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Help w/ colored preamp option (API vs. Neve Clone - another one of those threads) - Gearspace.com
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Help w/ colored preamp option (API vs. Neve Clone - another one of those threads)
Old 3rd March 2014
  #1
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11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Help w/ colored preamp option (API vs. Neve Clone - another one of those threads)

I know there's threads already comparing Neve vs. API "sound".. I've read about 5-6 of them and none of them are really helping me in my situation.

Right now.. I use the stock preamps on my RME UCX. I find them to be super clean, to the point where I don't want/need any clean preamps in my arsenal. I mainly want color options.

I planned to grab a Warm Audio Tonebeast TB12 and pair it with the new Warm Audio WA76. I planned for this to be my "high end sound without high end dollars" color options. Going to run it through a BLA Red Sparrow, buying them all at the same time.

BBBBUUUUUTTTTT... of course I continue reading through the forums and catch word of the BLA B173 preamp, which I was aware existed but never looked into. I'm hearing this thing sounds fantastic, and at a $499 price point that's huge.

Personally... I don't care about Neve vs. API, necessarily. What I really care about is Neve vs. clean RME pre or API vs. clean RME pre. Which one of these clones would be more different from my clean interface pres?

I've listened to shootouts online and I never hear enough difference to commit from that alone, so I'm hoping for someone w/ experience here to lend their insight.

My worries:
Will the API be too similar to my clean RME pre, to the point where I won't use it?
Will most of the color will be coming from the WA76 but not really from the TB12?
Will the B173 be too much mud/low end boosting when paired with a 76 clone?
... maybe that may be a good thing since I have a higher pitched voice?.. I'm just not sure.

Anyone have any insight they could lend based on their experience? I like these 2 companies and would like to support them. I'm big on companies that provide bang for the buck, and they've gotten enough positive reviews and buzz for me to be confident that it will be a quality choice. I'm just not sure which is the right choice for me.

Option 1)
Tonebeast + WA76 + BLA Red Sparrow

Option 2)
B173 + WA76 (or something else in this price range?) + BLA Red Sparrow.


I'm 100% sold on BLA Red Sparrow to receive the signal. I'm 80% sold on WA76 but am willing to try something different if it's a better pair for a potential Neve clone purchase. If the Tonebeast is colored enough... then i'm probably 100% going for the WA76 also. I got turned on to Tonebeast b/c I asked a similar question to this mid last year, and many people recommended their WA12 preamp for adding "warmth" to my sound arsenal. Lots of people said that would do the job... but it lacked an attentuator and that held me off from purchasing. Now.. the Tonebeast has adjsutable output and has additional "color" buttons, so it sounded up my alley.... but a recent thread on the B173 has me second guessing my direction.

So yeah... if you were in my shoes... which direction would you probably go? I'm strongly against going over $600 for the preamp and $600 for the comp. That extra 2% just isn't worth double the price for me.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
guitarboy94's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'd be curious to hear the responses on this one. My experience is that the Neve's have a more bloated low-mid tone going on, where the API's have this lush upper-mid sheen and a mid forward sound going on. The Neves, to my ears, have a more nasally sound in the mids compared to the more open, crisper tone of the API's. Both are colored preamps, just different types of color. Honestly, I find myself having to cut a LOT of those nice low-mids captured with my Pre73 when it comes to mix time. My Warm WA12, on the otherhand, tends to not need as much cutting in the lower mids and all that nice upper-mid sheen gets to stay intact because those frequencies that the API type preamps are so good at enhancing aren't competing with drums and bass.
Old 3rd March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
that's +1 for an API-type preamp... b/c my music is definitely heavy on drum & bass. I didn't mention that above.
Old 4th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Any more opinions? Or is that pretty much the consensus?
Old 4th March 2014
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
google app ing Ma1 - I can PM the details or he is in the white market over at group DIY. Ive got 2 of his germanium pres and theyre totally brilliant. $80 for the kit which includes everything bar the in/out transformers and DPDT switches. Beautiful compressed, halve API>Neve. HIghly recommended (is DIY but you can get Pier the maker to solder in resistors and that stuff and just addd the trafos)
Old 4th March 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
scrubs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What will you be recording with the proposed preamp? For vocals, I'd be more inclined to go with a Neve-style. For drums, API-style, as there will be some natural shaping of the transient which can add punch. Both can work for electric/acoustic guitars, bass-DI, etc. If it were me, I'd go Neve (and I think a Neve-style preamp will offer more contrast relative to the RME), but I have not used any of the specific preamps you are considering.
Old 4th March 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
@dogma ^ definitely PM my details my friend!

I'm a little inundated at the moment for a DIY project, but if you know someone who can essentially put the whole thing together and ship that would be a big plus. Not like I'm not handy... I've just got a 1yo running around and don't really have the time or patient at the moment to build my gear, even though I know it's more cost effective and may even be a better product. I'm moreso in "buy it, turn it on, use it" mode at the moment haha.
Old 4th March 2014
  #8
Gear Nut
 
conflict151's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
+1 on the BLA 1073, although I don't believe they are shipping yet. We have ton of BLA products and I'm a huge personal fan of the red sparrows so I assume the 1073 will be killer for the price. The warm audio is it's own beast as well, Although i do not have personal experience with it
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubs ➑️
What will you be recording with the proposed preamp? For vocals, I'd be more inclined to go with a Neve-style. For drums, API-style, as there will be some natural shaping of the transient which can add punch. Both can work for electric/acoustic guitars, bass-DI, etc. If it were me, I'd go Neve (and I think a Neve-style preamp will offer more contrast relative to the RME), but I have not used any of the specific preamps you are considering.
Recording all vocals. Possibly some bass guitar but I have a Project Studios VTB that I kinda of like for that and a little electric. Gives it the "balls" I like w/ the tube blend on haha. So yeah... my main concentration is a high quality alternative for vocals, b/c i'm super pleased w/ the RME pre cleanliness. My own vocals are higher pitched. My clientele ranges from deep bassy voice to a more "regular" mid-ranged voice too.

That's the same logic that's making me reconsider grabbing the B173 instead, if it's going to be more different from the RME pres.

Now it's tied 1-1 lol. Wish I could just grab both and shoot em out then return one but I don't "got it like that".
Old 4th March 2014
  #10
Lives for gear
 
guitarboy94's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'll add that the Warm WA12 isn't strictly API. IT's got this Tone button, when depressed, sounds like sweet nectar of the God's analog audio, as if somebody plugged it straight into a high end tape machine (minus the hiss). I'm talking thick, creamy Neve type mids with a rolled off top end right where it counts. Not as bloated as Neve, mind you, but definitely different from the standard API preamp. The Tone button sometimes doesn't work in a big mix because it's so dark sounding, but in a stripped down mix, it's golden.
Old 4th March 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
^mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

okay, now i think i get it. That definitely puts Tonebeast in the lead at the moment. Sounds like I could capture the "right take" quicker being able to engage/disengage the tone button.
Old 4th March 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 
euphoria89's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The Warm audio is brilliant, but the one area i've never been fond of it is on lead vocals. Just always feels harder to fit in a mix over a neve style pre. Great all round unit, but very coloured. Far more coloured than the 73 style of pre imho.

The BLA with the WA76 would give you a similar sort of vibe, but i think in a more controllable way.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by euphoria89 ➑️
The Warm audio is brilliant, but the one area i've never been fond of it is on lead vocals. Just always feels harder to fit in a mix over a neve style pre. Great all round unit, but very coloured. Far more coloured than the 73 style of pre imho.

The BLA with the WA76 would give you a similar sort of vibe, but i think in a more controllable way.
Question... what style lead vocals are you referring to when you say this? Singing? Rap?
Old 4th March 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I've got both a Neve and an API pre. I would describe the overdriving and coloration of both like this;

API: When driven hard has a more agressive sound to it. In your face kind of attack. To me it can starts sounding a bit harsh when overdriven as it definitely accentuates the mids.
Neve: The Neve when overdriven has a more "round" sound to it. Less attack with the mids not so pushed forward. It obviously is a matter of taste and probably a matter of what type of music you are making.
Old 4th March 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
HipHop/Rap, and spoken word. I'm mainly focused on voice. usually aggressive voice, similar to Big L, Eminem, Canibus type of energy.

I actually sound almost exactly like Big L, if anyone is familiar with his work lol. I've been mistaken for him several times. Actually played one of his freestyles for a friend and convinced him it was me.. but i digress.. that's off topic.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #16
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix ➑️
HipHop/Rap, and spoken word. I'm mainly focused on voice. usually aggressive voice, similar to Big L, Eminem, Canibus type of energy.

I actually sound almost exactly like Big L, if anyone is familiar with his work lol. I've been mistaken for him several times. Actually played one of his freestyles for a friend and convinced him it was me.. but i digress.. that's off topic.
Sorry to get off topic but can I hear some of your work. I am a Big L super fan.
Old 4th March 2014 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
mikeyman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by conflict151 ➑️
+1 on the BLA 1073, although I don't believe they are shipping yet. We have ton of BLA products and I'm a huge personal fan of the red sparrows so I assume the 1073 will be killer for the price. The warm audio is it's own beast as well, Although i do not have personal experience with it
The BLA B173 has been out for over a month or 2
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix ➑️
HipHop/Rap, and spoken word. I'm mainly focused on voice. usually aggressive voice, similar to Big L, Eminem, Canibus type of energy.

I actually sound almost exactly like Big L, if anyone is familiar with his work lol. I've been mistaken for him several times. Actually played one of his freestyles for a friend and convinced him it was me.. but i digress.. that's off topic.
I'm going to say that for Hip Hop a pushed Neve sound would be the ticket.
Old 5th March 2014
  #19
Sonic Farm Pro Audio
 
ztjangle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A GOOD 312 or 1073 clone will probably make you use your RME built in pre much less, but won't render it completely useless.
What you will find (provided you have decent engineering skills) is that a mix becomes easier if it's composed of tracks recorded through high quality pre's. There will be less or no struggle to get rid of harshness and/or muddiness.

The trouble, though, lies in the fact that not all clones are created equal and that good ones cost close to the original.
For a less hype-prone recordist, one who has successfully cured the 1073/312 virus by solely relying on his ears (rather than others' opinions), there are much more attractive modern design preamps that can do many sounds out of a single box.
We are happy and proud designers of two such units: Sonic Farm Creamer Plus and Silkworm. They cost more but do you have enough money to buy cheap stuff?If you feel the call, you can go to our website and listen to many different sound samples and read magazine reviews.
good luck finding what you need.
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #20
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guitarboy94's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Interesting that you find the Warm to be far more colored than the Pre73, as my observations have been the opposite: Warm WA12 is pretty clean sounding whereas the Pre73 has an obvious, big round colorful character that smacks you in the face the second you plug a mic into it. When I first got my Warm I actually really struggled to hear any difference in comparison to my wire and gain preamp because it has such a clean, clear sound to it. But after you listen back a few times, you start hearing that transformer sheen in the upper mids that API's are known for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by euphoria89 ➑️
The Warm audio is brilliant, but the one area i've never been fond of it is on lead vocals. Just always feels harder to fit in a mix over a neve style pre. Great all round unit, but very coloured. Far more coloured than the 73 style of pre imho.

The BLA with the WA76 would give you a similar sort of vibe, but i think in a more controllable way.
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Nut
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
+1 for the ToneBeast. That's my first big boy pre-amp but after tons of research I came to the conclusion that it is the most flexible preamp I could afford. (Even though I won it through a contest) You get 2 pre-amps to toggle between 2 different transformers, the tone button, plus gain and output volume control to control the amount of saturation.. If you like the WA12, the Tone Beast can get that sound (which is actually a bit colored in a very useful way as described above) or get super clean with the x18 preamp into the steel xfr. It's a competitive contender in the pre-amp market right now and for a good reason, think long and hard about whether you want a one trick pony or a swiss army knife. Need to choose what works best for you and your material. I know whatever steps through my door, the Tonebeast has a setting specifically tailored for that, I just have to find it!
Old 5th March 2014 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by proche3 ➑️
think long and hard about whether you want a one trick pony or a swiss army knife.
Dang... when you put it like that this really helps me sum things up.

It won't be my last purchase. So I think i'm going with the Tonebeast now definitely due to the options and it sounds like I can drive it to get a nice distortion, or allow it to be a cleaner "set it and forget it" sound.

Then... later in the year or next year when I'm ready for my next round of purchases then I'll go with a higher end Neve clone like the Silkworm (since I'd love to start my 500 series collection) or a Vintech, but still keeping BLA or maybe even GAP73 modded in the running.

Okay... I think I've got my direction locked down now gentlemen, really appreciate all of the input. I'm going to go with TB12 and check out Neve clones at a later date
Old 3rd April 2014 | Show parent
  #23
Sonic Farm Pro Audio
 
ztjangle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix ➑️
Then... later in the year or next year when I'm ready for my next round of purchases then I'll go with a higher end Neve clone like the Silkworm (since I'd love to start my 500 series collection) or a Vintech, but still keeping BLA or maybe even GAP73 modded in the running.
Please be aware that Silkworm is NOT a Neve clone. The fact that it sounds similar to a Neve 1073LB (only in transformer mode) is purely coincidental. It has a topology more similar to John Hardy M-1 or GM preamps (input mic transformer, followed by a discrete gain stage driving an output transformer), while having much broader tone options.
Old 3rd April 2014
  #24
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Tone Laborer's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix ➑️
II planned to grab a Warm Audio Tonebeast TB12 and pair it with the new Warm Audio WA76. I planned for this to be my "high end sound without high end dollars" color options. Going to run it through a BLA Red Sparrow, buying them all at the same time.

BBBBUUUUUTTTTT... .
I don't see anything wrong with this. Add a solid eq, or just a good plug, and mics, as you can.

API and Neve both have plenty of color, albeit different color. And that can vary with mics and sources. As often said, the mics shape the tone, moreso.

There's lots of nice sounding gear out there, but, you can't have it all. That's what i remind myself, anyway, as i read here. You had a good first instinct.
Old 3rd April 2014 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ztjangle ➑️
Please be aware that Silkworm is NOT a Neve clone. The fact that it sounds similar to a Neve 1073LB (only in transformer mode) is purely coincidental. It has a topology more similar to John Hardy M-1 or GM preamps (input mic transformer, followed by a discrete gain stage driving an output transformer), while having much broader tone options.
That you for the clarification! That goes a long way.
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