Are PreAmps a marketing myth?

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Guitar preamps are NOT designed to maintain sonic integrity - they are deliberately designed to create a new one. They also don't have to bring such tiny signals up to the level mic preamps do.
 

LazerBeakShiek

Active member
As expected preamp cascading does not do anything. If I split the gain between 2 channels with the same combined output level, it is the same. The levels once recorded can be adjusted in the DAW.

So it is like...just don't clip.

Cascading Mic preamps seems to be a goofy idea.

The gain does NOT stack in a useable way. It only gets to clipping. Gain from either channel is the same. They don't react against each other. There is no tape media to saturate into compression. Probably just fake it with light 2-3:1 compression..
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
Yes, Folkcafe, I was referring to electric guitar players. I would say it was extremely rare for someone to actually record a guitar straight into an interface and leaves it that way. A strat or LP really doesn't sound all that great unaltered. Our perception of electric guitars is through an amp, and these days, it's supposed to be cranked and pedaled.

Most acoustic players I know are just trying to amplify their natural guitar sound. (It's been years since I've heard any Michael Hedges, since his Windham Hill days. I think I might have a couple of his CDs downstairs in the pile. I know I have some George Winstons) I don't think I knew what he was using back then.

Acoustic folks are doing (for the most part) what I stated above "If you are trying to get a high fidelity representation of a performance, or even get a realistic rendering of instruments or voices, then I would rather start with as genuine a facsimile as I can get." Clearly, if you are trying to do a performance for 2-3000 people at once, you need to amplify the signal.

A Pendulum unit would easily fit in that vein. Pendulum states that their goal is to get "a high level of sonic accuracy" in their products, not to make them colorful.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
What! A Stratocaster would sound fantastic plugged into a wooden table.
I tried, plugged my Strat into the kitchen table. Thought it might sound woody. Sounded weak and wimpy. While I was there, I tried the microwave, thinking it might warm things up. Nope. The fridge just left me cold. I'll stick with my Princeton clone, or one of my other amps for now.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
Yes, Folkcafe, I was referring to electric guitar players. I would say it was extremely rare for someone to actually record a guitar straight into an interface and leaves it that way. A strat or LP really doesn't sound all that great unaltered. Our perception of electric guitars is through an amp, and these days, it's supposed to be cranked and pedaled.

Most acoustic players I know are just trying to amplify their natural guitar sound. (It's been years since I've heard any Michael Hedges, since his Windham Hill days. I think I might have a couple of his CDs downstairs in the pile. I know I have some George Winstons) I don't think I knew what he was using back then.

Acoustic folks are doing (for the most part) what I stated above "If you are trying to get a high fidelity representation of a performance, or even get a realistic rendering of instruments or voices, then I would rather start with as genuine a facsimile as I can get." Clearly, if you are trying to do a performance for 2-3000 people at once, you need to amplify the signal.

A Pendulum unit would easily fit in that vein. Pendulum states that their goal is to get "a high level of sonic accuracy" in their products, not to make them colorful.
Just joining in on what seems to be good natured fun. Interesting thread. Didn't see too much reference to how many of these pre's need to be pushed hard and that is where distortion (aka color) comes into play. Most pre's are pretty linear at least till they are not. It's a feature not a bug.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
Seeing as the discussion has delved off into linear and non linear and color, distortion or what ever else, lets look at the history of electrified music and how both guitar and mic pre's in practical use share more than given credit for in this thread.

Talisman says that electric guitars were never meant to sound like their acoustic brethren but is that really true? Amplification was simply the answer to changes happening in the music scene and venues. Early big bands had banjo's because they could carry. This is where the tenor guitar sprung from to allow banjo players to take advantage of the new amplification technology. Same happened with 6 strings as pickups were added allowing guitars to take a more forward stance in the progressing music. So for many years guitar amps were pretty linear, intending to make them sound as much like a guitar as possible given the limitations of the times. We sometimes forget the evolution of things.

So where did all this noise come from? In March of 1951 a group of musicians piled into their car with their gear tied to the top of the vehicle headed to the recording studio. On the way, the ropes became loose and the guitar amp fell and was damaged. They got to the studio to record but found their amp had a fuzzy distortion sound. With no replacement amp available, they recorded with the damaged amp. The group was Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats and their subsequent hit was Rocket 88.

Musicians and audio engineers alike have always paid attention to what works with audiences and what doesn't. One happy accident influences many others. So both guitar amps and mic pre's have their range where things are pretty linear aka boring, clean, however you wish to define it. It is only when pushed beyond linear when things start to get interesting. How many threads here follow this concept? Analog tape, pushing tape saturation. Even the new one where you push your A to D converters to the edge.

 
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LazerBeakShiek

Active member
Even the new one where you push your A to D converters to the edge.
How would I do that? Is that different from a cascade? Use a 2 channel like a cascade? Take channel 1's output from the Spidiff digital output and route that to channel 2's input? Because that is the A/D/A converter out far as I know.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
How would I do that? Is that different from a cascade? Use a 2 channel like a cascade? Take channel 1's output from the Spidiff digital output and route that to channel 2's input? Because that is the A/D/A converter out far as I know.
So this is all you got out of all that? A to D not A to D to A. Follow? Pushing your converter going to the limit. There was a post in another forum but I've been hearing about this for a bit. Where exactly is clipping going in to your computer. Is it really when your meters tell you? Push it and find out. Take a good look at the waveform. Some converters have a bit more headroom than they let on. So just like a preamp, you push it to the limit. How far? What's it sound like? What does it look like in the wave form. I do recall when my Digi clipped, it clipped. Not pleasant to listen too either. A Burl converter is going to be in a different class than a low end Focusrite. It's the same with pre's including those copies of the classics. You saturate a transformer in an old pre and you've got color. You push something like a Millenia which has headroom for days, you'll not get anything but clean gain. Hey what do I know? Many on here think there is not a bit of difference between any of them.
 

LazerBeakShiek

Active member
Huh ...should I use the Spidiff then, back into the channel 2? Push it with the spidiff.

The Spidiff is the digital out. That part has the converter?
 

Farview

www.farviewrecording.com
How would I do that? Is that different from a cascade? Use a 2 channel like a cascade? Take channel 1's output from the Spidiff digital output and route that to channel 2's input? Because that is the A/D/A converter out far as I know.
What? No, you simply push the input gain enough to push the to hit 0dbfs. There is no need to cascade anything or do anything weird, just turn up the gain too high.
 

LazerBeakShiek

Active member
'Even the new one' is: turn the gain knob till it clips at zero....Yeah that is not new, and not a technique. I was thinking it must be something else.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
'Even the new one' is: turn the gain knob till it clips at zero....Yeah that is not new, and not a technique. I was thinking it must be something else.
Context really escapes you. In a world of so many subtleties, you sure miss a lot of details in your world of binary choices. Your nonsensical commentary also makes dialog pretty much pointless. I guess you win then. What? I don't know.
 

38869420

Member
It’s all just a way to take up time. A good preamp is reliable, loads of headroom and quiet. That’s it. Sure some might sound better than others but most ‘decent’ ones will result in the same thing once all the other variables are in Place. So yeah, if you’re not running a pro studio, there’s not much reason to buy ‘pro’ gear unless gear collecting is your hobby.
 
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