We’ve been discussing this preamp thing fairly aggressively on the recording forum, so I have new little treat for RecordingReview.com forum members. (If you are not a member, join here).
We’ve been discussing the subject of recording heavy guitars. I completely moved my control room around so I figured I’d give the new monitor location a test run by doing a short and sweet shootout between the Vintech 1272 and the Presonus M80 preamps.
Vintech 1272 – $1000 used* – 2 Channels.
Presonus M80 – $1000 used* – 8 Channels
* This is the price I paid.
Jackson Kelly USA Marty Friedman Signature Series with EMG 81 pickup.
Peavey 5150 through TDH Hotplate
Old floor monitor wedge I blew up years ago now loaded with a Celestian G12H30. No grill!
Royer R121 Ribbon microphone placed dead center on the cone about 6” back.
I threw together the most intricate drum beat in the universe within Cubase using DFH Superior. Then, I played 2 tracks with the Neve and then 2 track with the Presonus. The 2 tracks for each respective preamp are panned hard left and hard right. (This is known as doubled guitars for all you newbies).
On my studio monitors, I decided to add .4dB of high shelf EQ to one of the preamps to help “even out” the tone. On my computer speakers, I can’t hear this. On my studio monitors, it was super obvious that I added the EQ. Don’t ask me!
So, there are 3 wav files:
Vintech 1272 wav file
Presonus M80 wav file
Preamp with 0.4 dB high shelf boost @ 2Khz
Why Would I Ruin The Science?
Why would I throw out any form of objectivity in my little test by tossing EQ on one of the files. Because this is NOT science. Everything effects everything. If the tone sounded dull, you would probably boost the high end or cut the dull stuff. While I always try to avoid EQ like the plague while tracking, I still end up using it during a mix all the time, regardless of how fancy my preamps are. If I was going to use certain preamp and I thought the tone needed a 1dB boost, I’d give it a 1dB boost. It’s as simple as that. For all I know, the tone would be better to use the duller preamp and EQ than to use the preamp that wasn’t dull. Maybe not!
No Bass Guitar / Samples
I considered putting bass on the tracks for the shootout, but I decided that I wanted to highlight the character of the guitars.
No High Pass Filter
On both my Mackie HR 824s and my computer speakers, one preamp had noticeably more low end meat in the palm mutes. I don’t consider this a good thing, though. One preamp would need little or no treatment in the low end. The othe preamp would definitely need a little bit of low end control to fit in most mixes. I’d start with a high pass filter @ 80Hz but maybe go as high as 100Hz. There are other tricks I may use to keep the palm muting under control.
New Studio Monitor Positioning
This is a whole other audio recording blog, but I didn’t realize just how aggressive the tone I was using was. I moved my studio monitors around. While it’s always tough to guess what I would do with bass and such in the mix, as it stands right now, I probably would have went for a “less brittle” or “smoother” tone. This is a good problem to have right now since I’m used to not hearing the low mid right. Now it looks like I’m hearing PLENTY. Great! I’m not getting too excited yet. I’ll have to do a real mix first.
The Royer Has NEVER Sounded Like That
My Royer R121 is a ribbon mic. It is usually very dark and smooth. I’ve tried to make tracks too bitey on purpose and the Royer has a way of ignoring all of that. However, these are the first tracks with the Royer that may be a tad too bitey. Again, maybe a bass guitar would have balanced it out, but this is a tone I would expect more with a SM 57. Now that I think about it, I did back off the cabinet by about 6”. This may have caused the low end to drop considerably. The R121 is a Figure 8 microphone and therefore has an extremely proximity effect.