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Preamp under $500 for female vocals
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Preamp under $500 for female vocals

I don't know if there's such a thing as "female-oriented preamp", but I guess with more "magic" in high frequencies, and less midrange push or whatever.

I've spent $2000 on a Blue mic system but run them through a $50 interface and it bugs the hell out of me. The preamps in the Uphoria are great per general consensus, neutral and clean, but they have no magic. Or maybe they do, I just never heard it because I never heard my microphones without being run through the Uphoria.

Are there any preamps under $500 that have magic? That will make me go "wow, I didn't know my 'already good' mic can sound this great!". Something that will sound better like when you put some FF Saturn or CLA Vocals on it. So good that you don't have to A/B for 30 minutes trying to catch what the hell sounds different. Just instantly, audibly better. Otherwise it's not worth it.

I almost pulled a trigger on a WA12 impulsively the other day. The "Submit New Thread" color stopped me.

I don't like hardware and would prefer not adding anything metal with knobs to my desk, but I just don't want to miss on anything because I saved $300 on a preamp. But like I said, if it's a subtle difference that can be easily erased/negated by an imprecise EQ stroke, then it's not worth it.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Hi Greg. Add another $150 to your budget, and a Daking Mic Pre One (based on Legendary Trident Console Pre's)... Will blow the doors off that Uphoria.
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #3
I was also going to suggest the Daking Mic Pre One. It's a quality preamp with high detail and more air than others which sounds like the sound you're after.

You're 50 dollar interface will still be a bottleneck. It will have sh*t converters. You should also upgrade the interface. Buying an external preamp only fixes the crap preamp of your interface being a bottle neck. it will not fix the AD/DA conversion which is your next bottleneck.

Also, get or make some acoustic panels if you haven't yet done so otherwise that will be an even larger bottleneck.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Hmm... Good points. Now I'm wondering if upgrading the interface first, then reevaluate upgrading the Pre after... Might be a good first step?

Maybe something like a Motu M2?
Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
I'm guessing you've got the UMC202HD.
If that's the case, my loop-back measurements indicate it's low-noise and clean - I actually had to double-check that I wasn't doing a loop-back measurement entirely in the digital domain.

Based on that, I'd aim to add some "colour", whether at the input or ITB. Something transformer-coupled with a good dose of 2nd and 3rd harmonics.

Chris
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
I'm guessing you've got the UMC202HD.
If that's the case, my loop-back measurements indicate it's low-noise and clean - I actually had to double-check that I wasn't doing a loop-back measurement entirely in the digital domain.

Based on that, I'd aim to add some "colour", whether at the input or ITB. Something transformer-coupled with a good dose of 2nd and 3rd harmonics.

Chris
204HD (which I think has the same Midas preamps?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Hmm... Good points. Now I'm wondering if upgrading the interface first, then reevaluate upgrading the Pre after... Might be a good first step?

Maybe something like a Motu M2?
Chris
There's nothing wrong with the Uphoria. It's a wonderful sounding interface. Doubt the M2 will make any difference at all. I've had my share of duller ones like MAudio or Steinberg but even then the difference was so small I wouldn't pay more than $10 for it. I'm sure some RME would sound 0.03% better but I doubt it will make my vocals audibly better. It's money down the drain in my book. I'm not a pro, I don't need the highest end anything, I'm only spending money on what matters and makes a significant difference per $.

The whole point of a preamp is to add boatloads of color and character. Thickness, smoothness, sheen. I don't know if that's something they even do because I never heard them in isolation.

There's also a point of diminishing return. I want to get some real difference for my money. Interface + preamp like Daking= $1000. I'd rather get another interesting mic for that money, like a STAM 87.

The other point is that the difference has to be 10x more than, say, a difference between SSL plugins and a console, or Pultec plugins and a real thing. From all the comparisons I listened to, there's about $3.50 worth of difference between them (for me). Not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a dramatic difference, like going from the Bluebird mic to the Blue Rocket I have (that was extra $400 well spent). If it's impossible to get that kind of upgrade in sound with the preamp, then I should stop looking for one.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N1Greg View Post
(...) The whole point of a preamp is to add boatloads of color and character. Thickness, smoothness, sheen (...)
looks like you want a very versatile preamp then (or a channel strip) - raise your budget and check into dave hill's europa 1 or a used focusrite liquid channel!
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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The Warmth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Hi Greg. Add another $150 to your budget, and a Daking Mic Pre One (based on Legendary Trident Console Pre's)... Will blow the doors off that Uphoria.
Chris
This.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

I think it’ll be subtle, truthfully, unless you get something with lots of character.

Good pres are nice, but nothing in the $500 range would be like O M G compared to a different mic.

But I do like the good Neve clones for vocals, but that’s just, you know, a preference.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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standup's Avatar
Focusrite ISA One is worth considering. For me it’s a utility pre, I have others that are probably better. But ISA is not too expensive and sounds good on everything.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Appreciate the suggestions. Looks like it's not worth bothering with at this price point.

I'll keep an eye out for a used Daking, if one pops up for a good price I may just take a chance to see what's the fuss about. $500 is actually stretching it. I was torn between a WA12 ($400) and a Pre73 Jr (forgot which brand, the one that goes for $300 new) and I felt I was about to throw some crazy money for nothing. $600+ just takes that feeling to a whole new level... To me a preamp is sort of like a better looking pop filter. I'd like one, but I don't really need it. If cheap, why not. But if expensive - hell no.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by N1Greg View Post
Appreciate the suggestions. Looks like it's not worth bothering with at this price point.

I'll keep an eye out for a used Daking, if one pops up for a good price I may just take a chance to see what's the fuss about. $500 is actually stretching it. I was torn between a WA12 ($400) and a Pre73 Jr (forgot which brand, the one that goes for $300 new) and I felt I was about to throw some crazy money for nothing. $600+ just takes that feeling to a whole new level... To me a preamp is sort of like a better looking pop filter. I'd like one, but I don't really need it. If cheap, why not. But if expensive - hell no.
the Daking is legit, and often found used around your budget.
Grace M101 also good, not as easily found used, but like the Daking, the real deal.

If you get a chance, try a Millennia STT-1 someday. Your opinion of pre-amps being no more important than pop filters may change.......

IMHO. Good luck.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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dickiefunk's Avatar
I've used the Behringer UMC404HD and was surprised at how good this interface sounded as I only paid around £70 brand new. However, one day it stopped working with my iPad which is really disappointing.
In my studio I have Warm TB12's with Hardy 990c+ opamps and these sound great. However, my audio interface is a Motu 828-ES which has higher quality converters.
I can definitely hear a difference between using the TB12's through the Motu 828es compared to the Behringer UMC404HD. There is a noticeable improvement in clarity and stereo imaging but this is down to a combination of both the converters and preamps.
However, whilst there were clear improvements made with these preamps and converters these were much smaller than a different mic or adding a Klark KT-2a compressor to the tracking chain!
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by N1Greg View Post
204HD (which I think has the same Midas preamps?).



There's nothing wrong with the Uphoria. It's a wonderful sounding interface. Doubt the M2 will make any difference at all. I've had my share of duller ones like MAudio or Steinberg but even then the difference was so small I wouldn't pay more than $10 for it. I'm sure some RME would sound 0.03% better but I doubt it will make my vocals audibly better. It's money down the drain in my book. I'm not a pro, I don't need the highest end anything, I'm only spending money on what matters and makes a significant difference per $.

The whole point of a preamp is to add boatloads of color and character. Thickness, smoothness, sheen. I don't know if that's something they even do because I never heard them in isolation.

There's also a point of diminishing return. I want to get some real difference for my money. Interface + preamp like Daking= $1000. I'd rather get another interesting mic for that money, like a STAM 87.

The other point is that the difference has to be 10x more than, say, a difference between SSL plugins and a console, or Pultec plugins and a real thing. From all the comparisons I listened to, there's about $3.50 worth of difference between them (for me). Not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a dramatic difference, like going from the Bluebird mic to the Blue Rocket I have (that was extra $400 well spent). If it's impossible to get that kind of upgrade in sound with the preamp, then I should stop looking for one.
The point of a preamp is to add gain so the mic is at line level.

The characteristics of various preamps can be debated for days, but it’s very easy for “colour” to become “saturation” to become “distortion”...and then you can’t get rid of that.

I’m not one to bag on about upgrading conversion, but an expensive mic into a $50 interface...I’d be addressing that.
Old 6 days ago
  #15
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Greg, when you said $50 interface, I thought you meant the cheap 16 bit/48KHz UM2 version.

If you end up going GAP-73, I'd get the Premium version, at $500. Partly as Paul G. was impressed with it. And he has a few Pre's-to say the least!
That's SO close to getting the Mic Pre One though...
Chris
Old 6 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I’m not one to bag on about upgrading conversion, but an expensive mic into a $50 interface...I’d be addressing that.
Well technically it's a $130 one... (I got it for $50) yeah, now that is starting to bug me too. Thanks! Maybe I'll get the newer SSL or Motu one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Greg, when you said $50 interface, I thought you meant the cheap 16 bit/48KHz UM2 version.

If you end up going GAP-73, I'd get the Premium version, at $500. Partly as Paul G. was impressed with it. And he has a few Pre's-to say the least!
That's SO close to getting the Mic Pre One though...
Chris
I'll focus on the Daking. $100 difference doesn't mean much. But that's about the most I'll risk paying for at this point. I just want to make sure I won't lose too much if I decide to send it back to ebay.

Are Dakings generally reliable? Is is a risky used purchase? I don't know anything about the company, they look like they're hand-made by someone in their basement from spare parts.
Old 6 days ago
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by N1Greg View Post
Well technically it's a $130 one... (I got it for $50) yeah, now that is starting to bug me too. Thanks! Maybe I'll get the newer SSL or Motu one.



I'll focus on the Daking. $100 difference doesn't mean much. But that's about the most I'll risk paying for at this point. I just want to make sure I won't lose too much if I decide to send it back to ebay.

Are Dakings generally reliable? Is is a risky used purchase? I don't know anything about the company, they look like they're hand-made by someone in their basement from spare parts.
Really? I’m looking at one of their $200k desks for the studio as one of only 2 credible options....!

I would do some research about the company....
Old 6 days ago
  #18
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Hey anyone (like Geoff) who drummed for the Blues Magoos... Well we ain't got nothing yet!
Check out his Bio sometime, like PM said.
Chris
Old 6 days ago
  #19
Gear Addict
 
The Warmth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by N1Greg View Post
I don't know anything about the company, they look like they're hand-made by someone in their basement from spare parts.
Really?

Read this: In praise of Daking
Old 6 days ago
  #20
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Awesome, looks like a safe choice, I'll take the plunge soon then. Thanks everyone.
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