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  • #61
    Now it was time to see if I got the same kind of “character” out of direct guitar that I got out of microphones. I compared the ADL 600 with a PreSonus FireBox as the “control,” and also with the Radial JDV MK3 Class-A direct box. For those not familiar with the JDV, it’s the polar opposite of the ADL 600: All solid-state, and transformerless. It’s also been my “go-to” direct box since falling in love with it while reviewing it for EQ magazine.

    The first thing I noticed was a very subtle “dulling” of the sound with the ADL 600 compared to both the JDV and surprisingly, the FireBox as well. I checked the specs; the JDV has a 3.9M input impedance, and the FireBox, a 1M input impedance. These are considerably more than the ADL 600’s 100k input impedance, which while acceptable for electric guitar, will produce a subtle shaving off of high frequencies under some circumstances. The dulling effect was slightly more apparent with single coil pickups than humbucker, and with humbuckers, the pickup switching made a difference as well. The effect was much more noticeable with a single treble pickup, and barely noticeable with the bass and treble pickups in parallel.

    Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the JDV has a “drag” control that lets you dial the input impedance down to 10k ohms – conceptually similar to the ADL 600’s choice of input impedances for matching mics. Some guitarists prefer the “chunkier” sound of a lower input impedance; personally, I like the “crispier” sound of high input impedances. I think it would have been a great addition for the ADL 600 to have a variable impedance option for the instrument input, which would have also been consistent with having that feature for mics. Tubes are inherently high-impedance devices, and the guitar goes into the circuit after the input transformer, so I don’t see any theoretical reason why this wouldn’t be possible.
    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #62
      If you’re expecting an overdrive device for guitar, the ADL 600 isn’t really set up for that – remember, it has truly massive dynamic range thanks to the high plate voltages, and getting it to overload is not easy. Sure, you can dial in high amounts of gain; but the same high voltage that gives such an open sound with vocals stubbornly refuses to play fuzz tone with guitar. Also note that the output trim control doesn’t really pad things down more than 10dB, so if you do use huge amounts of gain, you’ll probably overload whatever’s after the ADL 600.

      However – and this is intriguing – I did notice a definite “opening up” of the sound at higher gain settings, especially with single note leads; the guitar just seemed to “speak” better. When something like that happens, my first thought is "objective testing required." Thinking that perhaps I was being misled by the shifting volume levels, I recorded a couple tracks into Sonar, one with a low amount of gain, and the other with a high amount. I then normalized their peaks, yet there was still a qualitative difference between the two.

      Thinking that maybe I’d just recorded a “rogue” peak during the low gain section that didn't let it normalize up to a higher level, I looked for the highest peak, cut that part, then renormalized. There was still an obvious difference. Click on the attachment to see the two waveforms.

      You can see that the high gain version has consistently higher peaks and a higher average level. Initially, this seems contradictory: Wouldn’t higher peaks, upon normalization, lead to a lower average level?

      I think what’s happening is this: At high gains, the transients are being either soft-clipped by the tubes, “swamped” by the output transformer, or both. Thus, there’s a bit of limiting/compression going on, which accounts for the higher average level. So I wasn’t imagining things: Turning up the gain changed the sound quality, even when matching peaks of the low and high gain sounds, and even though there was no audible distortion.

      I guess the bottom line is that when you’re playing guitar through the ADL 600, pump up the gain! Sure, you may need to pad the output a little bit, or turn down the input of subsequent stages, but you’ll definitely get a hotter, more present sound.
      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #63
        Until I found out the virtues of turning the gain way up, I wasn’t thrilled with the ADL 600’s performance with guitar. It was satisfactory, but nothing mind-blowing. But turning up the gain provides that elusive “character” that seems to be a hallmark of this unit. The difference still isn’t something that hits you over the head, but it’s not subtle either – you can even see it, unmistakably, in the previous post’s screen shot.

        It’s also worth noting that the HP filter is very effective with guitar. Setting it to 120Hz can really “tighten up” the sound, and counter-balance the lack of a “crispy” high end. I’d go so far as to say that unless you have a compelling reason not to use the HP switch, check it out with guitar – I bet you’ll find a setting that works better for you than having the HP filter switched out.

        Something else I noticed, although this is subtle, is a slightly “rounder” midrange than with the Radial JDV (or the FireBox). I chalk this up to having an inductor in the signal path, which adds a little character (something phasey, maybe?) to the lower midrange.

        Incidentally, the ADL 600 is ideal with electric bass. Bass just seems to have a nice, full character through this box. Again, it’s nothing that sounds light years ahead of comparable units; but if you’re in the market for a solid bass and guitar DI as well as a mic pre, the ADL 600 will give you all three, with an emphasis on the mic pre aspects.

        Well, I guess I’ve had enough fun for one night . Tomorrow I’ll start investigating what happens when you put synths through it.
        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #64
          Hi Craig,

          This AnthonyDeMaria from ADL. Just wanted to thank you for your time and effort reviewing the new ADL/Presonus pre-amp 600. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Thanks, once again.

          Sincerely,

          Anthony

          Comment


          • #65
            Well Anthony, welcome to the thread! You did good with the ADL 600.

            Actually, the only question I have is why you didn't use combi XLR/phone connectors for the line ins and outs. Seems to me a lot of people are using TRS phone jacks, and using combi jacks would make their lives easier.

            I'm curious what involvement you've had other than the design. For example, do you do any overseeing of the manufacturing, or is that entirely up to PreSonus? The thing has great build quality...I assume you had some input into that. Inquiring minds want to know!

            Thanks again for stopping by.
            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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            • #66
              Originally posted by anthonyadl
              Hi Craig,

              This AnthonyDeMaria from ADL. Just wanted to thank you for your time and effort reviewing the new ADL/Presonus pre-amp 600. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Thanks, once again.

              Sincerely,

              Anthony


              Hi Anthony, great to have you here! Craig had popped the lid and listed the tubes you've decided to use. Great pics man, and first time I'd seen anyone mention the type of tubes in this baby.

              Can you expand on why those selections and possible substitutions (type & brand) that can add different color or easier to saturate/orverdrive. For example, guys were raving about Mullards in various other pres. The ability to add diferent colors is another plus for tube pres.
              Thanx,
              Torry

              Comment


              • #67
                Hi Craig, Rick and Anthony.

                I've been a longtime Presonus user and actually have a Studio Biography on the Presonus Users page "Brin Addison at Hype Schwartz Productions"

                I've been using the ADL for a few weeks now and would like to give you my input.

                So far I've testid it on Kick, Snare, Overheads, Bass , Electric Gtr and Vocals. My findings are as follows:
                - Kick: sounds great using an Audix D6 thru the ADL 600. I find very little need for compression because the ADL is doing something to the sound that makes it sound "somewhat compressed" in a good way. It just sits in the mix nicely and has great character.

                -Snare: Very much the same as the kick with a beautiful sheen and great presence without being bright. Again very little need for compression. I just don't really want to mess with the good sound if I can help it.

                -Overheads: I'm working on a project right now where I thought I'd test out the ADL on overheads instead of Kick/Snare. I want more of these boxes. It sounds fantastic with my matched pair of BLUE Dragonflies. The imaging is superb and there is no sign of harshness coming from the cymbals. However on Overheads I find the ADL to be very dynamic, more than I'd imagined after the Kick/Snare test. The detail and progressive dynamic range make for an emotional listening experience. I need two of these bad boys.

                -Bass: what can I say... Authority!! Really nice thick sound and extended low end ads a "sense of size" to 5 string basses. It goes down forever with no sign of sweating the energy needed. Tight enough with a sizable pillow for modern subwoofer oriented bass.

                -Electric Guitar: Good character from both Dynamic (SM57) and condenser (BLUE Blueberry) mics. I've always found the Blueberry to really bring out the "truth" of a 4x12 cab and when mixed with a '57 or audix I5 the sound is lively and crisp without being brash. I have noticed how all the good qualities of the highs come into focus but non of the glassy, brittleness is present. This is great for DAW's.

                -Vocals: I'm not sure if it's the vocalist who has improved with training or the ADL 600 but one or the other, maybe both have impressed me. My Dragonfly sound terrific on voice but the NADY TCM 1050 (Chinese tube mic) still demonstrates the "cheap Chinese" characteristics one would expect from a low budget mic. What the ADL proved to me was that the difference between mics is so much more apparent when the Mic Pre has the goods to offer. I think it's part of the detail this box is able to translate. It will reveal the true heritage of the front end you're using, without masking the good and restricting the bad.

                All in all I've very impressed with this preamp and like I said, I need more of these for simultaneous recording.

                On the down side the first one I got must have been damaged in shipping 'cause one channel didn't work. I returned it to Guitar Center and had to take their display model which turned out to have something wrong with Channel #1's instrument input and there is a "vibrating Tube" noise that has crepped into some recordings while tracking bass and monitoring at high levels. This is somewhat annoying and a little embracing after explaining to a client how a $2000 preamp is making a rattling noise on his bass tracks. I found that when monitoring at low levels this noise is not present and is obviously linked to vibrations being transmitted thru the tubes, so I suggest insulating the preamp from it's surroundings. Needless to say it's going back and a new one has been ordered for me. Hopefully this one will only do what it's supposed to and no more.

                I can't wait to send my stereo mix thru the ADL 600. All in all this is a terrific preamp and like everything presonus makes....It looks good!
                www.hypeschwartz.com

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Anderton
                  Well Anthony, welcome to the thread! You did good with the ADL 600.

                  Actually, the only question I have is why you didn't use combi XLR/phone connectors for the line ins and outs. Seems to me a lot of people are using TRS phone jacks, and using combi jacks would make their lives easier.

                  I'm curious what involvement you've had other than the design. For example, do you do any overseeing of the manufacturing, or is that entirely up to PreSonus? The thing has great build quality...I assume you had some input into that. Inquiring minds want to know!

                  Thanks again for stopping by.


                  That's a good question I'm guessing it's aimed at the pro market and they found no reason to mess with prosumer connectors, however a neutrik combo jack/XLR is a great invention and would be well served on the ADL 600. But we'll just have to pop for the high end XLR cable connectors for now or install combos in-house.

                  Great to see some "buzz" on this pre. I've been wondering what to get in the $2000 range and it was hard to make an informed decision without any available info.

                  Thanks!
                  www.hypeschwartz.com

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by dr_chopz


                    Hi Anthony, great to have you here! Craig had popped the lid and listed the tubes you've decided to use. Great pics man, and first time I'd seen anyone mention the type of tubes in this baby.

                    Can you expand on why those selections and possible substitutions (type & brand) that can add different color or easier to saturate/orverdrive. For example, guys were raving about Mullards in various other pres. The ability to add diferent colors is another plus for tube pres.
                    Thanx,
                    Torry


                    Hi Torry, thanks for your question.
                    V-1 (12AT7) Because the overall design has a good deal of gain this tube is actually a low gain tube it makes for a quieter signal beginning into the next set of tubes, 6922 V-2, and V-3.

                    If you would like you could try a 12AX7, but remember everything is a trade-off the 12AX7 has more gain and more noise. A.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Hype


                      That's a good question I'm guessing it's aimed at the pro market and they found no reason to mess with prosumer connectors, however a neutrik combo jack/XLR is a great invention and would be well served on the ADL 600. But we'll just have to pop for the high end XLR cable connectors for now or install combos in-house.

                      Great to see some "buzz" on this pre. I've been wondering what to get in the $2000 range and it was hard to make an informed decision without any available info.

                      Thanks!


                      As for the connectors on the adl 600. In the R-D
                      phase the group of engineers and producers did not comment on the jacks. A.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        <<I find very little need for compression because the ADL is doing something to the sound that makes it sound "somewhat compressed" in a good way.>>

                        Check out the attached picture in the second post, that shows what's happening to your signal. There is indeed some compression-type mojo happening if you turn up the gain enough. Yet I don't see clipping upon magnifying the peaks, so either it's a VERY soft clipping, or perhaps there's some other phenomenon limiting the peaks (transformer, maybe?).

                        Should be interesting to see what it looks like with drums....
                        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                        • #72
                          Sorry for the delay. The session at Maricam had to be rescheduled because we had a snowstorm here in Santa Fe, and I needed to deal with some issues around the house, like covering the firewood and such (note to self: skylights are nice, but make sure they don't leak before the winter season begins).

                          I was also kind of expecting some more comments, complaints, something...I did a little poking around on the web to see what other people are saying about the ADL 600, and it seems pretty much everyone is saying what I'm finding:

                          "Sounds great, built like a tank."

                          The only significant variation I've found is "Arrived with a problem, but PreSonus took care of it pronto. Now that it's working, it sounds great, and it's built like a tank."

                          So there really doesn't seem to be any controversy around this. No one is claiming it sounds wooly, or weird, or whatever. If the ADL 600 was meant to be PreSonus' ticket into high-end audio respectability, it sure seems like it got them there.

                          Anyway, things are settling down here, so I'll finally get a chance to try the ADL 600 with some more signal sources. Well, those are the breaks with a real-time review Thanks for your patience.
                          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                          • #73
                            As I said at the beginning, I’m not a boutique kinda guy, so it’s been interesting to hear (and see) that yes, the ADL 600 does make a difference to the sound. In my latest tests, I found that drums benefit from the “ADL 600 sound” as well.

                            I’ve been trying to make these tests as tough as possible – for a couple grand, you want something that really performs, not just something that does its thing under certain conditions (e.g., when it’s overdriven). For the electronic drum test, I set up an Ensoniq ASR-X Pro because I’ve always liked the “punchiness” of the drum sounds, and I wanted to see if the ADL 600 preserved that. In order to test the ADL 600 solely as a processor, I recorded two files: One with the ASR-X going directly into a PreSonus Firebox, and the other, with the ASR-X going through the ADL 600 before going into the Firebox. By going through the Firebox in each case, any contributions it made to the sound would cancel out.

                            I didn’t want clipping to enter into the equation, so not only did I set the Firebox levels carefully to make sure there wasn’t any clipping, there was no clipping in the ADL 600 either. I wanted to see if the ADL 600 “mojo” could exist with just the sound of the unit itself. I recorded the two different versions in Wavelab, then normalized the peaks (even though the levels appeared to be evenly matched) so there would be a “level playing field.”

                            The attached MP3 file of the ASR-X going through the ADL 600 is unfortunately limited to 160kbps due to file size limitations for attachments, but you’ll still hear a difference compared to the file attached to the next post. The difference is more obvious with full resolution WAV files, but the fact that you can hear the difference even with MP3 is pretty surprising to me. (If you don’t near much of a difference, try listening on headphones).

                            Click on the attachment to hear a short drum part going through the ADL 600 – Firebox chain.
                            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #74
                              The file attached to this post was recorded identically to the previous one, but through the Firebox only. What’s interesting is it sounds just fine, but the one going the ADL 600 has a certain quality that makes the non-ADL version sound more “polite.” Through the ADL 600, the drums have more presence and power, and seem to hit harder. It’s a subtle difference, but not so subtle I had any problem whatsoever differentiating between the two.

                              Click on the attachment to hear a short drum part going through the Firebox only.

                              As was pointed out in a previous post, subtlety may not seem that impressive when listened to in isolation. But as you record more parts with that “extra 10%,” it all ads up to a more satisfying overall sound. The ADL 600 really brought out the best of ASR-X. I didn’t feel the sound was so much “processed;” it’s more like the ASR-X character remained intact, but was just enhanced.

                              So were my ears playing tricks on me? Did something sound better just because I knew it was going through the ADL 600? Check out the next post.
                              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                              • #75
                                A good way to verify what’s happening with your ears is to use your eyes too, so I tiled the two waveforms in Steinberg’s Wavelab for comparison. Click on the attachment to see a visual comparison of the two waveforms.

                                The upper waveform shows an excerpt of the version going through the ADL 600/Firebox, and the lower version, the same drum part going through the Firebox by itself. Again, let me emphasize there was no clipping anywhere to influence the sound.

                                Look at the area outlined in red. Clearly, the ADL 600 has added a subtle compression, raising the average level. Yet the peak hasn’t been “squashed” – it retains its character, and the transient even seems a bit more pronounced than the lower waveform. The peak is higher, extending to the maximum available bandwidth.

                                Now check out the area outlined in yellow. Again, the ADL 600 has raised the average level, but note how the transients once more retain their identity; they aren’t “flattened” at all, which is why you don’t lose the crispness of the drum transients.

                                While the difference between the two waveforms is subtle, as is the difference in sound quality, the waveform pictures make it very clear what’s happening. So all of you who are hearing more “depth” or “presence” or a bigger sound when running tracks through the ADL 600, rest assured it’s not just wish fulfillment to justify spending the bucks: There’s a measurable, repeatable difference.
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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