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Austiban
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« on: September 14, 2006, 03:02:00 AM »

I've just started to mess around with recording. I've been directly plugging in the mic (shure sm 57) into my laptop.  The sound is ok for a demo but its missing that open lively sound I'm looking for, so I've decided to get a mic preamp.  Now which one to get?  I'm doing this mainly to please myself so I don't need anything expensive.  Could someone recommend a nice preamp for $150 or less?   
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2006, 03:12:39 AM »

I use an M-Audio DMP3. They are a standard for cheap preamps. Also a SM57 is a dynamic mic so I'm not sure your going to get a real airy sound.
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Austiban
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2006, 03:36:57 AM »

Thanks for the quick response.  Any mic suggestions.  I guess the sound I'm kinda looking for is like late Johnny Cash recordings.  Don't know if airy is the right description of it.
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2006, 04:50:37 AM »

I don't have any idea what recording techniques they used on Cash's records. But the most popular type mic for recording instruments is a condensor mic. They are alot more detailed and sensitive. You can get good sound from the SM57 but it won't be a very objective detailed sound. The most common type of mic for acoustic guitar recording is a small diaphram condensor. You might try looking for clips online or see if you can try one out in person. But don't expect great results by spending more on equipment. Three major things people like to ignore in recording are...
1.The room it's recorded in. No matter how much your setup cost, it won't remove the "bedroom boogieman".
2. Talent. enough said
3. Monitors and listening enviroment. listening on pc speakers in an untreated room doesn't yeild an objective listening setting.

You can get some decent recordings on a cheap setup, but don't expect it to sound close to professional quality. You will probably find after spending a few more hundred dollars that now they sound like nicer demo recordings.
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Austiban
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2006, 05:06:25 AM »

Thanks   I always liked how the guitar sounds in the bathroom, I should try recording there.
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2006, 10:38:22 AM »

Rick Rubin did a stellar job on those Johnny Cash recordings. I too would love to be able to capture those qualities, but without his talent, an inventory of multi-thousand dollar mics, even more expensive processing gear and the larger than life aura that radiates from someone who walked the line for several decades, it is difficult.

Learning recording techniques is no different than learning to play an instrument. You have to select the right gear that fits your budget, spend a lot of time practicing, and experiment with a variety of techniques until you find your voice.
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2006, 03:47:57 PM »

I kinda figured that. I was mainly hoping to get my recording setup pointed that direction.  Even if I had Rubins setup I wouldn't be close to doing it any justice...I'd still want it though .  Do you guys have any opions on the ART Tube MP Studio V3 Mic Preamp or Bellari MP105 Tube Mic Preamp?  If you want to hear my 1st attempt at recording check out my croc hunter tribute at http://youtube.com/watch?v=9Lwrq6KCaTY .  Try not to laugh to much though
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2006, 11:10:58 PM »

Also...what kind of difference will I notice using a preamp as opposed to direct micing into my laptop?  Will it make a big difference?
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rayintherockies
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2006, 10:09:57 PM »

I just picked up a presonus tube preamp.  $99, it's obviously got a real tube (yeah!), and people I trust who know much more than I do, swear that it rivals preamps in the $500 + dollar range.  It accommodates 1 mic and or 1/4 inch for instrument or whatever.
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2006, 01:04:51 AM »

cool I'll check it out.
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2006, 03:18:28 AM »

I have very limited guitar recording background so I cannot reference a vast sea of experience as others in this forum.  What I can tell you, in regards to the difference a preamp will make, is that the problem that I have had with passive guitar signals is that they are far too weak to work with, or even hear.  A preamp with drive and gain control will not only boost the signal's strength - gain, but will also do wonders to richen or "warm" the signal - drive.  Preamps are also available in software programs as well (v.s.t.s and so on).  I recently contacted a musician, Tom Conlon, whose sound I find to be very natural and rich.  He told me his gear consists of a presonus tube preamp, a dbx compressor, and his guitar.  I'm sure that there are many tricks to learn about how to get many different sounds out of only a few pieces of gear.  I think it comes down to a lot of reading, experimentation, more reading, and trial and error, and more reading.  Let me know what you find out.
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2006, 10:01:37 PM »

I've been looking into some of the preamps mentioned, but now I don't know if I should go with a USB capable preamp or not?  I record on my laptop with Cakewalk SOnar 4.  I can go direct into the mic plug on the sound card, USB, or firewire.  Would going the USB or firewire route give me a better quality signal?
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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2006, 12:22:39 AM »

I just got a presonus inspire firewire.  But it doesn't have a tube preamp.

Rayintherockies, can you tell me which tube preamp you got?
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2006, 05:28:55 PM »

I have very limited guitar recording background so I cannot reference a vast sea of experience as others in this forum.  What I can tell you, in regards to the difference a preamp will make, is that the problem that I have had with passive guitar signals is that they are far too weak to work with, or even hear.  A preamp with drive and gain control will not only boost the signal's strength - gain, but will also do wonders to richen or "warm" the signal - drive.  Preamps are also available in software programs as well (v.s.t.s and so on).  I recently contacted a musician, Tom Conlon, whose sound I find to be very natural and rich.  He told me his gear consists of a presonus tube preamp, a dbx compressor, and his guitar.  I'm sure that there are many tricks to learn about how to get many different sounds out of only a few pieces of gear.  I think it comes down to a lot of reading, experimentation, more reading, and trial and error, and more reading.  Let me know what you find out.

rayintherockies,

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the fact that the unit has a tube in it does not mean that the tube is being used in the gain stage of the pre-amp.  In fact, all of the low-cost 'tube' microphone preamps from PreSonus, dBX, Behringer, Samson, etc. use the 12AX7 tube as a sort of saturation effect.  But the gain is coming from solid state electronics.  Just write PreSonus and ask them.

This doesn't mean you won't get a decent recording from the PreSonus.  I use a PreSonus FireBox which has only solid state pre-amps in it and I think it does fine as a microphone pre-amp.

Note on page 3 in the PreSonus manual on the TubePre; that the 'drive' control routes the amount of signal going to the 12AX7 tube for saturation.  It is not providing the gain stage like a true tube pre-amp does.  It's just a separate saturation circuit.

http://www.presonus.com/pdf/tubepre_manual.pdf

No worries, but don't be fooled into thinking you got a true tube pre-amp for $100.  None exist in that range. 

EDIT (I just remembered the kit pre-amps you can buy and build for around $100 - here's an excellent article in TapeOp magazine which takes you through some mods of this true, starved plate type tube pre-amp)
http://www.tapeop.com/magazine/bonuspdfs/paiamicpremods.pdf#search=%22low%20cost%20tube%20preamp%2012ax7%22

Your's is just like the other $100 range 'tube' preamps.  They all call themselves tube pre-amps, but that just means there is a tube there doing something, but not what a true tube pre-amp stage does.  I have a  dbx mini-pre that does the same thing.  I like it's sound, but it's not a real tube pre-amp where gain is being provided by a true tube circuit design.

-Scott
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2006, 10:12:13 PM »

jeez Scott,

Thanks for correcting me (and putting me in my place).  And to think that I actually know less than the little bit I thought I knew. 

ray
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2006, 03:14:33 AM »

jeez Scott,

Thanks for correcting me (and putting me in my place).  And to think that I actually know less than the little bit I thought I knew. 

ray

ray,

I didn't mean 'to put you in your place'.  I really like PreSonus products.  I use their Firebox for my recording interface.

I was mislead on the same exact topic which lead me to buy the dbx mini pre.  It's similar to the Tubepre from PreSonus.  I thought I was getting a tube pre-amp at the time.  Found out later it wasn't really true with a similar post to the one I put here.

But hey, I like the sound that I get with it as it seems you do to.  That's the key.

-Scott
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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2006, 11:34:50 PM »

I think you'll find a reasonably priced condenser microphone will give you a lot more of the "airy" quality you are looking for (I use a fairly cheap Apex 435). Also, you mentioned you are plugging into your laptop. Most laptops have lousy soundcards and no line inputs. If you are plugging into the mic input on a laptop audio card, you will not get anything close to a good recording regardless of the quality of microphone you are using. Get yourself a good outboard USB or Firewire audio card (M-Audio for example).
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