Mic pres with 70db+ gain range

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Peterson Goodwyn
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Mic pres with 70db+ gain range

Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:16 am

Having just received a pair of Nady ribbons and a lot of great advice about dynamic options for recording in my (now treated) basement, I'm looking for a two-channel preamp that is going to give me enough gain to get a good, clean signal out of my ribbons and something like an SM7. Oh, and, shocker: this is going to be on a budget.

Which two-channel (or set of single-channel) pres in the ART MPA, Symetrix sx202, FMR range are going to serve me well here?

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Post by kayagum » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:32 am

RNP has 66dB gain- was quite usable for my SM7b.

True P-Solo has a ribbon option for around $535.

AEA has a ribbon preamp in the $800 range.

Sytek has plenty of gain as well.

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Post by dsw » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:34 am

True makes a nice clean pre for ribbons but you might have to try and find them used to get into your price range.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:38 am

My Ashly MM-508's got some gain.
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Post by capnreverb » Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:41 pm

I have found that most sound sources that I record with ribbons dont need 70+ gain. Maybe if I am room mic'ing a quiet source or recording something thats really really quiet I might need that much gain, but it has not happened yet. I have recorded voice, cello, drums, reeds using alesis, behringer, mackie, m -audio pres with satisfactory/usable results. Granted a better pre will probably offer a better sound quality, but I dont think gain will be a big issue. I have a sm7 and an re-20 and the same applies for them. They need more gain, but everything I have used for pre's has had enouigh juice, maybe not the best sounding pre juice, but enough.

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Post by chorga1 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:58 pm

amek 9098 has loads of gain too and a M+S decoder

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Post by joel hamilton » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:05 pm

playing louder is free. choosing the right mic for a quiet source is also free.

---just had to toss in the mean dad response.... ;)

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Post by Professor » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:58 pm

I have to agree with Joel on this one, you might not be able to use the ribbons on really quiet sources.
When I place ribbon mics on toms or in front of trumpets, trombones, saxes or guitar amps I can get away with the preamps on the Yamaha console to deliver the 20-40dB of gain I might need. But as the source gets quieter or more distant or both, then I have to either jump to the Grace 801 that can handle +63dB or the Vipre that can give me +75 but even those two rather expensive options show a little noise that high up. So sometimes I just have switch to another microphone.
And the same goes for noisy microphones too. I love the clarity and precision of the Earthworks omnis, but small diaphragm omnis like that are inherently noisy, so I just can't use them in certain situations.

It's also worth mentioning that 60dB of gain is 1000-times amplification of the signal from the microphone, and that's a very hard thing to do cleanly & quietly at any price point.


So now that we're sure to have burst any bubbles that might have been left, it's worth mentioning that there are lots and lots of cheap preamps out there, and its fully possible one of these under-$200 models has some clean gain. Lots of folks here have Sytek, FMR, and ART preamps, so somebody should be able to say how those might work, but there's also M-Audio, Studio Projects, Presonus, Samson and I could swear I've seen a few of the smaller companies that import the Chinese ribbon mics starting to bring out preamps too. So there may still be hope of finding something. But you can also be reassured that even if you don't find something that deliver a clean 70dB for under $150, it's actually pretty rare that you would need that much gain for those mics.


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Post by japmn » Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:48 am

For using the ribbon mikrofon the Sytek is the preamp I am using. It has low noise on the floor and much gaining and the channels 3 and 4 have the softer sound. Is good for the over the head mikrophons on the drum sets and on the lady voice.

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Post by joel hamilton » Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:54 am

I am glad, as usual, for the professor's well thought out response following my "mean dad" response.

YOu should really check out the Shinybox 500 series mix pre. That thing has gain for days and is really an amazing mic pre and it is only 500 dollars, which is SUPER cheap for how great the thing is. TONS of great gain, in the "spirit" of an API esque sound, to my ears... and really useable on anything.
Check those out first. Anyone that does not have an API lunchbox at this point is really missing out on some incredible stuff.

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Post by lotusstudio » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:14 am

Get a used Grace 101 - they make a modified one that has 10db of extra gain for ribbon use, if you can find one used.

Also the Chameleon Labs pre sounds truly great with my ribbon - nice mojo.
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Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:17 pm

Thanks for the tips, everyone, but it was really the "mean dad" that got to me. I'm spending that money I would have wasted on pres on a gym membership and some heavy drum sticks. But really, I used the Nady's as room mics on drums and didn't need to ride the Digi002 pres too hard.

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Post by joel hamilton » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:21 am

Meathands wrote:Thanks for the tips, everyone, but it was really the "mean dad" that got to me. I'm spending that money I would have wasted on pres on a gym membership and some heavy drum sticks. But really, I used the Nady's as room mics on drums and didn't need to ride the Digi002 pres too hard.
Glad to hear it.

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Post by Jim Williams » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:06 am

It's not how much gain you have, it's really about how quiet the preamp is.
You need a preamp with very low EIN specs, or equivalent input noise. This is a sum of the total gain plus the signal to noise ratio. If you use a preamp with a -129.5 EIN at 150 ohm source, 60 db is all you need as additional gain can be taken via a line trim or pushing up a fader past "0". The line gain will not add to the noise as it's delt with at the preamp front end design.
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Post by calaverasgrandes » Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:48 pm

I once did a shootout of my meagre handful of preamps. (yamaha PM series, Summit, MOTU 828MKII w/BLA mod and some others) and was surprised that the pres that I consider my clean pres are actually not the best ones on quiet sources. My "color" pres seemed to open up and get more detailed at higher gain settings. Wheras my "clean" pres for the most part just got noisier and in some cases were pretty crappy sounding run full bore.
I posted about it on here about a year or so ago. Some folks posited that it may be a function of using negative feedback for gain control. At low gain there is a lot of negative feedback, at high gain there is almost none, so you are running a kind of class AB to class A spectrum. (correct me please if I am wrong, just quoting from memory here). Other pres are the same amount of gain all the time, you are just padding the input with the gain knob. I suppose there are others that use feed-forward or positive feedback? dunno.
Anyway, its not just that they have a theoretical high gain range, but what range is it usefu gain! the GT Vipre and Supre seem to have a useable high gain when I have had the priveledge of using them. (I must own a Supre! I am so pissed that Fender bought them!).My PM series pres are just as good at all gain settings. Most mackie mixers I have used are useless above 50db. Likewise for the Bellari, DBX and Art pres i have used.
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