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Real needs for a fancy preamp???
Old 12th March 2014
  #1
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Real needs for a fancy preamp???

Hi all,

I usually use the Great-River for its hugeness and 3D effects on my vocals and acoustics guitars.

But while I love its hugeness, most of the time I have to remove later in the mix this "low-chest-mid" or "nasal-ness" as it sounds somewhat congested with my voice. (whatever mic I used, but mainly the miktek CV4)

So, I tried for fun my RME UCX preamp instead... and voilΓ !
The vocals, soloed, seem a bit thin, but in the mix, they were perfect.

So I have a few questions that maybe some would have answers....

1) Might it be that my soundcard is enough?? No needs for fancy preamps?

2) Does a hardware compressor in the tracking chain would removes the GR "congestion" while keeping its "3D ness"?

3) A hybrid of the GR and UCX would be perfect: 3Dness.. wihout the congestion. Any recommandation?


Thanks guys!


PS: My music is a mix of electro stuffs (for the rythm parts) and acoustics guitars / vox. (So "vintage" sounds is not that much required... as the underlying electro sounds already modern or "processed". ). .
Old 12th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
maybe look into something high end but without two transformers
Old 12th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
kooz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'll second that...with a suggestion to try Millennia Media HV-3 preamps: clean, uncoloured, natural, accurate, neutral...all terms which may start an argument
Old 12th March 2014
  #4
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Julian J. Ludwig's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I think you'd enjoy the Hardy 990 or Forssell... or NPNG... or Gordon...
Old 12th March 2014
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
As others have suggested you might try something less big and transformer-y sounding. Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems a lot of people love the Great River stuff partially because of how big it makes things sound. I don't think it's unreasonable at all that when you make the vocal sound a little thin solo'd it's just right in the track - for me a lot of mixing is just removing the frequencies that aren't necessary to leave room for other elements. I think it's not as much of an issue of not needing a nice preamp, as much as just needing a preamp that fits what you're looking to do. The RME might work better for your purpose than the Great River, but to me that's a clue toward what you might want to look for in a nicer preamp - especially something transformerless, or at least something a little more neutral. Even the cheap but well-made Lindell preamps could be a better option if you're looking for clean but not sterile.
Old 12th March 2014
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Cool thanks guys!

What about "tube" preamp? (other than UA610)
Someone already tried the blue Robbie or the avalon 737 for a "modern/neutral" need?

Finally, what about the Avalon M5?


Oh geez... too much option here! ;-)
Old 12th March 2014
  #7
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I'm not sure I'd change preamps, before I got an alternate microphone. Lauten microphones are quite neutral (more neutral than the Miktek from what I've heard from others). Are you pushing the Great River gain hard, or running it less hot? The lows will become more prevalent when pushed. Also, I haven't met a vocal that didn't at least need a little EQ during mix. Have you considered gently carving out the offending frequencies?
Old 12th March 2014
  #8
Lives for gear
 
pootkao's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
All voice/instrument/room/personal tastes are different
Just cuz somethings expensive doesn't make it the right tool for the job in that moment

Your ears decide

I just put a singer up against a U87 and a Royer 121 and a Fostex printed ribbon weird mic and a SM7. The cheap Fostex won. FOR THAT SONG WITH THAT VIBE. Tomorrow it will probably not win on a different song, let alone with a different singer. The day after it may again. Or it may not be used for another year.

Maybe you'll sound great with a clean solid state pre, maybe something less heavy handed, maybe something voiced a bit more mid-forward... who knows... none of us are in your room listening to what you're listening to
Old 12th March 2014
  #9
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andychamp's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Well, the GreatRiver IS big-sounding, but that needn't always be a bad thing, it just happens to be so on your voice.
So I'd keep it.
You can get a lot of different tones out of it, depending how hot you run the two stages, respectively, and also depending on the switches' settings. (cranked output, low gain & loading in is pretty clean)
AFAIK, the Miktek has no HPF, but switching it to omni might remove some of that unwanted thickness. You can still sing into it up close, but it'll sound much less congested.
Or maybe vary the distance with the other polar patterns...
I guess what I'm saying is: before you start doing the next-better-purchase-runaround, see how you can get the best out of what you have.
Old 12th March 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
the combination of the great river with the Lauten Atlantis was one of the biggest eye openers of my life........when I finally got my hands on that combo it created almost the perfect vocal sound that required almost no EQ and absolutely sit perfectly in my mixes......i do mostly rock/hard rock with lots of guitars and I have alot of stuff going on in the mids, so finding a combo that would allow the vocals to sit "in the mix" vs. "on top of the mix" was huge for me.
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
@nathan

Yep I did. EQ removed a bit of that, but it sounded a bit unnatural then.
Maybe I need to be better at Equing but I prefer the hit and run in the first place at the source.

I tried too the Lauten Atlantis (in every mode), and the CV4 works better on my voice.

Also, I'm not hitting hard the input gain of the Great-River, as my output is at max already.


@andychamp

Great advice. My wallet likes this. ;-)
Old 12th March 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 
tekis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Why not experiment more with the RME UCX? You already own it, and if it sounds right--it's right.
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tekis ➑️
Why not experiment more with the RME UCX? You already own it, and if it sounds right--it's right.
To be honest, i feel like it is a step in the right direction... but it is a bit "boring" paired with my Miktek CV4.

I would like a mix between the GR and the UCX! Like: huge and 3D, without the nasalty.

For now I am aiming at :

NPNG or Martech MSS-10 or the John Handy Twin Servo
Old 13th March 2014
  #14
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I don't think it's a preamp issue unless you are driving it pretty hard. I mean, the difference between the GR and a cleaner pre is pretty small compared to the difference between any two mics. IMO, no decent, modern preamp will turn an otherwise decent signal into "nasally" or "muddy".
Old 13th March 2014
  #15
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Have you tried running the Great River with the output all the way up and the input set low? I find the great River can clean up pretty nicely if you do not drive it hard.
Old 13th March 2014
  #16
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bgrotto's Avatar
This may sound snarky, but I'm being totally serious: have you tried fattening up the rest of your mix? In other words, make the other instrumentation as big and thick as the parts you track through your Great River?
Old 13th March 2014
  #17
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
@ Ronan

Yes I did. It is not about driving too much level into the GR. In fact, only 1 or 2 inputs dots light-on., the too much low-mid coloration seems to be there anyways.

@Aaron

I've tried Lauten Atlantis, U87Ai, tlm49, wunder c7 FET, and they all shared that same nasal quality. So I though it was my voice of course, until I tried the RME. Now, my voice is clear and "normal". Only a tad boring. Well, I might not had bought the CV4 if I had done all my tests with the RME first.

@ bgrotto

Nope. That might explain.

.....

I have made further test with the GR and the "cleanest" I achieved with the CV4 mic is to switch a notch back toward the omni at the mic power supply, and unload the "loading" button on the Great-river. That way, it is pretty close to the clarity of the RME.

But with the RME, the normal cardioid sounds best.

.....

Well, thanks all for your comments and suggestions. I'll do further test.
Old 13th March 2014
  #18
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I wonder if there's something wrong with the GR or something else in that signal path. I have one and have used it alongside half a dozen other pres with some of the mics you have and haven't ever noticed it being nasal or muddy.
Old 13th March 2014
  #19
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
@ aaron
That is what I suspect now:

When I tried my cheapest mic, (the blue spark which sounds really scooped and thin) the great-river, would add the low-mid it lacks.
That made my Blue sounds like a pro mic. In fact, the CV4 or the blue Sparks with the Great-River sounded really alike.

So I though.... wow either the Blue Sparks is an hidden GEM or... my CV4 sucks.


THEN.... I plugged the Spark into the RME..... and OUCH! Harsh and far from being usefull. Agressive and a bit sibilant.
While my CV4 sounded great with the RME, and better than with my Great-River.


So.......... after hours and nights of tests..... I concluded that the Great-River, in my context, in my room, with my voice, is not the perfect match. Because:

1) Every mic tried sounds almost the same thru it. (or share the same problematics)
2) The RME showed the inherent quality of the mic, instead of painting a palette over it: My blue spark really sounds like s**t (as expected) and the CV4 sounds good.


So back to the topic..... is a fancy preamp a must? Should I look to a wonderful clean preamp? Or the UCX might be just the ticket?
Old 13th March 2014
  #20
Deleted 1846071
Guest
Sell your GR and try a wonderful clean, like the Forssell SMP-2 or the Martech. Do a blind A/B with the RME with different mics.

If it works, great, if not, keep using the RME.
Old 14th March 2014
  #21
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I did further tests with:

the Mercury V72s / Blue Robbie / Great River.

1) It confirms that the Great-River has balls! But too much for my needs.

2) The Mercury v72s sounds great paired with the CV4, great lows, large sounds, awesome mid, but a bit too much "bump" in the upper midrange. Which is a bit agressive with this mic. On my "cheap" kel hm1-x, the kel seems to come alive and sound wonderful.

3) The Robbie si ok. Sounds a bit on the thin side with the CV4. Nothing special really. Just fine. But not better than my RME UCX preamp. Almost the same.

So next step: I'll try to demo a Martin Sound Martech MSS-10 and DW Fearn VT-1.

I begin to realize that the CV4 has more color by itself than I thought.
Old 14th March 2014
  #22
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AllBread's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Agree with others - mic first, then preamp. I had a GR for some time and it has a very unique sonic footprint (which, as mentioned, can be minimized a bit by opening up the output and driving it as little as possible). For tube preamps that are clean and natural (while being somewhat euphoric) I love the Pendulum MDP-1. For the channel strip that won't ever leave you wondering if something else could get you better results you can't beat the RND Portico II.

Gear talk aside, though, I think that you're just experiencing a very key step in every engineer's progression which is to start micing for how things will sit in the context of the mix vs making each instrument sound fantastic by itself. You don't even want to hear the acoustic guitar solo'd up in some rock songs that I work on because there is no body - just the driving top end percussiveness of the instrument which works great in a dense mix but sounds horrible on it's own!
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllBread ➑️
(...)
Gear talk aside, though, I think that you're just experiencing a very key step in every engineer's progression which is to start micing for how things will sit in the context of the mix vs making each instrument sound fantastic by itself. You don't even want to hear the acoustic guitar solo'd up in some rock songs that I work on because there is no body - just the driving top end percussiveness of the instrument which works great in a dense mix but sounds horrible on it's own!
Yep!
Old 16th March 2014
  #24
Gear Addict
 
Yann Leon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Finally.....

I've spent the hole afternoon with Alex at Studio Economik trying a lot of stuff (cool guy by the way), like the Martin Sound MSS-10, the gefell AP-1 and ... the AMS Neve 1073N.....

.. and the winner is.... the Neve 1073! (The AP-1 was good too. Almost perfect.... but no EQ.... so...)

I did not thought it would have been the good one, as the Great River is supposed to be close. But, while sharing similarities with the 1073, the great-river is more forward sounding and punchier. Which does not sound good with me + CV4.

The Neve is smoother and has the balls, and of course, an EQ. So with it, it tooks 7 seconds to remove the "zing" around 7k and add a bit of air to make the CV4 sounds like an expensive mic.

So my search for the holy grail is over.

Also... Alex and I have tested some "awesome" mics like the C800g and the Gefell 930.... and we dont' understand why people says that the CV4 is as good as them. The CV4 is good... for its price sure, no question about it. But it has NOTHING to do with the big league. Sorry for those who swear by their CV4. Of course it sounds good. But one you 've sang thru let's say, the gefell um930, you know you've spent 1,5k on the wrong mic. You should have wait and save for the big one. Fortunately for me, the Neve will add balls to the CV4 and remove some of its "zing".
But I am stacking up money for my next "real" piece of gear.

So thanks all who has participated and helped me.

Feel free to say what you think of it.

Yann



PS: For those who says that preamp does not matters that much..... well it might be true for instruments and drums...but for my vocals, different preamps REALLY had a HUGE and diff. sonic impact with the CV4.
Old 17th March 2014 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yann Leon ➑️
PS: For those who says that preamp does not matters that much..... well it might be true for instruments and drums...but for my vocals, different preamps REALLY had a HUGE and diff. sonic impact with the CV4.
I'm with you there. The sounds of preamps are relatively subtle compared to sounds of mics, but I'm surprised at the suggestion that changing your preamp wasn't the solution. Especially since you were trying different preamps in your original post and found one you liked better than the other, so the bump you were mentioning clearly wasn't the mic if it was present with one preamp and not the other. A preamp decision might not be glaringly obvious in a final mix but recognizing the subtleties during the process is part of both our job and the fun. Anyway, glad you found what you were looking for!
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