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Microphone and Preamp Money Burning Challenge
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

Microphone and Preamp Money Burning Challenge

Hey all,

First thread here on GS. Been lurking for years, but it's been a whirlwind of a last year in terms of income changes and I can build a studio of my own. The place I feel like I'm currently lacking is input... not instruments, got plenty of those

So up for discussion today is, with there really being no budget limit, since it just means I'll take longer to get this gear, is what should I get for preamps and microphones.

Things I want to record are: electric and acoustic guitar, bass (mostly keep it to DI though), drums, synths (all straight to DI/preamp), saxophones and other assortment of horns, vocals, strings. Stylistically, jazz, funk, fusion, hip-hop, experimental electronic.

For microphones, assume I have none (I have a few but none that really hurt to buy). As well, and what makes this a challenge, is that I want to emphasize I DON'T BELIEVE IN MAGIC or MOJO. When people say Mojo, I think there is something like the Funk from Old Greg/The Mighty Boush in the gear that will just spit out a whole funk tune, one go. So, if you recommend vintage mics, there better be a reason besides "mojo".

For preamps, I'm thinking 16-20 total, 4 really clean pres, some lightly colored tube pres, maybe 8, and a few really colored and interesting ones to cap it off. One thint I'll say is I have 4 of the SSL pres, they have a nice clean sound... but distort so quickly they are almost useless (unless I'm missing something)

So... what would y'all do with these constraints (feel free to bend them)?
Old 1 week ago
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James Lehmann's Avatar

Originally Posted by chalkandpaste View Post
No budget limit... what should I get for preamps (16-20 total) and microphones?

Things I want to record are: electric and acoustic guitar, bass (mostly keep it to DI though), drums, synths (all straight to DI/preamp), saxophones and other assortment of horns, vocals, strings. Stylistically, jazz, funk, fusion, hip-hop, experimental electronic.
This is of course one of those massively open-ended questions and there are literally thousands of threads on Gearslutz asking much the same thing.

For me, the first critical thing I would decide is how many tracks do you think you'll need to record simultaneously?

If it's 'usually 1 or 2 and never more than 8' then you can really push the boat out with a quality & versatile mic locker - a mic you might use on a guitar amp you can then recycle for the horn section, etc. No need for multiples.

But obviously if you're kitting out to record a full rock band live then of course it'll be more like 24 with half of those needing to be drum kit mics.

I'm slightly baffled by your apparently conflicting statements that you "don't believe in mojo" – at least when it comes to microphones – and yet you then say you want a bunch of different preamps specifically to add various flavours of mojo!

In terms of preamps, I guess 500-series is where the serious mix'n'matchers get drawn towards as it offers such flexibility with these kinds of choices - just drop in as many different preamps as you want. On the other hand there is another school of thought that says just rack up with a bunch of the same pre's that you know you like and use those - API, Neve, DAV whatever. Loads of classic albums were of course recorded like this.

In terms of mics, as I mentioned there are zillions of threads on 'what's your ideal mic locker?' - if I was starting from scratch I'd probably draw up the following shortlist:
  • Main kick-ass vocal mic (maybe a tube)
  • Main omni pair
  • Main cardioid pair
  • Multi-pattern pair (inc Fig 8)
  • Ribbon pair (Royer/Coles?) and probably a pair of M160s as well
  • A whole bunch of classic dynamics: EV-20, 441, 421, SM57s, TG201 etc
  • Kick drum mic, maybe 2
  • 8-channels of decent DI boxes (mix active/passive)
I probably haven't advanced your thinking any further than where you already are but it's hard to be specific with so many unknowns and variables - not least the kind of space you're in etc.

How about asking something more specific like: "I need to be able to record a 14-piece funk band live in the studio, consisting of drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, 2 guitars, 4-piece horn section, lead vocals & 3 backing vocals. I'll also have a Yamaha C7 piano in there for solo artists and I need to be able to do singer-songwriter/acoustic guitar recordings too."

Faced with that the mics start to choose themselves!

Last edited by James Lehmann; 1 week ago at 09:31 AM..
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear
avare's Avatar

Your criteria for preamps excludes what many amateurs ignore till they need it:high gain. Include 70-80 dB gain on at least one preamp. This is not a difficult spec. Just as an off the top of my head list:

Neve 1073
V76 cloned
Hardy M-1, M-2 and Twin Servo on special order
Daking Mic Pre

That's 5. They range from 1950's origins tubes, studio standards to modern preamps
That is off the top of my head


Last edited by avare; 1 week ago at 09:59 AM..
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear
spambot_2's Avatar
There really being no budget limit?
You should get a C-800G, a modern U47 replica, a U67 or two, definitely a pair of ELAM251 replicas, three Brauner VMX at the very least, and a Redd mic.
Ah, and of course you need five DPA 4041 for lush immersive recordings, a handful of MKH800 for general purpose use, three or four 121's for guitar bands, and a 57 and a 58 because they look recognizable on video.
As far as pre's go you'll want to be as covered as possible for bigger projects, so you should get 16 channels of each pre you like in case you'll need to glue things together, and no studio is complete without a 1073, a 3124, a Redd-47 pre, something Avalon, and the list goes on.

That was to say, unless you really have UNLIMITED budget or don't mind spending years amassing gear, it would be helpful for anyone answering to know more about your recording projects - will you record other bands live in a big space, will you record yourself and a friend at most?
Will you put up a commercial facility, so to speak?
Is the space you'll be recording in already accounted for, treated and good sounding?
Are audio interfaces/converters/computers already accounted for, will you be using tape... ?
Without knowing at least some of this, all replies will potentially look like [you should totally get this mic/pre because it's good!], and that may be true but you might end up with, say, not enough mics to record a full band playing together, or with a vast amount of lower quality mics than you could otherwise get if you only planned on recording yourself.
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