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Preamp recommendations for acoustic instruments
Old 12th June 2007
  #1
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Question Preamp recommendations for acoustic instruments

hi,

what 2 ch. preamp would you guys recommend for quiet acoustic recordings? i tend to record a lot of finger picked steel string/classical acoustic guitas, piano, vibraphone, glockenspiel, hammered dulcimer etc. i mainly use a neumann U87 and AKG 414ULS mics.
i currently have a 737, so i'm looking for something with a different quality.
(i know the 737 has been trashed extensively on Gearslutz : ) )
I know the pacifica has been talked up a lot on this forum. would this be a good choice for my needs?

thanks in advance for your advice!

korii
Old 12th June 2007
  #2
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by koriifuraa View Post
I know the pacifica has been talked up a lot on this forum. would this be a good choice for my needs?
Yes, an excellent choice. I use one for the instruments you mention and it is a joy. I also like API and Tab Funkenwerk v72's for acoustic instruments.
Old 12th June 2007
  #3
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by koriifuraa View Post
I know the pacifica has been talked up a lot on this forum. would this be a good choice for my needs?
i
I am certainly a big fan of mine. I just recorded a nylon string guitar instrumental album and every track was done through my Pacificas (including using the DI for the synths and bass. I have also used my Pacifica to record early music instruments and heavy metal bands. In the A Designs line, the MP2 is a very serious contender.

That said, any great pre amp will be pretty great on acoustic instruments. They all bring a certain character to the track (all of them, even the ones that claim to be clean). The pres that I tend to like most seem to have transformers in them. Its seems to bring out a little extra detail and texture in the sound that I really like. This would also be a nice contrast to your Avalon.

A Designs, API, Great River, Tubetech...... All wonderful for acoustic stuff. Depends on what your tastes are
Old 12th June 2007
  #4
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thanks for your input guys! i really appreciate it!

-koriii
Old 12th June 2007
  #5
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swankdoc's Avatar
 

Manley dual pre comes to mind.
Old 12th June 2007
  #6
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by koriifuraa View Post
hi,

what 2 ch. preamp would you guys recommend for quiet acoustic recordings? i tend to record a lot of finger picked steel string/classical acoustic guitas, piano, vibraphone, glockenspiel, hammered dulcimer etc. i mainly use a neumann U87 and AKG 414ULS mics.
i currently have a 737, so i'm looking for something with a different quality.
(i know the 737 has been trashed extensively on Gearslutz : ) )
I know the pacifica has been talked up a lot on this forum. would this be a good choice for my needs?

thanks in advance for your advice!

korii
Based on my practical experience, I don´t think Pacifica would be very good choice for recording acoustic instruments (if you want to preserve their natural sound, details and depth). It tends to sounds a bit 2D, with hyped highs and scooped mids (which may be useful elsewhere).
If you like, HERE
are samples of one instrument (monochord) recorded on various preamps (including Pacifica). Quite a difference it makes
Comparison with other preamps can be found HERE

In the course of time, I did quite an extensive and intensive search for a great preamp for recording acoustic instruments, using and testing many of the renowned preamps (DACS, Millennia, Crookwood, DAV, Flamingo, Fearn, Pacifica, Fetcode etc.). None of these came close to my ultimate discovery - the new solid state Fred Forssell´s preamp. This is simply the best preamp I ever tried and heard and is simply ideal for recording any acoustic instruments (or anything) - preserving all the details, depth and clarity, without any harshness and still very musical, big and 3D sounding ... A clean, beautiful window to the reality ... Yet completely different sound class than for example Millennia HV-3 which to my ears sounds a bit hard and harsh in comparison. (few days ago, I was recording a pop acoustic guitar using Forssell preamp and both singer and producer were quite excited about the sound, although it is not what I normally record here ...). Also dead quiet with +70dB gain.
Just my personal experience ...

Old 12th June 2007
  #7
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NetworkAudio's Avatar
Millennia HV3 series and Grace Design are fairly common in classical applications and are likely to be found at most scoring stages.
Old 12th June 2007
  #8
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Watersound's Avatar
 

I'll second the Manley Dual Pre- it is way underrated around here.
Old 12th June 2007
  #9
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GYang's Avatar
If you look for clean, very realistic in nice way and with touch of very special class among many great options as DAV, Millenia, Martech, EAR etc., I can warmly recommend my absolute favorite clean type mic pre Gordon (there is 2 ch version, too).
Absolute noiseless, with suberb realistic picture of complex acoustic instruments as pianos, brass or strings.
I must admit I don't use it all time as for rock or pop it might be just too true to original.
If you try Brauner VM1-KHE to Gordon in good monitoring room you'll feel that there is nothing between source and your ears.
Old 12th June 2007
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Millennia, Grace.... but also Cranesong Flamingo is hugely versatile. Incredibly transparent and musical in the non iron, non FAT position... but can be juiced up with these options. You may find that the Iron switch goes on a lot more than not

A pair of STT-1s is always an attractive option... lots of bases covered here without getting into coloured territory.
Old 12th June 2007
  #11
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For acoustic guitar i just love the 610 (especialy the brighter voiced 610 in the la-610). it just does something to acoustics which i like very much: sprakle, gushy, great. thumbsup

If you want clean/transparent, the millennia td1 comes to mind!
Old 12th June 2007
  #12
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John Hardy pres.

May I suggest you also try some quality ribbon mics with the AEA TRP.
Old 12th June 2007
  #13
Gear Addict
 

1st thing that comes to mind when we talk about clean pres with tons of gain is the Apogee Trak2. I have a rack of 'em and they are wonderful. 90db of gain and as quiet as a quiet thing!

If you want more character the A-Designs stuff is brilliant and very good value for money. The Aphex 1100 is another fabulous, little raved about, pre with great options and a stunning solid but erring on neutral sound. Grace and Millenia are also very good but almost too neutral for my taste.

I'm sure there are plenty of others but there are the only ones I've used in anger.

HTH,

GM
Old 12th June 2007
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petimar View Post
John Hardy pres.

May I suggest you also try some quality ribbon mics with the AEA TRP.

+1 to both of these. the trp is also good with mics other than ribbons. i record 6 string, 12 string, mandolin, octave mandolin, tenor guitar, resonators, flamenco guitar, etc. the trp sounds nice with all of them (as will the hardy pre). the trp is only about $900 for two channels. best deal for the money. i'd look into ivo's recommendation for the new fred forrsell (though i don't know how much it goes for). of course, these recommendations are assuming you want a natural, uncolored sound.

bill
Old 13th June 2007
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koriifuraa View Post
what 2 ch. preamp would you guys recommend for quiet acoustic recordings?
Acoustic instruments are what I play and record. I've owned several of those preamps, and more. I got rid of them all and bought some that have been used to record musicians like Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, Pat Flynn, Bela Fleck, Andrea Zonn, Stuart Duncan, Joshua Bell, Sam Bush, Yo Yo Ma...

Gordon Instruments preamp.

Steve
Old 13th June 2007
  #16
Gear Head
 

My Daking pres really shine on acoustic gats.
Old 13th June 2007
  #17
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ISedlacek's Avatar
CraneSong Flamingo is not a bad choice either hehheh
Old 13th June 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Based on my practical experience, I don´t think Pacifica would be very good choice for recording acoustic instruments (if you want to preserve their natural sound, details and depth). It tends to sounds a bit 2D, with hyped highs and scooped mids (which may be useful elsewhere).
If you like, HERE
are samples of one instrument (monochord) recorded on various preamps (including Pacifica). Quite a difference it makes
Comparison with other preamps can be found HERE

In the course of time, I did quite an extensive and intensive search for a great preamp for recording acoustic instruments, using and testing many of the renowned preamps (DACS, Millennia, Crookwood, DAV, Flamingo, Fearn, Pacifica, Fetcode etc.). None of these came close to my ultimate discovery - the new solid state Fred Forssell´s preamp. This is simply the best preamp I ever tried and heard and is simply ideal for recording any acoustic instruments (or anything) - preserving all the details, depth and clarity, without any harshness and still very musical, big and 3D sounding ... A clean, beautiful window to the reality ... Yet completely different sound class than for example Millennia HV-3 which to my ears sounds a bit hard and harsh in comparison. (few days ago, I was recording a pop acoustic guitar using Forssell preamp and both singer and producer were quite excited about the sound, although it is not what I normally record here ...). Also dead quiet with +70dB gain.
Just my personal experience ...

Hi Ivo

Did you ever try the buzz audio ma2.2 ?

Pete
Old 13th June 2007
  #19
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pete murray View Post
Hi Ivo

Did you ever try the buzz audio ma2.2 ?

Pete
No ... there are several hundred preamp brands (at least) - I am sure a big part of them sounding quite similar - and I don´t want to spend the rest of my life trying preamps heh Having tried and used quite few of them (of highly respected brands), I found the one that works the best for me (better than all the others I tried) ... Now back to music ...

As someone rightly said: mics can make day and night difference, the preamp 6:00 and 6:30 difference ... Based on my experience I would say 6:00 to 10:00 difference (just listen to quite big sound difference between Millennia or Pacifica and Forssell preamp I posted = rather flat/harsh vs full, detailed, smooth, 3D).

I am sure Buzz is a nice preamp too ...
Old 13th June 2007
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
No ... there are several hundred preamp brands (at least) - I am sure a big part of them sounding quite similar - and I don´t want to spend the rest of my life trying preamps heh Having tried and used quite few of them (of highly respected brands), I found the one that works the best for me (better than all the others I tried) ... Now back to music ...

As someone rightly said: mics can make day and night difference, the preamp 6:00 and 6:30 difference ... Based on my experience I would say 6:00 to 10:00 difference (just listen to quite big sound difference between Millennia or Pacifica and Forssell preamp I posted = rather flat/harsh vs full, detailed, smooth, 3D).

I am sure Buzz is a nice preamp too ...
I guess your never really find out unless you hear one!
well i shall keep an eye on the Forssell preamp along with the Gordon which has interested me for quite sometime but your right, back to the music.

Pete
SoundRay Studios
Old 14th June 2007
  #21
Lives for gear
Another for the Aphex 1100. I should also mention the unbelievable "high speed pre" from Audio Upgrades.

I recommend buying the preamp comparison CDs from 3daudioinc.com. You'll hear many great preamps on acoustic guitar. The results are sure to be helpful.

I swapped out about $5K in pres after hearing those CDs and couldn't be happier.
Old 14th June 2007
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Acoustic Pre

A lot of nice pre's have been mentioned above but the one that slays them all is The LaChappel 992.I'm sure that anyone that had actually used one would reccomend it on acoustic over any other pre.I have daking,Pacifica,V72's and have owned or tried most of the pre's mentioned above and All of the engineers at out studio agree that the 992 was the absolute winner on acoustic.Unbeleivabe Detail and smoothness,it really must be heard to be believed.
Old 14th June 2007
  #23
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matt thomas's Avatar
the buzz is promoted as a premp for this task

quote from a review "The MA-2.2 is in my mind great for pairing with tube mics as well as solid state ones, as it does not add additional blur and you get the precise blur you want but then, only from the selected mic - without the compound tube effect. This is critical for acoustic instrument recording and certain male bass and baritone voices."



MA-2.2 Class A Mic Preamplifier

narco
Old 15th June 2007
  #24
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AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Studer 089 is my fav, nice and warm
Old 15th June 2007
  #25
I record acoustic guitar, fiddle, mando, and bass, and love the sound the ADL 600 tube pre gives me.

But I am sure there are plenty of other clean non-tube pre's that will sound great. Compared to my Meek TwinQ, ART Tube MP, and RME FF800 pre's, the ADL along with a nice omni or condensor gives me a nice warm, rich sound.

I am getting a Pacifica REDDI DI delivered today which is also tube based, which I demo'd at TapeOpCOn with my electric violin, and it was incredibly rich as well.

diamondjim
Barn Jazz Home
Old 15th June 2007
  #26
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The fact that you've gotten so many varied suggestions, clearly says there is no real stand out. So, I'm going for a UA 610, I love it on Acoustic Guitar, better than my Pacifica. I've got a Great River on the way, we will see.
Old 15th June 2007
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

And then there's the new

Benchmark Pre420 with built-in summing amp and pan circuit. Have had a chance to use it for three field recording sessions now, and am quite happy with the sound. It's every bit as good as my Syteks and Trues. You'll notice that all three preamps are design by engineers who are trying to provide you a straight wire with gain. I'd say they've succeeded.
Old 15th June 2007
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Oh, I forgot to mention . .

I added the UA 2192 A/D/A converter to my setup. It's the best single purchase I've ever made. I had no idea how mediocre most converters really are. You might find that your current mics and pres are just fine once you get some decent converters going for you.
Old 15th June 2007
  #29
lj Potyk
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what converters were you using before you upgraded to the 2192's?
Old 15th June 2007
  #30
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NoEgo's Avatar
How do you want the guitars to sound?

For jangle strumming I like the Grace
For finger style I like the Dacs and Buzz Audio

For deep rich flat picking and warm fingerstyle I like the Tube stuff.
I also use small condensors in a XY or combo of large and small . The AKG is brighter and maybe The Dacs more than say the Grace Design.
This is a tough question to answer until you mention the specific tone you want.
(Maybe you already said.)
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