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Semi OT: Mic Preamp


J. Dan

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The reason why it's only semi OT is because it's for running a mic into my Kronos. I'm doing it now using a Presonus Tube Pre. In the rigors of live gigging, I'm a little concerned with having a Tube pre jostled around in a rack. If it were to go out, I'm sort of dead in the water.

 

I was wondering if anyone had a Solid State Mic Pre recommendation. A bonus would be if it had some built in compression, as I've had trouble getting decent signal through the Kronos without hitting the "ADC overload". Something half-rack or that could be put on a shelf would be good, and not too expensive.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Something i wanted to add: Kronos inputs are balanced...so a balanced 1/4" out from the pre would be preferable. My mic is dynamic, so i DON'T need phantome power.

 

So to summarize:

 

Small solid state mic pre

 

Bonus: balance out, built in compressor

Not needed: phantom power

 

Application: LIVE into Kronos

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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The only pre-amp I can recommend for sure is in the Lexicon Omega (150 euro at Thomann, with DBX pre-amp): very good specs, there's global adjustable balanced out, good working gain trim. No compression but 20dB pad, XLRs, inserts, switchable phantom power, metering. Probably not a good match.

 

There are excellent chips on the market from TI/BB (I've got samples) which do digitally controlled mic-preamping with top notch specs, somebody should put these in a little box with a nice supply and a microcontroller to make very cheap mic preamps, but I don't know who does (except I've had it planned as a project for years).

 

OTOH maybe a nice-type distortion, SM-58 tuned, decently gated/limited specialty preamp would be more what you want.

 

T.

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You could get a Behringer MIC100 and keep it as a backup. I got mine for $25 on the used market, and have been quite happy with it. I also pack it pretty rough..it goes in my bag of misc cables.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Try this company, they have very good preamps and compressors for the money;

 

http://www.fmraudio.com/

 

This may also be a good option;

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/threeQ/

 

As far as your Presonus Tube Pre is concerned, you probably know that it is a starved plate design which does not really take proper advantage of the tube's gain curve. The tube in this unit is really more of a gimmick. Most of the clean gain in this preamp is coming from the op-amps. I don't know which op-amps Presonus is using but I doubt they are Burr Brown. However, the build quality on the Presonus units is pretty good. With proper care, it should be fairly reliable even if you travel with it.

 

Hope this helps you out.

 

Scott

 

Yamaha CP-73, Hammond SK Pro 73, Yamaha MODX 7, Roland Fantom 06, Roland VK-8M, Yamaha FS1R

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dbx 286s

 

I've used it both live and in studio with nice results (works great for my vocals live).

 

It has all the requirements you've listed, including compression, except that it is a standard 19" 1U rack unit. Not too expensive is subjective. It goes for @ $200, new.

 

Aside from being a solid state mic pre, it has a compressor, de-esser, enhancer, and an expander/gate. It has LED volume level w/clip metering, a bypass button for the effects w/LED indicator, and an 80Hz pre-efx high pass filter button w/LED indicator.

 

Its' phantom power is switchable w/LED indicator, it has 1ea. line (1/4" balanced/unbalanced) and mic (XLR balanced) inputs, a 1/4" TRS balanced/unbalanced output, and a 1/4" TRS insert connector (for external efx).

 

It has (in my applications) provided plenty of low noise headroom and has made vocals "sit right" in the mix both live and in studio. It is flexible with the ability to use as much or as little of each of the 4 efx as needed.

 

It has a standard AC power cable (no wall wart).

 

It is well built and solid.

 

I would consider this unit to be a top of the line low end mic pre/multi efx processor. The whole dbx 286 line (the older project 1 286, the 286a, etc.) are all pretty well regarded by the sound community. You can probably find a 286a for @ $75 - $100 used.

 

As an aside, dbx, as a company has been around for ages, and basically invented audio compression.

Nobody told me there'd be days like these...
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have you tried plugging the mic directly into Kronos?

I thought it supports mic level inputs.

 

You know, normally I don't trust doing that, but since it IS a balanced input, and it DOES have a mic/line switch, I should probably give it a try before buying anything. That would save a channel in the snake I would need back to the rack as well. Need to buy or make an XLR to TRS cable to try it out. I'll try that first.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Why do you want to plug the mic into the Kronos?

 

dB

 

In my 80s duo I'm using IFX on my voice and routing it out Aux 1...stuff like BPM matched delays that come in and out on specific words, controlled by the sequence. The other benefit is at the appropriate time, it can route my voice directly into a VOCODER and mute the dry out of the Aux - all controlled by the sequencer. It's working pretty well so far, but we're still putting things together and I haven't put together the rack/snake that I'll gig out with - I've just been sort of piecing things together for rehearsal.

 

I'll have an outboard effects unit for the generic reverb/delay on both vocals and sax (only one aux send from the mixer), but anything that needs to be automated on my voice will be internal to the Kronos, and anything automated on my partner's voice will be internal to his Line6 HD500, which also has the ability to use an effects block on the vocals and route it through a separate out.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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So, how important is fidelity to you? Do you want to get something that you can also use in the studio?

 

I highly recommend getting a decent piece of gear. Spending money on decent audio processing gear can be as important as spending money on decent keyboards.

 

Sorry, but it's true. :idk:

 

What mic are you using?

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

 

Affiliations: Cloud Microphones • Music Player Network 

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This is strictly for live - i would have no reason to do this in the studio.

 

So i don't need studio quality, just something to get a clean signal into the Kronos. I'd say low noise would be more important than fidelity due to amplification over a PA...frequency response is already limited, and i dont want to amplify a bunch of hiss.

 

My mic is a Beyerdynamic Opus 89.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I didn't figure you'd try to do the same thing in the studio you want to do live - I was more asking if you do enough work in the studio that you can justify spending the $ to get something you can use as a channel strip in the studio when it's not in use live.

 

Given the situation you describe, I'd probably consider the Drawmer MX60

 

dB

 

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

 

Affiliations: Cloud Microphones • Music Player Network 

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That's probably a bit overkill. No, this will stay in the rack for live stuff and never come out. I don't do much studio stuff - for the little bit I do, which is basically demo stuff, the pre's on my audio interface are good enough. I want something compact and reliable that would be the same quality as if I were to just run directly into the Mic Pre of my little Yammy MG10c. I mean, I guess another way to do it would be to run it to the mixer and use the Insert to run back to the keyboard, then back to the mixer...but that's a lot of unbalanced back and forth.

 

I'm thinking BloodyMary's idea of just trying to go direct into the Kronos with XLR to TRS ought to be the first thing I try. If that seems to work just as well as the presonus I'm using now, then I'll go that route. If not, then I'll need a pre.

 

I used to have an ART TubePac, which is kind of the sort of package I'd be looking for...except solid state. The tube went out on that. The Presonus is fine as far as quality..again, it's just the tube that worries me. I didn't buy the Presonus for the fact that it has a tube...it just happened to have one. At the time, I just needed to bring my condenser mic into my DAW and it fit the bill for my budget.

 

If I could get something compact and very basic in the $150 range or less, that's more what I'm looking for - again, some sort of compression or limiter to help avoid digital clipping would be nice, but not a necessity. I think if I get things dialed in right, I can do fine without the compression, but it could be helpful.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/oct96/joemeekvc3.html

 

Hi Dan. Read the thread. Again I admire your attention to detail. I've a Joe Meek VC3 I still use that I bought new when I had a studio (half share).

 

Half rack, solid state, I've noticed them going second hand. No USB (it's from mid 90s) and I wonder if that's the reason for the price drop On the second hand market. That or the cheap Focusrite and Roland units I've seen.

 

Anyway - it colours the sound - in a good way. It's punchy. Still using it here most weeks.

 

I'd also second the "get a cheap spare Behringer" suggestion. Enough to finish the night.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, just a followup...I finally picked up a female XLR to male TRS cable and gave it a try with no preamp and it works great. In fact, not having the preamp in between made it a lot quieter. I have plenty of gain on the "mic" setting of the Kronos, running the gain about 50% on the back. I can definitely overdrive the input if I turn it up too much.

 

Thanks for the feedback, and BloodyMary, thanks for suggesting what should have been obvious to me, that I overlooked. That'll save me some trouble and expense.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Just FYI - I realized this weekend at practice that I was mistaken on the mic/line setting on the Kronos. I'm using it on the LINE setting. On Mic it was horrible distortion and feedback. I don't know if my Mic is hotter than others - it's a Beyerdynamic Opus 89. Line setting, close to max on the level (I was mistaken before because 50% is "down"...6 o'clock).

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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:)

 

FYI, I've got a Sehnheiser mic which drives line inputs hotter than some of my synths, because it's condenser, and has built-in FET preamp. Maybe your Beyer is the same..

 

Did you try something like an SM58 to see how Kronos behaves?

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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:)

 

FYI, I've got a Sehnheiser mic which drives line inputs hotter than some of my synths, because it's condenser, and has built-in FET preamp. Maybe your Beyer is the same..

 

Did you try something like an SM58 to see how Kronos behaves?

 

No mine is a dynamic mic. It's working well and I like my mic much better than a 58 - I spent a very long time trying different mics before I settled on this one, and it wasn't cheap.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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