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HI-end or budget preamp? (NEVE,API, DAV, SPL,ART)
View Poll Results: Which preamp for my Focusrite SCARLETT 8i6
NEVE 1073LB
8 Votes - 40.00%
API 512c
5 Votes - 25.00%
DAV BG-1
6 Votes - 30.00%
SPL Goldmike 9844
4 Votes - 20.00%
ART PRO MPA II
1 Votes - 5.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

Old 14th October 2013
  #1
Gear Head
 

HI-end or budget preamp? (NEVE,API, DAV, SPL,ART)

Hello!
I own Focusrite Saffire 8i6 sound-card.
I record some vocals, and mostly electric/acoustic guitars using sm57 and RODE K2.
I'm about to make an upgrade, so I'm looking for help choosing quality preamp:

1. Neve 1073LB
2. API 512c
3. DAV BG-1

or settle with the budget (two channel):

4. SPL Gold Mike 9844
5. ART PRO MPA II


Will my recordings benefit from those hi-end preamps? Is it worth the money
with my gear?

It's a big stretch, so I'm thinking rather spend once on a great preamp then upgrading all the time.
Any suggestion will be helpful

-
Old 14th October 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
guitarboy94's Avatar
 

What is it that you don't like about current recordings? A thousand dollar preamp may or may not be the answer (most likely not).
Old 14th October 2013
  #3
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE

low end price, high end sound--

DIY pres like SCA, CAPI, many others

Yes, you have to build them, though. The pre-built SCA A12B and J99B might be a killer value to consider if you can't solder. I'd be looking at those over API or Neve brand names, for value, but still high quality sound. You'd lose the ability to swap out op amps though, which I prefer to have. Big name brands seem to me to belong in commercial studios, or well-to-do home studios. For starving artist types there are some viable alternatives. There's new companies popping up in the middle too, Warm Audio, Black Lion Audio, Lindell. I have no experience with those.

Or perhaps the Sytek used in the $600 range is a pretty good value, but, doesn't put out a very big low end like the DIY ones mentioned above. Good detail though, good at delicate sounds.
Old 14th October 2013
  #4
Gear Head
 

I have to drive a lot of gain on my Focusrite to get decent signal out of sm57, a bit less for RODE K2.

Recordings seems to be not open enough, a tad telephony sounding, and far. Sterile and dull, but very clean. I believe I need more headroom - bigger, fuller, more open sound.

I could maybe Eq those quality later, but it's never the real deal. I have hi-end gear (Marshalls, Gibsons, Fenders, Martin etc.) and tried with professional vocals.
It sure not bad, so I'm also asking Gearslutz colleagues will any of those preamps make big difference in my current set-up?

Thnx
Old 14th October 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 

I'm not a Røde fan. My experience is excactly that. Tad telephonic, somehow shrill and muffled at the same time. A great preamp will help a bit, but not as much as a new mic.

The sm57 is a closed sounding almost nasal sounding, which is why it's good on sources with a lot of midrange information. Again a better preamp helps, but it sounds like it sounds.
Old 14th October 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Impedance matters with a 57. Quite a bit. And most interface and inexpensive mixer pres have an input impedance more suited to condenser mics than 57s. The 57- dynamic mics in general- are going to need a bit more gain from the pre as well vs. condensers.

The K2 is a good mic; it's definitely not an NT1 sonically. It should have a fair bit of output; I've actually run an NTK into a line amp before for a really clean source (acoustic guitar in a nice room).
Old 15th October 2013
  #7
Gear Head
 

I worked on a few songs with vocals recorded in professional studio on Rode K2. The engineer swear on K2. He runs it through Great River MP-2 (I think) preamp and it sounded really good. He said only his Neumann 87 and U47 were better, but sometimes he prefer K2 for male vocals.

So I believe good preamp would make a noticable difference (and AD/DA converters, room treatment etc. but let's not go there now

I would just like to get most out of my home recording setup, to record decent electric/acoustic guitars, and maybe some vocals. Investing in one channel hi-end preamp (especially used one in good condition) seems to be an option.
I just don't have priviliege to try any of this before purchase.
Old 15th October 2013
  #8
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I would get a better mic and a better preamp, both, eventually.
Old 15th October 2013
  #9
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I would get a better mic and a better preamp, both, eventually.
Which preamp (stated above) would you recommend?
Old 15th October 2013
  #10
In your situation I would not get any of the pre's on your list. I would go for the wonderful api/neve clone pre's available for cheap. Way better bang for your buck!

You cannot go wrong with any of these pre's below.

warm audio wa12
BLA b12a
Golden age DLX 73 pre (more versatile than mk2 version)
Old 15th October 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
omnialinx's Avatar
I have all three mic pres tribedescribe just suggested and can't say enough great things about them. I also use and own more expensive clones and the three mentioned get used just as often. I so wish when I had started out there had been pre amps as great as these for the ridiculously affordable prices they go for. They're not just good bang for your buck pre amps, they're great pre amps period. I still own an art gold and use it for overheads from time to time and its decent but not even close to the same league of any that were mentioned.

Sent from my HTCEVOV4G
Old 15th October 2013
  #12
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by prolik View Post
Which preamp (stated above) would you recommend?
strictly from your list? #1 or #2. But my earlier advice is my actual advice.
Old 15th October 2013
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Toni-P's Avatar
I favor the neve. It just has this ''magic'' to it.

The API is quite punchy and clear.

The SPL and the ART are not bad pre-amps at all, but given the choice, and considering your list, it would be Neve for me all the way.
Old 15th October 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

So ONLY those on the list will be considered?
In the price range of the Neve there are MANY other GREAT Pres...
I would drop the DAV..
I would add a GOOD compressor, that would make a MORE noticeable difference IMHO...Esp with Low end Pres..
Spend some time with good gear IF possible...

Since the K2 has a HUGE SPL level and dependent on HOW Loud you sing I would consider a Pre that can handle at least +10dB, a pad will be fine...
Old 15th October 2013
  #15
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

The DAV BG-1 with 2 high quality pre amp channels is exceptional quality for the money.

The best way I can describe it, is that it adds a sense of air to the track, natural, clean uncolored.

You may or may not need a step down converter to connect the +4 output of the BG-1
to your interface.
Old 15th October 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
omnialinx's Avatar
Why only those pres? There are so many incredible clones out there?
I too favor Neve (clones) for vocals and acoustic instruments, but API (Capi, wa12, bla) is my go to for elec guitars, heavier drums, etc...
I propose ending modern day clones with an: esque or ish. I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this.
Nevesque? That looks promising huh?
Apish? Ah... Now that's just perfect.:D
Old 15th October 2013
  #17
Gear Head
 

I'm also worried will BG1 overdrive my Focusrite line level input?
This is the answer I got direct form DAV engineer regarding high output into my Focusrite:
"Hi
there will be no problem with high gain, all you do is turn it down on the front of the BG No 1.
if your Focusrite has a balanced line level input it will work well
"

This is my Focusrite specs for line level input (don't quite get it)
The maximum input level before the signal will clip for each setting
Low gain: 0dBFS = +16dBu
High gain: 0dBFS = -10dBV (~-6dBu)


As sound on sound review refers, expected output level of BG1 is up to 18db and over 21db. I think my Focusrite is in trouble here!!
Old 15th October 2013
  #18
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prolik View Post
I'm also worried will BG1 overdrive my Focusrite line level input?
This is the answer I got direct form DAV engineer regarding high output into my Focusrite:
"Hi
there will be no problem with high gain, all you do is turn it down on the front of the BG No 1.
if your Focusrite has a balanced line level input it will work well
"

This is my Focusrite specs for line level input (don't quite get it)
The maximum input level before the signal will clip for each setting
Low gain: 0dBFS = +16dBu
High gain: 0dBFS = -10dBV (~-6dBu)


As sound on sound review refers, expected output level of BG1 is up to 18db and over 21db. I think my Focusrite is in trouble here!!
What is an "Expected" level?....
Look at the Min Gain on the DAV for example; with Pad it Should handle +29dB at clipping...
Or; +29dB In gives +29dB Out...
Another reason I would use a good compressor Before Recorder input, Prevents clipping...
Old 15th October 2013
  #19
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Chris over at Redco Audio offered an affordable solution.

Old 15th October 2013
  #20
Gear Head
 

I would like to keep things as simple as possible - just a decent preamp into my Focusrite and get most out of this setup/microphones. For anything else I will go to professional studio - I just can't compete with that on home-studio level.

So far:
1 & 2 NEVE and API requier lunchbox, so that's an extra expense
3. BG1 as much praised and has two channel, may have too much output for my semi-recorder (Focusrite).

I got great advice from "tribedescribe" on Neve clone, GAP PRE 73 DLX
It has output and pad switches option. This way I can drive input stage to desirable effect to color my sound.
APi 512 clone (BLA b12a) seems to be also an option.

I have an great offer on used SPL GAIN STATION, so maybe pool a trigger on that one?
Old 15th October 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

The DAV does NOT have ANY transformers, so driving it harder will simply sound BAD...Clipping...
Old 15th October 2013
  #22
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Importing a DAV BG-1 direct from England, a few weeks later I received a bill from Fed Ex for $70.00 import duty.

The day before I ordered my one DAV BG-1, David Gilmour ordered 48 of them for his "On An Island" tour

Mick treated me with the same respect and bent over backwards to please me.

I have the original 2 channel brick.
Old 15th October 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 

See if you can get the K2 modded, either with a new tube, capacitor replacement, or the full Mike Joly treatment.

Save money for other microphones for new flavors. High end dynamics like RE20s, SM7s (which can be found used for ~$300) are great for male vocals and guitar amps. Ribbons like Cascades' series are terrific for guitar amps and de-emphasize the high end of stuff. Then some FET condensers like Mojave's MA201 or Lauten's Clarion could give you a different take on your tube sound, or you could try a small condenser route which is often paired with acoustic guitars.

If your room isn't treated thoroughly or has a ceiling mounted bass trap at the mirror point, fix that first.

Preamps usually make the smallest difference; try listening to shootout tests here. Often the differences are subtle, even amongst preamps with a 10x price difference.
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