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Upgrade Preamps or Interface
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Upgrade Preamps or Interface

The example posted here was recorded on an Apollo 8P with an Audient ASP800 for the drums through ADAT.

I have been considering upgrading to an Apollo X8P. Alternatively, I have considered sticking with the 8P and adding hardware preamps, particularly for the piano.

Because all the instruments are acoustic, the small room is problematic in all sorts of ways. Nevertheless, all other things being equal I'm not sure whether to do a preamp upgrade or an interface upgrade.
Attached Files

Holy Land Excerpt.mp3 (4.34 MB, 532 views)

Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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MadGuitrst's Avatar
Work on the room first, then consider preamps. Something clean sounds like it would work for you. I have no idea what your budget would be so I don't have a recommendation. Also, I don't know what you're using for mics, which I would recommend before preamps, usually.

Good luck.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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sounds great, although im not a fan of that ride cymbal sound through the entire song (those bead-things maybe?) ends up sounding like constant white-noise to me, but i know its a jazz thing. other than that everything seems very well recorded. going from an apollo 8p to a x8p may get you a better sound if you are recording at high sample rates due to the improved clocking. But, I have an x8p, my friend has an 8p, and they sound close. we shot them out and we DID eventually both prefer the x8p in a blind listening test, but we both agreed that if we werent a/bing back and forth for ridiculous amounts of time we wouldnt notice a difference in quality.

if i had to offer advice it would be to invest in mics instead, but if you are set on preamps, get some boutique, flavor pres that can add to that jazz style. maybe some tube pres or a neve!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
although im not a fan of that ride cymbal sound
I'd say that sound is running around 80% thumbs down. The guy had some sort of chain thing on his ride. Why? Who knows.

Quote:
invest in mics instead
Quote:
mics, which I would recommend before preamps, usually.
The mix are - 2x Neumann KM183, AEA R84, Flea 47 Vintage, 2x AKG 414 XLS, 3x SM57, 1x SM58, AKG D112, 2x Sennheiser E604.

Neumanns on piano, AEA on Horn, Flea on Bass, the rest on drums where you would expect them.

Will add an RE-20 for bass because in a small crowded room its seems to do a good job on bass whereas the Flea sounds great but picks up so much room its a bit hard to work with. Not always, depends on the player. Also I have discovered ways or using gobos to help that situation a bit.

As for working on the room, there is not much more that can be done. It is just too small. Plenty of room treatment but with a grand piano, drum set, big ol bass, horn player and sometimes a vocalist and all the gear in the same room its not exactly ideal.

As for the upgrade, the additional DSP power of the X is tempting. Also, there have been conflicting reports. Some say its close, some say the difference is significant (my word, they were more dramatic).

edit: Budget is around 5k
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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For me, I haven’t even invested in unison plugs for my Apollo X8p yet. So I haven’t used much of the dsp available. But the preamps by themselves really do sound fantastic. Not thin at all. To me, they seem to have some “meat” to them. Apparently they are the same preamps as the 8p, but like I said, me and another friend who is into audio both agreed we could hear a subtle increase in quality from the 8p to the X8p. But not eve close to the difference you would get by swapping out mics, or even to a outboard pre. I find with preamps there isn’t really a “better” sound from one preamp to another, it’s mostly just “different”. Whereas mics, to me, there is a clear “better” sound.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IrieTy34 View Post
For me, I haven’t even invested in unison plugs for my Apollo X8p yet. So I haven’t used much of the dsp available. But the preamps by themselves really do sound fantastic. Not thin at all. To me, they seem to have some “meat” to them. Apparently they are the same preamps as the 8p, but like I said, me and another friend who is into audio both agreed we could hear a subtle increase in quality from the 8p to the X8p. But not eve close to the difference you would get by swapping out mics, or even to a outboard pre. I find with preamps there isn’t really a “better” sound from one preamp to another, it’s mostly just “different”. Whereas mics, to me, there is a clear “better” sound.
Something to consider. The advantages to swapping out to the X8P in addition to a subtle sonic improvement is the added DSP which I frequently max out during mixing and the DB25 connectors which makes it easier to use outboard gear.

I have pretty much decided to upgrade to the X8P since, after all, there is no reason why I can't upgrade the Apollo now and add preamps or whatever later. Having the extra DSP, better converters and DB25 with +24 dBu headroom offer a good deal of possibilities for improvements.

In fact, I probably could afford the interface and the preamp upgrade. But only just. So we'll see about that. The money does tend to get spent regardless of whether I buy gear or what have you.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Have you considered just the X8 and hw pres? It’s nice you can have xlrs for tracking and trs for mixing connected at same time and just toggle back and forth. That and 4 pres would give you a lot of flavor.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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You gave us a sample of a recording, but you haven't told us what YOU think is wrong with the sound of each instrument or the sound as a whole. Without that information, we can't give you much advice. With the knowledge that the room is small, using Neumann KM183's (omni) might not be the smartest choice on piano, unless you are closing or at least covering the lid.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szyam View Post
Have you considered just the X8 and hw pres? It’s nice you can have xlrs for tracking and trs for mixing connected at same time and just toggle back and forth. That and 4 pres would give you a lot of flavor.
I have. But I’m still left wondering what, if any benefit I get from outboard pres and the choice of TRS or XLR is same just more on the X8P.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
I have. But I’m still left wondering what, if any benefit I get from outboard pres and the choice of TRS or XLR is same just more on the X8P.
I hear ya. I have a few outboard pres I’ve finally whittled down to that I like more than stock pres with or without unison. But also depends on mics, room, source etc. but, better performance always wins out. I’m usin mk2. No slouch but hw pres to me are nice to have. Could look at a 2nd hand sebatron 4000 and x8, and be just a bit over.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Man, this recording sounds so good, I'm not sure you NEED to add anything. Like others, I'm not particularly fond of the ride cymbal, but all things considered, it's an exceedingly minor gripe.

However, if you're dead set on adding something new, I'd definitely pick a nice piece of hardware. The 8p is already a fantastic interface — the sonic differences between that and the x8p are likely minimal at best. An outboard preamp will give you much more pronounced tonal/textural variety. Do you have any hardware compressors/EQs?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrebes View Post
You gave us a sample of a recording, but you haven't told us what YOU think is wrong with the sound of each instrument or the sound as a whole. Without that information, we can't give you much advice. With the knowledge that the room is small, using Neumann KM183's (omni) might not be the smartest choice on piano, unless you are closing or at least covering the lid.
Good points. I don’t particularly think anything is “wrong” with the sound. I have an opportunity to do a bit of upgrading so this is s consideration. As for the 183s I use a half stick and blankets. Frankly, and your post is a consideration in this regard, I’m souring a bit on the Apollo upgrade and leaning towards a nice preamp for the piano and maybe a microphone upgrade. It’s all small differences for hard earned cash. Something to consider.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
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I think you would get a better "jazz" style piano sound with the AKG 414's on the piano. I would try that with solo piano, cardioid and omni, with and without blankets, and see what you think. To me, the KM183's are more of a room mic and unfortunately will probably not work as drum overheads. You might want to try some Neve style preamps, which should give you a little more warmth on the bottom.
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