School me on mic preamps

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Jan Deal
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School me on mic preamps

Post by Jan Deal » Wed Apr 15, 2020 5:20 am

With the lock down, I've been doing a lot of home recording. My wife and I are actually compiling a cool covers project and this is giving me plenty exercise in tracking vocals, synths and guitars.

One thing that I don't have is an outboard microphone preamp. I'm using a Presonus Audiobox iOne, which I'm happy with and I've been tracking vocals and acoustic guitar with a budget friendly AKG condenser microphone. Should I be looking at investing in a microphone preamp, or would other aspects require more attention? I've read a fair bit online, watched YouTube videos, but I haven't been swayed in any particular direction.

Anything that I could put to good use tracking the full band would be great too.
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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Apr 15, 2020 5:59 am

I'm going to say that it's a "weakest link in the chain" situation, you could buy the most world class preamp that history has ever seen, and if you have a bad sounding room to record in, or a bad microphone, or a bad instrument, you still got nothing.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:40 am

That being said, here at home I have a little Focusrite Scarlett interface which has pretty nice preamps, but it allows me to add other preamps to it so in that regard I bought a Focusrite ISA One, which is very nice. Once you can add in other preamps then the sky is the limit, so if you get something like a Thunderbolt/USB-c interface make sure you can do that.

If I was going to buy an USB-c type interface all over, though, I would probably get one of these Arturia boxes.

Like I say, if I am perceiving your situation correctly, don't spend a ton on a world class preamp. Get something that offers good sound and above all expandability for now, you can always add other preamps later if you do.

Because you will not be accomplishing much unless you have a dedicated and treated recording environment and good microphones. It all has to work together in harmony.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by marqueemoon » Wed Apr 15, 2020 8:04 am

With the existing interface I don’t see a big advantage in upgrading the preamp yet.

Depending on what mic you already have I would start there.

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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Jan Deal » Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:24 pm

Thanks folks, I had a feeling that a mic preamp wouldn't be a step change up in sound quality at this time for me. I certainly can't improve the room I use and all my instruments produce nothing but sick tonez.

We all suffer from occasional GAS and the idea you can buy yourself better, but I think I'm really at the stage where all my sound quality improvements are coming from experience and learning.
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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Tafarel » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:43 am

My band all (save one -- our drummer already had a Presonus something or other) bout Evo 4 mic/instrument preamps from Sweetwater. Easy to setup and use and the preamps sound wonderful.

They have a larger big brother that can do what Larry was suggesting.
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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by mbene085 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:46 pm

Jan Deal wrote:
Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:24 pm
I certainly can't improve the room I use
You sure about that? Identifying and treating the first reflection points and getting some bass traps in the corners of smaller rooms make an absolutely massive difference. You don't have to tear down walls and rebuild to avoid parallel walls, just some cheap DIY or premade broadband absorbers in a few key spots can make all the difference in the world, and can even be mounted in a rented space and taken down again.

Basic acoustic treatment is probably the single biggest bang for your buck, I bet you could treat the entire room for less than the cost of a single midrange mic preamp.

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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Larry Mal » Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:55 pm

Or buy some packing blankets and hang them from the walls or behind or and such.
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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:03 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:55 pm
Or buy some packing blankets and hang them from the walls or behind or and such.
To add to this, if you have boom mic stands you can set the booms horizontal and drape blankets over them to make temporary gobos/kill some reflections.

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Re: School me on mic preamps

Post by Lamar Fandango » Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:19 pm

I spent a few hundred bucks at Acoustimac and made some wall panels. 100% worth it. Normally they just hang on the walls, but I can also turn them into a mini isolation space.

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