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Audient iD4 and TLM 102

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Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby kalmoa » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:41 pm

What is the best audio interface / pre-amp for the TLM 102? This is primarily for recording vocals (Pop/R&b/Rap).

I saw a few reviews state they use the Audient + TLM 102 and nothing else. While others buy a separate pre-amp, such as the PreSonus studio channel. Is a separate pre-amp (tube?) even necessary? Or will my Audient iD4 be just fine?

Thanks!
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby James Perrett » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:00 pm

The Audient interfaces have very good preamps onboard so it is unlikely you would need anything else. There aren't many budget interfaces with preamps of a similar high quality.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby awjoe » Wed Aug 08, 2018 10:45 pm

I find the noisiest chain I've got is when I use the Firestudio Mobile's preamps. So noise is one factor in a 'good preamp'. What's another?
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby James Perrett » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:14 am

awjoe wrote:So noise is one factor in a 'good preamp'. What's another?

Noise is probably the easiest to define but other gotchas would be whether the preamp has a sensible gain range, how good is it at rejecting interference (especially from mobile phones) and does the frequency response change with different gain settings?
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby awjoe » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 am

James Perrett wrote:
awjoe wrote:So noise is one factor in a 'good preamp'. What's another?

Noise is probably the easiest to define but other gotchas would be whether the preamp has a sensible gain range, how good is it at rejecting interference (especially from mobile phones) and does the frequency response change with different gain settings?

That's interesting, because in my neck of the woods, a one-preamp Audient interface costs me 200 units of currency and a two-preamp Audient interface costs me 300 units of currency, which is about the cost of my two-preamp Firestudio Mobile. But like I said, it can be a touch noisy, and I'm assuming the Audient checks all the boxes that you described, which makes it better noise-wise. Cheers.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:25 am

kalmoa wrote:I saw a few reviews state they use the Audient + TLM 102 and nothing else....

So a lot of this is the internet equivalent of 'my mate down the pub reckons'. I'm sure people have used this combination and have had good (possibly even great) results. But, tbh, you can get great results with quite a lot of gear at the moment - it's hard to find new stuff that is bad. Audient make good mic pres for their desks so it makes sense that their interfaces have a decent quality mic pre. If someone is using another, external, pre then I would assume that it is for adding 'colour' to the sound - most interface pres are nice and clean and neutral sounding. If they are using another clean pre, then they aren't really getting much benefit (possibly even making things worse).

You can't go too far wrong with that gear. It's fine. Others use different kit and that's great. More important than the gear is the recording space and the talent singing into the mic. And the song. If they are good, then almost any gear is going to sound great.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby Wonks » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:06 am

A lot of rap vocals are recorded using a Shure SM7b. So if you ever expand your mic collection to one of those, you'll need to be aware that it's a dynamic mic with quite a low output, so you'll need a quiet pre-amp with a good gain range (as James mentioned).

The iD4 hasn't the greatest gain range with 56dB of physical gain available (plus another 10dB of 'software' gain, which you can do just as easily in your DAW, so it may not be as good as some other interfaces if you go later want to go down the dynamic mic route).

Note that it also only provides 48v phantom power if using the 12v power supply (rather than just USB power). So it might be more awkward to use than some other interfaces if you plan on doing location recording with a laptop, as you'll need to carry the PSU (and maybe an extension leas) around as well. If you have your own studio set-up and don't plan to record elsewhere, then it's not an issue.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby ef37a » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:38 am

The spec' I found for the iD4 gave a gain figure of 58dB and good noise and headroom figures. Being Audient I would say you can trust those figures (not casting any aspersions you understand!) and the pre amp would probably be just about ok for an Sm7.

Enough gain, low noise and a decent overload margin is all we can reasonably expect from a mid-priced AI IMO. The only reason to go for an external pre amp would be some sort of "attitude" (aka "distortion") . Best I believe to "keep it clean and dry" (maybe a HPFilter) going in then mangle after if you are so inclined.

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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby James Perrett » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:33 pm

Wonks wrote:The iD4 hasn't the greatest gain range with 56dB of physical gain available

What matters more is the noise at that gain - good preamp will still be pretty quiet at maximum gain. The other issue is the minimum gain - some manufacturers set this too high which means that over exuberant vocals will clip if you are using a high output mic.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby ef37a » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:57 pm

The "gain range" of almost any interface is going to be a compromise because of the single pot that is almost always used.
Many a review of AIs and some pre amps has noted severe "cramping" of the last few degrees of the gain pot leading to a "***t or bust" control and an inability to set for high but not maximum gain.

By using pots with exotic laws some improvement is possible but for gain ranges over say 50dB the problem is pretty intractable. Small wonder then that top line pre amps etc use a multi-step switch to set gain and then a "trim" pot that usually either adds 10dB or so or gives a + or - so many dB. Of course, more and more top line devices use digitally set gain which solves the problem at a stroke (do not have a SCOOBY how they do it!) . We can hope that the technology will trickle down to more affordable devices?

Note, if a good overload margin is sought, do not think the minimum gain figure is an indication of high headroom? The latter is determined by the internal supply rails. The gain could be 0dB but if max out is +2dBu THAT is the overload point.

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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby Darren Lynch » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:23 pm

To the OP - I also have a TLM 102. It's a good vocal microphone. Your Audient interface preamp will be plenty OK to use. The thing to watch out for is that a decent mic like the TLM 102 will pick up anything bad happening in the recording space (honking peaks in the vocal's crucial lower mid range, flutter echoes in the high end which mean the vocal never sits properly in the mix etc). Best pay attention to the sound of the room than the preamp.

On the SM7B gain issue - I respect you all guys, you know I do. But as a SM7B owner, I have to categorically state that when you have a singer or rapper right on the mic, it just needs a bit more gain, not loads.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby kalmoa » Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:28 pm

Thanks everyone for your reply. I will keep testing on my Audient and see how I like the sound. I know some people use different preamps to change the 'color' of the sound, but I wasn't really sure what that meant. The Audient has a clean preamp, while other external preamps (maybe such as the Warm Audio TB12) change the sound a bit more.

One thing I did find out, is that I don't think you can bypass the preamp on the Audient series, aside from the iD22. I didn't even know that would be an issue, as I thought all audio-interfaces could utilize an external preamp, but I guess some cannot?

Thanks again everyone.
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Re: Audient iD4 and TLM 102

Postby ef37a » Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:35 pm

The iD14 line inputs are indeed attenuated mic amps but then so are those on 95% of AIs and quite a few mixers, some of very revered status!

This point has come up several times before but in short, if the mic amp is quiet and of very low distortion, "padding it down" to accept higher line levels make virtually no difference. It is likely that a dedicated line input would use exactly the same op amp in a slightly different configuration.

From all I can gather, those Audient pres are low noise and low distortion. No worries!

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