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desert island rock preamp


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Hi All, This has been done before -- if there's a good thread I should read, point me to it. Pardon the long rambling message below. The short version: What are the best all-purpose rock preamp setups for around $1100-$1200? Rules: two channels at least, must KILL on bass (DIed or Miced) but sound good on other sources. Coloration is fine with me. Disclaimer: I know it's subjective, but I also know that I can't possibly audition everything and those mic pre CDs haven't been much help. ----------- Background: I've been recording through a Mackie to a computer. That's where I'm at. I think my recordings sound pretty good. I'd like them to sound better. Right now, they are clean and clear, but I'm looking for just a little magic. The type of music I do, mostly, is in the "indierock" idiom, but I do very little recording of full drumsets -- mostly, it's guitar, bass, and vocals (though I'm going to start messing around with softsynths). Occasionally, I record friends who just have a couple tunes on acoustic guitar or whatever. Recording's a hobby, not a business for me, but of course I want it to sound good. In about a month, I'll have gotten together about $1100 to get a new preamp. Realistically, whatever I buy with this money is going to be my only "good" preamp for quite awhile. That means I'll have my Mackie and this thing as my two colors for the forseeable future. The only alternative would be to buy two cheaper preamps for more colors. My criteria: coloration is fine -- I want a good, dependable "rock" sound. I don't want a "superclean hifi" sound -- at least I don't think so. It needs to kill on miced or direct bass guitar. It should also sound good on voice or guitar. Drums are less important, though of course if it sounds good on drums, all the better. So, in the $1100-1200 range, here are my options Right now, I'm thinking Neve clone (Vintech?). Other candidates that have been suggested: --Sytek, with two channels of the Jensen mod (with some $$ left over for something else -- this seems pretty attractive, but I worry that the Sytek is too clean) --Telefunken? OR, I can get two "lesser" preamps: --A Peavey VMP II and an RNP --A JoeMeek (which one?) and an RNP --Presonus MP20 and the Peavey or Meek. --That HHB 4 channel thingy Etc. Etc. My current thinking is to avoid all those "voice strip" things as I can do EQ etc in the computer. Except for voice (and drums, which I rarely record), I tend not to compress audio going into the computer -- for that, I have an RNC and assorted "crappy" compressors if one of them happens to sound better. Your thoughts are appreciated! --JES
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JES - IMO, for a good rock setup you need both a "colored" pre that squashes things a bit, AND a very transparent high gain pre (doesn't have to be super quiet). I would lean toward the 1272 if you had a slightly bigger budget, but in your price range I'd recommend a JoeMeek VC1Q and an RNP. By the way that's what I'm going for myself. :) The VC1Q is kind of a poor man's Neve sonically, the pre really does sound great and the compressor is very cool also, as a great rock compressor that you can really "crank." The reason you don't want something like the 1272 or VC1Q as your ONLY preamp, is that it usually doesn't sound right for things like drum overheads and room mics, acoustic guitars, background vox, and certain lead vox. In those applications you want as "wide open" a sound field as possible in order to get the big rock sound. 1272's and their ilk, which are touted as the "great rock pres," sound very "in your face" but sort of closed off spatially, if that makes any sense. They have the "slam" that sounds great for things like kick, snare, electric guitars and bass but not the "depth" you need to balance out your sound stage.
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[quote]Originally posted by Tedster the happy 'Nole: The Mary Ann preamp. The Ginger pre doesn't quite have the warmth.[/quote]I beg to differ... ...though I totally agree about the silky warmth that the Mary Ann preamp woould provide (and probably my overall favorite :p )... ...I would have to say that the hard edged Ginger preamp would probably gualify more as a true rock preamp. :D I guess I'm assuming we are talking about real shreading crunch rock...

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Of those you have listed, I vote for Peavey VMPII and RNP. But those two present a little problem, the Peavey is out of production but there are still a few unused for sale and the RNP is so new that hardly no one (including this poster) has used one. Regarding the Joemeek, I had an VC1 (last version without eq) and it was really great for bass but I didn't fancy using for very much else. I have also read that the new variable impedance pre that is in VC1Q does sound different from the older one. Definitely something you must try before you buy, as always. BTW, the Joemeek brand is no more, the new brand is Promeek, same gear & people. Some more fine pre's that meets your budget: CLM Dynamics (they come in 2/4/8 channel versions, great sounding pre). Amek/Rupert Neve 9098 (available as dual pre and single pre + eq, the pre is identical in both versions but the single version can give you one more flavor if you run the signal through the EQ in bypass mode, the EQ is great by itself also.) /Mats

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in my opinion, save and get a great river 2-NV for $1900 or look at the dan alexander 2 chanel neve clone. the sytek is great but not my pick for desert isle, not colored enough. best of luck how about a rnp and a great river 1 nv $1500 ish?
theo
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[quote]Originally posted by timrocker: [b]Now, if your name was Thurston, you'd be extolling the features/virtues of the "Mrs. Howell" rock pre, and of course the price would be no barrier, since you could easily afford the "top of the line". ;) [/b][/quote]The "Lovey Howell" preamp was always known for its fine vintage tones...
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Lee, just in case you haven't tried this with your vc1q... Shut off the comp, which, as you know, though cool, colors the sound quite a bit, go light on the pre drive, and route it through an RNC before hitting tape or converters. I can sometimes get a rather airy sound out of the thing with that strategy, and airy is usually the last word you apply to that pre....
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[quote]Originally posted by Mats_Olsson: CLM Dynamics (they come in 2/4/8 channel versions, great sounding pre).[/quote]I believe they are now just offering the 8-channel...? I have the CLM 4-channel...and yeah...I could live quite comfortably on a desert island with it as my only pre... ...but of course, you can't talk "desert island pre" without discussing mic(s) too!!! It might make more sense to think of a desert islamd mic(s) & pre combo. The CLM is very clean with lots of gain...and it also does M/S coding/encoding.

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um, maybe i dont get it, but exactly what sound [i]does[/i] a rock make? and why do you need a pre to mike a rock? also, if your on an island, where do you get the power to run the pre? from a bicycle powered coconut generater? seems like the pre would pick up the noise from the pedals before it would pick up the sound of a rock. this is a stupid idea, miking a rock.
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If you can stretch your budget another $50, then I'd strongly suggest checking out the Vintech "Dual 72", a two channel Neve 1272 reproduction. You can see them at http://www.vintech-audio.com. Atlas sells 'em at $1,250, as do a few other places. Guitar Center can get 'em for you, and will match prices if you mention you saw it advertised online for that price.
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Hey All, Thanks for the great replies. I was thinking about the Vintech as an option, actually, and yes, I can stretch a little. $1900 for a two-channel preamp I could eventually do, but that seems to cross some kind of financial line in my mind I'm not ready to cross. Question for the Meekheads: they all seem to have lots of gadgets on them -- can I get one with just a decent preamp or, at the most, preamp and compressor? Or will that unit not sound as good for some reason? I'd rather two preamp channels than one "voice channel" or whatever. And sonically, what's the difference between the VC3 and the VC1, or is it function for which you pine, Lee and Tedster? Lee, I've thought a lot about your point. Still haven't made up my mind, but yes, I do occasionally want that superclean sound. Would love something nice and clean as well, just not sure whether I should buy the "best that I can get" for the $$ or spread my money around some "pretty good" stuff. The mackie pres are more "dry" than "superclean" to my ears, though since they don't color the sound too much I could keep using them as an alternative to the Vintech if I sprung for that. Oh, and Sam, you asked about coloration later in the chain. That can be done, and some digital folks believe that you record as clean and dry as possible and then mess with it in the mix. I've found in my own recording that I often prefer NOT to defer decisions about tone and effects just because I can, and that sometimes it's better to just get the sound you want going in. Plus then there's less to worry about in the EQing, etc. Also, while I'm a big fan of digital recording, you can't put in what's not there. There is no way that I'll ever get something recorded through a Mackie into my computer to sound like it was recorded through a Neve. OTOH, you can go to other threads on these forums and watch people argue about whether the emulations of various hardware devices by powered plugins sound "real" or not. Thanks again, and please keep the opinions coming! Best, --JES PS -- I suppose you're doomed to grainy sound for desert island rock. Thank you. I'm here all week. PPS -- Edited for clarity.
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What Phil said. Dont ever underestimate what Phil says. You hear me? ;) I had the fortune to try out a Vintech Dual 72 last weekend. I used it on kick, snare, guitar, bass, and vocals. It severely kicks ass. I now have one on layaway. I strongly recommend it. I have been recording through an Allen $ Heath MixWizard into the computer and it hasnt sounded bad ever, just...well, plain boring. The best words I can use to describe the Vintech is rich and thick. This is the best my tracks have ever sounded!

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I've been hearing the name "Drawmer" for about three years now. (That's how long I've had my Digi001.) What about the MX 60? It's single channel but at about $700 beans I've been thinking about getting two of 'em. It's loaded with a mic Pre, noise gate, de-esser, compressor, EQ, and a tube sound stage (what ever that is, I guess something to add a little tube distortion) and everything I've ever heard about the company and it's other gear has been good. Anyone heard it?

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