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Killer Mic + UAD apollo quad...DO I Need a preamp??
Old 19th May 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
Killer Mic + UAD apollo quad...DO I Need a preamp??

I have recently upgraded my studio setup to a Brauner VM1 going into a UAD Apollo Quad, I also have a few UAD Unison plugins.

I mainly record vocals of my self and other singers usually singing R&B/Pop/Gospel and reggae. I also tend to record guitars and the odd violin.

I am happy with my sound so far but have been advised by many "To get the most out of my microphone i would need to add a "Killer preamp"! e.g. Avalon/Neve/SSL/Manley.

I would love some advised around this topic and would love to hear some examples of recordings with and without a so called "Killer Preamp".

Many thanks for any and all replies.
BK



Barry Knight | MidKnightWorld | London
Old 19th May 2017
  #2
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Lenzo's Avatar
I would use what you have if you are happy with the sound. It's my opinion that pre's don't matter as much as the mic. You might get a little difference in "color" with a additional pre, but I don't think it would be that noticable. If you know someone with a high end pre, borrow one if possible and see if you think it's worth it.
L.
Old 19th May 2017
  #3
I recently did an interview with Jacob "Biz" Morris, talking about mics for rap. (His credits are in the article linked below.)

https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/be...ng-rap-vocals/

He said he has artists ask him a similar question all the time. His take?

Quoting him: "If I was starting off I recommend the Apollo Twin and get a decent mic. That interface and a Mojave MA200. That gives you choices and some awesome stuff with the UA analog modeling plug-ins. So you can put on one of their preamps and one of their compressors and have a good vocal chain. If one of my artists send me something cut with that, I know it'll be good and ready to mix. That's a great budget-friendly move."

Last edited by Lynn Fuston; 19th May 2017 at 06:28 PM..
Old 19th May 2017
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
It's my opinion that pre's don't matter as much as the mic. You might get a little difference in "color" with a additional pre, but I don't think it would be that noticable.
Preamps don't matter as much as the mic?

Well, after years of experimenting with both, I would agree with that statement.

But do NOT underestimate the impact that a preamp has on the sound of a mic. It can be huge. I've had situations where a really nice mic into an average preamp sounds WORSE than an average mic into a great preamp. Anyone who has ever plugged a 57 into a Neve can testify to that.

How much impact is there on the sound comparing mic/preamp? I'd say probably 65/35. But who do you know that's into recording that is happy with 65%?? If you record for a while (years) with an average preamp and then move up to a really great preamp, you'll kick yourself for the years you wasted. IF you're like me, that is.
Old 20th May 2017
  #5
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Lenzo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Preamps don't matter as much as the mic?

Well, after years of experimenting with both, I would agree with that statement.

But do NOT underestimate the impact that a preamp has on the sound of a mic. It can be huge. I've had situations where a really nice mic into an average preamp sounds WORSE than an average mic into a great preamp. Anyone who has ever plugged a 57 into a Neve can testify to that.

How much impact is there on the sound comparing mic/preamp? I'd say probably 65/35. But who do you know that's into recording that is happy with 65%?? If you record for a while (years) with an average preamp and then move up to a really great preamp, you'll kick yourself for the years you wasted. IF you're like me, that is.
In my place I have a couple of Great Rivers, A Neve 511, Burl B1D, 2 Tonebeasts and a Sonic Farms Silkworm. I also have a few pretty nice mics from Pearlman, Lauten Audio, Miktek and a few others. I was curious about this myself one day a few months ago, so I spent a few hours mixing and matching. My conclusion was that I could hear quite a difference between most mics, especially between say a LDC and a Ribbon or just between my TM-1 and my Lauten Atlantis. The silkworm provided the most distinctive sound between the pre's, but to my ears, it wouldn't have mattered much which pre I used. There was color variation, but not some giant "wow" type of difference. I also have a Symphony and Apollo modded by BLA. My suggestion was based on my knowledge of the pre's in the Apollo, which are quite decent. I have certainly been in the position where I've wished I'd had a certain piece of gear or mic for previous jobs. But given the op's gear to date, with a good solid source, I don't think getting a real good sound should be an issue.
L.
Old 20th May 2017
  #6
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Fuston View Post
Preamps don't matter as much as the mic?

Well, after years of experimenting with both, I would agree with that statement.

But do NOT underestimate the impact that a preamp has on the sound of a mic. It can be huge. I've had situations where a really nice mic into an average preamp sounds WORSE than an average mic into a great preamp. Anyone who has ever plugged a 57 into a Neve can testify to that.

How much impact is there on the sound comparing mic/preamp? I'd say probably 65/35. But who do you know that's into recording that is happy with 65%?? If you record for a while (years) with an average preamp and then move up to a really great preamp, you'll kick yourself for the years you wasted. IF you're like me, that is.
+1!!!
try that VM1 into a telefunken V72..

I must admit that these days the interface integrated preamps reached a very high quality, so they're really usable and you could get really good results with a great mic.

But as Lynn said, with a nice preamp you might get that last 30-20-10% that you're looking for (even more so with some nice analog compressors on the way in).

If that is worth to you or not it is a matter of choice, your own choice.
I try to get the best I could out of every recording for me and my clients.



Cheu
Old 21st May 2017
  #7
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trock's Avatar
 

I come from a lucas CS4 - Pendulum quartet - symphony

i have downsized to an avantone cv12 - apollo and unison neve and API. while there is def a difference I can easily do my songs with this setup and am happy with it
Old 21st May 2017
  #8
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Thread Starter
Thanks for all your perspectives guys!!!
I am considering an SLL Logic Pre or an Avalon V5.

I do agree that there is a lot I can do to sculpt the sound of the vocals once recorded.
But I not sure if a good "pre" will give me something that i can't achieve in post???

I may be able to test a SLL Xlogic Pre VS clean to see if i like the the result.
I also have my old Focusrite Voicemaster Pro that i could test. But not sure if it will compromise my chain???
Old 22nd May 2017
  #9
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barryknight247 View Post
Thanks for all your perspectives guys!!!
I am considering an SLL Logic Pre or an Avalon V5.

I do agree that there is a lot I can do to sculpt the sound of the vocals once recorded.
But I not sure if a good "pre" will give me something that i can't achieve in post???

I may be able to test a SLL Xlogic Pre VS clean to see if i like the the result.
I also have my old Focusrite Voicemaster Pro that i could test. But not sure if it will compromise my chain???
Everybody has their favourites.. But since you have a VM1, which is a very high quality and detailed mic, I'd suggest something with a bit of "smoothing" action, possibly not a solid state preamp. And nothing you could add/cut in post will do the same, at least imho/ime.

(Nothing wrong with them, I love several solid state preamps, like the Avedis MA5 or on a cleaner side the Forssell smp2).

But I'd not (personal opinion of course) use the two preamps you mentioned above, I'd go with something different (and that will be on par with the mic and very much "different" or possibly better than the good IC chips based preamps of the interface).

As said I'll suggest to test something like a vintage V72 (or similar iteratio s..like V76 V78)..it will help the "upfrontness" of the VM1 to have more depth, possibly being a bit more sweet as well..

Other "new" tube options I'd take into consideration are the Electronaut M63, the Fearn VT1 (or VT2), the Mercury M72 (or76, which are "similar" to the tfunken), or also a Pendulum Quartet (very nice channelstrip).

I hope this helps,



Cheu
Old 22nd May 2017
  #10
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tkaitkai's Avatar
 

The Apollo comes stock with great clean preamps. In my experience, the Unison emulations don't quite provide the same tonal variety offered by real outboard — they certainly sound excellent, but the differences between hardware preamps are more pronounced. If you're going to add an external preamp to your setup, I'd recommend getting something that will impart more tone as opposed to something clean/neutral, as the Apollo will handle that task quite well.

Sounds like you just need 1 channel — in this case, lots of high end single-channel preamps can be had for around $1,000 - $1,500, especially if you're willing to buy used. Of course, if you're happy with the way things are sounding now, you don't really need to upgrade, BUT if I were using a VM-1, I think I'd want to pair it with the best preamp I could possibly afford. YMMV.
Old 22nd May 2017
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
(Nothing wrong with them, I love several solid state preamps, like the Avedis MA5 or on a cleaner side the Forssell smp2).
Anyone who has discovered Forssell gets two thumbs up in my book. The FetCode was one of my favorites when we compared this group of preamps back in 2004. Someday I'll get out to Sandpoint to visit Fred. (Those are the Forssells just to the left of my head in this photo.)
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Old 22nd May 2017
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barryknight247 View Post
I am happy with my sound so far but have been advised by many "To get the most out of my microphone i would need to add a "Killer preamp"! e.g. Avalon/Neve/SSL/Manley.
That statement is by and large, completely stupid.

No.

To get a CERTAIN Sound WITH the microphone, is the entire point here.


Investigate WHY you want this, and go from there.


Since you DONT want to change the way the mic sounds right now.


There is no point to listen to that "advice",


Which is Bunk......
Old 22nd May 2017
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barryknight247 View Post
I do agree that there is a lot I can do to sculpt the sound of the vocals once recorded.
But I not sure if a good "pre" will give me something that i can't achieve in post???

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
Everybody has their favourites.. But since you have a VM1, which is a very high quality and detailed mic, I'd suggest something with a bit of "smoothing" action, possibly not a solid state preamp. And nothing you could add/cut in post will do the same, at least imho/ime.
Cheu is spot on. The differences you'll hear (or let me qualify that—that *I* hear) cannot be accomplished after the fact. They aren't just EQ.

The best analogy I've ever come up with is that the preamp is like the lens on a camera. If you don't get it right there, in the lens (focus, depth-of-field, sharpness, lack of distortion, etc.), you can never get it back.

The only way to know for sure IF or WHAT you are missing, is going to be listening for yourself. You're way ahead by having a good mic, but don't underestimate the impact of a great preamp.

I say "if" you are missing because some people can't hear the differences in preamps. It's a fact. I heard from many of them after I did my several shootouts.

I'll never forget auditioning preamps on kick drum during one session. We listened to six different preamps because I was hunting for a particular sound. After listening to several in rapid succession, I turned to someone in the control room and asked their opinion. They flatly replied "It sounds like a kick drum." For most, that is the case. But for those who are discriminating (or slightly delusional), the differences are very real.
Old 22nd May 2017
  #14
Put me in the 20-30% improvement category when it comes to external preamps. The mic is by far the most important element but we have a modified DBX 576 from 1982 and it is the last thing I would sell. We also have a BAE and Great River that do a great job of adding that bit of extra polished sound. Of course this assumes that you already have a great mic like the Brauner.
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