Riddle me this you sound engineers

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
A top end, multi thousand dollar mic...without a top end, multi thousand dollar Neve or equivalent pre-amp...is it really worth all the extra shekels...if the pre amp is good, but not nearly as great as the mic?

Does the dollar amount spent on expensive mics and pre-amps...yield a more pleasing result than a deft engineer using "lesser" mics and pre-amps...as far as superior sonority goes?

My first thought is no way. Plus any "average" mic deficiencies...there's EQ and "air" can be added. So, are the really expensive mics, used with good but not great pre-amps...gonna deliver noticeably better...than a good but not great mic, on the same pre-amp? You see what I'm saying, right?

I have a matched pair of Neumann K-184's and one U-87. I A/B'd them on recordings I made of my Guru snares, which people buy, and my son gets it all because he did most of the work. I couldn't hear the difference and neither could he between the mics

I'm wondering if I likely wasted my money on expensive mics. They go through a Focusrite Clarett pre-amps.

Not that I'm considering expensive pre-amps, I'm not. I probably wouldn't hear the difference with these ears anyway.

Does a tin ear refer to tinnitus? Hmmmm. If so boy do I have a tin ear.


I just wanted to discuss, so a dollar for your thoughts

(inflation)
 
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cbphoto

Gold Member
I’ll wager you & I would hear a difference in a tuned mixing room with good monitors, and the drums were tracked in a good room, and the mics were placed for optimum image of the kit.

But in my cheap Bose earbuds? I doubt it.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
You should rent some studio time and have them record and mix some drum tracks. Then you can compare it to what you're doing at home.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Fair enough Chris. I'm envious I probably couldn't anymore.

If there were a full band recording, and all the mics had Y cables, one side going through Neves and the other side going through Focusrite pre-amps..with a full band would anyone be able to hear the difference A/B-ing the recording?
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You should rent some studio time and have them record and mix some drum tracks. Then you can compare it to what you're doing at home.
They would have to be the same drums in a proper studio for me to be satisfied with comparing to the same drums I'm recording in my space.

But I see what you are saying.

I wonder if anyone rents out Neve pre-amps.
 

Supergrobi

Technical Supervisor
A top end, multi thousand dollar mic...without a top end, multi thousand dollar Neve or equivalent pre-amp...is it really worth all the extra shekels...if the pre amp is good, but not nearly as great as the mic?

I'd say yes. The microphone has a bit more impact on the sound quality than the pre-amp in my opinion. The microphone transduces air pressure into electrical energy, while a pre-amp tries its best to amplify the already available oscillation as linear as can without any transformation of the type of energy. The Focusrite Clarett pre-amps are a fine piece of technology and will serve those mics really well - it's not that you're plugging those beautiful mics into the microphone jack of your notebook. So if it's like 60% the microphone and 40% the pre-amp, I'd say you're almost 80% there with this setup.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
They would have to be the same drums in a proper studio for me to be satisfied with comparing to the same drums I'm recording in my space.

But I see what you are saying.

I wonder if anyone rents out Neve pre-amps.
Take your drums.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It depends.

TOTL mics givs you more to work with, which often means more work and skills needed.

Preamps are neither here nor there. It's not just about more expensive or "better." It's a flavor. Character that you can't get in the same way by doing things later in the chain.

Do you like the sound? Does it work for you? Apart from being able to afford stuff that's all up to you and if you think it's worth it.

If I still had the income I used to have I wouldn't compromise on anything because that's what's important to me. I don't really care about other material things.

An all in one Clarett isn't a collection in Tube Techs, but compoared to what was available just a few years ago, it's pretty nice. You would have to spend a lot to get anything better. Technology has come a long way and it's made very simple and hassle free to use.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
I wonder if anyone rents out Neve pre-amps.

Need help carrying your kit?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
A snare drum is kind of a poor choice of instrument to discern the difference between mics or pres. Also, both KM184s and U87s are bright to begin with.

A Neve is a pretty dark mic pre though. You’d be able to tell the difference between that and Scarlet pretty easily. But a voice or an acoustic guitar or piano would make the difference more obvious.

That said, budget recording equipment just keeps getting better. I doubt you’d tell the difference between a $3000 U87 and a $700 clone of a U87.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Spot on Brent, on all points. I have Clarett pre-amps and I don't know if they are the same as the Scarlet pre-amps.

You're right drums are probably the worst thing to make comparisons with especially the U-87.

I use the KM184's for 2 of my 3 overheads. For the bronze and overall capture.

The U-87 I don't use for the drums.

I did an A/B with my U-87 and a Sennheiser e-609 on a guitar cab. I was a little surprised when I couldn't tell the difference so I stuck with the 609.

It's easier, no mic stand.

I'll take your word on the Neve. I've never had the pleasure. Dark pre...bright mic...on paper sounds like a balance. But I don't really know.

But yea, I probably just over bought in the mic department.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Spot on Brent, on all points. I have Clarett pre-amps and I don't know if they are the same as the Scarlet pre-amps.

You're right drums are probably the worst thing to make comparisons with especially the U-87.

I use the KM184's for 2 of my 3 overheads. For the bronze and overall capture.

The U-87 I don't use for the drums.

I did an A/B with my U-87 and a Sennheiser e-609 on a guitar cab. I was a little surprised when I couldn't tell the difference so I stuck with the 609.

It's easier, no mic stand.

I'll take your word on the Neve. I've never had the pleasure. Dark pre...bright mic...on paper sounds like a balance. But I don't really know.

But yea, I probably just over bought in the mic department.

Sorry, I meant Claret.

I’ve mixed my own drums recorded in my house with a Behringer XAir, and the same drums at a studio with legit vintage Neve pres on the kick and snare. The snare had some warmth on it, in a good way. The kick mics weren’t the same (Akg D112 and a D6) so not a fair comparison, but I wound up EQing both like I typically do. After mixing the rest of the music, I didn’t notice the effect of the mic pres.

I was pretty surprised. I mean, Behringer?! But then I read that they purchased MIDAS and likely put that type of preamp design into the XAir. I think nowadays as long as you’re getting mid-level mics and pres, you’re probably in great shape.

It’s the $100 beginner crap that’s troublesome. I mixed a friend’s band and the lead vocals were recorded on a cheap Shure Condenser into an Mbox. No matter what the vocals sounded grainy. And that’s why you spend more than $500 on a vocal mic. (Though if you have the right voice you can get lucky with an SM7B or an RE20.) The bass guitar track was awful too. The band re-tracked everything.
 

bongoman

Junior Member
A rule of thumb that has held true IME over the years is that you get 10% improvement in perceivable quality for every time you double the price. Of course it’s not hard science, there are infinite exceptions and everyone disagrees about what quality is perceived. But if you take it as stated, comparing high end equipment, their differences in quality can become vanishingly small.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
Something else to think about is the output.
If I listen to the output of my DAW on headphones from the headphone out on the computer, it's noticeably not as good quality as if I listen to the out from the interface through my headphone amp.
The headphone amp/interface output conveys a lot more air and low end rumble that I wouldn't hear from the computer output. It makes evident what I would not have known exists.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
Top end microphones are optimized in a properly treated acoustically engineered room. And even in a well designed room it comes down to mic selection, preamp selection and mic placement for your drums in your room. For the average rehearsal space or untreated home "studio" I personally don't see the benefit of purchasing high end microphones. I would put that money first and foremost into having the room professionally treated. Only then would I part with hard earned cash on the acquisition of high end microphones and preamps.
 

rocker261

Junior Member
Two opposite views on this...

1. Sound is only as good as the weakest link in the audio chain. Take a $2,000 mic and record to cassette on a boom box... you'll only get quality as good as the cassette can record.

2. Expensive audio gear generally has more subtleties than just frequency response. So even if the cassette recorder can't reproduce all the quality of a $2,000 mic, there some smoothness and other things you will get in the recording than a $50 toy mic will give you.

Make of that as you wish!
 

dboomer

Senior Member
The weakest link in the chain are transducers, e.g. mics and speakers. They have to transform one type of energy into another, acoustic to electric or the other way around and are maybe less that 10% efficient. They are mechanical and are therefore expensive to make at the highest levels. Electronics are cheap and easy to manipulate and can easily be in the high 90% efficient.
 

OSDrums

Well-known member
The preamps of the Focusrite Clarett interfaces are actually quite good - the will not compete with high-end units, but the "more" you get out of these high-end preamps is not proportional to their higher price. The Clarett pres will clearly show the difference between say a pair of NT5 and your KM184. They would also bring out differences between a Schoeps and the KM184. Is it the best Preamp you could buy or use? No. But you are on a very good plateau and to get better you'd need to invest serious $$.

In the chain player-drumset-tuning-heads-room- mic-placement - mic-type- cable-preamp-adc the preamp (given it is on the Clarett-level) is probably by far not the point were you could make big improvements.
The mics are fine - if the set doesn't sound good recorded with KM184 via the Clarett then something else is wrong - e.g. placement of mics, stereo-technique, room acoustics, you name it. Or the drumset (player-tuning-set) does not sound good.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
And just to re-iterate this is just a discussion only. I have no plans on throwing more money at this. I have the pole vault I just have to practice pole vaulting. If I can't do it with what I have, nicer pre-amps won't matter. My room kinda sucks anyway, with less than 7 foot ceilings. Recording is for my own personal pursuit and curiosity. I can't compete with a real recording studio, nor am I looking to. Music is a crap way to make money, for me anyway. I relegate music to fun...not something I can count on, except for fun. It is without a doubt THE funnest part of my life. Besides the people in my life, and my business, music (read fun) is the next most important thing to me
 
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