Recommended pre-amp

Hi everyone

I need 2 quick bits of advice.

Our band is recording an album next month in a studio, HOWEVER we are recording the vocals at HOME.

I currently have a Rode NT1a and could get access to a Studio Projects C1. Any other recommended vocal mics I could try and borrow/rent?

Secondly, I only have a smallish behringer mixer going to my audio card (delta44). What are your recommendations as far as affordable pre-amps in regards to tube vs solid state, and any other considerations?

We’re ‘happy’ with the vocal quality we’re getting at the moment, but would like to get it REALLY good if poss.

Why type of sound qualities should the raw track have before post production? Things like room sound, that boxiness we have a little of now.

As an add on if you have any advice as far as setting up a room/booth for vox as well go for it!

Thanks thanks thanks!

A rode ntk. :)

Preamps - look into renting some, and mics as well, from a local high end dealer. It’ll be worth it. Try out one or some of the many neve clones with your nt1.

As to rooms, try out them all, and don’t forget you can use couch cushions in you rliving room to control sound a lot.

This probably isn’t possible based on your criteria, but if you’re doing the instruments in a studio, then you really should do the vocals in the studio too.

But since you’re not doing the vox in the studio, then I’d say your room is probably more important than the preamp. Do some research on that, it’ll give you a big bang for the buck. With the preamps, depending on your price range, usually anything under $600-ish, then generally look for a solid state. Otherwise, look for a tube.

I’ve never rented gear, so I can’t really comment.

Are you also doing your own mixing and mastering?

Nope, back in the studio for mix/master.

Recommended vocal mics… sheesh, the list goes forever…

Audio Technica AT4033, AT4040, AT4050, AT4060, or AT4047
Shure SM7 (NOT 57!!!), KSM44
Audix SCX25-A
Neumann U87
ADK Area 51
AKG C414, C12
Rode NT1, NT2, NTK, NT1000, NT2000
Studio Projects T3
Anything Telefunkin
Anything that is an old RCA ribbon
Any LDC from AEA
Any LDC from Manley
Any LDC from BLUE
Any LDC from Soundelux

This is pretty much the list of holy grail vocal mics in the studio… and who’s to say an SM58 won’t work?

That being said, the world of preamps is just as daunting. For get this tube versus solid state thing. One is not better or worse than another. You can spend plenty on a Grace preamp and they are top quality and solid state and you can spend $49 on an ART with a tube and it is cheap crap. in pres, the list is at least as long, if not longer than mics. There are soooo many boutique preamps out there, it is impossible to pick one. But a few names to look for…

Neve (you’ll never find a real Neve, but you’ll find clones)
Great River
Universal Audio

Those are good mics. If you want to supplement them with a rental unit, you might as well go for a real Neumann, and any kind of top-o-the-line neve clone like Tom suggested. I love the sound of UA gear. If you want to get something low-priced that you can use forever, I am happy with my modified ART MP1. For $59 - 99, depending on model, and $15 for a better tube, it has a nice, open sound. Also, if you have any old reel-to-reel tape-decks in the attic, sometimes they have great sounding pre-amps built in, particularly TEAC or Tascam gear. Guerilla recording eternal! :p

'til next;

Personally, I can’t stand a Neumann… If you are recording overly bright female pop vocals… okay, use a Neumann. but there is sooo much out there. See if the rental place will let you try a few out before you wanlk out the door. You might be surprised what you find you like.

I find it odd that you’d do the most recognizable and important part of a recording at home while doing ALL the rest at a professional studio. At the very least, get some acoustic insulation for an iso booth and rent a very quality mic and preamp. go to guitar center and have the singer try out a bunch of stuff to see what fits their voice best.

Well, Bubba is right that it is best to try several mics, but it seemed as though you needed to go with something kinda` quick, and Neumanns are a given in the industry, so that any engineer/mixer/producer should know how to work with tracks recorded using one of them.

But if you have the time, try a bunch of mics!

'til next time
tony w

It’s a question of time vs money. The vocals will take the longest and we have very limited funds. We have a pretty good setup at home, and this gives us the freedom to take the time to get the vocals RIGHT without having the pressure of the minute hand ticking away the bucks while we record.

Thanks for your input guys!!! This is all very helpful. We’ll prolly spend a couple days with different borrowed mics (know a few guys) and different room orientations and see what sounds best. Like I say - right now we have a good sound, ie: better that the local Uni, and better than a few small studios around, but we’d like to get the sound as good as poss!!!

The good news is that when recording at home you can take a lot of time to get the sound just right. Is the singer impatient? Or used to spending several days to get one good track? ???

Lots of Doritos helps…

Why not record just one vocal in the “proper” studio as a benchmark?

For a good general-purpose vocal mic I like the Neuman KMS-105. While it may not be the best in all respects it is decent and can also be used for live sound. This is one I would buy rather than rent. Not as cheap as some of the recommendations and not as exotic as others but a solid performer.

I also find the FMR Audio RNP8380 preamp to be well designed and affordable. It also pairs well with their RNC1773 which is a very interesting low-cost compressor.


For got about the RNP. That is a great preamp for the money.