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Old 26th July 2009
Gear Addict
amanitas's Avatar
Ok, from my experience:

Avalon 737, 2022 - sounds crispy. Very flattering for hip hop n rnb vox keys and guitars. Not so good for drums. Horrible on trumpet. Essential for jiggy hip hop and rnb. In fact, I think the word jiggy was devised as a way to describe the sound of music recorded on an Avalon, particularly when said music involves mono synths, typically of the Korg variety.

Chandler - I own a germanium and pretty much love it on everything. It get's pretty gritty when pushed, but when you keep it mellow it sounds super clear and very warm and inviting without any sort of muddyness or murk. I've done many sessions on TG2s and LTD1s and such and I find the same thing with Chandler gear: the more tracks you stack recorded through them, the more of the "studio magic" that starts to happen - the undefinable gold dust sprinkled into the tracks. Granted the tracks have to sound good themselves (ie intonation, performance, etc.) but I've found that the difference between stacking 8 vocal parts on a cheap pre versus stacking those same 8 on a chandler to be staggering. I truly believe a monkey could make a good sounding record with enough Chandler gear.

API - punchy, lots of hi-end. I think of Green Day when I think of API although there isn't really a good reason for me to think that because I don't really know what they used to record their records. But that sort of aggressive jump out of the speakers pop/punk sound, particularly on the drums, seems to be an API thing.

Neve - I've had the most experience with a 33421 which sounds dark and awesome. Magical one might say. It's dark without being blurry or lacking any definition. I've been recorded through a number of other neve pres but I can't comment on the specific model #s because most of the time I didn't bother to ask (I've only started to do that lately =). Needless to say they all sounded very flattering.

Universal Audio - Great for funk music. Thick. Fat. Perhaps Obese. Lots of low mids. Not always the best for lighter fare, and I've heard records done entirely on a 6176 that sound like they were recorded with socks on the microphones. Granted a lot of that is due to the engineers inexperience, but you really have to watch these to make sure they don't get too wooly sounding. Then again if you want that sound - extra chunky - this is the pre for you.

Trident S100 - warm and clear. Like the source is sitting in a bath of warm water with candles and wine. Not as defined as the Neve, little less transient response maybe, but very flattering and very nice when stacked. Reminds me of a less crispy avalon... the tracks do the same sort of thing when you stack them - they seem to sort of melt together into a whole. Unless jiggy rnb/hip hop is what you do, I would probably take the Trident over the Avalon for a big warm clean sound as I believe they are selling for cheaper.

Focusrite ISA 428 - accurate. Not terribly flattering, can be a little hard sounding for lack of a better word, but it definitely gets the job done and seems to provide a very accurate representation of the source you are recording. I would call it neutral, maybe a little bright. Like a less stuffy version of the pres in my first generation MBox.

Anyway do keep in mind that this is all totally subjective and based on my own limited experiences with all of these pres. Hope this is helpful...