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Author Topic: Music Friend´s Preamp Buyers Guide  (Read 2756 times)

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Offline JimmieC

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Music Friend´s Preamp Buyers Guide
« on: November 24, 2013, 08:10:46 AM »
I thought the following was a pretty good and relatively short explanation of the various preamp designs - http://www.musiciansfriend.com/resources/article/Preamps-Buying-Guide/m710119
OH Grown
Mic:AKG C460B(CK61)/HM1000(CK32/CK47), Naiant Couplings/PFA, ADK-TL; Preamp:Lunatec V2, Naiant Littlebox v1.5; Rec:Tascam DA-P1/DR-100mkii/DR-680; Cable:GAKcables; Bar:Shure A27M, Robb Bar 23-cm, it-goes-to-eleven DINa Active Bar, GAK 3' Bar; Mount:Shure A53M, Audix MC-MICRO; Clamp:AKG K&M 237, Photek Grip Clamp w/Manfrotto 042; Stand: Manfrotto Alu Master 3 Riser 12' AC Stand/122B, Lowel Full Pole; Battery:18000mah Universal Lithium Battery; Playback:laptop>Schiit Modi>Yamaha HTR5890>Klipsch Synergy F2. My recordings on LMA

Offline JimmieC

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Re: Music Friend´s Preamp Buyers Guide
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2013, 01:16:42 PM »
Sorry, I just thought it was a good description of the use of transistors vs tubes and use of transformers in preamp.  It help me understand why people say the V2 / V3 and Usbpre 2 sound similar and decide which preamp to get next.  I didn´t know why transformers are sometimes used.  Also, never heard of the hybrid preamps that use both transistors and tubes.  I know nothing about circuity nor care too, at least this point in time (may be I could handle a little bit).

Anyone have any experience with using the hybrid preamps (e.g. Summit 2BA-221) for live recording? 

Do tube mics or preamps create a more airy sounding recording?
« Last Edit: November 24, 2013, 01:49:16 PM by JimmieC »
OH Grown
Mic:AKG C460B(CK61)/HM1000(CK32/CK47), Naiant Couplings/PFA, ADK-TL; Preamp:Lunatec V2, Naiant Littlebox v1.5; Rec:Tascam DA-P1/DR-100mkii/DR-680; Cable:GAKcables; Bar:Shure A27M, Robb Bar 23-cm, it-goes-to-eleven DINa Active Bar, GAK 3' Bar; Mount:Shure A53M, Audix MC-MICRO; Clamp:AKG K&M 237, Photek Grip Clamp w/Manfrotto 042; Stand: Manfrotto Alu Master 3 Riser 12' AC Stand/122B, Lowel Full Pole; Battery:18000mah Universal Lithium Battery; Playback:laptop>Schiit Modi>Yamaha HTR5890>Klipsch Synergy F2. My recordings on LMA

Offline DSatz

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Re: Music Friend´s Preamp Buyers Guide
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2013, 03:09:16 PM »
> I just thought it was a good description of the use of transistors vs tubes and use of transformers in preamp.

JimmieC, not wanting to pile on here, but whoever wrote that article is regurgitating a lot of foolish half-truths, and should go study some electronics and audio history before publishing anything like this again. The article's whole focus on dichotomies such as "tubes vs. transistors" or "transformers vs. no transformers" is really ignorant. What it says is no more accurate than astrology or phrenology would be.

Tube audio equipment, and equipment that uses audio transformers, can very well be audibly transparent. Back when tubes were the only amplifying devices available (having been born in 1950, I can remember when transistors were new), there was about as wide a range of quality in audio equipment as there is today. Most of the equipment used by professionals was clear and clean sounding, while some of it had colorations of various kinds, just like today. If you overdrove that equipment, it might sound interesting or it might sound pain-inducing, just like today.

The advent of transistors didn't change that situation terribly much. When solid-state circuitry was introduced, there was a relatively long period of time--roughly a decade--during which it gradually displaced most tube equipment. During that time the two technologies were often used together and people could compare and make their own choices. For practical reasons (reliability, portability, lower cost, consistency, "instant on" operation) most tube audio equipment was eventually replaced by solid-state equipment. But no one was forced to "migrate" if their older gear sounded better to them, or if they simply wanted to continue using their perfectly good, serviceable older equipment. There wasn't a sizeable contingent of engineers saying, "I'll give up my tube equipment only when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." If there really was a basic difference in sound between tube and solid-state gear, wouldn't you think that people who had been using tube gear all their lives would have caught on to it the quickest? But that just didn't happen, because in general there wasn't any difference bigger than the usual difference between amplifier "A" and amplifier "B".

There were some items of equipment that rock and pop musicians liked to "hit hard" and push into distortion for effect, such as guitar and bass amps, studio compressor/limiters, and sometimes vocal microphones. The older, tube versions of those particular items retained a loyal base of users--though again, not all tube equipment sounds good when you hit it hard; some of it overloads in as ugly a way as a lot of solid-state equipment does. Anyway, by the mid-to-late 1960s, most audibly transparent tube equipment had been superseded by equally transparent solid-state counterparts. Solid-state replacements were often marketed for certain particular items of nicely colored stuff as well (or for stuff that became nicely colored if overdriven), but by and large such replacements weren't as well accepted for those uses.

As a result, if you took a bird's eye view of all the equipment that was being used by, say, maybe 1972 or 1975 you'd see (mainly) clean/clear-sounding solid-state gear plus, among the tube gear that still remained in use, a larger proportion having audible coloration and/or interesting overload behavior than there had been 10 or 20 years previously. It took more and more effort and know-how to operate and maintain the tube gear, the main motivation for which was its particular character. But again, that isn't really a "tube" character as such; tubes can be operated within their linear region. But the designs that did so (i.e. most high-quality audio equipment) could more successfully be replaced by solid-state circuitry, since in those cases there was no particular sonic character that needed to be preserved. And so that is what happened over time.

Nowadays, of course, if a manufacturer decides to build tube equipment, they'd probably better make it colorful to justify people's investment in it. The one microphone manufacturer that I'm closest to had this problem: There was a demand for tube microphones, and they wanted to meet that demand. But when they applied their usual ultra-clean approach to the circuitry, the mikes ended up sounding indistinguishable from the same company's solid-state microphones, at least up to the overload point. So they added a special switch to the power supply to give the users the option of moving the onset of distortion down to lower sound pressure levels.

And I think that's pretty much the situation that any competent circuit designer would face nowadays: Do it right and no one will be able to hear that there's a tube; otherwise, to meet people's expectations given the prevailing mythology, you'll have to come up with a design that lets people "hear the tube."

Something similar could be said about audio transformers, though the general changeover to transformerless circuitry happened some years after the changeover to solid-state circuitry, since it depended on audio-quality op amp ICs which only became available in the 1970s.

--best regards
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 10:58:10 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline JimmieC

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Re: Music Friend´s Preamp Buyers Guide
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 11:56:27 PM »
I´m listening and glad I posted the link so I know your guy´s responses.  I guess you just can´t generalize (of coarse) and was hoping preamps were as simple as:

transistors = transparent
transistors with transformers = colored
tubes = transparent or colored (depending on how driven).

Makes sense that you can achieve transparency with transformers and tubes too since they had too.  Got it, you have to listen to the reviews of the preamp.

I thought the Summit Audio 2BA-221 was an interesting preamp because you can change how much the tube is driven to change the tone of your recording.  Or the Neve Portico 5012 with the "Silk" mode especially in another version where you can control how much "Silk".  May be it´s all hype.  I figured some situations (genre, room acoustics, etc.) you might want to color your recording and some you just want a nice clean recording.  I´m looking for some coloration like some times brightening, darkening, or / and adding some airyness.  May be some of this can be achieved though mic configuration and positioning too?

I´d like to "hear the tube or transformer" and the option to not.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 12:06:22 AM by JimmieC »
OH Grown
Mic:AKG C460B(CK61)/HM1000(CK32/CK47), Naiant Couplings/PFA, ADK-TL; Preamp:Lunatec V2, Naiant Littlebox v1.5; Rec:Tascam DA-P1/DR-100mkii/DR-680; Cable:GAKcables; Bar:Shure A27M, Robb Bar 23-cm, it-goes-to-eleven DINa Active Bar, GAK 3' Bar; Mount:Shure A53M, Audix MC-MICRO; Clamp:AKG K&M 237, Photek Grip Clamp w/Manfrotto 042; Stand: Manfrotto Alu Master 3 Riser 12' AC Stand/122B, Lowel Full Pole; Battery:18000mah Universal Lithium Battery; Playback:laptop>Schiit Modi>Yamaha HTR5890>Klipsch Synergy F2. My recordings on LMA

 

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