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Tracking drums - what's the third flavor for my setup? (API, Daking, Sebatron, RME)
Old 8th July 2017
  #1
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Tracking drums - what's the third flavor for my setup? (API, Daking, Sebatron, RME)

I've been following drum-focused GS threads (my main focus) for many years, and have recently added a Sebatron VMP 4000e after rave reviews for how well it works on drums.

We got so excited about how great it sounds that we set up a shootout between it and our other preamps (API 3124, Daking Mic-Pre IV, RME Fireface UFX+). We set up four microphone positions around the kit, then split the signals to record one performance through all four channels of each preamp simultaneously, as such:

(Mic positions explained at 1:03, shootout starts at 1:40)
Here are the individual mics soloed across the preamps:
The nice thing we found is that we can easily make music with any of them, and they all sound great. To our ears, based on this shootout, we have two flavors of preamps for our drum tracks. The API, Daking, and RME felt like they all belong in the same sonic universe - nice and clean, great transients, each bringing out slightly different characteristics of the signal (API being famously mid-forward, the Daking a little more open on top and bottom, the UFX+ being the brightest of the group).

We really noticed the biggest sonic difference with the tube-based Sebatron (which was set at the middle -15dB position, for those of you familiar with the preamp), without even getting into any of the EQ options available. We cut a wide variety of drum tracks over here, so the tonal variety is very welcome! We occasionally have full band sessions here as well, so need to take into account guitars, bass, keys and vocals, but sonic choices for the drums is top priority.
My question to you, fine readers of Gearslutz, is this:
We still need another four channels of preamps for full-band sessions. I'm tempted to add another Sebatron based on our recent experience. But, is there another 4-channel unit that will REALLY add an alternate flavor and provide as much sonic flexibility as that unit?

We're on a real-world budget (hoping to spend somewhere between $1000-1600, happy to spend less if warranted), and are not planning to go 500 series. Open to two 2-channel units as well, if the budget allows. Again, the goal for us is a clearly different sound from the preamps than we already have. We have plenty of mics, a nice-sounding room, excellent conversion, and a zillion instruments to hit, so we're definitely set there.
I never would have found the Sebatron and Daking units without threads like this over the years, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks for your input!
Old 8th July 2017
  #2
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XKAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
those coles are awesome. Neve pres too for low end stuff.
Old 8th July 2017
  #3
Deleted 1846071
Guest
The only thing I can think of that would be appreciably different and still match your budget is a used Vintech 473 or something similar in the Neve camp.

Another possibility is a couple ART Pro MPA tube pres. They're not as "nice" sounding as the Sebatron, but they're big, a little dark, and kind of 2d and grainy. In a good way. They're also cheap enough ($200 for two channels, used) that it wouldn't cost you much to give it a try.
Old 8th July 2017
  #4
Gear Nut
 
I have no hands-on experience with this pre, but from what I've heard, a pair of Demeter VTMP-2Bs might provide you with a different color. Not sure if it's what you would want for drums, but you might want to look into it. They pop up for about 800 dollars every couple months.
Old 9th July 2017
  #5
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Drumhead57's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Given your budget, would a Warm Audio WA-412 be a consideration?
Old 9th July 2017
  #6
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flanagan's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I'd go for another Sebatron vmp4000e.
You can clearly hear what the sebatron is doing to the drums . It stands out from the other three.
Old 9th July 2017
  #7
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Vintech 473 would be a good choice.
Old 10th July 2017
  #8
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shatz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I love my ADL-600s on drums. You can find them used pretty cheap these days.
Old 10th July 2017 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shatz ➑️
I love my ADL-600s on drums. You can find them used pretty cheap these days.
I second that. Another great choice, and within the budget.
Old 10th July 2017
  #10
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I went against the grain on my last preamp purchase and picked up 8 channels of DAV pres. I love the way they handle the high end, and they sound really 3D to me. They actually break up a little bit when they get pushed and it's pretty a sweet tone. Give them a shot, you might really dig them!
Attached Thumbnails
Tracking drums - what's the third flavor for my setup? (API, Daking, Sebatron, RME)-img_5341.jpg  
Old 10th July 2017
  #11
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Wow, this is great guys! Some thoughts on your thoughts, based on what I'm going for:

I'm primarily tracking remote drum sessions, and need a really wide range of tones that I can access quickly (often with only myself as engineer). Depending on the session, I'll be tracking anywhere from six to sixteen channels on the kit, plus percussion overdubs. Occasionally we have full live band sessions as well, when we fill up 24 inputs quickly (but almost never more than that - my place is only so big).

I'm covering a wide range of styles and genres, so am looking for the ability to cover a full drum kit with a corresponding range of tones from murky vintage breakbeats to modern hyper-crisp pop productions (and everything in between). Between my existing API, Daking and RME I'm feeling like the modern tone is covered. The Sebatron preamp definitely gets me closer to more of the old school tube tone I often am looking for, so the idea of adding an additional four channels is appealing. But, as I mentioned in my original thread, I'm open to other options if they really bring something cool to the table and keep the budget under control.

So...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 1846071 ➑️
The only thing I can think of that would be appreciably different and still match your budget is a used Vintech 473 or something similar in the Neve camp.
Quote:
Originally Posted by XKAudio ➑️
Neve pres too for low end stuff.
Quote:
Originally Posted by david_fowler ➑️
Vintech 473 would be a good choice.
My first thought after putting that shootout together is that I have the API sound covered between the 3124, two units of the Daking Mic Pre IV, and the RME UFX+ (a very subjective opinion, obviously), plus four channels of great tube preamps with the Sebatron. But, nothing in the Neve camp whatsoever. This may well be the avenue to explore, if I can stretch the budget - the Neve sound is pricey!

I did own two channels of the SCA N72 preamp (Neve clone) a couple of years ago, but sold them along the way. It's entirely possible that operator error may have had something to do with it, but I could never get a sound out of them that really made me smile. The Dakings were instant love, hence the two units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumhead1957 ➑️
Given your budget, would a Warm Audio WA-412 be a consideration?
I definitely noticed that unit when it came out, and the combination of price and features is very appealing. I'm not sure that it would bring anything new sonically to the table compared to what I have already, though.

Along those same lines, the API 3124 never made any sense to me until I added the GAS A10 Attenuator (not sure if it's still made). The output of the unit by itself, even with the pad engaged and the gain down to zero, was just so hot that it always clipped on drums unless I played the kit with feather dusters. Then, what sounds I could use were pretty underwhelming. It was only after I got the output under control and could run the API hot did I have that, "aha, THIS is why people like API on drums!" moment. I'm guessing their recent upgrade to the preamp may have solved this issue for a digital era.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flanagan ➑️
I'd go for another Sebatron vmp4000e.
You can clearly hear what the sebatron is doing to the drums . It stands out from the other three.
That was my first thought, too. I'd love to have eight channels of the Sebatron for a more cohesive old-school picture of the kit (maybe 3 inputs as Glyn Johns, plus spot pics on snare and toms, and 2 distant room mics to round it out). All the different settings on the preamp, from very clean to saturated, plus the various EQ options, give a ton of choices. But, it's still close to two grand for another unit. As a parent of a young child, the disposable income for microphone preamps isn't quite what it was back in the day...

Quote:
Originally Posted by shatz ➑️
I love my ADL-600s on drums. You can find them used pretty cheap these days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumhead1957 ➑️
I second that. Another great choice, and within the budget.
This may well be a route to go, if the ADL and Sebatron play nicely together. Plus, being able to add two channels at a time is attractive from a budgetary standpoint. Does anyone have experience with the two units who could weigh in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 1846071 ➑️
Another possibility is a couple ART Pro MPA tube pres. They're not as "nice" sounding as the Sebatron, but they're big, a little dark, and kind of 2d and grainy. In a good way. They're also cheap enough ($200 for two channels, used) that it wouldn't cost you much to give it a try.
This is a really interesting thought, that I hadn't considered at all. I have a few different ART products that I use all the time and love (the S8 Channel splitter you saw in my shootout, two P16 XLR patch bays that I use on the amp rack, and the HeadAmp6 Pro for full band sessions). It's not like every single channel of preamps in my system needs to be the most expensive that money can buy (hi hat and snare bottom, I'm looking at you...), and your description of the Pro MPA's sound immediately made me think of a stereo pair of ribbons out in the hall as distant room mics. The price most certainly cannot be beat, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nick8801 ➑️
I went against the grain on my last preamp purchase and picked up 8 channels of DAV pres. I love the way they handle the high end, and they sound really 3D to me. They actually break up a little bit when they get pushed and it's pretty a sweet tone. Give them a shot, you might really dig them!
I haven't seen the D.A.V. stuff come up very often, but when it does people seem to love them. The prices always seemed really reasonable, too. I must confess that from a visual standpoint they're not especially sexy (and the website needs some love to get it into the 21st Century), but then again I've never had a client demand to see pictures of exactly what the preamps look like that on the drum tracks I've just sent them. @ nick8801 , do you happen to have any clips of what the D.A.V. stuff sounds like on drums in your system? i'd be curious to hear them in action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnEdson ➑️
I have no hands-on experience with this pre, but from what I've heard, a pair of Demeter VTMP-2Bs might provide you with a different color. Not sure if it's what you would want for drums, but you might want to look into it. They pop up for about 800 dollars every couple months.
Interesting. I know the name, but know almost nothing else about this preamp. I see one on Reverb now for $900. Does anyone have any experience with this unit on drums?

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to respond, and please keep them coming. This place rocks, and your input is much appreciated!
Old 10th July 2017
  #12
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nick8801's Avatar
I do, but my studio is broken down at the moment for a move...I'll have a small setup up and running in a few days, and I can pm you a file.
Old 11th July 2017
  #13
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🎧 10 years
I'd be happy to record any project with what you already have (it covers pretty much everything) but as you're looking for something different I'd get some neve sound : vintech 473, or pheonix drs8 (great value per channel) About the sebatrons I recorded a whole album only with a VMP4000 unit last year (vocals..upright bass, cello & violins, acoustic & electric guitars, trombones, saxophones, drums..) and it turned out great!
Old 11th July 2017 | Show parent
  #14
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Tammer ➑️
I'd be happy to record any project with what you already have (it covers pretty much everything) but as you're looking for something different I'd get some neve sound : vintech 473, or pheonix drs8 (great value per channel)
That's interesting. The Phoenix DRS8 is another preamp I keep running into over the years as being great on drums (can you tell that I'm kind of obsessed with this stuff?). So much gear, so little time...
Old 14th July 2017
  #15
Gear Head
 
Jamie_72's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Very informative YouTube clips. Thanks for posting.
Old 14th July 2017
  #16
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks, Jamie_72! I think we're going to do another shutout video focusing on the Sebatron unit, since it has so many different tonal options available by itself.
Old 14th July 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I never bother to use any preamps other than my Sebatrons on toms (although lately I've only been close-miking floor toms). I particularly like how fat they sound when I use the -15db input level, though it can be tricky to dial the output level low enough to avoid clipping the A/D converter.

Usually I keep the EQ switches flat, but my go-to chain for electric bass involves a small 2x10 cabinet in my closet, an SM7 a couple of feet away, and the deep switch on the Sebatron.
Old 14th July 2017
  #18
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jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
ATI8mx2 .. nice and punchy and in a blind test .. a nice compliment to API's ...
Old 14th July 2017
  #19
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
+3 on Vintech 473.
Old 15th July 2017 | Show parent
  #20
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred ➑️
+3 on Vintech 473.
Which components of the kit do you generally use the 473 on, NathanEldred?
Old 15th July 2017 | Show parent
  #21
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanwissing ➑️
Which components of the kit do you generally use the 473 on, NathanEldred?
I personally like it on the close mic'd pieces. Kick, snare, toms. I prefer faster and cleaner preamps on overheads and cymbals. I know some people like the exact opposite of this.
Old 18th July 2017
  #22
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If anyone is interested, this is the last recording I did with the DAV pres for a friend of mine. Drums were Gretsch Renown 20's with Bosphorus Sand cymbals. Overheads were Beyerdynamic mc930's, snare was a 57, kick was an Audix d6, and room was a Beyerdynamic m160. As Dylan pointed out in a pm, the attack of everything is very clear and does not get smeared. I also find the low end is deep and very clear. All the mics are raw, but the mix went through a little outboard compression and eq via my RJR buss comp/bax eq. Basically just a touch of compression at 4:1, and a small cut at 500 because my room is literally a small box. Hope this helps give some of you a little perspective on how these pres respond to transients and what not. I know the natural instinct is to use more colored stuff for drums, but I really love using the DAV's. For one I grabbed 8 channels for about 1500 bux, and I really enjoy using the same preamp on drums. I've also included a link to a tune I just finished where the DAV was used for all the drums/percussion, as well as the acoustic guitars.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/axngx6lji8...rvive.wav?dl=0

https://soundcloud.com/the-edward-furlongs/kellyanne

Last edited by nick8801; 18th July 2017 at 01:10 AM..
Old 18th July 2017 | Show parent
  #23
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick8801 ➑️
If anyone is interested, this is the last recording I did with the DAV pres for a friend of mine... I know the natural instinct is to use more colored stuff for drums, but I really love using the DAV's.
They sound so sweet! I feel like the DAV stuff is somewhat along the line of the Daking pre's I'm using. Does this seem reasonable? I've seen people rave about the Broadhurst Gardens amps here and there over the years, but have never come across one personally.
Old 18th July 2017
  #24
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Funny Cat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
@ dylanwissing


Umm...that RME sounds ridiculously good for what it is. Wow!

For me the Sebatron had the fullest sound closely followed by the RME (tonewise).

Think I may have found my next affordable tube mic pre. Wasn't expecting it to sound that good all around. :0)

On another note I've found out the Daking is the king in combination with ribbon mics! Use it with a ribbon for overs or room and just sit back and smile!

Thanks for posting that video!
Old 18th July 2017 | Show parent
  #25
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nick8801's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dylanwissing ➑️
They sound so sweet! I feel like the DAV stuff is somewhat along the line of the Daking pre's I'm using. Does this seem reasonable? I've seen people rave about the Broadhurst Gardens amps here and there over the years, but have never come across one personally.
I used to own a Daking and I feel like the Daking was a little "shinier" if that makes sense? I think it's the Jensen transformers. They do something special to the high end. I ended up trading mine for a stereo pair of Heritage 1073s. The DAV is more balanced and natural than the Daking.
Old 18th July 2017 | Show parent
  #26
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat ➑️
Umm...that RME sounds ridiculously good for what it is. Wow!
Funny Cat, this is actually the fifth RME Fireface I've owned over the years! I got my first FF800 several years ago when it hands-down beat an Apogee Ensemble in a shootout a friend and I did. I added a second 800 for a video production suite. I upgraded to the UFX when it first came out, and loved it. Then, I had to replace that one with a second UFX when the first UFX was trashed in Hurricane Irene (). I've recently upgraded to the UFX+ for the MADI inputs to not lose half my channels when tracking at 96k. These things sound amazing, can connect just about anything to anything else, and are bulletproof!

I probably use the preamps on my various Fireface models more than anything else here - they are sitting right in front of me, sound amazing, and I don't have to turn on the space heater called the amp rack if I only need a few inputs!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat ➑️
For me the Sebatron had the fullest sound closely followed by the RME (tonewise). Think I may have found my next affordable tube mic pre. Wasn't expecting it to sound that good all around. :0)
I'm craving a second unit myself...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat ➑️
On another note I've found out the Daking is the king in combination with ribbon mics! Use it with a ribbon for overs or room and just sit back and smile!
I own two Dakings because of another preamp shootout we did a few years ago where the Mic-Pre IV really stood out to me on drum overheads. The logistics and editing of these shootouts can be a hassle, but it's fun to put them together - we learn so much in doing it. Thanks for watching!
Old 18th July 2017 | Show parent
  #27
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dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick8801 ➑️
I used to own a Daking and I feel like the Daking was a little "shinier" if that makes sense? I think it's the Jensen transformers. They do something special to the high end. I ended up trading mine for a stereo pair of Heritage 1073s. The DAV is more balanced and natural than the Daking.
That makes perfect sense, @ nick8801 , and I'm thrilled that you can comment authoritatively on both units! The Dakings work beautifully in my space, and I absolutely love what they do for drum transients. I could definitely see the appeal of the DAV unit, though.
Old 21st July 2017
  #28
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2 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
The Sebatron definitely is the star of the show there. All the obvious contenders have already been mentioned, so I'll suggest something else. What about the Audient ASP 800? It can connect analog or digitally, the two character pres give you a lot of ground to play with and you get six more pres which are solid and get any job done. And you save some cash to buy the kids something nice.
Old 21st July 2017
  #29
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KRStudio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Pacifica!!
Old 21st July 2017
  #30
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kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Agree that the Vintech 473 is a nice kit, and would do you well. But isn't that about double your price point new (used, still ~$800-1000 over your budget)? In that range, you can do the Portico 5024, also a nice unit with 1 and 2 offering sweet DI action, and mid-side on channels 3 and 4.
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