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preamp difference
Old 3rd December 2013
  #1
Gear Maniac
preamp difference

I have an RME UCX interface and a great river me-1nv preamp. I have just assumed the great river sounds better for all this time and use it for most things. I'm selling off gear at the moment that I don't need to fund an acoustic guitar. I did a A/B test with both preamps and I'm not certain that the great river difference is worth $1000 to me. Maybe my ears aren't trained enough but on most things I just noticed the tone was more round and smoother (bit more fuller in bass aswell) when driving the great pre but it wasn't a huge difference.. I didn't like either preamp better.. they were just different. The RME DI was comparable to the great river and the preamp has more than enough gain for my SM7 aswell.

I would say the overall difference to me was around 5%.
Am I missing something? Will I regret selling the great river?
Old 3rd December 2013
  #2
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anth View Post
I have an RME UCX interface and a great river me-1nv preamp. I have just assumed the great river sounds better for all this time and use it for most things. I'm selling off gear at the moment that I don't need to fund an acoustic guitar. I did a A/B test with both preamps and I'm not certain that the great river difference is worth $1000 to me. Maybe my ears aren't trained enough but on most things I just noticed the tone was more round and smoother (bit more fuller in bass aswell) when driving the great pre but it wasn't a huge difference.. I didn't like either preamp better.. they were just different. The RME DI was comparable to the great river and the preamp has more than enough gain for my SM7 aswell.

I would say the overall difference to me was around 5%.
Am I missing something? Will I regret selling the great river?
The RME DI / Instrument inputs are great.

THAT being said, nicer mics than an SM7 will open up in spades with a preamp like the Great River. Ribbon mics and LDC's especially (LOAD and IMPEDANCE switch both become important functions.)

But to answer your assumption about yourself, I would say that yes your ear is NOT trained enough to really understand what you've bought. How are you monitoring your comparisons between both preamps? What kind of room are you in?

The Great River is in the deep end of the pool wading around some of the heaviest hitters when it comes to great analog pres. The interface pres are going to be thinner sounding, and vanilla by comparison, without being nearly as useful with mics that require more gain like LDC's and Ribbons are won't to do.

How are you using the Great River when you track with it? What are your settings?
Old 3rd December 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
thanks for the response. I usually have the input gain up around 60-75% and output level down low. Unfortunately, I don't have any nicer mics and don't plan on getting anytime soon... rooms aren't treated and don't intend to go down that path... I just want a decent setup for storyboarding song ideas and getting decent sounding acoustic demo's.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #4
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anth View Post
thanks for the response. I usually have the input gain up around 60-75% and output level down low. Unfortunately, I don't have any nicer mics and don't plan on getting anytime soon... rooms aren't treated and don't intend to go down that path... I just want a decent setup for storyboarding song ideas and getting decent sounding acoustic demo's.
You're welcome...try setting the gain on the Great River to about 1 to 2 o'clock position (always think of stepped gain knobs like a clock), then use the output attenuator to fine tune the level. THEN engage the LOAD switch (which should add a bit of nicer top end to the whole thing.)

If you find you really need more gain, throw one more click up to 3 o'clock, and adjust the output accordingly...but I doubt it'll be needed.

Use your monitors to listen for when the sound of your voice starts feel like it's more 3D...outside of the speaker....then mute your monitors when you go to headphones to track a vocal.

Try to match the gain on the RME and track a vocal...but when you play back both cuts set them up so you can solo one at a time against your monitors cranked up loud enough to let you hear proper bass response.

AT THAT POINT...if you don't hear any difference, then yes, you do need a lot by way of training, the differences in preamp tone should be obvious by then as long as you're using a fairly flat set of monitors (And monitors should be set up to be as flat response as possible in a pro environment, but whatever you're using, the MP-1NV should still stand out as the victor at this point.

Also tracks cut with the Great River will take EQ and compression better over time...in a real pro mixing scenario this can make a world of difference.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #5
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Birdland101's Avatar
100 percent, most of the actual listeners feel this way as well.
Thats why as slutz we are jammed so far up our arses we don't know which is up anymore lol
Still saving for that Neve, even tjough Joe soap will hear 5 percent and 2 percent when its on soundcloud lol hahah gawsh
Old 3rd December 2013
  #6
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
100 percent, most of the actual listeners feel this way as well.
Thats why as slutz we are jammed so far up our arses we don't know which is up anymore lol
Still saving for that Neve, even tjough Joe soap will hear 5 percent and 2 percent when its on soundcloud lol hahah gawsh
I really don't agree with this sentiment. But I will also say that consumer affordable equipment isn't always a limitation in every scenario.

Still...when I track with all class-A pres I tend to like how things feel a lot more by the time I get to mixing. I just think people who don't mix for a living have a distorted view at times about ear training. It can take years of dedication to become a trained ear, and even then, some people never develop any talent for it.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #7
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
I know an artist who's had a #1 single, they bought a Great River preamp on my recommendation (I love mine), they also bought an apogee duet. After comparing the Duet built in preamps with the Great River they preferred the preamps in the duet. They sold the Great River.

This is not to say that the duet is "better", its just that some people have different preferences.

Any reasonable preamp will be more than usable for just about any purpose.

I still use my Great River as my go-to preamp.

matt

ps. When it comes to food, vanilla is one of my favorite flavors..
Old 3rd December 2013
  #8
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt thomas View Post
I know an artist who's had a #1 single, they bought a Great River preamp on my recommendation (I love mine), they also bought an apogee duet. After comparing the Duet built in preamps with the Great River they preferred the preamps in the duet. They sold the Great River.

This is not to say that the duet is "better", its just that some people have different preferences.

matt
That's certainly possible. The Duet will have a faster transient response too. For some voices and mics that might be the right combo.

But not being able to monitor the differences accurately can also potentially lead you to make a less musical choice.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #9
Here for the gear
 

I just want a decent setup for storyboarding song ideas and getting decent sounding acoustic demo's.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #10
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Birdland101's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
I really don't agree with this sentiment. But I will also say that consumer affordable equipment isn't always a limitation in every scenario.

Still...when I track with all class-A pres I tend to like how things feel a lot more by the time I get to mixing. I just think people who don't mix for a living have a distorted view at times about ear training. It can take years of dedication to become a trained ear, and even then, some people never develop any talent for it.
The more harmonic content the easier I find mixing becomes.
Its about feel not just ear I think, being able to feel when its right, u see Pensado talks alot about emotional response, sometimes technically "bad " mixes sounds better then technically perfect mixes, just because they elicit more emotion. How do you "not" develop a talent for a trained ear? Are you saying you train your ear then are not talented to mix? sorry, you confused me there... most of it remains subjective.. trained ear or not.. price workmanship longevity and quality now these determine a lot...
I bet aloy of "working" mixers will battle with knowing a GR and a GAP.

Last edited by Birdland101; 3rd December 2013 at 01:26 PM.. Reason: .
Old 3rd December 2013
  #11
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdland101 View Post
The more harmonic content the easier I find mixing becomes.
Its about feel not just ear I think, being able to feel when its right, u see Pensado talks alot about emotional response, sometimes technically "bad " mixes sounds better then technically perfect mixes, just because they elicit more emotion. How do you develop a talent for a trained ear? Are you saying you train your ear then are not talented to mix? sorry, you confused me there... most of it remains subjective.. trained ear or not.. price workmanship longevity and quality now these determine a lot...
I bet aloy of "working" mixers will battle with knowing a GR and a GAP.
I agree about harmonic content in a source being a factor....but I have three points to add:
  • First off I was trained rigorously to do by my mentor (Who has mixed so many classic records...that I honestly owe a lot of my modest career to being trained by him), to TUNE MONITORS FOR FLAT RESPONSE. Learning how to tune a set of monitors to a room is more important than any other step I can name.
  • The second thing was to always have at least three sets of monitors for reference to A/B/Y during the course of a mix.
  • And the third thing was to really understand gain-staging at every step.

These all have nothing to do with personal tastes. Tastes are usually formulated through experience, causing us to favor familiar sounds at times even over better sounds. We love to have easy to use touch-stones in an otherwise unfriendly and new environment when we're recording in spaces we're not used to for the first time. All that being said though when I reach for a Class-A or A/B design with transformers in the equations, I am getting more by way of harmonic content in what I capture than in a transformerless interface preamp. Forget if I favor the flavor of that pre in terms of sound. There's just more information gathered via recording...more by way of THD (Total Harmonic Distortions) to help things cut through without as much processing. Etc.

From there I'll go with sounds I favor first...but not everything is going to grab you the first time around if you don't understand what to listen for and you're not in an environment with tuned monitors you understand.

For example: When I put something recorded by a GAP pre up against a vintage Neve 1272...the GAP does not win that battle unfortunately...but with flat monitors, and my own shootouts over the years I did eventually find the Seventh Circle Audio N72...which is in fact similar enough for me to use in place of the real thing. The Great River stuff has always been it's own thing in terms of tone, but I can always pick out which tracks were cut with one, with my eyes closed, if I'm listening back on tuned monitors that work with the space. I happen to love the Great River's sound, but I also know from years of use that like vintage Neves it's not going to have the sharpest transient response. *Usually transient response on a source is the first criteria I delve into when I select a preamp. And a lot of the time I prefer things to smooth out a bit in a rounded way...but on other sources, you just need that "snap."

As much as people want to think this gig is purely subjective, it's called "engineering" for a reason.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #12
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anth View Post
I just want a decent setup for storyboarding song ideas and getting decent sounding acoustic demo's.
Then feel good about choosing good quality gear over great quality gear. The Great River is a better preamp; I don't think that is in question. But do you have other gear that allows you to either recognize the differences or take advantage of the differences? Since you don't need that level of refinement for what you want to accomplish, it sounds like a logical choice to me.

Plus, there is the whole question of divided attention. If you are trying to scratch out song ideas, you want to keep engineering choices to a minimum during tracking. The Great River gives you a lot more tracking decisions to make than a vanilla preamp does, and if your other gear (or having relatively untrained ears) leaves you without a way to notice how all the buttons and knobs affect the sound, you might as well streamline the process and not mess with those decisions.

If your ears, your other gear, and your need for higher quality ever ramp up, you can always buy a used Great River (or other fine preamp) later. For now, it sounds like you are making a reasonable choice.
Old 3rd December 2013
  #13
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Birdland101's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by herecomesyourman View Post
As much as people want to think this gig is purely subjective, it's called "engineering" for a reason.
Yeah we actually discussed the "engineering" thing here on GS the other day.. at length and I was defs a proponent that the term is used way too lightly especially in the modern context, it is defs neither here nor there however.. as any choice in preamps due to sound aesthetics above a certain level is a subjective matter... and the actual engineering of that product makes it expensive, parts design etc.. whether it is worth it is also subjective so I do agree with the poster.

Last edited by Birdland101; 3rd December 2013 at 01:54 PM.. Reason: .
Old 24th December 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
not sure what I was on before but upon further testing, the great river absolutely destroys the rme preamps.
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