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
why are preamps so important?
Old 7th September 2011
  #31
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
On snare? Hell yes!
The 57 is not a crap mic. There are plenty of situations where given a choice, people choose 57s.
Exactly and I consider a 57 low end but it doesn't really shine till its through a high end pre .

Pretty much "ANY" cheap chinese condenser will sound bad no matter what you run it through . There are mics that just suck .
Old 7th September 2011
  #32
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum View Post
I think of it this way , from a guitarist perspective ,

Mic = Guitar , Mic Pre = Guitar Head Amp , Converter = Cab


If you play a cheap guitar into a kick ass marshall half stack , it will sound pretty good .

If you play a high end guitar into a crap cheap combo amp , its gonna suck .

So a lowend mic into a highend mic pre , will sound pretty good .
I think that's an excellent analogy. Thank you.
Old 7th September 2011
  #33
Lives for gear
 
mowmow's Avatar
Each pre have different character.
It's just a matter of matching up with source to achieve what you want to hear.
Old 7th September 2011
  #34
Old 7th September 2011
  #35
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
Monitors gotta' come before the engineer. All of the engineer's choices are based on what he hears, and everything he hears comes from the monitoring.
Hmmmm- I didn't consider monitors.
I guess I'd have to put them below engineer.
Given a great sounding source, I think I could use my experience to place a mic and set levels to get a decent sound in a situation where I couldn't monitor at all.
Old 7th September 2011
  #36
Lives for gear
 

because this is gearslutz

....no other reasons come to mind.
Old 7th September 2011
  #37
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ciozzi View Post
because this is gearslutz

....no other reasons come to mind.
Can't agree with that.
A good pre makes a huge difference. And the difference between good pres makes a huge difference. I just think the mic makes more.
Discussing matters of degree.
Old 7th September 2011
  #38
Lives for gear
 

SAMPLES: Pacifica vs Avalon 2022 vs Focusrite ISA828

do you call this a HUGE difference ? When I read this is form, every difference is HUGE...preamps? they make huge difference...converters ? huge difference... cables ? compared to cheap ones.... huge difference! then people (with supposedly golden ears) take ABX blind tests and guess what? they can not spot a 100$ pre from super high end one, it's happened so many times.

IMO a difference that a preamp makes, compared to the other elemens in the chain (mic, placement, instrument, performance...) is at best subtle, otherwise how would you describe the difference between a great performance and a poor one ? SUPER SUPER SUPER ULTRA huge ?
Old 7th September 2011
  #39
Lives for gear
 
FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
If you're talking about recording an acoustic source, the order of importance starts with the source and goes down from there.

1-3- Player/instrument/room
4- Engineer
5- Mic
6- Pre
7- Comp/Eq
8- A/D/A
9- Recording medium

With the caveat that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. A crap A/D changes the equation.
But assuming everything is of relatively equivalent quality, I'll go by that list.
This. I agree with this 195%, if that's possible. (With the sole exception that I'd just call #8 "Recording Medium" and end the list there to avoid redundancy. I'd also count your entire listening environment as part of #3 for clarity's sake.)
Old 7th September 2011
  #40
Gear Guru
 

I am surprised that the only mention of the word "detail" on these pages is referring to the 'detail' that POSTS about preamps go into.

Color is much prized, but clean preamps rule, too. High end preamps whether clean or colored, preserve more of the details that the mic is capturing. Even cheap preamps get the "gist" of the mic signal, but if working with sound is your calling, getting most of the sound is not enough. Accuracy is suspect in cheap preamps.

Lists of the 'order of importance' of the elements in the chain are useful as mental exercises, or when facing extreme austerity budgets, but in practicality, nearly every element can move up or down the list depending on the particular circumstances the engineer finds himself in.
Old 17th September 2011
  #41
Gear Maniac
 
ztjangle's Avatar
Your own prejudice hurts you first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
I would take the great mic/cheap pre over great pre/cheap mic.

First, I agree with Fieldstone that nobody is making crap electronics these days. To put it another way, cheapo mics are crappier than cheapo pres.

I'd rather a gorgeous mic into the pres on a 1604 than a cheap Chinese crap mic into a 1073.
Are you aware that many major pro audio companies have either Chinese parts (like for example mic transformers at the input of a preamp) or their entire production made in China.
It is no longer a sign of bad quality! Look at Kel audio or AA microphones, see what their users (and mag reviews) are saying. Made is China but with good design and good QC. No brittle, offending high frequency peak.

Remember Apple makes iPhones and iPads in China.

As for "crappy electronics", does that mean one that yields a crappy sound?
There is plenty of (relatively) bad sound even amongst very reputable companies but you refuse to believe that because of major hypes amongst pro audio users. Even more one trick pony mics or pres that have a very narrow range of applications.

If you had a chance to compare all mics and preamps on your own, you would quickly change your mind...but instead you just believe the buzz.
Do I sound like a "Conspiracy Theorist" to you?

P.S. I don't make any gear in China
Old 18th September 2011
  #42
Agreed with others who hold the axiom that every link in a signal chain is important.

But it's important to remember that some jobs are more difficult to do. A piece of wire has a very simple job. A power amp has a harder job but we as a technical culture have a lot of experience building efficient, relatively high fidelity amps, as long as we put in the effort and don't cheap out.

A microphone or a speaker (and let's not even start on a proper room to put that mic or speaker in) are considerably harder as they are electro-mechanical devices that must transduce a signal from one energy form to another.

A high fidelity high gain mic preamp falls somewhere in between. The basic function is relatively simple. The design precepts are well understood. Use quality components -- and particularly a quality power supply, since preamps need the best quality DC power they can get [a good, fresh battery actually probably works best but is far from practical] -- and you can get a good, accurate mic preamp.


But... many people have come to look to mic preamp signal saturation for important aspects of their sound. Many don't want a mic preamp that is super clean over a wide range but then goes quickly into unusable saturation -- there are a number of designs that accomplish that and, while some of them have their admirers, there are many who dismiss such preamps as 'too clean' or who drive them to saturation and then complain they are 'brittle.'

Those folks appear to want a mic preamp that begins to saturate early and slowly increases in saturation. And that is not something that has traditionally been taught in electronic design courses -- or even that was widely recognized before the last few decades.
Old 18th September 2011
  #43
Lives for gear
 
camus's Avatar
 

I think anywhere in the chain of recording/reproduction where you have a piece of kit amplifying the signal by some 30-60dB is vaguely important...
Old 18th September 2011
  #44
I was told the same thing so all the gear I bought at first were high end pres... That being said, I think in terms of the actual signal chain (besides the source/player, etc...) mics have the biggest variety of tonal curves, patterns, types, that change the sound much more dramatically than a pre, to my ears, anyway. The same mic through a Shadow Hills vs. a Universal Audio has a fairly subtle difference compared to 2 completely different mics both through the Shadow Hills, in my experience. The good thing about investing in good preamps at the start is that it is much easier to borrow microphones from people!
Old 18th September 2011
  #45
Gear Addict
 
MTStudios's Avatar
Choosing the right pre is a luxury. Choosing the right mic/room/instrument/performer is a necessity.




EDIT: As for the psychology of our mic pre obsession, it's a bit of a wank. "I can hear a more subtle difference therefore I'm a better engineer than you".

Yeah, they're different, it can make a difference. You should probably build your own so you know what's in them and what they do. Then you'll use your ears to choose a pre instead of hype. This is the road I'm starting to go down now.

Walking into a studio full of pre's you've never heard of and just trying them out helps too. If you sit around agonising over what pre's to buy, by the time you have them you'll be so full of expectation that you'll taint your perception with bias.
Old 19th September 2011
  #46
Lives for gear
 
filipv's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTStudios View Post
Choosing the right pre is a luxury. Choosing the right mic/room/instrument/performer is a necessity.
Enough said!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTStudios View Post
As for the psychology of our mic pre obsession, it's a bit of a wank. "I can hear a more subtle difference therefore I'm a better engineer than you".
Spot on!
Old 19th September 2011
  #47
Lives for gear
If you have halfway decent mic pres with 60+ dB of gain (think Mackie Onyx, or those found on the Apogee interfaces) you shouldn't even be thinking about new ones until you have awesome mics, awesome players, and awesome room acoustics. Read that again: Yes, I said AWESOME. If you're missing awesomeness in one of those categories, upgrade there first. I'd say a pre contributes to about 0.1% of the sound of a track (assuming we're not talking about driving tube pres and such into distortion for effect.) High end engineers use great pres because they can a) afford the "best" (even when the best is barely audibly different from "good") and b) satisfy the three levels of awesomeness listed above.

My rule- if you've got enough gain to drive your mic without noise, and you're not getting a sound you like, it ain't the preamp. All decent pres should be able to do the job of recording a source with great accuracy.
Old 19th September 2011
  #48
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
8- A/D/A
9- Recording medium
??..............
Old 19th September 2011
  #49
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Seems like a while ago there was real preamp frenzy on GS. Pacifica, Vintech, yada yada, with everyone being made to feel that your preamp choice was a huge determinant that could either put you in the game or leave you on the bench. It's a factor, yes, but not worth stressing over too much.

Anyhow, I'm glad that died down. (But I am curious as to what kind of dither everyone is using these days.)

-R
Old 19th September 2011
  #50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rinkbossy View Post
Why are preamps so important? So many threads say it is the most important part of your chain, yet there is so little information/opinion that states WHY this is? I was reading a thread that said something to the effect of "of course you can't expect an Aphex 207 to sound as good as a Neve 1073."

What is so different that makes a high end preamp so much better?
get ahold of a renowned pre, it can be a cheap one thats loved, it doesn't have to be high end. then get a cheap ass pre. plug and play the two.

you'll see what all the gas is about then.

i don't personally have anything high end per se, but i have a set of pre's well liked by many, and i can see why. i honestly use them for damn near everything. it mostly cured my pre g.a.s. i get swept up in a few from time to time, but mostly I'm cured. which i think is the closest a gearslut gets to salvation. "mostly cured"
Old 20th September 2011
  #51
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasnub View Post
If you have halfway decent mic pres with 60+ dB of gain (think Mackie Onyx, or those found on the Apogee interfaces) you shouldn't even be thinking about new ones until you have awesome mics, awesome players, and awesome room acoustics.

I agree for the most part, but it does depend a bit what mics you use. My best microphone, given my room situation (which I can't fix since I'm a student) is a sennheiser md 441. Absolutely love it. However, before I got a pre with 70+ db of nice sounding, essentially noiseless gain, I wasn't aware of its true potential. Some of the best mics for less than stellar acoustical situations (source dependent, vocals sound terrible, ac guitar sounds ok) are low sensitivity dynamics, and good to great pres help these mics realize their potential in a very noticeable way. I also noticed, just running a line in from a microkorg to my $$ pre (hamptone jfet) vs my purportedly respectable interface pres, (Roland Octacapture) that there was a noticeably greater amount of detail in the $300 per channel pre vs the <$75 per channel pres at the same volume level.

With the Octacapture, the pres have 50 db and a little bit of noise, and you can add more gain with the DSP compressor's makeup. However, I should specify that what really made the difference with the MD 441 is being able to back up a foot or so from the mic and still get a performance at good levels without having to deal with proximity effect and the very narrow pickup pattern.
Old 20th September 2011
  #52
.

Well said, ScumBum.

IME, the pre-amp is almost as important as the pre-production.

Both are *usually* extremely important for a good recording.

.
Old 20th September 2011
  #53
Lives for gear
 
Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

mic preamps are imortant becaue you cant change it later
if it sucks its on tape an you are in struggle
same with mics which are more imporant imo, but you need both
ther are many good ones and it´s a personal taste but there is a lot of crap which you can´t get rid of later, it´s killing your signal
huge discussion..get serious preamps and youre recoredings will get better
Old 20th September 2011
  #54
I think everything is relative.

When I plugged my KSM32 into my vintech, i wasn't impressed at all, I preferred my UA710.

When I plugged in my manley into the 710, it was ok.

When I plugged my manley into my vintech...ahhh sheeet
Old 20th September 2011
  #55
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dasnub View Post
My rule- if you've got enough gain to drive your mic without noise, and you're not getting a sound you like, it ain't the preamp. All decent pres should be able to do the job of recording a source with great accuracy.
Phantom powered condensers generally aren't too fussy about the particulars of the preamp that follow. The impedance is almost certain to be high enough not to load the mike's output stage, and generally you won't need 60+ dB of gain. The differences are mostly style points in terms of the sonic character of the preamp.

Ribbons particularly, and dynamics in general, are more affected by the preamp properties. For a ribbon mike, you generally want at least 60 dB of gain available, an input impedance of at least 2K ohms and the lowest possible input noise level on the preamp, since the lower sensitivity of the mike will more often require high gain, and the noise floor will be controlled by the input noise of the preamp, assuming the inherent noise of the mike's transformer is low. Dynamics, as well, will be more affected by the specific properties of the preamp.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 20th September 2011
  #56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
The preamp is important in the same way your XLR cables are important: Microphones flat-out do not work without them. Sounds pretty important to me.

On top of that, one preamp can sound different than another.
My friend has a preamp that makes his sister sound just like Frank Sinatra

Old 21st September 2011
  #57
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
My friend has a preamp that makes his sister sound just like Frank Sinatra

Crossed with Zach Galifinakis?

-R
Old 21st September 2011
  #58
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Preamp lust is a gear pimp's wet dream. You overestimate the importance and effect of the preamp, and then each preamp you use just doesn't get you there, according to your expectations. So you keep buying more.

I'm not saying a good preamp isn't important, but if you get one that passes and amplifies signal with integrity, then you're probably fine and don't want to hold it responsible for stuff that isn't its job. (mics, performance, etc....)

-R
Old 21st September 2011
  #59
Gnu
Here for the gear
 

It's worth remembering that until quite recently, preamps were more a circumstance of the studio you tracked in than a flexible artistic decision. You used the pres on the board in front of you, and outboard preamps were few and far between. Now we have folks spending a small fortune to just to rack one channel from a vintage console.

There are a few garbage prosumer pres on the market that just plain sound bad (starved plate tube pres, pres on cheap mixers, some interface pres), but for the most part you're not gonna make a bad track just because you're stuck with one or two preamps. Preamp selection is something that isn't going to be important to your work until you have the luxury of preamp selection. It's a nuanced palette that isn't going to change the way you record right away, if at all.
Old 21st September 2011
  #60
Lives for gear
 
s.d.finley's Avatar
The differences between the sound of the mic pres in my digidesign C24 vs CAPI Vp26 vs UA 6176 is very different. Sure capi and ua are very nice and very usable. C24, very unusable. I will add mackie to that unusable, imnsho, catagory.
YMMV
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
Forum Jump
Forum Jump