Focusrite Red 1 or Chandler Germanium?

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Focusrite Red 1 or Chandler Germanium?

Post by Sean Sullivan » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:48 am

Kind of a weird comparison, but would rather have a Focusrite Red 1 (four channel preamp) or one Chandler Germanium? The other preamps I have are a Sytek MPX-4Aii and a Universal Audio M610. The reason I ask is there is a Focusrite Red 1 for a good price, but I would have to sell my Germanium to get.
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Post by Mradyfist » Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:02 pm

I've got the Red (a two channel version of the Red 1), and while I like it I'm not sure I'd be that desperate to have 4 channels of it. I've recorded a couple songs where I used the Red on everything, and afterwards kind of wished I hadn't because it didn't seem to stack up so well.

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:24 pm

I've never owned either. But my scant experience of germanium powerd products is that they mix nicely. They are their own thing. I wouldnt want to do a whole record like that, but having just the guitars, or just teh vocals on them sits nice. The red series stuff I always found to be WAY overpriced for how it sounds. Underwhelmed is the word I think. I really feel that those pieces of gear sell themselves on how awesome the knobs and chassis feel as opposed to how it actually sounds. But then I like ugly battle scarred crap that nobody else has heard of. Speaking of which. Everybody stop using effectrons right now!
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Post by pootkao » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:43 pm

I'd take the Germ well over the Red, but I must admit that neither is terribly high on my list.
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Post by joel hamilton » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:29 pm

If the red was the only mic pre at a studio, I wouldnt record there.
I personally dont understand that pre, or what it is supposed to do. I guess if "hurts your ears" is a color, then it is sweet times...

I love the germanium.

I almost thought the title of this thread was a joke, but only because I think the focusrite red series is the most form over function, jingle house that doesnt care, overpriced showpiece for the uninformed that has been produced in recent history.
Maybe there are others that beat it in ONE of those categories, like the manley vox box, but across all of those categories I am of the opinion that the red series is overpriced crap with nothing to offer a recordist that values good sound over all. If you like the sound of the red series, then I would highly recommend getting someone to rack up 4 mackie onyx mic pre's, because you will get almost the exact same sound from them for 1/3 the price, even with the custom racking job with aluminum knobs and an engraved faceplate.

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Post by joel hamilton » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:39 pm

researching what Focusrite red mic pre's, the RED 1 go for, I found this quote from a sweetwater rep on their site:

"The Focusrite Red 1 is so warm, many think it is a tube pre but it is not. The Red 1 gets a great deal of use in my own studio from miking toms to acoustic guitars, I love it."

This sort of shit makes my blood boil. They are charging 3200 dollars for this pre, and misrepresenting it in the most patronizing way possible. They even use the dreaded "W" word in the "professional" quote. Sad. Thank god for honest to goodness companies that still make kick ass gear.

By the way, if this is one of the OLD pieces of focusrite gear, then I bet it is cool. They just havent even come close to the old stuff in years... here is a funny thing from mercenary when i was searching for something to support my rant:

http://www.mercenary.com/whynofocusrite.html

I dont really care what anyone says about gear, as I need to really try it if I am going to have a real passionate stance on it. I have tried the red stuff, and I have tried the old ISA modules, and the first years of the red stuff... already right when the red stuff was made I couldnt afford it, and once I COULD afford it I didnt want it...

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Post by Mradyfist » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:04 pm

joel hamilton wrote:By the way, if this is one of the OLD pieces of focusrite gear, then I bet it is cool. They just havent even come close to the old stuff in years... here is a funny thing from mercenary when i was searching for something to support my rant:

http://www.mercenary.com/whynofocusrite.html
Did you read the response from Phil Dudderidge? And the final word from Fletcher? Personally, that page is one of the reasons why I probably would NEVER buy from Mercenary. Frankly, everything the guy does smacks of elitism to me, not to mention how often he backhandedly insults people who use gear that he doesn't sell. This is from "Fletcher's Three Cents":
Fletcher wrote:I know a lot of people have Focusrite gear and I'm sure some of them love it to death; then again there are several billion flies out there that like to eat shit...
Thanks Fletcher, you just compared me to a fly eating shit. Now I really want to buy from you. He spends all this time going on rants about how everything he doesn't sell is garbage and nobody can possibly record music with it. I'm sure the stuff he sells is all good, but I would much rather listen to gear myself than listen to him. In fact, I think half the time I default to the exact opposite of what Fletcher says.

The worst part is that Drew makes some major unfounded accusations (Red faceplates are 30% of the cost, production for the ISA line was moved to Asia), the head of Focusrite basically says they're not true, and Fletcher's response? "Did anybody actually read any of that? It was way too long!"

Fletcher is a guy who makes his living off of selling very expensive gear. Just like Phil Dudderidge compromises and basically makes his living mainly off selling the budget gear, Fletcher needs to convince people that there's a reason to buy gear from him instead of from a big distributer like Sweetwater. I think this quote from the end of Phil's rambling speech is especially interesting:
Phil Dudderidge wrote:Drew and Fletcher are of course entitled to their opinion and we to ours. In my view there were originally commercial reasons why Mercenary did not any longer offer Focusrite products and this has been justified by ill-informed or simply untrue reasons. I take no issue with Mercenary?s support for the excellent brands and products they have pioneered and represent. Good for them!

When asked why Mercenary do not represent Focusrite I would suggest a better response would be simply to say ?commercial differences? and leave it at that. Mercenary Audio like exclusive, or limited availability, products. We like our products to be widely available and competitively priced.
Fletcher likes to make it sound like he's just "in your face" and "telling it like it is", but it sounds to me more like a pure business decision. Maybe Focusrite didn't want a "Mercenary Edition"?

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:46 pm

thats a good point, I dont believe that Mercenary sells Digi gear. And I believe that Digidesign is Focusrites US distributor.
OTOH, there are a lot of things out there purporting to be derivatives of vintage gear, or having a pedigree that gives them some great tone. Focusrite have been guilty of milking Ruperts name for what, 20 years now?
Focusrites reply is that the red 1 has a circuit electronially identical to the isa110. Sidestepping questions of whether it is an opamp/IC after the tranny or a full on 3 legger entirely.
I dont know what they did differnt with teh red 1, but it doesnt sound as good as most neve knockoffs to me. Much less an actual neve.
But yeah, fletcher is best taken in small doses.
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Post by joel hamilton » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:15 pm

Yeah, the Mercenary Audio example kind of sucks, it ust came up in google.
I personally dont love the newer-age Focusrite stuff, except the Liquid channel, which I still think is a really neat piece of gear, and I like that they are pushing the limits of what a piece of outboard gear can do and its very definition with that one...

I dont give a CRAP what fletcher or mercenary has to say on the editorial side of that stuff, but more about the history of focusrite and what changed, and why the name does not mean as much as it used to. Whatever. I have never purchased anything from mercenary, and I probably never will. There are too many great people selling great gear to give money to people whose entire public image is based on the type of bullshit I have avoided my entire life...

Aside from that, I think that the Focusrite stuff is crappy, but that is just my opinion, and I am not a gear salesman. I use gear to make the best records I possibly can. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:18 pm

I've really learned to love my Germanium, but I figured "hey, 4 good (well, at $800 a channel I would hope it would be good) channels at a really cheap price might be more useful than 1 killer channel". But, if the Red series sucks, I understand.

I also thought about a Focusrite ISA428 because of the A/D converter option, but I hear so many mixed things I stuck with Sytek. But I still need a A/D converter because the Digi 002Rs suck. Joel had me pretty sold on the API A2D but I would like 8 channels. I still have no idea what to get.
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Post by jonathan » Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:57 pm

i work at a place that has the red 1 and a germanium-

i never use the red 1 for anything except overheads and occasionally rooms...
its always a last resort for me here-

the germanium is solid as hell and i feel pretty versatile...

i never really read what people say about gear, and then form an opinion. i always have to hear it myself. i have a completely different set of adjectives to describe the way things feel in comparison to people who sell massive amounts of highend stuff...

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Post by Mradyfist » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:14 pm

Don't get me wrong, I'm not really gushing about the Red series here. I've got a Red 8 (the 2-channel version of the Red 1), and while I think it's probably the nicest pre that I have the studio right now, I'm not sure I would've paid Sweetwater's list for it. My studio partner got it a while ago (before we were actually sharing a studio), and I think it was on sale for $1700 from another retailer at the time, which puts it at a much more reasonable price point.

To be honest, despite my intense dislike for Mercenary, I probably would've bought a Great River if it was my money, although that has more to do with a distinctly good memory of using it on lead vocals in school and liking how it worked out. I used a Red 1 as well, but not on any projects I was running myself; I mostly heard it on drums, where it seemed to do a reasonable job.

Anyway, I think it's a little unfair to call the stuff complete crap. Sure, you could claim that the Red stuff is overpriced because of the name, but Phil pretty clearly states that the Red 1 is exactly the same as an ISA 110 pre with the addition of VU meters. And it's not like Rupert Neve got screwed by this guy, it sounds like he owned the company originally and then overextended it, went into bankruptcy, and then someone bought it from him. I'm no business expert, but that seems like something you want to have happen when your company goes bankrupt.

I think the thing that really bothers me about Fletcher is that he's doing the "old crank angry about cheap crappy recordings" angle, but he's using it to sell gear and basically discourage people from trying to record with what they have. There are plenty of old cranks in the recording industry, some of whom probably post here, but those guys generally agree that everyone starts somewhere.

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Post by joel hamilton » Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:53 am

Mradyfist wrote:Don't get me wrong, I'm not really gushing about the Red series here. I've got a Red 8 (the 2-channel version of the Red 1), and while I think it's probably the nicest pre that I have the studio right now, I'm not sure I would've paid Sweetwater's list for it. My studio partner got it a while ago (before we were actually sharing a studio), and I think it was on sale for $1700 from another retailer at the time, which puts it at a much more reasonable price point.

To be honest, despite my intense dislike for Mercenary, I probably would've bought a Great River if it was my money, although that has more to do with a distinctly good memory of using it on lead vocals in school and liking how it worked out. I used a Red 1 as well, but not on any projects I was running myself; I mostly heard it on drums, where it seemed to do a reasonable job.

Anyway, I think it's a little unfair to call the stuff complete crap. Sure, you could claim that the Red stuff is overpriced because of the name, but Phil pretty clearly states that the Red 1 is exactly the same as an ISA 110 pre with the addition of VU meters. And it's not like Rupert Neve got screwed by this guy, it sounds like he owned the company originally and then overextended it, went into bankruptcy, and then someone bought it from him. I'm no business expert, but that seems like something you want to have happen when your company goes bankrupt.

I think the thing that really bothers me about Fletcher is that he's doing the "old crank angry about cheap crappy recordings" angle, but he's using it to sell gear and basically discourage people from trying to record with what they have. There are plenty of old cranks in the recording industry, some of whom probably post here, but those guys generally agree that everyone starts somewhere.
Nothing in the studio, unless it doesnt work, is "complete crap." Charging high prices for an end result that does not sound great? That is total crap.
And I agree about the "old crank " angle... as lame as it gets.

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Post by Mradyfist » Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:42 am

joel hamilton wrote: Nothing in the studio, unless it doesnt work, is "complete crap." Charging high prices for an end result that does not sound great? That is total crap.
And I agree about the "old crank " angle... as lame as it gets.
I think part of the issue here is that people are using the Sweetwater prices as a relevant comparison. I remembered that my studio partner paid $1700 for his Red 8 (2-channel), so I did a little Froogle search; turns out Zzounds apparently sells the Red 8 for $1700, and the Red 1 (4-channel) for $2400. Sweetwater sells the Red 8 for $2300 and the Red 1 for $3200, a whopping (and consistent) $300 extra per channel. Sweetwater's prices on almost everything in the same price range are dead-even with the rest of the competition.

Now, I'm definitely not going to say that the Red 8 is worth $2300, I think that's a huge ripoff. For $2300, you could have a Great River, a Manley, or a UA and still save some money. However, in the $1700 range the competition is a little different. I certainly couldn't say that it was better than anything in that range either, because I haven't used enough pres to make that claim, but according to Focusrite this is a repackaging of the original ISA 110 circuit, it's handbuilt in the UK, and it uses the same transformers as the original.

Personally, I've had plenty of success using the Red 8 in my studio. I'm not sure I'd really want a Red 1, because I don't think it stacks well enough to warrant having 4 channels, which is why I didn't recommend it to the original poster. And I'm sure a lot of people here hate it partially because the faceplate and design has a very "prosumer" feel to it, going for flash instead of doing the industrial-chic that the boutique guys have going on.

And come to think of it, the fact that Zzounds has the Red series for so much cheaper than everywhere else kind of leads towards a possible reason why Mercenary doesn't carry it. Seems like Focusrite has some sort of deal with Zzounds, and Mercenary would probably just look bad if they stocked the same units at a premium price. I still think it's pretty lame that they turn it into some sort of "Focusrite is eating Rupert Neve's soul!" diatribe, when they could've just said "Focusrite wouldn't let us charge proper market value for the series, so we told them to go to hell." I would have respected the latter much more.

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Post by channelcat » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:01 am

minorleagues wrote:I've really learned to love my Germanium, but I figured "hey, 4 good (well, at $800 a channel I would hope it would be good) channels at a really cheap price might be more useful than 1 killer channel". But, if the Red series sucks, I understand.

I also thought about a Focusrite ISA428 because of the A/D converter option, but I hear so many mixed things I stuck with Sytek. But I still need a A/D converter because the Digi 002Rs suck. Joel had me pretty sold on the API A2D but I would like 8 channels. I still have no idea what to get.
I had one of the ISA110LEs when they first came out. I got suckered by the shiny add with Sir George Martin and AIR Studios featured prominently. Drew was right - it's boring. I didn't keep it too long.

If you want another 4-channel unit, look at the Hardy M-1s. They're cheaper too. You're at MTSU right? You can check those out for a session; I did that for every tracking session when I was there.

Sorry I can't help out on the AD front. BLA may be coming out with an 8-channel AD. I've been kicking around the idea of adding an Onyx 800r to my rack, as an add-on to my 192.

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