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Mic Pre is more important than microphone Condenser Microphones
Old 1st April 2018
  #1
Mic Pre is more important than microphone

I know common wisdom says talent-room-mic-preamp...

but I think the pre makes a much bigger difference than the mic

i was looking to upgrade my mic and i perused the sweetwater shootout. i definitely heard the difference in price amongst the higher and lower end mics... but it was not 1000s of dollars in difference.

i also scoured the net for information on bob power's recording of A tribe called quest because that is a sound i'm going for...

Mr. Power in one interview said basically "buy the best pre you can it will make more difference than the mic"

this resonated with me because I always felt a great pre led to a useable vocal.

So i copped the chandler redd.47

OMG... i probably should have gone high end tube a long time ago.

plugged my tlm49 in and it has been TRANSFORMED! sounded GREAT. Huge, clear, and 3D.

plugged in a sm58 that i used as a hammer a couple times...could easily get a useable vocal out of that as well

i guess this is a i love my redd.47 post in disguise.

really though guys... buy a great pre and get some treatments.

** I am saving for one of the new u67s though

Old 1st April 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
For me it's the mic every time.

For my lead vocals it took me many years to find the perfect mic for my voice.

It's that perfect match of capsule resonance, which part of the vocal is emphasized, which part the capsule de-emphasises.
How the caspule, capsule loading valve (or FET) and output transformer work together to achieve the above.

Once the glove has matched the hand then for me next is

The tracking compressor - also really critical.

Last for me is the pre.
Old 1st April 2018
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post

The tracking compressor - also really critical.

Last for me is the pre.
my rs124 will be delivered tuesday
Old 1st April 2018
  #4
Deleted User
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From the technical recording chain it is the microphone having the largest influence. The room, the instrument and performer are of even bigger importance, but that we all agreed upon. The influence of microphone preamps is highly overestimated. Record ten preamps, put the recordings on the shelve for six months, ask someone to edit them in a certain order, and you tell in a 100% blind proof which one is which. I dare to say that it will be more difficult than you think. I have done it. I did not succeed. After all it will save you a lot of money, and I would say go for that U67, that is a juwel.
Old 1st April 2018
  #5
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AlexK's Avatar
 

I think it’s more about which preamps you’re comparing. The mic is by far the most important part of the chain AS LONG as you’re using a good preamp, and there are a lot of really quite wet mic preamps floating around (often found in some really expensive consoles).

Plug a really good microphone into a rubbish preamp and you’re always going to have a pretty flat sound. However, to say that switching from great preamp A to great preamp B makes more of a difference than mic choice would be IMO a rather tough claim to make.
Old 1st April 2018
  #6
Couldn't disagree more.

But hey stick with your good preamp and sm58 if it makes you happy and i'll use my u67.
Old 1st April 2018
  #7
Bob Power: Seminal NYC Hip-Hop engineer | Tape Op Magazine | Longform candid interviews with music producers and audio engineers covering mixing, mastering, recording and music production.

It seems we are in an era where more people are off consoles and are mixing and matching mic pres, EQs and compressors.

I think we are in a golden age of professional audio right now. A second golden age, because people are making emulations of the old stuff that actually works better. Anybody who has ever owned Neves knows what I'm talking about — it's usually switches and caps. One of the reasons I like modern microphones that are built on older principles is that they sound the same every day. I like to be able to mix and match my signal chain from the microphone all the way up to what the media is, something that is optimized for what I am recording. On a very large level, if I can afford it and I'm doing a rock band, we cut the rhythm tracks to analog tape, then the poor assistant spends a day transferring, and we finish the record in the box. I think that's something that all the geeks who are going to be reading this magazine, including myself, will hear. That and the giant differences of mic pres. I am often asked, "I'm setting up a studio for myself, what should I do?" Get a really great mic pre. It makes more of a difference than the microphone itself. I've done things with a good pre and a [SM]57 that just sound fabulous. In the modern context it's a little dark, but you can always deal with that — you can always open it up
Old 1st April 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Couldn't disagree more.

But hey stick with your good preamp and sm58 if it makes you happy and i'll use my u67.
lol... i said i can get a useable vocal out of the 58. i'm not advocating for using it as a primary mic.
Old 1st April 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by musaee View Post
my rs124 will be delivered tuesday
Nice - I love tracking vocals, bass even acoustic guitar with a Vari MU.

I use a Retro STA Level as it's the perfect match to my mic and voice.

Chandler make some very nice kit.
Old 1st April 2018
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by musaee View Post
lol... i said i can get a useable vocal out of the 58. i'm not advocating for using it as a primary mic.
Well most mics are usable not that many are great. I think you should get atleast one good preamp though. Never understood the meaning of having 10 different ones comparing "flavors". I'd rather spend the big money on good mics, that is where the magic happens. Just my 0.02
Old 1st April 2018
  #11
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Calagan's Avatar
 

What do you call exactly a "good preamp" ?

I think that an excellent microphone can make a huge difference compared to an entry level one, but I don't think a 10 000 € microphone will be very different from a 2 000 € microphone.
Maybe better (depending from the source of course), but not 5 times better.

I did listen a shootout of 3 different microphones when we recorded the singer of my band in a professionnal studio : the first one was costing few hundred euros (an old Oktava I think), the last one more than 10 000 € (a vintage Neumann). They were quite different in terms of vibe, but I couldn't say one was "much better" than another...
Of course the singer choosed the Neumann - but we could make an excellent recording with the Oktava as well...

I guess it's the same with preamp.
When do we cross the threshold above which the difference in price will not be proportional to the difference in quality ?
Where is starting the professional quality ?

I own a Focusrite Clarett, and if some people are praising its clean and beautiful preamps, I don't find them very nice to use (a bit harsh in my opinion and I'm missing 10db of gain). But I notice a big difference in the conversion and/or the quality of the outputs compared to my old Saffire.

Are the preamps from the focusrite Clarett, for exemple, only clean and decent or are they comparable to some 1 000 € / 2 000 € preamps - like the Oktava is comparing to the Neumann ?
Old 1st April 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Well most mics are usable not that many are great. I think you should get atleast one good preamp though. Never understood the meaning of having 10 different ones comparing "flavors". I'd rather spend the big money on good mics, that is where the magic happens. Just my 0.02
i agree with this...

2 redd.47's are all i need.

after i get another rs124...

it will only be mic purchases as far as recording chain
Old 1st April 2018
  #13
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Couldn't disagree more.

But hey stick with your good preamp and sm58 if it makes you happy and i'll use my u67.
HEE!. ..that was funny!
Old 1st April 2018
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Couldn't disagree more.

But hey stick with your good preamp and sm58 if it makes you happy and i'll use my u67.
I think we sometimes "cast" our mics like actors in a play. And when I want BGV's to sound great but still be "singers in a supporting role," I'll put up a 58. With a really good pre.
Old 1st April 2018
  #15
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toledo3's Avatar
 

You're just on the front end of experiencing what a tube amplification stage can do to a signal, the harmonics it generates that make a signal just cut better in a recording, even when the signal isn't saturated.

IMO, there are a decent amount of $400~500 dollar preamps - solid-state and tube - that you could plug a top dollar tube mic into, and come it with a much better fidelity recording than a 57 into the REDD, or many similar scenarios. Now, the 57 into the REDD could be a subjectively fitting sound for something, but IMO budgeting the majority of money for the mic itself can make a bigger difference fidelity wise. Fidelity may NOT be the goal of course, but you can't ADD fidelity that's not captured.

If someone gave me the choice of only having a C12 (or M49, U47, etc) and a one channel Daking, a GAP preamp, GT Brick, etc... OR a 57, SM7, RE20 (etc) and a REDD, I know I would choose the former type of combo....
Old 1st April 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3 View Post
You're just on the front end of experiencing what a tube amplification stage can do to a signal, the harmonics it generates that make a signal just cut better in a recording, even when the signal isn't saturated.

IMO, there are a decent amount of $400~500 dollar preamps - solid-state and tube - that you could plug a top dollar tube mic into, and come it with a much better fidelity recording than a 57 into the REDD, or many similar scenarios. Now, the 57 into the REDD could be a subjectively fitting sound for something, but IMO budgeting the majority of money for the mic itself can make a bigger difference fidelity wise. Fidelity may NOT be the goal of course, but you can't ADD fidelity that's not captured.

If someone gave me the choice of only having a C12 (or M49, U47, etc) and a one channel Daking, a GAP preamp, GT Brick, etc... OR a 57, SM7, RE20 (etc) and a REDD, I know I would choose the former type of combo....
i had tube amps before - 737, manley mono pre - they dont do what the redd does

and on your last point...

the mics you listed cost 2-3x what the redd does

you would need to plug those (c12, m49, u47) into an ART preamp for it to be a fair shootout

i hear you though
Old 1st April 2018
  #17
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Yeah, I think the truth is that the relationship status is complicated.
Old 1st April 2018
  #18
The great thing is that you can post two samples with the same microphone and two very differently priced pre's and show us the night and day difference
Old 1st April 2018
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyjanopan View Post
The great thing is that you can post two samples with the same microphone and two very differently priced pre's and show us the night and day difference
i sold my mike-e and burl b1 to fund the 2nd REDD...

but i still do have an old focusrite saffire interface that has a "pre" lol

i have some time this week... maybe i will do a shootout
Old 1st April 2018
  #20
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They both make a big difference. As does compressor quality. As does converter quality. There are no shortcuts putting all of your money into one piece and ignoring the rest. Your sound overall will always be dominated by the lousiest piece of gear in your recording chain regardless of how expensive everything else was.
Old 1st April 2018
  #21
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
opinions will differ , but for me independent of the vocalist / sound source, the microphone is the most important choice.

a good mic pre/eq can add or subtract from the signal presented, but wont give you something thats not there.

if there is no quality at the front end , its hard to find it at the back. so i would call it at perhaps a 70/30 ratio

i have many vocal microphones, and choose which one to use after hearing the singers voice, and relating it to the type of track its being inserted into.

often its Neumann U47, U87, AKG-414, but sometimes its something cheep like a Shure SM58 or a C3000 or something else. no rules on it....

just another opinion. Buddha
Old 1st April 2018
  #22
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RedBaaron's Avatar
At first I thought this was a subtle April Fools' Day post.

The mic is usually much more of a determining factor in the sound than the preamp, unless we're comparing $hitty super low-end pres to good ones, or unless we're talking about good pres that saturate well and are driven very hard ,and comparing that to cheaper clean ones . Even many low-end clear pres sound good nowadays at moderate levels (Mackie VLZ's for example); they just don't have as much headroom as the higher-end pres, and can't be driven as hard without an ugly distortion thing happening. Of course, whether that extra gain actually makes sense in the first place entirely depends on the source.

So I suppose if you're asking whether an SM7 through a heavy-driven 1073 might sound better than a Neuman through a Behringer at "safe" levels, then yeah; it just might. There are plenty of great dynamics at around the $300 and up price range, and condensers for about 100 bucks more than that, which can sound competitive with with the higher-end mics when they are paired with a good pre.

So throwing down on a premium pre but going with a well-reviewed but affordable mic may well be smarter than the opposite; just don't be surprised if you still one day are eying the Neumann or Manley Gold after all. Either upgrade will probably only get you inches closer to the final goal at the end of the day, in dense mix with a lot of instruments.
Old 1st April 2018
  #23
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dights's Avatar
 

For me the right mic for the source is always the first consideration, then you need to put it in the right place.

The pre-amp choice is also important to me, but it's secondary to that.
Old 2nd April 2018
  #24
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ruffrecords's Avatar
I think you really just discovered the joys of tube mic pres.

Cheers

Ian
Old 2nd April 2018
  #25
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In my experience and to my ears, mics make a far bigger difference in the recording than do mic pres. Expensive pres don't impress me - I like my RME FF 800 pres just as much as the GR MP2NV that I sold. Maybe that makes me a bad Gearslut or proves I have no discernible listening skills, but it's what I hear.

Over a certain level of quality, all pres and conversion are good with me. I'd rather write a better song - but, yeah, I know, this isn't Songslutz. :-)
Old 2nd April 2018
  #26
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myles's Avatar
 

This is in the High End forum?
Old 2nd April 2018
  #27
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Yes, and the correct answer is the unpopular one. The premise of the thread is technically correct. No one here ever listens to a mic, but always the output of a preamp. So yeah, at least as important as the mic
Old 2nd April 2018
  #28
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lol this topic was moved.. real high end topics go ''hey guys should i buy a compressor or a converter?'' or ''hey guys, should i hold my dick with my left hand or with my right?'' hilarious this place.
Old 2nd April 2018
  #29
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by musaee View Post
I know common wisdom says talent-room-mic-preamp...

but I think the pre makes a much bigger difference than the mic
....
So i copped the chandler redd.47

OMG... i probably should have gone high end tube a long time ago.

plugged my tlm49 in and it has been TRANSFORMED! sounded GREAT. Huge, clear, and 3D.
Mic is still more influential in the sound. Your experience is based on the Order in which you got things.

If you purchased the high-end preamp a long time ago, and did not have the money for a good mic and you used some cheap Chinese condenser for all those years, then your OMG moment would have come when you bought the Neumann.

Quote:
Originally Posted by you in an alternate universe
OMG... i probably should have gone high end microphone a long time ago.
And of course, you can use a good preamp on all of your mics. So there's that. If you don't have any good preamps then all your mics run through that bottleneck. In the abstract though, if it was a matter of "losing a bet" and being forced, I would much rather be forced to use a so-so preamp than so-so mics.
Old 2nd April 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
No one here ever listens to a mic, but always the output of a preamp...
We listen either to a headphone or a pair of loudspeakers. Both are the weakest part in the chain. Microphones, headphones and loudspeakers are all analogue mechanical devices, and responsible for the largest part of distortion in the whole audio chain.
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