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Good Vocal Preamps. Single-Channel Preamps
Old 14th September 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Good Vocal Preamps.

Hi there,
I am looking into buying a Tube vocal preamp and would like some advice.

Which vocal preamps are worth looking at and which ones worth are staying away from?

Im looking to spend no more than £600.

Thoughts please...
Old 15th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

The Art MPA are pretty well regarded after a tube swap or two.
Old 15th September 2011
  #3
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiehilltop View Post
Hi there,
I am looking into buying a Tube vocal preamp and would like some advice.

Which vocal preamps are worth looking at and which ones worth are staying away from?

Im looking to spend no more than £600.

Thoughts please...
In that price bracket you'll better not look at a tube preamp, but one with a transformer. I have found that the sound many people associate with "tube" often is what a transformer gives them. Focusrite ISA One will give you a sound way beyond your £600, while the cost is considerably under that number. I think of ISA One as a great preamp for vocals, especially in the singer/songwriter genre. Put the money saved towards a better mic.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
In that price bracket you'll better not look at a tube preamp, but one with a transformer. I have found that the sound many people associate with "tube" often is what a transformer gives them. Focusrite ISA One will give you a sound way beyond your £600, while the cost is considerably under that number. I think of ISA One as a great preamp for vocals, especially in the singer/songwriter genre. Put the money saved towards a better mic.
That an interesting idea about the focusrite preamp. The reviews look pretty good. I have noticed there is a digital and an analog version do you know what the difference is between the two?

Many Thanks
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I have never been a fan of the ISA One for vocals. I much prefer a Daking, like the Mic Pre 1 or even a UA Solo 610. For a bit more you could get in to a Great River ME-1NV or the BAE DMP, hard to beat either of those in that price range. I have had experience with all of these and would definitely take any of them over the ISA One.
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
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BAE is a significant jump in quality for a small increase in price. I would recommend that option and it will have excellent resale.
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
Gear Addict
 
vierge99's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyd123 View Post
I have never been a fan of the ISA One for vocals. I much prefer a Daking, like the Mic Pre 1 or even a UA Solo 610. For a bit more you could get in to a Great River ME-1NV or the BAE DMP, hard to beat either of those in that price range. I have had experience with all of these and would definitely take any of them over the ISA One.
The ISA One (analog) is now $390 at a lot of places online. VERY hard to beat for the price and what it's offering. The FX send/return is one thing you won't easilly find elsewhere.
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
Gear Addict
+1 for what the guy said about the tube transformer sound. I find that once you push a transformer a little it adds a lot of weight/body to the vocal sound. There are a number of very reasonable Neve and Neve clones around that price bracket that will give you the sound you are looking for.
There is the motto that if you spend a little more you will only have to buy it once and not look to continually upgrade.
But that does not mean you cant have more then one vocal preamp.
For we all bow down to the gearslutz culture and have to have as many as it takes!!
Old 15th September 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

these look nice...about all I can say.

NEW CLASSIC SERIES

anyone own one?
Old 15th September 2011
  #10
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phillysoulman's Avatar
 

Blue Robbie/Pultec or Lang eq
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
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dickiefunk's Avatar
I picked my UA Solo 610 up for £440 from Source the UK distributor for UA. It was a re-furbished unit and what was amazing is they included a 3 year warranty! Worth checking out their ebay store to see if they get any in :-

Good Vocal Preamps.sourcesalesuk | eBay

I also really like my Presonus Eureka and ISA One and these can sound great for vocals.

Another option in the UK would be the DAV BG1. I want to check one of these out myself after hearing SOoooo many rave reviews about it!
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vierge99 View Post
The ISA One (analog) is now $390 at a lot of places online. VERY hard to beat for the price and what it's offering. The FX send/return is one thing you won't easilly find elsewhere.
But the OP has almost a grand to spend. He can do WAY better than the ISA One for that money.
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiehilltop View Post
I have noticed there is a digital and an analog version do you know what the difference is between the two?

Many Thanks
They are the same unit, but the digital version has a very good A/D converter card installed and will send two channels out via SPDIF. The non-digital version can be converted into a digital ISA One by adding the A/D card at a later date.

Something very cool about the converter, is that is will send two channels. One channel is obviously used by the ISA One, the second channel can be used by whatever other signal you want to send through it. Thus you could buy a second ISA One and send through the A/D converter to have a matched signal, you could use a completely different mic pre, you could send a signal from a DI,... Whatever you want. It is a very cool feature.

I have an ISA One and I like it. The ISA One sounds good. It is very flexible. I do not like the packaging--it is clumsy sitting on top of the desk getting in the way since it does not really fit into a rack. I know, you could put it on a rack shelf, but it would have to be three or four spaces---what a waste.
Old 15th September 2011
  #14
+1 for the ISA One Analogue.

It would be cool if Focusrite made a 19" rack version and then came out with an ISA One EQ! for the insert ...mmmm....

Anyone at Focusrite listening?
Old 15th September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 

any "good" preamp should be a good "vocal" preamp. a lot more will depend on the pairing of singer to microphone.

that said, I own and like the UA 610 pre. for your money, you could buy a used LA-610 which includes 2 band eq and an LA2A style comp, which makes an excellent chain for vocals.
Old 15th September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puffer Fish View Post
I do not like the packaging--it is clumsy sitting on top of the desk getting in the way since it does not really fit into a rack. I know, you could put it on a rack shelf, but it would have to be three or four spaces---what a waste.
AFAIK, brick preamps like this are made as such so that you can put them on the floor or a table immediately next to the source to cut down on cable lengths from mic to pre.....
Old 15th September 2011
  #17
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toneguru's Avatar
I agree with some that say at that price the tube pre's are often not the way to go.

The ISA is okay but may not give you the killer tone you seek.

For that price you may be able to get a 500 chassis and an Avedis pre. You might be able to find an original mono Neve 1272 in a BAE rig. Maybe a BAE 1272 copy. These are the pre's found more often at the major sessions relative to the Focusrite or the cheaper tube pre's.

The mid level stuff often seems to be the worst value in mics, pre's and compressors.

I would sooner stay with Mackie pre's and wait till I save up for the truly prime pre's.
Old 15th September 2011
  #18
Its really tedious that people insist that the ISA one is low or mid level. It is the same pre as the 430 mk11 .Which many hold in high regard (despite what Fletcher says) And if the only reference to quality is the price then I think as engineers we need to listen before judging by price.

The ISA one used to be a $700 dollar pre . Chinese manufacture made it possible to be available cheaper maintaining the sound.

If this pre was made in USA with metal knobs and a "hand made VU meter" it would be more highly regarded on this forum.

If "color" is your holy grail for a pre look elsewhere.
If a HIGH quality transparent pre with a few cool extra features without the "Harley Davidson" price tag is what you looking for try the ISA one.

I have no doubts that the cost of my Great River and API has a lot to do with it being American built. The high quality knobs on my great river pre has no bearing on the sound . I value my Great River more that the ISA but when I need a sound to slice through a thick mix then the ISA is the tool.

Also , the ISA One may not be in pro studios but the other ISA series sure are.

I wonder if API made their pre in china , would it be able to be sold for $499? Maybe. Would it then be a low end pre?
Old 15th September 2011
  #19
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Joram's Avatar
 

Good Vocal Preamps.

Collins 356 preamp are not expensive and really good, but you probably want to have phantom power and some sort of gain thing. I think you could end up with a great tube preamp for about £600.
Old 15th September 2011
  #20
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theothermarkwilliams's Avatar
 

I do really like the UA 610 on vocals these days. Depending on the singer, it can really help calm down a too-crispy top end and give some girth. You should be able to find a UA LA-610 for around your price bracket that would give you a pre, a simple EQ, and a compressor.
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