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Author Topic: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"  (Read 4543 times)

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Offline Chanher

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2023, 10:34:00 AM »
While I don't yet have a my preferred preamp (m148, still in acquisition mode) to run in front of a recorder, for purposes of comparative listening exercises, I do have the opportunity over the next couple of weeks to record some amplified shows (Billy Strings, JRAD) and generate some A/B comparisons.  I have 2 pair of AKG480/ck61 that just came back from being serviced by Harman Pro, which I need to run anyway to verify performance before the 90d warranty window closes.  For sure can do SD-MP6ii vs Zoom F8n.  If anyone is interested in loaning me an Oade mod tascam, etc. to put into the mix, then please drop me a PM.
Excellent, some A/B samples with 2 pairs of identical mics can be so revealing. Looking forward to it.
Line Audio CM4 / AT853Rx (c,h) / Studio Projects C4 MKII (c,h,o)
Sound Devices MP-2 / bm2p+ Edirol UA-5
Zoom F3 / F6 / Marantz Oade Warm Mod PMD661 / Tascam DR-70D

Online unclehoolio

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2023, 02:31:18 PM »
While I don't yet have a my preferred preamp (m148, still in acquisition mode) to run in front of a recorder, for purposes of comparative listening exercises, I do have the opportunity over the next couple of weeks to record some amplified shows (Billy Strings, JRAD) and generate some A/B comparisons.  I have 2 pair of AKG480/ck61 that just came back from being serviced by Harman Pro, which I need to run anyway to verify performance before the 90d warranty window closes.  For sure can do SD-MP6ii vs Zoom F8n.  If anyone is interested in loaning me an Oade mod tascam, etc. to put into the mix, then please drop me a PM.
Excellent, some A/B samples with 2 pairs of identical mics can be so revealing. Looking forward to it.

Alright, here's a comparison sample, from Billy Strings at the Frost Amphitheatre, 10/7/23.  480+ck61 (full bodies, no active cabling) into SD MixPre6ii and Zoom F8N, respectively:

https://we.tl/t-8HGHX5KwgK  link is good for a week.

First and foremost, shoutout to Ryan H for his indispensable assistance (gaffer's tape for the win!) on this night.

Setup details, for those who give a shit:

Both stereo pairs were mounted on same stand, i.e:  40deg included angle, spaced 11" (I would have preferred much greater spacing in order to try to achieve better imaging / wider soundstage, but it was the best I could do, in light of gear constraints.  And 'great stereo image' was not up high on the list of goals or outcomes for this exercise to begin with.)  The 2 pairs were arranged such that the vertical (Y axis) offset was just enough to accommodate windscreens (Movo WST50, which were overkill), with a 2" horizontal (X axis) offset or stagger that allowed me to 'tetris' the 2 stereo pairs together in a way that minimized the vertical offset--I hope that makes sense.  Otherwise, the capsules were all on the same plane (Z axis), so no offset in terms of distance to the PA.  I shoulda taken a pic.  Oh well.  Mics raised to 10 or 11 ft high.  We were at the front left corner of the FOH 'corral', which had us offset from DFC about 30 feet (the FOH area at the frost is LOC to begin with)--in other words, the mic stand was almost but not quite directly in-line with left PA stack.

Both recorders were configured the same:  24/96, limiters off.  Same types of xlr cables used (brand new Canare L-4E6S with Neutrik Silver connectors, for those who REALLY give a shit).  I did my best to match levels on each recorder the 'old fashioned' way (meaning fine-tuning the gain/trim settings during the show), but it was hard since the 2 units have different metering, and neither one shows a max dBfs for each channel (as far as I know).  (FWIW, I was in the 25-28db gain range on the Zoom, and closer to 30-31db on the SD).  Had some difficulties getting the SD up and running*, which is why the comp is limited to just the last 13+ mins of the first set.  But I think it's plenty enough to allow folks to draw conclusions.

Post-production consisted only of normalization (I normalized each of the 4 mics/channels/tracks individually).

Anyway, have a listen please do post your impressions/observations, preferences, dislikes, guesses, etc if you feel so inclined.  Happy to reveal the sources via PM.

*The first time ever even touched a Sound Devices unit was when Mean Gene handed this one--his spare/backup--to me 15 minutes before doors.  It was still in the plastic wrapping, factory seal intact.  And unsurprisingly, he didn't have any idea how to configure it, even though he owns and runs one...  :o 
mics:  AKG c480b (x6) + ck61, ck62, & ck63
pre:  2 x Oade m148
recorder:  Zoom F8n Pro; Tascam HD-P2 (with Oade High Definition mod)

Offline Chanher

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2023, 11:57:37 AM »
Finally had a chance to listen to this, thanks for doing this.

I went back and forth with the 2 samples about 5-6 times. I can honestly say, I'm struggling to hear a difference! You have the levels matched well, for an amateur like me that helps a lot. Playback: Shiit Modi DAC > Event Project Studio 6 monitors

The latest recorders are in a class of their own; I would describe the sound of these 2 samples as super clean and transparent. Would be interested in one of these high-end recorders comped against an older recorder and/or one of our modders. I plan on running a Zoom F3 and an Oade Warm Mod 661 using 2 pairs of at853Rx's as soon as I can. Props for running a MP6ii for the first time after receiving it right before the show.
Line Audio CM4 / AT853Rx (c,h) / Studio Projects C4 MKII (c,h,o)
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Zoom F3 / F6 / Marantz Oade Warm Mod PMD661 / Tascam DR-70D

Online unclehoolio

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2023, 04:50:43 PM »
Thanks for listening/playin'!

I normalized the tracks (each individually) which would explain why they are so closely matched, but I also did my best to get them as close as possible during actual recording as well.

I personally felt that there was a substantial difference between the 2.

Here is the next comp:  https://we.tl/t-H2jwZZyNAG

JRAD at the Frost amphitheatre.  Way FOB, DFC. 2 x 481(NOS) at 7' high.   One pair was >m148>F8nPro, the other pair was >F8nPro.  Limiters off, 24/96.  You should not draw any conclusions from the fact that the SD was not in the mix this time around--it was a loaner that I had access to for BS only, it had to go home with it's owner after the show.

As with the first comp, the only post- processing was normalization (which was a minor adjustment in any event, as my levels during the show peaked at -2dbfs).
mics:  AKG c480b (x6) + ck61, ck62, & ck63
pre:  2 x Oade m148
recorder:  Zoom F8n Pro; Tascam HD-P2 (with Oade High Definition mod)

Offline Chanher

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2023, 07:06:29 PM »
went back and listened more to the first comp (f8n pro and mixpre6ii):
sample 1 has more pronounced bass. otherwise very close to my ears, couldn't tell ya which was which.

m148 and f8n pro comp:
my guess is jrad1 is the m148 and jrad2 is the f8n pro. both sound good, difference is subtle but jrad1 seems to have a nice blanket over everything, a little softer at the peaks. i would be pleased with either recording.
Line Audio CM4 / AT853Rx (c,h) / Studio Projects C4 MKII (c,h,o)
Sound Devices MP-2 / bm2p+ Edirol UA-5
Zoom F3 / F6 / Marantz Oade Warm Mod PMD661 / Tascam DR-70D

Online unclehoolio

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2023, 04:18:00 AM »
Hi Canher--

Yes, for the first comp, one of the 2 main differences to my ears is the fatter, more extended low end in #1.  Which is much more accurate to how it sounded at the show.

As for the second comp, I also agree that the difference is subtle.  (Much more subtle than the 1st comp).  Good phrasing of the difference, I also think #1 has a warmth to it, especially thru the midrange.  #2 is a little cooler and crisper, or more 'clinical'.  And I agree with you that I'd be more than happy with either one.  Which I can't say the same for the first comp.
mics:  AKG c480b (x6) + ck61, ck62, & ck63
pre:  2 x Oade m148
recorder:  Zoom F8n Pro; Tascam HD-P2 (with Oade High Definition mod)

Online unclehoolio

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2024, 02:36:13 PM »
Okay, here's another comp, for anyone who still cares about 'em:

https://we.tl/t-ozGu7JPwAh

DSO at the Warfield on Friday night.

481-DIN, all on same stand, which was 15' ROC, just inside the right PA stack, even with the FOH enclosure.  Otherwise, same background as the previous comps:  both recorders were set to 24/96, limiters off, no stereo linking on gain, and I did my best to match levels during the show; same types of xlr cables used; post-production consisted only of normalization.

one pair into Zoom F8n Pro
one pair into Oade mod HD-PS (Hi-Def mod)\
one pair into m148>Zoom

As always, feel free to post your impressions/observations, preferences, dislikes, guesses, etc if you feel so inclined.  Happy to reveal the sources via PM.

(Not sure why the one pic is sideways?  Also after I took that pic, I made some final adjustments to ensure that the top pair of mics was aligned/parallel with the bottom 2 prs)
« Last Edit: February 05, 2024, 02:39:17 PM by unclehoolio »
mics:  AKG c480b (x6) + ck61, ck62, & ck63
pre:  2 x Oade m148
recorder:  Zoom F8n Pro; Tascam HD-P2 (with Oade High Definition mod)

Offline Chanher

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Re: Running a preamp in front of a recorder that doesn't have a true "line-in"
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2024, 12:50:05 PM »
I just did a quick listen through and here are my guesses:

Shakedown1 - HD-P2 Oade HD mod
Shakedown2 -  Zoom F8n Pro
Shakedown3 - Oade M148

Shakedown3 seems the softest of the 3, nice and warm. I had to go back and forth on the first 2, it seems like the 2nd sample was the most neutral, a quality I attach to the Zoom F series. Sample 1 seemed to have that presence boost in the upper frequencies that I find common in a lot of mods.

I love these comps, although I'll be the first to admit that some of them are obvious to me and then the next one they'll all sound the same haha. Critical listening is a skill that can be practiced! Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I managed to snag a 2nd pair of Line Audio CM4's locally for cheap (couldn't believe it when I saw them) and I wanna run the F3 and Oade Warm mod 661 head to head. Waiting for a good sounding venue + good band.
Line Audio CM4 / AT853Rx (c,h) / Studio Projects C4 MKII (c,h,o)
Sound Devices MP-2 / bm2p+ Edirol UA-5
Zoom F3 / F6 / Marantz Oade Warm Mod PMD661 / Tascam DR-70D

 

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