Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

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Picker
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Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by Picker » Tue Feb 15, 2005 4:02 pm

From all of your advice, I think the next thing to upgrade for my home studio would be my mic pres. (currently using M-Audio Omni Studio). After looking at several ideas I am starting to think of getting one of the DIY kits from seventhcircleaudio. There are a couple of reasons why I picked this option.

1. Lower Cost
2. High quality pres that I couldn't otherwise afford.
3. Good reviews
3. Well, hell... It just be fun to build one on my own.

Before I get into the options let me give you the quick rundown of my gear.

PC 2.6ghz 1gig RAM with Delta 66/Omni Studio
Cakewalk Sonar 4PE
Shure SM57 and SM8
AKG 414 BULS
Sennheiser e355
a couple of Shure PG tom mics that someone gave me.

Ok... Here's the three options from 7th-O
-----------------------------------------
Option 1 --- N72
Neve microphone preamp clone ".. These preamps have a simple class-A design with a minimum number of components in the signal path, but what components they do have lend them an unmistakable character. They've become especially popular with digital recordists, since many feel the Neve preamp provides a certain warmth and character that can greatly benefit the hyper-accurate quality of digital recording."

Option 2 --- J99
Jensen clone
"The SCA J99 is a uniquely flexible, high-gain, low-noise, low-distortion microphone preamplifier, based on the classic Jensen Twin Servo design. This is a great preamp to use when a neutral sonic character is required, and the objective is to capture the sound of the performance, not the preamp"

Option 3 --- A12
API clone?
"The SCA A12 is a simple, single stage preamp roughly based on classic American designs of the '70s. Built with the suggested transformers and op-amp, the result is an amplifier with an aggressive midrange and pronounced transformer coloration. The A12 sounds fantastic with rock drums and electric guitars, but is versatile enough to be used with a wide variety of source material and microphone combinations. The A12 is easy to build and makes a great first-time kit."
---------------------------------------------

To start off I was thinking of getting only one (cost reasons). The case will hold up to 8 pres and I intend to add more over time, but am only starting with one for now.

So...................... The question is which one? The A12 sounds like the easiest to build, but aslo sounds like it has the most coloration of the 3. The Neve is legendary for whatever that's worth. And, the Jensen sounds to be the most transparent. If I can only chose one of the three (for now) which do you think I would be better off with?

Primary use would be for the vocals ... maybe some instrument tracks (accoustic gtr etc), but most instruments I could run through the Omni or through an old 80s A&H mixer that I have.

Any advice would be appreciated.

rpowell
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by rpowell » Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:51 pm

Judging from their "parents" (haven't heard the SCA clones yet) the Neve 1272 is also colored, just in a different way than the API 312. The 1272 tends to have a darker and slower tone than the 312. For a "first" all-purpose pristine pre for vocals and acoustic instruments, I'd personally pick the J99 and get the required 990c Op amps from John Hardy Co. 2nd choice would be the A12; one could easily make a great record using nothing but 312's, and they really shine on drums; the N72 I would reserve for electric guitars, kick drums, and certain applications of vocals. Of course, these are my personal opinions based on limited understanding of your needs and YMMV.

RP

sonikbliss
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by sonikbliss » Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:21 pm

there's some good info in these threads that might help you decide. for what it's worth i've got a N72 and love it and i'm looking to get the A12 sometime soon.

http://www.3daudioinc.com/cgi-bin/ultim ... 1&t=000846

http://gearslutz.com/board/showthread.p ... post194252

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audioez
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by audioez » Tue Feb 15, 2005 6:26 pm

my first preamp was a home made 2 ch. neve 3415; I still use it today on vocals and bass DI like it's goin out of style. I bought three of the modules at sonnic circus, gave one to my buddy and had him in return rack 2 of them with stepped gain, rotary output fader, and facility for 48v. This only costed me about $945. The neve 3415 comes from old neve 54 series broadcast boards and sidecars like the Neve Melbourne 12x2, or Neve Kelso 10x2. You must find the fully discrete one, cause some of them do have IC(intergrated circuts). These are Class A/B amps that share charecteristic of the neve1081 EQ/PRE. You can't even touch a pair of 1081's unless you want to pay some shop monkey about $7,000.00 yikes. In my opinion api mic pre's are just as good as well. I own and use an early 90's api3124 and use the more current api 512c. Good for anything if your recording punk rock, but I use them moslty on things with sharp and loud transients ie. kick, snare drum, or just use them cause my neve board doesn't have phanton power. The rule is there are no rules, have fun, be a good person, and make great music!!! :P

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auralman
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by auralman » Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:10 pm

From a build perspective, go with the N72. The J99 is a BITCH. The N72 kills, though, and it's quite easy to build. The A12 looks easy, too (haven't tried it yet), but I'm one of those few folks that just don't like API pres. And I do mean few. Just not my cup of tea. I'm just that kind of guy.
I'm in for your mom and I'll pay.

Family Hoof
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by Family Hoof » Tue Feb 15, 2005 9:05 pm

The A12 and J99 models are going to cost more per channel because opamps sold separately. I would get the op amps that Seventh Circle recommends for their circuits otherwise you could oscilations and other such problems. Despite what many people think opamps are rarely plug-and-play like a 12A_7 tube. If you go with the A12, beware the original API and Melcore op amps are VERY hard to find and equally expensive. FWIW, I've heard that SCA's own SC25 op amp is supposed to be the closest in sound to the original. There's also a guy named Fabio (user name Bauman) who makes DIY clones of this opamp at www.groupdiy.com. His prices are very reasonable. If you get the J99, just buy some 990C opamps from www.johnhardyco.com. This is fairly fool proof. I agree that it looks like a total bitch to build.

[EDIT] In case you were thinking of just buying the PCBs/minimal kits and sourcing the parts yourself, I would strongly recommend against it. I'm speaking from experience, via the N72, and it is just not worth the time. SCA's parts list is kinda outdated at this point with some of the items being constantly out of stock or just imossible to find in single quantities. Plus, it references to 7 different distributors. I tried to assemble my own parts list using just Mouser and Digikey (less i/o transformers, of course) and it was a total bitch. Some of the substitutions might not have even fit so I just decided to build from scratch instead. That was no picnic either!!! The devil is in the details (i.e. mounting, hardware, chassis, interconnects). I've developed a profound appreciate for SCA's accomplishment in this sense. They can't be making very much money at all!

Picker
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Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by Picker » Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:05 am

Thanks for all your responses. I hope to be deciding and ordering fairly soon. (waiting to finish my taxes and hopefully get a refund check). Being more or less a beginner at doing this I will probably take your suggestion of the N72 to start. Simplicity is good :). For the same reason, I fully intend to get the full kit. Trying to shop out my own parts to save $10 would probably case severe head trauma and a non-working electronic thing.

Anyway, I'll let you know when I take the punge and my results if/when I finally get it together.

Picker
audio school
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:44 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Picking a pre to build... Advice? (SCA)

Post by Picker » Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:09 am

Thanks for all your responses. I hope to be deciding and ordering fairly soon. (waiting to finish my taxes and hopefully get a refund check). Being more or less a beginner at doing this I will probably take your suggestion of the N72 to start. Simplicity is good :). For the same reason, I fully intend to get the full kit. Trying to shop out my own parts to save $10 would probably case severe head trauma and a non-working electronic thing.

Anyway, I'll let you know when I take the punge and my results if/when I finally get it together.

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