Single mic pre for HEAVY metal guitars, bass AND vocals?
Just wondering if anyone had good suggestions for a single channel mic pre that can handle very heavy/brutal guitar tones, as well as bass and screaming vocals. I've been looking at pres like Daking Mic Pre One, Grace Design M101 and possibly an API 512C in a single preamp housing. Just wondering which one of these (or any others) would work best in my situation. My main focus is for it to sound good on the guitars, but since it will be my only pre I will have to use it on everything. Lower price preferred and just FYI guitars are direct through an Axe Fx and vocals are through an SM7B. Thanks.
Since you're using an AxeFX direct, I'd honestly not worry so much about the guitars and focus more on the vocals - you'll get way more tonal control through that preamp than you would a mic / line preamp anyways. You'll be able to impart a little bit of character using a particular flavor of preamp after it, but likely nothing that you couldn't reasonably approximate in your DAW with a decent set of ears, some eq and maybe some compression / saturation.
The SM7B needs a lot of gain to get it really going, so aim for something with 65+ dB on tap and I would also recommend a two-stage preamp for flexibility. As a general rule, I tend towards cleaner preamps the heavier and more complex the source material becomes, but putting a transformer or two in line with a direct guitar is never a bad idea. You really can't go wrong with any that you listed, but the Grace probably wouldn't be my first choice. I tend to prefer API style (another vote for the VP28) on heavier guitar and vocals but Neve style for bass... but if I had to choose one to live with for everything, I'd probably go with a John Hardy M1.
After about $300-400 you're really getting into a Mercedes vs BMW sort of argument - they'll all be more than good enough to get the job done. Let us know what you decide... and go with the Daking because Gearslutz.
I found a VP26 online for pretty cheap. Would this do well for my application?
The VP28 is basically a VP26 and a Missing Link stuffed into a single unit, so yes, it would be a good choice for the API style. Tape Op did a good write up a few years back on them that's worth a read.
I have a pair of Vintech x73 Neve clones that rule on metal guitars and vocals. I use a SM7 for vocals as well and I love the Vintech for Anything Metal. I use a Distressor or a 1176 to squish with if needed, the EQ on the x73 is super thick and great for tone shaping. Unfortune that GS users tend to bag on Vintech stuff. It's great Neve clone stuff for the money IMHO.