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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. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

    Oct 29, 2013
    NYC
    I work with Neve Portico channel strips fairly often. They're excellent, but I don't think @Obsessed's problem is in his hardware. He just needs to work out his gain staging with the equipment he has.
     
  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Haa, I knew I'd be in trouble opening that link. Not gonna happen for this hack.;)
     
    24 track likes this.
  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    I have a M-Audio Quad that supposedly has reasonable built in pre-amps. Yes, I am very hesitant to apply compression before the DAW, but perhaps a limiter?
     
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  4. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    you know, you may be able to go to your local music store that you deal with and see if they will rent you one of their units to try, I see you are using an Mbox , these are very close in nature to the digi002 units that I have, I found the built in pres were not the best ( for me ,anyways) so maybe a pre infront may give you a little more warmth , with the digi units I used a set of Behringer ADA 8000 lightpiped to the digi units were much nicer sounding and gave me 8 more chanels of in/out
     
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  5. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Keep in mind that average recording levels of -14 to -18 dB are perfectly fine and in fact are roughly equivalent to 0 dB in the analog world. Even 40 dB down isn’t really a problem at 24 bit. You can use the gain in your daw to bump things up if required.
    What you never want to do is go above 0 on the digital meters on the way into your daw. That distortion is nasty.

    So I guess what are your levels like going into the daw? Why do you think you need an external pre? I know you went over it with an engineer pal. But as mentioned above your interface should hav e pres that are perfectly capable of getting adequate level into your daw. A tube pre might give you a different flavour which is all well and good, but most budget tube stuff either isn’t particularly tube like (whatever that means) or are mushy and indistinct sounding rather than warm, or full, or lush which I think most people, and pre marketers are what tends to be regarded as a “tube” sound.

    Neve consoles, the gold standard in the 70s and 80s noted for their thick, full, warm sound? No tubes. Lots of transformers. Not to say there isn’t tube gear that could be described that way. It just tends to be expensive in my experience.

    I love compressors, and have a lot of them. At the budget level I can’t recall anything with tubes that has a good reputation for bringing a so-called tube flavour. Maybe the old Joe Meek green thingeys but I think they have a definite colour that you may not want on every track. And again, at the risk of flogging a dead horse, some stuff with tubes is designed to be, and is, quite transparent in audio quality. So tubes does not necessarily really tell you what kind of sonic imprint the piece of gear will impart. A used Aphex Compellor ( or is it the expressor)? Can be found used quite cheaply and can do massive levels of compression quite transparently. Wish I had a couple. The RNC one is ok, but to me things always sound smaller once run through it. I might use it for background vocals or something but that’s about it. Or something on a parallel bus. They are excellent transient shapers though. Some folks love them.

    Ok, mucho rambling by me.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  6. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Yes, this, as a recording noobie has been my main issue. So many variables, but with lots of help here, I think I'm in the ball park ... err, well I thought I was. Admittedly, I am recording an amp with some gain. I'm really using this as an excercise to get my recording chops to a more serious level. I spent a lot of time with the microphones and attempting to find a sweet spot. Not knowing what the sweet spot looks like at the DAW level seems to be something that I just have to wade ... or stumble through. Knowing that I have you guys to bounce things around has already helped tremendously.
     
  7. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Yes, this is where my head is at. My main concern is to optimize my signal before screwing things up in the DAW. It is almost a fear to go past this point and start mixing other tracks to find out my wimpy guitar track isn't enough to work with. :cry:
     
  8. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Sweet spot is around -15 dB inputted into your daw. As long as you aren’t going above 0. You can go a bit lower if you’re still worried about going over 0 digital and clipping. If you’re a ways below that after things have been recorded, you can raise the level within your daw. Most plugins want to see around that -15 level to work optimally in terms of gain staging. Your stereo master levels can be a few dB below zero.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  9. beyer160

    beyer160 Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 11, 2010
    On Location

    I use an M-Audio Fast Track Pro at work sometimes- the preamps aren't super-awesome, but they shouldn't be causing problems. What exactly is the problem? Is it just that the meters seem like they're too low? If so, how do the tracks actually sound?

    For solo demo recording, I long ago gave up miking amps and just use the models in GB. They're surprisingly good. I probably wouldn't want to make a big money major label record with them (as if those existed anymore), but I said the same thing about ADATs and people made fortunes recording on those stupid things.

    Compressors and limiters are the same thing, when set to a low ratio it's a compressor, using higher ratios is called limiting.
     
    Obsessed likes this.
  10. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Don’t be afraid to raise levels of stuff within your daw after they have been recorded. After things have been converted to 0s and 1s you can raise them internally to your hearts content.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  11. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Adats. Ugh.

    Yes, what is the problem? Can you adjust the level of your monitors independently of the stereo outputs? Maybe they need to be adjusted. Louder.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  12. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Aha! Could it be that my buddy is coming from the high priced analog/digital world with a different perspective? My best efforts so far and becoming more consistent is at -10.5 db, whereas he is talking -3 to 0 db. Maybe my worries are too much too soon ... or something like that.:rolleyes: And they sound very good to me. And yes, the levels in GB, just look low to me.
     
  13. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Sounds to me like you’re probably fine in terms of levels.

    Buying more gear is always fun though.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  14. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Friend of Leo's

    Oct 29, 2013
    NYC
    You and he might be talking about different scales. -3 to 0 dBFS is way too hot.
     
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  15. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Tape you generally wanted to be around zero and often used compression going in to raise your levels above the noise floor. With digital you have the opposite problem - going into the daw at too hot a level causing nasty digital clipping. Noise floor doesn’t really enter into it. Having a bit of headroom, typically around 15 dB below zero on average is fine.

    Keep in mind I’m talking about clipping the a/d converter in your interface. You still have to make sure youre not clipping at the mic pre or at the mic itself. This is not going into the red at your mic pre or di, unless you like the way it sounds, and just generally using your ears.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  16. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    May 11, 2007
    Toronto
    Just for fun I’ll add that in the days of 16 bit digital, such as with Adats, you still generally wanted to be as close to zero as possible without going over. At least that was the common wisdom.

    I think you have to be something like 80 to 100 dB below 0 dB in your daw at 24 bit to be roughly equivalent to the performance of a 16 bit recording at 0 dB. I may be off by a bit, just going from memory, but it’s something like that. So, 10 or 15 dB below 0 in your daw is still way above that.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
    Obsessed likes this.
  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Okay, this is another problem, I have is that my interface has no readouts, so when I adjust the level at a channel on the interface my only feedback is my ears and the track level on the DAW. So, if I had a pre-amp, I would have a much better idea of how hot my signal is before it goes to the interface. Not that I would know if that is good or bad.:rolleyes:
     
  18. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    After all of this great information from all of you, and I appreciate it a whole bunch, it gives me a thought. Since I am a noobie at this recording thing and perhaps I am in the ballpark afterall, could it be that getting a low end tube preamp with a vu meter, would be something that perhaps just give me more information to help develop my confidence in this area? Maybe I don't essentially need one, but as I get into vocals, it seems like my voice will need all of the help I can get anyway and from what I have read over the last two days, is tube Pre-amps are good at fattening up the vocals. Anyway, just floating that by all of you.

    To me, this is where TDPRI really shines with very helpful and knowledgeable people willing to put in the time to assist some greenhorn. Thanks again.
     
  19. Martin R

    Martin R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 26, 2008
    Albuquerque
    Another "throw money at it" solution...Get a tone generator. I have one similar to this. You can set levels at +4dBu, -10dBv, even mic level. (You probably want +4).
     
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  20. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Haaa. Ooooh boy, here we go into the rabbit hole. I knew it was coming.:twisted::lol:

    Not sure if I should thank you or curse you.;)
     
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