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 Post subject: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:30 am 
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I am an amateur bedroom demo solo bod who records multiple vocals of myself a la Beach Boys or Beatles (32 vocal tracks isn't uncommon).
I have a decent Mike which I plug directly into an Xite-1's Mike preamp input.
My question is - what am I missing by not spending £3,000 on an external hardware Mike preamp which I can't afford?


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 10:16 am 
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well, if you can't afford it, you lose nothing.
the XITE preamps do stack up very well against really high-end pres, but of course, the very expensive pres generally are superior. it's not a night and day difference, however. it's a subtle one. the XITE mic pres are truly studio quality. they are not embarrassed in the company of their betters.


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:26 pm 
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that, was a great description. I also think the hi-z operation of those preamps is also incredibly sensitive and clear to input signals. Really better than anything else I've used on instruments like guitar or bass.


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:23 pm 
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Thanks chaps - that's reassuring - all the project studios described in mags such as Sound on Sound make a big deal of external HW Mike preamps - but hey - they don't have Xite


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:30 am 
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I've often wondered that myself about those really expensive pre-amps and what they sound like for that amount of money. Problem is unless you get you hands on one or work in a pro studio you might never get a chance to hear them. I've always liked the sound going into/out of the Xite pre-amps so that is reassuring that my ears are not deceiving me. If it is only a subtle difference then there is really no way you could justify spending that much for a home studio setup.


Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:46 am 
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in most homestudio setups the room has more influence on the sound than the preamp
it can be as transparent as could be, room response will blur the result (unless the room is properly treated)
for the same reason you won't hear the tight low mids of a high end pre, as the room adds mud

the type of microphone is also important: a condensor mic is a fairly stable source whatever you connect it too
with dynamic mics (coil/ribbon) this changes dramatically - they react very sensitive to circuit design
the most significant part lacking in 'modern' designs are transformers
from a purely technical perspective you don't need them today (and for cost efficiency they are left out)
but a well designed transformer adds a subtle coloration that's perceived as 'pleasing' in most cases

in the old days transformers were common parts, today they are upgrade options at best
(they don't fit well in modern production lines for the manual work required)
less production means higher cost per part
today a couple of quality input transformers may easily exceed the street price of a complete preamp

that's what makes those classic preamp designs expensive
the difference is subtle indeed, but there's (almost) no way to achieve the same result

I have quite some records made with an old Telefunken V676
time and again I found those more convincing than tracks from my current Audient ID22
(usually I don't remember which preamp was engaged when just playing files from HD)
the ID22 has really good preamps, nothing to complain - yet there is a strange difference
sidenote: I only use dynamic microphones

dunno which opamps are used in the XITE, but I know the price per chip - they are very expensive

cheers, Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:11 am 
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Location: In a hard town by the sea....
There was an interesting article in Sound on Sound some time ago where they blind tested a number of high end mic pre's. Google it and take a look as the result makes very interesting reading. Spend your money on the stuff that 'really' makes the most difference.

As Tom says I imagine your room/booth/treatment and mic/placement is going to have a far greater impact than a preamp. That's not to say that they don't have different personalities, it's just a matter of diminishing returns..

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct12/a ... reamps.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:37 am 
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in the old days, when an "engineer" wore a white lab coat and really did graduate a major university engineering program, there was no such thing as eq. the engineer was expected to know the response of every mic and pre in the studio(and any decent studio would have many choices, sometimes more than 10 pres). the engineer would pick the perfect combination to please the producer. this is far superior to eq, choosing the best mic and pre means no phase anomolies from eq and the best possible sound.

the thing is, it's really expensive to work that way. eq became important because any mic and pre could be made to work almost as well as picking the right pair. this allowed smaller studios to do the same work as wealthy big studios, more or less. as i said, a filter(eq) will add phase anomolies. a bad filter will make a big mess. even a great eq will smear the audio a little bit.

this is why there is no "best" mic and pre. there's no perfect mic and pre, except for a specific source. a good studio will have several choices of mic and pre, and getting the combo right without eq, means the best possible recording in a specific room. if one only has money for one pre, that's fine, of course.

expensive special pres are WONDERFUL. engineers get excited by subtle differences. once you have something of good quality, however, you really do have all that you need, for most purposes.


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:35 am 
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some may know the tracks, but they probably give some impressions in this context

here's a Telefunken preamp in a crammed up room, almost no echo, good old Scope converters
mics are 1st SM57, 2nd Sennheiser MD441
https://soundcloud.com/anshoragg/martini-doodle

for comparison I tried to replicate a similiar take years later in a new room (more echoic response)
Sennheiser MD441, Audient ID22 for preamp and conversion
https://soundcloud.com/anshoragg/new-st ... n-old-wood

this one nails the sound of this particular guitar really well (according to my personal taste)
mic is a Telefunken TD26 (8€ on eBay) captured by a simple USB interface (Alesis ioDock for the iPad)
same location as track one
https://soundcloud.com/anshoragg/misty-mountain-view

#1 is clearly outstanding imh ears in sound, definition, 'sparkle'
#2 suffers from the environment and the mic placement isn't too good (boom)
#3 represents a slim $150 investment, but features an almost perfectly matching microphone

bottom line:
it's an equation with many variables - but the XITE onboard stuff will certainly not set you back
example #1 comes close to what you'd expect from a Neve 1073

cheers, Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:05 pm 
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again, the more you put into the room and the rest of your system, including wiring, etc, the more difference between preamps that you will find.


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:13 pm 
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garyb wrote:
in the old days, when an "engineer" wore a white lab coat and really did graduate a major university engineering program, there was no such thing as eq. the engineer was expected to know the response of every mic and pre in the studio(and any decent studio would have many choices, sometimes more than 10 pres). the engineer would pick the perfect combination to please the producer. this is far superior to eq, choosing the best mic and pre means no phase anomolies from eq and the best possible sound.

the thing is, it's really expensive to work that way. eq became important because any mic and pre could be made to work almost as well as picking the right pair. this allowed smaller studios to do the same work as wealthy big studios, more or less. as i said, a filter(eq) will add phase anomolies. a bad filter will make a big mess. even a great eq will smear the audio a little bit.

this is why there is no "best" mic and pre. there's no perfect mic and pre, except for a specific source. a good studio will have several choices of mic and pre, and getting the combo right without eq, means the best possible recording in a specific room. if one only has money for one pre, that's fine, of course.

expensive special pres are WONDERFUL. engineers get excited by subtle differences. once you have something of good quality, however, you really do have all that you need, for most purposes.

Great post, although I must say I never worked with high end gear like that.
Regarding eq-ing, I'm only mixing and mastering so-so recorded audiotracks from outside, which means sometimes aggressive eq-ing as second best option.
I know about the phase problems and de resonance peak risk with a high q-factor, so I hate it.
A good eq compensates for that somehow, I can hear the difference between for instance the Cubase track eq and the UAD Pultek, especially when cranked up (above 3/4). I have Pulteks all over the place :D

But the fun part is, I like it to make a poor thing shining :D


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:48 pm 
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:)


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:59 am 
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Wow - what a terrific interaction - thanks for all the food for thought!!!!!

My real problem is that in the 70's I was lucky enough to make an album at Abbey Road - (which was so bad it was shelved and never released - hey ho).

But when I heard my voice on vintage Neumans that were actually the same ones used on Sgt Pepper with whatever preamps etc that Studio 2 uses I was blown away and sadly have never come close to achieving the same results in a home studio environment !!!!!


(Funny that - I wonder why?)

:roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Mike preamps
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:40 am 
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nice background story, crae 8)
unfortunately it seems to lift your personal benchmark to almost atronomical highs :D
top studio, top microphones, top preamp/channels

cheers, Tom


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