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I think it's time for me to buy a preamp
Old 16th May 2019
  #1
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I think it's time for me to buy a preamp

Hello everyone,

I often hear people say that a mic pre will make vocals sound fatter and nicer.

I have seen many videos online to listen to differences but im a bit skeptical on how much of what i hear is honesty or just advertising.

Either wayIm thinking of buying a mic preamp.

Specs: Single channel, costing max 1000 euros, will be used predominantly for vocals.

From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.

I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.


Ps. Im happy with my mic: akg c414
Old 16th May 2019
  #2
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Drumsound's Avatar
You say "fatter and nicer" and that makes me think of compression, not a mic preamp. What preamp do you use now, and what don't you like about the sound?
Old 16th May 2019
  #3
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bowzin's Avatar
The Grace is a nice preamp but its clean, not going to be too terribly different from whatever interface preamps you're probably using.

Find something transformer-based and with color to cover more territory in tandem with your existing clean interface pre's.
Old 16th May 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
I often hear people say that a mic pre will make vocals sound fatter and nicer.
Some preamps will make your vocals sound clearer and more focused. Some people might call this the opposite of "fatness". The idea that "fatter" always = "nicer" is a matter of taste. Shop your gear carefully as your taste may not be the same as the reviewer's taste.


Quote:
I have seen many videos online to listen to differences but im a bit skeptical on how much of what i hear is honesty or just advertising.
The differences that preamps make are subtle. People go "wow" and "incredible" and "like night and day". But when you are pushing against a limitation for a long time, a small increase may feel very large to you. The reason you may feel skeptical about these comparisons is that
1) they are very difficult to do properly and fairly and
2) the differences are relatively subtle compared to switching out a mic, or changing the type of strings on your acoustic guitar.

Keep in mind that if you can record at all by plugging your mic into your interface, you already have a "mic preamp". It is built in to your interface. Getting a dedicated Outboard mic preamp is what you are talking about. Depending on your interface, you may not be able to completely bypass its internal preamps. Meaning your outboard gear is 'added to' your interface sound, more than it is fully 'replacing' it.
Old 17th May 2019
  #5
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Murky Waters's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
Hello everyone,

I often hear people say that a mic pre will make vocals sound fatter and nicer.

I have seen many videos online to listen to differences but im a bit skeptical on how much of what i hear is honesty or just advertising.

Either wayIm thinking of buying a mic preamp.

Specs: Single channel, costing max 1000 euros, will be used predominantly for vocals.

From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.

I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.


Ps. Im happy with my mic: akg c414
610. Grace will not give you what you seek (fatness).
Old 17th May 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
I suggest looking over the following options:
Gap73
Warm12
Black Lion Auteur
Revive Audio M12
DaKing
ISA One
Revive Audio mod Yamaha from the 80's
AEA TRP (No phantom for 414)

Between the two your started with 610 and 101. They are opposet ends of the spectrum.
The 101 is clear/bright.
The 610 is dark

AKG 414 is a bright mic. at least the newer ones. once you go back to the EB version, they are darker/fuller.

So with a bright mic, you will prefer the 610 over the 101 for tone.

What's the best preamp for the cash at the high end. My current vote goes to Locomotive Audio. I want to check out Coil Someday. But they are out of your budget. Tubes are nice with a solid state mic.

If you want more of the 414, take a look at Advanced Audio CM414. Better new mic than AKG for less cash.

I added some cool attachments I have collected from this site. One of them is preamp color. The quality is all over the place and not indicated.
Attached Thumbnails
I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-preamp-color.jpg   I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-mic-graph1.jpg   I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-wiring.jpg   I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-polar_patterns.jpg   I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-imgext.jpg  

I think it's time for me to buy a preamp-imgext-1-.jpg  

Last edited by elegentdrum; 17th May 2019 at 01:45 AM..
Old 17th May 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
You say "fatter and nicer" and that makes me think of compression, not a mic preamp.
Tell that to Rupert Neve or Bill Putnam


Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
ua 610 solo and grace m101.
610 will add a bit of weight, Grace not so much. Sounds like you want a Neve or an older 610.
Old 17th May 2019
  #8
Alternatively, don't buy anything until you figure out exactly what you want. Apply some gentle saturation and EQ ITB and you will likely find it puts you into the territory you desire. Try a plugin like the Scheps 73 and see what you think after that. Most preamps will only make a very subtle difference unless they are driven hard (ie Neve will saturate significantly when driven).
Old 17th May 2019
  #9
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
Tell that to Rupert Neve or Bill Putnam
Those gentlemen both designed very colorful compressors, but thanks for trolling me just the same.
Old 17th May 2019
  #10
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Forsell designed tons of good stuff too.
Old 17th May 2019
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post

From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.

I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Interesting! I have the Grace m101 and the 610mkii...similar I guess...I mean the mkii may be somewhat similar to the 610 solo. Not the mkii is similar to the Grace.

The Grace is excellent...very clean and honest...so not sure that would fatten your vocals, as such, but they will sound nice...if you have a nice mic etc.

My 610mkii is versatile and I like it. I don't know a great deal about the 610 solo.

I just bought a Daking Mic/pre/eq...excellent stuff. The eq responds very well. I've only tried it with a ribbon mic so far but the unprocessed/ dry results were very rich and nice.


Last edited by hello people; 18th May 2019 at 11:29 PM..
Old 17th May 2019
  #12
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
I often hear people say that a mic pre will make vocals sound fatter and nicer.

I have seen many videos online to listen to differences but im a bit skeptical on how much of what i hear is honesty or just advertising.

Either wayIm thinking of buying a mic preamp.

Specs: Single channel, costing max 1000 euros, will be used predominantly for vocals.

From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.

I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.


PS. Im happy with my mic: akg c414
We've not much to go on in terms of the rest of your set-up, but if your objective is to make your vocals 'nicer and fatter' you could split your budget and arguably achieve that goal better than spending it all on a single pre - €1,000 will net you a 2-ch DAV BG1 preamp and a Warm Audio WA-76 compressor.
Old 18th May 2019
  #13
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Not a bad idea.

For one channel, Revive has a single pre thats good.
I would go for the 1176KT over the warm. no wall wart, smoother knobs, less noise,less DOA events, and has Midas transformers.

Revive states: They prefer the KT over Warm un-modded. But they like warm more than KT after mod. I assume there are different bottlenecks in each unit that makes them cheaper to build.
Old 18th May 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Those gentlemen both designed very colorful compressors, but thanks for trolling me just the same.
The OP wants a preamp. He didn't ask about a compressor. So I guess that makes you the troll. So are you going on record making the claim that Neve and UA preamps don't generate a fat warm vocal sound? Are you claiming they are transparent? Clearly you have never used either.
Old 18th May 2019
  #15
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I didn't think the 610 sounded very fat when I used it. But I did like it. The unit I had actually sounded like it had less low mids than my ISA One.
I'm with Drumsound on this one, though. I've never used a pre that inherently made something sound fat, or big, or whatever adjectives you want to use. I have had mics that didn't work well with stock pres, and then you plug them into something that loads them with the correct impedance or provides enough gain and they suddenly come to life.
Old 18th May 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
The OP wants a preamp. He didn't ask about a compressor. So I guess that makes you the troll. So are you going on record making the claim that Neve and UA preamps don't generate a fat warm vocal sound? Are you claiming they are transparent? Clearly you have never used either.
Those pres can be quite transparent if the gsinstaging is set for it. The OP was after a "fat" tone, and was informed of a better way to go about it.
Old 18th May 2019
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
Those pres can be quite transparent if the gsinstaging is set for it. The OP was after a "fat" tone, and was informed of a better way to go about it.
Thanks, Shannon.
Old 18th May 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
Those pres can be quite transparent if the gsinstaging is set for it. The OP was after a "fat" tone, and was informed of a better way to go about it.
Neve pres are fat and warm ALL the time. I have 6 of them. I have 4x 1066 and 2x 1073s all with Marinairs. Driving the inputs hard will definitely give them more distortion and harmonics, but that that is not synonymous with fatness. Driving the vintage units hard make arguably makes them fatter, but it's just a different type of fat. The signal is more clipped when driven hard. It is more compressed. Not always fatter.

I know you probably have never mixed on an older SSL console but you can drive them really hard and saturate them but they will still sound thin and shrill. Maybe a better example for you is a Fender twin reverb guitar amp. Without pedals it is a very clean amp (for a tube amp) even at higher volumes. Does it suddenly get "fat" when you use a overdrive/saturation pedal?? no not at all, it in most cases will sound even thinner. Gain-staging does not always equate to fatnesss, it merely equates to more distortion/clipping/saturation on these older units.

Perhaps when people say "fat" they mean different things?? Perhaps it is semtantical term?? not sure, but if you think a Neve mic pre or real 610 is not fat at any input gain, then you have never used either. A 610 input channel is always huge. A neve 1066/73 is always huge. I'm not referring to UA 610 'solo' or WarmAudio 73 that they sell at Sweetwater and GuitarCenter. I'm specifically referring to the real vintage units/consoles. I have only used a 610 once and it was back in early 1980s, but it was huge and warm. I will never forget it.

Some mic pres are certainly capable of sounding fat all the time. Compressors are not required to get fat tone. A good mic, good mic pre and a great converter will get you a fat tone. A good comp is just icing on the cake. TBH it's hard to imagine some most some people on this thread have ever actually recorded with vintage end pres. I'm not even sure some here have ever recorded anything at all.... I'm sorry but saying you need a compressor to get fat tone is completely ludicrous and misguided. No offense to anyone in particular. I know you wouldn't make such an idiotic statement.

If all you needed was a good compressor, people would track with radioshack mic into Mackie consoles into digi 002 units and be getting fat tone, but no one would ever get good result with that chain, even with an RCA BA-6A or Fairchild 560/70 as their compressor.
Old 18th May 2019
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
Hello everyone,

I often hear people say that a mic pre will make vocals sound fatter and nicer.

I have seen many videos online to listen to differences but im a bit skeptical on how much of what i hear is honesty or just advertising.

Either wayIm thinking of buying a mic preamp.

Specs: Single channel, costing max 1000 euros, will be used predominantly for vocals.

From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.

I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions.


Ps. Im happy with my mic: akg c414
Just to skip the thread and answer OPs question...

imho, if it's fatter vocals you want, I'd look for the nicest compressor you can afford for tracking in parallel.

You need at least two inputs and either a patchbay or a line splitter, and I guess you need an external pre to route the signal before conversion as well ..
Sorry.

I find compressing in parallel to be an excellent tool for "fattening" or bringing a track forward. You can also very easily bring the quiet parts up while preserving the dynamics, and it really helps to be in the analogue world where you can monitor without latency and really hear what's going on in real time.

This presupposes a decent microphone and preamp. I know your original question was about purchasing a preamp, but you did not mention what preamp you are currently using. Swapping a good interface preamp with a high-end outboard preamp does make a difference, but if it's good interface and the preamp has a sufficient amount of good clean gain for your applications, then the difference may be fairly subtle in regular use. That said, I think a good outboard pre with a good outboard comp that you can use to track (and monitor) in parallel will deliver what you are looking for.

just my 2c.
Old 18th May 2019
  #20
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
Neve pres are fat and warm ALL the time. I have 6 of them. I have 4x 1066 and 2x 1073s all with Marinairs. Driving the inputs hard will definitely give them more distortion and harmonics, but that that is not synonymous with fatness. Driving the vintage units hard make arguably makes them fatter, but it's just a different type of fat. The signal is more clipped when driven hard. It is more compressed. Not always fatter.

I know you probably have never mixed on an older SSL console but you can drive them really hard and saturate them but they will still sound thin and shrill. Maybe a better example for you is a Fender twin reverb guitar amp. Without pedals it is a very clean amp (for a tube amp) even at higher volumes. Does it suddenly get "fat" when you use a overdrive/saturation pedal?? no not at all, it in most cases will sound even thinner. Gain-staging does not always equate to fatnesss, it merely equates to more distortion/clipping/saturation on these older units.

Perhaps when people say "fat" they mean different things?? Perhaps it is semtantical term?? not sure, but if you think a Neve mic pre or real 610 is not fat at any input gain, then you have never used either. A 610 input channel is always huge. A neve 1066/73 is always huge. I'm not referring to UA 610 'solo' or WarmAudio 73 that they sell at Sweetwater and GuitarCenter. I'm specifically referring to the real vintage units/consoles. I have only used a 610 once and it was back in early 1980s, but it was huge and warm. I will never forget it.

Some mic pres are certainly capable of sounding fat all the time. Compressors are not required to get fat tone. A good mic, good mic pre and a great converter will get you a fat tone. A good comp is just icing on the cake. TBH it's hard to imagine some most some people on this thread have ever actually recorded with vintage end pres. I'm not even sure some here have ever recorded anything at all.... I'm sorry but saying you need a compressor to get fat tone is completely ludicrous and misguided. No offense to anyone in particular. I know you wouldn't make such an idiotic statement.

If all you needed was a good compressor, people would track with radioshack mic into Mackie consoles into digi 002 units and be getting fat tone, but no one would ever get good result with that chain, even with an RCA BA-6A or Fairchild 560/70 as their compressor.
Please find and quote where I said you can gainstage a pre to make the sound "fat".
Old 18th May 2019
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
Some mic pres are certainly capable of sounding fat all the time. Compressors are not required to get fat tone. A good mic, good mic pre and a great converter will get you a fat tone. A good comp is just icing on the cake. TBH it's hard to imagine some most some people on this thread have ever actually recorded with vintage end pres. I'm not even sure some here have ever recorded anything at all.... I'm sorry but saying you need a compressor to get fat tone is completely ludicrous and misguided. No offense to anyone in particular. I know you wouldn't make such an idiotic statement.

If all you needed was a good compressor, people would track with radioshack mic into Mackie consoles into digi 002 units and be getting fat tone, but no one would ever get good result with that chain, even with an RCA BA-6A or Fairchild 560/70 as their compressor.

Sounds like someone really needs to make their point, regardless of whether it has any bearing on the conversation, apparently.

I've not read the entire thread, mostly because it's chock full of such thin-skinned whiny holier-than-thou nonsense, but I do not believe anyone asserted that "all you need" is a good compressor.

You are obviously free to share your opinion, but having recorded with 'vintage' pres does not make you special, and acting as of no one else is recording anything and calling other's replies 'idiotic' and 'ludicrous' is laughably condescending and sounds like projecting.

Maybe take a break from the keyboard?
Old 18th May 2019
  #22
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Oldone's Avatar
To the original OP as well. I've tried many and kept:

Daking Mic Pre One = Big rich and clear for somebody who can really sing. Jazz, Ballad. Clear open bass guitar.

Neve 1073LB = The standard in vocal preamps, just gets the job done in a hi quality way. Saturates the upper mods in a pleasing way. Less clear and less articulate than Daking. Not bad just different. Rock vocalist or someone who wavers in pitch, it tends to cover that up more than the Daking. So vocals, electric or acoustic guitars. Drum overheads.

UA Solo 610 = Rich and harmonically pleasing. Really good for a flat sounding neutral mic like an AT4050 on vocals. SM57 or other dynamics as well. Also good for pitch waver because the slew rate is slower. Vocal ballads and bass guitar all day long. Depending on the tone of an acoustic guitar can be good there as well.

RN Portico 5012 = Tighter sounding than the 1073 moving almost into SSL preamp sound tonally is less harmonically rich. Good with tube mics. OK with dynamics. Bonus:two channels. I use this for dual tracking guitars and acoustics but does a good job on background vocals as well. Room mics for drums. Depending on the mic can be as good as any of the above for vocals. Swiss Army knife preamp.

All can be had under $1k.
Old 18th May 2019
  #23
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For heavy vocals, loud vocals, I’ve been into CAPI, the Portico, Neve 1073LB, Heritage 500 series and most recently, my SSL preamps on the SiX. With the SiX comps and EQ it’s quite a “channel strip”.

The Grace is very neutral.
The RND kinda mid rangey in a way with silk you really get a distortion.
The 1073s are thick with girth. The LB has a more open top end than the Heritage. The Heritage is more focused however.

The CAPI API has that wonderful mid range saturation.

I haven’t used a Daking in 10 years. I think I need to try one again.

I have a UA 4-710d. I use it more for synth bass to be honest.
Old 19th May 2019
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by endiendi View Post
From my own research im leaning towards ua 610 solo and grace m101.
From my long yet humble experience, pre's make a pretty big difference. Besides the player, instrument, room, mic, the pre's are next in line!

I had the grace, sold it, kinda miss it. But it def was not fat. I'd say neve'ish clone would help you with that. Theres a bunch but I really like the Avedis MA5. One of those plus a small/good power supply(heritage OST-4) would be < 1k used.

I like the Daking a lot too, but I wouldn't call it fat. Any of these would be a step up from interface mic pre's (my current Apollo 8) and you'd hear it.
Old 19th May 2019
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
I do not believe anyone asserted that "all you need" is a good compressor.
yes he did, just not in so many words. Regardless a compressor is not needed at all to get a fat vocal sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins View Post
Please find and quote where I said you can gainstage a pre to make the sound "fat".
You wrote Neves are transparent if you gain stage them a certain way. So based on your comment it implied that either you think Neve are never fat or only fat if you drive them. So which one were you stating?? Sorry but 1073 is never "transparent" ever, not at all. Transparent is Millennia, GML maybe Hardy M1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
RN Portico 5012 = Tighter sounding than the 1073 moving almost into SSL preamp sound tonally
Pretty much the worst thing you can say about a mic pre is that sounds like an SSL. The whole reason outboard mic pres became so popular in the late 80s ad 90s was because the SSL desks sounded so bad. Neve portico sounds nothing like an SSL.
Old 19th May 2019
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
Sounds like someone really needs to make their point, regardless of whether it has any bearing on the conversation, apparently.
I was just being thorough so there would be know mix up on my points.Apprantly I was not not articulate to the point that you could understand what I was trying to convey.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
I've not read the entire thread,
perhaps you should before you make ultimatums?

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
mostly because it's chock full of such thin-skinned whiny holier-than-thou nonsense
the only "nonsense" was when someone recommend a compressor on a mic pre thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
You are obviously free to share your opinion,
As you are doing right now, ironically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
but having recorded with 'vintage' pres does not make you special, and acting as of no one else is recording anything and calling other's replies 'idiotic' and 'ludicrous' is laughably condescending and sounds like projecting.
I was just being honest and giving some context to my rebuttal. Would you rather I told him I use GAP mic pres?? lol are you serious?

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
Maybe take a break from the keyboard?
maybe you can present something of substance first?? then you will respected enough for people to take orders from you. Until then mind your beeswax.
Old 19th May 2019
  #27
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Shannon Adkins's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
You wrote Neves are transparent if you gain stage them a certain way. So based on your comment it implied that either you think Neve are never fat or only fat if you drive them. So which one were you stating?? Sorry but 1073 is never "transparent" ever, not at all. Transparent is Millennia, GML maybe Hardy M1.
You love to argue so much that you create stuff to argue about. I never implied anything of the sort. In fact, you can clearly see from my comments that I don't even believe a pre can inherently make something sound "fat"... I actually said that... In this very thread.
Old 19th May 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
Pretty much the worst thing you can say about a mic pre is that sounds like an SSL. The whole reason outboard mic pres became so popular in the late 80s ad 90s was because the SSL desks sounded so bad. Neve portico sounds nothing like an SSL.
I said almost like an SSL, similar graininess and neutral sounding so in that sense, they share some traits which was my point. The Portico has the silk button which pumps up the sound a bit in the high midrange. Just out of curiosity, you've compared a 5012 next to the SSL? I don't think so or you would understand the comparison.
Old 19th May 2019
  #29
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Old 19th May 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
I said almost like an SSL, similar graininess and neutral sounding so in that sense, they share some traits which was my point.
Ok thanks for the clarification. although I still wouldn't consider Portico "neutral". It is much more colored than that. It is not over the top like 1073 or driven API but it is still colored. I almost hear the portico as a cross between 1073, 512 and something like a trident A range all rolled up in one. It doesn't have the extreme or even mid case of those three but is I suppose it is neutral in sense of a mid 70s sound. It has some punch, some mid color, high end silk and a small about of low end harmonics action typical with oldschool class A preamps. When I think of SSL I think of thin and a tad shrill but still somehow still musical. To be fair all these terms are so subjective I guess so it may not be fair to compare. But at the end of the day when I think of SSL I think of hairmetal and mid 80s pop. Portico does not bring me there. it take me back to the mid 70s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
The Portico has the silk button which pumps up the sound a bit in the high midrange. Just out of curiosity, you've compared a 5012 next to the SSL? I don't think so or you would understand the comparison.
About 10 years ago owned a portico and I did a session in an SSL G series room with it. Portico was much better than that SSL I was using. It was more musical, smoother and it had a certain color the SSL lacked. SSL is sterile IMO. It's like I stated previously, SSL along with maybe MCI, are pretty much responsible for the whole outboard pre mania. Portico does not blow me away either but if that is all I had I would be happy.
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