Can I amp my mixer?

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Colin, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    So when ever I have to come to these forums I have to humble myself. Can someone please offer me their expertise?
    Can I run a preamp into a (non powered) mixer?

    What I want to achieve: I want to run my kick drum mic, my snare mic, and my Overhead mic, into the mixer and have a better amped sound by running the mixer into the preamp and then from somewhere into my Audio interface....?

    I hope this is not too confusing...

    Thanks!
     
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    you can't "good-u-late" audio. audio is never better than what is first captured. putting a signal through another amplifier will just make it different, not better. any processing (modifying) adds noise and degrades the signal.

    this is because all amplifiers no matter how good they are, degrade by screwing with phase, adding distortions or adding noise to a signal. whether they are pre amps, eq's compressors or any other active stage that provides gain. the shorter a signal chain is, the better (and quieter) it will be. all processing comes at a cost in noise and headroom.

    what kind of mixer and interface are you using? perhaps what is needed is a better interface or mixer? that might be be most efficient way to get where you want to go. there's some very affordable decent sounding recording mixers available but really getting 3 mics into a DAW should be simple for all but the most basic interfaces.
     
  3. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    So I have a MPA art II preamp a Behringer Uphoria UMC404HD. I know that the amp in my MPA is better than the Behringer. So can I send my drum mics into a mixer and use my ART preamp as it's amp?
     
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    If you have just one good preamp, you should choose to use it where it counts the most BD or SN and send the signal directly to the interface while tracking.
    Reamping to a preamp isn't going to get back the quality lost when using poor preamps (assuming the mixer isn't so good compared to your external preamp)

    The thing is with affordable mixers, the preamps often have higher noise floor and the frequency response and characteristics of the sound won't be as good as a highend preamp, specially if you push them pass 75% of their offered gain.
    It is not to say that the sound of your mixer couldn't be good enough and do a good job. It all depends on what you are aiming to.
    Many people put tons of money on preamps but have poor room acoustics and limited selection of mics.
    Room, instrument and mics makes 80% of the sound. Having those under control is more important before investing in highend gear.
    After that it's a mather of finding the right placement and gainstaging to find the sweet spot of the equipement you have.

    I did record drums on a 32ch Soundcraft mixer for a few years in my first studio. When finding the sweet spots of the preamps and gainstaging it well. I was able to get very acceptable results. When I built my actual studio in a smaller space, I went all in with highend preamps 8ch of ISA preamps, a UA 4-710 and 2 LA-610.
    I can't say that the sound is 200% better, no.. it's far more subtle than this. Where I notice the most difference is that I don't need to use drastic EQ to make my tracks sound good.
    On the get go, I rarely use cuts or boots more than +/- 3db where in the past some would pass 6db.
    So it does sound better to me but mostly it's easier to make it sound good. That's the WOW factor of highend preamps.
     
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    If you mean, connecting the mic to the mixer's preamp and send the signal to an external preamps and then to the interface. I wouldn't do it.
    A preamp to a preamp is a experiment to do for special effects when looking for saturations but not to have a clean signal.

    Like I said, connect your BD and SN mics to the MPA and take the output to your interface. Clean sound and path will give better sound ;)
     
  6. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    Thank you PCR.
     
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    be sure to bypass the pre amps in your interface by using the insert returns. you may need a pair of special balanced trs to trs insert cables for that.
     
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  8. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    Yeah thanks. It just means a lot of unplugging and rearranging cords when I go to record drums. I'm not sure if this classifies me as Lazy. I'm sure it does. But I hear what you are saying... The MPA is my best bet at a good signal
     
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    You know this signal path is valid for anything you record, not only drums... You still can use your mixer but have 2 channels of your interface permanently used by the MPA..
    Just saying ;)
     
  10. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    That's great advice too about sending my Bass Drum and Snare into my MPA. I'm excited to try that out.
     
  11. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    The overhead mic would just go into the interface then...?
     
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Yes ! So with your Behringer Uphoria UMC404HD, you could use the insert inputs to plug the MPA preamps and bypass the 404 internal preamps. Let say on 1 and 2.
    Then on 3 and 4 place the overhead.

    BUT !! it depends what is your priority.. if you record a jazz drummer and want to use the overhead as the majority of the sound and put just a thinny bit of BD and SN, then use the MPA for the overhead.. The best thing is to experiment.
    You'll need 2 insert cables tho. 1/4str to 2 x 1/4st you will plug the str into the insert of the 404 and use only the return side plugged into the output of the MPA..

    That would be my plan anyway !! ;)
     
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

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    one issue however is the 1/4" output of the ART MP is a balanced trs connection so i'm thinking the 1/4" plug going into the ART should be a trs plug with only the hot and shield connected (leaving the ring with no connection). Boswell would know for sure.
     
  15. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    It’s such a bungle in my head. I can’t picture it one bit. I’ll just experiment. I do thank you guys.
     
  16. Colin

    Colin Active Member

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    I bought the UA Apollo X6 and planned to make payments on it for the rest of my life... I even had the thing set up on my studio desk and went out to Walmart to buy the USB-C cord and then decided that I didn't want to be a slave to American Musical supply for a year and sent it back.

    ..I bet that I can get just as clean a signal with this MPA. If the Behringer Uphoria doesn't suffice I have an alternative Scarlet 6i6 in my sights and I will be testing both.
     
  17. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Colin - I'm really surprised that on a whim you bought a two grand interface? You have a pretty niche tube preamp, but I assume you normally plug this into the Behringer anyway to get signals into the computer? Have I missed something? You then sent the posh interface back, when it would have been a really high quality in and out for your system, but kept the tube unit that frankly does so little when connected via a fairly basic interface. What are you hoping to do - buying expensive gear like this does rather assume you have reached the level where your ears are trained by using less good stuff, so you can hear the subtle details - leaping up to this level without understanding the real basics seems a total waste of money? I don't quite understand how you're planning and thinking?

    Surely, your Behringer 4 input interface is a great way to record your little session, and will be perfectly good at doing it. I'd pay more attention to the mics and the room than messing with the subtle stuff, when prodding a mic a few inches could make far more difference than the fancy interface improvements.
     
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    You have a good point Kurt ! In that case, he could use a xlr insert cable like this :
    upload_2019-3-27_7-44-14.jpeg

    The UA X6 would have been a good choice with 6 line inputs. I get that paying for it for ages isn't good on a tight budget, specially if the piece doesn't earn you any money.
    The 6I6 has 2 line inputs, so the MPA could be plugged right in without special cables like the inserts (I think they are also balanced. well I hope they are..)
    So if you are to drop 50$ on insert cables, it's time to decide if you want the 6i6 before you do ! ;)
     
  19. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    In most cases, yes. However, the MPA II outputs are electronically balanced, meaning that you can use it balanced, or you can ground either the + or the - output, and the signal appears fully on the other output (up to a reduced maximum level of +20dBu).

    So I would use a standard jack plug insert cable, connect the TRS plug to the insert socket, the TS plug Send (tip) connection to an MPA input jack and the TS Return (ring) from the rear-panel jack socket output of that channel on the MPA.
     
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