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Looking for a $100~ XLR to USB preamp for mic Condenser Microphones
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Looking for a $100~ XLR to USB preamp for mic

I just bought the Rode NT1a and I've been trying to figure out what XLR to USB preamp to get to go with it. The problem is that I really don't know much about choosing my music equipment past guitars, and what I've learned about mic's in the last few days.

I'll be doing a lot of talking, vocals, and acoustic guitar. Some electric guitar as well, but relatively little.

The main one I've been looking at so far is the Shure X2U XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter
Amazon.com: Shure X2U XLR-to-USB Signal Adapter: Musical Instruments

It seems to be the highest quality adapter of it's kind for under a hundred dollars. However, I've been led to believe that some preamps that are a bit larger in size might provide better features for the price. I'm really not concerned with portability, just durability, cost, and sound quality.

Any recommendations would be great, especially if you can explain WHY you would recommend whatever item it is, since it's really hard to judge which is better without any specific reasons.

To be clear, chances are good I'm going to be using this almost exclusively with my Mic, and recording vocals/guitar primarily. The preamp needs to have 48V phantom power.

I'm looking for the best item I can get in the price range, I really can't afford to spend more than 5-10$ more than this though.

Thanks a lot for your time. ^_^
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
asap audio's Avatar
 

I really like the ART Project Series MP USB preamp. Sounds very good.
No drivers to install. The 40hz highpass will come in handy with the NT1.

Applied Research & Technology: Digital Interfaces

I've owned two for at least three years with no issues. Sounds as good as some more expensive pres I own.
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by asap audio View Post
I really like the ART Project Series MP USB preamp. Sounds very good.
No drivers to install. The 40hz highpass will come in handy with the NT1.

Applied Research & Technology: Digital Interfaces
I agree that a multiple input/output device will serve you a lot better than a single channel input adapter.

watch what you buy though, because in the budget lines with phantom power the converters are often only 16 bit, and pretty much all are limited to 48k. the 48k thing might be okay but 16 bits is not.
Old 18th December 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Boschen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I agree that a multiple input/output device will serve you a lot better than a single channel input adapter.

watch what you buy though, because in the budget lines with phantom power the converters are often only 16 bit, and pretty much all are limited to 48k. the 48k thing might be okay but 16 bits is not.
+1 here.
Go for a 24 bit interface, or you'll probably end up buying twice. At your price point I would be looking at used gear.
Old 19th December 2010
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Alright, so far the ART USB is at the top of my list, but while searching around for reviews I found a couple non-USB preamps that I could go for if I stretched my wallet a bit.

The M-Audio DMP3 used
M-Audio DMP3 Dual Preamplifier at zZounds

The studio projects VTB-1 tube mic preamp.
Studio Projects VTB-1 Tube Mic Preamp VTB1 - Free Shipping!

And the ART Tube PAC
Buy ART Tube PAC | Microphone Preamps | Channel Strips | Musician's Friend

Each of those is the lowest price I was able to find (other than checking ebay/craigslist), but I didn't look for too long.


Now I've got a couple questions.

1) How do I tell if a preamp is 16 or 24 bit audio? I couldn't find it in the specifications, so I'm guessing I was looking for the wrong thing.

2) Would I be better off with one of those and a 1/4th to 1/8th converter to plug into my PC's mic slot, or a preamp with USB output? I could also possibly get a 1/4th to USB converter, but it's much more expensive.
Old 19th December 2010
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakri View Post
M-Audio DMP3 (used)

Studio Projects VTB-1

and ART Tube PAC

All of them are barely within what I could pay if I stretch it a bit.
I don't believe any of those will convert your audio signal to digital. They are just standalone preamps.

Running the preamp directly into your computer's sound card via an 1/8 inch minijack will probably yield very low quality results. A USB or firewire interface would be the better way to go.
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
I have an Edirol UA25 you can have for $100 - it has two XLR inputs, MIDI, excellent soft-clipping preamps, line-in, headphone out, USB ASIO interface and drivers. I only used it a few times to record rehearsals on my laptop. It would take care of your preamp AND audio interface needs all in one shot - not to mention you get two mic inputs, plus line-in and MIDI as a bonus, all within your budget!
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangeland View Post
I don't believe any of those will convert your audio signal to digital. They are just standalone preamps.

Running the preamp directly into your computer's sound card via an 1/8 inch minijack will probably yield very low quality results. A USB or firewire interface would be the better way to go.
Alright, thanks. That's what I wanted to know, if there would be a reduction in quality with a non-USB output that would make it worth it to go with the USB converter type instead.


@jplanet I think I might be interested, but I've never purchased something from someone off a forum, so I'm a little edgy about that. How would that work?

And, not to be rude or anything, but is there anyone else who would recommend that piece of hardware for my purposes?
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakri View Post
Alright, thanks. That's what I wanted to know, if there would be a reduction in quality with a non-USB output that would make it worth it to go with the USB converter type instead.


@jplanet I think I might be interested, but I've never purchased something from someone off a forum, so I'm a little edgy about that. How would that work?
If you decide that the UA-25 is good for you and that you're comfortable purchasing from me, I would accept payment via Paypal and ship it to you (assuming you are somewhere in the U.S. shipping would be included).
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
asap audio's Avatar
 

That UA25 is a quality piece of gear. The ART USB is 16 bit, but who cares? Every song you hear on the radio is 16 bit.

Either piece will be fine for your home recordings.
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by asap audio View Post
That UA25 is a quality piece of gear. The ART USB is 16 bit, but who cares? Every song you hear on the radio is 16 bit.

Either piece will be fine for your home recordings.
I want the headroom for editing. The biggest change in sound for many of us was the change from 16 bit to 24 bit, not the change from 44.1/48 to 96.

If you research well and buy once, you can afford most any piece for your studio. Amortize the cost over time. I bought my Beyers in 1980, my Shures before that. My old studio is still using the RME Digiface and Multiface units that i bought when they were brand new. I personally am still using the Mytek converters that I bought when they were introduced. these things paid for themselves many times over and are still in use.

So it might even make sense to step up a little. The Roland piece, a similar MAudio, Tascam, or other major manufacturers product, in the long run if you keep it forever and get work done, it is a good investment. If you are always swapping stuff around and upgrading, loosing a little money on each piece, you spend more in the long run and waste a lot of time.
Old 20th December 2010
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jplanet View Post
If you decide that the UA-25 is good for you and that you're comfortable purchasing from me, I would accept payment via Paypal and ship it to you (assuming you are somewhere in the U.S. shipping would be included).
Ok, I'll send you a PM.
Old 20th December 2010
  #13
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

Checked out the specs on that UA25 and it looks impressive IMHO.

Chris
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