API gain structure

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UnlikeKurt
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API gain structure

Post by UnlikeKurt » Fri Jun 05, 2015 5:58 pm

Hi all.
I've had some of the classic api preamps for a while now. And they sound great. I even made an EP with them last year and definitely enjoyed the result. That said, the process of setting up my gain structure was somewhat hit and miss. yes, I was certainly able to dial in some great sounds. But in a couple of instances i fumbled and had to go back and grab a new take after some adjustment.
It seemed to me that I wanted to push the gain pretty hard but at times would go a bit too far and clip the signal (not at the converters due to the output attenuator) enough for it to be unusable.

I realize this will be subjective, and that more experience and consistent usage will help get me there, but can some folks gives some recommendation as far as to where the sweet spot might lie for the API style preamps? And some suggestion as far as gain structure between the gain pot and the output attenuator?
Thanks

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Post by kslight » Fri Jun 05, 2015 6:44 pm

Not specific to API, but with preamp "cooking" I try to be careful, too far and?well its too far?but I've never gone back and said "Man, I really wish I'd hit it a little harder." Depends on the source though?

I would generally suggest starting with the output attenuator doing only a little, and then dial up your gain from there. If you want to cook a little though, I would start with pushing it until the point "where it becomes audible" and then dial it back a couple notches to where it isn't anymore?unless you specifically want that effect.

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I'm Painting Again
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Post by I'm Painting Again » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:10 pm

On the 512c - the internal pad always hinders the tone for me - I have to drive it hot and pad the output with a barrel pad (-15 / -20 ) before the converter. This gives the sound that I prefer. Those meters moving at the top of the yellow and into the red seem to be a sweet spot for what I like to hear. Give it a shot if this is the model you're using.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:22 am

I'm basically starting to hate any preamp that doesn't have an output attenuator on it.

I've been using 512s a lot lately, as the studio I'm doing most of my freelance stuff out of has 8 of them, and I def. like the sounds I'm getting, but it is a pain in the ass dealing with them when I'm tracking loud drums (basically everything I track) and preventing clipping at the converters and/or in PT... pad or no.
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Post by losthighway » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:57 pm

One thing to keep in mind, is if you have a lot of spare outboard gear, especially compressors, they can all be attenuators. You can turn your ratio down so it's not doing anything and then just adjust the output gain. Dbx 160 boxes do this a lot in my studio, just to help with gain staging.

On a more API-centric note, I've notice the "yellow zone" is quite wide on those. When things are just barely tapping the yellow, it usually takes an unusually dynamic signal (very uneven drummer?) to push through into the red.... which as some people are saying doesn't necessarily sound bad.

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Post by ott0bot » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:07 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:I'm basically starting to hate any preamp that doesn't have an output attenuator on it.

I've been using 512s a lot lately, as the studio I'm doing most of my freelance stuff out of has 8 of them, and I def. like the sounds I'm getting, but it is a pain in the ass dealing with them when I'm tracking loud drums (basically everything I track) and preventing clipping at the converters and/or in PT... pad or no.
I'm with you on this. The standalone preamps have always required external attenuation. That's why the new Classic API series is rad, they have trim knobs. So helpful.

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Post by UnlikeKurt » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:36 am

the classic api stuff is very rad. But without the meters, the issue i'm having is trying to find that sweet spot without going too far and having to come back and try again. especially with loud transients, like drums.

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Post by ott0bot » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:13 am

UnlikeKurt wrote:the classic api stuff is very rad. But without the meters, the issue i'm having is trying to find that sweet spot without going too far and having to come back and try again. especially with loud transients, like drums.
I see what you mean. I usually use the meters in my DAW to monitor input with the preamps I have with no metering. Then I can judge where the sweet spot is once I've put them though the paces. There is a metered module, but is a bit more spendy & not available in a kit. The Heider:
http://www.racknrollaudio.com/Classic-A ... er-312.htm

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Post by templejazz82 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:25 pm

This is a great topic. I struggled with the same issue with my CAPI preamps. I have two 312's and a 25 and a 26, all 4 for drums. I notice when you really drive the input that it gives a very crunchy, compressed sound. Useable in some instances, but not many. A meter would be great, but I have been using the console app of my apollo for that, and a DAW I would think would yield similar results. I usually start with both knobs at 12 o'clock and work in that area. Ultimately I am trying to peak in my converters around -8 to -6 or so.

I hate when people tell me this, but you really are best off experimenting. Take the source, give yourself a DB target in your DAW and record a passage. For me it was a 4 bar pattern on the snare drum, since I got tons of variation in the transients. Gain match to the peak and listen back. Notate what settings you used via markers and write down what you hear.

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Post by I'm Painting Again » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:53 am

perhaps experimentation is really the best advice to find a "sweet spot" in this case..thinking about it now the power supplies for all the versions of these sort of amps are different, no?

AFAIK if the rail shifts the range of operation shifts with it..

anyone have the insight to elaborate on this?

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Post by The Scum » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:04 am

the power supplies for all the versions of these sort of amps are different, no?
Um, no, the power supply is in the lunchbox that's holding them. And those supplies are standardized in the range of +/-15V to +/-17V or thereabout.
AFAIK if the rail shifts the range of operation shifts with it..
It depends on the circuit.

API style peramps are based on opamps, which don't change their gain based on different supply voltages. That's one of the neat things about opamps - you can configure how much gain you get with a couple resistors, and they just do it.

The rail voltages dictate how far they can swing -- higher rails means higher headroom. Ordinary opamps can get within a volt or two of the rails...if the rails move outward, the overall swing moves with it.

Transformers, however, often constrain the headroom further...they do clip at a relatively constant level.

...

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I'm Painting Again
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Post by I'm Painting Again » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:24 pm

The Scum wrote:
the power supplies for all the versions of these sort of amps are different, no?
Um, no, the power supply is in the lunchbox that's holding them. And those supplies are standardized in the range of +/-15V to +/-17V or thereabout.
Yes! Obviously the PSU is in the lunchbox..well..besides offerings where it's external of the lunchbox mounting frame. Maybe that's called a "rack" I dunno.

I'm pretty sure all the LB PSU's are not exactly the same..???..as there seems to be reports of issues posted all over the place about this..mostly in context of the modules which draw "too much" current from certain LB PSUs and or the ones that draw asymmetrically from one of the +/- sides.

I suppose when you're using all API it's fine but IRL when there's different things together you can run into problems and different optimal settings..then on top of that there's no accounting for taste..hence "just experiment" until you find the best settings is fairly appropriate.

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:12 pm

I have found that recording as clean as possible, and introducing distortion as a post facto thing, gives me the best.

I do have MANY different distortion plug ins, devices, etc, and usually, I can find one that compliments whatever preamplifier / microphone combination I am suing.

Cheers
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Post by I'm Painting Again » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:21 am

Nick Sevilla wrote: I can find one that compliments whatever preamplifier / microphone combination I am suing.
doesn't taking preamplifier / microphone combinations to court all the time get expensive? :P

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Post by Meriphew » Sat Jun 27, 2015 2:19 pm

When using APIs I tend to use an ATTY attenuator post preamp. I drive the APIs pretty hard, and monitor the levels of the recorder. I pretty much ignore the metering on the APIs - if it sounds good it is good.

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