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Offline guosh86

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Pre for MT2
« on: August 25, 2009, 01:15:45 PM »
hi guys,

i'm looking to get a solid 2 channel pre for my MT2 to go 24/96 via SPDIF. presently i'm using a T+ UA-5 but i'm thinking of getting another pre for the times when i don't need to stealth

battery power is not a problem, and i've been looking at quite a few things, from the likes of fivefish's SC-1 to even a Sytek MPX4 along with an A/D

just thought i'd ask you guys for opinions before i plunge into anything

thanks lots!

cheers,
guo

Offline Chuck

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2009, 02:30:44 PM »
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Microphones: Microtech Gefell M300, AKG C 480 B comb-ULS/ CK 61/ CK 63, Sennheiser MKE 2 elements, CAD GXL1200 (cardioid and mod-cardioid capsule & electronics mod), Audix M1290-o, Micro capsule active cables w/ Naiant PFA's, Naiant MSH-1O, Naiant AKG Active cables, Church CA-11 (cardioid), (1) Nady SCM-1000 (mod)
Pre-amps: Naiant littlebox, Naiant littlekit v2.0, BM2p+ Edirol UA-5, Church STC-9000
Recorders: Sound Devices MixPre-6, Tascam DR-680, iRiver iHP-120 (Rockboxed & RTC mod)

Recordings on the LMA: http://www.archive.org/bookmarks/ChuckM
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2009, 07:21:10 PM »
First things first:  a preamp will not provide a 24/96 digital signal to your MT.  Preamps are analog devices typically used <a> power the mics, and <b> add/control gain, and they output an analog signal.  If you want to send your MT a digital signal (of whatever bit-depth and sample rate), you'll need an external analog-to-digital converter (ADC), too. 

Just so happens the T+ UA5 you use has both a preamp and an ADC in it, so it's really serving two functions:  providing power to the mics / control of gain (i.e., it's a preamp), and converting the analog signal to digital (i.e. it's also an ADC).

Are you looking for a preamp only, or a preamp + ADC?
What's your budget?

I think you'll be hard pressed to find a better preamp/ADC combination for the price/value of your current T+ UA5.  Have you considered replacing the MT with an all-in-one recorder that acts as preamp + ADC + recorder, like the PMD660?
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Offline guosh86

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2009, 09:43:35 PM »
oops i meant ADC!  :P

i'm actually really open to anything, but wondering what would be best. my budget's probably around $1000 and i'm just thinking of running 2 channel split omnis/jecklin

personally i've not had much experience with many of the pres being mentioned on the forum, only acquiring the T+ UA-5 last year. i find the MT2 pretty useful as a bitbucket so its something i thought i'd keep

i think i'd probably be looking for a preamp + ADC though. the community orchestra that i record has commented that they much prefer the sound when i ran my mics through grace pres and 002 (borrowed from a friend, and i'm not surprised actually...) as compared to my usual T+ UA-5 -> MT2 so they offered to fund the purchase of some new equipment since i do the recordings for free

thus i came to the conclusion that i needed to change the preamp and ADC in the chain. any thoughts are welcome though, i'd really like to make the right purchase since its not my own money

cheers,
guo

Offline manitouman

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2009, 10:27:20 PM »
Why not the Grace Lunatec V3? I'm sure you can find one under the $1000 mark in the YS.
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Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2009, 10:31:15 PM »
What mics are you using?  Have you considered changing mics instead?  That will have the biggest impact on your overall sound.  It may or may not make sense, depending.

I think when upgrading gear it's helpful to determine what sonic characteristics you do and do not like in the sound you're achieving now, and then select gear based on what sonic characteristics you prefer to keep and which you prefer to change.  Of course, it's always hit or miss to some degree, until you actually have a chance to use the gear yourself in the field -- reading and writing about audio gear isn't a perfect way to select gear, of course.  But if we have a better handle on what you do / do not like in your current sound, we might be able to provide more detailed and/or appropriate recommendations.
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Offline guosh86

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2009, 12:28:35 AM »
at the moment i'm using hebdensound 3010 omnis, and i really like them for their neutral sound. http://www.hebdensoundgroup.co.uk/hebdensound/productsspecpair.php?series=HS3010P don't think i'd want to change these though, it works really nice

as i do mostly classical recordings, i'm looking for a really neutral sound, with good dynamics. at present, i'd say it sounds a little thin and bright even when i use the omnis. i'd really like to get a bigger sound, perhaps with more gain as well without clipping the pre. i just did a recording of a big band the other day and the trumpet really clipped my pres though the resulting recording was still rather soft and distant

i'd like something that sounds much closer while keeping a natural sound. do you think a preamp could make this difference? because i heard some recordings on fivefish's site using his SC-1s on a big band, and it sounded great with an oktava pair. i've tried the oktava with my pre and it wasn't what i was looking for in the end

i've looked at the v3, but haven't had much experience with it. maybe i'll go read up more on it...

cheers,
guo

Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2009, 01:41:37 AM »
Did the trumpet really clip your preamp (i.e. it overloaded the analog section of the T+ UA5, resulting in "brickwalling"), or did it result in digital clipping (overloading the ADC)?  It's important to identify which, if either, in order to ensure you don't have the same problem again.

I think the more general problem you experienced, i.e. loud trumpet but softer and more distant rest of the recording, is a dynamic range and blending issue.  I don't think a preamp will make any difference.  The solution lies in adjusting your recording location and/or post-processing.  Recording from farther back may yield better blending, so some instruments won't be as overpowering as if you were closer to the source.  But sometimes, it requires going back so far that it's too far, and some or all of recording sounds too distant.  In that case, sometimes compression used in post processing may help reduce the dynamic range and make the loud instruments (like a trumpet) softer relative to the rest of the music, so they don't stand out so much.
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Offline guosh86

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2009, 02:52:56 AM »
i'm pretty sure it clipped the analog section, but thats probably due to me setting the levels too high. in truth, the trumpet player was way louder than the rest of the band, but thats something i'm ok with - it was just for a rehearsal and i just needed to reproduce it as accurately as i could so they could correct any problems

thats not my main gripe though... i like the clean sound of the UA-5 but it does sound rather small to me. i'd use it for rehearsals when the musicians request recordings just so they can be really critical with their performances. i was hoping that changing a preamp could widen the sound, because at the moment the trombone quartet i work with comment that i make them sound like toothpicks!  ;D

when i recorded the big band, i tried running healy right on the stage. i'm not sure how to explain this, but i guess i was looking for a more enveloping sound, because at the moment it sounds rather tight to me and rather lacking in ambience. it could possibly be something in my recording technique that i'm unaware of, so i could go check it out again. but i'm pretty convinced its something in my recording chain

thanks for the help brian, i'll go experiment a little and see whether i can achieve the sound i'm looking for through other means first before i commit to buying any new equipment. will probably go borrow the other pres too and see if it makes a difference. always appreciate your advise!

cheers,
guo

Offline Kindguy

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 03:13:49 PM »
I love my Apogee MME one of the best portable AD's around IMO & are about $500 in the YS.
TDS!

DPA 4023> aeta PSP-2> Apogee Mini Me > R-44

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Offline guosh86

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2009, 01:16:45 PM »
thanks for the replies guys, i ran my T+ UA-5 at my jazz concert on saturday. split omnis 40cm apart, taped centrally to a railing in front of the first circle seats. ran spdif 24/96 to MT2

http://rcpt.yousendit.com/732823995/ad2552c6a1fddbd67c8a981aca812488 i've uploaded this file just to get some opinions

personally i found it really true to the source, but i suppose it could perhaps have a bigger, more enveloping sound. or at least that's what i'm looking for!

would something like the littlebox (though i'd probably need an adc), v3 or minime have a noticable change in quality?

Offline Brian Skalinder

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2009, 04:49:27 PM »
Re the jazz recording:  how does the recording sound v. how it sounded from that location during the performance?

I think the recording has an open, natural sound, typical of omnis.  But I don't hear much stereo imaging (at least on my office playback system).  A greater stereo image would make it sound "bigger" and "more enveloping".

Edit to add:  I don't think a different preamp or ADC would have a significant impact on the stereo image and produce a "bigger", "more enveloping" sound.  I'd focus on mic technique first (mainly placement and configuration).

A few thoughts, generally:

  • Consider adjusting your position relative to the stage.  Sometimes setting up close enough to the stage to pick up sound directly from the stage helps capture a wider stereo image.  Your situation was challenging, because it included vocals.  With vocals, you typically need to be far enough back to capture the vocals from the PA.  So in situations like your recording, if it's possible (and it may very well not be) maybe try to find a point closer to the stage that captures a balance of stage sound and PA sound.  Only way to find out:  walk around, listen, and experiment.
  • Adjust your recording configuration to capture a wider stereo image by trying a wider spread between mics.  Using Williams' Sterephonic Zoom chart as a reference (link here), omnis spread 40cm provide a stereophonic recording angle (SRA) of ±70º, or 140º in total (see pg 7).  From the location at which you recorded, was the soundstage you were trying to capture (stage + PA speakers) close to 140º?  (Tip on estimating soundstage angles.) If the soundstage was significantly smaller than 140º, that may help explain why the recording doesn't have a broader stereo image -- the mics were capturing sound without sufficient enough time difference to produce a more pleasing stereo image.  A wider spread may provide a bigger stereo image.  For example, 50cm spread would produce an SRA of ±50º, or 100º.  If that angle more closesly matches the angle of the soundstage you were trying to capture, it should result in better stereo imaging.
  • Adjust your recording configuration to capture a wider stereo image by experimenting with a baffle.  When I've run omnis in the past, I've usually preferred them baffled v. split.  Generally, I found it easier to capture a more robust stereo image with baffled v. split omnis.  Some time ago, I made and used a DIY Jecklin disc, and now I have a professionally manufactured one (similar to this, though no mics with which to use it at the moment!).
  • If the sound source is largely mono (e.g. you're too far back to pick up much stereo sound directly from the stage and/or the PA is mixed in mono), there are limits to how much "bigger" and "more enveloping" you can make your recordings.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 04:53:07 PM by Brian Skalinder »
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Offline guosh86

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Re: Pre for MT2
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2009, 01:19:10 AM »
hi brian,

from where i was, it did sound like that. it was my first time recording from the PA system, so it was a kind of baptism of fire.

unfortunately i wasn't able to place it any nearer to the band due to space constraints, so i ended up taping the bar to the railing just to make it less conspicuous. i've seen williams been posted around, notably by gutbucket in team classical recording but never really got down to reading it. i'll have to read it later!

from where i was, the soundstage was about 90 degrees so i'd have to work on placing it further apart. problem was i was using the dpa bar and it had a 50cm spacing limit. i'll figure something out in the future

thanks for the comments, looks like i don't have to look towards new gear for now, better to work on my technique first.

btw, nice disc! it even looks like it glows in the dark  ;D i just built a disc too, but i haven't had a chance to run it yet. will be recording a string quartet soon though, so i'll finally get to place it up front and see how it sounds.

i've still got the budget to upgrade though, will probably leave it till a later time

 

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