Preamps vs Mixers - the dilema.

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Contributor Since: Dec 30, 2002

Hey guys - just thought I would throw this one at you.

I am currently in the process of overhauling my home studio to "bring it up to scratch" as it were. My new tannoy reveal's are awesome and the next logical step is to increase my tracking capabilities.

Originally I was considering the purchase of a Soundcraft Spirit M8 desk. This offers 8 mono channels with direct outs which I would have fed into my soundcard when recording.

However, now I am questioning the need for such a mixer, and I'm begining to wonder if I should simply invest in a dedicated tube preamp instead (in the 300-400 range) - I have considered the TL Audio 5051, Focusrite Trackmaster / Penta and also the SPL GoldMic. The idea being that I would send the signal from this preamp straight into my soundcard and then monitor through a cheap little Behringer (eg: mx602a) for signal level and talkback facilities.

I'm still mulling this whole idea over of wether it would be better to get a single, dedicated channel, or a mixer which contains 8. Bear in mind that I rarley record 1 signal at once, and I have a Joe Meek VC3Q avalible for when I do.


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Since: Jul 02, 2003

Aug 29, 2003 01:02 am

I think it boils down to how many inputs/outputs your going to need at one time vs how often your going to record a single signal source that would benefit from a pre-amp.

My opinion based on what I've heard from the ton's of indie/home done stuff I've been listening to since I got back into this, and checked out the equipment they've used, is that a quality pre-amp while nice to have isn't a neccessity nor a guarantee that the final result will be any better, and the money would be better spent getting a really nice mixer that can serve you in more versatile ways. Now if money is no object and you can afford several pre's and a nice mixer then all the better :)


Bane of All Existence
Since: Mar 27, 2003

Aug 29, 2003 01:25 am

i think moving from a setup with a mixer to one with standalone preamps would give you an enormous amount of options.

a.k.a. Porp & Mr. Muffins
Since: Oct 09, 2002

Aug 29, 2003 05:29 pm

Perhaps you could use two of the inputs on your interface for the mixer's main outputs. Then get preamps for the rest of the inputs. That would allow you to mix down more than 8 channels (or however many your interface will have) just in case you ever have to. Plus it would give your mixer more of a purpose other than just monitor routing, which would probably be more easily done with a headphone amp or something.

That's just an idea-- That's what I'm planning on doing with my Delta 44, just on a smaller scale (2 channels for outboard pre-amps and 2 taken care of by the mixer).

Wow, designing a new studio set up is going to be loads of fun for you, Jues :)

Since: Dec 30, 2002

Aug 29, 2003 09:53 pm

You think? :D

Porp, I think you maybe miss the point of why I am getting a seperate preamp (which I bought today :). Cheap preamps, such as those found in nearly every sub 300 console (I want a Neve desk!!) are to be avoided. When you purchase a 200+ preamp you want to keep the signal chain as short as possible:

Mic -> Preamp -> Recording Medium (PC)

Adding anything else to the chain would degrade the signal and thus defeat the object of purchasing such an expensive preamp.

Im the end I opted for a Focusrite VoiceMaster Platinum;context=WEB. It was not my first choice in the hunt for a preamp, but I saw one reduced to 180 in a B-Stock clearance down from 395 so I thought f... well, you know what I thought :)

This preamp, combined with my Joe Meek M3Q will allow me to track 2 signals at once into my PC which is the most I will ever want to do here at my home studio (We do drums at my friends house using a Roland VS880-EX Multitrack - his livingroom is covered in heavy wood and so the kit sounds amazing there - we just have to do it when his parents are out :D)

I will then send the outputs of my Delta 410 into a small behringer / soundcraft mixer (eBay away!) along with the aux outputs from the 2 preamps (preamps let you have 2 "copies" of the signal for instant, latency free monitoring). This will let me monitor from my Tannoy Reveals and also set up a headphone mix for the performer (cos I can't play for dickens :)

Right, now I just need to get hold of a Rode NT-K / Baby Blue Bottle and I will be away :D


a.k.a. Porp & Mr. Muffins
Since: Oct 09, 2002

Aug 29, 2003 09:59 pm

Well, I didn't mean that you would have the Focusrite hooked to the mixer, I just meant that you could also have the mixer hooked up to 2 of your interface's channels (If you had enough channels). But apparently that won't be necessary since you don't record a lot of tracks at once. And I wasn't sure if you were thinking about getting a new mixer as well.

...And I wish I had that Foucusrite...

Since: Dec 30, 2002

Aug 29, 2003 10:07 pm

Ahh I see what you mean :) Yes, If I needed an extra 4 pres I could always use the ones from the small mixer (2 from LR main out and 2 from the AUX sends (both set to pre-fader).

Porp, you live in the UK right or are you US? Well eitherway, heads up..

There's 2 left as I type, if you get in there now....


...bringing sexy back
Since: Jul 01, 2002

Aug 31, 2003 07:26 am

i dont really have much to say on this subject, except that the 602 behringers are class!

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