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How many channels of preamplification do you have?
Old 10th February 2019
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OceanMan's Avatar

How many channels of preamplification do you have?

Hello fellow slutz! I’ve gotten thinking about preamp channel inputs, and what quantity is satisfactory for a pro studio. Obviously there are plenty of consoles out there that provide a huge number of inputs, perhaps more than they are ever likely to use on a regular basis (all the more power to them). My question for everyone is this: regardless of if you are running your studio as a pro facility, if it’s just your personal place, how many channels of pre’s do you have on tap? 16? 64? 9 3/4? How’s it working out for you? Do you need more, or is it plenty? Do you have more than enough simply for peace of mind, or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum?

Here’s my story, and why I recently added more. I have a modular hybrid setup, and have been working with 32 inputs for a long time. All nice high end stuff (Neve, API, Phoenix, Audient). I always thought this was plenty. Until recently, I had never needed more. Earlier this week, though, I had to quickly add 16 more channels, meaning I am now at 48. There are a few reasons this happened.

First off, I’ve started to mic the bottom of toms. When blended in correctly, it adds this sort of “bigness” I love. The phase obviously must be flipped, and personally, I don’t need dual, competing representations of the fundamental. So there is HP filtering happening on the way in, or in PT. My take is that the “bigness” comes from the second harmonic and up, I guess.

Also, I have added in a second mic on snare top. I love the Beyerdynamic M 201 on snare. It adds a certain percussiveness that is fantastic. It’s different from the percussive bite that 421’s add. It’s more of a “poppy explosiveness.” Zero chance I will return to a 57 ever again. However, I did notice after awhile though that there was an “edge” that the 201’s just weren’t conveying, and I didn’t want to start EQing to bring it out. I got the feeling it would take too much EQ to pull off anyway, and just sort of screw things up.

So, as a “get it while tracking” sort of guy (or at least as close as I can), I dropped in a SDC in tandem with my 201, being careful with placement to avoid phase problems...voila. It took a few different mics until I got one that brought out the sound I was looking for. Strangely, I ended up with a very cheap microphone (Sterling 33, I believe it’s called). It’s brighter than all hell, but with some high pass (again, competing fundamentals) and using either a shelf or just a low pass to tame things around 8k and up, with the track blended in -12 to 8db lower than the 201, I had my sound.

Anyway, in comes a progressive metal band earlier this week. 3 vocalists, 3 guitarists, a keyboard player with a sampler and a small electronic drum setup of pads, and a drummer with 6 toms, and a kit that needed a lot of spot micing on cymbals. I’m talking 4 splashes, 2 chinas, 2 hats. They just weren’t all translating with overheads alone. Another note: I love my room, and use a lot of room mics, usually at least 4, typically more. From there I will pick out which ones I’ll use for different parts of a song.

So, understandably, I was in trouble. I could have simplified the drum micing setup, but the way of going about things as I described above has been a journey of basically a decade. It would have sucked to regress. So (prepare yourselves) I quickly ran out and bought 2 Focusrite Octopres from Guitar Center.

Granted the sound was not fantastic. Nowhere near the rest of my front end that I slaved away for years to acquire. I don’t expect to have them more than a couple months. But, all things considered, they aren’t bad. They get the job done. The are preamps that boost the sound of microphones to line level. They work. They aren’t noisy. I was happen to hear all these channels at work in tandem. These units have A/D conversion which I did not, and will not be employing. I have 64/64 I/O with the current crop of Avid interfaces.

The band tracked live, with the intention of getting a solid drum track, and then overdubbing everything as needed afterward. Knowing how things can go sometimes, I had the lead vocalist going through an API. Everything else that was to be overdubbed went through the Focusrites, along with a couple room mics and some of the less important drum spot mics. Decent, no complaints. Sterile, yes. Some seemed somehow to get buried easy in some way in the rough mix a little that is hard to describe, especially guitars. But it was all there, and I knew I could make it work in the way I wanted with a small amount of processing work.

The bass player liked his performance, so we used his miced signal blended with the DI from the live take, and I don’t blame him. He was right in the pocket with the drummer. With a little love from the CL1B, Distressor, and some tasty processing ITB, it sounded damn good. His excellent performance certainly didn’t hurt either.

I guess the point I’m trying to convey is that 1) ultimately, it comes down to performance. Obviously, we cannot control the talent and preparedness of a musician. In a sense, we are nothing more than documentarians that seek to make things come across a little larger than life, making people comfortable so that they can do their best work 2) NEVER let gear or your budget slow you down or make you fearful. I just made some massive upgrades to my studio (40k+ in outboard, plug ins, other ****). I just wasn’t going to spend much more than what the Octopre’s cost on a whim with no research.

Here on Gearslutz, I think we can momentarily forget that it really is about the music in the end. I am as guilty as the next one, believe me. I love what a great piece of gear can do. Sometimes though, sacrifices must be made, at least momentarily - temporarily - for the sake of the ultimate goal that got us all into this mess in the first place - the joy of capturing and helping facilitate music and “the song.”

So, back to my question - how many channels do you have on your studio? Ever been in a pickle like me and had to squeeze things in? Feel free to share if you like. Cheers!
Old 10th February 2019
Does it really matter, as everyone's situation/needs vary widely? 90% of my tracking is by myself, recording myself, for example. Like most, I am always trying to produce the best sound possible, but after roughly forty years of recording, I don't need a ton of channels to get the sound I am going for; 16 at the very most for drums. Less for everything else. I have twelve channels of outboard preamps and the same for interface preamps. However, I never use all at the same time. What I use depends on my mood.
Old 10th February 2019
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OceanMan's Avatar

Does what matter? The number of channels? It matters a lot actually, depending on needs, as you said. You seem to contradict yourself almost immediately there...

I am not saying more is better. Nowhere was that said or even alluded to. I’m asking a simple question out of curiousity, not initiating a competition. Of course we are all trying to make the best recordings possible, that goes without saying. This is, after all, a website essentially dedicated to that.
Old 10th February 2019
Originally Posted by OceanMan View Post
Does what matter? The number of channels? It matters a lot actually, depending on needs, as you said. You seem to contradict yourself almost immediately there...

I am not saying more is better. Nowhere was that said or even alluded to. I’m asking a simple question out of curiousity, not initiating a competition. Of course we are all trying to make the best recordings possible, that goes without saying. This is, after all, a website essentially dedicated to that.
I ask in curiosity what you would gain by knowing how many channels others have, that's all. For example, some guys can do wonders with one or two mics over a kit, while others "need" a lot more. To put it another way, if the majority of answers stated they relied on a lot less than you, would that be a reason for you to use less? Probably not.
Old 10th February 2019
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OceanMan's Avatar

General curiosity. Yes that is true, however an entirely different subject
Old 10th February 2019
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OceanMan's Avatar

You seem to want to debate the merits of using less channels. That’s not something I am interested in. Good day.
Old 10th February 2019
Not debating it at all. In fact I find it really interesting how some can get away with less than I can.
Old 10th February 2019
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noah330's Avatar
I have an API A2D, which is basically a pair of 312s, a UA 610 (the rack one from the early 2000s), a Presonus ADL-600 and an Avid Omni (which has two mic pres).

I also have a 32 channel DDA D series waiting to move into my new space.

I have what I need and am not really looking for anything else in the pre world.
Old 10th February 2019
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Timothy Lawler's Avatar

How many channels of preamplification do you have?
I have two channels of Great River MP2. Works for me most of the time. But my needs are simple.

I also have a dozen other preamps and they've been handy.

Some of my microphones don't care much about what preamp they're going into. Others do.
Old 10th February 2019
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24 channels on my Qu-24 does me well.
Old 10th February 2019
Gear Guru
Brent Hahn's Avatar

I've 2 channels each of API, Buzz and Avalon, one Manley tube, 12 (I think) in a Yamaha 01v.
Old 10th February 2019
Gear Maniac
rnappi's Avatar
6 channels of CAPI FD312. 4 channels of Gordon, Hardy, Daking. 2 channels of Fearn, Siemens V72. 1 channel UA M610. 16 channels in a Soundcraft GB2R(same pre in the Ghost).
Old 10th February 2019
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Blaine Misner's Avatar

16 channels: 8 API 512 & 550's and 2 Shadow Hills Quad GAMAs

would love a couple more for large dates, but can usually get it done with less.
Old 10th February 2019
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1 Vipre
2 Channel Locomotive Audio
2 Channel Forsell Mellinia
4 Channel API clone M12
8 Channels of hand wired Jensen 110E transformers
2 Channel on SSL Nucleus
8 Channel Audient ASP008
1 Channel Grace 101
1 Channel Warm 12
2 Channel Black Lion Auture
2 Channel AEA TRP

Mixing and matching mic's with preamps is fun.
Old 10th February 2019
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JayTee4303's Avatar

Give or take.

They've been adequate so far.
Old 10th February 2019
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
The commercial studio I work out of has 30 channels of outboard preamps and a 48 channel SSL4000.

2ch McAllister Audio MP2
2ch Avedis MA5
2ch Brent Averill Enterprises racked Neve 1272
4ch Manley Force
2ch A-Designs P-1
2ch CraneSong Flamingo
2ch Avalon M2
4ch API 3124+
4ch Millennia
2ch Vintech x73i
2ch Neve 33115
2ch Langevin AM16

The Millennia is the only one I don’t use often. They all have something different to offer and shine on different applications. Fast, slow, dark, bright, clean, gritty, aggressive, mellow, transformer-coupled, transformerless, EQ, variable impendance; it’s really nice to have the options for pairing with many different mics and sources. And yes, sometimes I do use the SSL pres as well. They’re not as bad as some folks on this forum would have you believe.
Old 10th February 2019
Gear Addict

2 Channels Coil Audio 286 (PS6) (2 EA of all transformer options)
2 Channels Coil Audio 70 (PS6)
8 Channels Pueblo Audio JR4
Old 10th February 2019
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Silvertone's Avatar
16 channels of Langevin/Electrodyne 201A tube preamp modules
2 Quad Eight MM310 pre/EQ
2 melcor AE20 pre/EQ
2 Electrodyne 501A preamps

Typical tracking session I use between 12 and 16 channels
Old 10th February 2019
Lives for gear

I managed pretty well for 10 years with an ADL600 a UA 4 710d and high end tube mics: the acoustic Americana genre I work in does not require a boat load of pres. One of the greatest changes in my workflow is a Yamaha stage piano, (CP5 model from the motif family) that never has to be tuned or miced and a plethora of drum loops always on the ready when needed sans the hassle of micing kits to suit various drummers.
Unfortunately this system was not easy to deploy with my KV2 ES FOH and also turn key video of live performances had become my main challenge so I opted for a new Digigrid/Waves LV1 system featuring 20 world class Digico pres. The tube and transformer warmth provided by my 1/2 dozen tube mics are a great match for the sonic transparency of the "D" pres.
The long and the short of it is, I got lucky: the current FP32/96K capture and processing is much better than my previous protocol and it is equally predictable and appropriate in the studio. There is a huge advantage in isolating the live processing to taste for studio cueing &/or FOH purposes while printing on the DAW pre only tracks for post production two mixes and mastering.
My answer for the OP is I use mostly the 8 pre channels in the IOS but have 12 more channels in the IOX if and/or when needed. The only time I need all of my pres is for occasional capture of Christmas and Easter choir & orchestra church performances.
Old 10th February 2019
4 ch Capi vp 25
4 ch Capi vp 26
4 ch Presonus ADL 600
9 ch ISA 1 (828 & ISA 1)
1 ch 610 solo
2 ch Gap pre 73dlx
4 ch RME UFX pre
16 ch Toft board pre
13 ch D & R stylx board pre

Stylx board, ISA 828, & RME in one room the other 16 ch with the toft in another room.

Last edited by matherne; 13th February 2019 at 02:54 PM.. Reason: Over gearsluting
Old 13th February 2019
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cjogo's Avatar
24 channels at board /DAW and a Manley DVC and a UA tube......
Old 13th February 2019
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Rockabilly69's Avatar
This is what I have in my project studio and most of my work is with my outboard pres. I rarely use the pres in the Mackie, or the onboard ones of the RME UCX. If recording drums, I rarely use more than 6 pres, and I typically record small acoustic based acts, so I've got more than enough to cover what I do. For on location stuff, I will bring out the Mackie 1640i and a laptop.

12 channels Mackie 1640i
4 channels Sebatron VMP4000e
2 channels NEVE 5012
2 channels Audient Mico
2 channels ADL600
2 channels BAE 1073MPF
2 channels UA LA-610
2 channels RME UCX onboard
2 channels Cloudlifter Z
1 channel Manley Voxbox
1 channel Blue Robbie

In my little home setup I have...

8 channels Mackie Onyx 800r
2 channels RME Babyface onboard
2 channels Drawmer 1960
2 channels Langevin DVC
2 channels Presonus RC500
2 channels Focusrite One
Old 13th February 2019
4x mic/ intstrument preamps on my RME Fireface UFX II
1x UA LA 610mkii
1x Grace m101
2x channels on the Art Mpa Gold

I am thinking about forking out for the Grace m103

There it is...up in lights, so to speak.

Old 13th February 2019
Gear Maniac
ljona's Avatar

Lot of ADL 600 love around here. Interesting
Old 13th February 2019
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ca. 120 on desk (studer)
ca. 50 outboard (amek/neve, grace, calrec, focusrite, crane song, midas, yamaha, aphex, tc, jünger, drawmer, rme, neumann)
Old 13th February 2019
When I was doing commercial recording I always had 16 high end pieces ready to go. I was doing bands, overdubbs (sometimes drums or single instruments) or singer songwriter stuff and I very rarely needed more that.
Old 13th February 2019
1 API 512c
1 RND 511
2 Avedis MA5
2 DBX 580
4 UA 710
1 Aphex A
44 dda dmr-12 pres
3 ADM channels w pres
16 Focusrite pres on my 18i20 and octapre
Old 13th February 2019
2 x CAPI Heider FD312.
2 x Stam 1073 DPA
5 x UA 710
24 x Toft ATB (surprisingly good).

Never needed more then ~20 to track a band.
Old 13th February 2019
Lives for gear
Unclenny's Avatar
1 Channel: Trident 4T

Oh, did say pro studio.

Sorry, guys. Carry on.

Old 13th February 2019
Gear Guru
Brent Hahn's Avatar

Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
1 Channel: Trident 4T

Oh, did say pro studio.

Sorry, guys. Carry on.

I was waiting for you to show up. :-)

On my DIY songs I'll usually use just one for everything but drums. Sometimes for everything, period.

I suspect the guy who posted "165" is more along the lines of what the Forum Sponsors want to see. In an audio Gourmet kitchen. While we're down by the tracks making Hobo Stew. Delicious if you know what you're doing.
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