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Help me pick pair of preamps or other ITB antidote
Old 4th January 2012
  #1
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Help me pick pair of preamps or other ITB antidote

Macpro
Logic
Duet 2 interface
AT4060 tube mic
Gyraf Gyratec X (G10) vari-mu compressor

I do a lot of programming, and music tends to be very syncopated with lots of percussion, cowbells, bottles, etc. I like the blend, but in all ITB, it can end up sounding a bit "pointy", "brittle", "sterile", etc. G10 is great, but if I use the tube makeup, it's adding harmonics, so I can end up with build up in high mids and highs.

I want to thicken up individual tracks, mellow out some transients, and get a more blended sound in general.

Some gear I'm considering:

portico 5042 tape emulation
1073 style preamps with line in
Fatso


What I know I want:

Take the bite out of very fast transients... slow and smooth things a bit
Thicken texture of individual tracks
Full and relatively even frequency response
A touch of natural compression
Very low noise
Can be used as preamp, line level, etc.
Inline plug and play real-time solution


What I know I DON'T want:

Limited frequency response with am radio sound, no low end, etc.
Too cumbersome with routing issues for mic level, line level, etc.
Antique bits that go wrong and can't be easily fixed or replaced.
Offline solutions like bouncing to tape


My guess is that I want something with enormous transformers. I'd like to hear a bit more discussion on this... what aspect of a pre or line driver am I really after? My understanding is generally that the higher the voltage, the lower the noise, more headroom, right?

Is it also true that the bigger the transformer, the more it will tend to go lower in frequency response and also tend to round out transients?

A bit concerned that something like an MA5 will be bested for my purposes by something with bigger trannies and higher voltage.

Not necessarily looking for somthing with vintage tone here. I'm interested in the dual portico ii pre as well, but I've never heard it.

Looking to use for mic pre, and also line level... and possibly to run mix through whether at pre or line level, so those sort of options should be doable without too much fuss. Need two matched or stereo.

Total budget: $1300ish.
Sample of music now attached. It's pretty indicative of my style, although some of the tracks have harder hitting drums with more of a house or hip-hop style whereas these are a bit on the "squishy" side. Otherwise, it's all relatively similar with funk/jazz mixed in with drum machines, smooth vocal style.

Hopefully, this helps steer the conversation toward what will work in my particular case. Sample is all ITB except for use of the G10 on vocals, bass, and light use on 2 buss.
Attached Files

Last edited by Ain't Nobody; 5th January 2012 at 12:56 AM.. Reason: add audio
Old 4th January 2012
  #2
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bugscoe's Avatar
 

I'd say see if you can find a used Fatso unit.

I love mine for the very things you described.
Old 4th January 2012
  #3
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i did this for a long time with my tg2 and got fantastic results. i bought a jh-24 and mix on a console so it doesnt get used for that like it did but its a great box for synths and what not too...and as it turns out im selling mine with the psu right now for roughly that price
Old 4th January 2012
  #4
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See if you can find a used vintech 273. I think that's what it is. The 2 channel version of the 1073 pre. Good on the front end, with your at4060 and instruments, and on the back end.

Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com
Old 4th January 2012
  #5
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Ok, thx, guys.

I've edited and cleaned up OP to be clearer about my objectives.

I know the general deal on GS is everyone just suggests whatever they are using personally, so I'd really appreciate digging a bit deeper into WHY a particular piece is the right one... like size or type of transformers, voltage, frequency response, etc...

That way, I can really find the aspects I am looking for rather than just getting something because it's "warm", etc.

thx.

Audio sample now attached to OP.
Old 5th January 2012
  #6
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Figured I'd put it in my signature. I'm not seeing siggy even though it shows fine in preview.

Can we not see our own signatures?

Never tried having one before.

Does a soundcloud embed show up in my signature?




... ok, I see now... only in new posts. Will edit op so it's set.

Anyway, anyone using m8's?
Any particular things I shouold look for or avoid in terms of different operating levels, balanced, unbalanced, etc?

Am I on the right track about the enormous transformers? (would be hard to fit in a 500, no?)

... and now siggy is gone again. wtf?
Old 5th January 2012
  #7
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Anyone here using the dual portico ii pre for multipurposes like this?

Trying to get some comparasins.

A bit concerned that some of the more vintage pieces might be noisy, do too much damage to the eq curve, etc.


edit: Oh, and Pacifica just brought to my attention. Anyone using that for all of the above as well?
Old 5th January 2012
  #8
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I've got a pair of 1073 diy clones I can borrow this weekend. Not sure about line level. I'll run them through their paces.

Anything that tends to do a bit more natural compression than other options?
Old 6th January 2012
  #9
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I know there's feedback to be had on this.

Been reading up on Germanium, Pacifica, etc.

When people talk about pres with natural compression, which components are most responsible for that... ie, what should I look for?
Old 6th January 2012
  #10
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Sounds fine. Personally I think the dough would be better spent getting a real horn section and a couple of percussionists to add a bit of 'life' to all those sequencers.
Old 6th January 2012
  #11
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I think you'd do well with the Blacklion AM-CHA1 Stereo Transformer balanced EQ. Gapped transformers on input and output. Lots of color and mojo. I'm able to give tracks a real vibe with it. If you wanna send a stereo track my way, I'll run the track through it so you can hear the difference. It won't be subtle, I can tell you that.
Old 6th January 2012
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
I think you'd do well with the Blacklion AM-CHA1 Stereo Transformer balanced EQ. Gapped transformers on input and output. Lots of color and mojo. I'm able to give tracks a real vibe with it. If you wanna send a stereo track my way, I'll run the track through it so you can hear the difference. It won't be subtle, I can tell you that.
Thx.

Will do.

The only pre I have now is on the duet, so probably still need something. I haven't gotten around to trying duet pre yet tho.

As for the horns, I'd agree for some of the tracks, but it would seem like a bit of a waste on this one.

As for percussionists... I am one, so if I need one of those, I'm in trouble.

Any other pre suggestions or details of what to look for? I'd certainly entertained the idea of getting a good eq, but I really don't tend to eq much, so thinking pre/line driver would probably be the path. Also looking to get some natural by products like rounding of transients.
Old 6th January 2012
  #13
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I run every mix into Daking pres. The round transients in such an ideal way that allows for my compressor to not have to work as hard. They give mixes punch and a nice sheen that I like. From there I run mixes into my Buss Compressor by Regular John Recording. On this unit I have the option of switching a pair of Lundahl transformers into the output circuit or leave the unit in its standard electronically balanced form. From here I've been going into the Blacklion stereo EQ. I gotta say, these 3 units play very well together for my tastes. I feel I got lucky on first purchase that these 3 particular tools work so well for so many different genres. I ran fixes mixes that were entirely ITB recently and found I liked the result better. Then again, 'better' is completely subejctive, but I don't think I'd be alone at all. Overall, this is about a $4k chain for my 2buss that I'm quite proud of. It works wonders for ITB mixes.
Old 7th January 2012
  #14
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Definitely considering daking among others.

Pacifica, vintech, portico all seem to be in same general price range.... a bit too high new, but doable used.

Any specifics as to what would make one or the other better for my purposes?
Old 7th January 2012
  #15
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Actually, got it narrowed down to Pacifica, Vintech, Portico, Aurora, and Germanium. Reading up all I can.

This would be a dual or matched set... and would be my only outboard pre for itb... and I would want to use it for mic pre on vox, and for thickening line signals, and possibly for mix... so it can't be doing too much eq on things or be breaking up too much, etc... max thickness with minimum grain and frequency issues.
Old 8th January 2012
  #16
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The MA5 with linepads does what you described (or some of that) to the mix somehow..
The bonus is that you get 2 GREAT, very reliable (also in the future), preamps for your vocals etc..
It's not only the transformers, which btw are stellar (and the output is custom made by Jensen) in the MA5 to made ALL the sound.. But is the way they interact with the whole circuit..

Have you ever thought about a 2track tape machine? Like a Studer A807 or an MCI JH110? For sure it does that natural compression thing you're looking for better than a preamp...

Also the Fatso might be a cool option..



Cheu
Old 8th January 2012
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
The MA5 with linepads does what you described (or some of that) to the mix somehow..
The bonus is that you get 2 GREAT, very reliable (also in the future), preamps for your vocals etc..
It's not only the transformers, which btw are stellar (and the output is custom made by Jensen) in the MA5 to made ALL the sound.. But is the way they interact with the whole circuit..

Have you ever thought about a 2track tape machine? Like a Studer A807 or an MCI JH110? For sure it does that natural compression thing you're looking for better than a preamp...

Also the Fatso might be a cool option..



Cheu
Looking for an inline real-time solution, so tape is out.

Preamps plus fatso maybe.

Never heard the ma5's, but a bit concerned about the trannies being small, and lacking low end if entire mix used.

Also, reading up a bit on impedence issues and such... really do want something that doesn't have to be padded back down to mic level to run mix through it.... at the very least, it's gotta have line inputs... and maybe I need to be aware of some other aspect?
Old 8th January 2012
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo Soul View Post

Never heard the ma5's, but a bit concerned about the trannies being small, and lacking low end if entire mix used.

Also, reading up a bit on impedence issues and such... really do want something that doesn't have to be padded back down to mic level to run mix through it.... at the very least, it's gotta have line inputs... and maybe I need to be aware of some other aspect?
Xformers small in the MA5?? Not enough lowend? (it's quite the opposite IME)
Check inside an MA5 and tell me if they are small..
They are not small (Btw you don't need huge xformers, just the right size, and anything made by Jensen, Cinemag, Lundahl or Carnhill is fine regarding the size and not only that)..

It's not a problem to use linepads, they just bring the level down 36db's and make the impedence of the signal to have the correct impedence/load that the preamp have to see (a linepad is made out of three or four resistors) to work properly without phase shift etc..



Cheu
Old 8th January 2012
  #19
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
Xformers small in the MA5?? Not enough lowend? (it's quite the opposite IME)
Check inside an MA5 and tell me if they are small..
They are not small (Btw you don't need huge xformers, just the right size, and anything made by Jensen, Cinemag, Lundahl or Carnhill is fine regarding the size and not only that)..

It's not a problem to use linepads, they just bring the level down 36db's and make the impedence of the signal to have the correct impedence/load that the preamp have to see (a linepad is made out of three or four resistors) to work properly without phase shift etc..



Cheu
OK... never tried ma5, just been a bit hesitant about running full freq mix stuff through trannies in 500 gear. I actually LIKE the idea of smaller trannies if you're only tracking vocals as there seems to be a natural rolloff in the lows.

Reading up this morning on MP2a. Lots of talk about how it "tames" bright mics, has a slower response than a solid state...

These sound like the kind of characteristics I'm after... so does that mean I should be looking at tube stuff? Most of my experience with tubes leads me to believe they tend to add a bit on the high end if anything.

MP2a does sound like the kind of thing I'm looking for, tho... any takes on it or the differences?
Old 8th January 2012
  #20
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Try them at your place, it's usually where the marketing ends and where you discover if you like that piece of gear or not (despite what people say over here or on other forums) and more important if it suited for your applications.. Only your ears could tell you that..

Btw the MA5 it's an excellent preamp. Only the best quality parts are used.. Seriously.. Only the best.. Avedis didn't cut any corners.. In fact the only custom output xformer made by Jensen costs about what other manufacturers pays for the entire parts of their preamps.. (of course it's a different design, but still..)
We ran some mixes through them, and you have some benefits from it, bigger lowend but less muddiness is one of them.. It's not night&day, it's kind of subtle but it's there, tangible.. I don't know how to explain that with my words..
I can agree with you regarding that sometimes the 500 series counterparts doesn't offer the same sonics of the 19" rackmount version, especially due to the space.. But this is not the case of the MA5.

Bests,

Cheu
Old 8th January 2012
  #21
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Bryce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollo Soul View Post
Preamps plus fatso maybe.
Mike-E?

dB
Old 8th January 2012
  #22
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 View Post
Try them at your place, it's usually where the marketing ends and where you discover if you like that piece of gear or not (despite what people say over here or on other forums) and more important if it suited for your applications.. Only your ears could tell you that..

Btw the MA5 it's an excellent preamp. Only the best quality parts are used.. Seriously.. Only the best.. Avedis didn't cut any corners.. In fact the only custom output xformer made by Jensen costs about what other manufacturers pays for the entire parts of their preamps.. (of course it's a different design, but still..)
We ran some mixes through them, and you have some benefits from it, bigger lowend but less muddiness is one of them.. It's not night&day, it's kind of subtle but it's there, tangible.. I don't know how to explain that with my words..
I can agree with you regarding that sometimes the 500 series counterparts doesn't offer the same sonics of the 19" rackmount version, especially due to the space.. But this is not the case of the MA5.

Bests,

Cheu
I took another look at it, read up a bit... but there's just no getting around the line DI thing. I'm looking for something that is going to be used for OTHER things at leas as often as mic pre... so DI/line in are pretty big issues... much moreso than if I were just looking for basic mic pre.
Old 8th January 2012
  #23
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Jensen has a DI that you could use in many ways. Also line in - mic out..
But I think that you're looking for a sort of one box does it all solution..

Whatever you'll get try it in your studio..

Bests,

Cheu

P.S.: the best antidote for ITB is OTB, (since you're looking for a different sound) maybe a small quality mixer might help..(even if it's probably more than 1500)
Old 8th January 2012
  #24
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UA la-610? Try some nos tubes, nice harmonics, great compressor, never played with the eq too much to say, but it's useful, just a thought on the tube side. I want one
Old 9th January 2012
  #25
If you need something that will warm up your tracks I think Culture Vulture is nice option.
Old 9th January 2012
  #26
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Why not try Nebula free? Pres, consoles, tape, outboard etc. That'll do a lot for your tracks. And if you like it and buy it you get access to the commercial libraries.
Old 9th January 2012
  #27
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thx guys.

I do have nebula.. and MANY programs for it. Use it quite a bit, but it's definitely not a replacement for a good analog chain.

Some of the other suggestions might be good... culture vulture, fatso, etc.

I don't necessarily need an all in one solution, but since I have only the duet pre, and since I have a rather thin voice, and a relatively bright and hyper-accurate mic, and since I'm making pop music where the vocal needs to be front and center anyway...


... it would seem that I would likely be better off making sure whatever I sink money into does a good job of thickening the vocals on the way in.

I guess what I'm not seeing is the line in part. Plenty of good dual pres out there with DI built in... but as long as I have a box with some of the electronics built in and big honking trannies on in and out, it seems a shame not to be able to just run lin in... especially if it has an eq like some of the vintech stuff.

I was originally going to get an la610, but then I figured I also needed something for stereo tracks and MB, so might as well get two channels that can also work for that, right?

If I had more cash right now, I think I might do two portico channels.


So, still looking.


2 channels
Mic pre in the warm family
Line in
DI
Natural compression
Slow transients
Transformers

The budget could be stretched a little... but not if I'm left still needing other pieces. If it's a great pre, but I still need a di, etc.
Old 9th January 2012
  #28
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I guess I should mention that I have tried running through a budget mixer (made it sound worse) and I have briefly tried a couple of analog summing devices. I wasn't impressed with them. Not knocking them... just not seeing the bang for the buck when what I really want is something I can dial in per track and then run on the master if need be, so could buy two really high quality channels of my exact flavor for same or less.

Not a huge believer in the actual summing part needing to be analog from my trials.

I am, however, a big believer in what some of the analog components can impart.

As for the line level stuff, I'm basically looking for the sound of something like a classic console channel, some big ole trannies, and the ability to get a little of the hot fader type saturation if need be, or a cleaner tone, but still with the sort of tape head/ transformer rounding of transients.

Also reading up on MP2NV. A bit confused by the patch points. Is there anything like this that lets you just run line level through for the electronics as well?
Old 9th January 2012
  #29
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I really think you would get into the ballpark with something that can sculpt a bit, not just impart what it does and only what it does. While the Daking does that for me, the EQ takes that to another level allowing me to sculpt, really push the top end and tighten up the low end and cust at 200 where any left over mud might be. I love it! Sounds stellar. I'm telling you, if you just PM me your email and I'll send you back an email where you can sendspace over a 24bit/44.1khz file for me to download and import into a session. I'll give you a few different option with a couple of different pieces of gear I have that I think you'll enjoy, or at least give you the right mindset with regard to what you can expect.
Old 9th January 2012
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikjmuzik View Post
I really think you would get into the ballpark with something that can sculpt a bit, not just impart what it does and only what it does. While the Daking does that for me, the EQ takes that to another level allowing me to sculpt, really push the top end and tighten up the low end and cust at 200 where any left over mud might be. I love it! Sounds stellar. I'm telling you, if you just PM me your email and I'll send you back an email where you can sendspace over a 24bit/44.1khz file for me to download and import into a session. I'll give you a few different option with a couple of different pieces of gear I have that I think you'll enjoy, or at least give you the right mindset with regard to what you can expect.
pm sent

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't kick a MP out of bed for eating crackers.

I also like some control... which is why I was thinking of something with various input levels, drive control, etc.

Nebula does a pretty decent job of eq for the few times I need a good one... but it's not the same thing.

I guess I have a general philosophy about wanting to choose the fx at any given moment. My ideal piece of gear would be all the elements separated with different patchpoints so I could get just the trannies or just the tube gain or just the eq, and then chain to taste.

Part of the reason for looking at pres is they combine several of the elements I want together. Pre plus eq would be better, of course.

I'd love a couple of the vintech 81's, or the portico channels, or the quartets... but trying to pick and choose which of those elements will do me the most good as a first step on more limited budget... especially since I recently bought $3k worth of gear.

In a more perfect world, I'd be rocking a hybrid setup, but just looking to zero in on the most key components first.
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