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Xadovitch



Joined: 09/10/12
Posts: 1
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1012520 - 09/10/12 08:27 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

In 99% of cases the weak link is far more likely to be one of more of the following:

* the music
* the performance
* the recording environment acoustics
* the mic placement
* the mix



hugh




That is exactly why I bought an expensive preamp to record myself. Now I can't blame my gear anymore. If I've got poor results it's all my fault. That makes me work harder.

ps: feel free to correct my english (I'm a native french speaker)


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Guy Johnson



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012525 - 09/10/12 09:07 AM
I wonder who's going to have fun tabulating all the faves and unfaves!

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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Xadovitch]
      #1012530 - 09/10/12 09:21 AM
Quote Xadovitch:

That is exactly why I bought an expensive preamp to record myself. Now I can't blame my gear anymore. If I've got poor results it's all my fault. That makes me work harder.




I know exactly what you mean -- and that's my philosophy too!

hugh

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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1012538 - 09/10/12 09:47 AM
Quote Guy Johnson:

I wonder who's going to have fun tabulating all the faves and unfaves!




Me... Already done it. It is interesting, but completely inconclusive because the sample size is tiny. Amusingly, most preamps are placed both first and last by different people -- there's no acounting for tatse!

However, there does appear to be a slight trend of popularity towards one preamp, and against another in each of the mic sets, with the rest being more or less evens -- but I don't have Sam's cheat list yet so I don't know how these slight preferences relate to the specific preamps either... yet.

H

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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1012550 - 09/10/12 11:04 AM
BTW, I should have posted my own views earlier... but only got around to listening properly this morning and I've driven my wife completely mad with looped piano extracts!

To be honest, I'd be quite happy to have recorded any of them... although I'd want to reposition the Brauners and rotate the Royer a bit... If I had to pick a preference, I'd pick the Royer over the other two mic arrays -- loved it! -- and wouldn't care much about which preamp was being used... Yes, I'm a heathen!

Opinions: I don't honestly think I could say with any real confidence absolutely which preamp was which from these examples. There are hints of character evident on the louder transients and bass notes, but the preamps were all working so comfortably within their 'safe zone' that audible differences are minimal. There are some differences in noise floor level and character, but again very subtle and they wouldn't affect a recording like this -- although they might in a more challenging situation.

So... My own preferences were:

Royer: D. This seemed to have the nicest combination of delicacy and precision, detail and warmth.

MKH: B. This seemed to pass on slightly more information and detail than the others and just seemed the most natural.

Brauner: E. Same reasons as above. Seemed slightly more natural to my ears.... but I prefered the sound obtained by the Royer's first and the MKH second.

I am really intrigued to see the crib sheet now! I've been polishing my sword ready for falling upon should I have picked the ART throughout!

H

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Guy Johnson



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012563 - 09/10/12 11:47 AM
Yes, I'm sure my choices will be contradictory! And I agree they were all very close, with the Royer ones a bit more different ... I just went for the truly scientific 'Magic' and 'Hmmm' when listening! And in some parts of the same piece, I preferred different preamps !

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Edited by Guy Johnson (09/10/12 11:48 AM)


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #1012586 - 09/10/12 12:59 PM
Quote Guy Johnson:

And in some parts of the same piece, I preferred different preamps !




Yes... I guess that's the problem with a piece of music that is both loud and soft, gentle and percussively dynamic, rhythmic and sustained, and which uses the full range of the keyboard.

H

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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Fran Guidry]
      #1012602 - 09/10/12 02:44 PM
Quote Fran Guidry:

The Brauners and Sennheisers were placed in a similar location, but that location is inside the range of proximity effect, which alters the tonal balance of a cardioid like the Brauner but does not impact the Sennheiser omni. The Royer (presumably configured in Blumlein) is in a different location. The difference in patterns (cardioid, omni, figure 8) all result in different degrees and kinds of room interaction as well.

So is your real preference for the Brauner and the magic that invariably accompanies a $5000 price tag, or is it a matter of the cardioid frequency balance matching your taste? If the latter you might acquire your preferred sound with a bit of change left over.

Fran




Hi Fran!

All well and good, but are you aware that the preamp results (i.e.A, B, C, D, etc) were shuffled for each set of tests? (see previous confusion about this earlier in this thread ) Unless I'm missing something we're therefore not able to choose between mics in these tests - only which preamp we preferred and why for each of the three mic setups

That's why I'm waiting with such interest for Sam to officially name the three sets of preamps later on this week - only then will those of us who provided any feedback find out whether we preferred the same preamp in each of the three mic tests, or whether we liked different ones depending on which mic was being used.

I'm half expecting to discover I liked several preamps quite well across all three mics, that I loved one or two but only with particular mic setups, and even that I really liked the odd preamp on one mic but actively disliked it with another


Martin

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mjfe2



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #1012639 - 09/10/12 06:40 PM
Quote Martin Walker:

Quote Fran Guidry:

The Brauners and Sennheisers were placed in a similar location, but that location is inside the range of proximity effect, which alters the tonal balance of a cardioid like the Brauner but does not impact the Sennheiser omni. The Royer (presumably configured in Blumlein) is in a different location. The difference in patterns (cardioid, omni, figure 8) all result in different degrees and kinds of room interaction as well.

So is your real preference for the Brauner and the magic that invariably accompanies a $5000 price tag, or is it a matter of the cardioid frequency balance matching your taste? If the latter you might acquire your preferred sound with a bit of change left over.

Fran




Hi Fran!

All well and good, but are you aware that the preamp results (i.e.A, B, C, D, etc) were shuffled for each set of tests? (see previous confusion about this earlier in this thread ) Unless I'm missing something we're therefore not able to choose between mics in these tests - only which preamp we preferred and why for each of the three mic setups




Oh, I read Fran as simply asking whether the Brauner mics per se sounded beautiful or if it was just that in comparison with two omnis and figure-8s, two cardioids up close sounded best (i.e. they could have been cheaper than the Brauners and still sounded relatively 'beautiful'). I may have mis-read too, but I don't think he was talking about comparing preamps across the mics.

However, I do have a question about the proximity effect, which several people have mentioned in relation to the Brauners -- does it really come into play when the mics are a foot away, like in this test? I always thought it needed the mics to be more like a couple of inches away from the source. I guess it varies from mic to mic as well?


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1012649 - 09/10/12 08:19 PM
Quote mjfe2:

However, I do have a question about the proximity effect, which several people have mentioned in relation to the Brauners -- does it really come into play when the mics are a foot away, like in this test? I always thought it needed the mics to be more like a couple of inches away from the source. I guess it varies from mic to mic as well?




The strength of the proximity effect increases with proximity (funnily enough), but I can't think of any mics that still exhibit the effect when placed 18-inches or more from the source... Some certainly do start to show it at 12-inches, and most are suffering some bass tip up at 8 inches.

H

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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #1012650 - 09/10/12 08:23 PM
Quote Martin Walker:

That's why I'm waiting with such interest for Sam to officially name the three sets of preamps later on this week - only then will those of us who provided any feedback find out whether we preferred the same preamp in each of the three mic tests, or whether we liked different ones depending on which mic was being used.




I've just discovered that I picked the SSL twice and the ART once! Didn't expect that!

Sam will reveal all tomorrow... But I can tell you that you picked different preamps for the Royer and MKH sets. In the Brauner set you had three 'Nice' ratings, one of which was the same as one of the other sets, and the other two were different preamps again! You fickle man!

H

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Sam Inglis
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012654 - 09/10/12 08:59 PM
To be precise, I'll be unveiling the results first thing on Thursday, so you have 24 hours to add your responses to the blind test. Thanks to all the readers and forum users who have contributed so far... The conclusions are fascinating and not a little surprising!


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Fran Guidry



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1012665 - 09/10/12 09:55 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote mjfe2:

However, I do have a question about the proximity effect, which several people have mentioned in relation to the Brauners -- does it really come into play when the mics are a foot away, like in this test? I always thought it needed the mics to be more like a couple of inches away from the source. I guess it varies from mic to mic as well?




The strength of the proximity effect increases with proximity (funnily enough), but I can't think of any mics that still exhibit the effect when placed 18-inches or more from the source... Some certainly do start to show it at 12-inches, and most are suffering some bass tip up at 8 inches.

H




It's my understanding that proximity effect is present out to about a meter, which is why that distance is used to specify FR.

Because there's a doubling of effect at each halving of distance, the real drama takes place in the last bit, the big boomy sound that we associate with proximity, but there's an impact on frequency response well before that.

Fran

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E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
www.kaleponi.com & www.homebrewedmusic.com


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PianoPerson



Joined: 18/04/09
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012691 - 10/10/12 01:50 AM
Quote Sam Inglis:

To be precise, I'll be unveiling the results first thing on Thursday, so you have 24 hours to add your responses to the blind test. Thanks to all the readers and forum users who have contributed so far... The conclusions are fascinating and not a little surprising!




In that case I'll provide a response for all three microphones (my first response was only to the Brauner recordings):

Brauner: preferred A, liked H least
MKH: preferred G. Seemed to have very slightly more presence. D sounded very similar to G. But everything sounded good to me here.
Royer: Very difficult to express any preference here. I think I liked D best by a very small margin.


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matthewtryba



Joined: 25/03/10
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012701 - 10/10/12 07:00 AM
I am very grateful for this test. After listening to all the audio my main conclusion was that I was able to "feel the performance" on EVERY single example. To me, there was no single preamp that stood well above or below the others (which we would assume considering some of the "budget" pres that are present in the investigation). Sure, I could hear different "colors" but if I were engineering a piano recording like this I feel as though I could pick any of the pres and achieve the sound in my head by simply manipulating mic placement to compensate for the different colors.

Overall, this test has helped me to have more confidence in the gear that I own. As long as you stick the the "good rule": musician, instrument, room, mic, placement... the preamp is almost a non-issue (you're already 99% there if you take care of everything before the preamp). I feel better about not lusting after uber-expensive preamps and I'm just gonna keep on making music. I say just get decent pres that don't make a bunch of noise and go for it! Besides, a vintage 1073 never made anyone a better musician. Great performances of great songs will move people regardless of which mic preamps you used.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: matthewtryba]
      #1012731 - 10/10/12 10:16 AM
Quote matthewtryba:

Overall, this test has helped me to have more confidence in the gear that I own.




I think that's brilliant -- and exactly the conclusion that I had hoped would emerge.

And certainly a lot of people are going to have to question their preconceptions -- which is always a good thing!

hugh

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Martin WalkerModerator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1012811 - 10/10/12 03:02 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Sam will reveal all tomorrow... But I can tell you that you picked different preamps for the Royer and MKH sets. In the Brauner set you had three 'Nice' ratings, one of which was the same as one of the other sets, and the other two were different preamps again! You fickle man!




I'm just as interested to find out which were the preamps that weren't my favourites, such as the Brauner C that I described as having "slightly harsh midrange", the Brauner H that was "closed in" and the Royer H that I thought was "shrill & slightly harsh"

It could well be egg on face time, or then again I might find myself buying a budget ART preamp as I've liked their added warmth on other listening tests


Martin

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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Martin Walker]
      #1012845 - 10/10/12 06:14 PM
All will be revealed soon. No egg on face though, for anyone. It just goes to show how subtle the differences are between preamps used in this way, and that personal preferences are exactly that -- personal.

It's interesting to collate people's comments. The same preamp could be rated as favourite to some, but hated by others -- and that happened several times with several preamps. In some cases a preamp was described as dull by some, but shrill and harsh by others... So it's really about about individual personal perceptions, or perhaps the continually changing nature of the performance created false impressions, highlighted because the actual differences are so small.

H

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Sam Inglis
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1012942 - 11/10/12 09:39 AM
Key will be posted shortly, we're just trying to resolve some technical difficulties with tabulating the results in the forum software!


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Sam Inglis
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013056 - 11/10/12 03:27 PM
With thanks to Hugh... the results are now available in this thread.

Edited by Sam Inglis (11/10/12 03:29 PM)


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nathanscribe



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013059 - 11/10/12 03:54 PM
Ha! I suspect a certain budget manufacturer will be selling a couple more units this month...

Just goes to show. Even in my own (limited) pre-amp experience, my UA gets less use since buying an A&H mixer than when I had a Mackie/Presonus. It clearly hasn't changed, but I feel less inclined to require it as the A&H inputs are quite nice enough. Maybe I should 'downgrade'...

Very interesting experiment, thanks chaps.

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my nerdy synth tech blog


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013060 - 11/10/12 03:59 PM
Thanks Sam,

It's fascinating to see that the Neve is described by some as Classy, vintage, and rich -- in accordance with the usual received wisdom about the design -- while others describe it as strident, veiled and grainy, or natural and neutral, less detailed, edgy and even bright and clean!

So much for consistent impressions!

Similarly, lots of people described the Maselec as being slightly dull and muffled, while others suggested it had a hard midrange, shrill and with sharper transients.

... and equally contrary opinions are apparent throughout which goes to show how varied and entirely subjective personal opinions can be!

The comments and ratings published in the other thread aren't particularly scientific, and the poll size is ludicrously small so there is no valid statistical evidence there, really. We had more comments about the Brauner set, probably just because people lost interest after auditioning the first eight, although the higher number of participants provided a slightly more statistically interesting set of results.

Overall though, it seems no one could reliably identify any specific preamp, and even where one or two managed a hit in one set they missed in the other, which would imply no better success than random selection.

And so there is the message to take away: When used simply to raise the output of a microphone to line level -- without being deliberately overdriven for effect, and when used within their intended gain structure and headroom design limits -- the audible differences between modern preamps are vanishingly small -- regardless of price, topology, or active devices.

Moving or changing the mics will make massively more difference to the perceived quality.

That's not to say that expensive preamps don't offer features and virtues that are worthwhile if they can be afforded -- most certainly do -- but if you are seeking to improve the sound of your recordings the odds are that the preamp isn't the problem, even if you're using a relatively modest interface or budget mixer preamp.

My experience bears that out too. A good engineer can create great recording using budget equipment quite easily. Inexperienced or unskilled people can't even with the best mics, preamps, converters and everythign else!

As my wife is always telling me, it's not what you have but what you do with it that matters...

Food for thought, anyway!

H

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The Elf
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1013067 - 11/10/12 05:01 PM
I was hoping I'd preferred the ones I could best afford, but it looks like I need to budget for an Orpheus and more SSL pre's!

Thanks guys!

What do you mean I missed the point?!

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An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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Mattyy



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013083 - 11/10/12 05:40 PM
ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!! I think that you guys may have just earned a lifelong subscriber here! What other magazine would do this? Request: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a similar type of comparison with analog to digital converters. I feel that this would be a much more pertinent and important exercise considering the digital age that we live in and the overwhelming choice in product designs. I, personally would love to hear the differences between a Lavry, Apogee and perhaps a ART usb device or equivalent. Thanks again!

--------------------
Just a fan of music...


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mjfe2



Joined: 11/10/09
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Mattyy]
      #1013087 - 11/10/12 05:57 PM
Quote Mattyy:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do a similar type of comparison with analog to digital converters. I feel that this would be a much more pertinent and important exercise considering the digital age that we live in and the overwhelming choice in product designs. I, personally would love to hear the differences between a Lavry, Apogee and perhaps a ART usb device or equivalent. Thanks again!




Ah, but the die-hard fans at Gearslutz would say you couldn't make a reliable comparison without a Prism DAC to listen to the results!


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Exalted Wombat



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1013089 - 11/10/12 06:08 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

...And so there is the message to take away: When used simply to raise the output of a microphone to line level -- without being deliberately overdriven for effect, and when used within their intended gain structure and headroom design limits -- the audible differences between modern preamps are vanishingly small -- regardless of price, topology, or active devices.

...That's not to say that expensive preamps don't offer features and virtues that are worthwhile if they can be afforded -- most certainly do...




Still a bit of wriggle-room then, to placate the owners who KNOW their pricy gear is better? :-) Shall we now test them driven a bit harder? And what are these "certain" virtues of the higher-priced models?


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mjfe2



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1013091 - 11/10/12 06:19 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

And what are these "certain" virtues of the higher-priced models?




Build quality, reliability, ergonomics, and gain matching between channels!


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Exalted Wombat



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1013093 - 11/10/12 06:26 PM
Quote mjfe2:

Quote Exalted Wombat:

And what are these "certain" virtues of the higher-priced models?




Build quality, reliability, ergonomics, and gain matching between channels!




Quite likely. Not necessarily. Now we're going strictly evidence-based, let's have the test results? :-)


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mjfe2



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1013098 - 11/10/12 06:39 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

Quote mjfe2:

Quote Exalted Wombat:

And what are these "certain" virtues of the higher-priced models?




Build quality, reliability, ergonomics, and gain matching between channels!




Quite likely. Not necessarily. Now we're going strictly evidence-based, let's have the test results? :-)




Well you can't systematically test everything! I'm happy to take Hugh's reviews of hardware as proof of the first two points (though I know you said you'd had problems with your SSL pres!). Also, forums like these assure me of certain companies' reputations when it comes to warranties and fixing problems. As for ergonomics, that's subjective. But it's something you can easily test yourself! And as for gain matching, Hugh is very systematic when it comes to testing things in reviews, but I also meant that more expensive preamps tend to have notched gain controls, which for classical recordists is definitely a 'certain' virtue.

But I agree that it would be good to know what a valve preamp sounds like when pushed. Then I'll know whether to spend money there, or on a valve mic, or on a decent plugin that adds second order harmonics to the signal! Incidentally, does a transformer-based preamp sound different when pushed? I've always been careful with gain structure when using my LA Audio MX2 preamp, but I'd be interested to know if there are supposed sonic benefits to pushing the input gain.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1013106 - 11/10/12 07:17 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

Still a bit of wriggle-room then, to placate the owners who KNOW their pricy gear is better? :-)




There are many reasons why more expensive preamps could be 'better'... but sound quality might not always be the most significant factor.

Quote:

Shall we now test them driven a bit harder?




We do have plans to develop something along those lines, and principally because that is likely to reveal clearer differences between preamps. However, to be brutally realistic, most recordings are not made with 'pushed' preamps. Most of the time we just want to raise the level of a microphone signal without adding any distortion or colour -- which is what we did in these comparisons.

Quote:

And what are these "certain" virtues of the higher-priced models?




Build quality, reliability, ergonomics, flexibility, control linearity, serviceability, support, headroom, channel gain matching precision, nice-sounding saturation, decent RF rejection and CMRR, lower noise (maybe), hum-free power supplies, etc etc (E&OE)

Hugh

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Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1013108 - 11/10/12 07:23 PM
Quote mjfe2:

Incidentally, does a transformer-based preamp sound different when pushed?




Different to what?

But yes, if the transformer saturates nicely, then it might provide a desirable characteristic... provided the rest of the circuitry can cope with the output from the overdriven input transformer.

Quote:

I'd be interested to know if there are supposed sonic benefits to pushing the input gain.




Lots of people think so -- but not all preamps react nicely to being overdriven -- that's what separates the favourites from the discards!

H

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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1013119 - 11/10/12 07:43 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote:

I'd be interested to know if there are supposed sonic benefits to pushing the input gain.




Lots of people think so -- but not all preamps react nicely to being overdriven -- that's what separates the favourites from the discards!





Oh dear! This is all getting muddy again! Are you saying the tests didn't cover a common and popular usage situation - mild overload - where the units WOULD sound noticeably different?


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Mixedup
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1013122 - 11/10/12 07:57 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

Are you saying the tests didn't cover a common and popular usage situation - mild overload - where the units WOULD sound noticeably different?




To be fair, it was never claimed to be an exhaustive test of everything about all preamps. Within the confines of the test it does indeed show some surprising (to some) results. I suspect there'll be quite a few readers that on the back of this test won't burn cash unnecessarily on preamps to 'correct' the faults in their recordings/mixes, but will instead persevere with mic choice and placement, getting the source sound right etc. Which can only be a good thing.

The tests neither explored 'driving' preamps, nor 'stacking' preamps. They might be interesting additional tests, of course — certainly my own non-scientific tests suggest more differences than that — but they don't detract from what's been done here. Also bear in mind that some preamps make this easy — eg a 1073 has an output trim — whereas others don't — they give you an input gain and that's it, so you need external attenuation, which brings another factor into play. Also, it's easy to test some repeatable sources (DI bass/guitar) and less easy to test others (multi-miked drums, which have already passed through a preamp...).


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1013134 - 11/10/12 08:55 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

This is all getting muddy again!




Don't think so.... But perhaps you're still confused about what we were investigating.

Quote:

Are you saying the tests didn't cover a common and popular usage situation - mild overload - where the units WOULD sound noticeably different?




Yes. We made it very clear from the outset that we were comparing eight different preamps, across a wide range of prices, with all the different topologies and active devices, amplifying three different kinds of microphones in a very typical, standard, common, normal and popular application. CLEAN AMPLIFICATION

I don't know what's so hard to comprehend there, but hopefully that has clarified the aim for you.

And the result was that, despite so many claims to the contrary, the differences were negligible.

It may well be that deliberately adjusting the preamp for mild overload would produce greater differences -- in fact im sure it will -- and we are working on plans to examine that too. But that wouldn't be a typical methodology for recording a baby grand piano, or most other sources forth at matter, and we have some work still to do to find a reliably consistent and relevant sound source for the overdrive comparisons. Also, there are far fewer preamps that can easily be overdriven, of course.

H

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Mattyy



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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: mjfe2]
      #1013139 - 11/10/12 09:08 PM
So no ADC comparison? :-(
Or am I giving away something here ;-)
LOL!

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Just a fan of music...


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Jorge
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013150 - 11/10/12 10:20 PM
+1 a huge thanks to the SOS crew for doing this. I think you did this project just right, using the blind testing methodology specifically for the most subjective and important aspect of mic preamps, the "sound". Blind judging by knowledgeable readers with trained ears also has the advantage of removing any perception by either readers or manufacturers of bias on the part of the testers. SOS reviewers have always had high credibility in my view, but the blind testing using the community of professionals on this forum takes it up to a new level and adds a whole new dimension when it comes to these subjective aspects of the reviews.

That said, I think it is valuable to us as readers, and certainly would also be to manufacturers, to continue to do your thorough detailed reviews of all the other aspects of the products you review. As others are saying above, the many other factors from ergonomics, to build quality, to ability to handle moderate overload in some realistic situations, to customer support, do not lend themselves easily to blind testing by forum members. This ideal combination of detailed expert reviews and blind testing by peers really improves my ability to make confident purchasing decisions for the products I need to buy. In these times, making wise purchases is even more important than ever. Keep on doing what you are doing!


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013151 - 11/10/12 10:31 PM
To get comparable sounds, how about some well-recorded stuff, such as drums, bass, vocals — played though a fab big monitor such as an ATC 100 in a good room.

You'd get absolutely consistent sounds to test with.

Doesn't matter how the sounds were recorded (let's not get into the stacking fallacy!) As long as they are very good recordings, it's the sound of a good drum, cymbal, bass, voice etc. that would be the point.

And those sounds can then be played to different mics and preamps, with complete control and regularity to capture the sounds and a bit of real room as well.

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tiberius



Joined: 17/03/06
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Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Xadovitch]
      #1013154 - 11/10/12 11:07 PM
Before the results are revealed I will have to remove my high rating for the pre that sounded more stereo than the others. I think one channel just had the polarity reversed by accident. So discount that one. When are the results out?


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6684
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Sam Inglis]
      #1013155 - 11/10/12 11:12 PM
Yes, +1! Great"! Excellent excercise.(I suspect there are quite a few BOFs like me that are thinking "Not suprised, Keep it clean and you can't tell").

The muddying by the "mild overload" brigade is IMHO a bit wrong headed and if SoS are considering following that line of research I believe it to be going up a blind alley chasing a red fish.
I see such useage (abusage?)of pre amps as a fairly modern "arty" thing and I see parallels in my own world with guitar amps.

There would have been no point in asking Mullards in the 1950s how to design a good rock guitar amp. The concept of "good" distortion would have been totally alien to them!

The idea of using a very high quality monitor is interesting but speakers do not radiate sound in the same way as real instruments (which is where and why recording is 50% art and 50% persperation)so I cannot see the results of ribbons V diaphragm mic being comparable?

Hey! If you want repeatable live drums, wheel in a paper card driven fairground organ! Some REAL bells and whistles to boot!

Dave.


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5635
Re: Preamp comparison in SOS October 2012: your views! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1013166 - 12/10/12 01:38 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote:

Are you saying the tests didn't cover a common and popular usage situation - mild overload - where the units WOULD sound noticeably different?




Yes. We made it very clear from the outset that we were comparing eight different preamps, across a wide range of prices, with all the different topologies and active devices, amplifying three different kinds of microphones in a very typical, standard, common, normal and popular application. CLEAN AMPLIFICATION





Understood. I phrased my question badly. That's good to know - if you're looking for a clean recording, spending £££ on a preamp is silly. Can we now have a similar test with a range of units being run a bit harder? My instinct tells me there's no particular reason an expensive box's grunge should sound more desirable than a cheaper one's, but it would be fun to find out!


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