New preamp/500 series chassis day - CAPI V28/Midas L10

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Drew, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Got these in the mail at the start of the week, and racked up and wired into my interface on Tuesday night. I've barely spent any time with them, so for now all I'll say is that really pushing the preamp gain really makes a difference on these vs setting it low on distorted guitar.

    For now, a picture.

    CAPI preamp.JPG

    If anyone could tell me how to load bulb's AxeFX III patches on these, I'd be much obliged. :yesway:
     
  2. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Yassssss. I love my VP312. I've heard these are killer on drums, especially overheads.

    Jokes aside, I actually do run my DI signal through my VP312, then line into my interface. It does sounds different in comparison to just going into the interface pre. These things have so much juice that its easy to really push it.

    Happy NGD!
     
  3. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I didn't build these, but I may try to build one or two 312s next - the V28 is supposed to have a punchier midrange while the 312s are supposed to be more open in the high end, and get a lot of praise on overheads. I went for the V28s mostly because I'd be using them primarily on guitars (when not using the BAE 1073MP below it, I need to spend some time figuring out which I prefer on what now), and I figured the low-pass would be worth having.
     
  4. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    Heard the Capi stuff is awesome. Congrats!
     
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I have VERY little time with this so far, and most of what I have done was super low volume testing, late at night, while sipping good tequila on the rocks, so take this with a margarita-sized pile of grains of salt...

    ...but in general, I'm impressed by how differently both the BAE and the CAPI stuff sounds from each other, and how both are (while offering slightly less in the way of a boost than the stock pres in my Apogee, which I think offer 80db of gain vs 74db for the BAE and CAPI) significantly less noisy than the (really, pretty decent) Apogee preamps. They also have more mass to them - things sound more sharply defined around the edges and more substantial, if that makes any sense.

    I'll try to do some A/B/C demos with DI tracks reamped through different preamps at some point, partly to prove to myself it isn't placebo, and partly because it really is pretty cool.
     
  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I spent some time tracking through these over the weekend, by the way, and these are great preamps. I was using them predominantly on acoustic guitars (though a bit of mandolin as well) and they sounded clean, detailed, and full. Also, both they and my BAE 1073MP are really impressively quieter than the stock Apogee pres, and that's hardly a "budget" interface. I'm happy with these.
     
  7. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    I've been thinking of picking up some CAPI or API preamps to complement my AMS Neve 1073s. How would you compare the sound of the CAPI to that of your BAE, especially when pushed into a bit of saturation?
     
  8. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    I completely bailed on the 500 series stuff a few years ago. I used to have some AML Neve 1073 clones, a pair of the the A-designs Pultecs, Chandler Little Devil pre's and EQs (those were amazing), and some other misc stuff.

    But I had a couple of bad modules repeatedly blow out multiple power supply chassis... for a period of time, an API 10u and a Purple 10u chassis kept alternating through their respective OEM repair techs. At one point, both were blown at the same time. When you have a huge investment in 500 series gear and your PS is down, you have a $10,000 rack of useless junk collecting dust while you're dead in the water. Not to mention that since my city is not a major media hub, there are no local qualified techs in my area, meaning for any repair work there is always an added burden of dealing with RMA's, packaging, shipping, and back-and-forth communication with techs for multiple OEMs... the whole thing was just way too overly complicated and time-consuming for my tastes.

    Not to mention there's a lot of quality and variability in the slotting and machining and unit quality control between the various 500 series OEMs, and even between the 2 of the exact same module. I had repeated issues with one of the Pultecs even though I had sent them to the OEM for servicing. One of the AML's had an issue with the rear Line Input, the other I suspected was one of the modules blowing out the PSs. I had a factory Lindell that arrived in non-working condition. A Safe Sound Audio compressor that slotted just fine, but wouldn't completely screw into the API chassis.... and fortunately it never gave me any audio problems, because the company went out of business shortly after I bought it.

    I realize that this scenario is not what the typical 500 series user experiences, but after the 3rd PS blowout, I sold it all and moved to Aurora Audio and Manley channel strips. Having channel strips with on-board PS's gives me the comfort of 'high availability' (if one PS goes down, all the others still work). An added positive side effect is that I spend a lot less less time patching and tinkering and mixing and matching modules, etc.... so a streamlined workflow was a surprisingly positive side benefit. Since the jump to channel strips, I've not had one single maintenance issue, possibly because I now have 5 units instead of 2 chassis plus 15 modules (a greater than 3x reduction in the number of things that can go wrong).

    All that said, the 500 series stuff definitely has a lot of merits. It's ubiquitous these days, really versatile in terms of being able to customize your chassis configurations, and there are some really excellent modules out there (did I mention the Chandler Lil' Devil modules are killer?!?!!), and I'm guessing the overall quality control of the OEMs has improved over the last several years as they've had time to adapt. I was a fairly early adopter of 500 series stuff, and all the OEMs were racing to jump on the bandwagon, so maybe that was part of the issue. In more just world, I would have had well performing modules and a stable PS situation and would have been very happy with them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  9. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Bill - man, talk about a string of bad luck. :lol: I think overall I still have a preference for the traditional 19" rack format, but the appeal of the 500-series stuff, for me, is that 1) you can fit a whole lot of different flavors in a small area, 2) it's comparatively speaking fairly affordable to try different things, 3) the shared power source, while as you point out can be a risk, is also a huge simplification, and 4) while I haven't dealt with this yet, there's evidently a pretty good secondhand market for 500-series units.

    I imagine down the road as I get a better feeling for where my preferences are I'll be investing increasingly in conventional "rack" preamps, but at the same time to be able to fit 10 channels (or 5 channels and 5 eqs.. or four channels, four eqs, and stereo compressors... etc) into a 3u space is pretty awesome and I imagine the chassis itself will continue to be part of my desk once I eventually buy something with more integrated rack space in it.

    Give me some more time to really get to know them on different sources - bigger picture, I haven't even done all that much tracking through the BAEs yet. At some point though I'll record a few DI's and then reamp them through the same mics but different preamps to give a better comparison. :yesway:
     
  10. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    The density of being able to put 10 modules into 3u was definitely part of the initial appeal for me, as was all the flavors you can mix and match. I'm a huge fan of using a light amount of high-quality, inbound pre/comp/eq on a signal before tape/DAW to reduce the amount of post-processing (though your commentary in the other thread is correct... it can be a dangerous approach if you don't know what you're doing).

    The nice thing about the Aurora GTQCs is they jam a 1073 clone pre, a basic EQ, plus the most amazingly versatile compressor in 1u form-factor. I don't know of any other product that matches the Auroras on a combination of quality and density. IMO the Manleys are every bit as high quality (in some aspects even higher than the AAs, and at a much lower price), but not nearly as dense. I also was surprised to learn there is one drawback related to the density of the 500s... tens of little knobs and small font markings crammed together in a dimly lit room can actually be a real nagging annoyance to deal with. I would tend to misread incorrect settings that I certainly would have seen on units with larger knobs or more clearly marked face-plates.

    I was also initially stoked about all the mixing and matching possibilities of the 500s, but what I found was I basically ended up using them as channel strips anyhow. I found a combination of pre/comp/EQ that worked, and rarely re-patched them.

    If I ever take the dive back into 500s (unlikely based on my past experience, current needs, and foreseeable financial priorities), I would get 2 racks - rack #1 would be a Chandler PS loaded with Lil Devils and TGs; rack #2 would be an API PS loaded with 512v's, 550b's, and 525's. That would limit the number of throats to choke down to 2 vendors, with each vendor's modules seated inside their own racks. Way anal, I know... but I very much a beaten dog after my last go 'round with the 500s!!!!
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Listen, I've been doing home recording in some form or other since 1999, and I'm just NOW gettin to the point where I'd be willing to try hitting a signal with EQ and compression on the way in, because I have a pretty good idea what I'm going to do to it in the mix anyway. I totally get you on that. :lol:
     
  12. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    It's relatively easy on modeled guitars, DI bass, etc... By far the biggest challenge most home recordists have is with live drums, and sometimes with a cranked amp. Mostly because of the lack of proper isolation.... it's hard to hear what you're tweaking on inbound when you have 30%-60% of the original signal bleeding into the control room.

    If I were ever going to start a pro audio OEM, my first product would be a 10 channel Neve-style pre circuit, with 2 or 3 frequency option high cut and low cut switches, a sweepable mid parametric, a very soft peak limiter, and the appropriate metering to provide feedback to user to properly inform them if they are hitting the limiter too hard, or if they need to push up the gain for optimal staging. Ideally in a 2u density, with the Chandler Devil pots and switches, but better knobs, face-plate markings, and LED metering. PCB cards for each channel would be fine (no need for point-to-point). Would try to hit a $2.5k-$3k price range. Functionally and sonically, I would try to make it as user-error proof as possible.

    In my fantasy world this would sell like gangbusters... something every recordist who mics live drums would use. There are lots of rainbow-colored unicorns in my fantasy world!!!!

    Anyhow sorry for the thread jack... enjoy those CAPIs!!!
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    :lol: No, it's cool, this stuff is interesting to me, too.

    The irony is the amp modeling set is sort of the polar opposite of the set that I could see spending good money on a hardware mic preamp. I think, though, bleed is less of an issue when you have some experience under your belt - one, the basic EQ tweaks you're likely to make on a particular part are not likely to be THAT heavyhanded (probably a high-pass filter, depending on the part possibly a slight tuck in the midrange as well), and two, it's not too hard to check by recording a short snippet and listening back, before tracking in earnest - in digital, that's still pretty costless.

    I have VERY little experience tracking live drums, but even then I could probably make myself commit to at least a couple EQ tweaks in tracking, and possibly some light overhead or room compression, as well. If I had enough compressors. :lol:

    $2.5-3k for a 10-channel pre with a good Neve style preamp and EQ would probably sell well indeed, though honestly I suspect they'd sell just as well as an 8 channel unit than a 10. :lol:
     
  14. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    I agree you really don't need great pre/EQs on a modeler, more thinking from the perspective of lower working volumes making inbound processing easier to assess for errors. Inbound compression is IMO the most useful type of inbound processing, because taming the signal gently in a of stages (inbound and mix) generally yields better results than using heavier compression in just the mix stage. But inbound compression is also fraught with danger. It's incredibly difficult to hear the effects of inbound compression on the transients of drums when you are getting bleed from the tracking room.

    My last studio (sold the biz a few years ago) was a converted outbuilding, roughly 3 cars wide and 2 cars deep. The entire downstairs was for live band and drum tracking, the upstairs was control room and a large vox/overdub booth. We didn't do 'double wall' construction between the downstairs and upstairs, but we did have the downstairs ceiling double drywalled, R-38 insulation in the joists, 3/4 ply the floor, very heavy pad, and 12mm T&G on the upstairs floor. The stairwell led up to an exterior door you had to pass through to get to the control room. And despite all this, you still got a heavy dose of drums in the control room.

    We usually ran the kick and Snare through a Vintech x73/Manly Elop chain, which was pretty hard to screw up. But then we had this Toft 2-channel pre/comp/eq thing which we usually used on overheads. I'm a big fan of using overheads as the foundational drum sound for non-metal styles of music, and then bringing the close-mic'd drums up into the overheads. The Toft compressor operated on that type of compression where the amount of gain you drive into if effects the amount of compression threshold you get out of it. The attack and release were just listed at F and S (not actual times). It was possibly the most maddening thing to work with when tracking drums ever. I learned a huge lesson on the first session that I tracked through it.... don't trust ever your ears in real time... always do a test tracking and validate your settings on the listen back BEFORE committing!!! Trying to recover lost transients is like trying to raise the Titanic from the sea floor!

    I think you're right about 8 channels vs 10.... guys who need to track larger kits can buy 2 of them!!! :cheers:
     
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...if nothing else, because so many interfaces are 8-in anyway, that the two extras are kind of extra. :lol:
     

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