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Author Topic: Can a preamp sound big AND focused?  (Read 1741 times)

Mark LaCoste

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Can a preamp sound big AND focused?
« on: June 02, 2004, 03:37:14 PM »

I'm obsessing about preamps because it's time to buy another one.  I don't have the chance to audition many, so I just ask ignernt quesions on this forum:

Having read "To Pre or Not to Pre" by Dan Richards, I have questions to ask.  A good preamp will allow many tracks to fit into a mix, where a typical cheap one will create a soundscape of ill-defined mud.  I wonder, if a preamp sounds "big", does it take up more sonic space?  In other words, would a Groove Tubes Vipre be unwelcome in a crowded mix?  It is a high quality piece, but is it unfocused because of its bigness?

Article here: http://soundwave.com/2002/11_nov/features/pre_ornot.htm  
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hargerst

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Re: Can a preamp sound big AND focused?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2004, 12:24:22 PM »

Mark LaCoste wrote on Wed, 02 June 2004 14:37

I'm obsessing about preamps because it's time to buy another one.  I don't have the chance to audition many, so I just ask ignernt quesions on this forum:

Having read "To Pre or Not to Pre" by Dan Richards, I have questions to ask.  A good preamp will allow many tracks to fit into a mix, where a typical cheap one will create a soundscape of ill-defined mud.  I wonder, if a preamp sounds "big", does it take up more sonic space?  In other words, would a Groove Tubes Vipre be unwelcome in a crowded mix?  It is a high quality piece, but is it unfocused because of its bigness?

Article here: http://soundwave.com/2002/11_nov/features/pre_ornot.htm  

Yes, and no.  Sonic space is also about panning, reverb, and carving out a space for an instrument using some judicious eq. The arrangement is actually the biggest factor in claiming sonic space.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

John Ivan

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Re: Can a preamp sound big AND focused?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2004, 12:44:11 PM »

I haven't read Dan's article on the subject but I will.  The thing about cheap and or bad sounding pre's is that distortion,lack of speed and wacky peaks in response all add up when you've got 20-some tracks being recorded. The poor performance of the pre has a cumulative effect. If you use a clean pre amp with great transient response that is mostly pretty flat, the LACK of problems add up too, {this is good}. Most folks try to keep a variety of pre's and mic's around to shape instruments and vocals on the way to tape without having to lean on using EQ so much.So the average pro studio will have pre's that lean toward being colorless, pre's that sound very aggressive in the midrange,pre's that have sparkle on the top end and every thing in between. Then, there are mic's. this is a huge deal also. mic's,some argue, are a bigger deal than pre's. All I mean by this is some folks will use the pre's in their console and use mic's to shape things. Over time, with a larger variety of pre amps available,people are using certain combinations of mic's and pre's to record certain things. It can take a long time {many years} to come to conclusions about what works on what. This, in fact ,is something we never stop learning.

So, I guess the answer to your question is, you would have to get a Viper and try it on a bunch of different things to know where it fits and doesn't fit.


The biggest thing that effects how things sit in a mix is arrangement.IMO. Having said that,it sure is nice to have a bunch of mic's and pre's that sound great but different to help collect any given sound in the most flattering way..

I'm off to gig for a few weeks. This place rules and I'll miss it. I'll try to find a computer so I can read along..

Piece.......
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Mark LaCoste

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Re: Can a preamp sound big AND focused?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2004, 03:37:35 PM »

I'm getting a pretty good feel for how this whole "big" concept works (theory only, so far).  Apparently the preamps on older Neve desks were fairly messy, but in those days it wasn't as big an issue as it is now.  Fletcher has steered me toward a preamp that should be big sounding but not too unfocused, a Great River MP-1NV.  This subject is fascinating, and I'll be interested in getting a lot more experience in it.

Regarding less expensive pre's, what if a Studio Projects VT-1b was the only pre used on a 20-track project.  Do you think there'd be a waxy buildup at some frequency?

Mark,
Ashland, Oregon
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John Ivan

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Re: Can a preamp sound big AND focused?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2004, 04:47:56 PM »

Mark LaCoste wrote on Thu, 03 June 2004 14:37

I'm getting a pretty good feel for how this whole "big" concept works (theory only, so far).  Apparently the preamps on older Neve desks were fairly messy, but in those days it wasn't as big an issue as it is now.  Fletcher has steered me toward a preamp that should be big sounding but not too unfocused, a Great River MP-1NV.  This subject is fascinating, and I'll be interested in getting a lot more experience in it.

Regarding less expensive pre's, what if a Studio Projects VT-1b was the only pre used on a 20-track project.  Do you think there'd be a waxy buildup at some frequency?

Mark,
Ashland, Oregon


Well , I don't know this pre amp but the short answer is,,Perhaps,yes. It would depend on how hard your hitting the front end of the pre,which mic's you use and all that. You could look at it like you have a 20 channel mixer with the Studio projects pre's. This is what having a bunch of mic's is all about. If the pre bumps say at 220-hz when you get to close to it, move the mic and or grab a different mic for that application. If the mic pre tends to be peaky at 5-k,than grab another mic or grab an EQ. You can do a whole record with one pre but you need to use other tools to shape things. You just don't have the benefit of all these different sounds,at the pre. God knows I sure wish I had lot's more..
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"Transformation is no easy trick: It's what art promises and usually doesn't deliver." Garrison Keillor

 
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