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why am I not hearing a single difference in my new preamp? Condenser Microphones
Old 22nd February 2014
  #1
Gear Head
 

why am I not hearing a single difference in my new preamp?

The setup is a Shure SM7b into a Daking Mic Pre One through an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8r. Sonically, I can't hear at all a difference running into the Daking vs running straight through the interface. When comparing with a spectrum analyzer they are also the exact same frequency-wise. This is me recording through both preamps at the same time with the same two mics in the same position. Am I doing something wrong? I'm bypassing the M-Audio's preamps by going through the line out of the Daking, so it's only the Daking providing my signal. So.. what could it be? Is it possible the converters are the problem? This is my first time with a dedicated preamp, and I figured maybe it would provide so more "life", but it's the same dull sound that the M-Audio has been giving me for two years now.

For a little more information about the setup, I am recording in a treated room, and I am using studio monitors for reference. Pop filter, vocal shield, etc.

Some advice/ info would be greatly appreciated.

A/B comparions are located at https://www.gearslutz.com/board/9883968-post97.html
Old 22nd February 2014
  #2
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
Well you now know it's time to upgrade the interface. Crappy A to D makes your preamp investment unable to be realized.
It's all the balance. Same with buying fancy headphones and using mediocre D to A.
Old 22nd February 2014
  #3
Can you post two tracks for us to listen to? One with the Daking, and one only through the interface. What happens when you start to add up a bunch of tracks? I would think there would be a noticeable difference once you get 8+ tracks going.
Old 22nd February 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
People on this board love throwing this saying around: "Your final product is only as good as the weakest link in your chain." Sounds like that's the situation here.
Old 22nd February 2014
  #5
Gear Head
 

Bad how can the daking not make a single difference? Its like I may as well not even be going through the Daking. And that's not something I want.
Old 22nd February 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 

People on this board are also fond in believing that if something cost less it must sound bad. Not true, especially with a simple, clean preamp. The Daking has a reputation of being clean. It's not supposed to change the signal. Another point is that if the Daking does produce better high freq clarity you wouldn't expect to hear that if your mic is a dynamic SM7. Try plugging a nice small diaphragm condenser mic into the Daking and record some bright acoustic guitar (with new strings) and compare that to your M-audio. Might be a more noticeable difference.
Old 22nd February 2014
  #7
Gear Head
 

The thing is, I kinda have. Im not saying that just because the m audio fast track is cheap that that is my problem. It's more of the fact that the m audio is a noisy device and really is just overall very dull. So I feel like getting something with a better converter will do the trick.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #8
Record both signals as hot as you can and then see if there is no difference. I would bet the Daking can give you much more clean level than the M Audio. At least in my experience I've noticed that the built in preamps on most less expensive interfaces don't give much level before becoming horrible sounding. This is, to me, what a preamp does. The idea that it changes the sound or "colors" the sound is something altogether different.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #9
Gear Addict
 
WasserSpitzer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommycooke View Post
The setup is a Shure SM7b into a Daking Mic Pre One through an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8r. Sonically, I can't hear at all a difference running into the Daking vs running straight through the interface. When comparing with a spectrum analyzer they are also the exact same frequency-wise. This is me recording through both preamps at the same time with the same two mics in the same position. Am I doing something wrong? I'm bypassing the M-Audio's preamps by going through the line out of the Daking, so it's only the Daking providing my signal. So.. what could it be? Is it possible the converters are the problem? This is my first time with a dedicated preamp, and I figured maybe it would provide so more "life", but it's the same dull sound that the M-Audio has been giving me for two years now.

For a little more information about the setup, I am recording in a treated room, and I am using studio monitors for reference. Pop filter, vocal shield, etc.

Some advice/ info would be greatly appreciated.
You`ve just been mind****ed by all the good reasoning in here .
Money will buy you real sonic upgrades when spent on mics and monitors .
Old 23rd February 2014
  #10
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tommycooke View Post
Sonically, I can't hear at all a difference running into the Daking vs running straight through the interface. When comparing with a spectrum analyzer they are also the exact same frequency-wise. This is me recording through both preamps at the same time with the same two mics in the same position. Am I doing something wrong? I'm bypassing the M-Audio's preamps by going through the line out of the Daking, so it's only the Daking providing my signal. So.. what could it be? Is it possible the converters are the problem? This is my first time with a dedicated preamp, and I figured maybe it would provide so more "life", but it's the same dull sound that the M-Audio has been giving me for two years now.
Voice, through an SM7b? I doubt you'll hear a lot of difference with the Daking. First, that's not a lot of spectrum, and voice isn't a very fast source. Of course, it may be more more noticeable with another voice, but it's not going to be night-and-day. Start tracking drums or acoustic guitars with another mic, and the difference will become apparent.

I had an M-Audio 1814 years ago, and the pre's and conversion were just a nightmare. Dead, lifeless, uninteresting. Supposedly later generations were much better, but I haven't used them. So yeah, the M-Audio is probably not the the device make anything shine.

But more importantly, are you sure the SM7b is the mic for your voice? It excels in removing detail, and in making rougher sources sound smoother. It's never been my favorite vocal mic. Don't get me wrong, it's a good mic, but it might not be good for you.

I'd like to hear what you're listening to, if you don't mind posting some files.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #11
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KRStudio's Avatar
 

Compress both those vocal takes and put it in your mix. Do they both sound the same?
Old 23rd February 2014
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Have a read here...

Pick A*Preamp
Old 23rd February 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 

I'm gonna catch hell for this, but the reason you're not hearing a difference is because there's not much of one.

I'll use the pres on any A&H mixer, an FMR, even the ones built into audio interfaces and it'll sound good.

Yes, I know... I'm deaf, I need more treatment, new monitors, new converters... I've got to spend thousands of dollars to hear a +/- 1% difference.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
And hey, guess what? Pretty much every interface in the $100-$1000 is going to have similar or identical Cirrus Logic AD/DA converter ICs.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
I'm gonna catch hell for this, but the reason you're not hearing a difference is because there's not much of one.
+1

Clean preamps will sound pretty much the same if not driven hard. There is most likely a difference in noise levels, but for regular use you will most likely not notice it that much.

If you want a change in sound then get a preamp with a character to it. It might not sound better, but at least it will sound different.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #16
Lives for gear
 

I got new preamps, and I didn't hear a difference.
I got new converters, and I didn't hear a difference.
I got new cables, and I didn't hear a difference.
And then I heard the same track recorded to tape and then to digital, and I didn't hear THAT much of a difference, except when you slammed the tape.

You can get a bigger difference by moving a mic half an inch or boosting/cutting with an EQ by a decibel than switching out a preamp, converter and so on.

It's a beautiful feeling to realize this, then sell all of your expensive gear and buy the stuff that you really need.

Mics, the room, hardware EQs and a few other select hardware processors have made the biggest difference in the quality of my recordings.

Preamps and converters are the least of my worries.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PassionFlower View Post
If you want a change in sound then get a preamp with a character to it. It might not sound better, but at least it will sound different.
Exactly. There's a 'difference', but it's not BETTER.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #18
Gear Head
 

Ive done a couple of tests such as testing with a drum kit with 2 pencil condensers but really I still didn't hear a difference. They sounded the exact same a b'd. I think it really is true about the weakest link. I think my m audio really is as bad as I always thought it was. I was always unhappy with it but I just dealt with it. I figured the daking would atleast boost the signal but it didnt. It provided more gain, but even then I couldn't go too high because the m audio would clip. I haven't been able to drive the daking at all yet because of that. Unless I can get a solid answer of advice to be able to get a better signal, I really do think its the converters. They just don't provide.
While we're on that subject though, if I get a replacement interface, I want a focusrite scarlett. If anybody has some info with that, than that would definitely also be great. Cause if that's an upgrade from the m audio anyway, then I may as well bite the bullet and puchase the scarlett.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WasserSpitzer View Post
You`ve just been mind****ed by all the good reasoning in here .
Money will buy you real sonic upgrades when spent on mics and monitors .
I dont quite understand what you mean with this.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
It's a beautiful feeling to realize this, then sell all of your expensive gear and buy the stuff that you really need.
Yup. I still value well built quality gear though. But they do not have to cost and arm and a leg.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommycooke View Post
While we're on that subject though, if I get a replacement interface, I want a focusrite scarlett. If anybody has some info with that, than that would definitely also be great. Cause if that's an upgrade from the m audio anyway, then I may as well bite the bullet and puchase the scarlett.
You are complaining about your interface, then want to buy another one that's worth 1/4 the price of the pre you bought and think that it still won't be the weakest link? I have a Scarlett and am happy with it, but at the same time I know that its "line ins" go through the preamp gain stage as well. Not that it bugs me since I believe that the preamp working at essentially 0 gain adds NOTHING to the signal, but you might not.

I think maybe this preamp just isn't doing what you want it to, so consider putting that money towards a different interface that you think would really step you up to the next level and do what you want (ie. has the converters and pres built into it that you want).

Or discover what is the limiting factor if it's not the converts/preamps/etc., and something more fundamental to the recording process.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #21
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
I got new preamps, and I didn't hear a difference.
I got new converters, and I didn't hear a difference.
I got new cables, and I didn't hear a difference.
And then I heard the same track recorded to tape and then to digital, and I didn't hear THAT much of a difference, except when you slammed the tape.

You can get a bigger difference by moving a mic half an inch or boosting/cutting with an EQ by a decibel than switching out a preamp, converter and so on.

It's a beautiful feeling to realize this, then sell all of your expensive gear and buy the stuff that you really need.

Mics, the room, hardware EQs and a few other select hardware processors have made the biggest difference in the quality of my recordings.

Preamps and converters are the least of my worries.
I completely understand what you mean, but really.. how would a better converter not change anything? If my converters are noisy, dull, etc., then why wouldn't a better quality converter atleast Provide a cleaner and more alive... well... conversion? If it isnt converters that needed then thats fine, but what will fix this dullness im hearing? I want a good signal before I start to mix it, not fix the lack of detail by mixing. Also, you talk about an equalizer helping, but for a guy with a budget, what equalizer will actually sound good when added to the chain thats not $1000?
Old 23rd February 2014
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommycooke View Post
I completely understand what you mean, but really.. how would a better converter not change anything? If my converters are noisy, dull, etc., then why wouldn't a better quality converter atleast Provide a cleaner and more alive... well... conversion? If it isnt converters that needed then thats fine, but what will fix this dullness im hearing? I want a good signal before I start to mix it, not fix the lack of detail by mixing. Also, you talk about an equalizer helping, but for a guy with a budget, what equalizer will actually sound good when added to the chain thats not $1000?
It'll change it, just not enough for it to justify the price.

I've honestly never really heard a noisy or dull converter, except for el cheapos from the 80s and 90s. Any standard converter out there today is 'good enough'.

If it's dull, it's probably at the source. We deal with this all the time - that's normal. A good hardware EQ can fix that for sure. Add some air on the master buss like so - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SI9pFZ4YxBE (wait until the end for the direct A/B).

Grab a Speck ASC-T immediately, or a couple of them. Best hardware EQ on the cheap. Actually, start using some EQs on a mixer like a Mackie or Allen & Heath and you'll immediately hear the difference. Native digital EQs usually have a 'whistle' to it when boosting. Hardware EQs do what an EQ is supposed to do and it makes your tracks sound like something they're not, as in natural. It makes it sound like it was actually recorded that way.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
Can you post two tracks for us to listen to? One with the Daking, and one only through the interface. What happens when you start to add up a bunch of tracks? I would think there would be a noticeable difference once you get 8+ tracks going.
Sorry. Don't have anything To be able to record right now.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #24
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Hendyamps's Avatar
 

I remember years ago buying my first real preamp...the UA610. I was using a firepod and an ART MPA preamp that sounded just like the firepod pres. I was never happy with my vocals (first LDC was a Baby Bottle)...err...well...anything for that matter, and decided to just dive in to the nice stuff.
I bought the 610, ran my Baby Bottle through it into my firepod and almost crapped myself. The difference was mind-blowing to say the least, and thus began my obsession/quest for tone which has led to endless hours of research, soldering and testing.
I have since sold the 610 to pay for prototypes but I'll never forget the experience.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #25
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Seems like an odd thread to me. I can hear a difference between the pre's of my ZED14 and a pair of EHX 12AY7 pre's going into a simple M-Audio 1010LT. Can also hear a difference between just going straight into to a 2i2 interface or putting the EHX 12AY7 pre's in the signal chain.

It doesn't make a lick of sense to me why you wouldn't hear a difference. Heck, there's even an audible difference when using the ZED pre's into a 1010LT when I insert an RNLA on the ZED. Odd.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Two things…I have a Daking pre and noticed a marked upgrade over the pres in my MR816, and the pres in the MR816 are very usable in their own right. Also, I wouldn't categorize the Daking as "clean." It's not super colored like some, but very full sounding and "hi fi." I wouldn't jump ship from the Daking just yet. A little added eq will not get you to where a Daking takes you (IMHO.)
Old 23rd February 2014
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
I've honestly never really heard a noisy or dull converter, except for el cheapos from the 80s and 90s. Any standard converter out there today is 'good enough'.
I somewhat agree with this. To me there is a very noticeable difference between low end and mid range converters, usually I hear a more harsh and less detailed high end. It might not be the converters themselves but the electronics surrounding it. Not that it matters.
However, I can't say that they sound very noisy or dull. Cheaper ones usually sound a bit more hyped from my experience.

Between the mid range and high end converters there is much less of a difference though. Not worth the money in my opinion.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #28
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Seems like an odd thread to me. I can hear a difference between the pre's of my ZED14 and a pair of EHX 12AY7 pre's going into a simple M-Audio 1010LT. Can also hear a difference between just going straight into to a 2i2 interface or putting the EHX 12AY7 pre's in the signal chain.

It doesn't make a lick of sense to me why you wouldn't hear a difference. Heck, there's even an audible difference when using the ZED pre's into a 1010LT when I insert an RNLA on the ZED. Odd.
I feel like somehow I'm doing something wrong. It's a stressful thing to not hear a single difference because it makes me feel like im not running things correctly somehow. Really, the daking is just for vocals and di'ing guitar and bass. But no tests have shown any difference. And its crazy that I'm not hearing it. Because there should be.
Old 23rd February 2014
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I use the fast track at work daily and it's not crappy; it's not the best of the best but it doesn't sound dull and lifeless per se . If you put it up against true top end devices then you will surely hear a difference but we're talking convertors now as well as pre and the difference won't be life changing; a bit like buying a BMW after a Toyota, they both get you there.

I certainly wouldn't be thinking about another cheap interface.

I would however think about whether the Daking pre is genuinely by-passing the pre amp circuitry of the fast track, the acoustics I'm working in and the audio I'm recording. The room you work in can colour your audio way more than you might think. A very good set of cans is probably going to be your friend in all this as well but that may well be another argument.

Finally, have you tried recording tracks you like the sound of from CD through the fast Track and then listened to them - are they dull and lifeless?

At the end of the day if you've got all that under control and it's still not floating your boat then get something recognised to be high end and see where you go from there.

Cheers, Ross
Old 23rd February 2014
  #30
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by reddirt View Post
I use the fast track at work daily and it's not crappy; it's not the best of the best but it doesn't sound dull and lifeless per se . If you put it up against true top end devices then you will surely hear a difference but we're talking convertors now as well as pre and the difference won't be life changing; a bit like buying a BMW after a Toyota, they both get you there.

I certainly wouldn't be thinking about another cheap interface.

I would however think about whether the Daking pre is genuinely by-passing the pre amp circuitry of the fast track, the acoustics I'm working in and the audio I'm recording. The room you work in can colour your audio way more than you might think. A very good set of cans is probably going to be your friend in all this as well but that may well be another argument.

Finally, have you tried recording tracks you like the sound of from CD through the fast Track and then listened to them - are they dull and lifeless?

At the end of the day if you've got all that under control and it's still not floating your boat then get something recognised to be high end and see where you go from there.

Cheers, Ross
The room it's recorded in is treated pretty well, and the room im working in isn't treated fully, but is a little bit of treatment. And my monitors are acceptable. Idk though. Maybe I need to work with it more.
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