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Impact of Preamp vs Impact of Mic Condenser Microphones
Old 25th April 2018
  #1
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Impact of Preamp vs Impact of Mic

This is my first post on the forum as a new member so I'm doing my best here. I'm currently trying to make the transition from being an amateur part time recording engineer to a full time professional engineer. I've recently made some upgrades to the new system and I'm very happy with what I've got so far.

Here's a quick list of mics and preamps I'm running:

Pre's:
Antelope Goliath
Universal Audio 4-710d

Mic's
Akg C414 XLS x2
Shure SM7b
Shure SM57 x4
Shure SM58
Shure Beta 52a
Akg D112
Sterling St-131 x2

I plan on trying out Antelope's Edge and Verge mics once they patch my goliath so I can use the software. In total I currently have 20 channels worth of preamps in my rig (more than I have ever used simultaneously) and I still have 12 more open slots for external preamps (a potential of 32 inputs).

I'm trying to plan and budget for future upgrades and I would be curious to know what other people thought on the impact of quality preamps vs quality microphones. Would you rather have a larger variety of preamps or a larger variety of mics? Is a high quality mic worth investing into more than a high quality preamp?

P.s. I know I've seen other people post something similar but they were usually people just starting and so I hope this post doesn't come off as redundant. Thanks for your input and anything you have to say on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
Old 25th April 2018
  #2
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kennybro's Avatar
Personally, I will always opt for a large variety of mics over a large variety of preamps. But that's me.

Lately, I've been recording everything at home with SCA72's, Grace and Sound Devices preamps.
At work, it's all Neve Portico and UA 6176. All Audient for the drums.

But I have a buttload of mics from which to choose, from 87's to 451's to 4050's, 57's, RE20's, SM7's, 441's and 421's, 414's, TLM103, Sony's, Rodes, iSK's, old EV's, etc... I need all those mics, and want more.

The preamps... meh. The ones I have work just fine. A few clean, a few saturated, all nice quality, and I'm happy.
Old 25th April 2018
  #3
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Based on your gear list I would first focus on expanding your mic locker. You’ve got a good quantity of utility mics, but you’d benefit from adding some color/character mics, such as a tube condenser mic, a ribbon mic or two etc... Utility mics will certainly benefit from different preamps, but switching out a mic will always have greater impact than a preamp. Once you have more mics, get to know their characteristics and strengths, and later you will have a better idea what you will want out of a preamp. Remember, the mic has to serve the source, and the preamp has to serve the mic.
Old 25th April 2018
  #4
Gear Nut
 

That depends on what type of music you are recording...but I see nothing wrong with your recording except you mention you have 20 pre-amps. You don't have 20 pre-amps, and there is no reason to record twenty mics at once.
A 1073 is the only pre-amp available to professional's.

But a Universal or API pre-amp is almost as comparable.
Album's today are recorded in pieces. Part by Part. You don't record them all at the same time.

From your equipment list, I can see you can record a commercial quality album already.

If you do it properly.

As for your pre-amp question. There is only one pre-amp... that is the 1073...
whether it's a Brent Avrill clone or the original Neve.

As for your mic's...any professional mic with the 1073 will be professional...

for example my 4050 Audio Technica will sound gritty and almost somewhat mechanical
where a neumann u67 will sound silky smooth
my Rhode NT2 will sound lower grade, which matches a hip hop track better...
etc, etc...

once you have the 1073, it's the characteristic of the mic you are looking at... which genre are you producing?! as a U67 silky smooth character doesn't 'fit' in a heavy metal mix, nor does a silky smooth sound fit properly in a hip hop track (usually)...

if i were you, I would look into the mic's your main inspirations used and go by that.
Like if you liked Metallica the best, see their mic's
but don't compromise on the 1073.
1073 is standard practice.
Old 25th April 2018
  #5
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TurboJets's Avatar
Looks like you could use at least 1 really good tube mic.
Old 25th April 2018
  #6
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Mics. And conversion.
Old 25th April 2018
  #7
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

Head of the signal chain is the most important place to start. In today's digital age even consumer converters will get the job done. So invest in good mics you'll be glad you did.
Old 25th April 2018
  #8
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dntknowsht's Avatar
 

Performance
Old 25th April 2018
  #9
JAT
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mics. Even a -$100 MXL ribbon will have an obvious different sound (in a good way). Or a WA-47 (or other competent tube mic) when you saturate the tube/transformer. Much more obvious to me than swapping out pres as long as all the pres are good.
Old 25th April 2018
  #10
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___GLM___'s Avatar
in case you missed these two threads

http://https://www.gearslutz.com/boa...ee-coming.html

http://https://www.gearslutz.com/boa...owerstrip.html

There are some video comparisons in there, and I think it’s obvious that the mics make the bigger difference
Old 25th April 2018
  #11
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andychamp's Avatar
I‘d rather have one type of quality pre (like in a console) and run all kinds of mics through them. There‘s a LOT of variety in mics out there.

The way I see it, a good/great pre can make any mic shine.
But the best/most expensive mic will be no good through a so-so preamp.
Old 25th April 2018
  #12
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by synthesia1073 View Post
There is only one pre-amp... that is the 1073...
whether it's a Brent Avrill clone or the original Neve.
That's a bit narrow. I don't put a lot of weight on the preamp, but there are some choices. A GML or Millennia is going to offer a different texture, sharper and more edgy, than a 1073 or any of the trans balanced pres. Everything has it's place.
Old 25th April 2018
  #13
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by synthesia1073 View Post
a U67 silky smooth character doesn't 'fit' in a heavy metal mix
Chris Cornell used a U67 for the Superunknown album. I wouldn't call that heavy metal, but it's definitely hard, abrasive rock.
Old 25th April 2018
  #14
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
Chris Cornell used a U67 for the Superunknown album. I wouldn't call that heavy metal, but it's definitely hard, abrasive rock.
And I’m pretty sure a M49 was the vocal mic on the album prior, fwiw.
Old 25th April 2018
  #15
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toledo3's Avatar
 

A mic preamp may add harmonics, may impact slew rate, etc., in some way that kind of turd polishes a scenario, but it cannot add detail that isn’t there.

I would definitely rather plug a very good mic, like a C12, M49, etc., right into a run of the mill interface than only have middling mics and X channels of Neve.

But why even play this mind game? The answer is that it’s best to have excellent of both. But you don’t really need a big variety of preamps, if variety at all. Using just one preamp type is a great way to “glue” things together. (OR if you have a bunch of different preamps, sometimes running them through a single other type or preamp, in line amp mode can help do a similar thing.)
Old 26th April 2018
  #16
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steveschizoid's Avatar
A great mic through a ****ty preamp will not sound great, whereas a ****ty mic through a good preamp can sound great. Wasn't Michael Jackson's vocal recorded with an sm7b? Some of Bono's with an sm57? That worked because they were using consoles with professional grade preamps.

You don't really need a huge variety of them, you just need enough for the intended track count, and they need to be better than prosumer grade.

Aurora Audio makes great pres - unlike the Neve cloners Geoff Tanner has attempted to use his 17 years as a designer for Neve as a jumping off point to create better gear. Not that a 1073 is a bad option, but they are way more expensive than Aurora Audio pre/eq's and certainly no better.

All that being said, aren't the 710's considered to be decent pres? You might be fine sticking with them and diversifying your mic collection.
Old 26th April 2018
  #17
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zvukofor's Avatar
Mics.

You can make some useful effects of different preamps later in a mixing process, like having LF bump, or saturation/softclipping... but you'll never repair harsh sounding hi-hat or voice recorded on a bad mic.

But mic positioning and getting the right mic to the right source is even more important than mic itself. Not to mention good performance, again.
Old 26th April 2018
  #18
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You need Mic's man.

At any quality you want at least one of each:

SDC
SDC tube
LDC
LDC tube
Ribbon short
Ribbon long
Large moving coil
Small moving coil
Boundry (Pizio)

And it's nice to have one of each brand. Each brand has a voicing.
For example, One EV large moving coil should be in every locker. the RE-20 is what most have for that. But a 666 or PL10 serves the same voicing type. And taking a step back from that. German mic's are great for a classic orchestra, Japan mic's are better for a Japan Opera.

However, the other piece of the story is that mic's and preamps can have a good relations. Think ying/yang. Tube mic..Solid state preamp. Solid state mic...Tube preamp. Bright mic..dark preamp. Dark mic..bright preamp. You get the Idea.

There are no rules, but just offering some ways to think about it.
Old 26th April 2018
  #19
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
German mic's are great for a classic orchestra, Japan mic's are better for a Japan Opera.
I can’t even...
Old 26th April 2018
  #20
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=elegentdrum;
At any quality you want at least one of each:

SDC
SDC tube
LDC
LDC tube
Ribbon short
Ribbon long
Large moving coil
Small moving coil
Boundry (Pizio)
[/QUOTE]

If I'm dealing with a singer who's too sibilant for a ribbon, can I just tape the boundary mic to his throat?
Old 26th April 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
I can’t even...
I was thinking Neumann and Sony at the time.
Old 26th April 2018
  #22
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
A great mic through a ****ty preamp will not sound great, whereas a ****ty mic through a good preamp can sound great. Wasn't Michael Jackson's vocal recorded with an sm7b? Some of Bono's with an sm57? That worked because they were using consoles with professional grade preamps.

You don't really need a huge variety of them, you just need enough for the intended track count, and they need to be better than prosumer grade.

Aurora Audio makes great pres - unlike the Neve cloners Geoff Tanner has attempted to use his 17 years as a designer for Neve as a jumping off point to create better gear. Not that a 1073 is a bad option, but they are way more expensive than Aurora Audio pre/eq's and certainly no better.

All that being said, aren't the 710's considered to be decent pres? You might be fine sticking with them and diversifying your mic collection.
Respectfully disagree. We can't know what Bono's 57 (or 58?) vocals might sound like though a better mic, be cause we don't have that comparison to make. One thing that makes his vocals great is the fact that he's psychologically comfortable with the mic. We're hearing performance more than the sound of the mic.

And the SM7 (the "b" wasn't introduced until 2001, 20 years after Thriller) is actually quite a nice vocal mic.
Old 26th April 2018
  #23
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CrankyChris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
A great mic through a ****ty preamp will not sound great, whereas a ****ty mic through a good preamp can sound great. Wasn't Michael Jackson's vocal recorded with an sm7b? Some of Bono's with an sm57? That worked because they were using consoles with professional grade preamps.
98% of that greatness was because Bono and Michael Jackson were singing into them. I would prefer a great mic into cheap pre (as opposed to cheap mic into great pre) any day of the week.

The 2 most amazing promotion/marketing accomplishments of the 21st century are The Trump presidency and the proliferation of mic preamps.
Old 26th April 2018
  #24
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andychamp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
(...)most amazing promotion/marketing accomplishments (...) the proliferation of mic preamps.
Or rather: the assumption that you need many different kinds.
Studios always used to have sh**loads of preamps, they just were part of the console.
Old 26th April 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyChris View Post
98% of that greatness was because Bono and Michael Jackson were singing into them. I would prefer a great mic into cheap pre (as opposed to cheap mic into great pre) any day of the week.

The 2 most amazing promotion/marketing accomplishments of the 21st century are The Trump presidency and the proliferation of mic preamps.
I'd say it's more 50 / 50, there's just some mic's I dislike on every vocalist I've ever come across which only serve to lower the quality of the recording, no matter how good a singer they are or how popular the song is. It's a bit like saying Metallica's guitars would of sounded just as good through a $20.00 Boss multi-FX pedal from the 90's, direct into a cheap audio interface because it's 98% in the fingers.

Those boss pedals suck, on everything and anything.. No matter what you stick through it.

As for pre-amps as long as they don't get in the way for me I really couldn't care less, I've used low headroom cheap starve plate pre's that add horrible distortion characteristics and make every mic sound "sharp" / brittle.. In that case then it doesn't matter what mic you have, it's gonna suck.

Although you don't have to spend API money (or anywhere near) to get a good pre-amp nowadays.. The OP's running 4-710's whilst it's personally not my favourite partial strip but I'd be far more worried about mic's than pre's..
Old 26th April 2018
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Run an SM7b through a bunch of different preamps and you may gain some appreciation for the differences.

Also, I think this pre vs mic topic has been covered at least 5 times in the past 2 months.
Old 26th April 2018
  #27
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jdier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord of Shred View Post
Would you rather have a larger variety of preamps or a larger variety of mics? Is a high quality mic worth investing into more than a high quality preamp?
For me, I would rather have a bank of all the same, reasonably high quality preamps then spend the rest of my money on mics.

I think the mic makes more of an overall difference, but I kind of feel that you need to be above a low water mark in terms of preamp quality.

My pres are almost all N72's and I do not find that they are the limiting factor in my recordings.
Old 26th April 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pangolin View Post
Run an SM7b through a bunch of different preamps and you may gain some appreciation for the differences.

Also, I think this pre vs mic topic has been covered at least 5 times in the past 2 months.
Yep, you get several flavours of an underwhelming vocal microphone instead of just one..
Old 26th April 2018
  #29
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Funny Cat's Avatar
Sometimes I get so befuddled by these ‘you need 72 preamps and two half decent mics’ type replies. They are so way out of context. Only a self recordist would say something this off base.

What happens when an actual client comes in, a talented one at that...with their Martin guitar and Corrine Bailey Rae style vocals as their main instrument or banjo or their cello and all you’ve got is an SM7 and 10 different flavors of Neve?

What happens when you get a prolific Bluegrass band in or a solid Jazz trio and all you have is your 58 with fake Bono autograph but don’t own one single quality ribbon mic?
Old 26th April 2018
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowAMD View Post
Yep, you get several flavours of an underwhelming vocal microphone instead of just one..
I've sung through a bunch of great mics, and the SM7 into a Neve hangs with the best of them.
Topic:
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