may sound kind of weird, is that when you're using a great pre, you just stop worrying about that part of the chain and focus on the music. Maybe this is psychological to some extent and it can be said about other parts of the chain as well. However, I do think that you really end up having less trouble when it comes to mix time. Before having a decent pre, I often found myself trying to make my songs sound smoother, deeper, more colored, etc. I now spend less time on this, partially because a decend pre can empart those characteristics, which may not be noticed on one track but can add up. It's almost something that is perceived but not heard if that makes sense.


And another HUGE advantage for me is color: you should be able to push a good color pre for some color and it should still sound great. I could never do this with a crappy pre. Always sounded harsh.

One other thing: if you don't have decent monitors, you probably won't hear all of the advantages of a great pre. The things that a good pre can do are subtle but nonetheless important.
Old 13th June 2009
  #12
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Classic's Avatar
 

Most definitely! Just one piece like a Universal Audio LA-610 will transform your entire sound for the better: bass has more balls and definition, same for vocals... worth everything penny to just have one high end piece IMO.
Old 13th June 2009
  #13
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Just went from a art TPS to a vinteck 273. Yea, its worth it!
Old 13th June 2009
  #14
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeydego View Post
Just went from a art TPS to a vinteck 273. Yea, its worth it!
wow!!! what a leap in quality. what mic(s)?


rich
Old 13th June 2009
  #15
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p_bro's Avatar
 

Cool from RNP to GR

I went from RNP (wich I didn't like...) to a Langevin DVC (wich I still love and use daily), and tought it was an amazing step, but the day I got a Great River, it was an epiphany... biggest improvement to my set-up ever. Worth every penny. And I just got a second one yesterday!!
Old 13th June 2009
  #16
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Piedpiper's Avatar
Absolutely, but it also depends on which pre and what your taste is. What is your current gear? If you have a 002 or 003 the BLA mods are a great, cost effective way to upgrade the whole shooting match. In fact their little outboard mic pre is damn good for the money. For me, I cherish the refined transparency of a serious high end tube pre like a Manley or Forssell, etc., but any truly high end pre will make a world of difference in clarity without aggressive highs. All this is assuming your mics are worth revealing in all their glory. At least a good pre won't be adding insult to injury.
Old 13th June 2009
  #17
I went from Presonus Firebox to ART MPA Gold...about 6 months ago...big difference. I'm now starting to look at another pre. A channel strip sounds interesting.
Old 13th June 2009
  #18
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studjo's Avatar
if you want a channel stirp and not only a pre with something thrown in GET the Buzz ARC. It has a great pre, a wonderull eq and one of the best compressors money can buy. The whole package is the best mulitbox solution I know off

Jo
Old 13th June 2009
  #19
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hemmick reef's Avatar
 

Thanks for the interesting replies...

I have owned the following pres:

Edirol DA2496 interface
TFpro p3
Groove Tubes the Brick

I have sold all of these over time and have recently bought a Steinberg MR816x.
The converters are noticebly better than the Edirols and the preamps are very smooth.....although......

I have been looking at some of the Joe Meek channel strips, but have decided to rent a Neve or API from KMR for a weekend to make some comparisons with my Steinberg interface - well apparently they are Yamahas best ever preamps: Steinberg are now owned by Yamaha.
Old 13th June 2009
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hemmick reef View Post
I have been looking at some of the Joe Meek channel strips, but have decided to rent a Neve or API from KMR for a weekend to make some comparisons with my Steinberg interface - well apparently they are Yamahas best ever preamps: Steinberg are now owned by Yamaha.
I was going to suggest exactly that. There really ain't no way on deciding this without experiencing it yourself. In my own personal experience, I believe there's a certain difference,altough nothing to go nuts over. I can probably see some flames coming over, but I also believe there's a lot of BS here and out there, with people claiming preamps making more helluva difference than there really is. My personal view, I think a good clean preamp will be good for you, but don't overstress about it. I personally own or have owned an A-Designs MP2, Langevin DVC and True Systems P8 (8ch pre). Altough I like the way how it smoothed the sound, I sold the MP2 because I really didn't use it much. The Langevin I like because the whole value box, (elop limiters which I find pretty usefull). Use it a lot for VO stuff and vocal tracking duties. But cutting it straight, for me at least, the P8 will definetly serve all my recording needs just fine. Some people say its a "boring", to each its own. To me, it sounds pretty high fi, fast, and natural, and it offers tremendous value for the buck (coming at around $300 per preamp). I've recorded everything from horns, drums, acordion, vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, percussion (congas), strings, even a whole mariachi once. Never felt like I needed something else.
Overtime I've personally found I prefer clean, quiet, fast & transparent preamps, than the other way around. Just firing my toughts, but I just hate the idea of all these stuff getting way over our heads instead of getting sound by fooling with the mic's axis angle, fooling around with acoustics and early reflections by means of using acoustic panels, or using 2 mics and their phase discrepancies to your behalf, you know, just beign creative about it. In the old days, studios didn't have a rack full of preamps, they just had big consoles full of the same good preamp.
Get over it and keep moving...just my 2 cents
Old 13th June 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
worthwhile once the rest of one's recording chain, skills, experience, etc are strong enough, yes.

I have some (ward becks for now), but I work with some stereotypical high end units in other studios and have for much longer than I've had my own home studio.

Still however, I used what I had around, basic stuff, until I found that I was missing out on some of the nice features I got in the bigger studios. At that point I experimented with low end channel strips (I don't love strips by the way, I prefer comonents so I can combine them how I want instead, it's more cost effective) and didn't love any of them. I didn't try many though I admit. best by far was the art pro channel in that price range, at least to my ears... and it has a vari-mu compressor that doesn't cost $5000...
then I sold that and went with the art mpa gold and started collecting (literally, had a dozen for a while) compressors. now I've streamlined the compressors down. What I originally had was about 16 channels of compression (if you split dual comps). nice for mixing I'll tell ya (I mix otb). but some were so annoying ot use or not very nice sounding that I just got rid of them.

Now I have what I like and mix and match nice pres (and average pres) with nice comps (and good average comps). but I still like to track through the ward beck strips... I just don't often track with eq altering anything so I find the strip concept sort of wasteful. I prefer to patch in the ward beck eqs during mixdown, so I'm not technically using them as strips. I track with the pre, mix with the eq.

I used the art pro channel vari-mu comp the same way. to me the varimu in the art pro channel is great BUT can't be the only (and certainly not the first) compressor in a tracking chain. it's a wonderful 2nd or 3rd serial comp though and a great mix comp for mono sends/tracks. so I'd track with the pro channel pre (which is fine but nothing special) and it's other compressor (which is quite nice and safer than the vari-mu), then mix with the vari-mu. I miss that unit just for that vari-mu comp actually.

I've used focusrite isa units with great success. and hell I've even used focusrite platinum trackmaster pros with great success. but again, for the money, I'm not sure how useful one high end channel strip (or the low end ones I mentioned) really are.

although a nice ISA can be great on bass and many other things. there are cheaper ways to get all of that though imho.

cheers,
Don
Old 13th June 2009
  #22
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hemmick reef's Avatar
 

Thanks again - keep 'em coming.....

Nice to read the opinions....
Old 13th June 2009
  #23
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warhead's Avatar
 

My personal take is that you should have 2 great channels of everything and it will really add up in the end. 2 great preamps, 2 great EQ's, 2 great compressors, 2 great cables, 2 great converters...once drums are recorded (and you can use your 2 great channels on OH or kick / snare) you are typically working 1-2 channels at a time through the entire rest of the project.

It adds up.

War
Old 15th June 2009
  #24
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hemmick reef's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
My personal take is that you should have 2 great channels of everything and it will really add up in the end. 2 great preamps, 2 great EQ's, 2 great compressors, 2 great cables, 2 great converters...once drums are recorded (and you can use your 2 great channels on OH or kick / snare) you are typically working 1-2 channels at a time through the entire rest of the project.

It adds up.

War
Any recommendations within sensible project studio terms (basically not too expensive)?
Old 15th June 2009
  #25
Gear Head
 

I just got a LA-610 and truley got the sounds I wanted in the box. I smashed the vox, mad high end on the guitar and thickness on the bass.

I've been building my studio little by little and just finnished room treatment so I splurged and wow. If you haven't got your room together do that first, but dude it was great to have the tracks just sit right from the get go.

Tom
Old 15th June 2009
  #26
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I once had a Vintagedesign M73D preamp. The thing cost more than my MOTU 8pre interface. I wouldn't say the difference was huge. I eventually sold it because I needed some money for other stuff. Perhaps it had to do with the MOTU converters. I think I'm gonna lend a Duet from a friend and try again. Or an API A2D.
Old 15th June 2009
  #27
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcase View Post
I just got a LA-610 and truley got the sounds I wanted in the box. I smashed the vox, mad high end on the guitar and thickness on the bass.

I've been building my studio little by little and just finnished room treatment so I splurged and wow. If you haven't got your room together do that first, but dude it was great to have the tracks just sit right from the get go.

Tom
it's all about having killer source tracks and great rooms!!!


rich
Old 15th June 2009
  #28
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPeters86 View Post
I once had a Vintagedesign M73D preamp. The thing cost more than my MOTU 8pre interface. I wouldn't say the difference was huge. I eventually sold it because I needed some money for other stuff. Perhaps it had to do with the MOTU converters. I think I'm gonna lend a Duet from a friend and try again. Or an API A2D.
i am sure that the A2D won't disappoint you. i am not a huge fan of the motu preamps, but overall, aren't bad. not too familiar with the vintagedesign stuff, but i love my outboard pres. i am so content with my pres it's insane. the only thing that would get me super stoked would be an api 3124+ or 4 channels of neve 1073/1081. even a ua 2610 wouldn't make me overly giddy(but it would be cool).

rich
Old 15th June 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rty5150 View Post
i am sure that the A2D won't disappoint you. i am not a huge fan of the motu preamps, but overall, aren't bad. not too familiar with the vintagedesign stuff, but i love my outboard pres. i am so content with my pres it's insane. the only thing that would get me super stoked would be an api 3124+ or 4 channels of neve 1073/1081. even a ua 2610 wouldn't make me overly giddy(but it would be cool).

rich
Thanks. The thing is it's very hard to locate someone here who has some of this gear and can miss it for a couple of days. I don't like to buy something worth hundreds of dollars and just hope I like it.
Old 15th June 2009
  #30
Gear Head
 

I bought a GR 2 channel 4 years ago, and havent looked back since. Love it, esp. on D.I. bass. It is very versatile. Before that, it was a focusrite voice master. The diff. was substantial, as you might assume.
BTW, +1 War, I'm with you on your conclusions.
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