1. Yes. The "pre" is the microphone preamplifier that boosts the small mic voltage level to a usable level for the rest of the gear. This is usually controlled by a knob/pot on the front of most mic pres/interfaces.
2. A pad is an attenuation device. Usually around 10 dB but varies depending on if it is built into a mic or pre. If it is a 10 dB pad, it drops the signal by 10 dB. Helps for really loud and/or transient sources.
2a. Compressor is a gain reduction unit. There is another discussion about this going on right now...(I think it's "compression is confusing") It basically reduces the overall dynamic range of the source. It is controlled by Ratios. If you have a 4:1 ratio, for every 4 dB that comes in, the comp only lets 1 dB out. So if you started with an overall dynamic range of 100 dB, it is now limited to 25 dB. Even though a comp reduces gain, many times it makes things seem louder because your "louds" and "softs" are closer together due to a smaller dynamic range.
3. It's fine. Depends on your budget really. SM7 seems to be the holy grail mic around here for vocals, especially rap. Grace is a nice, upper end pre. Classical folks like them too. Very clean...not much color. Your choice of compressor could definitely affect the sound too.
4. Better is relative. The grass is always greener.... If you're just starting out and have a Grace pre with a SM7 and a decent comp...just get to work. You'll find out what you like and what you don't...then sell something and get a different pre/comp/mic/whatever to fit your taste. If you like the Grace, get the m201, even though it's a bit of a price jump.
I dont have the SM7b but i do agree that people around here all rave about it. i think its the sort of thing that you get so pumped up about and then you get it your brain tells you its good, i mean sure its probably a great dynamic mic but i just dont see what could possibly be so good about it. most everyone and most textbooks would say that the standard for recording vocals is a Large Diaphragm Condenser mic. I would think that this sort of mic would probably prove more worth the investment over the dynamic sm7b. people will sometimes record rap with a dynamic but dynamics in nature just aren't as sensitive and detailed as a condenser style.
Good input from the both of you guys, I feel that I would need some color in the mic pre due my vocals, but not to much... I like clean also but when I laid my 4 tracks down on a condenser mic I really didn't like the sound so much maybe due to a low grade sound chain I was on?
Another question I want to ask, is the grace m101 or m201 a USB port or FireWire and FireWire meaning it will hook up to the compressor which will then hook up to the soundcard? Am I correct? If so, then I am to choose (if compressor are available in this form) a compressor that is either USB or FireWire correct?
if you want color i'd go with a UA solo 610 its a tube pre that i've had my eyes on for quite some time. they make an LA610 which is a 610 with an LA-2A comp... a very highly respected compressor, or the 2-610 which two 610's with some shelving options. the only thing you want to be usb/FW is your audio interface not the compressor and there are many interfaces out there to choose from...
You need to pick a microphone that is right for YOUR voice. Not everyone sounds fantastic on a U87. That's a misconception.
The SM7 is an excellent Rap vocal/all around vocal mic, however you should see if you can try out some different mics at a music store somewhere
(or rent some studio time at a local studio and try out different mics) to find the proper mic to complement your voice.
LA-2A is great, but the LA-3A sounds much better on vocals IMO.
What sort of color are you looking for from your pre? Low end color, midrange, airy?
Ok, fellas.. i know this post has been awhile.. but i still dont get some stuff and I'm ready to buy equipment for home tracking.. Can someone show me how a sound chain would look like with these equipments and what else would I need?
My brother has a US Tascam 144 interface.. but I also heard that using a USB to record is lower quality tracking? How do I hook up the preamp to the CPU or do I rum the preamp to the interface and then to the CPU?
You could use pretty much anything obviously and there are a ton of choices....
You have a really clean pre with the Grace and an mid-entry level interface which will probably be pretty sterile..if you want to add any character, you'll have to pick a piece with that character to it..
On the budget side..an FMR RNC. I have two I love. Push the Super Nice button and see what it does..
I know there are all the other "usual" ones, 1176, LA2A, etc, but start with a middle of the road one and go from there.
+1 to leaving a hardware compressor out of the equation. It takes a long time to learn how to use them and you don't want all your vocal tracks over compressed going into the box. Just use the compression in the DAW. Stop worrying so much about the opinions that you are reading. Just get something and get started!
Re: SM7B or LDC, I love using an SM7B on my own vocals but that's because I think my voice comes off better without all the detail that an LDC gives (not a fan of my own voice). That said it's also a great choice if you have loud singers/rappers like others have said. But still, it's not really a substitute for a high end LDC. To start out with a great condenser that won't break the bank, get a used AKG C414 for $500-$600. You can use that mic for all kinds of things besides vocals too.
I hooked everything up and finally got it going after an hour or so of configuring. I have the mic into the preamp and the preamp directly into my sound card. When I hit record on the Ableton live track I get a very lous hissing into my cans. My cans are directly plugged into the sound card also.
Is there any way I can plug my cans and listen from the preamp? or the GAP Pre73 doesn't have that option?