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  1. #1
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    Apr 2013

    Post Mic Pre "Shoot Out" at Mikerophonics

    Mic Pre "Shoot Out" at Mikerophonics

    08-10-2014 11:54 PM

    The other day one of my clients brought a couple of his interesting mic pres that he has collected (after being a successful session musician for years) to my studio, Mikerophonics in Twickenham for a little listen. I was very keen to hear how some esoteric mic press would sound up against my Focusrite ISA One.
    For those of you who are not in the know, recordings in my studio booth are principally spoken voice, commentary and voiceover for post production. My booth sees lots of regular action and has in the last year recorded luminaries such as Brian Blessed, Juliet Stevenson, Steven Macintosh and most of the regulars on the London promo circuit and continuity scene (oh I love those BBC Radio 4 voices…)
    Mic Pre “Shoot Out” at Mikerophonics: The Usual Mikerophonics Vocal Chain

    I usually use a Focusrite ISA One and an AKG 414 straight into the Avid Omni at line level.
    I use the ISA One as it is clean, has variable impedance (which I use as an EQ tilt), low noise floor and has a variable non step 20dB trim - which I ride a lot! I have always liked the sound of this little box and rate it highly. It also has a nice variable impedance DI for when my archtop takes my fancy, but that is another story.
    I use an AKG 414 as it has switchable patterns (I often switch to omni to avoid cardioid bass tip, if needed, or to get a smoother freq response). It is low noise and is less spiky than some large condensor mics - especially with “the ladies”.
    I tend to record with mild eq and compression - as I know what I am trying to achieve and the more I can get right the way in - the less I have to do later. 25 years of experience tells me not to go too far!
    My plug-in chain is typically the following (as DSP plugs on my HDX 11.1.3)

    • Avid TIME ADJUSTER (digital gain if needed)
    • Sonnox SUPRESSOR (the new HDX version) - to de-ess
    • Sonnox EQ
    • Sonnox DYNAMICS
    • Sonnox INFLATOR (if needed)

    Mic Pre “Shoot Out” at Mikerophonics: The Test

    For the test we recorded my client Jonathan (thank you!) reading Rich Tozzoli’s book “Pro Tools Surround Sound Mixing” (what else?) into the AKG 414.
    We recorded using the following mics pres:
    Focusrite ISA One

    From the legendary Focusrite ISA desks - say no more!
    DAV Electronics Broadhurst Gardens BG1

    This is a well renowned mic pre I noticed used at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios (on a recent trip) and is also enjoyed by David Gilmour (not that I am unduly influenced by fine British Guitarists?) as well as Townhouse and Metropolis Studios. It is built in Twickenham (coincidentally) by an ex-Decca studios engineer to sound big and quiet, so its pedigree is assured.
    Chandler Limited LTD1

    This should need no intro to preamp fans - a Neve 1073 style hand wired preamp and EQ. N.B. The EQ was in bypass for the recording to make it a fair comparison.
    Mic Pre “Shoot Out” at Mikerophonics: The Recordings

    Each recording was recorded into Pro Tools 11 with Nugen Audio’s VisLM to a similar level, and all my usual plugs were in bypass. After recording, each clip was “mastered” to be exactly the same loudness by Nugen Audio’s LM Correct audiosuite plug-in. No other processing/editing was done at all.
    When using the Chandler I mistakenly thought the freely rotating knob was a trim (rather than output gain) so accidentally recorded with too much input gain and too little output gain - so a “hot” input gain with saturated transformers was recorded as well as a more normal version.

    Mic Pre “Shoot Out” at Mikerophonics: The Results

    This is not science and this is not a “golden ears test”, but a bit of fun and the chance for some of you to hear what spending more than the average amount on a mic pre for a boutique studio might do (or not). Spoken voice is very hard to record well and is very revealing.
    Please vote for your favourite recording in this poll.
    Which Recording Do You Prefer?
    Please also leave a comment to suggest which recording you think is which and what you think of the differences.
    Happy listening and have fun!

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  2. #2
    theBadger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    I am
    Audio engineer
    I am

    Skill level
    Interesting though this blind test might be...

    I would like to ask Mike Alton which sound he prefers...

    Someone reading a dull book into a moderately expensive preamp...


    An attractive lady vocalising her orgasm enthusiastically and directly into his left ear.

    Pre-amps are all well and good... but it's content that is important, surely?

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