Tube preamp into computer?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by punx0r 1337i57, Jul 29, 2006.


  1. punx0r 1337i57

    punx0r 1337i57 Member

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    I'm using an old (Circa '98) Apple Powerbook running Pro Tools Free for recording. I've been considering getting one of these small preamps and sticking it between my mic and the computer for vocals, amps, and drums, and between the bass and computer for direct line bass recording. I figure that this will warm up my tone, and prevent me from having to use any of the sound card's mediocre built-in amping.

    Does this sound like a good idea? Anything else I should know?
     
  2. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    They sound Ok, although the QC on them is sketchy at times. Some of them are really noisy, and the voltage is not high enough for that 12ax7 to do much. If you get a good one, they aren't bad for the money.

    Good luck - jv

    On the cheap, one of these might do the job as well:
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBuddy/
     
  3. punx0r 1337i57

    punx0r 1337i57 Member

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    That's kind of what I've heard. Obviously, I'm not looking for studio quality, I'm just trying to cut a decent demo to shop around on a minimal budget. Would it be worth the money over just using the onboard amping in the computer? (which is pretty brittle... it is a 16 bit sound card, and probably not the greatest even of those. I paid $127 for the computer 2 years ago, so I take what I get.)

    I'm sure you're right about the voltage on the tube. Would putting in a higher gain tube help?

    Oh, and one more thing, how would it work at adding a little more overdrive to a low-output single coil guitar when placed in front of the amp?
     
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    A mic preamp isn't designed to use a higher gain tube, like a guitar amp. Plate voltages are part of the design, not something you can simply change a tube and alter.

    What kind of computer AD/DA interface are you using? The mic preamps on your interface might be every bit as good as the ones you're thinking of buying. What is it about them that you don't like?

    A cheap tube preamp is usually a gimmick. A high quality tube preamp usually runs a couple of grand. Don 't buy into the hype.
     
  5. punx0r 1337i57

    punx0r 1337i57 Member

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    Ah, alright. I know you can't change voltages, but I was wondering if a higher gain tube would have more effect at a lower voltage. I guess not.

    The audio interface is just the built in one that came with the computer. I don't know the chip it uses, but it is a 16 bit system. I'm recording into Pro Tools Free just as an audio input. The trouble with it is that it just sounds very brittle and harsh. There is no low-end, and no amount of EQ can dial it in without it being badly muffled. Also, it is virtually impossible to get a good volume level without a whole lot of bad solid-state clipping. I usually record it too low, then use a gain plugin on it once recorded, but that doesn't always sound so great.

    I was worried about that. Hm.
     
  6. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Perhaps a better solution would be one the usb or firewire interfaces available for just such purposes. I use a Tascam US-122, and get good results from it. I wish I had saved for a firewire interface instead, but this one works well. Your Powerbook has no built in pre amp, and needs a line level signal to get good results. If you have a small mixer, that can also work to go into the audio in of the PB.
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    Scott, his old powerbook may not have USB or Firewire (I don't remember if there were any ports for either around the time of his machine).
     
  8. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Ahhh, I guess I didn't notice the date :( I don't know either.
     

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