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Microphone Month 4

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Great/best single channel mic pre-amp under $2000.


Hi everyone,
"Great/best single channel mic pre-amp"
I'll agree that "best" isn't the best word of choice to use here, but I think you may know what I'm getting at. That old question of how to succeed with gear and technique.
This really is kind of an open ended question on recording vocals and acoustic as well...
I need to buy 1 dedicated single channel mic pre-amp(rack) for under the $2000 dollar mark. I don't need any comp. of other dynamics. I am just looking for something that is very high quality for this price range. If it's out there??...
It will be used mainly for recording vocals and acoustic guitar.
There is so much out there right now and it can be hard to take someones advice seriously sometimes at the music stores around you, as you can wonder how much hands on they have really had with these different units to begin with.
I want something that sounds very clear and crisp, with lots of bottom to it as well(full sounding). Nothing too colored, but has a very huge presence. The kind of pre-amps you hear on the radio, on a singers voice, where you go, wow ...now that is killer sounding vocal, not necessarily in pitch(even a rough vocal sounding real and clear with all the gargle) ...or that acoustic guitar coming through on ...say a country song for example. The kind of sound where you hear all the properties of the vocal, like throat and rasp, saliva included ..just the whole presence of the vocal ...natural and very clear.( all the detail in general) ...and an acoustic guitar where you hear all the overtones and fret work, with all the separation between the string tones.
This is the best way I know how to explain this ...sorry to all the tech. lads.
How hard is this to achieved. If one already understands the technique behind this, with a reasonable amount of quality gear included, can a good pre-amp capture this? Is this what is ultimately needed??? Yes/No?
I just have not heard this captured yet by anyone around my area, I mean on a level of the 10 best home studio setups . Not even close!
If I told them this I would be out casted for sure. But I am serious here! It is just not the same in my opinion. Is it because you need a lot of money invested? I really don't want to believe this. Is technique the most important? Both of these equally? Or one more? I can hear all you homers a typing away right now! maybe
Ok ...I know that a lot of this is technique for sure. Your right!
...and there are a lot of other variables than just the pre-amp to get this type of quality going, like the mic, recording Interface/room/instrument/singer and so on down the chain.
But I still would like a nice pre to begin with.
Some of my basic gear I will use is...
-Motu- 24 bit Audio Interface
-Neumann TLM 103
I have never really had a good mic-pre other than an ISA 110 that broke and was returned. I know people rave about there Mackie pre's and so on... the stuff you get that comes with mixers and various recording interfaces, that people say are great, I'm sure they are and they do the job for what they are, but there has to be a difference when spending a lot of money on something that in fact does 1 thing..??
Any suggestions would be appreciated. It would be nice to hear from someone who has used a number of these higher quality units, with some serious time on them. Please don't take this the wrong way, as everyones opinion does hold some form of value I believe, however I feel if you have owned or operated 1 of these units(only), it really doesn't have anything else to compare it to when spending time with these devices. I wish I had 10 or 20 of these to try out for a year ...that would be a great education!
Sorry for the long ramble...
July 8, 2006 @06:47pm

Great River
Avalon Design
But really, getting that sound you are after is a combo of singer, room, mic, pre, etc. (like I think you said in your post) :)
July 8, 2006 @07:53pm

you might take a look at:
July 9, 2006 @12:29am

If I was to spend 2 grand on a pre-amp, as a non-business based studio, I'd think of myself as either a purist, or a nutcase. If I were you, I may re-consider my priorities..
But You are not me nor I You, I'd say the Avalon, or the Apogee are good contenders in the preamp market from what I read in the magazines. An older neve would probably be even better, just from what I hear. I use the mackie board stuff with T-Racks sometimes, or just flat out with a sure sm81 combined with a audio tech 3035 on acoustic guitar stuff.....or a sm57 on vocals with an ovation op sys direct in the board..
July 9, 2006 @12:48am

I'll second the Great River, Avalon and add to it a Focusrite Red series Pre. Can't remember if they make a 1 channel version of the Red though. The Great Rivers sound great and are powerful on the gain and EQ side. I've used the MP-2NV and it rocks. The Avalons are very smooth as are the Focusrite Red series. You also have to take into account which of those mics you are using. That TLM-103 is one of the hottest and most crisp mics I've ever used. I haven't had the chance to use the C12 yet so I can't comment on it, but think about what mic(s) you are going to primarily use because the combo of mic and pre is as important as each unit it self. If you were going to use the TLM I would think the Avalon would be a good counter to it since it would help with the warmth the the TLM is missing. Where as if you were using a U87 you might like the GR instead. Just some suggestions to think about.
Howie J.
July 9, 2006 @01:59am

July 9, 2006 @05:28am

July 9, 2006 @05:37am
Sonic Valley

Buy 20 behringer mic pre's :D
July 9, 2006 @12:52pm

July 9, 2006 @05:17pm

Thank-you for all the valuable feedback... it is greatly appreciated.
I truly believe these forums are where you hear real, honest opinions and valuable information.
I do apologize for not giving much information about my background. I run a communications business during the day and recording is more of an on going hobby, however it does pay for itself completely on the side. I have been into recording for 20 years. I can remember when I first started out, I had a Tascam 2 track reel to reel and a Yamaha mixer... that was a total blast and I've been hooked ever since.
A lot of you are saying Avalon and Great River, ...those have come up quite a bit here!
I would like to ask... with the Avalon and Great River pre's, what would be to main difference between the 2 ?
Is it the Avalon M5 everyone was talking about?
I don''t know muck about GML, but I am going to look into this for sure as well as the other ones everyone mentioned.
Is Neve from the same company as Focusrite. Where their original channels strips in the form of the ISA 110??? I can remember something like that..?, ..may be wrong??
to Bloopers comment
I will say that I have haven't had a medical exam in the past few years, however I don't feel I am a “nutcase”... yet.? ...please...there has to be a better way of saying this.
...as for a purist??? well, everyone may have a little bit of this in them within this industry or hobby..? ... I do attempt to make it sound as good as I can possibly archive with my gear and the skills I have to work with.
Does anyone know of a any a web site on-line that one could listen to these various pre-amps in a studio environment where the same/similar material is being processed through, so you could A/B
them ?
Thanks again...
Ont. Canada
July 10, 2006 @05:34pm

Neve is a separate company from Focusrite, or at least as far as my corporate knowledge goes. I believe the Neve he is referring to is Rupert Neve, Neve analog consoles, etc. I always forget that you can get pre's and channel strips from Neve as well as room-filling consoles. :) I have been unfortunate in the fact that I have never had the chance to work on a Neve board but it is something I'm trying to get around to doing because I've heard albums that were recorded on Neve boards and they are up there with the best. I'll let those with more Neve experience take it from here.
Howie J.
July 10, 2006 @08:28pm

I believe (IIRC) that Rupert did design one of the Focusrite pres, I cant remember which one. Since Digidesign became involved with them , many people have said the mid level stuff doesn't sound as good anymore. YMMV.
The Great River I linked to does have a Neve sound to it that the Avalon doesn't.
Here is a link to where you can go to get more feedback about the listening tests:
July 10, 2006 @10:09pm

to Bloopers comment
I will say that I have haven't had a medical exam in the past few years, however I don't feel I am a “nutcase”... yet.? ...please...there has to be a better way of saying this.
...as for a purist??? well, everyone may have a little bit of this in them within this industry or hobby..? ... I do attempt to make it sound as good as I can possibly archive with my gear and the skills I have to work with.

Sorry boss, the way you sounded at the first thread, was like you were just playin' around..
July 11, 2006 @08:40pm

just a couple more in the myriad...SSL (Solid State Logic), UA (Universal Audio) and there is the new Presonus AD600?(controversy in reviews), and check out True, Grace, Manley and Vintech, wow there's alot of 'em. I use a cheap little Eureka, gets me by.
July 12, 2006 @10:39am

Thanks for all the replies,
I am trying to sort through all these links.
To Bloopers... no problem bud... all is cool ok! I sometimes have problems with the words I choose and I've been known to get things sounding a little of course... cheers man... thanks for the input! All is good here.
87PRS... I know a friend that just bought a Universal Audio pre-amp the other day, he said that so far he is blown away with the quality. He also uses a Neumann TLM 103 as well. I am going to go to his place and check it out. I will let everyone know what came out of that, as he does have some other pre's to compare it to and there will also be a professional mastering engineer there as well at that time. Should be very cool to have a chat with this guy! ...2 hour drive... oh well.
87PRS... do you own a Universal Audio pre-amp or have heard one in the studio?
A rep. at the music store said to me that he heard a Universal Audio pre-amp a few days ago and said when he compared it to his Neve and he thought the Universal Audio pre-amp sounded like junk..? I really find this hard to believe and I am taking that one with a grain of salt.
I can't see the Universal Audio pre-amp being total "junk" ...can you?
thanks... Nelson
July 15, 2006 @01:34pm