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Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

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Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:00 pm

I was using Oktavamod NT1A for almost 8 years and I am kind of upset with the sibilance it produce on my vocal . I was using modded GAP-73 MKII before and doesnt like it much. few years ago GAP-73 MKii was broken and I get back using Babyface's preamp. It still produce dull bass on my vocal. yesterdy, I picked up the TLM-102 and I love it so much on my vocal. No more sibilance, high freq boost gives some sparkles, however Babyface preamp still gives dull and muddy bass.
- Which preamp can help me to fix dull, muddy bass? Do the clean one (UA 710) or warm audio tone beast can do that? please give me your advices. my budget for it is under $500 (included used gears)
- I don't play instruments so all these stuff is for vocal only and I only do love song, pop song. My vocal character is muddy bass male voice.

- Also, I am using KNS8400 headphone with livewire4 headphone amp for mixing:
* Is there any headphone preamp better than this livewire4 and is it worth to replace this headphone amp with another good one?
* Is there any better headphone for mixing better than KNS8400? i like the ones which can let me hear exactly how my recording sounds like, and the budget is under $200 (included used gears)
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby twotoedsloth » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:43 pm

Hello,

In my experience, I have not found RME preamps to have a muddy bass voicing. Before you run out and buy something impulsively, perhaps you might consider adding some bass traps to your recording space? Or back off of the mic a bit to reduce the proximity effect? Lastly, maybe you might try some tasteful EQ, but that should be the last resort.

I would think with a Neumann-RME-KRK signal path, you should be getting excellent results.

Hope that you get this sorted quickly so you can get down to making music!
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:58 pm

luantruong87 wrote:...preamp still gives dull and muddy bass.

I agree with TwoToes above.... dull and muddy bass sounds either like a description of excessive bass-proximity effect, or a room with bad bass mode resonances.

I certainly wouldn't describe any of those preamps you listed as having a problem with the low end.

So I'd experiment with different mic positioning within the room, working at a greater distance from the mic, and consider better (or some) room acoustic treatment to help control the low end.

H
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:09 pm

Thanks for your advice. Yes, my room is not treated, it may be a problem here. Then, I see the mic is quiet a lot compare to my oktava NT1A. I need to do +6db more in gain for TLM-102 to get the same level of loudness as oktava NT1A, it causes bring up the environment sound too. It is also more headroom on Neumann coz I didnt get it clip when I sing loud compare to NT1A.
Is there really differences if I use external preamp for it? If so, what will be improve? Which cable I should use to connect ext preamp and babyface? TRS or XLR? is there any differences in loudness between these types of connection?
About the headphone for monitor, mixing and headphone preamp as I states in the first post, any suggestions on that?
thank you so much.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:18 pm

Do you sing at the same distance from the Neumann as you did from the NT1A? Are the polar patterns of the two mics substantially the same? If so, and you are addressing the mics from the same distance, increasing the preamp gain because the 102 is less sensitive will not change the ratio of wanted sound (your voice) and room sound.

Yes, my room is not treated, it may be a problem here.

In simple terms the ratio of room sound to wanted sound depends on the distance from the mic you sing and the polar pattern of the mic. The closer you are to the mic the less room sound you will hear in your recordings. However, the quality of that room sound can be improved by acoustic treatment and that will make a huge difference. I have personal experience having finally treated my rehearsal/recording space when I refurbished it a couple years ago. The difference is night and day.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:35 pm

Yes, I think non-treated room is one element to makes my vocal dull and muddy. However, I figured out the main reason is babyface preamp. I picked up WA BT12 last night and tested it with various setting and I see my vocal was not muddy and dull as before. It was minimized to be accepted. My vocal is warmer but not dull or muddy, thicker, more details and less harsh of 6k-10k freq. It is more balance now. I prefer nickel than x18. Therefore, I dont know if I should buy an opamp to mod for x18 or not. WA BT12 really compliment for my TLM-102 and step it up to higher level.
In term of KNS8400 + head preamp that I states on the first post, any suggestions?
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:03 am

Sorry, I dont know why it doesn't let me edit post. I prefer X731 than X18 ad nickel than steel. Therefore, should I upgrade X18? and JH 990C+ or Sonic Imagery Labs 990Enh-Ticha? And does it worth to upgrade this X18 op-amp. Does it worth to upgrade X731 op-amp ?
And yes, I record my vocal on around 2/3 ft - 1 ft from the mic.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:11 am

I can't help thinking there is some 'operator error' involved here, the TLM-102 and Babyface are both excellent bits of kit that are perfectly capable of producing release quality recordings, the only variables between your experience and others who use the same rig to produce those high quality recordings are knowledge/experience and the room/space you are recording in so it's those things you should look to address first.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:25 am

luantruong87 wrote:- Which preamp can help me to fix dull, muddy bass? Do the clean one (UA 710) or warm audio tone beast can do that? please give me your advices. my budget for it is under $500 (included used gears)
- I don't play instruments so all these stuff is for vocal only and I only do love song, pop song. My vocal character is muddy bass male voice.

- Also, I am using KNS8400 headphone with livewire4 headphone amp for mixing:
* Is there any headphone preamp better than this livewire4 and is it worth to replace this headphone amp with another good one?
* Is there any better headphone for mixing better than KNS8400? i like the ones which can let me hear exactly how my recording sounds like, and the budget is under $200 (included used gears)

My friend, no matter the voice, if you don't get results with the 102 and Babyface, the problem is not the kit. Assuming you know what you're doing in using the equipment (gain staging, distance and angle from the mic, singing and mic technique), most likely it's your recording environment. Book a studio room for an afternoon and try your kit there, and you'll be in for a big surprise.

As of headphones, haven't tried yours so can't say, but the general choices for best performance/price ratio go to AKG K701 and simlar and Beyerdynamic open or semi open (and probably some more I forget). There are better headphones but more expensive for ever diminishing returns.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:03 am

CS70 wrote:
luantruong87 wrote:- Which preamp can help me to fix dull, muddy bass? Do the clean one (UA 710) or warm audio tone beast can do that? please give me your advices. my budget for it is under $500 (included used gears)
- I don't play instruments so all these stuff is for vocal only and I only do love song, pop song. My vocal character is muddy bass male voice.

- Also, I am using KNS8400 headphone with livewire4 headphone amp for mixing:
* Is there any headphone preamp better than this livewire4 and is it worth to replace this headphone amp with another good one?
* Is there any better headphone for mixing better than KNS8400? i like the ones which can let me hear exactly how my recording sounds like, and the budget is under $200 (included used gears)

My friend, no matter the voice, if you don't get results with the 102 and Babyface, the problem is not the kit. Assuming you know what you're doing in using the equipment (gain staging, distance and angle from the mic, singing and mic technique), most likely it's your recording environment. Book a studio room for an afternoon and try your kit there, and you'll be in for a big surprise.

As of headphones, haven't tried yours so can't say, but the general choices for best performance/price ratio go to AKG K701 and simlar and Beyerdynamic open or semi open (and probably some more I forget). There are better headphones but more expensive for ever diminishing returns.
I saw the difference after using WA BT12 preamp. With babyface preamp, I need to cut a lot from 100hz-250hz. With WA BT12, my cut is very minor or I dont need to cut it. The problem is more distinguished for low nodes. Therefore, I think my vocal type is one of the problem here lolz, also my none-treated room too.
For mixing, is semi closed headphone is preferable than full closed headphone? Since KNS8400 is fully closed headphone.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:25 am

luantruong87 wrote:I saw the difference after using WA BT12 preamp. With babyface preamp, I need to cut a lot from 100hz-250hz. With WA BT12, my cut is very minor or I dont need to cut it. The problem is more distinguished for low nodes. Therefore, I think my vocal type is one of the problem here lolz, also my none-treated room too.
For mixing, is semi closed headphone is preferable than full closed headphone? Since KNS8400 is fully closed headphone.

Well preamps will differ when driven so if you're driving the TB12 and not the Babyface (which you can't), the former will have more distortion and hence feel subjectively like cutting more. You can achieve exactly the same result with a little push after on the clean recording (which is what most people do nowadays, since it allows you the bigger amount of possibilities at mixdown.. nothing wrong with driving the preamp tough, it's fun and I have a habit of doing it myself these days).

As for the room - it's a bit pointless to debate in theory: really, I strongly advise you try a space with proper acoustics. It makes a ton of difference to the result!

That said, if you like preamps which you can push, there's plenty to choose from - you simply need a way to gain stage so that first you drive the preamp, then you can reduce the level of the signal so the AD converters work in their optimal range. In the $500 range however.. difficult. Not long ago I've tried an Alctron MP73EQ which isnt expensive, sounded definitely good and has both an oboard EQ and the kind of gain/output separation that allows you to drive on recording. But really there's many so you have to go out trying yourself.

As for headphones, open or semi-open model will give you a more realistic and detailed picture of the sound, at the expense of leakage outside.. but even among thse, there's more or less colored - for mixing you want no color at all. Hence the recommendations above.
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:44 pm

Thanks for all of your advices. I am learning and understand more about TB12 now, about which settings are best to my voice.
In addition, I am using JBL LSR305 for monitoring. I dont if I can "trust" what I hear from these pairs of speakers?
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby luantruong87 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:49 pm

Furthermore, I just have a chance to open TB12 "black" and compare to my "orange" and see there are few differences on the board. Anyone tried on these and see if there is any differences in sound? (I took the x18 opamp out to wait for the JH990)
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Re: Neumann TLM-102 + RME Babyface (not PRO) + which preamp? KNS8400 + which headphone amp?

Postby dickiefunk » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:09 am

I have a Warm TB12 here and really like this preamp. In fact I’ve got another on the way as I would like a stereo pair!
Whilst the TB12 is my favourite preamp I’ve owned, the differences between it and other preamps are subtle and I wouldn’t expect that you find the TB12 has made a big difference to using your RME preamps!?
I have heard various a/b’s of the stock X18 opamp and the Hardy 990c+ on the Zen Pro Audio Clipilator and whilst I can definitely hear the Hardy is cleaner, this to is very subtle!
I will be putting the Hardy 990c+ opamps into my TB12’s.
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