Jump to content

If you had $1100 to spend on a nice preamp or A/D Converter what would you choose?


Recommended Posts

  • Members

My gear consists of the MBOX 2, Protools LE 7.4, Melodyne, Rode NTK, Avalon U5, Gibson Les Paul, Paul Reed Smith Custom 22, Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier, Oktava MK319 modded, and plenty of plugins ran on a fast PC.

 

Since I have been using the preamps from the MBOX2 and no a/d converter, I have been researching different preamps and preamp+ /a/d converters and have narrowed my choices to an Apogee Trak 2 Stereo Pre and A/D, the Great River ME-1NV, and the John Hardy M1 single channel pre. I guess I am not sure how important using an A/D converter is if you are using a great preamp like the Great River. I want to improve the sound of everything that goes through the MBOX. I hate the pres in it and it sounds plastic to me, not much of a stereo field. The Great River is just over $1000 and I can get an Apogee Trak 2 for $1100 used. What would you choose if you had the gear I have? I really want the vocals to stand out for once, that is most important to me. ANy insight?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 102
  • Created
  • Last Reply
  • Members

I guess it depends on how good the MBox is. Personally, I think people over-obssess about converters, when they have less effect than a lot of other things that people haven't yet dealt with. You'd probably get a lot more benefits by getting the Great River now and waiting until later to get better converters. Not because the GR is enormously superior necessarily compared to what you have now in terms of fidelity, but just because it has a lot of mojo. Probably anyone would be able to hear that difference, why almost no one would notice whether you replaced the converters or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Get both!

 

I'd push it a little and get an API A2D. That's what I did. The pres are out of this world, and while I'm no converter connoisseur, I can tell you the A/D sounds awesome. I love mine to death. I got it for around $1600 but I know that was pretty cheap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

It might help if you could rent the pre you are looking into for a weekend, and run it though your current converters, recording sounds in your recording space. Using your own ears might give you better information than you could get from a discussion board. Of course, you could post clips here to see if anyone could tell $1000 worth of difference in your recordings with the mbox pre vs. the other pre. That might also give you some valuable information.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

I guess I am not sure how important using an A/D converter is if you are using a great preamp like the Great River.

 

 

I had good quality mic preamps, using a Peavey VMP-2 and the FMR RNP, among other things. But they were going through a Digi001. When I upgraded my converters from the stock Digi001 converters to Apogees, the difference was startling. It was not subtle. It was clearer. Much clearer. It had more depth, physicality, clarity, and tighter bottom end. And that was just from one track. When I did a transfer of drums and bass (eight tracks) from analog tape, the same transfer I had done with the Digi001 converters earlier, it was an even more monstrous difference.

 

You have to have every single link of your signal chain strong. I know that Ethan's been telling about how some cheaper converters are just about as good as high quality converters, comparing Soundblasters to Apogees. I don't know about any of that, but I can tell you that the difference between Digi001 and Apogee converters are not even close. This isn't fetishism. This is something that you can instantly tell, and that EVERY SINGLE PERSON who recorded in my studio, regardless of whether I told them I was now using Apogees or not, noticed immediately.

 

Using a great mic preamp, like the ones that you are considering, with a {censored}ty converter is like using a Neumann mic with a Behringer mic preamp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

If you were on a Mac I'd tell you to go with an Apogee Ensemble. While it's not quite up to par with say buying Apogee's rosettas/pres etc., it's a phenominal all-in-one pro box that does a wonderful job... from surround mixes to tracking.

 

I can't wait to post some of my demos, but oddly enough, I had to use a Rode NTK to mic a guitar cab... (and I noticed you were using that). The SM57 I had crapped out (and I was gona distance mic the cab with a condenser), so I screwed with a condensor at multi-positions, and ended up semi close micing it... the tracks came out wonderful. The point being... the apogee pres in the ensemble (at least) are outstanding when combined with the NTK. I could only imagine the super high end stuff.

 

Have fun!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I have to argue against the compromise thing. I've just gotten sick of spending 5 times what it would have cost to get the good stuff, by getting there in increments. If you buy two moderately good pieces, you'll later want to upgrade them both. I say, get the good preamp. The converters aren't going to kill you. No one is going to care in the slightest that you don't have top notch coverters if you are writing good music. The pre-amp will get you great tones to help you do that. The converters are down the list below instruments, mics, pre-amps, room and monitors in terms of influence on the quality of the content. All those others things are first order differences.

 

Now, I'd probably get some better converters before I bought my third great pre-amp I'm sure. At that point, you are getting the equation overly unbalanced. But not before my first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I was just about to post an identical thread as I am in the same boat. I have been debating the merits of selling my Presonus Firepod and upgrading to another interface or converter versus investing in a few high end channels of preamp.

 

I will be the first to admit that I am by no means well informed on the nuances and differences of interfaces and converters. Does anyone have a link that explains these in detail?

 

The preamp(s) would definitely be more fun to purchase but if I would be better off with buying a new interface/converter I would definitely go with that first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

If you only need one to four simultaneous A/D inputs, then you can get something like an RME or Lynx card for a reasonable price, and then put the rest into some good pre-amps. Later down the line you can upgrade to some fancy outboard converters if you feel the need, but there's no way that either of those cards is going to prevent you from creating hit songs in the meantime.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I would agree with Dean about his "compromise" post. I would either pony up the money for a really good converter and a really good mic preamp at once. the FMR RNP won't break the bank, and you can buy a high quality converter. I have a Neve Portico and a Peavey VMP-2, and I think the RNP holds its own against both of them (not that it sounds the same, but I feel that they are largely comparable in terms of quality).

 

If you don't have enough money, then I would get a killer mic preamp first, and immediately start saving for a great converter.

 

Strange: Isn't the Presonus Firepod supposed to be quite good for the money? I mean, those probably aren't 'boutique' quality (whatever that means), but they're supposed to be really good for the money, aren't they?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Strange:
Isn't the Presonus Firepod supposed to be quite good for the money? I mean, those probably aren't 'boutique' quality (whatever that means), but they're supposed to be really good for the money, aren't they?

 

 

It's okay...not great though. The conversion is actually the weak point, I think. Upgrading to my SSL converters was like walking into a well-lit room. HUGE improvement. I have some great preamps, which certainly helped when using the Firepods, but I was never satisfied with the end product.

 

+1 on the "no compromise" idea though. I like Lee Knight's idea of pushing the budget for an API box. I've heard great things about it.

 

Frank

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

It's okay...not great though. The conversion is actually the weak point, I think. Upgrading to my SSL converters was like walking into a well-lit room. HUGE improvement. I have some great preamps, which certainly helped when using the Firepods, but I was never satisfied with the end product.

 

I have yet to buy a killer pre, and the Firepod's pres are decent (for the money) but, like Weasel, there always seems to be something lacking in my finished products...especially my guitar tone. Honestly, I will continue to develop my skills and my ear further which could also be part of the issue. I am sure a quality mic pre will help (how could it not) so I will most likely buy one of those first and go from there. The MP-2NV or a Portico have been calling to me in my dreams. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I made a comment in the other thread that you started about those mic preamps, but I feel that you can't go wrong with either. And yes, mic preamps make such a monstrous difference in the sound. I've never claimed to be a Golden Ear, but if you could sit down in my studio and hear the difference between a Mackie and Portico preamp, you'd definitely be impressed with the latter. Don't get me wrong, I think that the Mackies are perfectly capable, serviceable mic preamps, and good value for the money. But there's a musicality and physicality to the tone you get - and a "stackability" - in a really high quality mic preamp that you just don't get from cheaper mic preamps. I own a Portico and love it. I also have a Peavey VMP-2, FMR RNPs, and a Mackie VLZ Pro mixer which I use for its preamps if I run out (usually I use this for scratch tracks when tracking bands).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

It's okay...not great though. The conversion is actually the weak point, I think. Upgrading to my SSL converters was like walking into a well-lit room. HUGE improvement. I have some great preamps, which certainly helped when using the Firepods, but I was never satisfied with the end product.


+1 on the "no compromise" idea though. I like Lee Knight's idea of pushing the budget for an API box. I've heard great things about it.


Frank

 

 

 

Got it, thanks Frank. It's hard to figure out what reviews mean when they say that something is good for the money. When you have a box that costs $600 and it has eight preamps and eight converters, it's hard to figure out what they mean exactly when they think it's a really great value.

 

I know nothing about the API box, but it's gotten good reviews, and I doubt that they make junk at all. API obviously has an impressive, legendary lineage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

...I think that the Mackies are perfectly capable, serviceable mic preamps, and good value for the money. But there's a musicality and physicality to the tone you get - and a "stackability" - in a really high quality mic preamp that you just don't get from cheaper mic preamps.

 

 

I think the 'stackability' and 'musicality' feature is what I am after. Using the Presonus pres, which are much like the Mackie in that they are capable, tend to lose something when layered with a few tracks. It gets congested quickly. Again, my micing and mixing skills can definitely use improvement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

A great mic preamp makes it easier to mix. That can be said of any quality component in the signal chain (mic > preamp > converter).

 

For years, I only used Mackie...because that's all I could afford. And I can make a really good sounding record only using Mackie mic preamps. But I have to work a LOT harder at it. Still, though, I value that experience and the Mackie stuff because I feel it's good stuff for the money, and it taught me a lot about mic placement and mixing.

 

After switching to a DAW, I can tell you that one of the greatest things I instantly started using in a mix was the high-pass filter. Never had one before when I mixed analog on my cheap-ass little board, and always wished I had one. But high-pass and shelving filters are my friend when mixing. Get rid of (or lower) all that gunk that's not needed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Thanks for the advice everyone. I found away to squeeze some more cash and I'm waiting for it to be shipped. I didn't want to compromise cause I plan on sending my songs to tons of media outlets. i can wait to have both a bomb pre and converter. And it's stereo!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Thanks for the advice everyone. I found away to squeeze some more cash and I'm waiting for it to be shipped. I didn't want to compromise cause I plan on sending my songs to tons of media outlets. i can wait to have both a bomb pre and converter. And it's stereo!

 

 

That's gonna be great, I'm sure. Lettuce know how you like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.




×
×
  • Create New...