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Help Me Spend $4K Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 
SnareBuzz's Avatar
Help Me Spend $4K

Dear GearSlutz Community,

I've been recording and mixing for a number of years and have had a relatively modest setup with equipment to support what I do. What started off as a hobby has quickly risen to something I want to do professionally and for a long time, so I'm looking at making an investment to get an upgrade in my overall sound.

I have about $4K to invest in my current setup and would like your wisdom and advice on what may be the best way to increase capability & quality with this budget.

Here's a bit on my current gear/tracking/mixing setup:

I currently record most vocals through Neumann TLM49 microphone.
I currently record acoustic guitars with Neumann TLM103 or Shure SM81, or some combination thereof.
I like Electric guitar cabs with Shure SM57, sometimes one of the Neumann's in the room.
Bass cabinets get miked with Audix D6 or Shure Beta 52 and almost always run a direct through Universal Audio Solo 610 which sounds sweet to my ears.

For preamps:
I typically track vocals through a UA Solo 610
I typically track acoustic/electric guitar through UA Solo 110
When running multiple tracks, I often utilize preamps on Apogee Ensemble or when I need lots of tracks (full band/drums), I also utilize SMPRo Audio's EP84 preamps.

I do not have any outboard compression or EQ. All compression/EQ is done in the box currently with Universal Audio's UAD2 plugins...use the Neve 1073 EQ plugin and the UA LA2A & 1176 compressors all the time...occassionally use the Pultec plugin as well...especially on bass drum with the simultaneous boost/cut on the low frequency trick.

All of my work is done in Logic through MacBook Pro running Apogee Ensemble or Duet and my monitoring is through Focal Solo 6's which I love.

With that in mind, I'm looking to upgrade my overall sonics. Have been considering the following:

(1) Getting a dedicated tube preamp to track vocals/guitars/etc. Something like LaChapell 992EG or Fearn VT2 has been on the research list recently. Downside here is still have no compression/control during tracking.

(2) Getting a mono channel strip that would give me EQ, Compression, Preamp all in a single box. Really interested in something like the Retro Powerstrip as an example, but I'm not sure about the Mu compression and I'd be left with only a mono channel...ie, no real flexibility on working with busses.

(3) Forget about the preamp altogether and focus on a high quality Stereo EQ & high quality Stereo Compressor....but if I go this route which way to go...so many products.....

Was really drawn to the idea of the UBK Fatso as the compressor...not sure what EQ to pair with it....keep in mind this would be my first outboard gear.

So, I thought I'd throw the question out to you as a community. Given my current setup/etc., if you had $4K to spend on upgrades, how would you spend the money...what gear would you invest in and why.

If you'd like to hear some of my current work, feel free to check out my website:
www.snarebuzzstudios.com

I appreciate any/all feedback as to how best to invest these funds so that I have something that will really help me raise the bar at my place. Ultimately, something that I could use both while tracking & mixing would be ideal, but I'm up for your thoughts.

Thanks in advance,
Ron
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Neve Portico 5015 Preamp/Compressors are currently $1800 on Sweetwater.
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
Since you want to go pro and you are in the Raleigh, NC area you should research the other studios around and see 1) what they use that their clients like and 2) what they DON'T use that their clients want. Knowing the area a little bit I suspect if you invest in a killer tracking room acoustic treatment you might get some more work. Good luck, lots of cool music in that area for sure.
Old 14th September 2011
  #4
Gear Addict
 
Deuce 225's Avatar
 

Ron,
I listened to some of the stuff from your site. Sounds good. We started out a few years ago kinda like you, sort of a one piece at a time approach. Over time, as budget allowed, it organically grew into a much more serious investment which has led me to sometimes ask myself "If I could do it all over again, what might I do differently?" That's probably a longer answer and not really the question you asked, so here goes....

You have a good converter in the Apogee, a functional mic pre in the
Solo 610 and you are set on your DAW. At this time, your weakest link is probably your mic's and mic pre's. A couple of thoughts, bang for the buck-wise on a stereo compressor that's usable in lots of different applications, the Drawmer 1968 Mercenary Edition can be picked frequently for under $1300. The Chandler TG2 mic pre, with the summing feature can often be picked up for $1800. For a little more, you can often pick up an API 3124 between $1900 - $2100 (a lot bang for the buck). These two purchases could likely be made for 3K or so (gotta buy cables) and it would give you at least 2 (4 if you go with the API's) very functional mic pre's and 2 solid channels of compression.

It is also hard to go wrong with some of the BAE 1073's, so picking up one of those (approx $2300) is never a bad decision. You could do one of those and the Drawmer 1968 and still have money for an EV20 or Shure SM7.

As far as channel strips go, we have a Pendulum Quartet (one of the 1st pieces we purchased) very good piece. We also have a couple of Phil's Retro 176's, very good stuff but we haven't tried his strip. Both Mercenary and Vintage King have been willing to let me demo stuff and I have also purchased mics from SoundPure in NC and from Warren also in NC. I think it's important to have a good relationships with those guys. Hope this helps.
Old 19th September 2011
  #5
Gear Addict
Got a nice stereo Lachapell Eg for sale. Sounds great on anything. [email protected]
Old 20th September 2011
  #6
Two items, that fit under your $4k budget and will change your world are the A Designs Pacifica and the Slate Pro Audio Dragon.

If you would rather have a great dual channel tube preamp, instead of going solid state, the A Designs MP2A is highly recommended.

If you aren't already familiar with this stuff, here are some links:
Slate Pro Audio Dragon | AudioLot.com 888.224.3343
A Designs Pacifica | AudioLot.com 888.224.3343
A Designs MP-2A | AudioLot.com 888.224.3343
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