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Recording Pre-amps and questions for dummies

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
Hi,
I usually record at home through an SM58 and audio interface. To my poor ears it gets the job done and any lacking I detect is more down to my own skill level and recording knowledge. If I had more skill, knowledge and acute hearing maybe I'd be asking about dedicated top quality tools for the job.

So given that I'm happy to plod along, I rarely use my LCM 89 (condenser sax mic) as I don't seem to achieve better results and its slightly more of a fiddle to set up but it does have a pre amp with phantom power that my audio interface does not.

Now I want to try a large diaphragm condenser mic because of its reputation and doing some hobby recording with a vocalist.
More precisely its a Rode NT1-A.

Finally I get to the question......
Will the pre amp/phantom power from the LCMM 89 be OK with a Rode NT1A?
Are they all compatable?
Could it damage the mic or the amp because they shouldn't be paired up?

Thanks for looking.
 
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Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
I'd have thought it wouldn't be a problem.
Thanks Nick,
I'm with you but I have no real knowledge.
In my mind its's just a 48v power supply designed to take a condenser mic. I can't see that any thresholds/ sensitivity and other terms that I get confused about from one mic to the other should be different enough to cause a problem.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,094
Hi,
I usually record at home through an SM58 and audio interface. To my poor ears it gets the job done and any lacking I detect is more down to my own skill level and recording knowledge. If I had more skill, knowledge and acute hearing maybe I'd be asking about dedicated top quality tools for the job.

So given that I'm happy to plod along, I rarely use my LCM 89 (condenser sax mic) as I don't seem to achieve better results and its slightly more of a fiddle to set up but it does have a pre amp with phantom power that my audio interface does not.

Now I want to try a large diaphragm condenser mic because of its reputation and doing some hobby recording with a vocalist.
More precisely its a Rode NT1-A.

Finally I get to the question......
Will the pre amp/phantom power from the LCMM 89 be OK with a Rode NT1A?
Are they all compatable?
Could it damage the mic or the amp because they shouldn't be paired up?

Thanks for looking.

Hi Saxlicker,

Is the LCM 89 this one:
LCM 89

This says the mic in the SD system is back-electret, this means the plates in the mic have a static charge, the NT1a from memory is externally polarized, this means it needs power to create the voltage difference. Both mics will need power for the mic head amp that built into them, but the mic head amp probably doesn't need 48v so the SD system could well be pushing out less than 48v as it only need to power the mic head amp.

Also, the in the pic it looks like it either uses a mini XLR or possibly a jack or some other connection for the input. The output looks like a full size XLR. The Rode will have full size XLR.

You can buy stand alone phantom power supplies if it comes to it, but hopefully you'll be able to use your SD thing if that is what you have.

All the best,

Chris
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,199
You can buy stand alone phantom power supplies if it comes to it, but hopefully you'll be able to use

Maybe even a small tube preamp. In the past I used a very cheap Behringer that helped quite a lot warming the sound
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,094
Maybe even a small tube preamp. In the past I used a very cheap Behringer that helped quite a lot warming the sound

Until I got my interface I was thinking of playing around with one of these:

ART Pro Audio

I think they are around £35. - No idea if they are any good, but I like tubes. :)

All the best,

Chris
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,199
Until I got my interface I was thinking of playing around with one of these:

http://artproaudio.com/art_products/signal_processing/signal_channel_tube_preamps/product/tube_mp-original/

I think they are around £35. - No idea if they are any good, but I like tubes. :)

Tubes=good
Transistors=bad


It looks much better than mine.
Maybe I should get rid of the Behringer.

The issue of the interface receiving a "beautiful signal" actually makes sense.
I liked the Rode when I used it, but I must say that last month a proper engineer recorded me with a sm57 (in a studio) and managed to have one of the best recorded sounds I ever did.
 
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Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
Thank you for information guys!
Yes thats the LCM 89 I spoke of.
So.......
(At the cost of a XLR to TRS cable)
It looks like I have a chance to run an XLR to TRS cable from a rode NT1A into the input as that is what the pre amp part input female is.
The output is an XLR, so via the XLR/XLR cable through my USB audio interface.
Does that sound right?

Alternatively.....
(If I got the Tube MP)
I would need do a similar thing except all connections would be XLR?
i.e.
NT1A via XLR/XLR into the TubeMP and Output to the USB audio interface via XLR/XLR?

Any thoughts on which would be the better route?

A third option I suppose would be something like this but the cost is rising all the time.
A USB mixing desk with phantom power
http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/peavey-pv-8-usb-8-channel-compact-mixer-with-usb-i-o--72009
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
SD Systems give zero info on their preamps on their website, but I doubt it would be suitable
An XLR to TRS cable wouldn't work because you need the third pin of the XLR connector to carry the 48 volt phantom power to the Rode mic
What audio interface are you using with your computer?
it's possible that the interface may have a phantom power facility, it should say something in the manual if it has, or have a switch on the side labelled 48v phantom or similar

If not the "NT1A via XLR/XLR into the TubeMP and Output to the USB audio interface via XLR/XLR" method will work

opinions are mixed on the ART Tube MP - some love it, others don't - that's the problem with internet reviews..
the people who dislike it are probably unfairly comparing it to more expensive gear or expecting some kind of vintage magic from the tube preamp, which is unrealistic for the price
but for 30 odd quid it's probably ok, alternatively you could just get a phantom power supply like the ART Phantom II or the Samson S Phantom
The Peavey USB mixer would work and you wouldn't need to plug it into your existing audio interface - ie Mic via XLR/XLR to mixer, and mixer via USB lead to computer. You'd probably have to install the drivers for the USB mixer and set up your recording software to recognise it. It's only got a stereo output, so you couldn't record all eight channels simultaneously, only combined as a stereo mix or overdubbed individually - if that makes sense

hope this has helped and not just confused you further
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
An XLR to TRS cable wouldn't work because you need the third pin of the XLR connector to carry the 48 volt phantom power to the Rode mic


What audio interface are you using with your computer?

Hi thanks for your help,
Thats interesting about the TRS idea not working.... any idea what SD systems have used on their jack that goes into the pre amp then?

The audio interface is a cheapo Lexicon Alpha. It has served me well up to now especially at £57 but I think it falls short of phantom power, I'll double check.
It's this kind of change in requirements that you want to foresee when buying gear I suppose.
Hence I think I may have to find the extra cash to get the Peavey.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
there's a difference between phantom power for condenser mics and the bias voltage for electret mics - http://www.shure.com/americas/support/technical-library/phantom-power-and-bias-voltage-is-there-a-difference
phantom power is always connected via XLR leads, electret bias can be sent down a jack lead

The Lexicon Alpha doesn't have phantom power "The Alpha does not supply the +48V required to power a condenser microphone. A condenser microphone can be used with the Alpha only if it is powered by an external phantom power supply"

If all you want to do is to plug the Rode NT1a into your existing gear, then an external phantom power supply will do the job.

There's always a danger with buying new hi tech gear like the Peavey PV8 USB that you'll end up encountering fresh headaches when all you want to do is record some music. I just read the pdf users manual for the PV8 usb on Peavey's website and there's no tutorial on how to set it up and use it, just a description of what all the buttons do and the technical specs
Considering that this equipment is going to be bought by people new to the whole process of recording, I'd've hoped that they'd include some better instructions with it. It's not entirely clear how you listen back to what you've already recorded while overdubbing an extra track - there's a button there somewhere that'll do it, now which one is it? Maybe there's more info included with the mixer than is in the pdf users manual
At least you don't have to install any drivers for the usb interface

Unless you've a specific reason to own a usb mixer, I'd suggest sticking with the gear you already know how to use and just add something to give you the phantom power. There'll be a lot less cursing and swearing and a lot more music being recorded

If you've other ambitions beyond the scope of your Lexicon Alpha, let us know what they are and we'll try to give advice
 
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Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
Unless you've a specific reason to own a usb mixer, I'd suggest sticking with the gear you already know how to use and just add something to give you the phantom power. There'll be a lot less cursing and swearing and a lot more music being recorded

If you've other ambitions beyond the scope of your Lexicon Alpha, let us know what they are and we'll try to give advice

I hear that and thanks again for your great and very considered answer!
I guess my ambitions beyond the alpha are this....
1) Definitely want phantom power,
2) Would like to feel I am taking at least a small step up the quality ladder.
3) Would like to avoid daisy chaining bits of kit with adaptors etc.
4) Would like to stop spending after this! capability beyond my needs with chosen purchase this time.
5) Would like to have something that could be useful gigging too.

My needs?
Will probably only use garage band or similar as software
Cannot foresee needing more than a couple of channels live
Don't want to get into recording more than one thing at a time
Phantom power
No latency with software.
 

Saxade

Senior Member
Messages
287
A Rode NT1-A is what I currently use through my Focusrite Saffire Pro 24.. all phantom power if that's any help.... ;}
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,949
Actually it is possible to put phantom power through a TRS cable. However, it is frowned upon method.
How so Paul?

A Rode NT1-A is what I currently use through my Focusrite Saffire Pro 24.. all phantom power if that's any help.... ;}
Thanks Ade


I see with further research that a Rode NT 3 is phantom power or 9V battery suppliment.
Would that work with the lexicon Alpha using the battery then?
Would I be just as well off with the SM 58 in that case (The reason I looked at the NT1A was its reputed vocal mic capability)?
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,094
How so Paul?


Thanks Ade


I see with further research that a Rode NT 3 is phantom power or 9V battery suppliment.
Would that work with the lexicon Alpha using the battery then?
Would I be just as well off with the SM 58 in that case (The reason I looked at the NT1A was its reputed vocal mic capability)?

If you plug in and/or unplug a TRS plug with the phantom power is still on you can create an electrical short, this has the potential to damage the electronics.

The NT3 with a 9v Battery should work with your Lexicon Alpha if you use the 9V Battery, it was briefly discussed in this thread: http://cafesaxophone.com/showthread.php?6497-Which-Mic-should-i-choose

ATB,

Chris
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
Actually it is possible to put phantom power through a TRS cable. However, it is frowned upon method.

How so Paul?
If you plug in and/or unplug a TRS plug with the phantom power is still on you can create an electrical short, this has the potential to damage the electronics.

The NT3 with a 9v Battery should work with your Lexicon Alpha if you use the 9V Battery, it was briefly discussed in this thread: http://cafesaxophone.com/showthread.php?6497-Which-Mic-should-i-choose

ATB,

Chris

Well, connecting and disconnecting whilst the power is on is bad practice anyhow. There is however, a potential that the charge hasn't left the microphone. That said most modern condensers are very tough and are unlikely to be damaged by unplugging the 48v whilst it is still on. The best thing though is to make sure that everything is turned off before the re-patch!

The link below should help answer all the questions:

http://www.uneeda-audio.com/phantom/

Any questions ask away.

DISCLAIMER: There is a risk so follow the precautions.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
Would I be just as well off with the SM 58 in that case (The reason I looked at the NT1A was its reputed vocal mic capability)?

IMO the SM-58 would be your best bet for the sax and vocals. Superb mic or you could use the SM-57 for the Sax and the SM-58 for Vocals coupled with a Saffire USB 6 and you're good to go!
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
I think the main reason for not sending phantom power down a jack plug is the danger of accidentally plugging it into the wrong socket and frying your equipment.

In this particular case there would be no point attempting to wire up a jack lead to supply phantom power since the SD Systems preamp with the jack socket doesn't supply 48 volt phantom power

there are various battery powered microphones available - eg Rode M3, Rode NT3, AKG C1000S, Audio Technica 8031
my Rode NT3 is ok, but nothing special and a friend of mine doesn't like his AKG C1000S much for recording tenor sax
your SD Systems mic is probably just as good
If you're planning on recording vocals, try the SM58 first, some people prefer them for recording vocals - I saw a documentary of Bjork recording with one - and they're often used for recording loud rock vocalists. Plus giving a handheld mic to a singer gives them more room to move around

I did a bit of research on the cheaper USB mixers and I doubt that there'd be any improvement in sound quality over your Lexicon Alpha. There aren't that many reviews online except this one for the Peavey - http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul10/articles/peaveypv6pv8usb.htm
Magazines like Sound On Sound rarely say anything too negative in case they annoy their advertisers
 
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