The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
A question about mic pre gain
Old 24th December 2010
  #1
Lives for gear
A question about mic pre gain

I keep reading about everyone pushing their pre's up to 40-45 db's...How the hell are you doing that? I would distort like hell in loud passages with that much gain. I routinely have to record at 20-25 so I don't distort - in fact, I've had to record some dynamic females at 35db with a 20db pad...I've found this with all of my mics and all of my pres. Are modern condensers just that hot? Are you guys not dealing with dynamic singers? What gives? I don't use compression going in - are the rest of you? I'm totally happy with the vocals I'm getting - but after reading all these comments about "I usually keep my input at 45," I'm wondering if I'm crazy...
Old 24th December 2010
  #2
It completely depends on the vocalist, the microphone, and if it has an output on the preamp (or pad/attenuator plugged into the output). If you are a loud singer and are using a modern very hot output microphone then you are only going to need 20db of gain (or possibly less).

I think a lot of people find the sweet spot on a Neve (or clone of Neve) to be around that spot (at least that's what I've found in general, and since 'Neve' is the pre du jour), so they are pushing it to there and compensating somehow on the output and or they aren't using a microphone that outputs almost line level.

I recommend compressing on the way in even just a little bit (a few dbs of reduction on loudest parts), it makes the plugs work less hard (which is a good thing for sonic and practical reasons IME) and makes mixing easier in general. I've yet to meet a vocalist of any caliber who notices clean transparent or mostly transparent compression (electronically speaking and in terms of setting with slower attacks, etc), and where the compression affects their performance in any way.
Old 24th December 2010
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Droplede's Avatar
 

I hear you, and I agree, to a point: I very seldom need that much gain, particularly because I'm trying to keep my peaks no higher than -10 dbfs going into the converter.

But. Optimal gain staging can vary A TON depending on your specific mic pre. Sometimes a pre just has that magic spot higher up on the dial where everything sounds better. The output transformer is being hit harder and adds some nice distortion (I'm thinking API here), the gain stage just opens up better, whatever. In those cases, you slap a pad AFTER the pre's output to make sure you're not in the red, and run the gain wherever it sounds best. Internal pad won't help you here.

At least that's my experience.
Old 24th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

pad down the coverters and juice the front end

My converters are set to +4 i / o, normal
I have plenty of headroom to pad down to track drums, Bands, vocals. . .
keep the board happy. If you go, micpre direct to recorder, then try
pad down the coverters and juice the front end.
I came from hit the red method and now i keep the front end happy and
track happy, ride the small fader.
C
Joy
Old 24th December 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
Well - my Helios doesn't have an output knob or attenuator, and that's what I'm using on vocals most of the time...Would I be pushing the input transformer (or whatever, I'm not a techie) harder if I cranked it to 45 and then engaged the -20 pad? I guess I'm using around 35 or 40 for Acoustic instruments, but I just never get there with a vocal.

As far as compressing while going in, I don't know - I go back and forth. Why commit during tracking when you can do it in the mix. Plus, with no compression, you are certainly more likely to get a clean vocal...
Old 28th December 2010
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnkenn View Post
Well - my Helios doesn't have an output knob or attenuator, and that's what I'm using on vocals most of the time...Would I be pushing the input transformer (or whatever, I'm not a techie) harder if I cranked it to 45 and then engaged the -20 pad? I guess I'm using around 35 or 40 for Acoustic instruments, but I just never get there with a vocal.
I don't remember Helios breaking up/saturating the same way some other transformer based preamps do, but I haven't used the reissues (I'm guessing they are the same in that regard). Input pads, IME, don't help with what you are talking about, you'll need to pad the output with a line level pad (Audio Technica or Shure) in general.


Quote:
As far as compressing while going in, I don't know - I go back and forth. Why commit during tracking when you can do it in the mix. Plus, with no compression, you are certainly more likely to get a clean vocal...
It's just basic clean leveling on the way in, nothing heavy handed. You can still get extremely clean vocals on the way in with compression, you'll just need a compressor that isn't overly colored and it needs to be set correctly (not too fast on the attack or too much gain reduction). Mic technique is almost non existent (even the ones who attempt it often overcompensate IMO), and staying relative distance to the mic at all times keeps the presence and direct sound of the vocal better sounding IME.
Old 28th December 2010
  #7
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnkenn View Post
I routinely have to record at 20-25 so I don't distort .

Are modern condensers just that hot?
Maybe I deal with a wider variety of sound sources but I really use quite a wide range of gain settings all the way up to 60+ dB and haven't noticed the mic pre distorting at the higher settings. Of course I'm not going to take a hot mic, put it 2" from a screaming guitar amp grill and put 60 dB of gain on it. But even with a hot mic there are acoustic instruments that I record that need that 60 dB to get to a solid level.

As to the relative output levels of microphones, I have tested and found a 27dB range in my mic collection. For reference the list is below. The number behind the mic is the amount of gain in dB's to bring that mic to the reference "0" level. Hottest on top, least sensitive on bottom.

tele U47/Stephen Paul 0
AT 4033 -0.2
Km84 #1 -4.1
KM 84 #2 -4.7
Schoeps CMC MK4 -6.0
AKG c414 (1974 model) -8.5
SM81 -12.8
Senn E935 -18.8
SM 57 -20.8
421 -21.5
R121 -22.5
d112 -22.6
M160 -27.1
Old 28th December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

I would simply adjust gain to the level you need...
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
onespecial / Low End Theory
5
FeatheredSerpent / So much gear, so little time
1
marchhare / Music Computers
1
Ivandovich / So much gear, so little time
1
Deleted User / So much gear, so little time
6

Forum Jump
Forum Jump