straight talk on transformers

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Post Reply
JES
tinnitus
Posts: 1201
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:31 am
Location: Montreal, PQ
Contact:

straight talk on transformers

Post by JES » Sat Jul 28, 2007 6:45 am

Hi All,

So I'm getting ready to take the big plunge on some new pres (probably a lunchbox and a couple Purple audio pres) but before I do, I need some clarity on transfomers.

If I run through the DI on a 500-series pre, I'm not going to get the sonic benefits of the input transformer, am I? Would it make a difference if I ran through a passive DI box and then into the XLR input of the pre? I'm looking for a more aggressive, "rawk" sound on the instruments and some vocals (hence the API thread below) but also just a really good clean pre for the acoustic instruments (hence the Purples as a good bet for a starter pair that can do both clean and aggressive well).

I ask because I do a LOT of direct recording (guitar, bass, synth) in addition to some micing (mostly vocals, flute, acoustic bass guitar and some percussion--no drum sets). I will also be using the nicer pres for analog summing purposes.

Enlighten me. If I drop all this case on new pres, will I get the sonic benefits and agressiveness going direct? Thank you.

Best,
--JES

PS -- My current rig: FMR RNP, Peavey VMP, and MOTU 828 mk2 (about to have the Black Lion mod), in case you think the Purples aren't different enough.

joel hamilton
zen recordist
Posts: 8876
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
Location: NYC/Brooklyn
Contact:

Re: straight talk on transformers

Post by joel hamilton » Sat Jul 28, 2007 7:16 am

JES wrote:Hi All,

So I'm getting ready to take the big plunge on some new pres (probably a lunchbox and a couple Purple audio pres) but before I do, I need some clarity on transfomers.

If I run through the DI on a 500-series pre, I'm not going to get the sonic benefits of the input transformer, am I? Would it make a difference if I ran through a passive DI box and then into the XLR input of the pre? I'm looking for a more aggressive, "rawk" sound on the instruments and some vocals (hence the API thread below) but also just a really good clean pre for the acoustic instruments (hence the Purples as a good bet for a starter pair that can do both clean and aggressive well).

I ask because I do a LOT of direct recording (guitar, bass, synth) in addition to some micing (mostly vocals, flute, acoustic bass guitar and some percussion--no drum sets). I will also be using the nicer pres for analog summing purposes.

Enlighten me. If I drop all this case on new pres, will I get the sonic benefits and agressiveness going direct? Thank you.

Best,
--JES

PS -- My current rig: FMR RNP, Peavey VMP, and MOTU 828 mk2 (about to have the Black Lion mod), in case you think the Purples aren't different enough.
transformers exhibit a sonic property that I find euphonic.
If I get a project that has been tracked straigt into the box, I find myself patching up something on almost every channel, just to get the properties of the lne amps and xformers imparted on all those disparate elements...

tracking many tracks through a DI with some nice purple pre's would give you a good cumulative "fingerprint" but dont look for instant awesome from a single track... that part is up to you.

Enjoy the purple pre's... there is so much good stuff being made for the 500 form fctor these days.

philbo
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:43 pm
Contact:

Post by philbo » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:15 pm

You'll lose a bit of bass going through transformers. The cheaper the transformer the more bass you lose.
________
No2 vaporizer
Last edited by philbo on Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

joel hamilton
zen recordist
Posts: 8876
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
Location: NYC/Brooklyn
Contact:

Post by joel hamilton » Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:37 pm

philbo wrote:You'll lose a bit of bass going through transformers. The cheaper the transformer the more bass you lose.
The perceived "thickness" of the sound can go way up though, even if the transformer isnt the most awesome one ever made. This is one of those times in audio where the specs simply dont mean anything. Tape also "loses" some high end when you record to it... isnt that why we know and love it? we perceive that as "warm" and all kinds of other vintage cliche's...

Getting some xformers to really light up can be JUST what you needed to make the bass guitar FEEL like it is huge, though it is not swamping the mix buss anymore at the same perceived loudness... just like tape... You can get a "fit" with transformer based gear that I personally enoy.

Decide for yourself, of course... but I really feel like transformers are one of my favorite things in the chain...

I also think that advertising that ranks on them and spreads misinformation about what they impart on a dynamic, ever changing source by taking static measurements and claiming that transformerless is "better."

Protools 96 converters... hell 888's tested beter in EVERY measurable way than a tape machine. Noise, dynamic range, distortion, wow, flutter.... Protools will "beat" a tape machine every time.

Funny nobody talks about that... only test results and empirical analysis, rather than whether it is fun lo listen to the thing you created using a certin group of tools you find works for you....

done.

joel hamilton
zen recordist
Posts: 8876
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
Location: NYC/Brooklyn
Contact:

Post by joel hamilton » Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:46 pm

oh, and BTW, the loss of bass thing simply is not true of any decent transformer.

I have run things like bass through extra transformers just because they has a slightly resonant BUMP at about 80hz.

Every neve console has about a zillion transformers in it. Many, many great mic pre's made today use transformers, not because they are a neccesary evil, but because they sound good to the designer, and anyone that uses them.

Every one of my favorite vintage pieces use many transformers, like my pultecs, which I certainly do not hear a "bass loss" when using them, even without a bass boost. There are a bunch of transformers in everything I love, and i love low end.

If empirical test results are what you need for some reason, look at the freq response charts for jensen, lundahl, and even edcor (cheaper) transformers. They usually post that on their websites...

From jensen:

LINE INPUT TRANSFORMER
1:1 FOR "BALANCED BRIDGING" INPUTS
Ideal for balancing any high-impedance unbalanced input
Wide bandwidth: 3 db at 0.25hz and 100khz....

So I guess if you are playing a note that is less than one quarter of ONE Hz, you will be 3 Db down....

User avatar
calaverasgrandes
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3233
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:23 pm
Location: Oakland
Contact:

Post by calaverasgrandes » Sat Jul 28, 2007 11:45 pm

I think spec wise transformers do roll of bass below their resonance, but then they resonate dont they? So yeah you have a bump like a high q filter, at 60 or 80 hz, then it drops away. So no, you dont get a perfect sine wave at 30 hz. But the low e on a bass guitar will sound better in a tranny.
Also, transformer balancing generally rejects garbage better than electronically balanced (usually monolithic) inputs. the gap has closed a lot lately I noticed though. With transofrmers going higher and lower than they used to, and transformerless getting better at noise rejection.

Me I want transformers in everything. I used to have an old spring reverb that I'd run stuff through just to hit the input and output transformers (somehow it bypassed the springs but not the trannys when powered off).
??????? wrote: "everything sounds best right before it blows up."

philbo
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:43 pm
Contact:

Post by philbo » Sun Jul 29, 2007 6:38 pm

joel hamilton wrote:oh, and BTW, the loss of bass thing simply is not true of any decent transformer.

I have run things like bass through extra transformers just because they has a slightly resonant BUMP at about 80hz.

Every neve console has about a zillion transformers in it. Many, many great mic pre's made today use transformers, not because they are a neccesary evil, but because they sound good to the designer, and anyone that uses them.

Every one of my favorite vintage pieces use many transformers, like my pultecs, which I certainly do not hear a "bass loss" when using them, even without a bass boost. There are a bunch of transformers in everything I love, and i love low end.

If empirical test results are what you need for some reason, look at the freq response charts for jensen, lundahl, and even edcor (cheaper) transformers. They usually post that on their websites...

From jensen:

LINE INPUT TRANSFORMER
1:1 FOR "BALANCED BRIDGING" INPUTS
Ideal for balancing any high-impedance unbalanced input
Wide bandwidth: 3 db at 0.25hz and 100khz....

So I guess if you are playing a note that is less than one quarter of ONE Hz, you will be 3 Db down....
I stand corrected. Thanks for the feedback.
________
Mercedes-benz 450sel 6.9 specifications
Last edited by philbo on Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

JES
tinnitus
Posts: 1201
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:31 am
Location: Montreal, PQ
Contact:

Post by JES » Sun Jul 29, 2007 7:19 pm

Hi All,

Many thanks for the reples. So it sounds like I will get the benefits of the transformers in 500-series pres even if I use the DI input. Excellent.

--JES

squizo
pushin' record
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:56 pm
Location: bow to my 14k!!!

Post by squizo » Mon Jul 30, 2007 12:23 am

i agree

trannies on everything

I often thought about building a transformer stage (seriously, a patch bay with some trannies in it) for the front or backend of my PTHD converters.

i hope i didnt just give away a million dollar idea.

User avatar
calaverasgrandes
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3233
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:23 pm
Location: Oakland
Contact:

Post by calaverasgrandes » Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:18 am

thats pretty much what I end up using my PM180 for. It can run mic or line level, but it really excels at stuff like drum machines and synths that get all brittle going into DAW land. I pretty much never use the EQ on mine except to hipass. And 4 of its channels are SE direct outs so they only hit one transformer.
But i like your idea, just get a 2RU project box to mount all the trannies in. You could even color code it, have a few lundahl, a few sowter, a few 2nd hand whatever was in quad eights.
??????? wrote: "everything sounds best right before it blows up."

User avatar
RodC
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2039
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: Right outside the door
Contact:

Post by RodC » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:05 am

Here is some good reading on the subject.

http://www.jensen-transformers.com/an/A ... hapter.pdf

This is a chapter out of the Handbook for Sound Engineers (Bill Whitlock)

Its awsome that jensen provides this for free!

BTW, This book is awsome if you are a DIY type.
'Well, I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones'

http://www.beyondsanityproductions.com
http://www.myspace.com/beyondsanity

User avatar
A-Barr
tinnitus
Posts: 1010
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:27 pm

Post by A-Barr » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:30 am

The original post here related to DI's and whether or not you get xformer benefits...

In my experience, most built-in DI's bypass the input transformer and go straight into the amplifier stage and out through the output transformer if there is one. I prefer to plug into a direct box and into the mic input on the preamp. This not only gives you the benefit of the input transformer on the preamp, but a passive DI is just another transformer in a box. I lucked out and got a couple old UTC's, for this purpose, one big one and one "ouncer." Both have the same turn ratio's, but the bigger one sounds cleaner and has better full-range frequency response, the little ouncer does sound warmer and has a nice color but rolls off a little of the high and low end... fwiw. Both sound great.

joel hamilton
zen recordist
Posts: 8876
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 12:10 pm
Location: NYC/Brooklyn
Contact:

Post by joel hamilton » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:43 am

squizo wrote:i agree

trannies on everything

I often thought about building a transformer stage (seriously, a patch bay with some trannies in it) for the front or backend of my PTHD converters.

i hope i didnt just give away a million dollar idea.
That has been done for many years. I know a couple of mastering engineers that actually have some transformers in racks just to patch through them before or after some other piece of gear (or not) just beause they know the vibe they can spin into the track....

Those hum eliminator boxes are just rack mounted transformers.... great for putting after an effectron, or after a tape echo... I just patch through another piece of xformer based gear for that.

Thats why I was saying that if I get a project to mix that was tracked straight into the box, I seem to wind up having something patched on every single channel, just for vibe, even if I am not compressing much or at all....

squizo
pushin' record
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:56 pm
Location: bow to my 14k!!!

Post by squizo » Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:17 pm


PostPosted: Mon 30.07.07, 8:43 am Post subject: Re: straight talk on transformers
squizo wrote:
i agree

trannies on everything

I often thought about building a transformer stage (seriously, a patch bay with some trannies in it) for the front or backend of my PTHD converters.

i hope i didnt just give away a million dollar idea.


That has been done for many years. I know a couple of mastering engineers that actually have some transformers in racks just to patch through them before or after some other piece of gear (or not) just beause they know the vibe they can spin into the track....

Those hum eliminator boxes are just rack mounted transformers.... great for putting after an effectron, or after a tape echo... I just patch through another piece of xformer based gear for that.

Thats why I was saying that if I get a project to mix that was tracked straight into the box, I seem to wind up having something patched on every single channel, just for vibe, even if I am not compressing much or at all....

Yeah I know, after seeing that and then realizing that half the time im looking to strap one on with a preamp/eq/comp. why not just have a full 24
ch. patchbay.....one thats maybe all the same and another thats different in groups of 8 or something.

like the old adage

"friends dont let friends mix in the box" -Jack Rock

-unless they have a pocketful of tubes and trannies-

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 53 guests