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The truth about Preamps
Old 24th October 2010
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
This is getting forked....
Hey - fork you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
Everyone's going to have different experiences because there are a number of factors...you can't generalize like all situations are the same.
Exactly. But the original Q was: do some preamps add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound. Bottom line is yes. Some preamps DO add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound. Which ones and to what extent and how mics/mic placement/room/musicians factor in, is open to debate. But you can not debate the fact that some preamps do add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound.

Cheers.
Old 24th October 2010
  #62
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If you had absolutely no recording equipment (got stolen or lost in a emergency for example)

And you had $1000. You have everything else you need ( Interface Computer cables monitors etc.)

How much are you going to spend on one workhorse microphone and one workhorse mic preamp?

$700 preamp and $300 microphone (70 percent/30 percent)? Or $500/$500

Answer the damn question please! =)
Old 24th October 2010
  #63
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BOWIE's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Pederson View Post
If you had absolutely no recording equipment (got stolen or lost in a emergency for example)

And you had $1000. You have everything else you need ( Interface Computer cables monitors etc.)

How much are you going to spend on one workhorse microphone and one workhorse mic preamp?

$700 preamp and $300 microphone (70 percent/30 percent)? Or $500/$500

Answer the damn question please! =)
Totally depends what the recording project is. Too many variables for me to be able to give one, universal answer. Also, I would rather have two cheaper, unique mics than to just be stuck with one. Sorry. If it means anything though, I have spent more money on preamps than mics. But, I have four times as many mics as preamps.
Old 24th October 2010
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRA View Post
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.
This isn't the point, really. Like someone said before in this thread, with today's technology, most preamps will give you good results. Very few preamps will give you "bad or not usable" results. I'm always surprised when people do preamp shootouts based on single recordings. Sure you can hear a difference, but the use of a proper preamp pays off when you start mixing, let's say, 5+ tracks which have all been recording through it. In my experience, everything falls in place much faster.

I'm looking forward to Michael Joly's argument.
Old 24th October 2010
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post

For me I would rather use a sm57 with a 1073 than a U47 with Behringer MIC100 preamp. Maybe I'm confused?
yes, i believe you might be..

a great tube mic like the U47 will transcend most inferior preamps, especially if it's on a great source. on most sources a typical 47 has a pretty hot output and requires little gain from the preamp anyway.

i'd be much happier with the U47 and any cheap preamp than a 57 and any fancy high end preamp.
Old 24th October 2010
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Pederson View Post
$700 preamp and $300 microphone (70 percent/30 percent)? Or $500/$500
100 for the preamp and 900 for the mic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bopkit View Post
a great tube mic like the U47 will transcend most inferior preamps, especially if it's on a great source. on most sources a typical 47 has a pretty hot output and requires little gain from the preamp anyway.

i'd be much happier with the U47 and any cheap preamp than a 57 and any fancy high end preamp.
+1 even with the M49 that has a sensitivity 8 dB lower than the U47 (10 mV/Pa instead of 25 mV/Pa).
Old 24th October 2010
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaPi61 View Post
As with many things in life, it doesn't take more than what most people can afford to achieve 80% of what you wish. Getting to 90% will cost you three times as much and 100% will be ridiculously expensive. Needless to say, I know many people well capable of producing great music with gear only capable of that theoretical 80%. At the same time, I'm fully aware that most of the music produced with top-tier equipment is trite, boring and uncreative.
I'm adding this to my sig, if that's cool. As an ITB mbox user with crap mics and no preamp and no money ,I need this info when I see the price of some pro gear compared to my aspirations/finances.
Old 24th October 2010
  #68
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Pederson View Post
If you had absolutely no recording equipment (got stolen or lost in a emergency for example)

And you had $1000. You have everything else you need ( Interface Computer cables monitors etc.)

How much are you going to spend on one workhorse microphone and one workhorse mic preamp?

$700 preamp and $300 microphone (70 percent/30 percent)? Or $500/$500

Answer the damn question please! =)
Considering the interface probably has a useable mic preamp, I would put it all into a decent mic. But it really depends on the project. It might be that an SM57 with a better preamp would give better results than a low end condenser.

I.e. - a choice of good mics is far more important than mic preamps. But I don't think anyone disagrees with this.

A certain quality level is required from a mic preamp - I look for amount of gain, dynamic range, EIN ... and audibly check it for hiss and hum, because the numbers lie all the time.

A preamp has a job to do - to boost the mic level. If it happens to add an eq curve or saturation or some color you like, that's a bonus, but also something that could backfire on you when it doesn't suit the source material.

If in doubt, get a quiet, clean, transparent preamp. There are plenty of ways to color sound, if you haven't screwed it up with a noisy, distorted preamp.
Old 24th October 2010
  #69
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post
Hey - fork you!



Exactly. But the original Q was: do some preamps add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound. Bottom line is yes. Some preamps DO add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound. Which ones and to what extent and how mics/mic placement/room/musicians factor in, is open to debate. But you can not debate the fact that some preamps do add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound.

Cheers.
Hi
Really enjoying the views coming up here
Thanks for a direct answer to that question as well

Another question would be - If preamps make a difference, is it a night and day difference?
Old 24th October 2010
  #70
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by JPeters86 View Post
but the use of a proper preamp pays off when you start mixing, let's say, 5+ tracks which have all been recording through it. In my experience, everything falls in place much faster.
.
This is a common argument -
- expensive or 'great' preamps are marginally better than cheapo ones [is this statement true so far?]
- the real difference comes when stacking tracks

I assume this means [in wildly inaccurate mathematical analogy] that if 1073 is 5% better than MIC100 then 5 tracks later you have a 25% improvement in overall sound.

OK the details may be subtly different but lets accept that for now.

The implication then for someone who does very simple stuff needing only a preamp on one or two tracks - say vox and guitar - would the 1073 then only offer the 5% overall improvement i.e. not worth the far greater outlay.

OR

is 1073 hugely and very audibly superior to the MIC100 and it will show even when used just on vox, for example.

If there was a huge, impressive, unequivocal difference, I'm sure many more of us would budget for the top gear. Sometimes its not a matter of not being able to afford something, it's more a matter of 'what if I make that large outlay and get very little improvement for it'.
Old 24th October 2010
  #71
Fezzle
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Ive just upgraded to top preamps, and yes people you have a point.. theyre not as important as some make out.. or at least puttin what seems like all round total value on thing like pre's is a little deluded.. however
Ive also come to realise that the sum of the parts in the recording process is greater. After using inferior preamps, I now notice much more clarity before mixing.. and its important that i stress the cumulative result .. A/B ing a pre will show you very subtle differences when comparing their qualities. Those subtle differences become much bigger differences when youve tracked say 8 channels or more and thats when you realise that little difference makes all the difference. At least it does to my ears.
Old 24th October 2010
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimsi View Post
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
mic is of course most important.

For a great song you will need

1) Good song
2) Good arrangement
3) Great Musicians
4) Good Instruments
5) Great playing
6) Good room
7) Good mic
8) Right mic position
9) Good cables
10) Nice preamp
11) AD or tape
12) Computer (ITB) or mixer (OTB)
13) Dont forget the lava lamp.....


now where is that preamp?
position 10!!
Not as important as the other factors for a great song.

But....

assuming all the other factors are good then YES the preamp is gonna make a difference for sure!!
Old 24th October 2010
  #73
RTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fezzle View Post
Ive just upgraded to top preamps, and yes people you have a point.. theyre not as important as some make out.. or at least puttin what seems like all round total value on thing like pre's is a little deluded.. however
Ive also come to realise that the sum of the parts in the recording process is greater. After using inferior preamps, I now notice much more clarity before mixing.. and its important that i stress the cumulative result .. A/B ing a pre will show you very subtle differences when comparing their qualities. Those subtle differences become much bigger differences when youve tracked say 8 channels or more and thats when you realise that little difference makes all the difference. At least it does to my ears.
I am just happy to finally see someone say that pre's make only a little difference and said be someone that HAS good pres!! Thats rare because most people feel the need to justify their purchase!!
Old 24th October 2010
  #74
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
If there was a huge, impressive, unequivocal difference, I'm sure many more of us would budget for the top gear. Sometimes its not a matter of not being able to afford something, it's more a matter of 'what if I make that large outlay and get very little improvement for it'.
If you are in this game for the long run and looking to capture your music in its most pure and unadulterated state then you'll want to spring for good pres early on in the game so you can forget about them and just go after the music.

I think we all agree that they are at least that important.
Old 24th October 2010
  #75
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IM still confused WHY people can not see that the Mic and Pre are performing two VERY different jobs..
The Mic matters...
The Pre matters...

The fact is there are aspects of BOTH that are beyond the control of the other...

A bad or low end pre CAN add/subtract from the signal..
Distortion in some pres vary a HIGH amount at different gain settings...
Noise levels is VERY different in some pres...9dB for example..
The loading on the mic is VERY different in some pres AT different frequencies..something MOST never talk about....But it is a Fact...which results in a very different sound/response from the Mic...

So..IT DOES Matter...Both..
Old 24th October 2010
  #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
Another question would be - If preamps make a difference, is it a night and day difference?


Someone in this thread posted a sample of a guitar recorded with the same mics, but with different pres (a Behringer and a Chandler, I think). It sounded pretty different to me... Not sure you could emulate the same results with EQ, but still there's a substantial difference in sound.
Old 24th October 2010
  #77
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yiannis View Post
mic is of course most important.

For a great song you will need

1) Good song
2) Good arrangement
3) Great Musicians
4) Good Instruments
5) Great playing
6) Good room
7) Good mic
8) Right mic position
9) Good cables
10) Nice preamp
11) AD or tape
12) Computer (ITB) or mixer (OTB)
13) Dont forget the lava lamp.....


now where is that preamp?
position 10!!
Not as important as the other factors for a great song.

But....

assuming all the other factors are good then YES the preamp is gonna make a difference for sure!!
So, IF you really had GREAT players coming in, a Mackie to track with would be OK??? So Steve Gadd on drums and the pres are not very important...

Every session I have been around with TRULY great players the Good mic pres were used FIRST....
Plus HOW do you know you have a GREAT song/performance YET???
Seriously??
See my point???
Every session I have been involved with REGARDLESS of the players being GREAT I wanted to make sure the gear WAS at least good...Not after they tracked and then thought, gee wish I would have USED some better pres...compressors...Mics.. ect...
And NO doubt the Mixing AFTER tracking is VERY important..
Have seen great tracks ruined by a new guy wanting to use EVERY plug in he had..regardless if it was needed OR not...

No doubt ALL things you listed matters...Of course they do...
Old 24th October 2010
  #78
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sound_music's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yiannis View Post
mic is of course most important.

For a great song you will need

1) Good song
2) Good arrangement
3) Great Musicians
4) Good Instruments
5) Great playing
6) Good room
7) Good mic
8) Right mic position
9) Good cables
10) Nice preamp
11) AD or tape
12) Computer (ITB) or mixer (OTB)
13) Dont forget the lava lamp.....


now where is that preamp?
position 10!!
Not as important as the other factors for a great song.

But....

assuming all the other factors are good then YES the preamp is gonna make a difference for sure!!
this about sums it up. lots of other factors to have in place before a great mic amp starts to make a difference. and yes they do make a difference--you can get a greater sense of depth, size, and detail with a quality pre--but depth, size, and detail without all the rest don't amount to much...
Old 24th October 2010
  #79
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWTON IN ORBIT View Post

I love the upfront sound of the vocals prior to the guitars lol

The difference wasn't impressive to me - yes teh second sounded more richer and saturated in hindsight but either recording sounds good too.
It could boil down to taste or the need of the track which sounds better.

On the other hand, the vocals at the start had a really nice up front sound with clarity and richness - now what was the chain there?

Also how about doing a vocal comparison - with guitars being such an affected instrument it makes it difficult to compare
Old 24th October 2010
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokeboka View Post
Someone in this thread posted a sample of a guitar recorded with the same mics, but with different pres (a Behringer and a Chandler, I think). It sounded pretty different to me... Not sure you could emulate the same results with EQ, but still there's a substantial difference in sound.
This post kinda comes to the crux of a point I don't think was made:

I have noticed that most people's monitoring setups and environments are
not capable of picking up the differences (whether subtle or dramatic) and presenting them clear enough
to make a genuine distinction between quality gear (mic OR preamp) and crappy gear....
Old 24th October 2010
  #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
So, IF you really had GREAT players coming in, a Mackie to track with would be OK??? So Steve Gadd on drums and the pres are not very important...
Yes it could be better than having bad players recorded via great preamps!!

"garbage in garbage out" right?

Recently I got some tracks to mix with lots of acoustic and electric guitars!

The raw tracks were awesome.
Recording chain?

Akg SD mic>Beghriner preamp>computer with a cheap audio interface!
The guy recorded in his living room using a 4000 euro Taylor guitar.
The playing was perfect.

Now in my studio using the best I have to record an ok ac guitar player.
Sound BAD why? because the player was bad and his guitar had 12 months old strings!!

Got my point.

Excample #2

Session one
I am trying to record a player.
looking for the best mic placement, changing mics,preamps..whatever I can to make it sound good.

at the end I give up because there is nothing else I can do!
recording sound is average.

session two at the same moment with another player!
Recording chain the same!

Sound quality?EXCELLENT
Why, because of the preamp?
No!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Every session I have been around with TRULY great players the Good mic pres were used FIRST....
Got you!!You said the magic word in bold red


Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Plus HOW do you know you have a GREAT song/performance YET???
Seriously??
See my point???
Every session I have been involved with REGARDLESS of the players being GREAT I wanted to make sure the gear WAS at least good...Not after they tracked and then thought, gee wish I would have USED some better pres...compressors...Mics.. ect...
And NO doubt the Mixing AFTER tracking is VERY important..
Have seen great tracks ruined by a new guy wanting to use EVERY plug in he had..regardless if it was needed OR not...
Well, of course I do my best to get the best I can from what the session is giving me.
I don't say "oh that a bad player lets put him a bad mic/preamp"
No i am doingmy best to everyone.
Its just that the preamp/mic or whatever has a soul .
It reacts different to different people /players
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
No doubt ALL things you listed matters...Of course they do...
thank you

ps: my final point is that whenever someone listens to some great sounds he must think not only
"what mic was that" or "what preamp" or "what Ad" but also HOW did they do that!
Old 24th October 2010
  #82
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drak12's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitch333 View Post
This post kinda comes to the crux of a point I don't think was made:

I have noticed that most people's monitoring setups and environments are
not capable of picking up the differences (whether subtle or dramatic) and presenting them clear enough
to make a genuine distinction between quality gear (mic OR preamp) and crappy gear....
heh that sounds like me

I listened to that comparison on my laptop with AKG K44 headphones - yuk!

But this is the point - if I can hear a huge difference between my stuff and professional music on this setup - then there is a difference.

If preamps were so vastly varied in quality of sound, the same setup should show it up.

What percentage consumers or people in their cars etc are monitoring through high quality systems?
Old 24th October 2010
  #83
Lives for gear
 

One thing is for sure.... a good preamp will get the best out of a "bad" mic. Meaning that when you stick a good preamp on say, a 57, (not a bad mic, but a less expensive choice) you'll hear a dramatic difference between that and the same 57 in an inexpensive console. A really good sounding mic can be compromised by a much less good front end (console or pre).

But what this all gets down to is balance among the components in your signal chain. "Which is most important" is not the best way to look at the chain. Planning out your purchase path makes more sense, so that when you do put the whole dream finally together each piece gives the best that it can and that 'best' fits in with the rest of the pieces. Yeah, we may start out with the cheapest garbage out there just to get started. But when upgrading, it really does pay to have a goal, a level on which you want your system to sit. It makes little sense to blow a wad on a mic or a pre or any other single part and expect it to drag the rest of the system to some higher plateau. (Which brings up my favorite subject... the monitoring chain including the room. How ya gonna know it sounds better if you can't hear it right to start with?)
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Old 24th October 2010
  #84
Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
Hi

We get lots of threads about which preamps.

Mainly because many of us haven't been in the game that long or have not had the funds or opportunities to try lots of preamps to know about them from experience.

I put a thread up about the RNP and many thought it was pro enough and would not be limiting to the recording process. Others disagreed.


Another post recently claimed that the recent fad with preamps was overblown and that mics have more impact on the sound.


Then you have the huge number of threads claiming how wonderful the 1073 or GR sound, causing those who haven't tried them to feel sure that they are missing out and should aspire to owning those or a good copy e.g. the GAP73.


So which is it?

- do some preamps add a significant and noticeable improvement to the sound

- or is it like the SOS conclusion in the review of the Liquid Channel Preamp

[I'm not so sure this product, impressive though it undoubtedly is, is the best possible investment for the smaller home studio. The quality and range of preamps and compressors here is sublime, but this is a finessing tool and I wonder if the differences might be a little too subtle in circumstances where there are bigger hurdles to overcome than choosing between different preamps. ]

Can we get any real clarity on this topic to put all the other preamp cogitations in perspective.

Thanks
There is a fairly wide range of preamp qualities and characters, vis a vis other parts of the electronic chain like mixers, power amplifiers, and other parts of the chain typically designed for transparency.

But they don't have nearly the variance of characters and qualities that the electro-mechanical components like mics and loudspeakers do.

(And we could probably throw tape machines in there, too. Although tape machines were certainly typically designed aspiring to transparency, even if many of us look to them for euphony.)

Not only is there a wide variance in preamps but something that a lot of folks don't seem to quite understand is that preamps and mics form an impedance system. It's not just a matter of adding mic sound A to preamp sound B -- they interact with distinct alinearity over a range of amplitudes and frequencies.


For that and other reasons, I'm not sure bringing the preamp profile simulator, the Liquid Channel, into the equation isn't sort of like throwing a piece of wax fruit into an apples and oranges comparison... The Liquid Channel, AIUI, seeks to marry a 'transparent' preamp with digital convolution circuitry [like that that powers convolution reverbs and amp sims] that can recall a variety of attempts at simulating different preamp profiles. I've never read any convincing suggestions that it even comes close in that goal, though it certainly might be useful for some folks.
Old 24th October 2010
  #85
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tampa's Avatar
 

The sound of many preamp differences may seem subtle to many, as they do for me. The difference between an OK pre amp and a really good pre amp shows up cumulatively. Adding a little mud 30 times goes from a mud pie to a mud pit.

Having said that you don't have to spend a fortune to get really good preamps, the used market is a godsend for those of us with tighter budgets.
Old 24th October 2010
  #86
Gear Addict
 

A mic preamp with a transformer-balanced input can present a different load on the output of a microphone than say an electronically-balanced preamp input. Some preamps even vary input impedance with a change of gain. These are components in an electrical circuit; it isn't magic that causes certain mic and preamp combinations to sound better than others.
Old 24th October 2010
  #87
Gear Addict
 
edwonbass's Avatar
 

I'm starting to yawn. It's time for Michael J to come in and close this thing out.
Old 24th October 2010
  #88
Gear Head
 
kokeboka's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drak12 View Post
The difference wasn't impressive to me - yes teh second sounded more richer and saturated in hindsight but either recording sounds good too.
It could boil down to taste or the need of the track which sounds better.
Well, it sounded like two completely different guitar tones to me. An immediate reaction would be to dismiss the behringer for obliterating the sound like that, but a) we don't know how the amp actually sounded like in the live room, and b) maybe the song is calling for that kind of trashy sound. That's the thing: you might want a meaty sound, or you might want that abrasiveness. Doesn't make the Behringer pre worse or useless, just makes it a tool for a specific job. If you have rack full of expensive boutique pres that cover most of your needs, you might still find a use for a piece of gear like that.

I think the question people should be asking is "could I tweak that behringer recording to sound convincingly like the chandler, or vice versa, if I needed to?". Nobody likes EQ'ing to polish turds but if you know the shortcomings of what you have (be it a behringer or a neve), it's better to work around something less than ideal instead of having pre-amps for every imaginable situation. The fundamental thing is to be able to recognize which pre better suits the feel of the instrument, and to know if one can work with what's on hand. Just because you have $2,000 pres doesn't mean you never need to EQ things.
Old 24th October 2010
  #89
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RARStudios's Avatar
I just laughed when someone said that their upgrade from their motu 8pre to their ensemble was a slight change....

That has got to be the biggest crock of **** ever....

I upgraded to an Ensemble from the Motu 896hd, which is comparible to the 8 pre and its night and day. I can actually make clean sounding mixes. Not only that, but the usability of the Ensemble is 500% more efficient with the mic pres being driven through maestro here at my desk. I wouldnt ever go back, in fact, I am selling my MOTU soon probably.


Not to mention the price difference per actual pre....

8 preamps for $400 (new)comes to a whopping total of $50 per preamp for the motu 8pre

Comparably speaking, talking street price, a brand new Ensemble is around $1800

That means, 4 pres for $450 each.
Old 24th October 2010
  #90
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Denny C's Avatar
Yes, of course a great pre will embellish a production. BTW, as far as the "list" from Yiannis is concerned...to get a great song you must start out with a great song and then hope the other listed extrapolating factors don't turn it into a good song. thumbsupthumbsup
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