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500 series pre through interface inserts vs dedicated a/d
Old 7th March 2014
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
dirtythirties's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
500 series pre through interface inserts vs dedicated a/d

I'd appreciate some good information here and thanks to anyone who lends an ear.

At the moment I am running CAPI VP26s with red dots through the insert jacks of my Alesis io 26 (I know, I know). I realize that the conversion on this interface assuredly doesn't stack up to that of a higher-end, dedicated A/D or interface (Apogee, Lynx, etc.), but I don't know how much this is truly affecting the audio quality of my VP26s.

When I A/B the Alesis mic pres against the VP26s, which obviously use the same converters, I feel like there is more clarity across the frequency spectrum with the Alesis beyond the fact that it is a clean pre in comparison. Don't get me wrong, I realize that the idea of the VP26s is to get a more analog and transformer warmth, and I know the Alesis has super clean preamps, but I still feel like the VP26s are lacking. If they are using the same converters in this case, I wouldn't assume that the converters are "veiling" the clarity of the VP26s.

In essence, I'm not getting a good trade off of mojo vs clarity.

Now let me preface that I'm a newbie and this might be a dumb thought, but what I'm left wondering is might the external pres have more juice to them and that is causing conversion problems? It's not distortion, it's a veiled, slightly muffled sound, and I'm not hearing much analog/transformer mojo as I imagined. The one instance where I hear a benefit to the VP26s is when micing a guitar amp; there is definitely more harmonic girth to the mids/low mids.

The obvious answer is the converters are poor in the Alesis, but again, its own pres don't have this problem. I do plan on getting a better interface or a A/D, but I don't have a couple grand to drop on that at the moment and I'm not confident that the converters are the issue here. I've played with input and output gain and that isn't the problem. If I bought A/D and this problem remained, I would be livid.

BTW I've used an SM7B and an ST66 for vocals and I'm having the same issue with both mics.

Anyone's input is greatly appreciated
Old 7th March 2014
  #2
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I'll have a go. I think you'd be better served going into the mic/trs input on that unit than the inserts (inserts are used for send/return). You'd have to select line input and set your gain to unity on the alesis and use the VP26 preamp gain for volume. I'm not sure if that signal will be going through the alesis preamp circuitry.

You'll know when the VP26 is ruling the sound.
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #3
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shorbit ➑️
I'll have a go. I think you'd be better served going into the mic/trs input on that unit than the inserts (inserts are used for send/return). You'd have to select line input and set your gain to unity on the alesis and use the VP26 preamp gain for volume. I'm not sure if that signal will be going through the alesis preamp circuitry.

You'll know when the VP26 is ruling the sound.
Thanks and I should've mentioned I've tried that as well with similar results regarding this issue. The mic/trs input I believe pads the signal and still runs it through the Alesis pre, so I'm still not hearing VP26 completely isolated. It is interesting that you can essentially use the Alesis gain vs the VP26 gain as a blend between the two to taste, but i can't help but feel bummed about mic external pres if I'm using both.
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtythirties ➑️
Thanks and I should've mentioned I've tried that as well with similar results regarding this issue. The mic/trs input I believe pads the signal and still runs it through the Alesis pre, so I'm still not hearing VP26 completely isolated. It is interesting that you can essentially use the Alesis gain vs the VP26 gain as a blend between the two to taste, but i can't help but feel bummed about mic external pres if I'm using both.
Can't answer much for the Alesis interface, but i have the VP26 and the 28's and tho i would not describe them as clean micpre's. I don't consider them muddy.
So my best guess is that either there something wrong with the build you did, or the Alesis isnt flattering them at all.

I mostly use my VP26's for snare,kick phatness. Alot for gitts' and brass instruments sometimes.
Depending on sound i go for, hardly ever for vocals.
Cant remember when i did that last.

I often use the gain and output gain together with the pad on the pre to slightly distort or even clip the signal to compress it slightly by itself. I get a great effect on kicks with that.
All and all its a wonderfull pre' so my guess is have someone lend you another interface just to troubleshoot your way and check the entire signal chain.

Best of luck, and dont sell the pre's there great!
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byzance ➑️
Can't answer much for the Alesis interface, but i have the VP26 and the 28's and tho i would not describe them as clean micpre's. I don't consider them muddy.
So my best guess is that either there something wrong with the build you did, or the Alesis isnt flattering them at all.

I mostly use my VP26's for snare,kick phatness. Alot for gitts' and brass instruments sometimes.
Depending on sound i go for, hardly ever for vocals.
Cant remember when i did that last.

I often use the gain and output gain together with the pad on the pre to slightly distort or even clip the signal to compress it slightly by itself. I get a great effect on kicks with that.
All and all its a wonderfull pre' so my guess is have someone lend you another interface just to troubleshoot your way and check the entire signal chain.

Best of luck, and dont sell the pre's there great!
Good info, thanks. It's not the build as I bought them built by Custom Analog Services, who comes recommended by the CAPI supplier himself. I do hear the best results when micing kick, snare, and electric guitar. There is the possibility that they just aren't great vocal pres although I've heard examples of them as such and they sounded nice. I'll be trying a friend's A/D this weekend that i can light pipe to my Alesis and bypass the conversion to more accurately A/B the converters.
Old 7th March 2014
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I've got a VP26 and run it into an rme multiface. However I also have a firebox and have run it into the line inputs and it rocks. I've got a feeling that lack of dedicated line inputs is not letting you hear the difference. They are clear and punchy pre's.
Old 7th March 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
28 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I don't think converters are the problem, I think it's an impedance mismatch. Can you use mic inputs on the alesis, and bypass the alesis pres? For example, the apogee duet lets use use its mic input jacks but bypass its internal preamps.
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shorbit ➑️
I've got a VP26 and run it into an rme multiface. However I also have a firebox and have run it into the line inputs and it rocks. I've got a feeling that lack of dedicated line inputs is not letting you hear the difference. They are clear and punchy pre's.
I'm guessing you are right. The manual says to use the inserts to bypass the pres, but they're unbalanced and I don't think were made for that purpose, more of a "this puppy can do it all!" kind of thing.
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB+J ➑️
I don't think converters are the problem, I think it's an impedance mismatch. Can you use mic inputs on the alesis, and bypass the alesis pres? For example, the apogee duet lets use use its mic input jacks but bypass its internal preamps.
You can use the mic inputs, but it doesn't truly bypass the pres, it just pads the signal so it can be brought to line level again from what I understand. There's a "mic/line and guitar" switch which changes the impedance.
Old 7th March 2014
  #10
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🎧 5 years
If the insert jacks are unbalanced, could that create a veiled sound? It's a 3' cable... I guess that's why people are suggesting the combo jack instead of the inserts?
Old 7th March 2014
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
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🎧 5 years
I'll also mention that I am running a TRS 1/4 to 1/4" out of the balanced lunchbox output into a unbalanced insert on the Alesis. Is maybe this an issue?
Old 7th March 2014
  #12
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🎧 5 years
...and the balance cable is plugged all the way into the unbalanced insert jack. I'm reading some threads suggesting not plugging the balance cable in all the way into a unbalanced input.
Old 7th March 2014
  #13
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🎧 5 years
I'll recap where I'm at since this is too much work to read:

I'm running VP26 mic pres out of my lunch box (balanced out with TRS) and into the insert jacks of my Alesis io 26 (TRS) and experiencing a lack in clarity and I'm trying to pinpoint the problem if any. The manual describes plugging in only the "send" into the insert, but I am using a TRS, so does this mean I shouldn't plug the TRS in fully so that only the "send" is connect through the insert?

Pretty please anyone?
Old 7th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtythirties ➑️
I'll recap where I'm at since this is too much work to read:

I'm running VP26 mic pres out of my lunch box (balanced out with TRS) and into the insert jacks of my Alesis io 26 (TRS) and experiencing a lack in clarity and I'm trying to pinpoint the problem if any. The manual describes plugging in only the "send" into the insert, but I am using a TRS, so does this mean I shouldn't plug the TRS in fully so that only the "send" is connect through the insert?

Pretty please anyone?
That's my understanding...or one of these might do the trick. PLug the return xlr out of your pre and the TRS the whole way in on your insert. Leave the other one unplugged. It will be unbalanced so the shorter the better.

Hosa SRC-203 Insert Cable, 1/4" TRS (M) - XLR (M)+(F), 9.9 ft | ProAudio.com
Old 11th March 2014
  #15
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🎧 5 years
So I posted a thread on the Alesis forum and came to a solution. By using TRS to TRS is was activating the Alesis preamps, which was causing the edginess in the sound. What was recommended was to use a TRS to tip/sleeve connector, running the sleeve (return) from my external pre to the TRS into the insert of the interface; that configuration gave me no signal at all. What worked best was running the tip (send) from the external to TRS into the insert, which was strange because it was the opposite of what I was told and the manual says. The Alesis rep said the cable manufacturer could have the tip and sleeve reversed, but the brand stated otherwise so I don't know what's up with that. I tried going TRS out of the external pre to return (sleeve) into the interface, but that was worse.

The sound is noticeably better, but I still wonder if it could be better still because of the way I'm getting signal.
Old 25th March 2014
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
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🎧 5 years
Update 1 week later....

Just tried a friend's impedance adapter on an xlr (xlr to 1/4") from my lunchbox into the insert jack and there was a significant improvement in signal strength and low end extension

Last edited by dirtythirties; 26th March 2014 at 06:19 PM.. Reason: missing info
Old 26th March 2014
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
i had similar issues running preamps xlr into 1818vsl switch to using the 1/4" and dedicated line in and got everything i wanted
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