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Back to an analogue desk

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I voice professionally over here in the UK.


For a while now I have been plugging my Neumann u87 direct into a Fireface 400 and using the RME preamps and 48v phantom.

Then into Logic where I use a little EQ & compression - and sometimes a bit of PSP Vintage Warmer on the master.


Last week I picked up a little Soundcraft Notepad 124 desk for £45 and have been trying amping the mic through that - and then into the RME line ins - then into Logic.


I'm just curious why I like the sound and feel of the mic through the Soundcraft so much more than the RME. To me it is fuller, stronger, rounder -and I'm monitoring from Logic - but the one notable thing which probably won't sound very scientific is this:


when I voice through the RME - to me it is much less forgiving if you move off axis, or if you lose or gain a little dynamic. Whereas with the Soundcraft I get a more even sound - more easily. We're talking tiny amounts here by the way.


As someone will probably point out - it's not a problem is it - I'm just curious as to why. The Soundcraft is set up flat, unity gain and straight to the RME line in.


I'm starting to get a little nostalgic about analogue desks again - thought I was over that. Found myself drooling over a Soundtrac Megas Studio 32-2-24. No, not enough room. Not enough time.



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RME preamps sound cold and dead, like a cadaver. I tried the ones in my FF800 twice. First time, I hated them. Second time -- which was two years later -- I hated them. On the other hand, the preamps in my Mackie 1624 VLZ sound warm and full. Sure, the Mackies are far from being boutique pre's, but good sound is good sound.


And I sooooo miss my old Soundcraft Ghost console. Yes, even with EQ set flat (or in the case of the Ghost, switched out of the circuit), those analog electronics do something to the sound that is simply pleasing to the ear.


To severely generalize... small footprint gear often equates to small, compromised sound. The day that I can get back to having a proper analog board back in my studio will be a happy day indeed!

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Most audio interfaces have 'mic pre-amps' which is like saying that most walls have doors. Both will let something pass through the opening and enter the room.


In terms of the interface, boosting the signal prior (without clipping the input of the interface) will be a big help. The tools of choice will be a channel strip module or a mic pre. Both can be used to enhance the sound before it gets to the converter.


Low end mixers up to expensive mic pre/channel strip modules will do this and are more advantageous when used properly than the plain old interface mic pre. Add to that EQ and compressor/limiters and your instrument/vocal will sound pretty nice as it gets into the DAW. However, just because it sounds nice doesn't mean you won't have to tinker with it after it is in the DAW.



If you don't have some type of pre-interface processor, Logic is capable of beefing up your signal with or without using external devices (via the I/O utility plug in).

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