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MR816 vs Focusrite Octopre mkII-Preamp quality Digital Converters
Old 28th May 2010
  #1
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MR816 vs Focusrite Octopre mkII-Preamp quality

Hello slutz!

I need to buy some preamps for my mobile setup. I wanted to buy the DAV BG8, but at the moment funds are not permitting that, plus I decided having an ADAT output could save me a lot of trouble and cabling.

So I figured out I should buy either the Steinberg MR816 or the Octopre mkII. I basically need 8 VERY good sounding preamps, rack-mounted, which can output at the same time to ADAT output and analog outs, so I can record with 2 recorders at the same time for backup.

I don't need an interface, I have quite a few, just 8 very good preamps with ADAT output costing 650 euros max.

Which one you think would sound better in a location recording setup? How is the A/D on the Octopre mkII? I know the MR816 converters sound great, but perhaps the Focusrite has better sounding preamps?

Do you know if the MR816 can output to ADAT and analog outputs at the same time stand-alone? And can it do that while it is connected to the computer and records to the DAW? (mic>MR816>ADAT/AnalogOuts/Firewire at the same time)

Do you have any other suggestions except those two for my limited budget? I will be recording mostly choirs and acoustic ethnic ensembles on location.

Thanks in advance!
Old 28th May 2010
  #2
Gear Maniac
MR816

Hey, I just made the move to the MR816 myself for live recording and I can say that the pre's are excellent, especially for the price. Very clean sound and low noise, plus you get up to 84db of gain so you can use them with ribbons even for quiet stuff. Not sure about your other question, but I don't see why not, the routing software is pretty flexible. You can try emailing steinberg, though, to be sure, they usually respond in a day or so.

Chris
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Accurate Recording
Live and Location Recording
Old 28th May 2010
  #3
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RawDepth's Avatar
 

"VERY GOOD" preamps for mobile recording? I am not sure I understand why.

I have recorded live events and the venues are generally the noisiest and worst acoustics of any on the planet. There were chatting/coughing audiences, buzzing amps, running air conditioners, and the outdoor venues added in wind and nearby traffic noise. If you record church choirs there will be room echos which will badly smear the sound.

When I recorded in the nightclubs I was usually forced to use the sound company's cheap dynamic mics anyway.

If someone accused me of ruining their recording because my preamps were not "high-quality" enough, I would have laughed in their face.

My point is, you may be worrying too much about minor details. There will be little to no noticeable difference between cheap pres and good ones in a situation like that. Just go with cheap pres until you have more control over the recording environment.
Old 28th May 2010
  #4
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omegaomega's Avatar
 

Thank you for your replies.
Well I might worry too much here, but on the other hand I want a professional sounding setup that I will not need to change soon and that I could possibly put into service back in the studio if there is a recording situation that needs more preamps.
In theory I could get away with a ADA8000 and call it a day, but since the recordings will be commercially released, I want something that sounds great.

I will not record in clubs, but mostly concerts which for the most part are whisper quiet and the churches are also very very quiet and some are just small chapels with no much reverberation. Also I will record some acoustic ethnic ensembles while at their studio, so no external interference there either.

I just need to find the best sounding preamps for my limited budget and I thought maybe I should forget ADAT all together if this would be a limiting factor and use a balanced patchbay half-normalled to break the output of the preamps to two, so I can use 2 separate recorders at the same time.

I found some recordings of the MR816 vs DAV BG (which was my original choice) and the BG is just soooo much better sounding... I also found just 2 recordings of the Octopre, one against the Digi 002 preamps and the Focusrite was noticebly better (but then anything is better than Digi interfaces!) while the second comparison between Octopre, Saffire 56 and Art Tube8 made the Octopre sounding very mediocre ( I preferred the Saffire 56).

By the way do you think this would be a better solution? I think the Saffire 56 can be used standalone now...
Old 28th May 2010
  #5
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RawDepth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega View Post
I just need to find the best sounding preamps for my limited budget...
I understand. I was just trying to point out that the differences are not always day and night like some on here lead us to believe. Check out this thread to see what I mean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaomega View Post
...In theory I could get away with a ADA8000 and call it a day, but since the recordings will be commercially released, I want something that sounds great.

I will not record in clubs, but mostly concerts which for the most part are whisper quiet and the churches are also very very quiet and some are just small chapels with no much reverberation. Also I will record some acoustic ethnic ensembles while at their studio, so no external interference there either.
If you decide on using the ADA8000, be advised that it does not pass audio straight through from the XLR's on the front to the XLR's on the rear. Even though it looks as though it would.

I have always heard that Focusrite is a strong brand. But I do not own one.
Old 29th May 2010
  #6
Gear Maniac
I agree that the pres don't make that much of a difference in some situations, but you should keep in mind that if you're doing acoustic music in a very quiet space you may run into noise issues. If you're close micing everything with condensers then it won't be much of an issue, but if you're using ribbon and dynamic mics on acoustic instruments or you want to use some distant mics, you need a pre that can give you a lot of clean gain.

Chris
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Accurate Recording
Live and Location Recording
Old 1st June 2010
  #7
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omegaomega's Avatar
 

Hello slutz

Thank you all for your comments. I'm leaning towards the MR816, since I think it is much cheaper, if you consider that you also get a wonderful sounding interface thrown in as well.

I still haven't found out if the Octopre mkII preamps sound better than the MR816's but having read the whole MR thread here in Gearslutz and listened to some more audio files, the preamps seem to sound very good.

Anyone knows how is the Octopre mkII A/D conversion quality?
Old 1st June 2010
  #8
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Accurate View Post
Very clean sound and low noise, plus you get up to 84db of gain so you can use them with ribbons even for quiet stuff.
Where this figure come from?
Anyway the preamp EIN is -118 dB which is about 10 dB more than what can achieve a quiet preamp.
These specifications available from Steinberg web site make me think that the gain variation range if from -10 dB to +60 dB so that to get a 0 dBu nominal level at the ADC input for a nominal preamp input level range extending from -60 dBu to 10 dBu. if my guess from these specfications, which are not so clear, is right, the 0 dBFS corresponds to 14 dBu at the ADC input.

The 84 dB input-output voltage gain shall not be confused with the preamp gain: it involves AD and DA conversions.
Old 27th September 2010
  #9
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there is not enough juice for an acoustic instrument or voice to be recorded with a ribbon mic...although many folks say so. i tried recording a violin and voice with an apex 205 (bottom of the totem pole, but still...) and even with the gain all the way up, at 5 o clock, the violin was clocking in at -15 db and the voice at -14. and they were both filled with noise. boo.

in fact, a stereo matched pair of oktava mk 012's need to be at about 4'o'clock for a detailed room recording, and again, that's introducing some noise. arrgh.

furthermore, an audix i5 a few inches away from a pretty loud amp: gain in between 10 and 11, no pad.

where's this "tons of gain" so many speak of? should i be concerned that my unit is defective?
Old 27th September 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattMoorman View Post
there is not enough juice for an acoustic instrument or voice to be recorded with a ribbon mic...although many folks say so. i tried recording a violin and voice with an apex 205 (bottom of the totem pole, but still...) and even with the gain all the way up, at 5 o clock, the violin was clocking in at -15 db and the voice at -14. and they were both filled with noise. boo.

in fact, a stereo matched pair of oktava mk 012's need to be at about 4'o'clock for a detailed room recording, and again, that's introducing some noise. arrgh.

furthermore, an audix i5 a few inches away from a pretty loud amp: gain in between 10 and 11, no pad.

where's this "tons of gain" so many speak of? should i be concerned that my unit is defective?

What sort of Level are you trying to get into the Daw?
Old 27th September 2010
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

i am in the same boat,.... mostly remote location recording, but mostly ethnic traditional instruments.

and strapped for cash.

i looked at the mr816 as well, seemed like a great deal for a bunch of decent pre's and interface,....

but ultimately, i decided on having 2 channels of something really really good that i wouldnt out grow sound wise, instead of a bunch of decent pre's that i might probably want to upgrade later.

i probably dont need to tell you this, but i figured that with alot of classical/ethnic stuff, you really want to record them in an ensemble if doing more than one, which pretty much means 2 mains,....

or if you're multitracking then just use what you have for the less critical stuff, and the really nice 2 channel on the star.

unless you really need 8 pre's that the mr816, etc, has to offer.

there's a thread in the remote section at the moment about recordings only done with a stereo pair and nothing else, some amazing work has been done with just 1-2 mics, a nice room and good players.

sound devices also has a new 2 channel interface with pretty damn good AD/DA and 2 pretty damn good pre's,....

so that + my dav bg1 =

just thought i'd throw that out there as i spent the summer trying to decide which route to take myself.
Old 27th September 2010
  #12
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no target level. just want the detail and quality that i'm going for with as little noise as possible. if i have to record low to get the noise down, it'll be there when you raise the track back up. i'm sure there are cases where this doesn't apply, but....what i'm saying is that the fiddle coming at -15db is already noisy and for this particular song it needs to be louder.

listen to these two clips of me sing/talking into the apex 205. the mr816's gain is set at 4 o'clock (almost all the way up). i'm about 8-10 inches away from the mic. the first clip is just that. faded on the event channel and the main out are at zero. the second clip the faders are both set to +6db and a wide open compressor is adding another 6db. 18db added and its still coming out at about -23db, and noisy.
Attached Files

ribbon test 0.mp3 (649.4 KB, 947 views)

ribbon test +18.mp3 (649.4 KB, 895 views)

Old 27th September 2010
  #13
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drBill suggested a solution:
Triton Audio FetHead | Microphones @ ZenProAudio.com
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