Shure Sm7b - Pre-Amp - Line 6 UX8

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Member Since: May 06, 2007

Ok guys,

I have started to get a lot more higher end gear in my studio recently. My goal is to start recording a lot more local bands for a small price because I know how hard it is to get the $$$ for a commercial studio; Especially around my area. But I want my recordings to sound a bit better then the recent ones have. I know a lot of that is in the mixing abilities and what not, but I am looking into what I can get gear wise to make a difference as well.

So, I recently got a Line 6 UX8 recording interface (upgraded from the UX2) and I love it. I also added an ART 6 channel headphone amp for my rack, and I have been looking to upgrade my main vocal mic. I currently use the MXL v63M condenser, but was finding more and more research pointing me to the Shure Sm7b mic; especially with a lot of the bands I will be working with are metal/hard rock. I also hear its a great mic for recording a guitar cab over the sm57 (witch I also have). And I also have the option of the Line 6 amp simulation with all the plugins and amp packs unlocked with the UX8.

I have been told however that the SM7b has a very low output and an external pre-amp maybe something I need to look into. I have amp simulation of all sorts including pre amps on my Line 6 gearbox/pod farm but even the Line 6 tech support told me I may still want to invest in an external real pre amp to track with since the UX8 doesn't have 'real' pre-amps in it.

I bought a couple of books in recent years including home recording for dummies, and I pulled it off the shelf to try and understand the external pre amp choices and what not. To be honest, I am not sure what to get. It talks about tube amps, solid state, and hybrid. I will be wanting one for the SM7b and also for my MXL V63M for when recording acoustic guitar projects (now that I know a pre amp is pretty important).

I just bought an Alesis DM10 pro kit for $1300.00 and spent over $500 on a rack for my gear, headphone amp, ect. Tossing in another $350 for the mic is a gamble until I know for sure I got these other bands coming in to record, and adding another couple hundred for a pre amp is even more of a gamble since I am pretty close to getting outta debt... and as you can see, can easily fall back into it. lol

I was poking around Musician's Friend (I have their card and can do financing through them) and I stumbled upon a cheap tube pre amp for $30.00 and then a couple of rack mountable ones for about $200.00. So here is my concerns:

With the Shure SM7b and using it for main vocals and possibly replacing the sm57 and using it for a cab mic and wanting a decent pre for acoustic guitar recordings, would this cheap tube amp get me by until I can get a more 'pro' type rack mountable one? Here are the two I have seen that I can pull in my price range:

Cheaper one:

Higher priced rack mountable one:

I know somewhat of what these pre-amps do. I am assuming you plug the mic into them to get a higher output and more warmth or color to the mics signal. So I would go from the Mic to the pre amp, then from the pre amp into the Line 6 UX8? And how should I watch for levels as far as them not getting to hot?

Any help understanding this pre amp thing would be great. I know very little about them except the ones that come in the Line 6 amp simulation can do some decent wonders. But I have been recording projects for 3 years now without a 'real' pre amp.

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Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Feb 20, 2010 05:25 pm

1) don't buy a tube preamp under 500$. your UX8 will probably sound better.

2) I would believe the preamps in the UX8 are plenty fine enough for what you're doing.

3) many people recommend the sm7b.

4) you would have to use the ux8 for whatever you do, as it converts the analog to digital for you. the question is, will it also do the preamp duties.

you're in the right ball park for preamps. MIC signal is low, think around .1 volt. That's 1/10 of a volt AC. Preamps are made to boost up the level of this signal to around 1 volt, or LINE level. The snag comes in here because if you have a noisy preamp, then you'll amplify the noise too, so having a quiet one is paramount.

I know very little about them except the ones that come in the Line 6 amp simulation can do some decent wonders

This is actually done AFTER the preamp, and AFTER the AD conversion. The AD conversion is Analog->Digital. This is usually the meat & potatoes of a soundcard. Converting from A->D, then from D->A again so you can hear it.

The UX8 adds modeling after the preamp does it's thing, on LINE level signal. So the preamps are still a analog type circuit, using ICs, transistors, etc for it's boosting.

So to look at the big picture:

MIC (MIC level signal) -> PREAMP (boost up to line level) -> AD Converters (built into the hardware interface) -> PC Software -> DA Converters -> Output system (usually just outputs).

Some of these operations can be performed inside the same device, sometimes they are not.

If you were really bustin to get a mic / preamp, I'd say get the sm7b first, and try it out. If you find a need for more signal from the UX8 preamps, then look for a preamp to fit the need. In this case, the preamp output would be putting out LINE level signal, which you would plug into one of your LINE IN inputs on the UX8.

Since: May 06, 2007

Feb 20, 2010 05:36 pm

Awesome. Thanks PJK. Once again, this is starting to make some since.

A friend of mine that owns a local radio station has the SM7b, and he of course uses it for his on air DJing. I notice with his setup, he records tracks for his commercials, but then uses Sony Sound Forge to normalize the tracks. I have been told that isn't the best way to go about things when recording music tracks, so I am trying to avoid it.

I have had great success getting good levels with the UX8 on my MXL V63M condeser. I can turn the input knob slightly past half way on the UX8 and get great signal, sometimes a clipping signal and have to turn it down a little.

On musicians friend, the specs listed for the MXL mic is:
30Hz-20kHz frequency response
Cardioid pickup pattern
Sensitivity: 15mV/Pa
Output impedance: 200 ohms
Max SPL: 130dB
S/N ratio: 80dB (Ref. 1 Pa, A weighted)
Power requirement: 48V phantom power

Idk what the SM7b is for sure.

If I do indeed need a pre amp, what would you recommend that is in the $200 to $300 price range if one even exists?

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Feb 20, 2010 06:21 pm

I do not know. I'm using my mixer preamps, which do a pretty good job for me, as i'm a hobbyist.

Truthfully, I'd call my guy at sweetwater and get his opinion =).

Hopefully more helpful chaps can chip in and add some insight.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Feb 20, 2010 10:11 pm

ive never tried my 7b thru an interface, but i still have to give my pre a fair crank with it.

If you get a good pre with a compressor then you can get it sorted a hell of alot more vol wise and for smooothness using it.

definately dont buy any cheap pre's, like pjk said the ones in youre line 6 would be better more than likely.

gotta chuck a bit of money at a good pre to be worth it.
something that will colour the signal a bit give it some depth and whatnot.

Since: May 06, 2007

Feb 20, 2010 11:26 pm

Thanks Deon. The only issue is, I am really low on cash right now after buying an Alesis DM10 Pro Kit and the mic will set me back another $350. So I think buying a 'good' pre isn't going to happen right now. Thanks for the tips though.

I think I'll order the mic and try it out with the UX8 by itself, and if it doesn't pan out, I'll just send it back until I get money for a good pre.

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Feb 22, 2010 01:04 pm

Ditto on the cheap pre-amp, the UX8 will sound better. Now if later on down the road you wanna pick up a nicer single channel pre you would then simply route that to the line in instead of the xlr input on your UX8. The UX8 has the same converters as some apogee interfaces and are supposed to be pretty nice. Running a nice pre through a nice converter would be ideal :)

Still, the pre's in the UX8 are not bad at all and higher quality than the UX2. I heard one person comment that it was like "taking a blanket of the speakers" after he upgraded. Sooo.... the SM7b and UX8 is going to sound nice, maybe not as nice as it would with a $600 single channel pre but... that's to be expected.

Lemme know if you got any UX8 questions. It's pretty straight forward and easy to use imo but I've been running it for years now and might be able to answer any odd questions you may have.

SM7b the Chuck Noris of Mic's
Since: Jun 20, 2002

Feb 22, 2010 07:52 pm

for single channel pres , in a decent price range, the M-audio DMP 3 is cheap and sound clean for the price, Grace Design m101, and True System P-Solo are about the same price (500.00) and sound great , they are very clean lots of head room and low noise when tcranked. I hate to disagree with Deon, if you're going to get a new pre-amp and can only get one good one , getting a un-colored transparent pre will work better than a colored one , JMO. That said the UX8 will do fine until you can shell out the green ,it's a good peice of gear.

Since: May 06, 2007

Feb 22, 2010 08:29 pm

Awesome replies guys. Thanks for the input. I'm going to be ordering the mic here in a few weeks if all goes well. I just got my DM10 pro kit from Alesis today and I am trying to get all the ins and outs on that figured out.

But I'll be looking into all these options when I get the mic in. I'm also trying to get material to kill some verbs in my room and what not, and when working a crappy fast food job when owning your own house, money comes slow haha.

Thanks again guys. I'll be back with more when I get the mic in.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Feb 22, 2010 08:51 pm

working a crappy fast food job when owning your own house

Ouch, add to this a Gear Lust, and you've got a sorry combination =).

Just kidding ya, heck, you're doing better than me for getting new stuff. I just got the SSD drums and AMP2Live, and that's it for me for awhile => 35$ and my year is spent =D

Don't over look packing blankets. I've used them often and they work great. Pretty dense, and easy to work with. My bud works for a furniture place, so 5 or 6 'somehow' didn't make it back to the shop after he stopped at my house =).

I hang a few in front of singers, with mic in between, maybe an angle or two. Or put them on walls across from guitar players (acoustic). Does nice, I think (for on the cheap, very nice).

Since: May 06, 2007

Feb 23, 2010 04:21 pm

Thanks PJK. I was exploring some options for sure. I never thought of those blankets. I'll have to look and see if I still have mine laying around from the move a year and a half ago.

I shouldn't be buying all this gear, but I figure, what the hell. If the US economy crashes, I won't have to worry about being in debt anymore anyways haha.

I can take a risk once and while. I went a good 2 years without going on a spending frenzy. The SM7b will be my last hit for a while until I see if I can get bands in here to help pay for things.

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