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Pumped by Pre Amps
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:53 am    Post subject: Pumped by Pre Amps Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

do you guys generally use your pre amps for colour, or for transparency....?

and can anyone take a shot at describing 'transparency' and why it might be good or ..maybe bad ?

tube amps vs solid state..does it matter..?

do we even need pre amps or should we just use a DI ?

burning questions i know keep us all up at night hehe

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mosc
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Lately this has been bothering me a lot. I'm big on transparency and low-noise. I know a lot of people hear like the colorization certain analog preamps and compressors provide, but I'm more interested in programming my synths to play the sounds I like and then get the signals into the digital domain just as cleanly as possible. I'm in the process of getting an analog mixer out of the setup.
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Lately this has been bothering me a lot. I'm big on transparency and low-noise. I know a lot of people hear like the colorization certain analog preamps and compressors provide, but I'm more interested in programming my synths to play the sounds I like and then get the signals into the digital domain just as cleanly as possible. I'm in the process of getting an analog mixer out of the setup.


sounds like a good plan in your case...unless you find you have to trim the signal from your synths too much, in which case you may want to look into getting a good DI by Radial or Countryman or some such

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

All of my synths have volume controls in prominent places. What a novel thing to use them. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Personally I see preamps, reverbs, compressors and the lot as useful tools for creating nice sounds. I guess I even see such tools as part of the patch.

Transparency is cool. However, defining transparency is difficult. First of all the signal should be free of the obvious artifacts like hiss and hum. Another matter is clarity. The recording chain should be as transparent as possible. For coloration, which I think is a tired and a "non-electro-music musican´s term" ( Shocked ) the use of certain compressors and preamps can be very helpful.

However, I don´t think there is a certain "colour" that is right for everything and "analog warmth" is still a term that I don´t think makes much sense. There is still too much mythology going on.

What kind of preamps are you thinking about? Mic preamps? Line drivers? Keyboard amp pres? What kind of sound do you want?

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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
All of my synths have volume controls in prominent places. What a novel thing to use them. Laughing


hehe yes of course...but this might introduce hiss and unwanted noise from certain patches

a line driver etc will give a stronger signal at lower gain

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Jason



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, Transparency to me means maintaining and representing the original signal with as little alteration as possible. All gear does something as we all know, even if its passive its a subtle change in all likelyhood. I love compressors I love preamps. I finally got my act together and bought a mid priced preamp and compressor actually a Focusrite twin track pro.
It is far from a neve etc but its got a sound all its own just as any compressor and or preamp does. My point is for those that dont have a hardware pre-amp or compressor as opposed to just a software compressor, you may want to consider one day getting one. They are so much fun. On my compressor I got the optional digital output so I get the best of both worlds in my opinion! Class A pre-amp with optical compressor -> directly digital into my computer world. It has sure changed my whole recording process in more ways than 1...
One last comment is the choices we all have and the trick in my experience is to know when to use it and when to not. It is just too easy to just crunch everything with a compressor and heat it up with a pre-amp. So for me its a bit of a process where I must restrain myself from always using it.
Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

Last edited by Jason on Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jason



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

and yes one more thing, of course solid state and tube gear is different in many ways. Though describing the differences with words can be challenging. All have their place for sure, and I would love to have the option to use both. Cool
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

nice one, jason

has any here tried the Focusrite Liquid Channel...the pre amp that emulates[sic] all the old analog front ends... ?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:


has any here tried the Focusrite Liquid Channel...the pre amp that emulates[sic] all the old analog front ends... ?


Yes

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deknow



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

with something that does extreme coloration you can juice many things out of one patch. i like the mesaboogie vtwin (i have the pedal, but want the rack), which is really a guitar pre, but it sounds great on drums (i always use that as a pre for ramonas hammered dulcimer..gives it a little edge without squashing the beautiful acoustic reverb of the instrument).

as long as you can get things to run relatively hum free, i think guitar pres, pedals, and rack fx are a great source of inspiration, and a great place to be somewhat spontanious when recording or sampling....you can plug in and adjust settings "in the moment" more easily than you can inside a digital box or software app. for me, this makes things more fun. some of my favorites besides the mesa includes:

boss syb3 (with drums going through it)
eh bassballs
boss rv-3 (reverb/delay....lush)
eh microsynth

there are also guitar pedals that are just feedback and effects loops. if i was doing less with the nord and more with hardware these days, i'd get a couple of those...feedback can really expand any pedal setup.

since most of my stuff is line level out, i have little need for transparant pre's, but i do have a behringer ultragain pro that i sometimes use...for the price, you can't beat it, it's very transparant (and it has led's on a timer to fake the tube warming up and glowing on powerup...classic).

dekonw
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

deknow wrote:
with something that does extreme coloration you can juice many things out of one patch. i like the mesaboogie vtwin (i have the pedal, but want the rack), which is really a guitar pre, but it sounds great on drums


a novel approach..i must try that soon....

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting - this analog digital discussion we have been having for the last thirty years. Recent work by Rob Hordijk on his Analog Circuit Emulation (ACE) indicate to me that the type of electronics being used aren't the important thing. Instead, the human/machine interface is what's important.

I would really like to have a compressor like that. I wouldn't care what circuit technology was inside it though.

Still, assuming the digital input device has enough headroom, I think I'd rather record the signals unprocessed and adjust them later. Working on a live performance setup, that's something completely different.

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Kassen
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Interesting points all round. I don't realy want to go into the analogue/digital thing. I'd just like to note that sometimes, for some reason some people will be working with analogue gear and in that case the spectrum will be heavily affected by how hot the input signal is and that means it's usefull to have indepth controll of this.

I tend to favour first and second generation D&R outboard gear. These are small rack and half-rack boxes with output volume knobs marked with such numbers as "+15db" and they are entirely serious about those numbers. They are a great help since most digital instruments simply don't output hot enough signals for my tastes to drive analogue effects.

Transparency is a good idea, but only for those points in the signal chain *after* you are happy about the overall sound. Rob's work is great but confined to a speciffic type of modular synth and it can't be used in -say- hardware samplers. I'm delighted that he's working on a hardware eq/dynamics processor. It's all quite interesting from a accedemic perspective often often emulations come quite handy but I'd rather use digital systems for wha thtey exell at and use analogue systems for what those do well; it's not like we are craving for a analogue buffer-overflow effect or a anlogue granulator either.... Well, ok, I'd buy both if they'd exist.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Rob's work is great but confined to a speciffic type of modular synth and it can't be used in -say- hardware samplers.

perhaps i'm not understanding you, or perhaps this is stating the obvious, but why wouldn't one use robs "eq tilt" or even "tube screamer" between a sound source and a sampler input? as i said before, i often use subtle (and unsublte) effects on my way into the sampler or multitrack. i like having an oppurtunity to mess around with a sound as a sample (or record) it, as it gives me an air of spontinaity durring what can (for me) be a tedious process (putting together a bunch of samples).

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yeah, of cource you can. I menat to point out it's only intergrated with the soundsource in the G2. Of cource you can use the G2 as a outboard effect.

At 200 euro per channel (800 for a engine devided by in/out pairs) I think getting a old desk for this is more economical but you could point out that engines are more economical as far as space is concerned....

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astroid power-up!



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

re-amping a sound (preferably through a tube amp) and then balancing it against the original is a fairly easy way to warm a softsynth.
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

're-amping' is another good idea

some people use the inputs on reel to reel tape machines and drive those a bit to get a warmer tone...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

astroid power-up! wrote:
re-amping a sound (preferably through a tube amp) and then balancing it against the original is a fairly easy way to warm a softsynth.


It is easy to send channels out to analog devices using a fairly decent and modern DAW. I do that a lot. I am repatching the studio now and I am planning to set up some old tape decks and amps and stuff in the studio. All the old Tandberg, Proton, Radionette and Ferrograph ( with tubes ) reel to reel decks will be set up and connected to the patchbays.

By warming I guess you are thinking about what I call distortion?

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astroid power-up!



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

well distorting, yes, but actually more like coloring the sound. on the last piece i did i had a bass patch which i built out of a single waveform and sampled- nice, but it turned out to have a heavy low and high and no middle. i futzed around with some soft amps, but that didn't do it, so i ran it through a guitar amp, just cranked the living hell out of the thing, and gave it quite a bit of middle, and then mixed the two signals. made it rich and full, and, almost more importantly, placed it in a real room. that has a psychological effect, also. but then, i could also slam it through a neve, which warmed it again.

i did that on this piece, also for the leads and the pads. (the overall mix didn't come out great but that's another story)

http://www.em411.com/show/mixit_user/661

my engineer friend says "it's always better to push air". sometimes he's right. Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

astroid power-up! wrote:

i did that on this piece, also for the leads and the pads. (the overall mix didn't come out great but that's another story)

http://www.em411.com/show/mixit_user/661

my engineer friend says "it's always better to push air". sometimes he's right. Smile


Nice. Good air pushing Asteroid. I like this a lot. It's fun...

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astroid power-up!



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks, sorry for the sneaky spam. i didn't realize i needed to do that Wink

maybe i should move this?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Doesn't seem like spam at all to me. It was an appropriate time to show what you're talking about sounds like. This is all about music anyhow. Thanks...
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The Why Project



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've been out for the last few weeks, but I'd like to give some input on this
subject...

All (ALL) my sources go through good quality preamps when I record them to disk.

This has a number of reasons:

1) Sound quality. A good preamp will open up your sound, give it a more 3D presence,
better definition.
2) Easier to mix. It is a lot easier to mix when all sources have been recorded
to their maximum potential. I tend to have to use less corrective EQ, placement in
the mix is easier, it's also easier to set the tracks to their required levels...
Why, don't ask me, it's probably a psychoaccoustic thing, and I think it certainly
relates back to point 1.
3) Compression/Limiting by overdrive/distortion. When you push a good preamp to the
limits of it's headroom, it will start a sort of limiting action by the slight
distortions that are created. I often prefer this type of limiting action over
more conventional compressors, especially the VCA based ones. Don't get me wrong,
I still use a lot of compression, but there's a place and a time for every flavour.

Amongst my most used preamps are a Siemens V72, Siemens V276, Trident-MTA Signature
Two and Telefunken V357 (Actually a D/I with some gain). All except the Trident are
classics from the sixties and the seventies... That gives me a lot of flavours,
from tube trough to discrete to solid state.

In my opinion (and I think Rob also described this before), mixing is like painting
or cooking good food.
You try to put everything in it's own space (both mix-level and physical space), and
in the context that you have in your mind when you start mixing.
Pre-amps are a great way to add flavours to your mix, to give the sounds you've
recorded that special something, so that it becomes easier to match their place in the
mix to the picture you had in mind before you started mixing (again, both mix-level
and physical space).

A great book on this subject is "Mixing with your mind" by Michael Paul Stavrou.
It didn't really teach me many new things, but it gave me a guideline to a process
that I already used without really being conscious about it...

In the end, you can't have a good mix without having good engineering (recording)
in the first place. Good quality pre-amps do help with that.

Regards,

The Why Project
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

interesting post !
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