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Help me choose my next preamp and OH mics!
Old 30th November 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 

Help me choose my next preamp and OH mics!

Hey gang!

First post here. I've been recording at home for years and now, and slowly building up my arsenal. My band is recording a new project soon and I need some new equipment to help facilitate that. I am looking for a great pair of OH mics, and a couple more preamps to help track everything.

For some background:

We are a HARD rock band, and will be tracking this all live, and in the same room. (Except for maybe vocals will be overdubbed.)

I currently have:

Audient id22
Audient ASP800
Warm Audio WA-73EQ

Shure Beta 52A
5x SM57
AKG P170 (my current OH)
EV RE-20 (vocal mic. probably try on bass too if we overdub vox)
Rode NT1

So my main issues are: I need more preamps to track everyone at the same time. My OH/room sound seems to lack in my drum tracks. In previous sessions I didn't have room mics, but have experimented with the NT1 as a mono room before which was nice. With this particular session since we will all be recording together I'm wondering if I will even need room mics.

Anyways, I have about $2000 to work with.

I'm eyeing:

SSL Six Desktop mixer ($1200 for Black Friday)
Warm Audio WA-412 (API preamp clone, $1049)
Metric Halo ULN-2 ($1500, but converters would be a bonus)

AKG C 451 B Matched Pair ($1000)
WA-84 (KM84 clone, $800 matched pair)

What are your guys thoughts? What would be the best bang for my buck to achieve what I'm looking for?

Thank you!
Old 30th November 2019
  #2
The absolute best bang for the buck I know of for preamps is the True Precision 8. It doesn't get talked about much anymore, but it's a fantastic-sounding unit. Eight preamps in one rackspace, now available for about a grand used. Quite often less than a grand.

Just because it doesn't look sexy and isn't talked about much doesn't mean it's not great!
Old 30th November 2019
  #3
Here's a complete solution:

AEA Ultimate Stereo Kit (R88 stereo ribbon + TRP2 preamp)

Several dealers (including Warren, linked here) are offering this for Black Friday at $2.5k. Search for videos of this kit on drum overheads.

David
Old 30th November 2019
  #4
I will say regardless or your purchase choices, put a room mic up even if all is live (even vocals) you will thank yourself come mixtime. With a band playing together live, Sometimes you just need to sit back and listen to it as a whole and that’s what that room mic will do. Even if it’s just one of those 57s. Track space shouldn’t be an issue if going into a DAW
Old 30th November 2019
  #5
I also noticed that you're already pretty heavy on dynamic mics and rather shy on condenser mics, so here's another idea that will take you in a different sonic direction than the ribbon mic option I gave above, and offer another option for vocals.

Roswell Mini K47 matched pair, presently on sale at $679. That's right, I said matched. I think there are probably some demos out there of these on overheads.

Langevin Dual Vocal Channel, used for $1150. This piece is way too little known. Complete dual channel strip built by Manley Labs with fully discrete circuitry designed by Hutch Hutchinson. You'll soon realize it's not just for vocals!
Old 30th November 2019
  #6
A pair of Violet Design Amethyst Vintage for overheads if you like condensers. For ribbon I would get the stereo Stager SR-2N. I like it more than my AEA R88 and it costs much less.

Good luck
Old 30th November 2019
  #7
Gear Head
 

Thanks for the replies guys. I think I’m gonna jump on those Roswells. They look awesome and from some searching sounds like they would be a better alternative to the WA47jrs. Plus it could be a great vocal mic.

That still leaves me $1300 for preamps. What do you guys think? The SSL six could be cool because for the channel strip.
Old 30th November 2019
  #8
If you want my honest opinion, I think that SiX mini mixer gives you more brand name than actual circuitry and will probably be sitting in a corner of your basement in five years. The Manley will still be sitting in your rack. That's a pair of real LA-2A style optical limiters in there, and a fully discrete preamp with 24 volt supply rails and custom hand-wound transformers. It was built by the same US crew that make other Manley and GML rack gear. If you ever have an issue with it, you'll probably end up talking to Eve Anna Manley on the phone. That so-called "SSL" is just a bunch of op amps and pots wave-soldered on a circuit board in China. Good luck ever fixing it. I'll probably get pushback on this from a bunch of folks who believe the hype about the SiX, but I know serious outboard gear when I see it. It looks like this:



Additional resources:

Manley Labs legacy page

User review on Gearslutz

Video interview from Mercenary Audio

Last edited by David Rick; 30th November 2019 at 07:37 AM.. Reason: image added
Old 30th November 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tee_horse View Post
Thanks for the replies guys. I think I’m gonna jump on those Roswells. They look awesome and from some searching sounds like they would be a better alternative to the WA47jrs. Plus it could be a great vocal mic.

That still leaves me $1300 for preamps. What do you guys think? The SSL six could be cool because for the channel strip.
The Roswell mics are great. I'm biased though, my friend works there.

The WA412 is great for drums, in my experience.
Old 30th November 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
Mics are going to make more of a difference to your sound than pre-amps - I'd spend some of that cash on an interesting room mic - a flavoursome ribbon such as a Sontronics Sigma can work wonders for adding texture to a live rock band. I know you're using the NT1 for that - which will capture what's going on faithfully - but that's not necessarily what you want these days with overly clean recordings.
Old 30th November 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
 

i wouldn't buy c451b's in the digital days... - maybe you wanna check out sdc's from beyer or line audio though or look our for a used pair of c460b/ck61.
Old 30th November 2019
  #12
Stay away from the clones and buy coles 4038. You won't regret it, ever!

That's a mic that will stay with you for life. Very classic sound, very familiar. You'll get it once you try one.
Old 30th November 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Stay away from the clones and buy coles 4038. You won't regret it, ever!

By far my favourite OH mic without getting into silly money.
Old 30th November 2019
  #14
I vote for a pair of Josephson C42 and an AEA RPQ2. Rock is going to do a lot of heavy lifting with close mics on the drums and the c42 will be very nice for airy detailed cymbals.
Old 30th November 2019
  #15
Gear Head
 

Those C42's look interesting, and the price is right. From what I've read the coles are absolutely top notch but its a touch out of my price range right now. The Roswell 47 seems like a good bet just from a versatility standpoint, because they could be used on kick, bass, and vocals as well, no? How would the C42's compare?
Old 1st December 2019
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
I vote for a pair of Josephson C42 and an AEA RPQ2. Rock is going to do a lot of heavy lifting with close mics on the drums and the c42 will be very nice for airy detailed cymbals.
I have heard great things about that mic.
Old 1st December 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Daking Mic-Pre II and 2 AEA KU5As. A bit more than you wanted to spend but not by a ridiculous amount.
Old 1st December 2019
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
I vote for a pair of Josephson C42 and an AEA RPQ2. Rock is going to do a lot of heavy lifting with close mics on the drums and the c42 will be very nice for airy detailed cymbals.
I'm a Josephson fanboy as you well know, Nathan. But those C42's are very bright and their impulse response has very little damping. We don't know what the OP is really trying to achieve with his overheads, so a pair of C42's could be either wonderful or horrible. But they are a lot of mic for the money, no doubt about that.

I like your suggestion of the RPQ2 though. I've been using the RPQ500 a lot lately, and having ribbon-specific EQ makes things so easy with my Beyer and AEA ribbon mics.

David
Old 1st December 2019
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Always like the ribbons sound on OH. Cymbals can be so harsh and ear splitting.
Old 1st December 2019
  #20
Lives for gear
 
gravyface's Avatar
Fellow live hard rock band tracker over here.

I know you didn't ask for this (and this is gearslutz, so perfectly acceptable), but most of this advice is going to be geared towards the room and instruments, etc., because recording loud live in the room is going to be a long salty road of tears as you struggle to make sense of what you can/cannot do afterwards.

Volume. Try to turn down the amps as much as you can without suffering in the tone department. It's more than you think. Band balance is going to be so critical because everything is going to spill into every mic, so if something is really loud (ahem, guitar amps) it's going to be "showcased" in those overheads.

Polar patterns are your friend. Figure-8 mics have deep nulls you can take advantage of. Hypercardioids are good for slightly offset rejection from behind, but the rear will have a small lobe so you can't point the back directly at the source you don't want.

Drums. Cymbals. My god the cymbals. I hope these aren't super loud live/stage/"projection" series because if they are, you'll really want ribbons, and even then, you'll still hate them when mixing.

If you can get some vintage 50s-70s Zildjian As, you'll be much happier. These go all day on eBay and Reverb or locally, so don't be afraid of keyholed ones, because they'll sound fine with a modern flat cymbal stand setup and you'll save on them because of that.

New heads. Tuning. Dampening. Need to spend some time here. Sympathetic rings will be all over the place as the band will be exciting all the toms (and that floor tom will be singing it's own tune). Moongels, gaffer tape, cotton balls stuffed in the floor tom vent hole can prevent the reso head from vibrating.

Amps. I'd line up the front edge of the amps with the front edge of the kick drum, put a baffle (even a cubicle divider or couple of sheets of plywood nailed together covered in a packing blanket) between the amps and the drums to cut down on bleed, especially snare rattle. Gates can help, but if you can get that bass out of the bottom head, all the better.

Even better would be to DI the bass and you can then baffle off the guitar amps and reduce the bleed considerably. But cans would be a must.

Wear earplugs. Buy the whole band a pair of the Vic Firth or Fender "musician's" earplugs for Christmas right now. These will attenuate the frequency spectrum evenly, so it just sounds like someone reached down and turned a giant volume knob down about 20dB on the whole band. You'll thank me later when you're trying to get levels or mic placement right and you're not ringing constantly...
...wear them at concerts too.

Mics...

If you run out of cash, you can just get another P170. They're cheap and you can sell it as a pair later, or use them as spot mics for hi-hats, ride, etc. The polar pattern looks decent considering you're probably going to be high-passing your overheads pretty steeply because of the bleed and genre.

Go for an API sound: I recently bought a BAE 312A and love it; just so mid-forward and punchy, perfect for hardrock. I don't really love Neve on hard rock drums, especially snare. I find it a bit "poofy" and rounded personally.

Last edited by gravyface; 1st December 2019 at 04:12 PM..
Old 1st December 2019
  #21
A pair of figure 8 mics(ribbons are nice) and a presonus adl 600 is pretty much parked on oh’s here as we track all the time with everything in the same room. Used a 600 is anywhere from 800-1200 then use the change on the mics. All the options on the 600 are nice and the dual di’s are killer on bass and keys. 2 channel line inputs lets you run your mix through it as well.
The figure 8 nulls are your friend here so just get a good quality mic set that has that pattern available. On the cheap those Russian ribbons that were popular are pretty nice on oh’s and that would leave you way under budget. You could get a SM7b with the change for a option on vocals then and as it works well for lots of instruments it would help you have different options there as well. You might even have enough left to re-tube the 600 from Bowie and really be grinning or maybe do that and skip the 3rd mic if budget is tight.
Just my opinion but I think you would be happy with these for a long time.

Rm biv mic pair -$300
Adl 600 - $800-1200
Used sm7b - $300 - 350
New tubes - $200-300
Old 1st December 2019
  #22
Lives for gear
 
EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Used Sytek MP4-xa ii for around $5-600 = 4 really nice transparent pres. Had one and loved it.

Demeter VTMP 2x for under $1K or Sebatron Axis for just over $1K used or the 4000e for $1500. Haven’t tried any of these tube pres, just what I’m lusting for. That, and a Silver Bullet (not within your budget) would cover a lot of tonal ground.
Old 12th December 2019
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz View Post
Always like the ribbons sound on OH. Cymbals can be so harsh and ear splitting.
I finally went back to dynamics for most overhead (I do only record my band again these days, and I like lo fi) but I can get hi fi sounds too with them. I would usually roll lots of 10k and 4K off of the SDC overheads to get a natural sound (I’ve always done this even with KM84s) I don’t like brittle. I have used 4038s too but don’t own any. I may have to get one tho.
Old 12th December 2019
  #24
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tee_horse View Post
In previous sessions I didn't have room mics, but have experimented with the NT1 as a mono room before which was nice.
I do not have a NT1, but if you like that sound, perhaps you could pick up another and use those two as your overheads.

I just did a session this weekend with two Soundelux 195's for overheads and loved the full sound I got.
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