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Best budget mic pre Single-Channel Preamps
Old 28th August 2005
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Best budget mic pre

Hey all,

Over the last week or so, I've been agonizing over which mic pre I should purchase. I was wondering if anyone could offer me some advice. As of know my setup consists of an Mbox into a G4 laptop running protools. I recently bought an AT4047 condenser mic and I have a variety of dynamics. I figure the next step for me is to get a mic pre.

The problem is that I can't really spend over 1000 bucks. In fact, it would be nice to only spend 500 or so. I'd very much prefer a two channel mic pre because I often record acoustics in stereo, and run an amped bass guitar along with the bass guitar DIed. Ultimately, I'd appreciate product suggestions, but I also have a few questions:

-Should I go for a tube or solid state preamp? Are solid states so bad?
-Would a preamp with a built in A/D converter with S/PDIF out vastly improve my sound if I plugged into the Mbox's digital in?
-are there preamps out there with exceptional EQs and Compressors so I wouldn't have to buy additional hardware?

Right now, I'm looking at the Focusrite Twin Trax Pro and the ART DPS II. The Focusrite doesn't have built in SPDIF out but the ART does. The ART is tube but the focusrite is not. The focusrite has some EQ and a decent compressor. What would you go with? Are there better products that meet my needs you know of? Thanks so much!

Danny
Old 28th August 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 

I suggest one of the modular solutions from Brent Averill or Old School Audio. You'll need a frame, which holds six preamps, but once you have it, preamps are around $500 each. If I had $1000 I'd get the frame and one preamp. Then when you have another $500, get another.

It's worth the wait.

check out the 312A:

http://www.brentaverill.com/

then there's:

http://www.oldschoolaudio.com/
Old 28th August 2005
  #3
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proxy's Avatar
 

Hi,

I agree with Max's idea, by the way. And most people will probably think this question belongs in the low-end forum, but since you're here, I figured I'd chime in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dangeorge6
-Should I go for a tube or solid state preamp? Are solid states so bad?
High-end SolidState and high-end tube are good. Don't be fooled by the fact that a tube is slapped in there that it is somehow better.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dangeorge6
-Would a preamp with a built in A/D converter with S/PDIF out vastly improve my sound if I plugged into the Mbox's digital in?
I think that asking your pre to do double-duty like that is diluting your spending/qaulity. I've heard a lot worse converters than MBox and if you're going to improve on them, maybe save that step for later and make it a big, nice jump


Quote:
Originally Posted by dangeorge6
-are there preamps out there with exceptional EQs and Compressors so I wouldn't have to buy additional hardware?
I would say, rather than get an entry level channel strip that is trying to do too much, get a piece (a pre) that does one thing well and build around it. I'm not sure what you're using now, but I may go as far as saying, put that money into as nice a single channel as your money will get.

I'm sure others can chime in with specific examples, but again, I think Max's idea is cool - good planning for the future.

Hope that's helpful,

- proxy
Old 29th August 2005
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

For around 8 or 9 hundred dollars you can get a 4 channel Sytek. Yeah, it isn't top of the line but it is very good, and can give some very high end units some good competition.

And the Sytek will retain it's value when you are ready to trade up.

Old 29th August 2005
  #5
Gear Head
 

DAV electronics BG-1. 2 channels for $600. Super sounding.
Old 29th August 2005
  #6
Lives for gear
 

in that budget i would look at the fmr audio rnp. i would personally skip the art and focusrite stuff. as far as tube vs. solid state... don't buy the 'type' , buy a preamp that is quality (no matter whats under the hood). there are excellent tube designs and excellent solid state designs and there are a plethora of crappy ones in both camps.
good luck,
joshua
Old 29th August 2005
  #7
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malfunction's Avatar
 

i'm kind of in the same boat...i want to improve my sounds, i have an Mbox and was thinking about getting a Apogee Mini-me converter to bypass the Mbox pres but now i'm thinking whether this or a good mic-pre (API 512) would be better???
Grant
Old 29th August 2005
  #8
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Adebar's Avatar
The Grace m101 is about 500 $. It is transparent, low noise and has HiZ input too.

BTW. I have an old Nakamichi preamp which sounds really open and clean. It has no phantom power and only unbalanced inputs and outputs, not always good to use. But the preamp has a supricing high quality I once used it with B&K4006 omnis (phanotm power comong from a small Neumann box) for roecording a brass quintett and was almost blown of the good result.
Old 30th August 2005
  #9
Gear Head
 

good budget pre

universal audio 2108. solid state class A. colored not transparent. i got mine new on ebay for $1100 US. very good on kick and snare as well as gtrs and vox. does clean and dirty well. as for tube vs. solid state , there are good varieties of both. im looking at bae 312 next!!!
Old 30th August 2005
  #10
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GP_Hawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xiandishinger
universal audio 2108. solid state class A. colored not transparent. i got mine new on ebay for $1100 US. very good on kick and snare as well as gtrs and vox. does clean and dirty well. as for tube vs. solid state , there are good varieties of both. im looking at bae 312 next!!!
The 2108 has been discontinued. You mihgt find one on e-bay, but you definately can't buy a new one.

Max's idea is a good one. It's something you can build on. Also look into seventhcircleaudio.com
Old 30th August 2005
  #11
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by malfunction
i'm kind of in the same boat...i want to improve my sounds, i have an Mbox and was thinking about getting a Apogee Mini-me converter to bypass the Mbox pres but now i'm thinking whether this or a good mic-pre (API 512) would be better???
Grant
Given the choice of API preamps and Mbox converters VS Mini me preamp and converter, I'd take the latter. I've often thought that something like an Mbox + a Mini Me and a Mini DAC would be a nice, compact, portable rig.
Old 30th August 2005
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

What about RNP from FMR Audio.
Comments?
thanks
M.
Old 30th August 2005
  #13
Gear Addict
 
cletus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by malfunction
i'm kind of in the same boat...i want to improve my sounds, i have an Mbox and was thinking about getting a Apogee Mini-me converter to bypass the Mbox pres but now i'm thinking whether this or a good mic-pre (API 512) would be better???
Grant
Get the mini me then get a good pre thats what I did! You'll have way better conversion and 2 very useable pres! As far as a decent pre a round five hundo i'd also have to go with the BA 312. If you spend a little extra dough for the lunch box now, you'll thank yourself later cause you'll have the option of getting more pre's and eq's like API or BA. Also the FMR really nice pre is another option. Two channels for 500 bucks. PEACE
Old 30th August 2005
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mazaga
What about RNP from FMR Audio.
Comments?
thanks
M.

its a great preamp that is way under priced. its not just 'good for the money', its a 'good' preamp that would still be useful in a collection with some of the more known 'heavyweights'. i would compare it more with preamps twice its price range (in quality not color) not ones in its price range.
joshua
Old 30th August 2005
  #15
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Synth80s's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brownmouse
in that budget i would look at the fmr audio rnp. i would personally skip the art and focusrite stuff. as far as tube vs. solid state... don't buy the 'type' , buy a preamp that is quality (no matter whats under the hood). there are excellent tube designs and excellent solid state designs and there are a plethora of crappy ones in both camps.
good luck,
joshua
Agreed. When I started recording ~15 years ago, I just used the pres in my Tascam board, then a Mackie board after that. Of course they weren't great, but they did what I needed for my purposes. I learned, then gear lust set in.

For the sake of variety, I branched out and tried various low-end gear, including ART and Focusrite among others. Let me say this:

1) ART DualMP -- a cheap, dark pre that can be fun in limited doses when driven lightly, but it makes an *excellent* stereo DI / flavor box for sterile synths, loops, etc. Buy a cheap used one for fun, but don't buy one for a pre-amp.

2) Focurite VoiceMaster Pro -- ok, here's the thing on this one: I don't particularly like the sound of the pre (kind of boxy and unexciting), but the rest of the box is great fun (save the EQ that's merely OK). Truthfully, I often use another pre, then patch into the Focusrite for the compressor, simluated tube drive circuit, harmonic circuit and de-esser. Honestly, the Focusrite is like my secret weapon for recording electric guitar! It's a truly creative sound sculpting box, but please don't buy it for the pre alone.

About a year ago, I wanted a good middle of the road pre-amp that A) wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg, B) didn't lean too much toward any specific flavor and c) that was good enough that I wouldn't blame my crappy pre-amp for a bad recording. I picked up an RNP and I've been very pleased. The metering is lacking and the input can only be adjusted in 6dB steps, but the sound quality is fantastic and the value is off the charts. I really never understood the appeal of an SM57 until I plugged it into the RNP. I also use it with an AT4047 and I think they make a great match. The 4047 provides the character and the RNP provides smooth, clean gain with great openness.

As others have mentioned on other threads, you can really hear the difference between cheaper pres and better pres as the track count grows. When I recorded a tune with 5 or 6 tracks of vocal harmonies usign the RNP, I was really pleased with the clarity and definition that remained even with a dense set of vocals. Layering didn't result in mud like it did when I used to track on the Mackie.

Unless you really care about asthetics or want a bragging piece, don't discount the RNP for less than $250/channel. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done and you probably won't grow out of it even when you add other more expensive gear.

-Synth80s
Old 30th August 2005
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Get an FMR RNP and RNC and record happily knowing they will stay in your rig longer than your MBox most likely!

Seriously the FMR stuff is no joke. I freelance and can use just about anything in some of the studio's I work out of but I've got a rack with RNP's and RNC's just to cover my hiney in case I'm at a studio with a selection I'm not happy with.
Old 30th August 2005
  #17
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Synth80s's Avatar
Forgot to add one thing: the RNP also makes for two channels of great DI, which not all pre-amps have at any price. I'm working on a new tune right now -- the chain I'm using just to cut some scratch tracks is: guitar > a few pedals > RNP DI > RNC > Speck EQ. Though I'd normally mic up an amp, I'm surprised at how well this simple chain is working.

-Synth80s
Old 30th August 2005
  #18
Gear Addict
 
cletus's Avatar
 

Someone is selling an RNP and an RNC together for $550 on page two of the gearslutz classifieds. Great deal man you should hook it up! Funk Logic makes a rack mount for the rnc and rnp together that you could get as well if you wanna rack them up!
Old 30th August 2005
  #19
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Synth80s's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cletus
Someone is selling an RNP and an RNC together for $550 on page two of the gearslutz classifieds. Great deal man you should hook it up! Funk Logic makes a rack mount for the rnc and rnp together that you could get as well if you wanna rack them up!
On an unrelated note, someone is selling two Speck ASC EQs (not ASC-T with the transformer output but great nonetheless) on eBay for ~$500. Though I often mix and match compressors, my basic "poor man's professional" front end is RNP > RNC > ASC-T. It's a great combo for the dough, especially at used prices!

-Synth80s
Old 9th July 2013
  #20
I don't think anyone mentioned the Golden Age Pre73 MK2 yet. It is an attempt to mimic a classic design that neve built back in the day. There are a ton of videos of people comparing them to the real deal on youtube. They came out with a new version with an EQ Built in. Haven't gotten to try it out yet, but I will when I get one in stock.
Old 9th July 2013
  #21
Here for the gear
 
remoteman's Avatar
 

I gather you didn't realise that this thread is now eight years old?
Old 9th July 2013
  #22
Old 18th September 2015
  #23
Here for the gear
 

I agree that the DAV electronics dual mic pre for $600.00 is awesome! Yes, line inputs would be nice... but I bought it for stereo work. I compares favorably in quality to my Manley VoxBox - not as good obviously, not as feature laden and of course - different because it's not tube.
That being said, I didn't mind using it for a few months instead of the Manley while I was procrastinating about replacing a tube in the Manley... for awhile, I forgot about the VoxBox.
That's Saying something...
Old 18th September 2015
  #24
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RecTechMin View Post
DAV electronics BG-1. 2 channels for $600. Super sounding.
Great unit!
Old 18th September 2015
  #25
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Surprised the Audient Mico didn't get a shout! I have one and it is my only keeper out of the Focusrite Liquid Channel, UA Solo 610, Focusrite ISA One and ART MPA Gold (to name a few).
I find the Mico sounds very clean, detailed and low noise. The HMX feature is excellent and offers a nice thickening to the tone. Also the a/d converters are excellent.

My other favourite pre in this price range is the WARM TB12 (or WA12). This has a really nice thick tone and would be a good compliment to the Mico.
Old 21st September 2015
  #26
Been really digging the Fredenstein Artistic Mic preamps, they are discrete op amp style with output transformers, they have a softer character and smooth things out really well, for the price they are asking for these, it is a real steal for the quality you get.

Last edited by Doc Mixwell; 22nd September 2015 at 07:17 PM..
Old 21st September 2015
  #27
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guitarboy94's Avatar
 

My vote goes to the Warm WA12. I just can't think of any other preamp in this pricerange that gives you the type of pro quality that you get with the Warm WA12.
Old 22nd September 2015
  #28
279793
Guest
I hope the OP got his **** together - it's been 10 years now!
Old 22nd September 2015
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Been really digging the Fredenstein Artist Mic preamps, they are discrete op amp style with output transformers, they have a softer character and smooth things out really well, for the price they are asking for these, it is a real steal for the quality you get.
got 4 of the fredenstein V.A.S. preamps..recorded bass guitar through them D.I. a 602 and a 906 for the cabinet...man no eq at all...mixed the three signals and bamm...
and recorded an acoustic guitar as D.I. ...a nice takamine...sounded full out of the box...
and the WA 12 ... another beast on its own right
Old 23rd September 2015
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Fredenstein VAS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Been really digging the Fredenstein Artistic Mic preamps, they are discrete op amp style with output transformers, they have a softer character and smooth things out really well, for the price they are asking for these, it is a real steal for the quality you get.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deniis35 View Post
got 4 of the fredenstein V.A.S. preamps..recorded bass guitar through them D.I. a 602 and a 906 for the cabinet...man no eq at all...mixed the three signals and bamm...
and recorded an acoustic guitar as D.I. ...a nice takamine...sounded full out of the box...
and the WA 12 ... another beast on its own right
Would either of you care to share which camp(api/Neve?) you felt the VAS preamps fall in? I've read that fredenstein confirmed that the artistic Pres are the same as the VAS line. I'd be interested in using it for vocals with an sm7/u87 clone.

I have been eyeing fredenstein products for some time now but have been hesitant to pull the trigger. With deticaded internal power supply and American made output transformers I figure these must sound decent!
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