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£400 to burn on a preamp? thoughts?
Old 28th July 2007
  #1
Gear Head
 

£400 to burn on a preamp? thoughts?

So if you were me, what would you buy.

I've got a fast track pro and Im thinking ... do Im thinking "do I buy a new interface with good preamps or a decent preamp?"

For the new interface option it sounds like (from reading other threads) one of these is probley best (I only need 2 channels):
* RME FF400 (better convertors)
* Mackie 400F (better preamps)

For the preamp option ... erm Im not sure, it sounds like a Joe Meek TwinQ would be quite a good choice. I can use its A/D insead of the m-audios?

What other things are worth considering in the preamp world?

Oh, and Im mostly recording vocals and classical guitar

Rich
Old 28th July 2007
  #2
Save up another £100 and get a DAV BG-1. Excellent on your sources. It's my primary tracking pre (although I don't do much classical guitar, lots of regular acoustic guitar though). 2 channels of fast, detailed, '3D', clear full-sounding clarity. Bargain.
Old 28th July 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 
lampmeister's Avatar
I picked up a DAV BG-1 for £350 on ebay.

Very, very, very nice.

Old 28th July 2007
  #4
Gear Head
 

Sounds good ... but, wont I loose a tonne of the benefit by having to use the convertors on the "fast track pro" to go digital (before sticking it into my macbook pro)?

One of the things I liked about the Meek was that it had A/D built in; the m-audio wouldn't greatly effect anything except the monitoring. I could even stick the optical toslink straight into the macbook.

Have i got the wrong end of the stick or is there anything else slightly cheaper or with an A/D builtin?

Rich
Old 28th July 2007
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainstorm View Post
Sounds good ... but, wont I loose a tonne of the benefit by having to use the convertors on the "fast track pro" to go digital (before sticking it into my macbook pro)?

One of the things I liked about the Meek was that it had A/D built in; the m-audio wouldn't greatly effect anything except the monitoring. I could even stick the optical toslink straight into the macbook.

Have i got the wrong end of the stick or is there anything else slightly cheaper or with an A/D builtin?
The converters on any consumer level box (with or without inbuilt pre) are unlikely to be any better than what you've got, save for a select few. Basically, the conversion is probably the last thing you can upgrade in your signal path that will actually make a difference, and even then, you've got to look way up to see improvements.

You WILL hear a difference with a better pre. The DAV absolutely completely blows away anything in the pricerange of the Meek, including the Meek. The conversion should be the last thing you worry about right now.

Get a Metric Halo ULN-2 later when you can afford it if you want to see an actual serious improvement. For now, you'll be fine.
Old 29th July 2007
  #6
Gear Head
 

Thanks for the advice. I might just looking around on ebay then

Rich
Old 29th July 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
 
RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Not sure about the UK, but in the US that almost gets you a used API lunchbox or one of the new A Designs 2 space 500 series racks to load that with an A Desigsn P-1 or API 512 and be a great shape. And then when you are ready to add another pre amp (or EQ) it will not cost too much.
Old 29th July 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 

The pre's in the ULN2 are excellent, you could be knocking two birds with one stone...
Old 30th July 2007
  #9
Gear Head
 

Tanks for all the help so far. Ok so I've done a bit more searching. It sounds like good preamps are:
* Grace 101
* DAV BG-1
* SPL Gainstation
* RNP

Now most of these are above my initial price (and the ULN2 is way above

So, I was thinking what options do I have 'below' £400? Also is it better to get a channel strip or just a preamp? Will I notice the difference? Looking at reviews and this board it appears that the following are good/resonable options:
* Joe Meek 3Q or 6Q
* Drawmer MX60

What about some of the preamps from ART, PreSonus, Focusrite (Octopre) ?

Thoughts

Rich
Old 30th July 2007
  #10
Lives for gear
 

from my experience, channel strips are good, cheaper ones aren't so useful. It is my opinion that it is always preferable to have quality gain and reproduction of the source. The BG-1 does this. I would rather buy this and sacrifice the rest of the 'strip.

After all you can always eq and compress in the box.
Old 30th July 2007
  #11
Gear Head
 

I just did a little comparison with a couple preamps. One a high dollar and one a less dollar pre.

I did this into my 96 IO interface.

First pre was a Presonus Digimax. I havent recorded with this thing in ages so I had totally fresh ears on its quality.

The other pre a Vintech 473.

The Digimax was lightpiped into my 96IO. The 473 unbalanced out into it.

I did the same bass line twice. One with each pre.

Man the presonus sounded punchy and clear. I was actually shocked at how good it sounded. Not bad. The vintech did sound a little better. Little more glassy and rich. But its also a much more expensive preamp. So i kind of expected it to blow the socks off of the presonus. It honestly didnt. The digimax is a great pre for the money. And you get 8 of them. Not a bad choice when you need some extra inputs.

I picked up a Eureka too for an extra pre. Paid 300 bucks for it. Im kind of stoked to hear how that thing sounds. Its only one channel but should be good for an extra pre. I got my meat and potatoes with the vintechs and some extras when I need em.
Old 30th July 2007
  #12
Gear Head
 

This is my problem, from reading other threads (and given my other kit) I cant see that the difference between the preamp is going to be huge. Add to that the fact that theres quite a few people on this board who think the ThreeQ is better than the Eureka.

I like the idea of a good quality pre (not incredible just good) which is clean but has the option of dialing in a little warmth when its needed. From what I've read thats the SPL GainStation ... but that just costs too much (even if it does look cool). I've also read the newer meeks (sixQ, twinQ - with the iron switch) have this flexability, thus my interest in them.

Overall the impression i get is If you can afford a preamp like the RNP, BG-1 there damn good and will last you forever. If you want something cheaper the threeQ is very good bang for your buck and the ART Gold is good as well.

The confusing bit is with things like the Drawmer (MX60) it gets good reviews ... but then so do most of the Focusrite Platinum series yet they get slated on this board?

At the moment Im a little confused but it looks like, "find £500 and get a BG-1/Grace", save for a GainStation or choose any one of the below £400 pre's/channel strips that people recomend. Just avoid lowend focusrite.

Assuming I'm considering one of the cheaper pre's how do they stand up aginst the Mackie Onyx's in the 400F (sort of the original question I know - so I expect the answer is there better than the onyx's

Rich
Old 30th July 2007
  #13
Lives for gear
 

saw ULN-2 go for £475 second hand (£620 brand new from Dig village if you know who to talk to - ring metric halo distributors in UK and they'll sort you out with the right person). Excellent clean gain to 72dB, excellent converters etc. take a look round. There's also a guy on soundonsound.com readers ads right now selling a BG1 for £400.
Old 31st July 2007
  #14
Quote:
Man the presonus sounded punchy and clear. I was actually shocked at how good it sounded. Not bad. The vintech did sound a little better. Little more glassy and rich. But its also a much more expensive preamp. So i kind of expected it to blow the socks off of the presonus. It honestly didnt. The digimax is a great pre for the money.
no. no. no. Don't be fooled. Get the best wire plus gain pre you can get. The DAV BG1 is perfect if you are in the UK. Forget the cheap compressors and the like that come with channel strips. You'll quickly outgrow them as your ears improve. As for the vintech v presonus comparison... it is no comparison. Night and day. It's just that at this point your ears aren't trained to hear the difference. If you want proof, stack a dozen tracks of presonus and a dozen tracks of the vintech. The presonus will leave you with a vague bottom end and a mushy middle (while the comparison might not be quite as stark as it might be with something that isn't a 1073 clone - which are known for the mid build-up - I'm sure the contrast is still substantial).
Old 31st July 2007
  #15
Gear Nut
 
iamproof's Avatar
 

if u'r handy with a soldering iron u cud get a neve clone preamp kit for that. probably a stereo one aswell which would cost £2k for the neve manufactured one. check out: seventh circle
Old 31st July 2007
  #16
Gear Head
 

The DIY option sounds interesting but Im a software engineer by trade my soldering generally looks like I just heated up a spade and used that ... perhaps not the best option

Im intrigued by this £620 ULN2? How does that work, thats much cheaper than the list price? I take it the pre's in the ULN are as good as those in the BG-1 and the convertors are going to be better than my current interface.

So my best option overall, with the minimum need to ever upgrade again is to either get the ULN2 if its only £620 (is it worth stretching to that) or the BG-1 (perhaps that second hand one) and then upgrade my interface at a later date. Perhaps to a Konnect24D.

Is the ULN2 that good?

Rich
Old 31st July 2007
  #17
Lives for gear
 
wildpark's Avatar
 

go for a old rme hammerfall card or apogee or benchmarc in ebay plus a siemens v276

a a lil work you can have nice results
Old 31st July 2007
  #18
Lives for gear
 

The ULN-2 is very good, pres are very clean, so depends what you want. They are rich and full though. You can get one second hand for £475 ish. They will be in the DAV ball park. Also superb converters.

Like i said, call the distributor of metric halo in UK, they are called audio state. Tell them you are looking for a deal on a ULN-2, they'll put you through to the people. It's actually dolphin music not digital village. I was quoted £640 all in, but i got one second hand instead.
Old 31st July 2007
  #19
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Tibbon's Avatar
Dont' forget building your own preamps. Every engineer should know/learn to solder and repair stuff anyways.

SCA kits.
Old 31st July 2007
  #20
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johnwayne's Avatar
 

Get the Dav BG-1. Having a stereo pre is nice and you'll never regret buying it. Things I've used it on that sounded good:

Overheads
Acoustic guitar
Electric guitar
Vox
percussion

If you get it you will never sell it. As I see you're doing classical guitar, it would be perfect for that. The thing is actually made to record classical instruments.
Old 1st August 2007
  #21
Gear Head
 

hehe, you are all very convincing

So I'm pretty much decided that a bg-1 is the way forward. Its cheaper than a ULN2 and the pre's are better (so you lot say). Queston is so I take my m-audio fast track poo, plug the outputs of the bg-1 into its front sockets and press the button to line level input.

But wont its (the fast track pro's) preamp still be inline with the signal and thus destroy all the good work the bg-1 did. I can handle the convertors damaging the signal but not the pre's ... or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Rich
Old 1st August 2007
  #22
Gear Head
 

Now Ive been thinking, depending on the answer to my last question ... is it worth me getting a new interface with good convertors and resonable pre's on which to improve my skills and hearing. Then when I need better pres I can get a BG-1 and feel the full benefit.

Im guessing from all I've read that the best interfaces are either:
* Mackie 400F
* Fireface 400; or
* Konnekt 24D

Is it wise to get one of those and later get a BG-1, will they do it full justice?

I just have this lingering feeling a BG-1 would be crippled by my current interface, mics, headphones, monitors, room, skills etc and I might be better off getting something that (like the BG-1) I wont need to replace but gives me more for my money (considering where I am now).

Rich
Old 3rd September 2007
  #23
If you buy any of these you'll only end up trading up once your ears do improve. Personally if I had to do it all again I would buy the best I could for every link, knowing it wouldn't be perfect until the chain is complete. Buy cheap, buy twice.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by rimskidog View Post
If you buy any of these you'll only end up trading up once your ears do improve. Personally if I had to do it all again I would buy the best I could for every link, knowing it wouldn't be perfect until the chain is complete. Buy cheap, buy twice.
I will never replace my BG-1.

I bet a lot of people here will agree, it's a keeper piece.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #25
Gear Nut
 
MeatPye's Avatar
 

The DAV BG-1 is definitely the way forward.
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