Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Creating a home studio for recording the classical guitar. Equipment, software and recording techniques. Amplification for live performance.
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Anderson
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Anderson » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:08 pm

Regarding the RNP, when I was shopping for microphones a couple years ago, I talked alot with the guys at Mercenary Audio and ended up buying my Josephson C42MP's from them. In discussing preamps they had nothing but good things to say about the RNP, and if I had bought a preamp I would have gotten that one. I'm just going with the built-ins on my interface device (motu ultralight) though. I really need to figure out what I'm doing before plunking down any more money.

Hybrid

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Hybrid » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:18 am

Kris wrote:Well, that's pretty much the response I expected from you Hybrid. Gearslutz huh? You mean the same people who are obsessed with expensive gear and shut their eyes and ears at any mention of an objective test? :lol:

And what kind of argument is it that I am not the owner of Atlas Recording Studios? I don't expect you to take my word for it, but maybe consider David Mellor's word, from Abbey Road Studios. Or here's a thought..gasp!...listen to the recordings!
Yup, Gearslutz. They'd love you over there.

Best of luck in your shootouts Kris. Hope it all works out for you.

End of squabbling. Life is too short. :bye:

H

tocapuro

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by tocapuro » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:33 pm

Hybrid,
Thanks for your informative response. It's nice to have
people like you who are resources for the rest of us.
Dennis

Kris

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Kris » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:37 pm

Hybrid wrote:Best of luck in your shootouts Kris. Hope it all works out for you.
Somehow, I get the feeling that's not how you really feel :lol:

The "shootout" as you so cutely put it, was not for my benefit, but a demonstration of cost vs quality, if quality is defined as high transparency and low noise. Plenty of people have downloaded the samples. Sadly (but hardly surprising) nobody is willing to express their opinion.

For those who did listen to the samples I will now reveal (ta da!) what was what. The panel of pro engineers at Abbey Road chose the second (middle) clip as best and the first clip as next best. The first clip is from a cheap mass market preamp, costing around 50 bucks. The second clip is the $5 home made preamp, and the third clip is from a relatively expensive pro preamp, at ca. $1500 per channel. I'd be willing to bet that most, if not all, of you who listened did put clip number one or two at the top, and the third clip last.

There is nothing wrong with the expensive preamp in the clip, or any other expensive preamp. They are well made and with low noise. But transparency is not what they are primarily about. These various high-end preamps each have specific sonic qualities that engineers like to use for different purposes, and that clients of the studio request or require them to have. To prove that point, take a look at Focusrite's Liquid Pre technology. This is a preamp that attempts to emulate the sound of 40 classic studio preamps. Emulate? How do you emulate transparency? Well, no, you don't, you emulate the coloring that these popular preamps apply to the signal.

The pros know all this, but the hobbyist is is constantly being misinformed (and spreading this misinformation) and led to believe that they need them for high quality and transparent recordings. Humbug!

And just to be clear again, the RNP is a fine preamp. It really tries to be transparent and I think it succeeds well. I just think it is overpriced.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:33 pm

I think that a lot of the difficulty in discussing a topic like this arises from the ambiguous meanings of certain key words. For example, in Kris's previous post and others before that, the word 'transparent'.
I regard myself as a bit of an audiophile to the extent that I genuinely appreciate a beautiful sounding recording, but if were to be totally honest I would have to say that I have no idea what the word 'transparency' means in this context. If it is something to do with faithfulness to the sound source ( limpid, clear, no colouration, identical to the source) then, unless the listener is able to hear the original sound in reality (not through speakers) and immediately compare it with it's recorded sound, there is simply no way one can tell how faithful, clear, limpid and identical the recorded sound is to the source sound.

David McHarg

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by David McHarg » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:42 pm

I agree Denian. At least in my initial experiments in the world of audio recording it is indeed very hard to determine whether the sound you hear is true to the original source unless you can listen to both and judge from that. In watching many hundreds of videos on youtube which granted is not the best of quality there is a huge range in the variation of how guitars sound when recorded and the recording setup plays a very big role in this.

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Jouni Stenroos
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Jouni Stenroos » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:41 pm

Denian and dmcharg, maybe it's not that hard, you just have to think it in the opposite way. You will spot coloration of a preamp quite easily by making different kinds of recordings with it and listening to what they have in common. A really transparent preamp simply doesn't have anything in common between different kinds of recordings. :-)

I've heard good things about RNP. My good friend that does classical recordings as a side job has used one for a long time already, and he has been quite happy with it. It's not perfect, but pretty usable, unlike most products in that price range. You might say, it's Really Nice :-)

-Jouni
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ice-cream cornet: jäätelötötterö

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:08 pm

jounis wrote:Denian and dmcharg, maybe it's not that hard, you just have to think it in the opposite way. You will spot coloration of a preamp quite easily by making different kinds of recordings with it and listening to what they have in common. A really transparent preamp simply doesn't have anything in common between different kinds of recordings. :-)
I see what you mean, I have never ever thought of that.
That would also explain why we need reviews of products like the RNP by people who work in recording studios; they are surely the only people who are in a position to make such comparisons. So I conclude from this that Hybrid is completely right to listen carefully to the opinion of the owner of Atlas Recording studios.

Kris

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Kris » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:55 am

Denian, I think you got it pretty right with your definition of "transparent", and Hybrid provided a definition in a previous post. Every subject matter is full of jargon, and audio is no different. That being said, the word "transparent" is pretty clear (pardon the pun), I think. (If you ever read a high-end audio review from e.g. Stereophile or The Absolute Sound you'll see some horrifically vague terminology :) ). It's just what you thought: not adding anything of its own. Jouni mentioned one way of evaluating it, but it requires quite a bit of experience and means of recording different sources with different mics. Another way, also quite difficult for most of us, is to measure it in an audio lab. A mic preamp is not all that complex: there are no moving parts such as a mic diaphragm, speaker cones, room interaction, etc. so it's relatively straightforward to measure e.g. it's frequency response.

Everyone is free to listen to whoever they want, obviously. If that is Nathan Eldred of Altas Recording Studios (also owner of Atlas Pro Audio, which sells the same RNP), then who am I to dissuade anyone? Myself, I see his review as one of many online reviews, and that he records predominately hard-core/punk/metal bands which I don't think are the hallmark of audiophile recordings. I will go to other sources, which in the case of the RNP are also very positive about it's qualities. Like I said previously, I have no problem with its sonic qualities either.

What I do have a problem with is the assertion that more money will give you a more transparent preamp. It may give you many things, but not necessarily more transparency. I think I've explained why more than enough.

I knew my point of view was going to be unpopular. Us "objectivists" usually are, as years of audiophile discussions prove. I will leave it at that, and let you take it for what you believe it is worth, which is most certainly zilch.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Thu Nov 26, 2009 6:59 am

Kris wrote:What I do have a problem with is the assertion that more money will give you a more transparent preamp. It may give you many things, but not necessarily more transparency. I think I've explained why more than enough.

I knew my point of view was going to be unpopular. Us "objectivists" usually are, as years of audiophile discussions prove. I will leave it at that, and let you take it for what you believe it is worth, which is most certainly zilch.
Not at all Kris. In fact, I agree 100% with your point about expensive = better with audio equipment. I think this applies to mics, pre-amps, soundcards, you name it. Come to think of it, it probably applies to many many things in life.

:discussion:

ps - I think it applies to guitars too BTW

Hybrid

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Hybrid » Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 pm

Kris wrote: What I do have a problem with is the assertion that more money will give you a more transparent preamp. It may give you many things, but not necessarily more transparency. I think I've explained why more than enough.

I.
Never said that. Im basically saying generally, you get what you pay for. However,there are some good deals to be had. But generally, if you want "Grace" or "Earthworks" level
transparency, you're gonna pay for it. And something like the DMP3, is nice for the price, but its far from transparent. RNP isnt perfect either, but many people believe
its a good deal for the money.
I see no "misinformation" in this thread. At least not any Gross misinformation. Just a few opinions you "transparently" dont agree with. Audio is subjective.
People argue about this stuff to no end all over the net.
At some point you have to trust your own ears.
H

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:33 pm

Hybrid wrote:
At some point you have to trust your own ears.
That's really the bottom line in all these audio gear discussions.

Kris

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Kris » Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:03 pm

Denian, my last comment was not specifically meant for you. I hope you realize that.
Hybrid wrote:Never said that. Im basically saying generally, you get what you pay for.
Fair enough, you never said that. But you did say "cheap preamps add color and bumps/dips in certain frequencies that cloud the sound", which I interpret as essentially saying the same thing.

I also agree that you generally get what you pay for, up to a point and within reason. I do not believe Pear Audio's Anjou interconnect cable at $1600 for 1 meter is getting what you pay for. You are getting what you deserve though!

You are right, audio in studio or home entertainment is subjective. Treat it as such. Whether a certain component alters the signal or not is objective though. It is verifiable fact, at least for amps.

So like you say, trust your own ears! Borrow one or buy from a shop with a return policy, and decide for yourself. That's what I did with the RNP and the DMP3. I trust my own ears and didn't agree with the majority (but I wasn't too concerned with transparency, more with low noise and high gain). What I am saying is that if more transparency is your goal, don't get fooled into thinking you need to go more expensive. Say you have the UA LA-610 (ca. $1500), I would say that going down in price to a Grace 101 (ca. $600) will get you there.

Hybrid

Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by Hybrid » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:04 pm

Kris wrote:Denian, my last comment was not specifically meant for you. I hope you realize that.
Hybrid wrote:Never said that. Im basically saying generally, you get what you pay for.
Fair enough, you never said that. But you did say "cheap preamps add color and bumps/dips in certain frequencies that cloud the sound", which I interpret as essentially saying the same thing.

I also agree that you generally get what you pay for, up to a point and within reason. I do not believe Pear Audio's Anjou interconnect cable at $1600 for 1 meter is getting what you pay for. You are getting what you deserve though!

You are right, audio in studio or home entertainment is subjective. Treat it as such. Whether a certain component alters the signal or not is objective though. It is verifiable fact, at least for amps.

So like you say, trust your own ears! Borrow one or buy from a shop with a return policy, and decide for yourself. That's what I did with the RNP and the DMP3. I trust my own ears and didn't agree with the majority (but I wasn't too concerned with transparency, more with low noise and high gain). What I am saying is that if more transparency is your goal, don't get fooled into thinking you need to go more expensive. Say you have the UA LA-610 (ca. $1500), I would say that going down in price to a Grace 101 (ca. $600) will get you there.
Agreed. Glad we ended up on mostly the same page here Kris :D

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Re: Wonderful Mic preamp on a budget

Post by quixilver » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:42 am

Hi Kris, thanks for those very nice and useful infos... Just wondering if you ever tried to compare (or at least predict) the result of M-Audio FW410 and RNP ? I have an old M-Audio FW410 and I'm currently thinking for an upgrade. Or is it more important to upgrade the mic instead ?
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