Thanks for your fast respond.
I am wondering if you have got some ideas for me?

My wish is to get a kind of “tight” vocal sound. Transistor-based maybe?

I have often been using a Neumann TLM 103 thru a Manley Voxbox (both purchased at Funky Junk). This combination gives a lot of info in the tracks. Depending on the singer it has often been challenging to get the “tight” sound in a stuffed pop mix.

The Neuman M149 has got some serious color and picking up a lot of info.

Therefore it would be nice to use a preamp wich “collects” and “tighten up” the vocal.

I hope you see what I mean. I am mainly doing popmixes wich needs a “breakthru” lead-track.

On the other hand it is offcourse nice to have a unit wich is a bit adaptable on various styles.

Of course I could buy an API AND a more transparent unit, but it is likely it would be expensive..

I have red a lot the last days, but the more I read the more confused I get… There is a lot of good preamps out there.

I think the Millennia is what I dont want. It is on the outher range of the scale. To nice and bigsounded. I have tried it.

I had some other recommendations like –

  • Great River – Nice, but maybe not enough of the low mid thigtness as in API?
  • SSL E-channel – …..?
  • Neve
  • Phoenix DRS 2 (UK) – Transformerless, isn’t it?
  • DACS clarity – Dan Richards at “studio rewies” was amazed by this one, but maybe too clear and big.

This is very tough.

I have been fortunate to always use Neve and I’ve never found anything that gives a better result. Yes, there is a small degree of colouration, but (largely due to the transformers and clean signal path) the sound is well defined, clear and detail is captured on almost every signal.

For some sources (backing vocals, acoustic gutars) I sometime lean towards something a little cleaner but it’s not something I’ve ever had too many concerns with. I share your reservation about the Pheonix, which to me seems odd; a 1272 stylee pre without transformers.

The API pres are superb for drums and work well on most signals (kind of US Neve stylee). They are coloured, though, but colouration can thicken the sound in a pleasing way. The problem I have these days is that there are literally dozens of mic pres out there, and personally I’d be happy to throw 90% in the bin, not because they aren’t good (most are) but because they are unneccessary.

As far as I’m concerned, there are three approaches;

  • Clean, high headroom, transformerless, ‘transparent’. GML do the job in this respect.
  • Transformer, discrete, coloured. Neve or API.
  • Tube. Hightened third harmonic distortion (not my bag; I prefer a tube mic and the a tube limiter; adding a tube pre is over the top). Universal is as good as any.

Eveything else is really a variation on the above themes, and other than those few good units that deliver the above quality but at a more economic price, I personally don’t see the need to have 25 flavours in my rack. Sure, there are a few specialities (chocolate chip or peppermint; the Chandler comes to mind, in that it does something nothing else does although it isn’t versatile).

In terms of converters, we’re selling a lot of Lynx Auroras to high end clients in preference to Apogee (they offer a similar quality at half the price). We’re not so familiar with the new SSL units, although they seem to have been well received. We have very high hopes for the new Prism Orpheus, and initial orders have been excellent, I suspect this will be a bets seller, as it will combine the best sound with excellent facilities (8 analogue in/8 analogue out plus 10 digi in/out) at an affordable price of £2200.

It’s a shame there are no demo facilities in Sweden. We offer a loand scheme, as I feel that writing about units is always second best to trying them. For overseas customers, though, the best we can offer is a 10 days sale or return facility.


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