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Author Topic: Mic pres  (Read 9762 times)

intervalkid

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Mic pres
« on: October 22, 2006, 02:33:43 am »

Hi, I am preparing for my first big project as a producer/engineer.  I am recording an album for a guy in Chicago who is super talented and has an amzing one of a kind voice.
I have been upgrading my studio components over the last few months so I can get him tracks that will end up sounding as good as a major label act (Godwilling) production wise.

I have so far a 3.2 Ghz 2GB RAM 250GB HD HT P4
A MOTU 1224 upgraded by Black Lion (pending)
A SmPro upgraded by Black Lion (pending)
a Shure KSM44, CAD E-100, SM57's and 58's
Valley international 400 mic channel
Valley People Dynamite compressor
2 Ted Fletcher Joe Meek MQ3's
Aphex 107 dual mic pre
Aphex Dominator II multi band compressor
ART Pro Channel

Now these items should handle the instruments okay.
I really want to capture his voice superbly but haven't much money to spend.
I'm looking at a few single channel preamps such as
the Groove Tubes Brick
the True Systems P-Solo
Grace 101
all around the $500 mark.  Do any of you have any experience with these preamps?
I'm probably going to use the KSM44 for vocals (ya never know though).
The vocalist has a natural high tenor.  Any suggestions or input on the aformentioned preamps?


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Teddy G.

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2006, 09:28:29 am »

I wrote the rest then added this next paragraph to the beginning. May as well answer the question?

The Grace Designs is the most likely to be found in a major label studio, of the choices you offer. Does that mean much? Well, it's been out the longest.....? And, BTW, that "ART" thing? Ahhhhh? Hide that in the closet when you're telling your clients about your "major label sound", ey? May be "fine", but, hide it. Let's move on.  


"500 each" sounds like such ALOT of money, doesn't it?!?! It's one of those "break points"... $1000, is another... Alot of money...... It is, among other things, the "break points" that seem to seperate those of us who "fool around", from those of who try to "make a living" to those of us who make enough that they no longer worry about "break points", as equipment cost is such a small part of their budget/life... Unfortunately we ALL want to "sound big time"(Like "major label") without spending the coins - mainly when we don't have it... Sooner or later... if we really DO want to be "big time" we've just got to...... start.

I suggest getting that start - here - now - with your mic pre's(As good a place as any, better than most.). Consider getting even "just one" mic pre of superb/unquestioned quality -- the kind of pre you just don't have to ask anyone "which of these 3???".

When you get to something like these(Just an example):

http://www.mercenary.com/johharmicpre.html

you are "there". Of course there are others - The Millenia Media solid state pre's are some I can personally recommend, for instance - I've used them with everything from Senn 421's to the most expensive Neuman's made today and yesterday - this "grade" of pre just doesn't get in the way(Doesn't make the 421 sound any better, but, that's what we're looking for, ey?). There may be better pre's, at times, for special occasions, but, that's another topic. Any major label would be proud to offer these in their studios, for use on any project, for any client(And do!).

Now, today, 2006, your "break point" is $1000 to $1500 per channel -- but, it is THIS break point(Let's call it $1,500 and be "safe".), at or above which there is almost nothing left TO argue about(Cherry wood or Walnut finish???) - and that's a great "point"! At this level you no longer have to worry about your gear! Now you can begin to seriously worry about what you're recording. Yes, a very good point.

Another nice thing. Once you get above the "final break point" there are less questions -- there just plain aren't as many to choose from! Also nice... easier on the head.

Still, to "break" from pre's, for just a moment, I'd rather START with this "list", in this order:

The "Room" - the recording space. The recording and mixing space(s) will, pretty much, determine "the sound". Without starting here not only may you never get "the sound", you are quite likely to never be able to hear what you ARE getting, no matter the gear. Start with the room - put ALL your money/effort/study/questions into it - then ANY gear you put in it will give you it's best - you'll KNOW "it's sound" - and THE BEST gear will have an opportunity to get you that "major label sound" - once you learn how to use it! It will be so much easier to learn when you are not hopelesly constricted by a poor environment.

Next on the list - Software(Possibly sad, but, it is 2006.): The software you're going to use determines everything! From which computer to which "everything" to follow.

Interface/soundcard: Having the largest/most colorful/most frequent ads in the magazines should not be the "determining factor". We all see the big companies(Often the conglomerates who just bought everything they could and now are just trying to make their investments pay-off at any cost, usually "our" cost...) who dominate the magazines, don't we? We all have "stuff" from them, some of it good... However, it would serve you well to "dig in", look around, see what's REALLY being used by those "major label" types... You've got to know and go after whatever "it" is. Happily, one need not go far above the "break point", for now, as all of that stuff "up there" is "hand made" just for those who have no idea what else to spend their money on - even they can't really hear the diference, but they don't care... And that's a good thing, too.

The "pre's" for mic/instrument. Considering that computers and software and sound cards darned well better not have "a sound", the pre's should be the first point to "listen for". Yes, pre's can have "a sound", but this is for later. First up, we want pre's that add or subtract as little as possible - the basic, "perfect" tool(Used to be called "straight wire audio", which meant you couldn't tell if it was in or out, it just raised or lowered the volume, if anything.), which we can build around. Unquestioned quality, handles any mic very well indeed, with as few "variables" as possible(Yes, I realize this, pretty much, leaves out ANY "tube" gear. Holler if you must, but we ALL know this - tube gear, today, is

AN ASIDE---With rare, all-high-priced, exceptions! My favorite mic in the world is a tube mic, but "the tube" is only part of it's wonderful design and construction AND it is priced at DOUBLE the "break point" dicussed here and I DON'T NEED IT to do "major label work"(Good idea to dump this "major label sound" crap, as much major label stuff sucks. Let's call it "pro gear") I'D WANT IT! But, that's another topic---

indeed a "specialty item" with "a sound" - may be great! But... cannot be part of our initial "standards", not today.). Your "rocks" your "standards" will never need upgraded to anything "better". They will allow you to compare/contrast any other piece of gear - even(Especially!) if the other piece of gear is some "exotic" piece - even another pre - with "a sound" -- how you gonna' know if you have no "base"?

Speakers or mics next??? Probably speakers. Yeah, speakers(Gotta be one or the other, I choose speakers! Da##it!). Speakers are "arguable" points, themselves. Speakers all have "a sound". There are no "flat" speakers, no speakers that don't add or subtract something. Best thing(Maybe the only thing?) we can do is to get past that "break point", LEARN THEM and forget them. Strangely(?), get above our first breakpoint of, say $1,500 per channel(A PIECE) and we're probably good to go. Comparing 1500 PER PAIR speakers(Or below) is like comparing $500  or $50 pre's - hopeless. Some good parts, some bad parts, none with all good parts, none reach the "break point" of unquestioned quality where "a sound" or "features" or the veneer on the cabinets, determine their "differences", none of which are important in getting a "good - pro - recording".    

MIcs. Well, now that "we're here"(Bathrooms around to the left), we no longer have to worry about mics. Sometimes you'll want to use a capsule from a 1950's telephone handset that you found at a yardsale for a quarter, sometimes a KHE Brauner, which you picked up for 10 grand(Probably MORE, now that they are no longer being produced.). But, NOW, it will always be, simply, "the sound", no head scratching wondering if it "really sounds that way, or it's just my system", never "the gear" or at least never a question of "which one of these things is the right one for me to get that major label sound"? IT'LL ALL DO THAT!!!!!! If you have it in you.

TG
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intervalkid

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2006, 03:37:48 pm »

I agree most major label music sucks.  That's my whole purpose in wanting to record qaulity artist with professional sound.  Hopefully eventually to start a completely independant label (as independant as possible anyway.)
Now I understand that 1500-2000 bucks is the point of truly pro channels, (and yes the ART is not very good, its just the first thing I got and I haven't reason to get rid of it yet) but in the short time I have until this recording project I cannot afford the UA LA610 I am going to get some time next year.  Say what you want about them being colored etc. I love the silky sound they produce.
I am working from a very tight budget as of now and cannot afford 2000 pre's at the moment.  The Grace, as you said, may be my choice when I make the purchase, but I might just go for the extra $250 to get the UA solo 610, if it falls within my means.  I would rather not do this as I would end up selling it after purchasing the LA610, but it would probably be worth it.

As far as software I have Sonar 4 (I'll probably upgrade to 6 after tracking for mixing), Waves Diamond bundle, Kontact 2, and Reason (which I probably won't use).

Yes, eventually, after I get on as a Fire Fighter (GodWilling) I will get Apogee Rosetta 16x converters, Manley, Vintech, UA, Massenburg, etc. channels, maybe a Midas board, Neumann, Manley, Gefell, Sony mic's etc., A slew of good plug ins (though I'd rather use outboard as much as possible), build a beautiful hardwood floor live room, get a bunch of gobo's, and have at it! But right now I'm dong what I can delivering pizza!  
The recordings I've made so far in 16 bit on a Compaq Athlon 1.2 GHZ, 512MB RAM laptop, using only Cool Edit 2, an M-Audio USB Omnistudio interface, Waves, the ART, Mogami cables and the KSM44, being mastered professionally at Inpulse Mastering, lack the following qaulities when compared to albums such as "R" by Queens of the Stone Age; presence, detail, seperation, depth, and a little volume (though I will be recording in 24 bit).  I'm not so worried about the volume, but having upgraded every link in the signal path, (except cables) I think it will significantly improve these attributes of my recording.  Though the mic pres I have purchased are not in the 1500 category, they are better than the ART, and having different channels to combine different mics with will help seperation significantly (I hope).  The software and converters/interface will help as well I am sure.  So with a little Grace (no pun intended) I believe I can do the job.
God Willing.
Thanks for the input
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Ricey

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2006, 10:45:03 pm »

i think the Grace is the best $500 i ever spent- i was spoiled by the Millennia pres but couldn't afford them at the time and someone recommended the 101. i didn't WANT to like something so inexpensive... and the thing is built well too, what's up with that?

Thomas Lester

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2006, 10:43:02 am »

If you are going to be in Chicago, I'd just go ahead and book time at a studio.  Steve is offering up his place for dirt cheap these days.  See if you can book some time over there.  If this guys is in fact super talented, then you probably don't need to book that much time.

Then you can also book some more experienced engineering staff to help you.

This will go A LONG WAY toward getting that "pro" sound.

-Tom


Fibes

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2006, 01:17:59 pm »

Thomas Lester wrote on Mon, 23 October 2006 10:43

If you are going to be in Chicago, I'd just go ahead and book time at a studio.  Steve is offering up his place for dirt cheap these days.  See if you can book some time over there.  If this guys is in fact super talented, then you probably don't need to book that much time.

Then you can also book some more experienced engineering staff to help you.

This will go A LONG WAY toward getting that "pro" sound.

-Tom





It seems like there are more and more people who think the gear makes the recordings and wherever they put the gear it will work wonders.

They stockpile while learning the ropes which IMNSHO is a bit of a dishonest approach.

I wish more people would spend the time doing pre-production on their "home-rigs" and figuring out their sound, arrangements, approach, strengths, weaknesses and poker skills as a precursor to going in and making a great room work for them than trying to do it all at home.

I didn't say all people.

But a great sounding room can be the difference between good and great recordings, even if the room is made of mud.

Did I mention how important the room is?

How about the guy operating the gear?

In a business where timing is everything, getting the stuff done NOW without a four-10 year learning curve seems like a better option.


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Fibes
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The Studio

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http://cdbaby.com/cd/superhorse2

Teddy G.

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 02:17:14 pm »

I agree more than I can say about the "rent a system" approach! When you rent a good room and a competent engineer, you can spend your time producing(We do S-o-o-o much better when we concentrate on one job at a time - at least at first...) and if we're flexible, we can buy some excellent time for v-e-r-y reasonable prices. Biggest benefit of doing this may be the education it affords just "being there"? Everyone sort've has to answer your questions when you're paying the freight! In the end you might decide, if producing is "your thing"(Pardon, I'm old.), to just go this way and let someone else worry about which what where...

I have my own stuff, it's "fine", I'm "fine", for most projects I get offered to do, but, when it REALLY needs to be good, I happily turn my back on myself and go elsewhere......

Teddy G.

Meantime, the Grace will be more than good enough. As suggested, with it's rather low price, almost embarassingly so... And, it does look very "pro-ey", too. You may find you have to go w-a-y up the ladder to find one "better", and even there probably just for it's, desired, coloration... Still and all, you did say "3 or 4" are needed??? Maybe I read that wrong....? Anyway, for 2 grand or a bit more you can have at least 3 channels of John Hardy, as well... Decisions, decisions, decisions......
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intervalkid

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2006, 10:07:37 pm »

As far as booking time in a studio;  I'm doing this on spec.
He has different musician's to perform on different tracks and we have to work around his work schedule.  Booking time in a studio is not an option.   I'm building the studio anyway.
Yeah yeah, the room.  I understand Beck's "Mellow Gold" is still selling.
I have 17 years of experience recording.  I have been recording as long as I have been a musician.  This is my first gig recording music that I am not involved with, not my first gig.
I'm not "piling up gear while I learn the ropes" as you put it.  As if the gear doesn't make a difference.  Sure if you don't know what your doing it aint gonna help much, but if you do, then it will make the imperative difference.
I am bringing an experienced engineer with me who used to work at Triclops in Atlanta GA.  Just cause I'm po' don't mean I'm stupid.  As far as the room goes, I'll work with what I have.  If the room sounds like trash then I'll dampen what mic's I can and add reverbs.  I think it will be fine though.

As far as the Grace goes, forget it.  I just bought a Rupert Neve Amek pure path channel in a box for $550!
Hahahahahahahahah!!!!!!
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Fibes

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2006, 11:53:00 am »

intervalkid wrote on Sun, 22 October 2006 02:33

Hi, I am preparing for my first big project as a producer/engineer.




Pardon me for confusing the statement above with 17 years experience.

Don't worry about the gear, worry about being able to communicate clearly as a producer/engineer.

BTW for someone with 17 years experience you shouldn't need to be asking the questions you are asking.

A great room has no substitute.



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Fibes
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The Studio

  http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewArtist ?id=155759887
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http://cdbaby.com/cd/superhorse2

intervalkid

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2006, 05:29:06 pm »

Why shouldn't I be asking if anybody has experience with these mic preamps?  
If I haven't used them, I haven't used them.  Regardless of how long I've been recording.
You are making alot of assumptions.

Never said there was a substitute for a great room.
Said I'll deal with what I have to, and that you can still make pro recording's without a fantastic room (ala Beck's album).

Anyway, I think I'll be all set.  I am very hopeful and excited about this project!   Noah's unique and skilled voice, sophisticated writing and pop sensibility are one of a kind.
God Willing it will go tops!
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imagineaudio

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2006, 05:45:20 pm »

taking all this a bit personal, aren't ya?
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"'Cause life's to short to sound like shit." -Smart guy from the music dept of San Jose State University.

intervalkid

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2006, 02:17:48 am »

Simply informing someone of there errors.
When did that become taking something a bit personal?
Even, if I was taking things personal, so what?
I am passionate about music and it is a very personal thing, unless of course you are a business type(which the record industry seems to be flooded with nowadays).  Which is, of course, why the music is going down the toilet.
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James Duncan

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2006, 11:34:51 am »

We all understand passion, but "rude" and "arogant" when someone is trying to help you just doesn't fly around here...

[ignore]
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intervalkid

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2006, 05:23:35 pm »

Rude?!  Arrogant?  When was I rude and arrogant?
I think it's pretty rude and arrogant to say things like "I hate when people pile up on gear when they are just learning the ropes."  and "For someone with 17 years of experience you shouldn't be asking the questions you are asking."
I can see that we have a cliqueish attitude going around here.

If you want rude I can give it to you.
I'd rather not, but if you are so audacious as to call anybody who defends themselves after being belittled for a few questions, "rude and arrogant" then you have a sychphantic follow the pack mentality that should have been expelled out of the gene pool 1000's of years ago!

 
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George_

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Re: Mic pres
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2006, 01:30:13 am »

Quote:

God Willing it will go tops!


no, not God Willing.. a lot of connections, a good "pop"song (if there is any), good songwriting and a mix that has no big problems will get you to the top.

If I am allowed to step in your little world, listen to the mixes of the Lord Alges brothers, a bit of old Led Zepplin.. analyze it/compare them.. and then start praying (if you like to).

go ahead, buy whatever you want, but please please educate yourself before buying something..

cheers
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