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Do I need a Forsell?
Old 9th September 2012
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Do I need a Forsell?

I want an ultra-clean and detailed mic pre in my arsenal. The pre's on my RME Fireface 400 are supposed to be very neutral and of good quality and, not having another pre that is uncoloured to compare them to, they sound fine. But I know from past experience that because something sounds fine in isolation doesn't mean that it won't sound rotten when A/B'd with something better. I listened to a whole bunch of pre's in the Preamp Summit recordings and very much liked what I heard with Forsell: no colour; very clear; quite articulate. So I'm thinking of the SMP 500.

Here's my fear: the pre's on my RME Fireface 400 are trying to do the same thing that the Forsell is, I think - just represent the audio as it really is. If I buy the Forsell, might there end up not being any real improvement? (We just assume that the pre's on any ADC will be inferior to a dedicated unit. After all, they must generally cost less. That's certainly true for pre's with character. But is it also true if we're after accuracy, not colour?)

What does a really good non-coloured pre, like the Forsell do, that my FF pre's don't? Has anyone done a direct comparison between the Forsell pre's and the FF 400?
Old 9th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
Not to go off-topic, but what's your room like?

I've never used the FF400 preamps, but generally a clean/neutral/detailed preamp will give you what I call a "bigger" sound (others use that term to describe something else, however). IMO, that term describes what I hear between my colored preamps vs my clean preamps.

The closest thing to the forssell I have is the TRP, which Fred had a hand in designing, and it's probably my "biggest" sounding preamp.

That said, room treatments, mic positioning, and of course mic selection make MUCH more of a profound difference IMO.
Old 9th September 2012
  #3
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Room's just o.k. Mostly I record close, in the "best" spot to minimize room sound. The little bit that does get in is fine. (And for some purposes my room can sound great. Just not for everything.)

I think I agree with your prioritization. That said, sometimes improving something that's only priority four (preamp) can still make an audible difference and at $845, may be the cheapest improvement I can make (assuming I've got the best placement).

I like your comment about "bigness". I think I heard that with the Forsell on the Preamp Summit recordings. My FF pre's don't sound big to me. It's possible too that, although they don't change the frequency spectrum, they might still have a "sound" - I think I hear something - kind of a "plunkyness" - a colouring on the transients. It's so subtle though I could easily be imagining it.
Old 9th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Yes, room acoustics matter a lot.

That said, if and when you're ready to enter the league Forsell is in, do not forget to check out the Gordon 5, too.




Henk
Old 9th September 2012
  #5
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I hear the Gordon is great too.

Although the two channel Gorden and Forsell preamps are similarly priced, the single channel Gorden 5 isn't a 500 series and costs twice the Forsell, even inluding a share of a rack cabinet. I've heard a well done recording of the Forsell that allowed me to compare it to 23 other preamps with the same instruments (voice, acoustic guitar, drums, etc.), performance and mics. I have nothing similar to evaluate the Gordon. So, for me it's more money and higher risk.

Have you A/B'd the Gordon and the Forsell?
Old 9th September 2012
  #6
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Hmm... I'm falling into the Gearslutz trap, aren't I? This was supposed to be about the Forsell vs the pre's on my FF400, not Forsell vs Gordon. Sigh...

It's so hard to stay on track. Gear is so SHINEY.
Old 9th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Just trying to help.

Sorry.

Carry on.




Henk
Old 9th September 2012
  #8
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Henk! Not blaming you!

It's me. I actually DO want to hear about the Gordon. I'm just trying to focus. Should I start a Gordon vs Forsell thread? Has anybody A/B'd them? I have a feeling that they're both better than what I have for pure sonic realism. But I don't have the evidence to back that up.

I'd really like someone who has experience confirm/deny the usefulness of a good clean self-contained pre over decent colourless pre's like those in my FF400. I know that $850 isn't a lot of money for many, but I don't wan't to be (any more) silly because of my gear lust.

Thanks for your input Henk.
Old 9th September 2012
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
adirondack's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Not sure if this will help. But I was in a similar situation using the preamps in my Apogee Ensemble to record acoustic instruments. I borrowed an SMP2 and I have to say I really liked the sound. With the Ensemble, I found the high end somewhat "plinky" or harsh sounding. The Forssell was fat & full sounding and round in the high end. I was playing finger-style on a Collings guitar with a pair of 414s. I listened back and forth between the Apogee and the Forssell, and on guitar, always enjoyed the Forssell. No need to mess around in post. And I think THAT is what you are buying in a high-end outboard preamp. I have also used Pacifica and API and enjoyed those preamps as well. They are a little more veiled sounding but do add a nice midrange vibe. In comparison, the Forssell is more clean & clear. Again, the difference between preamps is subtle. But if the OP wants "ultra-clean and detailed" with a little magic thrown in, the Forssell will not disappoint.
Old 9th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkl ➑️
Hmm... I'm falling into the Gearslutz trap, aren't I?[...]It's so hard to stay on track. Gear is so SHINEY.


Gustav
Old 9th September 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Maybe this will help. The Forsell ins't just better than what you have, its light years better. Its so much better the the rest of everything you own probably will not be able to tell you how much better.

So in this regard, I doubt that you need a Forsell. It will outpersom everything you own. Of course you WANT a Forsell, pr a Gordon, because you are a Gearslut. But thats a whole other thing.

Something like Grace might do the job at a lower price. Super clear, has some cred.....

But hey if you want a Forsell you will be buying a great piece. I just suspct that you could tale that same money and improve your studio at several points.
Old 9th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steffmo ➑️
Maybe this will help. The Forsell ins't just better than what you have, its light years better. Its so much better the the rest of everything you own probably will not be able to tell you how much better.
I wouldn't go that far. Sure, the design, build, quality, etc. may be "light years" better, but the resultant output will not be anything close to that stretch. I wouldn't call any preamp light years better than another, unless one of them is REALLY junk. IMO, of course.
Old 10th September 2012
  #13
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Adirondack, this is the kind of stuff I am hoping to hear. Sounds very similar to my situation.

And Steffmo, you're just pouring gasoline on the fire!

I think it's true that the difference between any two decent preamps is often subtle, SSM. But subtle differences is where we're at! When I spent the time A/Bing the recordings in the Preamp Summit I was really surprised at how strongly I responded to some preamps over others. In isolation, I would have thought each of them was great.

Thanks everyone. You've done what I needed you to do - help me feel good about satisfying my lust for the Forsell. Now I just need to find the cash.

Still open to other opinions or experiences, though. Won't be buying tomorrow.
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
lpkyer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe ➑️
I wouldn't go that far. Sure, the design, build, quality, etc. may be "light years" better, but the resultant output will not be anything close to that stretch. I wouldn't call any preamp light years better than another, unless one of them is REALLY junk. IMO, of course.
I disagree, the design of the preamp itself is something worlds beyond the RME.
Old 10th September 2012 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by lpkyer ➑️
I disagree, the design of the preamp itself is something worlds beyond the RME.
Then you would be agreeing. Re-read my quoted post.
Old 10th September 2012
  #16
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
We just got a Forsell 2 Channels of both D-A and A-D, made the utmost difference in our mastering chain.
Old 10th September 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Well...the Forsall IS miles beyond the RMEs...what is the orpblem in pointing that out.

I thin the question being discussed is really in the OPs set up is a single A level piece going to make more or less difference in the quality of the OPs output than, for instance, a solid B FOUR channels of Sytek, for instance.

Tawk amongst yourselves.
Old 10th September 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
matucha's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It depends on what music do you make. For someone who does electronica and needs just some little bits that get mangled with plugs anyway FF400 is just fine. But if you want to capture something delicate, good pre and AD will let you get much more believable and satisfying results. Then add great DA for monitoring to really appretiate the results.
Old 10th September 2012
  #19
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I'm thinking of the Forsell for some acoustic music, when I really want honesty. I have a Pendulum MDP-1 arriving next week. That should satisfy most of my needs for acoustic guitar and voice. But it IS coloured. Beautifully coloured, I think. I would use the Forsell for the odd time when I want totall truth.

Does that make sense?
Old 11th September 2012
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
adirondack's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I think either of those units will give you the "honest truth", depending on your playing, mic, and room. The differences will be subtle. The Forssell does throw in a "little something", perfectly capturing the source but fattening and sweetening a little. The best thing to do after you receive the MDP-1 is to order the Forssell and try them side by side. You have a grace trial period and can return the unit. Honestly, I doubt you would be able to identify one over the other in a track. Pendulum audio make great equipment. The MDP-1 provides versatility and EQ functions, whereas the Forssell does one thing extremely well. Depends how you like to work. I don't know that you would need both to be honest. But you can be the judge...
Old 11th September 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
lpkyer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe ➑️
Then you would be agreeing. Re-read my quoted post.
Doh, read too fast. Sorry
Old 14th September 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
ISedlacek's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Forssell SMP-2 is a kind of "desert island" preamp ... Clean, real, open, big sound, just as it is ... Far away from that rather sterile edgy anaemic sound of many so called "clean preamps". Having tried most of the well-known preamps over the years, I must say SMP-2 sounds in different league than most of them ... I also used to have Pendulum MDP-2, not bad, but slightly edgy sounding, I sold it. Now I use Thermionic Earlybird as complimentary preamp to SMP-2 ... perfect tandem for me
Old 14th September 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
 
10 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Get the Forsell. The RME, as nice as it is for the money .. it's trying to be a clean preamp which somewhat works as long as you don't need more gain. After you turn the input up more than halfways it just goes downhill, sorry, RME. A good pre is a good pre and the Forsell is a good pre. End of discussion. Of course you will hear it. All the low level cobwebs, smear, specks of dust and hiss will be gone with the Forsell. All you will hear is the instrument, the room and the mic.
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