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Author Topic: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo  (Read 6296 times)

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Offline TNJazz

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Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« on: February 16, 2011, 10:07:24 PM »
OK, I'm tired of the gear shuffle and it's time for me to settle on a decent quality 2 track rig.  Curious to get people's opinions on the direction I should take.  Keep in mind that this gear typically sits in a bag for weeks at a time and gets out maybe every other month or so - at least lately.  Most of the time we are multitracking anyway, so it's not really applicable unless I'm out for a fun night or something.  Anyway...

So the mics are B&K 4011.  Pretty pleased with those.  I may occasionally interchange them with the pair of Nevaton MK49s we have in the arsenal.  Through the back end of the gear these mics sounds surprisingly similar.  So I'm all set there.

The destination is currently a MTII, but I'm leaning towards bumping up to a Marantz 661 (if anyone has one, pm me!).  So we're talking digital bit bucket.  Any other options I should consider?

So my question is with preamp/ADC combo and I'm curious what people think I should do.

Right now for a pre I have an EAA PSP-2.  Reasonably happy with it, although I have been toying with the idea of maybe going to a V3 instead, purely for convenience.

Obviously if I keep the PSP-2 I don't want to go line in to the MTII, so I need an ADC.  I picked up a Mini Me to do this, so right now it's 4011-PSP2-MME-MTII

I'm not sold on the Mini Me though, so I'm looking at other possibilities to pair with the PSP-2.  Maybe a Mytek 96 or 192?  Anyone ever tried this combo or have any thoughts?  Anything else I should be considering?

I'm also not sold on the PSP-2 itself, so it may move along if the consensus is that there is a better option.  V3 to replace both the preamp and ADC?  Maybe a Metric Halo ULN-2 to do the same thing?

I want to jam all this crap into a Petrol PEGZ-1.  So space is an issue.  Right now the rig fits, but it's just a tiny bit crowded...

Anyway, just wondering if anyone here has any thoughts on this.  PMs or posts are welcomed!
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Offline flipp

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 10:14:09 PM »
If you decide to part outright (that is if it isn't involved in a trade) with the PSP2, please get in touch.

Offline audBall

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2011, 10:44:27 PM »
How about PSP-2 > Sony-M10?  It wouldn't require much of a switch up and I'm sure it would sound great.  I've been real happy going V2 > M10.
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 10:50:31 PM »
How about PSP-2 > Sony-M10?  It wouldn't require much of a switch up and I'm sure it would sound great.  I've been real happy going V2 > M10.

Thats a decent option right there!
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 10:53:49 PM »
what characteristics do you want? The V3 and PSP2 are sort of on opposite ends of the spectrum in my opinion.

How about PSP-2 > Sony-M10?  It wouldn't require much of a switch up and I'm sure it would sound great.  I've been real happy going V2 > M10.

Unless you need clocking or 4ch, I think the M10 has a ton of win in the basic 2 channel department. Second if I remember correctly, the M10 has a high input tolerance similar to the 7 series boxes which allows you to blast the psp2 if you so choose.
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Offline TNJazz

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 11:32:34 AM »
Interesting.  Has anyone ever compared the A/D of the M10 with the A/D of a Mini Me?  What about the bigger Sony?  I think it's the D50?  Any improvement in A/D there?

I'm definitely not opposed to skipping the Apogee or any other A/D in the mix for a direct in to a decent recorder.  I don't have any familiarity with the M10 (or any of the Sonys) at all though.

What am I looking for?  I don't know.  Just want it to sound decent I guess.  I'm typically recording a PA system in a room with 2 microphones after all.
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 11:37:46 AM »
I have read that the D50 has alittle better AD, but unless you plan on using the optical on the D50 I would go for the M10 (Price/size).  For the price if you are not happy with the M10 it could easily be sold in the YS.  I'd be interested to hear the PSP2>M10 or D50 combo. 
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Offline TNJazz

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 11:54:55 AM »
I think I'd like to have the flexibility of *eventually* using a digital input with an external A/D.  That's kind of why I was looking at a 661, but I just hadn't considered the Sonys because I wasn't familiar with how good their A/D was.

Hmm.  Maybe I should sell the MME and the MTII and get the Sony then.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this, or suggestions on other paths?

I'm set on the mics and reasonably set on the preamp.  Everything after that is a crapshoot and open to change...

Just noticed the USBPre2 supports line level input - any thoughts on the A/D of this box (not the preamps though).  It would solve a LOT of my connectivity issues if it was a good sounding unit...
« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 12:06:37 PM by TNJazz »
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 12:13:57 PM »
I have read that the D50 has alittle better AD, but unless you plan on using the optical on the D50 I would go for the M10 (Price/size).  For the price if you are not happy with the M10 if could easily be sold in the YS.  I'd be interested to hear the PSP2>M10 or D50 combo.

jlykos runs that with MGs in front.

Interesting.  Has anyone ever compared the A/D of the M10 with the A/D of a Mini Me?  What about the bigger Sony?  I think it's the D50?  Any improvement in A/D there?

I'm definitely not opposed to skipping the Apogee or any other A/D in the mix for a direct in to a decent recorder.  I don't have any familiarity with the M10 (or any of the Sonys) at all though.

What am I looking for?  I don't know.  Just want it to sound decent I guess.  I'm typically recording a PA system in a room with 2 microphones after all.

I'll agree with jmbell and say that it's negligable. I remember listening to a schoeps>sax comp which used the m10 and 722 (courtesy of the 2 outs on the sax) and while I could pick a difference or two, it was tough and I wouldn't have been unhappy if I was stuck with the M10. If you're not sold on the mini-me, then I wouldn't bother due to the size. It's a piece of gear that I think people either love for it's unique feature set (the soft limiter being one) or the sound and you seem sort of meh on it. Worst that can happen is you sell the M10/D50 in the YS and I suspect you could recoup most of the cash in relatively short order (they are the go-to budget machine right now unless you hate the volume wheel). Since you seem interested in a digital down the road, I'd grab the D50 of the two.

Second, I'd run the psp2 for a while on this note; what's the harm? If you don't like it, you'll have a line ready and waiting when you decide to sell it. Second, V2/V3s are easier to come by. Last, you're starting with some extremely detailed mics, losing some of that to the psp2 probably won't hurt for this application.

Just noticed the USBPre2 supports line level input - any thoughts on the A/D of this box (not the preamps though).  It would solve a LOT of my connectivity issues if it was a good sounding unit...

Same A/D chip as used in the 7 series boxes. Nic Stage from SD confirmed that a month or so ago. The max input and pre-amps are slightly different, but the A/D chip is the same.

4011s > psp2 > usbpre2 > d50 should fit in a pegz-1 (assuming it's 11"x5" is the main compartment and you put the mics in the outer areas in small boxes). The usbpre2 is aproximately the size of a 702. Just make sure to snag a RA optical cable, the output is on the back/bottom.
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Offline TNJazz

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2011, 12:23:12 PM »
Same A/D chip as used in the 7 series boxes. Nic Stage from SD confirmed that a month or so ago. The max input and pre-amps are slightly different, but the A/D chip is the same.

4011s > psp2 > usbpre2 > d50 should fit in a pegz-1 (assuming it's 11"x5" is the main compartment and you put the mics in the outer areas in small boxes). The usbpre2 is aproximately the size of a 702. Just make sure to snag a RA optical cable, the output is on the back/bottom.

Right.  This seems like a decent option because I can send USB output to my laptop as backup as well.  I'm just wondering how the A/D stacks up compared to others.

Anyone selling a D50?
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2011, 12:59:57 PM »
I found the A/D to be very similar to the Tascam DR-680 if that tells you anything.  The USBPre2 is a cool little box but you will need to provide power to the USB buss on it for stand alone.  So the downside is you can't use the same 12 volt battery to power  it that you might be using on other gear.  I love my USBPRe2 and with 80dB of gain it can be used in any situation.  The other advantage is it will accept external SPDIF clocking if you want to sync it up to something else.  output is opti/spdif/rca/xlr so it is pretty flexible. 

Offline OFOTD

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2011, 01:15:55 PM »
Speaking as a DPA 402x owner with multiple pre's/ad's in the locker here are a few thoughts from what I have taped with:

1. Without doubt I feel like the absolute best combo with the DPA 402x series to my ears is the ACM V3.   It just sings with the DPA's.   I have many 402x > ACMV3 vs. 402x > V3 (analog) > 744 recordings and would be more than happy to share them.

2, My second favorite combo is the 402x > m148 > Mytek sound.   Certainly different from what the ACM V3 is doing but still good enough to be in the top two.  Scott Brown makes some sweet tapes as well using 402x > V3 > Mytek.

3. After the two combos above nothing to my ears is as sweet.  PSP3, m248, etc.    I mean they all sound good but the two choices above sound great.

4. M10.  You know its a neat little recorder.  For the price it performs very well.   Would I use it's a/d section if I had the option of running any of the other a/d's already mentioned?  Absolutely not.   Again nice device but for $200 it's not made to compete with the likes of Apogee, Grace, SD etc. 

If you already have the mics and a bit bucket I believe Doug is still modding the V3's for a good price.   You do not have to buy the V3 from him to get the mod done.




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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2011, 01:20:42 PM »
maybe trade the psp-2 for a sonosax?

Offline TNJazz

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2011, 01:24:26 PM »
maybe trade the psp-2 for a sonosax?

Seems like I've done this a time or two...or maybe the reverse of it....

Yeah, I'm not sold on the PSP-2 completely anyway, so OFOTD's comments are interesting.  I never considered an ACM modded V3.  That might actually be a good choice.  hmmm.
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Offline Todd R

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2011, 01:48:35 PM »
**** I had this post all worked up, and then got distracted with work before it ever got sent.  Probably pretty redundant at this point since I think it all got covered, but I'll send it along in case there are any tidbits to consider *****


Dirk, I ran the PSP2 with my Sony D50 quite a lot -- really a very nice sounding rig.  I can dig up samples if you like.  I did get together with a taper a year or more ago to do a controlled comp of the D50 line-in vs the M10 line-in (using the 2 outputs of a littlebox).  We never got together though to swap files, so I've never heard the comp.  I've heard that line-in the M10 is nice, and the D50 def has a nice line-in.  A tad on the darker side, but not too much.

Another option, is to get the new Sound Devices USBPre 2 and run it behind the PSP2 into the MTII or optical into a D50.  The USBPre 2 supposedly has the same A/D as the 722/744 and very similar analog preamps.  So that would probably sound quite a bit like a PSP2> 722 combo at a lot less money.  Potentially smaller too to run USBPre>MTII than a 722, though the overall size would probably depend on your battery solution.  Certainly PSP2>USBPre will be smaller than PSP2>Minime, since the USBPre is really pretty small.  If you really wanted smaller size on a particular outing you could skip the PSP2 entirely, otherwise keep it in the chain when you have room.

On the sound spectrum, I wouldn't put the PSP2 and V3 on the opposite end of the spectrum at all -- my ears anyway.  The PSP2 is a transformer pre, but it has a much more transparent sound as a transformer pre -- much moreso than the SD MP2 or Neve Portico.  And I think the PSP2 is much closer in sound to a V3 than a Minime -- to me the minime is further away on the scale from the V3 than the PSP2.  But again, that's my ears.
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Offline OFOTD

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2011, 01:54:42 PM »
On the sound spectrum, I wouldn't put the PSP2 and V3 on the opposite end of the spectrum at all -- my ears anyway.  The PSP2 is a transformer pre, but it has a much more transparent sound as a transformer pre -- much moreso than the SD MP2 or Neve Portico.  And I think the PSP2 is much closer in sound to a V3 than a Minime -- to me the minime is further away on the scale from the V3 than the PSP2.  But again, that's my ears.

Agreed.   To me the pre sound spectrum is something like this  < V3 - 148 - PSP2 - 248 - SD - Portico - MiniMe >   

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2011, 02:07:51 PM »
So I'm kinda thinking this:

4011 -> PSP-2 -> USBPre2 -> something via digital
                                           -> laptop USB backup

Does this line input of the USBPre2 bypass the preamps completely?

It would be a more elegant solution than my current Apogee setup, but sonically how does that compare?  Anyone know?
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2011, 02:38:56 PM »
On the sound spectrum, I wouldn't put the PSP2 and V3 on the opposite end of the spectrum at all -- my ears anyway.  The PSP2 is a transformer pre, but it has a much more transparent sound as a transformer pre -- much moreso than the SD MP2 or Neve Portico.  And I think the PSP2 is much closer in sound to a V3 than a Minime -- to me the minime is further away on the scale from the V3 than the PSP2.  But again, that's my ears.

Agreed.   To me the pre sound spectrum is something like this  < V3 - 148 - PSP2 - 248 - SD - Portico - MiniMe >   

left to right based on what attribute (e.g. transparent vs colored, or bright vs dark) or is it just A sounds closer to B than C and D sounds nothing like A? Just trying to understand whats being represented here.
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2011, 02:48:21 PM »

Does this line input of the USBPre2 bypass the preamps completely?



From an e-mail to SD about stuff like this:

By default, the outputs of the USBPre 2 only carry signal from the computer. There is a DIP switch that configures the USBPre 2 to send whatever signal is going to headphones to the outputs. This is how the USBPre 2 can be used as a preamp / converter in Stand-alone mode. When this option is engaged and the Monitor Mix knob is turned all the way to "PRE", the signal path from analog inputs to analog outputs is fully analog.

While it odesn't really answer the question, and the block diagram is not very telling it looks like the line in signal would be seperate from the preamp and that gain is controlled by the monitor mix knob.  does that make sense??
« Last Edit: February 17, 2011, 02:54:30 PM by kirkd »

Offline Todd R

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2011, 02:49:28 PM »
Good question, to me it is a scale of transparent to colored (which I can largely agree with the ranking).

Need to overlay this on the scale of bright to dark I guess, but the scale only is representing detailed/transparent to dark, not the full spectrum of color.  Which to me is probably:

< harsh/grating/biting - bright - detailed - transparent - silky/musical - warm - dark - muddy >

To me, the V3 is pretty transparent, perhaps tending a little towards detailed.  All the other preamps OFOTD has listed move more towards the right side (darker side) probably moving from the scale from transparent to dark.  I don't think anything listed is muddy or bright/biting.
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2011, 04:07:18 PM »
Hmmm.  Well, I think unless someone can give me a good convincing reason to give up the PSP-2 I think I'm gonna hold onto it and put something else behind it.  Right now I'm thinking the USBPre2 is my best bet.

Any other A/D converters that run on DC power and have a USB output option?
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2011, 08:46:49 PM »
Interesting.  Has anyone ever compared the A/D of the M10 with the A/D of a Mini Me?  What about the bigger Sony?  I think it's the D50?  Any improvement in A/D there?

I'm definitely not opposed to skipping the Apogee or any other A/D in the mix for a direct in to a decent recorder.  I don't have any familiarity with the M10 (or any of the Sonys) at all though.

What am I looking for?  I don't know.  Just want it to sound decent I guess.  I'm typically recording a PA system in a room with 2 microphones after all.

I have run an m10 and a mini-me>r-44 out of a v2. The m10 sounded great and perfectly usable but the mini-me sounded a hair better, mostly noticeable on the resolution of the acoustic bass. I think for the price and size the m10 is an amazing unit. From someone who used to lug around a Nakamichi cassette deck with 8 D cells, these are wonderful times to be a taper. On another note, I prefer my usbpre2 to my v2>mini-me combo. I go usbpre2 coax>r-44 and optical>d50 so I always have a backup.

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2011, 01:10:29 PM »
Well I guess I've decided.  Sort of...
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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2011, 08:46:00 AM »
It depends what you are looking for.  I ran Gefell > PSP-2 > MiniMe > 671 for a very short time and while the results were the best that I have ever achieved, I did not want to lug all that gear around all the time.  I switched to PSP-2 > D50 and have not looked back.  So much easier in terms of battery life, weight, and portability, and still sounds great.  The PSP-2 > MiniMe sounded fantastic; very clear and great presence.  The PSP-2 > D50 is darker and more colored, but also sounds great.

Basically, I live overseas in developing countries.  I travel a lot and wanted something very portable.  PSP-2 > D50 is so convenient that any sonic advantages of the larger rig were outweighed by the portability factor.  I can change levels on the D50 and don't have to mess with a tiny screwdriver to change the levels on the MiniMe.  I don't have to worry about DVD batteries exploding or short circuiting when I plug them into the highly unstable electrical systems around here.  I can go into virtually any well-appointed regional market and get all the AA batteries that I want to run the thing.  Sometimes, enjoying the situation without the hassle is better than having the nth degree of resolution possible.  PSP-2 > D50 gives me 90% of what the PSP-2 > MiniMe gave me for a lot less headache.  That is worth it to me.
dpa 4061 > Church Audio 9200 > Sony PCM-D50 (Moon Audio Silver Dragon v3 interconnect)

"I have no views," Mickey Melchiondo, known as Dean Ween, said in a philosophical moment. "I am way too stupid. I have no strong feelings about anything. I'm really into television and the computer. I believe everything I see on TV and read on the Internet."

Offline dogmusic

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2011, 09:41:14 AM »
It depends what you are looking for.  I ran Gefell > PSP-2 > MiniMe > 671 for a very short time and while the results were the best that I have ever achieved, I did not want to lug all that gear around all the time.  I switched to PSP-2 > D50 and have not looked back.  So much easier in terms of battery life, weight, and portability, and still sounds great.  The PSP-2 > MiniMe sounded fantastic; very clear and great presence.  The PSP-2 > D50 is darker and more colored, but also sounds great.

Basically, I live overseas in developing countries.  I travel a lot and wanted something very portable.  PSP-2 > D50 is so convenient that any sonic advantages of the larger rig were outweighed by the portability factor.  I can change levels on the D50 and don't have to mess with a tiny screwdriver to change the levels on the MiniMe.  I don't have to worry about DVD batteries exploding or short circuiting when I plug them into the highly unstable electrical systems around here.  I can go into virtually any well-appointed regional market and get all the AA batteries that I want to run the thing.  Sometimes, enjoying the situation without the hassle is better than having the nth degree of resolution possible.  PSP-2 > D50 gives me 90% of what the PSP-2 > MiniMe gave me for a lot less headache.  That is worth it to me.

Have you compared the record quality of your PSP-2 > D50 set-up with a PSP-2 > MiniMe > D50 set-up, going digital in into the D50?

I'm interested in how much of a quality difference there is between the analog and digital inputs of the D50 (i.e., how good is the ADC on the D50).

Thanks.
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

Offline jlykos

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2011, 03:08:08 PM »
It depends what you are looking for.  I ran Gefell > PSP-2 > MiniMe > 671 for a very short time and while the results were the best that I have ever achieved, I did not want to lug all that gear around all the time.  I switched to PSP-2 > D50 and have not looked back.  So much easier in terms of battery life, weight, and portability, and still sounds great.  The PSP-2 > MiniMe sounded fantastic; very clear and great presence.  The PSP-2 > D50 is darker and more colored, but also sounds great.

Basically, I live overseas in developing countries.  I travel a lot and wanted something very portable.  PSP-2 > D50 is so convenient that any sonic advantages of the larger rig were outweighed by the portability factor.  I can change levels on the D50 and don't have to mess with a tiny screwdriver to change the levels on the MiniMe.  I don't have to worry about DVD batteries exploding or short circuiting when I plug them into the highly unstable electrical systems around here.  I can go into virtually any well-appointed regional market and get all the AA batteries that I want to run the thing.  Sometimes, enjoying the situation without the hassle is better than having the nth degree of resolution possible.  PSP-2 > D50 gives me 90% of what the PSP-2 > MiniMe gave me for a lot less headache.  That is worth it to me.

Have you compared the record quality of your PSP-2 > D50 set-up with a PSP-2 > MiniMe > D50 set-up, going digital in into the D50?

I'm interested in how much of a quality difference there is between the analog and digital inputs of the D50 (i.e., how good is the ADC on the D50).

Thanks.

I never ran PSP-2 > MiniMe > D50 but I can't imagine there is a difference between that and the PSP-2 > MiniMe > 671 recordings that I made, especially as I ran line-in all the time.  The ADC on the D50 is really, really good.  Not as good as that of the Sound Devices units or even the MiniMe, but it is outstanding, especially for the price and form factor.  The D50 is the best portable recorder that I have ever used.  Portability is more of a concern to me than pure sound quality but I am more than happy with the D50 recordings that I have made.

If you are asking me to choose the "best," I would go PSP-2 > MiniMe.  That said, I have the "best" time at a concert with my current rig because I don't have to change the levels with a screwdriver, I don't have to lug around an extra unit with a very awkward form factor, and I don't have to screw around with DVD batteries and the like.  Enjoying myself is the most important thing.
dpa 4061 > Church Audio 9200 > Sony PCM-D50 (Moon Audio Silver Dragon v3 interconnect)

"I have no views," Mickey Melchiondo, known as Dean Ween, said in a philosophical moment. "I am way too stupid. I have no strong feelings about anything. I'm really into television and the computer. I believe everything I see on TV and read on the Internet."

Offline dogmusic

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Re: Trying to decide on a preamp and ADC combo
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2011, 06:16:44 PM »
Enjoying myself is the most important thing.

I'll second that.

Thanks for the info.
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

 

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