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Question about Lead Vocals
Old 13th July 2018
Here for the gear

Question about Lead Vocals

I found this song from Pantelis Pantelidis and I liked a lot the lead vocal that is so upfront and has a warmth! I want to ask if you can understand if the lead vocal was recorded in a tube preamp because even its sibilance is warmth!

There is the link: [YOUTUBE]
Old 13th July 2018
Lives for gear
CJ Mastering's Avatar
I want to ask if you can understand if the lead vocal was recorded in a tube preamp because even its sibilance is warmth!
It could have been recorded with a solid state preamp and then added digital plugins to add this warmth.
It could be a Ribbon mic recorded into a solid state pre.
It could have been recorded with a tube pre-amp.
It could be a tube mic recorded into a solid state pre-amp
It could have been over 30 different combinations

It could be a lot of options. The only way to know for sure is to ask people who were there or find an article ware its documented on what was used for the vocals

Old 13th July 2018
Lives for gear

I googled that link and it looks like some kind of Arabic site. I have no intension of infecting my computer on sites I cant even read.

Cant answer your question effectively without actually hearing it but I can safely say its impossible to tell what kind of preamp was used when recording. Even if you suspected there were tubes being used you wouldn't know for sure. If there were tubes used on the recording it could have been just as easily been a tube compressor, Tube mic or tubes used when mastering. Chances are far more likely the sound is a result of EQ and compression however.

I'll also note there is an assumption these days by many who think they can tell the difference between tubes and SS. The people who think Tubes are warmer then SS are typically guessing and have no first hand experience using actual high voltage tube preamps. They guess and typically guess improperly tubes sound warmer then SS based on the fiction other post on line from other who also lack the first hand experience using the gear.

Tubes are only warm in temperature, not in tone. SS can be used to produce identical frequency responses and in fact can typically producer even smoother sounds then tubes. Reason being is there hasn't been a new tube designed in 60+ years and SS components are still being improved.

I think if most people had access to really decent preamps which had both SS and Tube designs, they would find all the hype about tubes simply isn't justified. You have allot of barriers to overcome just getting tubes to produce high fidelity time. Getting them to do that with low distortion and low noise levels is dam near impossible. In the end it winds up being incredibly expensive and its the cost of the gear that seems to give these myths a life of their own.

Add to they you have a bunch of manufacturers who will tall you any line of bull to get your money and much of this mythology becomes self perpetuating. People who fall for it and blow huge dollars on tube gear don't want to admit they've been duped. Its a matter of personal pride and resale value of the gear so they'd rather believe their inability to get the kind of magic they hear others talk about is a matter of how the gear is being used, and not simply a very expensive lesson learned that the gear isn't anywhere as good as others think it is.

Even in a blind listening comparison the ability of the finest engineers to determine what gear was used is more a matter of dumb luck guessing what is used then anything else. If you wanted to play the guessing game, the odds are 99:1 a solid state preamp was used over tubes these days. Tube preamps can do a few things good like add some extra presence, add saturated gain etc. Because they use tubes however, even if you own one and know it inside out you wouldn't be able to pick it out in a blind listening comparison. Tubes change audio quality as they fatigue. Every time put new tubes in, the tolerance ranges between one tube and another can be totally different. You can even make the preamp quality worse simply by putting new tubes in if you aren't careful. SS in comparison can last decades and show no depreciation is quality.

Telling the difference between a good SS models and a good tube model therefore can be impossible to determine simply listening to a recording. Maybe if you pushed both into saturation you might hear the difference between the hard breakup of SS and the soft breakup of tube, but preamps aren't typically pushed that hard. Maybe if you turn both up so you can hear the hiss levels of each. Vacuum tube hiss is different then SS hiss. Tubes tend to produce a wider ranged and grainer static noise the SS which is typically a higher frequency ambient hiss.

If you can afford to spend a couple of grand and buy a high end preamp that had both Tube and SS, it makes it allot easier to test both typed in a fairly even comparison. You'll typically find the Tube is gain staged to sound a bit more lively, especially in the midrange frequencies. Warmth as in bass will vary depending on the tubes used. Some tubes can sound far more sterile then SS, others can produce allot of midrange, and yet others can be horribly muffled. In most cases when the tubes get old they break up at much lower gain levels and become grainier. Some may call that warmth, but to most audiophiles its simply the tube is shot and needs replacement.
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