Goin’ for the Gusto Studio Setup—Act 2

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   Dynamics 101




      For an equalizer, the A-Designs EM-PEQ Equalizer in compact 500 Series Module is a diminutive (in size only) version of the classic Pultec EQP-1A all tube equalizer. The front panel design is has been maintained as well as the performance. All this for only $1295.00


     Now for the rest of our preamp needs, I found one dual channel preamp with compression and equalization that can handle the job and it has the most clearly defined user interface I’ve ever seen. The Mindprint DTC Dual-Tube Channel Mic Preamp gives us 2 channels of boutique-quality pre-amplification with an extended dynamic range that must be heard to be believed.


     Let’s start off with the input section. It has balanced inputs for both microphone and line in with a gain control from +20 to +72db. It also incorporates phantom power, phase reverse and has a –20db pad for super hot microphones. A switch controls whether it is in mic or line input mode and 2 instrument inputs on the front panel automatically switch off the line and digital inputs when a 1/4” plug is inserted. I love idiot-proof stuff.


     Balanced/unbalanced send and returns as well as channel inserts are included for outboard gear. Another idiot proof feature is that when you plug an unbalanced cable into them, they automatically switch to unbalanced and vice-versa. However, you have to engage the insert button in order to allow the signal to flow to the outboard gear and back.


     The meters on this unit are integral to the design and consist of 4 quadrants of  LED’s that arranged in a circle around a circular, etched glass window that allows you to peer into the inner workings of the unit and gawk at the tubes as they heat up and respond to the dynamics. The leftmost 2 quadrants are associated with the compressor while the ones on the right show the either the input or output levels controllable via a front panel switch.


      The equalizer is set up so that each band of the signal is processed separately and can be engaged individually. They call this PureParallel ™ processing. The other thing I really like about the equalizer is that the illustrations on the front panel really do a good job as far as telling you what each control does. The eq sections include low and high cut filters, sweep-able low and high shelving filters and low-mid and high-mid band pass filters. As I mentioned earlier, each one of these can be turned on and off by a front panel switch.


     The compressor/limiter is of the opto-coupler type and has a simple to use interface. It includes limit/compression knob, a release knob and on, link and filter switches. The limit compression control is set up so that as you the knob counter-clockwise from the 12 o’clock position, it goes from 0db limiting to mild compression as the knob reaches its stopping point


    The filter button removes low frequencies that make the compressor overreact while the link button allows both compressors to act independently or in sync. 


    Optional enhancements include AES/BEU, USB, S/PDIF modules that can connect to a variety of digital mixers and interfaces.


    I think the Mindprint DTC Dual-Tube Channel Mic Preamp is a bargain at $1899 and I figure we’ll need 6 of them—$11394..00 


    Here’s the tally so far—12-Shure Shure SM57's ($1199.88), 1- Earthwork's DK/25L ($1699.99),  1- Sennheiser's evolution e906 ($189.99), 1- AKG C 414 B-XL II Condenser Microphone ($999.00), 1- TLM 49 ($1499.00), 1- Blue's "The Bottle" and the 8 optional capsules ($7990), 1- Blue ROBBIE Tube Microphone Preamp ($999.00), 1- Summit Audio TLA-50 Tube Leveling Amplifier ($629.99), 1- A-Designs EM-PEQ Equalizer in compact 500 Series Module ($1295.00) and 6-Mindprint DTC Dual Channel Preamps with compression and eq ($11394.00) Drum roll please—$27,898.00, give or take a few cents.


Next month—Hard disk recorder or Computer based DAW? We’ll decide.

     In  the last article, we picked out a group of microphones to use in our no-expense spared studio. The next thing in the signal chain will be our mic pre-amps and outboard signal processors as they relate to input. We’ll get to the outboard gear for post-recording effects later.


     One of the mics we chose was Blue's "The Bottle" condenser microphone with optional interchangeable capsules. To match up with it, my recommendation is to use—wait for it— Blue ROBBIE Tube Microphone Preamp . It’s cool looking and simple to use (one knob of the front). The back panel has buttons that control the phantom power, phase, pad (-20db) and whether the input is a mic or an instrumnet since it can be used as DI as well. The only drawback I can see is that the output is only XLR so you can’t plug it into a line level input on a mixer without using an adapter. All this for the bargain price of $999


     We’ll need a compressor to control transients and an equalizer to round out the sound. The compressor I’ve chosen is Summit Audio TLA-50 Tube Leveling Amplifier . Its automatic level matching is cool (one less knob or switch) and it can be stereo linked with another TLA-50 for mixdown or stereo recording use. It’s a bargain at $629.99

Copyright 2008




LGM Productions

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