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  #1  
Old 06-20-2014, 01:52 AM
vitolanzafame vitolanzafame is offline
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Default Chains and signals

I was wondering if someone could help clear up some fundamental questions that i've asked lots of people in the recording business but without getting concrete answers.
Its to do ultimately getting the most faithful and pure sound possible.

I have an Mbox mini.
I was going to invest in a nice DI box like a Radial, and also a half decent mic pre like a focusrite ISA One.

But then i thought: the signal from my nice DI box (of say, a bass) is then going to go into the line in of my mbox, and then through the converter in my mbox. (Not to put the mbox down, but I don't know how high the quality of its converters and pre amps are.) So is my mbox essentially letting down other high quality elements in the chain (mics, mic pres, DI boxes etc) ?

Is it pointless to invest in great mic pres and mics without having really good converters and inputs? (and on this point, is the DI input in my mbox also a pre amp stage which colours the sound, or is it just a transparent DI?)

I know the answer is often "if it sounds good then use it". I do think the mbox sounds good. But then i hear something which is on a whole other level, and I'm basically trying to get as close to that as i can, but want to understand which elements i need to be spending on (and not potentially wasting money on)

I hope someone can help with some of these points!

thanks very much

Tom
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  #2  
Old 06-20-2014, 04:19 AM
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crizdee crizdee is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitolanzafame View Post
I was wondering if someone could help clear up some fundamental questions that i've asked lots of people in the recording business but without getting concrete answers.
Its to do ultimately getting the most faithful and pure sound possible.

I have an Mbox mini.
I was going to invest in a nice DI box like a Radial, and also a half decent mic pre like a focusrite ISA One.

But then i thought: the signal from my nice DI box (of say, a bass) is then going to go into the line in of my mbox, and then through the converter in my mbox. (Not to put the mbox down, but I don't know how high the quality of its converters and pre amps are.) So is my mbox essentially letting down other high quality elements in the chain (mics, mic pres, DI boxes etc) ?

Is it pointless to invest in great mic pres and mics without having really good converters and inputs? (and on this point, is the DI input in my mbox also a pre amp stage which colours the sound, or is it just a transparent DI?)

I know the answer is often "if it sounds good then use it". I do think the mbox sounds good. But then i hear something which is on a whole other level, and I'm basically trying to get as close to that as i can, but want to understand which elements i need to be spending on (and not potentially wasting money on)

I hope someone can help with some of these points!

thanks very much

Tom
Hi,

The pre amps in the Radial or ISA one would definitely be an improvement over the preamps in the Mbox mini. you would then run the signal from the preamps into the "line" input (Bypassing the Mbox preamps and getting a much better preamp stage)

If you upgraded to a bigger Mbox with digital inputs then you could run digitally into the Mbox from say the ISA one and get an even better purer signal path.

Everything else in the chain must also match the quality of your preamp upgrade!! the mics you use, compressors if you use them going in, and room acoustics etc.


Chris
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  #3  
Old 06-27-2014, 07:10 AM
vitolanzafame vitolanzafame is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

Chris,

thanks for your reply, its useful.

So with a pre that has a digital out, i'm completely by passing audio output cables...? didn't realise i could do that.

Any thoughts on the conversion quality of the mbox mini? Do you know if the larger mbox you mentioned has better conversion?
This is obviously the last thing in my chain and i'm aware that i can spend a pretty penny on a/d converters. On the point you made about everything having to match the quality of the pre amp, I'm just questioning whether the converters in the mbox mini would also be slightly negating the point of a really good pre amp. (i'm trying to build a basic picture of priorities)

thanks again for taking the time.

Tom
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Old 06-27-2014, 09:31 AM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

Quote:
Originally Posted by vitolanzafame View Post
Chris,

thanks for your reply, its useful.

So with a pre that has a digital out, i'm completely by passing audio output cables[no, you are bypassing the analog INPUT circuitry]...? didn't realise i could do that.

Any thoughts on the conversion quality of the mbox mini? Which Mbox Mini are we talking about? Gen 2(the dark blue version) or gen 3(the charcoal colored version)? Gen 3 has better converters than gen 2, but there is a bit more to consider. The mini uses (IIRC) unbalanced quarter inch ins and outs(not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of). With a direct box, you would plug that into a mic input(xlr) and not a line or instrument input. Maybe more info on what you want to do would help get better advice Truthfully, the mini is an entry-level box and is great for folks that are just starting out, but at some point, most users will realize they want(or need) more(say you want to collaborate with a friend or you decide you want to record a drum kit), so maybe an interface with more IO would be a better way to spend your cash right now. +1 to crizdee's comment regarding the "entire chain", which includes the room acoustics(a lesson I learned the hard way with an expensive mic, an ISA preamp and a poorly treated room). If you really are looking for a single input at a time, but pushing the quality up, maybe instead of the ISA pre and a high-end DI box, the UA LA-610 would be a better option. The 610 pre is quite good(and has more "character" than the ISA(I have owned both), the compressor is nice(be gentle when recording because you can always add MORE compression, but you can never remove TOO MUCH if you record it that way) and its an amazing bass "channel strip" too. Food for thought
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Old 07-01-2014, 01:44 AM
vitolanzafame vitolanzafame is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

Hi Chris,

Its the latest version of the mbox mini that i have.

I very rarely record more than one inst at a time, so i'm not really looking for lots of inputs. I tend to build things up track by track, and its mainly vocals, and DI'd guitars, basses and synths where i really want to hear that excellent quality.

The AU LA610 looks great. Although it seems to sells itself on a 'signature sound' which i understand is a classic/ retro vibe? Although it seems more high end than the ISA, i think i'm looking for something more transparent... maybe something that doesn't have too much character.

Shame its so hard to test out pre amps in a realistic environment...

thanks again
Tom
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2014, 10:19 AM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

Given that your needs are simple, maybe there is a better "place" to spend on improvements. What do you record with a mic(don't say "vocals", say "metal screaming vocals, or soft jazz vocals, male or female"...you get the idea), AND, how are the acoustics of your room? And finally, what do you have right now for microphones? The Mbox 3 preamp is pretty darn clean and linear, so maybe what you really need is a better mic and/or a better acoustic space to record in(sometimes a bad case of GAS can over-ride sensible choices)




GAS=Gear Acquisition Syndrome
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  #7  
Old 07-04-2014, 07:53 AM
vitolanzafame vitolanzafame is offline
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Default Re: Chains and signals

I have had chronic GAS for the past ten years. Its good to talk about it, get it out in the open. I'm glad to hear that there is a term for it, thanks for telling me!! makes me understand what is happening to me.

fortunately, lack of funds are making sure that the syndrome is in check.

I mainly record soft male vocals, but having said that, as i only have one pre amp (that which is in the mbox3) it also serves for sticking mics infront of guitar cabs, and also recording acoustic guitars.

thanks for your help! where would you recommend i blow my doe?
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