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ART tube pre-amp. MP/C for a hundred. Opinions?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Obsessed, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Talking with my guitar mentor, degreed recording engineer with 40 years of gigging and releasing a few EPs ... after my long description of my main issue over the phone, he diagnosed my recording problem with not getting enough signal at the DAW. He told me to get a tube pre amp and a compressor before the signal reaches my interface that way I can increase the signal without clipping.

    Okay, as a huge compressor user on my pedalboard, I get it. Of course his pre-amps are mega thousand dollar stuff and I'm a hack in the tiniest home studio imaginable using a laptop and GB. So, after a fleaBay/Reverb "used" hunt, my search quickly narrowed down to the new $100 ART MP/C at SW. Thoughts, experiences and opinions will be very appreciative.

    I am recording blues originals with acoustic, electric, bass, and through good mics on amps, vocals and bongos.
     
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  2. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 26, 2008
    Albuquerque
    The ART stuff is pretty good for the money. We use the $40 Tube MP units as preamps for the acoustic guitars on stage. It gives the passive pups plenty signal. However, the tube doesn't do much...Not enough voltage to get "warmth". There are a lot of people hear using pricier ART pres, I'm sure they'll chime in.

    One thing about the compressor, if you record it you're stuck with it. We watch the levels recording then add compression through the DAW when mixing.
     
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  3. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Meister

    386
    Jun 11, 2014
    SLC, UT
    I bought one of the cheap ones to try out and it didn't do much more than add more hum to my acoustic guitar signal.

    The trick with a good tube preamp is using a real plate voltage (90VDC or so). I don't know of many budget tube preamps that do this other than Bellari.

    I haven't used any Bellari products, but they come with a 12VAC Power Supply. This is important because 1) this is the right voltage for the tube filaments 2) you can run the AC signal into a transformer to step it up and rectify it for a higher voltage.

    Maybe someone else has used a Bellari and can chime in.

    The 9VDC power supply on the ART concerns me a bit as it would operate the tube in starved current mode (low voltage).
     
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  4. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Well, speaking of compressors, I thought just the same as you, but because I'm a hack of a guitar player ... and worse as a singer, I have to keep lowering the interface output levels, so the DAW doesn't clip the signal.
     
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  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Very interesting. I have spent the day ... during breaks, looking at various tube pre amps and noticed that as the price went up the input voltages became 12VAC very quickly. And just as you pointed out, the lower end tube pre amps have reviews discussing the lack of warmth from the tube. I live off the grid, so the 9VAC uses less watts, but perhaps this is not a place to scrimp watts. Thanks. I did not come across Bellari, so I'll check them out.
     
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  6. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    I like to use the EV RE20 /PL20 mics i have , but they dont have much for signal gain , so I picked 2 of the ART single channel Mic Pres , the very first thing I did before I plugged it in was to open it up and remove the 12AX7 that had Made In China as a brand name and replaced it with a mesa 12AX7 then tested it out , it was dead quiet and had sufficient head room to do what I needed ,pus it had phantom power to drive my condensers as well ,

    this unit can double as a tube powered DI box as well giving you access to the pads to set up for clean recording, I got one off of Ebay for 15.00 and scored the other from a friend for 25.00 , good ,inexpensive and all they need to function is to throw away the garbage tube on the inside and replace it with something of quality.
    I'v not tried it with any other tubes , like a 12YT7, 12AT7 etc but Im sure it would change the dynamics as well

    I have one of each , I cant say which one is better yet , but I changed the tubes first thing

    shopping-1.jpg shopping.jpg
     
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  7. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Okay, thinking about this more. Can I get a good tube pre amp and then plug in a compressor or limiter pedal through my interface channel insert? Seems like everything will get easier to adjust with a tube pre amp and then all I really need is a limiter before it hits the interface output, so that my DAW can accept a louder signal without clipping my crappy guitar playing. Am I thinking about this correctly?
     
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  8. black_doug

    black_doug Tele-Afflicted

    I've had an ART Tube Channel for twenty years. It's got optical compression with adjustable threshold and four-band parametric eq with vu meter. There's 60 db of gain. I wouldn't part with it. Terry Brown (of Rush fame) loves them too.

    Now ART has the Pro Channel and the Voice Channel as replacements.
     
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  9. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    you should be able to with out issue just make sure you follow the insert wiring scheme , eg. it may be a TRS stereo plug on your insert, (T=tip =send) (R= ring =return) (S=sleeve= ground) if there is only one jack etc. also most compressors are also limiters it depends on the settings you use ,dont forget you have the capability to add a ton of gain to your input source to your daw so watch your levels and start off with low level before you fire up all these gain stages to 11:lol:

    have fun and experiment , just be cautious of the gain stages!
     
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  10. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

    Oct 29, 2013
    NYC
    You don't need a tube preamp. Any decent USB interface with a sufficient number of ins/outs/preamps will do the job. You can apply a compressor plugin later, if necessary.
     
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  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    I looked into the Pro Channel, and although it looks like a great solution and within budget (used), it uses 30 watts which is probably too much for my off the grid studio. Thanks for pointing me in that direction though, because it opened up a line of pre-amps that I have not explored.
     
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  12. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Thanks for the warnings. I bought the short "y" cable for the inserts early on just to dink around with adding reverb up front for my vocals, so I understand how the inserts function. And yes the compressors sometimes can be used as limiters and actually my buddy was thinking that is how I should use the compressor up front as just a limiter. After looking around, it seems like lots of the tube pre-amps with compression include a limiter.

    I started my conversation with my friend explaining how the "fine" adjustments on my interface just does not coincide with the "course" readout in GB. This is where I feel like I'm losing some of the signal strength without getting into clipping. Meaning, it seems like I should be able to sneak up to perhaps a 0db, but the GB jumps in large increments. His thought is that my inconsistent playing is pushing me into clipping too often. That made sense to me and unfortunately probably too true.
     
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  13. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    just a plus for you, the ART units can be used as a direct box as well as a pre-amp, I have a very old cheap Raven classical that my wife had and gave to me , after i Converted it to left handed I installed a Dean Markley contact Piezo pick up in it , the pick up sounds great , but no level so these tube pres give it some balls to record with and It my favorite classical bar none
     
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  14. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Yes, that is what is so attractive about the ART pre-amps. I have been focusing on electric guitars through amps so far on my recording adventure, but plan on recording acoustic guitar soon, so it would be nice to select something that is multifunctional in a very modest and limited studio. My real goal is just to be able to assemble the songs in my head to share with others.
     
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  15. beyer160

    beyer160 Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 11, 2010
    On Location
    The tube in these low-cost units are just there for marketing, they really don't do anything other than glow and provide gnarly distortion when you turn up the gain. They do make good DI boxes, though.

    What interface are you using? I'm sure it has preamps on board already, I'm not sure that sticking another preamp in front of it is the answer to your problem. If you're not getting good level in your DAW, go all the way through the signal chain from source to mic to interface and all the way through the settings to make sure everything's optimized. As far as compression, you have to be really careful about compressing stuff on the way in because as was already pointed out, once it's on the track you're stuck with it. I'll lightly compress vocals and maybe bass on the way in, otherwise compression is generally a mixdown tool for me.

    The real magic in those old "vintage" tube pres wasn't the tubes anyway, it was the transformers.
     
  16. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Dec 2, 2010
    Michigan
    I am with @LutherBurger and @beyer160 on this. A halfway decent interface will have mic pre's with ample gain, and if you want to add tube type distortion or comp or whatever, you can do it with a plug in.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  17. Hexabuzz

    Hexabuzz Friend of Leo's

    Dec 13, 2014
    Northeast PA
    Are you sure you have your interface set up correctly to a line level guitar signal input? Too much gain at the input is usually the problem, not too little.

    What are your meters showing?
     
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  18. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    the cheap chinese tubes in these units do serve a function , that is to allow copius amounts of noise into your system, when I changed them the units went dead quiet and are quite passable.:lol::lol::lol:
     
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  19. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

    Oct 29, 2013
    NYC
    That may be, but you always need to leave yourself enough headroom for whatever the source might do. You can always add gain and compression later.
     
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  20. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    56
    Jun 7, 2017
    GCDB
    I once had one of these on loan.. pricy but works very well and only draws 9 watts at 12 volts (uses a wart) I have ART stuff and this is much much better, you could build a nice rig that works for your power limitations around this, if you become serious about recording in your given situation you are going to need something like this anyhow, so perhaps consider selling some gear and get one.

    https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/tech/rupert-neve-designs-portico-5017-496554
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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