"quality affordable" tube preamp?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by markhan, Aug 31, 2005.


  1. markhan

    markhan Member

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    Recognizing that words like quality and affordable are subjective, what do you recommend for an affordable tube preamp? My guidelines:
    1) My number one priority for this pre is recording vocals. Other uses are a bonus.
    2) I'm sure I'll find times when I want 2 tube pres, so dual units are fair game. The assumption is you get more for your money since you're only paying for one chassis and power supply.
    3) I'm going to want a compressor, so pre/compressor combos will also be considered.
    4) Sure money is an issue, but I would rather buy something good that I'm going to keep rather than spend half as much on something that I'm not going to be happy with. Consider a used Avalon VT737 at $1500 as max I would pay for a pre/compressor combo, less for a pre only.

    A friend of mine is big on the Hamptone dual tube pre, so comments on this are welcome.

    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  2. Antero

    Antero Member

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    The Hamptone gets major props, from the folks I've talked to...

    Here's a question - why tube? Are you looking to add another sonic flavor to your ranks, or is the word "tube" just too sexy for words? There are a lot of damn good SS mic pres - indeed, it's one of the realms where tube and SS are a matter of taste, not raw quality.

    For a compressor, something easy would be to get a FMR Audio RNC 1773. Cheap, transparent, quality.
     
  3. covert

    covert Member

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    The new Electro Harmonix stomp box sized units has had some seriously good commentary.
     
  4. E-Rock

    E-Rock Member

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    Antero brings up a good point. Some of the best pre's that we consider "big", "fat", "warm", are actually class A solid state.
    Just something to consider.
    If you can, find a local pro-audio dealer (not GC) that will let you try out some pre's at your studio. Then you can taste all the flavors.... :)
     
  5. tubes4tone

    tubes4tone Supporting Member

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    I'd recommend checking out the Sebatron tube preamps (http://www.sebatron.com). I have the 4-channel version and I love the flexibility of the bright/air and deep/lo-cut switches! One cool thing you can do with the Sebatron is chain multiple channels together (line out of 1 into the LINE in, not MIC in, of 2nd) to overdrive the tube. I found good pricing from www.proaudiotoys.com; be sure to check out their "specials" page for discounts on Sebatron gear. I have absolutely NO affiliation with them, other than that's where I bought mine :). Overall, it's a great preamp to have in the arsenal.

    I would also second the RNC recommendation (which I also have). It's a great compressor at a great price. The major drawback is the unbalanced operation, but I got over it pretty quickly. Just make up the proper cables and move forward.
     
  6. stratofied

    stratofied Member

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    If you want tube, check out the Manley Dual Mono. Great on Vocal, Overheads, Acoustic instruments or just about anything really.
     
  7. NuSkoolTone

    NuSkoolTone Member

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    Groove tubes "The brick" preamp has been getting a lot of good press lately, and I think it's under $400. Male vocals is supposed to be a strongpoint for the unit.

    I would check it out.
     
  8. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    Tab Funkenwerk V78

    A Designs MP1
     
  9. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    Maybe a used UA 2-610.

    One or two Summit 2ba-221.

    An Aphex 207d. Good bang for the buck with a decent converter included.

    Transformers do more for getting a fat sound then tubes. Old reel to reel preamps are great for this too. I had some SS Telex preamps that just sounded sick. Really warm and silky. I wish I still had them.
     
  10. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Not tube, but I would still recommend RNC RNP.............
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If you base your budget on Avalon, why not get Avalon?
     
  12. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    +1.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    ... yeah, that too.
     
  14. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    Because they're sexy.:D
     
  15. skrzyp

    skrzyp Supporting Member

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    Presonus TubePRE is a reasonably priced preamp with a single
    12ax7 tube that can br replaced to vary the tonality. Single
    channel with inputs for a mic. or a std. 1/4" instrument cable.
     
  16. markhan

    markhan Member

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    Ack! Seems like the more questions I ask, the less I know...

    I'm running ProTools on a Digirack 002. Long term, I will probably want several pres, some for clear uncolored recording of acoustic instruments, and one or more for vocals, possibly adding some color. Eventually I will probably add an interface like the Presonus Octopre to allow live recording of a full band. The octopre will at least allow solid state alternativs to the Digi pres. I've used an Avalon 737 in a studio where I took a class, and pretty much all of us thought it sounded good for vocals. So this give me a reference for comparison. Beides, tubes are sexy, and help keep my studio warm in the winter.

    Mark
     
  17. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    You don't need a whol sh*tload of different preamps to get up and running. Get the Octopre now, if you think you'll need 8 channels, get the Avalon if you want one super channel strip for vox, and put the rest of the money toward a small spectrum of the best mics you can afford.

    Don't buy into the hype about preamps. Preamps have become a big profit center in the semipro market because decent ones are cheaper to make than great mics or really good compressors, so the ads have got newcomers convinced that they need a different mic pre for every instrument. It's not the best way to spend your money, IMO. I'd much rather have just two types of great pres, a closet full of mics and a rack of compressors. And hookers. Lots of expensive gorgeous hookers serving me lemon custard and grape Jell-o whenever I snap my fingers.
     

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