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Preamp questions

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Patson
Preamp questions
on May 18, 2007 at 5:55:30 pm

I've read through the threads involving preamps and still have some questions.

I'm putting together a small sound booth for VO and looking to purchase the Shure KSM44. I thought the Aphex 207 preamp would be a good addition for my setup and it's in my price range. However, the sales-rep suggested a Tascam Fire One, http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FireOne/ stating the firewire connection and wheel control would be best. I've never used a preamp, so I'm going through a learning curve here.

What is the preferred connection to a preamp?

The Fire One has an input for a guitar and since I'm not going to be involved in music recording, would I be paying for something I won't use?

What does that shuttle wheel do anyway?

Any comments on the Aphex 207 or other preamps in the $500 range??


I'm stepping up the quality of my video by getting better with my audio. Ty, your book is looking like a very good purchase!

Thanks in advance, Pattie


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Rodney M
Re: Preamp questions
on May 18, 2007 at 7:17:11 pm

I think a few questions may be in order. What are you recording to? DAT, HD recorder, DAW...? If you are using a DAW, then we need to know if you have an audio interface (that converts your analog mic/line signal into digital). If you have an audio interface that has XLR (or even 1/4") inputs, then a preamp with firewire outputs is not that big of an advantage. I don't think the D/A (digital to analog converters) in a preamp in this price range will be any better than the D/A on most entry level audio interfaces. If you are using a DAW that doesn't have an integrated audio interface, then a preamp like you mentioned (with FW) would be appropriate, though there are other mic preamp choices in that price range (sub $500).



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Patson
Re: Preamp questions
on May 18, 2007 at 9:31:10 pm


I will be recording directly into my PC.

I just started tutorials for Adobe Audition and shopping for a good book that explains audio equipment operations for a small one person operation. I feel the sales-rep I'm working with is honest, but I just want to make sure I understand as much as I can.

A preamp over $600 is out of my budget. I've avoided purchasing the intro level equipment because of the "you get what you pay for" lesson. If you think that the entry level preamps do just as good as the $500, that certainly changes my thinking. Since I've never used a preamp, I haven't heard the differences when recording.

Thanks in advance to other responses, Pattie


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Rodney M
Re: Preamp questions
on May 19, 2007 at 1:51:36 am

Just a little clarification - a preamp and an audio interface (A/D) are two different animals. An outboard audio interface often contains a preamp. A preamp simply takes the mic level signal that is output from your microphone and turns it into a line level signal. The manner in which it accomplishes this task is what makes the price differences (I'm way over-simplifying. Please forgive me if I insult your intelligence). An audio interface (or A/D - analog to digital converter) is what takes your analog, and sometimes digital, signal and gets it into your computer so it can be manipulated. Therefore, if you are using Adobe Audition then you need some type of audio interface, be it a sound card, or an outboard device. The Tascam FireOne is an outboard audio interface with a preamp built in. It also appears to be a work surface of sorts. Those buttons on the Tascam can be assigned specific tasks within your DAW's (Digital Audio Workstation) software - in your case, Adobe Audition. There are other preamp/interface combos available in your price range. There may even be some preamp/interface/work surface combos available as well. The Aphex 207, while a good preamp, is not an audio interface.

So the question is, do you have an audio interface for Adobe Audition?



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Rodney M
Re: Preamp questions
on May 19, 2007 at 2:07:25 am

I incorrectly identified the Tascam FireOne as a "work" surface, when I should have said control surface. Sorry. Tascam also makes the FW-1082.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/closeup/FW1082--Main

It comes in right at your $600 budget, but has a lot of features that may or may not be helpful to you.

BTW - I've purchased many things from Sweetwater, and I've always been pleased by their service and expertise.



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Ty Ford
Re: Preamp questions
on May 19, 2007 at 10:39:18 am

Good suggestions and clarification from Rodney.

Thoughts:

Will the Fire One be recognized by your computer AND by Adobe Audition?

The Fire One PDF file says you need to install drivers. Check to make sure they will work with your system..

Control panel Installation
A setup program is provided on the CD-ROM. This program will install the FireOne Windows driver onto your computer, as well as a Windows Control Panel applet and plugins for Cakewalk SONAR and Steinberg Cubase and Nuendo. To install the software:
Make sure FireOne is not yet connected to the host computer (the software will instruct you at the appropriate
point to connect it).
Insert the CD-ROM into the drive. In the start-up window, click on


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Patson
Re: Preamp questions
on May 19, 2007 at 1:15:45 pm

Rodney, thanks for the clarification of audio interface and preamp, I SO appreciate you taking the time to answer.

I capture most all of my video and what little VO audio I've done via Canopus DV Storm program. All Storm Audio does is capture, there really is no way to make any adjustments while the audio is feeding into the system.

Am I correct in understanding the following:
Since I have an audio interface already, I don't need another such as the Tascam provides?

I'm striving to get the VO that's going into my system to be used in my Adobe Premiere Projects to sound better. Would equipment that is designated only as a preamp be a better choice?

In your opinion, is the construction/performance of the preamps in my price range($600 and less) all the same?

Ty, thanks for your input as well. I never would have considered compatibility issues with my system and the Tascam interface so I will find out. I use only firewire connections to capture my video footage. I assumed any audio equipment would have the same connection options, but maybe I'm wrong. My in-house editing studio is 20' x 16' and I'll be building a small sound booth in there just for VO, nothing big for music/instruments. I'll be doing all I can to prevent computer fan noise and "house" noise from infiltrating the booth. Anything I do at this time is better than I've had and is a step in the right direction.

Thanks again, Pattie



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Rodney M
Re: Preamp questions
on May 19, 2007 at 6:25:23 pm

OK, we're getting closer here. I'm glad to help as much as I can.

The Shure KSM44 is a condenser microphone, which means that it needs power of some sort for the microphone to work. Some condenser mics (electret) can be powered off of internal batteries or phantom power, but not this particular type. It requires 48V phantom power, which is (generally) provided by a preamp. So, in order to use your Shure mic you will need a mic preamp that provides 48V phantom power. As I said before, some audio interfaces include preamps with 48V phantom power. It sounds to me like you are capturing audio and video through a capture card, which probably has RCA inputs for the audio. If this is the case, then you will need to purchase an outboard audio interface (such as the Tascam FireOne) that has a built in preamp and that you can connect through Firewire. Theoretically, you could capture the audio through those RCA inputs on the capture card. But it would be an involved chain of transformers to get your audio from a studio condenser mic "dumbed down" to unbalanced RCA, and you may lose some quality along the way.

Ty makes a great point about making sure that both your PC and Adobe Audition will support the Tascam unit. If you are unsure, do not hesitate to ask the sales rep to investigate this for you. This is part of his/her job. Also, Ty's point regarding the latency issues with USB are well founded - stay with FireWire if you can.

As far as building the vo booth, the two things it should do is 1. provide isolation from external noises (computer fans, etc...) and 2. it should also provide isolation from "reflections" or sound bouncing off of hard objects. This includes walls, windows and even music stands to a smaller degree. You'll want to treat the walls of the booth with sound treatment foam, or for a cheaper fix, hang some moving blankets on the wall. Also, if you're not going to route some A/C into the booth (which opens up a whole new can of worms anyway), then you want to use lighting that will not produce alot of heat. LED's would probably be the best choice, clipped to a stand. Flourescents ballasts, while cooler, can produce hums and buzzes, which defeats the purpose of building a booth. An alternative to building a booth is to pick a corner of the room that is particularly quiet and build a set of audio baffles that you can place in the open areas around where you are miking. These baffles can be extremely effective in cutting down on the reflections of the room, but won't help if the room is particularly noisy.

Ask as many questions as you like, I'll answer what I can and pass off what I can't. :-)



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Patson
Re: Preamp questions
on May 21, 2007 at 3:02:05 pm

Thanks again!

I'll be contacting the sales rep for clarifications and to ask additonal questions. I now have a better grasp of what I am asking about. If I'm not satisfied or don't understand the answers, I'll come back!

Professional room treatments at this time are not possible for me. In my current situation, I don't have clients like you do coming in for VO work. The person doing the VO is working closely with me and understands the limitations of my small space and budget. That said, we've already got the LED light for the booth and realize that AC is not available so we'll take frequent breaks as needed. I don't have a room corner to use your baffle idea due to window locations. My current plan is to construct three walls, one with a door/small window and use the middle of the house wall section as the fourth wall. This room is in the basement and the fourth wall is backfilled outside with dirt, so there is no outside noise coming from there. For treatment I was going to use the eggcarton foam and attach it to the inside of all four surfaces. If I still have computer fan noise leaking in, I'll try some blankets.

I sincerely appreciate your time and input to get me on the right track. If you have any other suggestions or thoughts to add, I would certainly take your advice.

Best regards, Pattie






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Rodney M
Re: Preamp questions
on May 25, 2007 at 5:27:50 pm

I've been away on a shoot this last week, and have been unable to respond to your post. Sounds like you're on the right track. One thing that will help your booth and won't add much to your construction cost is to not build any parallel walls. Parallel walls create a phenomenon called standing waves. You can hear an example of standing waves fairly easily by singing in the shower. There are certain notes that you sing that resonate louder than others even though you are not singing with more volume. That's because those notes (frequencies) have a wavelength that is exactly the distance between the hard, parallel surfaces of the bath/shower. When these sound waves bounce off of parallel surfaces they don't reflect back out of phase thereby allowing them to resonate longer and with more amplitude. So when building a good v/o booth, you can avoid many acoustical problems by building no parallel walls (a trapezium). You may still have a standing wave between your floor and ceiling, but at least you won't have any from the four walls. You may think this is a bit overkill for your situation, but as I said before it shouldn't add much to your construction cost and is acoustically sophisticated as well (you can impress your friends and clients).

Note - don't confuse standing waves with reflections. You will have reflections in a trapezium with hard surfaces. So you will still need to hang some type of room treatment. The eggcrate foam you mentioned is an alternative, but it is not the same type of material and I'm unaware of it's flame retardency. I'm not telling you not to use it, but don't think that it's the same as professional acoustic treatment foam. From what I understand, it's not as effective with absorbing reflections over a wider frequency range as professional foam.

Hope this helps you some. I'm not an acoustician, but I know a couple tricks here and there. Good luck.



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Patson
Re: Preamp questions
on May 30, 2007 at 3:07:06 am

Thanks for the info regarding the non-parallel wall layout. I will be putting that advice to work. I agree the eggcrate foam certainly is not the best nor is it fireproof. There are no open flames in the room, all electric wires are in perfect condition and there are two large egress windows. The eggcrate does not stop noise from going through it. I've been messing with it and what I've noticed is sound doesn't bounce off, but it does go through. If I build very tight walls, I probably will still be dealing with the issue of a computer fan noise getting through, I just will have to see how much. I can always purchase "real acoustic" products in the future, as I can afford it. "Joe Public" is not coming in to do VO work...I'd want real accoustic material if that was my clientale for safety, comfort and professional appearance/performance.

What I'm accomplishing now is going to improve my video and I'm learning along the way. I am greatful for all of your input!

Thanks, Pattie


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