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Why use Preamps/DI's on MPCs?
Old 9th May 2006
  #1
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Tibbon's Avatar
Why use Preamps/DI's on MPCs?

I was just wondering, when going for the cleanest sound, why in the world would you use a Neve mic preamp (which is just adding distortion) or a DI on an MPC which is already outputting at pro line level?

I pulled this from the Akaipro site (regarding the MPC2500)

Quote:
"Stereo output (L and R) 1/4-inch phone x 2 balanced +11dBu, output impedance 1k Ohms, Max. output level +22dBu
8 individual analog outputs 1/4-inch phone x 4 balanced +11dBu, output impedance 1k Ohms, Max. output level +22dBu"
It seems to me that the levels coming from the MPC should be sufficiently hot to not need a DI. Something like a sidstation that outputs at -10dBu unbalanced, i can see using a DI on.

Aren't you just running through useless additional transformers when using all of these different stages?

Maybe i'm missing something. Wouldn't you just use the Digital output to your DAW if you're tracking to a DAW anyway?

In asking this, i'm refering more to the 'clean' modern 16/24 bit MPCs. I can see that using the 12 bit convertors on the MPC60 could impart a useful sound that I have heard many times. Also using the convertors (asides from the fact that there was no digital output) on Roger Linn's other drum machines which didn't really have a proper filter at the nyquist frequency lead to weird/cool sounds.

Last edited by Tibbon; 9th May 2006 at 07:58 PM..
Old 10th May 2006
  #2
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well most do to add a lil color to the signal.

What i found was using the DI or II (instrument inputs)...you got a louder signal (rms). It just what I found when i recorded from my 2500 via:

all signals peaked at the very same level
SPDIF to SPDIF, TRS to TRS( into A/D), and TS to TS(into DI/II, into A/D)

the SPDIF out had the the lowest level
the TS to TS(DI to A/D) had the loudest level

let just say if the SPDIF was -18db rms/ -3db peak
the TS to TS(DI) would be like -12db rms/-3db peak
the TRS to TRS would be in between.
Old 10th May 2006
  #3
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nukmusic- wouldn't that imply that there's some sort of compression or something happening if it's changing the average level but not the peak?
Old 10th May 2006
  #4
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In my personal experience, I've gotten bigger sounds after chucking them through a pre which is then piped directly onto my computer, bypassing any desk or the like. Specifically, my Great River MP2NV does a killer jobs on beats. The drums sounded ok before they went in and just seemed to have more presence and girth to them after coming out. It's not about boosting levels or getting louder, it's more about what I'd call "magical fairy dust" - **** just sounds better afterwards for some reason. You'll also hear this same line of reasoning about going through a LA2A or Pultec, even when their not doing anything "processing-wise" to a sound. It just sounds better after it goes through.

I know that when I started using decent mic pre's instead of my Mackie's pre's for mic'ing sources, my mixes got bigger, sounds popped more, there was more space in the mixes - it all just sounded better. Dropping synths/beats through pre's has done much the same thing for me, personally.

If I had a killer board, I might feel a lot differently about all of this.

I'm interested to know what other folks have to say on the subject.

My 2 cents.

Last edited by infiniteposse; 10th May 2006 at 02:27 AM..
Old 10th May 2006
  #5
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by infiniteposse
In my personal experience, I've gotten bigger sounds after chucking them through a pre which is then piped directly onto my computer, bypassing any desk or the like. Specifically, my Great River MP2NV does a killer jobs on drums. The drums sounded ok before they went in and just seemed to have more presence and girth to them after coming out. It's not about boosting levels or getting louder, it's more about what I'd call "magical fairy dust" - **** just sounds better afterwards for some reason.

I know that when I started using decent mic pre's instead of my Mackie's pre's, my mixes got bigger, sounds popped more, there was more space in the mixes - it all just sounded better. Dropping synths/beats through pre's has done much the same thing for me, personally.

I'm interested to know what other folks have to say on the subject.

My 2 cents.
I guess this is one of those things that 'works' but I have a hard time understanding.
Old 10th May 2006
  #6
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dolo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon
I guess this is one of those things that 'works' but I have a hard time understanding.

mic pre amp have different harmonic distortion (i.e. colors.) usually when you go into a d.i. then into a the mic input on on the pre amp you go through the iron (transformer) which imparts this color. most of the thime the d.i./intrument input on the same pre amps bypass this and just give you sheer gain as oppse to corlor.

hope this hleps.
Old 10th May 2006
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon
nukmusic- wouldn't that imply that there's some sort of compression or something happening if it's changing the average level but not the peak?
Well from looking at the waveform...... I would have to say that somehow it limits the transients..... All the signals still sound about the same, just different volumes.
Old 12th May 2006
  #8
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All this DI/Preamp stuff is getting confusing

I have various drum machines and synths that i track thru an amek neve 9098dma di input, but i am reading that I should then go into a mic pre before my mini-me converter. I go into the neve unbalanced. The 9098dma is obviously outputing a balanced signal. Would it be better to get some DI's then go into the neve @ mic level?
Old 12th May 2006
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jibarosoul
I have various drum machines and synths that i track thru an amek neve 9098dma di input, but i am reading that I should then go into a mic pre before my mini-me converter. I go into the neve unbalanced. The 9098dma is obviously outputing a balanced signal. Would it be better to get some DI's then go into the neve @ mic level?

it's not a better thing as much as it is a more versatility in a since. going through the on board d.i. is cool and can give equal quality. but on a lot of mic pres, going through an external d.i. into the mic input will give you more color. it's a taste/choice thing.
Old 12th May 2006
  #10
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Obvious??? Obviously not.

let's step back and take a look at it... Would you consider a U47 a great mic? how about a Paul Reed Smith signature series guitar... or an original Alembic Bass as the best instruments (subjective, i know, but they are at least among the best... like an MPC)... now if these instruments by nature have THE BEST sound and character... why would you run them through a NEVE, or API, or SUMMIT... whatever. Sure most mics need phantom power... but one could buy a simple phantom power device and plug it right in to a creative labs factory PC soundcard and track on cakewalk home studio (yes, i may be going too far... but i am proving a point). I have run across several local "engineers" who do run synths directly into an i/o. and they wonder why their mix sounds weak, lacks punch, why the track simply do not stand out.... so... IT IS A FACT.... running ANYTHING through a great pre, great outboard eq's and comps AND GOOD CONVERTORS... wil make ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. You should try running all your tracks through a GREAT pre, and then just going direct... apply the same mix... then see if this post is necessary. you might as well say that a radio shack mic would be fine to prop in front of that vintage Marshall cab with that paul reed smith.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon
I was just wondering, when going for the cleanest sound, why in the world would you use a Neve mic preamp (which is just adding distortion) or a DI on an MPC which is already outputting at pro line level?

I pulled this from the Akaipro site (regarding the MPC2500)



It seems to me that the levels coming from the MPC should be sufficiently hot to not need a DI. Something like a sidstation that outputs at -10dBu unbalanced, i can see using a DI on.

Aren't you just running through useless additional transformers when using all of these different stages?

Maybe i'm missing something. Wouldn't you just use the Digital output to your DAW if you're tracking to a DAW anyway?

In asking this, i'm refering more to the 'clean' modern 16/24 bit MPCs. I can see that using the 12 bit convertors on the MPC60 could impart a useful sound that I have heard many times. Also using the convertors (asides from the fact that there was no digital output) on Roger Linn's other drum machines which didn't really have a proper filter at the nyquist frequency lead to weird/cool sounds.
Old 12th May 2006
  #11
no ssl yet
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by rolo
let's step back and take a look at it... Would you consider a U47 a great mic? how about a Paul Reed Smith signature series guitar... or an original Alembic Bass as the best instruments (subjective, i know, but they are at least among the best... like an MPC)... now if these instruments by nature have THE BEST sound and character... why would you run them through a NEVE, or API, or SUMMIT... whatever. Sure most mics need phantom power... but one could buy a simple phantom power device and plug it right in to a creative labs factory PC soundcard and track on cakewalk home studio (yes, i may be going too far... but i am proving a point). I have run across several local "engineers" who do run synths directly into an i/o. and they wonder why their mix sounds weak, lacks punch, why the track simply do not stand out.... so... IT IS A FACT.... running ANYTHING through a great pre, great outboard eq's and comps AND GOOD CONVERTORS... wil make ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. You should try running all your tracks through a GREAT pre, and then just going direct... apply the same mix... then see if this post is necessary. you might as well say that a radio shack mic would be fine to prop in front of that vintage Marshall cab with that paul reed smith.


Hit records have been tracked and mixed on Digi 001 systems
Old 12th May 2006
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no ssl yet
Hit records have been tracked and mixed on Digi 001 systems




So has farts...... point being, it does not hurt to try colors, if you can afford them, or have access.

This is gearslutz, not amnesty gear international.
Old 15th May 2006
  #13
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Tibbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by no ssl yet
Hit records have been tracked and mixed on Digi 001 systems

Tracked and mixed? None that I own.
Old 15th May 2006
  #14
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TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

I know of a lot of hits that were tracked on a Digi 001 or 002.... But, many were later mixed in bigger studios because they had the budget to.
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