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Author Topic: The Outboard Mic Pre Thread...Renamed  (Read 26802 times)

wwittman

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The Outboard Mic Pre Thread...Renamed
« on: February 05, 2005, 07:28:15 pm »

I know it's self-serving, but I just HAVE to point out that, like just about all great recordings, it was done on the CONSOLE with the CONSOLE PRES.

What a sign of the TODAY'S times that the first question wasn't what console, or tape machine... but "what mic pres" as though one MUST be using an assortment.

This multiple mic preamp trend is the Atkins Diet of audio.
Doesn't work over time and may be bad for you. <g>

Terry, those SpectraSonics desks had terrific mic pres... although I was never a huge fan of the EQ (which always seemed a bit too subtle for me).
I remember on the desk in Record Plant Studio A in NYC, that you could almost switch the EQ in and out and not be SURE it was on!

cheers,
ww
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William Wittman
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Lee Flier

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2005, 11:17:48 am »

wwittman wrote on Sat, 05 February 2005 19:28

I know it's self-serving, but I just HAVE to point out that, like just about all great recordings, it was done on the CONSOLE with the CONSOLE PRES.

What a sign of the TODAY'S times that the first question wasn't what console, or tape machine... but "what mic pres" as though one MUST be using an assortment.

This multiple mic preamp trend is the Atkins Diet of audio.
Doesn't work over time and may be bad for you. <g>



LOL... yeah I was glad to see Terry mention that also!  I rarely remember ever using an outboard mic pre or anyone even really discussing them until the digital/in the box era began.  Everybody used the console pres.  And of course a lot of console pres sounded really great.  'Course nowadays I say that and people look at me like I'm nuts, and even a lot of older guys say "Oh, we've always used outboard pres."  Like nobody wants to admit it or something.  Laughing

Killer Zep stories Terry!

wwittman

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2005, 11:38:18 am »

Actually, Lee, i first saw it start in the late 70's when a certain incredibly lousy desk out of Florida started to proliferate (the SSL  of its day).
Engineers, especially the LA guys, started to carry mic pres to avoid using the desk's.

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William Wittman
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Fletcher

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2005, 11:49:13 am »

The first time I heard of "outboard" pre's was as a John Hardy retrofit for the pre's in the 600... the 500 pre's sounded pretty good but the 600 pre's were the beginning of the end in terms of usable desk pre amps.

Funny... before the 600 came around it seemed that console manufacturers thought that the pre-amp was an important part of a desks design... I think it should also be mentioned that the 600 was designed by Harrison who's pre's were some of the most vile pieces of shit I have ever encountered.

My current career choice has made Harrison a God to me... but as an engineer I really wish he had gone into another line of work.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

wwittman

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2005, 02:52:03 pm »

I think you're right, Fletcher.
The 600 was the turning point in many ways (from which we have yet to recover <g>) but I have to disagree that the 500's were any good either.

I was the Chief Engineer at a studio with a bunch of 500's for a few years and when I went back a few years later and listened to all the things I had done there, comapred to records I had made on much better desks before and after, there was a real archeological type line in the soil strata...
you could so clearly hear the bad desk years.

Anyway, this IS the genesis of the outboard mic pre phenom... it never began with one pre being "better" for a particular purpose.

Everytime I see someone ask something like "what mic pre should I use with a 421 on an electric guitar amp IF the guitar player has a 1972 SG Standard and the band i am recording does Serbo-Croation whaling songs?" I cringe.

ps when people speak of valuing "vintage" 500's it's as oxymoronic as 'vintage' DX-7's.
The sooner they are sunk as artificial reefs the better.
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William Wittman
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punkest

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2005, 07:13:24 pm »

wwittman wrote on Mon, 07 February 2005 19:52


Everytime I see someone ask something like "what mic pre should I use with a 421 on an electric guitar amp IF the guitar player has a 1972 SG Standard and the band i am recording does Serbo-Croation whaling songs?" I cringe.




Ok, I get your point, but, if you don't have a good console at hand, AND you have a lot of good OB pre's AND you find that one of them indeed works better to get a particular sound you are searching for -WHICH BTW THEY DO- SOUND DIFFERENT, THAT IS, AND INTERACT DIFFERENTLY WITH DIFFERENT MICS- Then I don't see why not to use it instead of others. ALSO I don't see the problem of using different colors in the same album, just as you use different mics, and different instruments, and different players, and sometimes different rooms. Anyway, this topic has been covered to death in other threads, so I rest my case here.

Terry, thanks for the great stories...

Hans Mues
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wwittman

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2005, 11:39:46 pm »

If we stop discussing things that have been "discussed to death" then there will be approximately 5 posts a day in the entire site. <g>
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William Wittman
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Lee Flier

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2005, 03:28:35 pm »

LOL really.

I've got nothing against outboard pres.  Although I don't obsess over them too much - give me a couple of really good transparent ones and I'm happy, so long as I've got good mics.  I just thought it was curious when the transition happened... that is, when suddenly more and more people started using outboard pres when it used to be that almost nobody did.

And yes, I hadn't thought about it but "a certain console" probably WAS to blame for the rise of outboard pres.  I just never really worked anywhere that had those consoles, fortunately.  One of the first studios I worked at had an incredible little API desk.  If I had that desk today I wouldn't dream of using any other pres, and neither would anybody, I'll bet! Smile

Bob Olhsson

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2005, 05:05:01 pm »

The first outboard mike preamp I ever saw was one Sherwood Sax built for Armin Steiner's original Sound Labs mix room. This was in the summer of 1972.

punkest

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2005, 06:31:41 pm »

wwittman wrote on Tue, 08 February 2005 04:39

If we stop discussing things that have been "discussed to death" then there will be approximately 5 posts a day in the entire site. <g>


You're probably right!  we need to keep old topics alive with new discussions, but I KNOW I have a point here, so refute if you may.    Cheers

Hans Mues  Rolling Eyes
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gtoledo3

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2005, 12:08:27 am »

There were some pretty great sounding records tracked on MCI 400 and 500 series. I have been told that the 600 was the one that was substandard.... I like the sound of the 500 series modules (the only ones I have heard).

Some records done on the MCI-

Margaritaville-Buffet
Celebration- Kool and the Gang
Derek and the Dominoes
Talking Heads-Speaking in Tongues, 1983
Van Morrison- throughout the 70's and 80's
Spirit- 12 Dreams


A list of people that have recorded on the 416 when it was at FAME in Muscle Shoals....

Aretha Franklin -- Liza Minnelli
Wayne Newton -- Wilson Pickett
Tom Jones -- Otis Redding
Jerry Lee Lewis -- Percy Sledge
Little Richard -- George Jones
The Osmonds -- Donny Osmond
Marie Osmond -- Paul Anka
Andy Williams -- Charlie Daniels
Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Mac Davis
Lou Rawls -- Ray Stevens
Jerry Reed -- Travis Wammack
Marty Stuart -- Dobie Gray
Bill Medley -- Solomon Burke
The Drifters -- Bobbie Gentry
Duane Allman -- Joe Tex
Billy Joe Royal -- Eddie Hinton
Etta James -- Tommy Roe
Bill Haley's Comets -- Clyde McPhatter
Clarence Carter -- Arthur Conley
Johnny Jenkins -- King Curtis
Joe Simon -- Wet Willie
Paul Hornsby -- Otis Rush
Boz Skaggs -- Johnny Sandlin
Wild Cherry Lobo -- Johnny Wyker
Arthur Alexander -- Don Covay
Ronnie Hammond-- Berry Oakley
The Tams -- The Soul Survivors
Vern Gosdin -- Hourglass
John Hammond
The Sweet Inspirations


To paraphrase, I don't think too many people have listened to those projects and thought "only if we didn't have to use that MCI 500 preamp on guitar!".  Razz  However, I am not one to take any validity away from someone's experience. It is all about what works for you, and makes your life easier.

Wwitman, don't you think that the advent of outboard pre use had a little more to do with the rise of "Sounds So Little"?
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hargerst

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2005, 09:49:50 am »

Hey, don't you be dissin' our MCI 556D console.  We run it every damn day and it's still putting out great sound.  And if we ever get broken into, at least that board ain't goin' anywhere.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
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wwittman

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2005, 02:00:08 pm »

No the trend had begun before SSL took off... it was the MCI's.

and I made records, as i said, on the 500's as well... it's only when i went back and compared that I really saw how lousy they sounded.
Sorry.
they do.
and the tape machines as well.
And your little dog, too.


hit records can be made on anything... the question is only if they would sound better IF...


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William Wittman
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Samc

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2005, 02:27:20 pm »

Don't forget that this outboard Mic Pre thing got to where it is now mainly because some manufacturers, pimps and a few well known engineers started throwing around the myth of special recording chains for each instrument.  Some have even taken it to the point of recommending a special Mic Pre for a particular instrument based on the genre of music being recorded.
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Sam Clayton

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2005, 07:17:25 pm »

Having had the misfortune of working on a 416, I would like to say, for the record, that the mic pre-amp and all of the summing, sounded like ass. Lots of great recorded performances came out of crappy I/Os. What a beast it was.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson
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