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Author Topic: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation  (Read 4600 times)

bilco

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4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« on: March 14, 2009, 03:21:49 pm »

Okay, I need help here.  This is in the context of being a home studio for singer/songwriter projects with a few paying customers, no delusions of ever trying to actually earn a living full time from recording, but I do like quality gear.  This preamp will be patched into a Digi002 Rack, either by line in or if the unit has A/D, through that A/D.  

Please help solve for X!!

The criteria (and they are all important) are (not particularly in order):

Price/Quality Ratio≤$2,500/Project Studio Quality >002 pre
Name recognition for the few paying customers I do get
Simplicity (plug in mic or cable and turn up the gain, period!)

So, here is the formula, based on tools I do use and love and have no interest in ever replacing at this point:

   Fender Pbass   is to bass
as   Shure SM7b   is to studio vocal mic
as   JBL      is to nearfield monitors
as   X      is to workhorse 4 channel preamp

Daking Mic Pre IV, API 3124, Focusrite ISA 428, Sytek, 2 RNPs, Sebatron, SSL....... something else I don't know about yet....

FWIW - I have 1 channel of Great River which I love for everything I have ever tried it on going into the A/D of the Digi002 Rack.  I love the sound, but I miss the simplicity of the RNP I had.  

Thanks,
bilco

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0dbfs

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 04:35:53 pm »

The API seems to meet all of the requirements.

Cheers,
J
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Jonathan Burtner
Music is Everything!
Audio is Everything Else!

Derek DiFilippo

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2009, 04:49:53 pm »

Hey Bilco,

I used to have an SM7B and Great River... and thought I would never ever ever want to part with them.  

I have a Digi 003 rack and patch in.  Sounds like we're in the same ballpark.

The SM7B (two of them!)  and the Great River (stereo pre!)  are now gone.  

As my access to a variety of pro gear increased, as I gained tracking experience in a variety of situations, I found that my *tastes* changed along with my working style. Luckily the SM7B and Great River are well respected pieces of gear and I was able to recover my investment in them.

I would suggest you do the same with your 4-banger: buy something that is widely respected and will either last you *forever* or be something that you can sell for a fair price if your tastes/needs change.  

From your list, that would mean: API 3124+, Daking IV.   But given "name recognition", the Daking won't register with clients as much as the API will. I guess this depends on your clients.  Mine actually have *never* *ever* asked or cared about preamps.   They might prefer the silver mic or the black mic.  I make the final decision and once that is determined, they want to get down to singing or playing.

Regarding simplicity, I ended up with a two channel Hardy M1.  It doesn't get much simpler than that.  Everything I do past basics has been going through those preamps.  One knob for gain.  Because of this, all of my attention goes into artist/instrument/room/microphone selection/microphone position... which is where it should be.

The API and the Daking would satisfy your simplicity criterion as well.  I have rented a 3124+ and a Lunchbox before.  No personal experience with the Daking... but if it's at all related to what Ken Scott was doing in the early 70s... I would be happy to get on board with that.

My solution for X based on your criteria: API 3124+.  Wow... surprise!

******

Long aside:

The Hardy M1 doesn't have the same "gearslutz instant recognition and sellability" as a 3124+ but it does have the feature to buy a 2 channel unit and then fill in the channels as your budget allows.  An API lunchbox would be similar.   John Hardy was available by telephone for questions and followed up by calling back if I left a message.  The pre has been solid on everything ... vocals, drums, piano, etc., etc., etc..    

Here's a twist.  I actually found that putting the preamp beside the artist (via short, fresh, high quality cables) and then running whatever distance via amplified mic signal to the 003 made a much larger improvement in quality than any futzing around with patching preamps in my "control zone".

Yes, it's a bit different from the Great River (I had them both for a time) but I haven't missed the GR since selling it.   I actually found it annoying to have the option to use either the GR or the Hardy, and was breaking the flow when I went to repatch only to find that the net difference between the Hardy/GR was vanishingly small compared to moving/changing microphones, changing guitar picks, asking the musician to change their touch slightly, etc., etc.  



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tom eaton

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2009, 11:48:36 pm »

I have owned both the Daking IV and the 3124.  I still own the 3124 and 12 other API pres.  I miss the Daking.

They're different... one HUGE thing about the Dakings is the 5dB stepped gain switch.  If you need to ride gain on the fly, the Daking is out.

For me, they are both great.  The Daking has better metering, and a balanced line input.  The API has the name recognition.

If I had to do it again, and I'm just one guy who does "clean" music (nothing too heavy or processed), I would buy the Dakings and do rides (if needed) on the back of a compressor pre-converter.  The Dakings just felt a little more open to me in a way that was not hyped (and was perhaps just a touch less rock-n-roll) than the APIs.  Technically (spec-wise) the transformers in the Daking are "better"... which is probably where I would put the difference.

Try to hear them both.  Neither will be a wrong answer!

PM me if you want to chat specifically about comparing the two.

tom

bilco

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2009, 01:42:22 am »

Thanks everyone, it is down to the Daking and the API, I just needed some confirmation that they are in a whole different ballpark, even though I am going to still have to use the A/D in the Digi002 for awhile.  I also realized that this preamp needs to be a 1U rack space and that cuts down on the other options I was thinking about as well.

Derek, your statement "I actually found it annoying to have the option to use either the GR or the Hardy, and was breaking the flow when I went to repatch..." really resonates with me.  Even having the different gain stage options on the GR is a tripwire for me; I can obsess about A/B tests on any given source, make a decision and then 2 days later, listen again and prefer something different than the choice I had made.  The fewer choices, the better for me.

Tom, that is a beautiful studio and it sounds like you really have a heart for singer/songwriters, wish I were on the east coast and could come check it out.  I will PM you; I would like to get more specifics on what you miss about the Dakings.

Thanks again to everyone,
Bill
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Tomas Danko

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2009, 06:45:31 am »

I offer nothing new opinion wise, but I'd go with the Daking or API. Both would be great. In my private studio I use Daking, whenever I record at work I rent an API 3124+ if the studio doesn't have one already.

It is nice to be able to just forget about the preamp and focus on the actual job at hand.
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hargerst

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2009, 01:09:59 pm »

API - for the "bling" factor.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

bilco

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2009, 04:28:33 pm »

Thanks Harvey!  Boy, I am glad you said that...... I ordered the API earlier today and my heart would have sunk if you had recommended otherwise.  It is going to be fun to compare the API with the GR; I may have to take a couple of days off from work!

bilco
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bilco

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2009, 01:53:02 am »

I got the API 3124+ and I really love it.  Easy setup, plug in a mic or the bass and press record and it sounds great on vocal, acoustic guitar and DI bass.  I can't see ever needing a different preamp ever again, maybe a second one of these or an API A2D to bring into the S/PDIF in on the Digi 002 Rack.  

Vocals - SM7b, SM57, PR35
Acoustic Guitar - SM81, SM57
Electric Guitar - SM57
Pbass -DI

I am sure there are better mic/pre combinations out there, but these sound really good to me;I can't see the need to ever look beyond this preamp and these mics. All solid workhorse tools.

Thanks for the recommendation everyone.  
bilco
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0dbfs

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 09:32:49 am »

The API's should provide you with and exceptional record chain resource pretty much indefinitely.

Congrats on the acquisition!

Now back to the music.

Cheers,
j
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Jonathan Burtner
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bigbone

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Re: 4 Channel Preamp Recommendation
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2009, 10:30:20 am »




I got daking pre's with a digi 003 rack. and i'm more than please with that set up.
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