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Old 16-05-2017, 10:29 PM   #6
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Re: Buying a mic, wondering best pre-amp combo

Originally Posted by GuyWithSausageF View Post
For the PreSonus Blue Tube I was going to replace the tubes, which people say is really the only gripe with it. Though I'm no expert on pres. Those ADA 8ks seem perfect for performances as well.

If I were to go straight into my interface, do you think the Focusrite Scarlett Solo would hack it? As I said, my studio set up is very budget right now, so I don't have a very respectable interface. Or, should I finally bite the bullet and upgrade that, too?

I do almost all my mixing digitally, so I don't really need anything too fancy, just getting the sound to the computer. As long as everyone is okay recording one part at a time, it should be no issue.
The fact is that the quality of a preamp is so overshadowed by almost all of the rest of the signal chain that most people espousing the importance of it are A) completely full of shit and just aping what they read online or B) professionals with incredibly trained ears in precise rooms running $5000 condensers into $2000 preamps. In the budget realm there's just not that big a difference to be had, and you can always sweeten/de-noise things a bit with EQ.

An SM7b does want some gain to drive it but it's not like it's that demanding. I'd guess that the signal would certainly be usable if possibly a little noisy (almost completely depending on how loud the singer is/how hard the capsule is being driven). I'd guess that you'd clean up any noise with just about any standalone mic preamp. Mostly this just isn't 1992 - technology has come a long, long way and even the cheapest of interfaces are pretty damn clean and powerful.

As far as recording gear I'm a big fan of letting necessity drive purchases. Picking up new keyboard or plugin can be great for sparking creativity, not so true with things like mics and preamps. They're meant to mostly be transparent meaning the better they are the less you notice them. There's even a point where you can get better results with lower quality gear because they mask the terrible nuances of bad performances. Make the most with what you have and buy something when you actually find a need for it.

So my suggestion would be - if you're happy with the Scarlett, stick with it. If not, jump up to something like an Audient or MOTU, both of which will have better preamps, more features and better latency. If you're sticking with the SM7b, buy it first, try it with your interface and see how you like it. It might be just fine. If it's not, then start shopping for a preamp. Maybe grab an ADA8k off ebay for cheap and sell it on if you don't like it. For the $200 that the Presonus costs you could offload your Scarlett and grab an Audient iD14 on Reverb/eBay and come out even. Those have incredible preamps that'll match just about anything you'll find in a pro studio.

Another route would be to get something like a Beta 58 which is cheaper, requires a lot less gain, and is hypercard for better noise profile/rejection. Being a dynamic it'll work with just about anything you run it into. It's been a go to for vocals for a long, long time.
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