100 thoughts on “Microphone Preamp Comparison Test #1 – Guitar

  1. I always use two mics when recording acoustic, one large diaphragm and one small, the large aimed at the bridge or just below the sound hole, the smaller at the 12th fret. I may vary this placement depending on the guitarist's technique and even depending on the song being played, but this vid is ok just to get an idea of the pres' characteristics.

  2. I put a beanie on and off while listening and relistening to this. It made more difference than the difference between any of the amps. The amps do sound different, but that beanie should disappear!

  3. This makes me want to rape myself over and over again with how they talk about the different sounds… yet there really are none!

  4. @Richard Hanson if you don't hear a difference, it doesn't mean there isn't a difference. Are you listening through good speakers? And do you know what to listen for? But good luck raping yourself if you're shure you know better than professional soundengineers.

  5. Lack of knowledge or ability to hear how these slight but powerful differences between these pre's affects the overall tracking, relationship with compression and subsequently eq, and how hard it will push the processed ambience, is probably why you're not cutting any hit records…

  6. Sure, we talk about all this knock on effect till the cows come home, but that wasn't what this video was. it was a simple shoot out, single tracks up against one another, so as far as this demonstration is concerned your point is irrelevant.

  7. Listening through Shure SRH840, coming out of a very proper audio interface. I know what I'm listening for, even the "very different way(s)" that these preamps supposedly bring in the guitar. I want to see a blind test with these guys. If they can consistently identify preamps on a clean guitar, with moderate gain from the preamp (so just used to capture) then perhaps I'd consider there is actually something there.

  8. Richard,

    Your jaded opinion doesnt change the fact that YOU CAN STILL HEAR A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM. So in fact, my point IS what is inevitably being talked about, or the subject of this video wouldn't have existed in the first place.

  9. There are lots of equipment discussions that have been allowed to persist despite being stupidly pointless, in many fields. Unfortunately, because so few people are able to get all the gear (including amazing monitors) and have a real side-by-side listen then they're not going to be able to 'truly' join the discussion. Blind tests are the way, and they show us the most interesting, but predictable thing… preamps matter little.

  10. The thing is, even if there are subtle difference, which we may be able to hear, that does not make one necessarily better to the engineer, or especially the end listener. I am also a musician, and engineers who are not musicians, or just play an instrument as a hobby, tend to overemphasize the gear and bloat the importance of tiny differences (see gearslutz), like wine tasters.If you see in blind tests, experienced wine tatsers consistently choose $2 Trader Joe's wine vs. highly prized vintage.

  11. And the same is ture for "cork sniffing" gear fetishists. I have some expensive gear, but I make damn sure if I am going to spend thousands on a piece of gear, that I am able to hear drastic improvements in the sound. The way to get drastic improvements is not through preamps or converters or cables (or even compressors), but through mic placement and instrument choice/tuning. Not to say good quality is not needed for these, but the technology is so advanced, even the cheapest gear is usable.

  12. I am an engineer too and I also am a singer. I agree with what you said on eqs and instrument.
    But this video shows the difference only among different preamps. The fact is that this video is not complete at all because if you really want to hear differences among different preamps you should see how they respond to many variables wich are for ex: first is different settings on the amount of gain used on the preamp, second is different settings on eqs (on the same sets of gain in preamps)…

  13. I completely agree about trying not just many different sources, but also different mics/signal chain/etc. on each one. Then you get into extremely complex tests with endless iterations. While that is ideal, it is not practical. IMO the only practical way to approach things like preamp choice is to pick one, like the Neve 1073 style preamp in my case, that you know is good on everything, and spend all your time and energy on things that are more important like mic placement, etc.

  14. As a sound technician too, the sound changes do exist but are extremely subtle. For those having trouble hearing, for example, listen to bass heavy Sound Devices unit compared to the even across all frequencies Grace. The Grace is also my favourite.

    However, I agree with other commenters, nothing will give a drastic change and is more important than instrument choice and tone, mic placement and and the room. A good source sound leads to a good track.

  15. Thank you for this video! I've been tired of hissy dslr audio and have decided to pick up a sound devices mp-1 to go into a portable recorder. Your video helped a lot!

  16. He has confused the two Chandlers. His description of the TG2 is actually the Germanium to a tee (warm lows and mids with slightly metallic high end). The TG2 is mid heavy with subdued highs. You can clearly hear that the TG2 is more midsy than the Chandler Germanium.

  17. Great shootout. I agree that the Grace is the most clear and balanced, but, for me, that kind of clarity is 'hyperreal' and may require glossing with some tubes or transformers. Personally, Chandler (and other) germanium-based pres help the listener suspend disbelief for a whole track. So, tonal clarity is not the whole picture: the recording chain is like makeup for TV or stage: it has to be unnatural to be perceived by the end user as natural.

  18. I would design my own, then slightly eq the signal before recording, instead of waiting after the event to compare the highs,lows and mids.

  19. I sure liked the Focusrite, (loved the extra warmth) as well as the others in this review. They are all hi-end preamps and sound great. 

  20. this test is biased, the Germanium can sound very different depending on the settings, logic sound inferior to PT9.

  21. I would have combined the Red 6 with either the TC Electronic or with the Grace Designs in order to get both warmth and bass together with mid and high definition. The combination, you guys, chose is also a very good one.

  22. The guitarist has one of the best right hands I have ever seen. The touch in his fingers is astonishing. Great engineers as well.

  23. Okayan, thank you for the beautiful music which sounds great through all the preamps! And to the younger guy: Maybe it would be better to remove your woolen hat before comparing mic pres. 😉

  24. Thank you for the nice video.
    Also any preamp is good (RED is my favorite). The reason is great Okayan playing, wonderful song, and beautiful guitar sound. More than anything, it is the music. Then the mic. Preamp would be the next. I was impressed to Okayan!

  25. Interesting video. The only real preamps I have heard that have there own definitive sound are the Neves ( solid bottom and slightly silky top ) and Sebatron valve preamps ( warm and tight bottoms with air on top ) .From the recordings I have heard from these two brands I can hear the full range of all possibilities I would have on the front end of my recording studio set up.
    That includes all mic types as well as direct in capabilities with both.
    The Chandler is capable as well , with a good transient response which is what I prefer when recording lots of acoustic instruments.

  26. This is a good comparison. Thanks for doing this. I'm listening on some studio monitors and I am happy to say that I can hear what each preamp is known for.
    The Grace truly does sound like you're in the room. I love it. Very raw and unforgiving.
    The Chandlers have that vintage flavor to them. More forgiving. It's a character and I can see it complimenting certain sound sources very well. I see why people love it.
    I would have liked to see an API and an SSL in the group. I'm gonna bet you guys would love that in your studio as well. 🙂 I'm assuming you ran through that 003? I'd love to hear what an RME Fireface 802 would have done in its place. Much more detailed and raw.

  27. Sweet Sound's Okayan, Sweet and Beautiful Sound's brother. I think it just goes to prove Talent can deal with any mic pre you throw at it, Shocking how little difference between £2000 mic pre and a £250 TC All in one Box.

  28. Beautiful song! Preferred the Grace Designs. Why using two identical mics at the same place? Is that a particular miking technique? Thanks for your answer.

  29. AS soon as the Grace started I noticed how nice it was….problem is, since we weren't there with the guitar itself we don't know if it's boomier than the actual guitar is. I liked the TC as well (I felt it was less boomy, bringing the melody better), and also the the first Chandler. This piece is about the melody, not the basses. I'm very amazed I liked the TC unit's internal preamps better than the expensive stuff.

  30. I loved the Chandlers' laid-back vintage tone. The TC seemed to struggle and the Focusrite seemed gated. The rest were fine.

  31. This Is A Great Guitar Sound I Love IT I Also Love The Test As Well I Will Get This Guy Album If He Has One Great Works Keep IT UP

  32. Nice video. Sometimes I feel like peasant tasting vine. The Sommelier " I getting taste of coffee and burnt rubber" me "I'm getting wasted" What I'm trying to say is, I can't hear a big difference at all. Perhaps due to some bad earplugs, but they all sounds good to me. Don't let the technic get in the way of creation. And great playing mr Okayan.

  33. TC by far was the cleanest (bright mid and low) and offered a beneficial reproduction of the sound as opposed to losing any or dampening any.

  34. I 've had that exact TC 24D now for 5 years and it makes me so glad to hear it as a winner, I'd like to see an updated test now in 2018

  35. 4:34 Came here for the Mic preamp comparison test… Stayed for the unexpectedly moving guitar work from Okayan… Took me right back to the Windham Hill days…This is why we make and record music… The message comes from the high end, the empathy from the low mids. Remember that….

  36. Can't even find the Grace Designs 201 now; anything else you now use that is equal or better, or are you still using the 201?

  37. Thank you so much for this comparison. In my personal experience, the more opulent and colored micpres are a good choice for solo instruments or instruments that are panned dead center. The musical expressiveness of intervals gains in weight through them. The transient are inflated with harmonic distortion. The transparent ones such as Grace are better positioned to either sides of the stereo field. Also, the more crowded and dense a mix happens to be, the more I tend to prefer the transparent ones. But that will come at the expense of musical phrases sounding a little more *trivial*. There is always the danger that the critical listener will focus more onto the sonics than the music. Therefore it's better to have several micrpres at your disposal. What I noticed about the Grace was, that it made the KM184 also reveal it's flaws more than the other micpres did. The KM184 has lost some of its linearity compared to it's predecessor the KM84, particularly noticeable in the lower mid-range and bass.

    An now let's say the performer is a lightning fast guitar player like 'Di Meola' or 'Mclaughlin'. In that case, would you prefer a 'complex' sound or one that sounds tight, simplistic and more mid-focused, like the Focusrite or Chandler TG2? I'd go for those as the string of fast transients would need to be captured with as much uniformness as possible and with as little harmonic distraction as possible which could originate from noises such as string slide / slap noises or plastic plectrum noises.

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