Running through the Pre-Amps and Microphones

Comparing Preamps and Microphones… again

Hey folks, here we are again.  A lot of words about, well, sound.  Recently I acquired some new gear and finally got everything up and running.  Among them was the Audient ASP880, a 1U device providing 8 lovely pre-amps, and a nice converter to boot.

The thing is, with new gear, you’ve gotta try it out next to your other gear.  This is how you learn the differences; this is how you come to understand your device.  Which pieces of metal contribute what to my sounds.

Of course, I would have done more of this in the past, but well, I didn’t exactly have a lot of things to compare too.  I mean, i’d still do it, but it’s a lot more interesting now adays.

The Setup

What will we be comparing against you might ask?  Well, the UAD Apollo, and some of the Apollo’s pre-amp softwares.  Actually, you might remember (or might not), that I actually compared various apollo pre-amps on sounds.  This will be a little more exciting to rope it in with the other hardware.  And the apollo’s plugins are able to electronically change the impedance, that’s hardware enough right?

Okay, and how about, just to really make things fun – we’ll jack in a legit tube pre-amp.  The great Cody Copeland left one  in my studio.  Might as well try this puppy out.

What’s the list now?

  • Audient ASP at Low, Medium, and High impedance settings (i’ll get to why in a second)
  • Apollo – Dry
  • Apollo – Neve 1073 (this support multiple impedance settings, but I just used low)
  • ART Tube MP Studio  (this is the hardware unit

Easy peasy.  But, to make things more fun, I figure if I try some different microphones out – I’ll learn about the microphones too.  That is, I can compare all kinds of shit.

Microphone list:

To be fair, the SM57 and the SP9 I already knew nothing special was going to come out of them, so I just tried them on one pre-amp.  It’s nice to say hi to them again, as it’s been a while since I’ve heard them.  Anyhow, just a refresher for these two.  Really I want to get to know the NT5, my new small mic from a pair I got to record Cody.  And I want to see how it stacks up to my tried and true GrooveTube.

Okay, summing t up, I’m gonna make like, 15 recordings or something.  Well, I did make like, 15 recordings.  Or something.

Okay, because I’m lazy – here’s the naming convention.

  • AP – Apollo
    • C – clean
    • Nv – Neve
  • Aud – Audient
    • L,M,H – Low, Medium, and High impedance setting
  • Tub – Tube PreAmp
  • SmlCnd – NT5
  • Cond – GT57
  • Nady – only on the Apollo Neve
  • SM57 – only on the Apollo Neve

And that’s it – you can put the file names together and know what you’re listening to.  Easy right?

Okay, what else to say?  Ah, this is Marlena, and boy are you in for a treat.  After we recorded this we jammed on Lucy in the Sky with diamonds.  Heh, maybe one of these days we’ll do a track together.

Alright folks, I’m gonna listen to each one, and get back to you with my thoughts.


Starting with all the pre-amps just on the GT57.  Basically, what do I feel the pre-amp is doing to the sound here:

  • The Tube Pre-Amp has a little something extra.  Especially when I stack it up against the Neve, the Neve doesn’t quite have something.
  • But the Neve seems to capture a little more air/crispy.
  • For the ASP, the med impedance setting seemed to do best overall with the GT57.  It was this setting where I felt the sound was the most balance, and had an appropriate fullness.
  • Compared to the Tube, the warmth is somewhat different.  It’s hard to put my finger on it.
  • I might like the tube the most.
  • The Nady sounds terrible, like she’s singing in a box.
  • The SM57 sounds better than I thought it would.  It’s a big extra honest.  Kinda interesting character.

Okay – and side note – this impedance thing.  I just learned about it, although I should have guess.  Basically, different impedances will have different frequency response characteristics from microphones.  Duh.  Guess I could never change impedance before, so makes sense enough 😉

Okay, now the NT5 comparisons:

  • Well, I fucked something up – and I don’t have the apollo recordings.  S’ok.
  • This mic sounds surprisingly good on her.  It’s got a very different character though.  A little less, hrm, in your face.  Pretty balanced
  • Boy does the L impedance setting sound different.
  • I actually like the ASP880 over the Tube mic in this case.  Different warmths, but the ASP wins for the vocal with this mic.

And that’s that, actually.  Oh, and there’s two I forgot to mention.  In short – I asked myself the question – does it matter if the vocal booth has a back (behind the singer) or not.  Let’s listen, and find out.

To my untrained ear, yes – I get a cleaner recording when I put a back on the booth.  The more you know.

And well folks, that’s that.  Not sure what I did with those apollo recordings, but no matter – we got a chance to see things in action.

And that’s that – see you folks next time – hopefully with some updates about Cody’s upcoming EP.