mic, or pre upgrade?

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thinskin57
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mic, or pre upgrade?

Post by thinskin57 » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:14 pm

6 years ago i had a pretty phat home studio. well, buying a house and becoming a dad has changed all that so now i'm on a budget and am looking for some view points. my gear is more humble these days, so here's the deal- i've got the Digi mbox 2 Pro firewire (i still have tons of great plugins, thankfully) and a mic collection that has dwindled down to a 58, 57, Rode NT1, AKG C1000, an older Oktava mk219... you get the picture. nothing horrible, but certainly no "wow" factor. i have about 5 to 6 hundred to spend on some new gear right now. obviously the pre's in the mbox aren't anything special. so i'm wondering if i should upgrade to a better pre, to avoid using the digi pre's, or get a better mic and hope that it makes more of an improvement than my existing mics through a better pre. if i DO go with a preamp, a single channel will be fine and also get me better sound for the $$. i'm thinking about the Summit 2BA-221. it seems to be the most flexible in it's price range, and has a reputation for being able to coax a lot of different sounds from just one mic. i'm aware of all the others in the Summit price range- Grace 101(owned it), Groove Tubes Brick, etc. but i think the Summit is less of a one-trick pony than the competition. SO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION: would i get better recorded sounds just upgrading to a better mic and putting it through the mbox pre's, or should i make do with my current collection of mics and go w/a better pre? i'm leaning towards a better pre as i can still remember the difference i heard when i put one of my mics through a good outboard pre for the first time. thoughts anyone?
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DeFrag
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Post by DeFrag » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:53 pm

pre definately
Mesa Roadster, Egnater Rebel, Orange Terror, Blackheart Giant • Ric 360MG, Schecter C1, Martin OMC15, Moog Phatty/6 Foogers, Korg microXL/Electribe MX • Alesis, Boss, Mackie, Peterson, Radial ( o )==#
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dean69

Post by dean69 » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:39 am

no not the pre.

the first in the line to catch a good signal is the mic. the next is the pre, then the mixer etc. etc.

there are many very costvaluable mics today. the chinese industry is doing you a favour, have a look at this:

http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/technology.aspx?csid1=85

a very good tube condensor with large diaphragm
http://www.ultimictech.com/ctm3000.php
bought it some weeks ago for 130 USD
but there are others, better known and more expensive (of course): sp mics etc.

some stuff you can easily compromise, but definetely not the mic and the preamp. a good preamp is not done under 600 USD, and thats the low end. a good one starts actually at 1k USD. for more check this:

http://www.tweakheadz.com/guide.htm
he is quite reasonable and honest.

go for it!

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DeFrag
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Post by DeFrag » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:16 am

He has decent mics.. sure there are better ones out there but it sounds like he needs to upgrade his preamps. If in fact he wants a new mic & doesn't mind relying on the Mbox pres, then I'd have him look into as high quality large diaphram tube condenser as Dean69 states.

My point is, a mic is nothing without a great preamp. My friend at work just bought a Universal Audio 610 & absolutely LOVES it!

If he's looking for a mic upgrade, I'd steer him toward the Neumann TLM103, AKG C414 if he had more money. Otherwise to stay within his $600 budget, I'd recommend he look at maybe the Shure KSM series, Audio Technica AT40 series, Blue Bluebird, Rode NTK or K2, M-Audio Sputnik, or Groove Tubes GT series.

Keep in mind though, you really need to test & hear them for yourself. I'd try to buy a couple, take them home to test them in your application, & return the one you don't want. You'll never get controlled conditions with YOUR equipment in the store to adequately judge mics.

He didn't really specify if he needed vocal, instrument, mics for all around tasks, or specific polar-pattern needs. At least he's looking at good quality preamps.
Mesa Roadster, Egnater Rebel, Orange Terror, Blackheart Giant • Ric 360MG, Schecter C1, Martin OMC15, Moog Phatty/6 Foogers, Korg microXL/Electribe MX • Alesis, Boss, Mackie, Peterson, Radial ( o )==#
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Post by lockbody » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:00 pm

I'd say get a pre. $600 won't get him a much better mic than he's got right now. There's a lot of decent pre's in the $500-600 range that are definitely a step up from the mbox.

I think I'd rather run my ok mics into better pre's, than run to better mics into lower-end pre's.
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dean69

Post by dean69 » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:42 pm

i share your opinions - just a good preamp will never make a budget mic better. the mic is the first in row. both together make the cake fat.

when i think about my akg c430 condenser - quite good sound, also the FET condenser made it good. less noise and transparent without eq'ing. my shure's never gave without a preamp any satisfactory result.

now with the large tube condenser's even the slightest hum of the mesa is "on tape". but the git sound itself improved by lightyears. simple with mackie preamps integrated from the mixer. the first time i can honestly say the speaker sound is exactly captured - it sounds like I hear the ACE playing.

i count this to the large diaphragm and the tube circuit. like the 12" celestions: the speaker moves air - the mic captures the air movements.

of course neumann and the c414 are industry standards, wow. only the price makes me silent.

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Post by Strategy500 » Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:06 pm

You should be able to achieve excellent results with the mic's that you mentioned. I don't know about the Mbox (I've never used one), but for a two channel pre in that price range, I'd lean toward an FMR RNP. It has plenty of gain for your dynamics and phantom power for the condensors. If you choose, they even make a rack adaptor if you choose to rack it up.

thinskin57
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Post by thinskin57 » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:20 pm

thanks for all your replies. keep 'em coming. the only thing i'm in disagreement on is the comment, "a good preamp is not done under 600 USD". for a two channel pre, i agree. but...

back when i could P!ss money away, i had pre's by avalon and great river. and on many an occasion i would select my $550 grace 101 over both of them.

i also should have mentioned that i would be searching for USED pre's which means i'd get a bit more for my $600. i'd buy the grace again if it were more flexible. it's basically just one very good (neutral) sound. definately not a "character" pre. that's what sounds good about the summit- it gives the option of being neutral, or adding character. sounds good on paper anyway. plus, summit has a good reputation for putting out great gear.

if i go the mic route, it'd have to be general purpose- vox, acoustic guitar, and amp miking. maybe the shure ksm series as someone mentioned in another reply.

this is definately a tough topic. i'm sure whichever route i go, i WILL even it out over time. in other words- if i go w/the pre, i WILL eventually get a better all-purpose mic down the road at some point, or vice-versa.
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JF Omalycat
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Post by JF Omalycat » Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:28 pm

Strategy500 wrote:You should be able to achieve excellent results with the mic's that you mentioned..... but for a two channel pre in that price range, I'd lean toward an FMR RNP.....

That is a nice preamp for the money.

And I was a die hard member of "The mic is first in the signal chain so it must be more important" crowd. I was wrong. And my first experience with the "RNP" was what opened my eyes. P-Solo and Grace 101 are good pre's as well. (at this price range)

It should also be noted that a good pre really shows its worth when multitracking or layering. My ears aren't good enough to pick out much of the "wow" factor with different preamps over one or two tracks, but after eight to twelve the difference in clarity is pretty
noticeable. Even with my modest collection of mics.

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