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    Valve/tube mic preamps?


    I've been considering a valve/tube mic preamp for home recording of voice, musical instruments and foley, to experiment with that special analogue valve sound.

    Does anybody here have any experience with them, and any recommendations about which to get and how best to use it? I'm thinking eBay might be a good source for these things.

    I'm thinking that maybe the really old ones might have too much self-noise in the signal, or themselves be too noisy to record really quiet sounds at home unless I got a long cable and put it outside the room? I just don't know.

    I'd really appreciate some of your collective wisdom on this. Thank you. smile

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    How much money are you willing to spend and what mic(s) do you already have?

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    70 sounds
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    m_O_m
    How much money are you willing to spend and what mic(s) do you already have?

    I'm willing to spend a few hundred, maybe up to £500 max, and I've got some small diaphragm Audio Technica mics:
    AT8010
    ATM10a
    AT8033
    AT899 lavalier

    And some large ones on the way
    AT4033cl
    AT4050

    And also on the way
    Studio Projects C4 matched stereo pair

    I thought the valve preamp might be most effective with the large diaphragm mics?

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    Sorry it took me so long to answer
    First of all I am no expert in questions regarding preamps happy But I think a tube preamp is somewhat that doesn't really makes sense when you want to record foley, since you don't want that dull sound you'll get with a tube preamp. Most people I know that bought external preamps don't really make use of them, because they had too much expectations on it.
    My advice would be that you spend your money on room acoustics, they actually make your signal sound better than any preamp in a bad sounding surrounding will ever be able to. An external preamp is something you should think of when everything else (room, mic, interface) already sounds really good. Also 500 bucks ain't much money for an external preamp unit. As I already said, I'm not an expert, but I think a low cost preamp won't make your recordings sound better but worse happy.

    P.S.: I read that you own a M-Audio 410 interface, maybe you should also consider to spend the money on a better inerface than on the preamp.

  • avatar
    70 sounds
    134 posts


    m_O_m
    Sorry it took me so long to answer
    First of all I am no expert in questions regarding preamps happy But I think a tube preamp is somewhat that doesn't really makes sense when you want to record foley, since you don't want that dull sound you'll get with a tube preamp. Most people I know that bought external preamps don't really make use of them, because they had too much expectations on it.

    I wasn't thinking of using it for foley, I'm sorry I should have made that clear. I agree that foley would be a nonsensical reason to get a valve preamp.

    No, I was thinking of voice work and musical instruments, which is what I understand tend to be coloured most agreeably by the valve sound.

    I also agree that a certain type of thinking is likely to lead to an equipment purchase when the same result could be achieved with the appropriate recording techniques.

    m_O_m
    My advice would be that you spend your money on room acoustics, they actually make your signal sound better than any preamp in a bad sounding surrounding will ever be able to. An external preamp is something you should think of when everything else (room, mic, interface) already sounds really good. Also 500 bucks ain't much money for an external preamp unit. As I already said, I'm not an expert, but I think a low cost preamp won't make your recordings sound better but worse happy.

    P.S.: I read that you own a M-Audio 410 interface, maybe you should also consider to spend the money on a better inerface than on the preamp.

    Heh, I've only used the interface once since I got my Zoom H4n, and that was to record that 'saddest violin' thing. If I start needing a direct interface again I'll definitely prioritise that over other stuff.

    And I agree, acoustic room treatments would be great! Except that I manage to grab most of my foley in random suitable environments as the opportunity arises. For example I just uploaded a recording of bare feet walking on a wet tiled bathroom floor in response to a request. I got that one in a huge hotel bathroom and it sounds much better than my similar efforts at home in my bathroom. So at the moment better room acoustics would probably help only about a quarter or fewer of the recordings I make.

    Right, ok, so after your advice and some further research, I agree that a valve preamp is unlikely to add anything significantly yummy to my recordings, and is an extra I really don't need and probably don't even want.

    That was good advice, thank you. smile

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    55 sounds
    127 posts


    I'm coming in late and only going to talk Rode Mikes..... But the advice I recieved from the retailers when I was shopping around for a large diaphram mike for voice work was; if you are on a budget, the NT1-A is a better choice than the cheaper tube mikes. However, if you are not on a budget, then the Classsic II and K2 are very good tube mikes.

    If you are after the 'warmth' of a tube mike for voice work then there are software options such as VintageWarmer.

    And for all forms of sound work, all types of mikes (including tube mikes) have their place - including foley.

    For room treatment, there are cheaper and very effective options other then a full room treatment. For foley, late night in the garage with a few cheaper bed quilts/doonas/blankets hanging about does a great job.

    Cheers

    David

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