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My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

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My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby erkka » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:51 am

Hey all,

Now that I finally upgraded my project room to something that I can treat acoustically, I can start considering preamps.

Here's my chain so far:

1. Primary mics: AKG C414xlii, Neumann TLM102. Might add Schoeps MK4 and a TLM107 later on.
2. Interface: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X

Mostly recording vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars, with an emphasis on the first two.

What would be a good preamp to pair with the C414 and Apollo?

Considering:
* Golden Age PRE-73 (similar to a 1073)
* Universal Audio's 1073 Unison plugin
* Universal Audio's Manley Voxbox Unison plugin
* An actual 1073 (down the line)
* An actual Manley Voxbox (down the line)

I've heard good things about the UA plugins, and having one less box lying around (at least for now) is kind of tempting.

Would you go with a) a cheap but good hw unit, e.g. the Golden Age - or something else? b) the UA plugins c) skip the cheaper options, save up, and go straight for a 1073/Voxbox?

Thanks & BR,
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby CS70 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:19 am

The UAD should come with a pre-authorized 610 - at least it did when I bought mine.
Give it a spin and see if you notice any difference. You can also try the UAD 1073 and Voxbox for free a couple of weeks and make your own mind. Like with any pre, you need to drive them a bit hard to see what they do to your mic signal.

Most of the difference with a real box will be that a real box has physical knobs to turn. That is relevant in hectic tracking situations (i.e. most of them :-D) because it's far easier to close your eyes, turn the gain knob and listen in the headphones than having to keep them open and go thru the right click/open window/point and drag the mouse routine.

All the preamps you mention are good and will work fine with the mics you have.. if their sound combined is the sound you're going after. It's a bit like asking if yellow is a good color. :) I personally like channel strips best because they have more settings, so I can try more options without changing the chain. In your case, a physical Manley Voxbox would be my choice for these two reasons.
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby erkka » Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:18 am

Thanks!

It's a bit like asking if yellow is a good color.

Spot on :D Essentially, for a project studio, my current mics and the Apollo already provide a very good quality by themselves, so it's mainly about adding seasoning - character and warmth.

I probably should have mentioned that I've already tried the 610, Voxbox, and 1073 plugins from UAD, that's how I ended up with my options :) I also had the chance to try out physical versions of the Voxbox and 610 at my old company way back when, but it's been such a long time that the memories have faded and I don't have that option anymore :) Came up with the Golden Age pre due to our vocalist having one. While the things I do are more subtle in real life, I did try these out with harder settings to hear what they do to the signal.

All those options do seem to get the job done for my needs (esp. the Voxbox & 1073), but I lack a longer experience in the subject to be more sure about which one to go with :)


CS70 wrote:The UAD should come with a pre-authorized 610 - at least it did when I bought mine.
Give it a spin and see if you notice any difference. You can also try the UAD 1073 and Voxbox for free a couple of weeks and make your own mind. Like with any pre, you need to drive them a bit hard to see what they do to your mic signal.

Most of the difference with a real box will be that a real box has physical knobs to turn. That is relevant in hectic tracking situations (i.e. most of them :-D) because it's far easier to close your eyes, turn the gain knob and listen in the headphones than having to keep them open and go thru the right click/open window/point and drag the mouse routine.

All the preamps you mention are good and will work fine with the mics you have.. if their sound combined is the sound you're going after. It's a bit like asking if yellow is a good color. :) I personally like channel strips best because they have more settings, so I can try more options without changing the chain. In your case, a physical Manley Voxbox would be my choice for these two reasons.
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:22 am

I know it's said here regularly, but that's because it's true: the room acoustics will make much more difference than any preamp.

It seems to me, since you've already invested in the Apollo, that sticking with the UAD options would be the most convenient, the most versatile and the most cost-effective direction.
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Luke W » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:42 am

I've got no complaints about the pres in my Twin (Mk1). I do have a couple of the Unison models and they certainly bring some options to the table, but in honesty I can't say too much about them as I rarely end up using them.

The other thing I like about the built in pres on the Apollo is the control. The ability to link the channels for easy matching when recording with stereo arrays is nice, and being able to save and recall settings for a session can be useful. Nothing life-changing really, but still handy.
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:05 am

I mainly record acoustic music and I’m happy enough with the UAD preamps. I do have a couple of their plug in preamps, but only use them now and then as I’m generally after a clean input rather than coloured and then ‘season’ in the box.

Having said that I also use a Focusrite ISA Two, mainly because I like the option of physically tweaking the gain knobs in a session, but also the ISA preamps are essentially clean with a slight larger than life sound (if that makes any sense).

And yes, an acoustically treated room makes a big difference.

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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby erkka » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:26 am

Thanks everyone, I think I'll go with the UAD plugins at this time :)

About room treatment: Definitely agree, and this is actually the main issue that has been blocking me for quite some time when it comes to upgrades. But, as I'm finally getting a treated room due to buying an apartment v. renting, it makes more sense to start slowly taking things to the next level :)
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby CS70 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:26 am

erkka wrote:Came up with the Golden Age pre due to our vocalist having one.

I see :) Assuming you know everything about room and mic placement being far more important than the preamp... all in all, if you want a 1173-like pre that has physical characteristics, this is probably a good entry point, cheap and cheerful and does the job fine! :D

The alternative is, as Bob says, to simply track clean and color after the fact. The preamps in your Apollo are top notch and absolutely not in the way of you making a smash hit record :D
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Macca_25387 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:40 pm

The warm audio wa12 is a really good choice for an outboard preamp for not a lot of money. It was mine as it happens. I was really impressed with everything i put through it. Seems to give some sources a real sharpness.
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Trent in WA » Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:57 pm

I'll second what the other, more knowledgeable folks here have suggested, and add that of the UAD pres I've tried, the V76 is my favorite, and I'm doing the same kind of recording that you're doing (save the electric guitar bit).
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Re: My first preamp - Golden Age? UAD plugins? Others?

Postby Todzilla » Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:18 pm

I'm not sure, but I am willing to bet that the inputs on the Twin X go through the preamps regardless. There no line inputs that bypass the preamp. So, you'd be preamplifying the preamped signal.

As others have said, stick with the stock preamps. They'll be great.
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