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The truth about Preamps Single-Channel Preamps
Old 24th October 2010
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_Joly View Post
Choice of preamp really does not matter and mics are far more important. But I'm going to let this most recent flare-up of the mic / preamp debate go through all its usual phases - like all the other flare ups, and wait until all the usual noise is played out. Then when civility and rationality returns so will I. Not with samples, but with a compelling argument that never fails to bring this discussion to a screeching halt.

Just do a search if you want to see what I'm going to present.

We pick the preamp for your proof...I would never buy into this argument as there is a quality balance for either mic or preamp with talent........................
Old 24th October 2010
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post

Most people - meaning the masses - no. Most good engineers - yes.
Interesting
I am not an engineer and would be happy with something that sounded good to me
The implication of your statement is taht great preamps don't sound very different unless you have the ears of an engineer - which I - and probably many others here would think we don't have.

So perhaps, to us, preamps wouldn't make much of a difference?
Old 24th October 2010
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
The implication of your statement is taht great preamps don't sound very different unless you have the ears of an engineer...
Pretty much. If you don't know what you are listening to, and what "sounds good", (and this is not a jab at you or anyone else) then you probably would not have a preference between a 1073 and say, an Avalon mic pre. You would probably be able to hear the difference in an A/B as they are not the same, but as for what is "better" - that would be a matter of opinion. But go back to JPeters86's "cumulative effect" post. That about sums it up.

There are two other things to bear in mind here (which does not mean there are only two other things)......

1) Any good, experienced engineer, when faced with a choice, is going to choose a 1073 over an Avalon any day of the week (don't mean to pick on Avalon here; there products are actually really good), - for most applications. Sure, there may be some exceptions, but few if any.


2)
Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
I am not an engineer and would be happy with something that sounded good to me .....So perhaps, to us, preamps wouldn't make much of a difference?
Are you the only one that is going to listen to the recording? If so, then it absolutely does not matter - assuming you really cant hear the difference. But wouldn't you want to get your recording - your creation that you want to take pride in - to sound as good as possible, so that when other people hear it...

Cheers.
Old 24th October 2010
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_Joly View Post
Choice of preamp really does not matter and mics are far more important. But I'm going to let this most recent flare-up of the mic / preamp debate go through all its usual phases - like all the other flare ups, and wait until all the usual noise is played out. Then when civility and rationality returns so will I. Not with samples, but with a compelling argument that never fails to bring this discussion to a screeching halt.

Just do a search if you want to see what I'm going to present.
Ok, checked out your site. You obviously know your ****. But a search yielded too many reults for me to wade through to get to the compelling argument that never fails to bring this discussion to a screeching halt.

So, here I sit, waiting with baited breath....
Old 24th October 2010
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardtoe View Post
No - ONLY THE PREAMP MATTERS!!!!!!

Ok , then.
Try to record a bad player with a bad instrument in a bad room.

Use the best preamp you can have...do you like it?

Now try the other way around.

Good player,good instrument,good room.

use a cheap preamp.......


A great preamp will enhance a great source but it will not fix a bad combo(player,instr,room)



ps: about lava lamps....... you have to use the right colour
Old 24th October 2010
  #36
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No - ONLY THE PREAMP MATTERS - PERIOD.
Old 24th October 2010
  #37
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While we are waiting for Michael_Joly's final argument I would like to add my 2 cents...
1. There is a big difference in sonic character between some preamps. When comparing in a blind test my Fonia WAB31a and my console preamp I can easily hear a difference between one and another. On certain vocalists this difference is like night and day.
2. Sonic character is not the only factor - for example when I use my old RCA or STC ribbon mic I need a lot of clean gain. I usualy choose my Neumann v476 preamps for that job (80dB of clean gain).

Of course the final result (music) depends on so many things that I can understand why some people consider preamps not important.
Old 24th October 2010
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yiannis View Post
Ok , then.
Try to record a bad player with a bad instrument in a bad room.

Use the best preamp you can have...do you like it?

Now try the other way around.

Good player,good instrument,good room.

use a cheap preamp.......


A great preamp will enhance a great source but it will not fix a bad combo(player,instr,room)


ps: about lava lamps....... you have to use the right colour

Ok, do the same with a great mic with these untalented so called muiscians...nada...the talent is just part of the equation and yes, toss a treated room in there ...it boils down to a good chain including talent, as for a mic more important than a preamp ... think Nady preamp....draw your own conclusion...

I like a green lava lamp
Old 24th October 2010
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robak View Post
While we are waiting for Michael_Joly's final argument I would like to add my 2 cents...
1. There is a big difference in sonic character between some preamps. When comparing in a blind test my Fonia WAB31a and my console preamp I can easily hear a difference between one and another. On certain vocalists this difference is like night and day.
2. Sonic character is not the only factor - for example when I use my old RCA or STC ribbon mic I need a lot of clean gain. I usualy choose my Neumann v476 preamps for that job (80dB of clean gain).

Of course the final result (music) depends on so many things that I can understand why some people consider preamps not important.
Bad preamp think of HISS, dont let someone blow smoke up your shorts with a bluff like MJ's...its just to keep us thinking...and second guessing ourselves
Old 24th October 2010
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
I checked out the link a few hours ago - and can't sto reading - a real ear opener !

Fantastically written and recommended reading . . .

Thanks
I'm glad!! It really helped me keep things in perspective when I discovered it.
Old 24th October 2010
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
Bad preamp think of HISS, dont let someone blow smoke up your shorts with a bluff like MJ's...its just to keep us thinking...and second guessing ourselves
Preamps that have a lot of hiss are quite rare, really. No smoke involved, just perspective...
Old 24th October 2010
  #42
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Stick a gain-hungry mic like a ribbon or an RE20 on a cheap pre, then put it on a good pre and come back and say they don't matter.

Toanl differences aside, the amount of clean gain available is an easy-to-define metric that separates their abilities.
Old 24th October 2010
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisc_o View Post
Preamps that have a lot of hiss are quite rare, really. No smoke involved, just perspective...

turn a cheap one up with a ribbon or an sm7b...where there is hiss there is other imperfections most times, the argument was preamps are not important, not most or some...cheap pres dont have alot of clean head room..
Old 24th October 2010
  #44
TRA
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I had a Behringer ADA8000, Neve clones, API clones, GT Vipre, Digi002, ART Tube MP, and a few others. While blind A/B tests did show differences between them, more on some than others, not a single one sounded bad or not usable.
Old 24th October 2010
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
turn a cheap one up with a ribbon or an sm7b...where there is hiss there is other imperfections most times, the argument was preamps are not important, not most or some...cheap pres dont have alot of clean head room..
Read my first post in this thread. I covered this.....

This is why these threads are so numerous; read before posting
Old 24th October 2010
  #46
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haha I just covered it to where we can understand it better..
Old 24th October 2010
  #47
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Mics have much more impact in the sound than preamps....PERIOD!!

If you have a great preamp...then invest in great mics!!
Old 24th October 2010
  #48
Hey I gotta say Michael, I absolutely do not agree with you here, but to each his own. That is a big, bold statement.

Now, generic IC based transformerless mic amps in interfaces and low to mid end consoles...No it doesn't matter with these IMO...much at all anyways.

Particularly if they are all transformerless with differential input, and have close to the the same input impedance, use the same chips etc.

I would have an IMMENSELY difficult time trying to a/b compare these types of preamps. They all sound pretty much the same to me.

Now, compare one of these to a preamp from the 50's, 60's or 70's, with transfomers, (maybe tubes) frequency response of no greater than 15khz, and an amp circuit with a good amount of "color", and the preamp does make a difference, even in original working order. In other words, I mean that the old pre is not "broken" or faulty.

I cannot see how it wouldn't. These signals certainly would not null, so how do you mean?

Please listen to the file below. Same mic, two different preamps. On the cheaper one, I clearly hear the same old buzzy, fizzy top end that you get tracking distorted guitars with a cheap preamp with an IC somewhere in it, and without a transformer.

I grew up with cheap preamps, and I can definitely hear a difference now that I have my hands on better. I always wondered how the "pros" got that sound, now I kinda know the mic amp is at least part of it.

If you cannot hear this difference, and the 2d, "everything flat and forward" sound in this clip compared to the more expensive mic amp, I don't know what to tell ya. To me, it sounds like cheap IC based mic amps do something to the time alignment of frequencies, as in they are not in the same phase relationship to the original source.

Now maybe the old stuff or new boutique stuff doesn't appear to hold up as well when measured...whatever, but they certainly sound better trying to me. Tape, or no tape.
J

FILE:
https://www.yousendit.com/download/Z...Z1BUME5jR0E9PQ
Old 24th October 2010
  #49
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use a great river and a Pacifica...with an U87

then use both preamps with an U87 and a Bock 251.

I want to know where do u feel a bigger difference!!!
Old 24th October 2010
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zak7 View Post
use a great river and a Pacifica...with an U87

then use both preamps with an U87 and a Bock 251.

I want to know where do u feel a bigger difference!!!
True, liken a decent Preamp to a good road, the nice mic to a great car and wonderful talent to a good driver....your now getting somewhere in style...
Old 24th October 2010
  #51
Quote:
Originally Posted by zak7 View Post
use a great river and a Pacifica...with an U87

then use both preamps with an U87 and a Bock 251.

I want to know where do u feel a bigger difference!!!

Sure, but you can still hear a dfference between the two preamps right?

To say it doesn't make a difference, or doesn't matter? Tell that to someone who almost always uses his Pacificas on OH's, and then one day they break, and he has to use his GR's. Sure, it will sound good and not be WAYYY off, but it will make a difference.

I can certainly see the "doesn't matter" argument, you can capture a great source / hit song with anything, and it will sound cool, but not the doesn't make any difference thing.

It all makes a difference.

If it didn't, we could all buy cheap Radioshack mixers, and get our mics modded by Michael Joly (I did this), and just use that setup.

Heck, it would certainly be cheaper. Sheesh, just find some old thing with 1/4" hi z mic inputs, and use a Radioshack impedance matcher while we're at it.

Doesn't make a difference right?
I don't get it? Not trying to start an argument here, just posting for the sake of discussion.
John
Old 24th October 2010
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
I can certainly see the "doesn't matter" argument, you can capture a great source / hit song with anything, and it will sound cool, but not the doesn't make any difference thing.

It all makes a difference.

If it didn't, we could all buy cheap Radioshack mixers, and get our mics modded by Michael Joly (I did this), and just use that setup.

Doesn't make a difference right?
I don't get it? Not trying to start an argument here, just posting for the sake of discussion.
John
Assuming you are recording Jimi Hendrix (or another very good musician) with a great voice or instrument

Order of Importance?

1. Mic Pre
2. Microphone

Or

1. Microphone
2. Mic Pre

Thats really what this boils down to. Its not what matters and what doesnt matter, its QUANTIFY the importance and lets have the smartest people here put numbers down

E.x
90 percent mic pre
10 percent mic

Oh and with all respect Michael Joly here is your pissing monkey while we wait for your argument =)
dfegad
Old 24th October 2010
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zak7 View Post
Mics have much more impact in the sound than preamps....PERIOD!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by zak7 View Post
If you have a great preamp...then invest in great mics!!
oh... so there are such things as great preamps? but the mic still matters more? contradiction? no? yes? maybe?

For me I would rather use a sm57 with a 1073 than a U47 with Behringer MIC100 preamp. Maybe I'm confused? But I will guarantee 1000s of platinum records have been cut with some 57/1073 combo. How many with the u47/Behrigner combos? take a wild guess....
it's prolly ZERO

In theory what you are implying may be true.... in practice it's just not the case. At least not in the professional world of recording.
Noone that has a locker full of highend mics uses a just any old console or preamp.
Old 24th October 2010
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
- do some preamps add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound
This has already become very side-tracked so the original question is in quotes above. Changing the discussion to "are mics more important?" leads us to the argument that the room is more important than a mic, then the source, the arrangement, the melody, and I suppose we could find other theoretical ground to argue from there.
This is about the ability for some preamps to sound better than others.
To which I say, "yes"
Also, this question can easily get side-tracked with many real-world considerations like; budget, production style, etc. All of which are valid, but separete discussions which cause threads like this to chase it's own tail.
Old 24th October 2010
  #55
70% Mic, 30% mic pre to me. I think the preamp can make a VAST difference. Impedance, circuit design...you nake it. All the way down to the power supply.

All that said, 30% is a lot.

Even 2% is a lot, if you are striving for your absolute best.

Imagine if you had a rack a $3,000 mic amps, and you had tested all of them to see what usually sounds best on what sources. If you get lazy, and say to yourself :

"Mic amp A sounds 10% (even 1%) better than mic amp B on acoustic gtr, but because I don't feel like getting up off my a** to re-patch it after doing vox, mic amp b will do well enough. All my mic pres are good, so it doesn't really matter right?... Screw it."

To me, I like to feel that 1% makes all the difference. At what point is good enough, good enough?

Now I do admit the best records in the world were cut using a console with one type of mic amp.

That said, most people in this forum are not going to have a 24 input Helios console to do this with. They'll have some good preamps, and some ok preamps, maybe some utter crap. Better get up and repatch the nicer mic amp for your tracks that need it.

IMHO, if you don't you are not doing your job as an engineer.

Trust me when I say, that I wish it were not so, and it didn't matter. I ran a low end project studio in the late 80's and early 90's, blissfully unaware of the difference, but always not completely happy with what I was getting ---sound quality wise.

Now that I know it does make a difference, it is frustrating because of the cost of these things. I really wish it didn't make any difference, but it is a hard reality to me anyway, that it does.

John
Old 24th October 2010
  #56
Good point Bowie, and some good points Robert Shaw. I don't agree with everything. the u47 via Behringer thing, I might take the U47 via behringer if recording something that needed a condenser.

Though the 57 works on some of the absolute best of singers sometimes (Paul Rodgers w/ his voice) I think I would opt for the behringer and the 47 for most vox... if I HAD to.

I'll eat the 30% I talked about in the preceding post to get the detail a condenser brings.

If that 57 and 1073 were on an amp or most anything else, I would love it.

Point taken though Bowie, this is about preamps enhancing the sound or not I guess.
John

Last edited by NEWTON IN ORBIT; 24th October 2010 at 05:49 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 24th October 2010
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
1073 is arguably the most popular preamp of all time....
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
More records were not recorded with a Neve than they were.
These 2 statements are from the same post. They seem contradictory.

A 1073 is the most popular preamp on gearslutz.

The most popular of all time would probably be whichever preamp is contained in whichever live/studio console that has sold the most in history and has been used the most.

I'll bet its actually Mackie, or Yamaha.
Old 24th October 2010
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post
Point taken though Bowie, this is about preamps enhancing the sound or not
I agree with the majority of things you're saying as well.
I'm just trying to bring the point back home because I'm curious to see which people say that there is little to no difference in preamps, and why. In my studio, I simply can't imagine anyone saying that they can't hear a difference between my Universal Audio and my Millennia pres. But, if someone is has typically worked with a certain style or level of preamp in their career, I can understand why they might think that "preamps are preamps". I'm curious about other reasons as to why people might think they all sound the same though. It's an interesting study with no real rights or wrongs. It's all just individual percerption, which is the cool part.
Old 24th October 2010
  #59
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This is getting forked...whether the mic makes more diff than the preamp is a different argument than the preamp doesn't matter.

The mic is more important than the preamp. The preamp DOES make a difference. I can promise you from experience. The more dynamic mics you use, the bigger difference it makes. So, things like close mic'd drums and amps I hear more difference in the preamp than a traditionally condenser track--piano, acoustic gtr, vocal, etc...

That's why the debate. Everyone's going to have different experiences because there are a number of factors...you can't generalize like all situations are the same.
Old 24th October 2010
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRJanuary View Post
The most popular of all time would probably be whichever preamp is contained in whichever live/studio console that has sold the most in history and has been used the most.
Popular meaning most used, or popular meaning most liked? Not the same. Sure, the low-end boards and mic pres get used more because they cost less. Cost more = used less. Cost less = used more. This, of course, factoring in everyone - from top of the line pro studio to small project studio to home studio, and everything and everyone inbetween. If you factor in everyone who has ever done a recording, the yamaha/mackie/behringer/whatever would be used more. But how many people who have used a yamaha/mackie/behringer/whatever because that is all they could afford wound up saying, "damn - I wish I was using a Neve/SSL/etc. mic pre"? I am sure more than a few.
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