Mic Pre's and DAW Interfaces

b7string

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Hi Guys,

Quick question. I'm looking at overhauling my setup. I'm going to be purchasing some sort of Focusrite interface (Probably the pro40). I was also looking at the ISA one, which is a mic pre. But here is my issue, if I were to buy a nice mic pre, and then run it into my interface with an xlr cable, am I not defeating the purpose of having a nicer preamp? May as well just run the mic into the interface and skip the preamp.

Now if I were to buy a mic pre with a digital output, and run that into the digital input of my interface, it would skip the interface's preamp section, and this seems to me like the best option. But many affordable ($500-$1000) preamps don't seem to offer this option :scratch:

Am I wrong? Am I right? I'm new to the recording thing so any input is appreciated.

Thanks in advance!:wavey:
 

KingAenarion

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Hi Guys,

Quick question. I'm looking at overhauling my setup. I'm going to be purchasing some sort of Focusrite interface (Probably the pro40). I was also looking at the ISA one, which is a mic pre. But here is my issue, if I were to buy a nice mic pre, and then run it into my interface with an xlr cable, am I not defeating the purpose of having a nicer preamp? May as well just run the mic into the interface and skip the preamp.

Now if I were to buy a mic pre with a digital output, and run that into the digital input of my interface, it would skip the interface's preamp section, and this seems to me like the best option. But many affordable ($500-$1000) preamps don't seem to offer this option :scratch:

Am I wrong? Am I right? I'm new to the recording thing so any input is appreciated.

Thanks in advance!:wavey:

Well the other reason that it's not really doing what you're doing is that the preamp would still be let down by the A/D conversion in the saffires.

I would suggest purchasing a better interface with better preamps in it. Perhaps a MOTU or an RME.

As to plugging it in, You would use a line level signal from a preamp into the focusrite (1/4" inputs on the back).

The ISA One has a Digital version... To be honest though, if you want to go the external preamp I reckon you should look at the new ART Valve Preamp... it is sexy and almost unbeatable for price.
 

Speculum Speculorum

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Hey b7,

I have the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14, and I am also using the ISA One. I link in my ISA One through a line input and I get great, great, GREAT sound out of it. The Saffire preamps are also pretty sweet. I've been running a condenser through it when working on stereo acoustic guitar and I am pretty happy with how clear it is. The ISA is, of course, better, but I would feel very comfy taking my Saffire along to record, let's say, a string quartet with a pair of OH's using just the 2 Focusrite preamps on my interface.

Just make sure that when you run into the line input that you set up Mix Control so that the line input is on "low gain", which adds 0 dbs to the signal. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why I was getting hissing with so little gain on the ISA One, and upon troubleshooting, discovered that it had automatically set it up for high gain, which adds 30 dbs into the signal chain. Sigh... :lol:
 

Winspear

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Yep once again, line inputs :) It's the pre that colours the sound not the line input.

I'm doing this next year. I wanted an RME PciE interface but they don't offer any with pres, so I'm getting the Multiface II (only line ins) and running an ISA One into it as my first pre :)

Digital is the other option - like has been mentioned the ISA has an optional digital card. You'd then plug that into a digital input on the interface. That way you'd be using the ISA A/D rather than the interfaces A/D - using the interface strictly to get the signal to the computer and not change it in any way. In my case for example, I am certain the RME A/D will be better.
 

b7string

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Well the other reason that it's not really doing what you're doing is that the preamp would still be let down by the A/D conversion in the saffires.

I would suggest purchasing a better interface with better preamps in it. Perhaps a MOTU or an RME.

As to plugging it in, You would use a line level signal from a preamp into the focusrite (1/4" inputs on the back).

The ISA One has a Digital version... To be honest though, if you want to go the external preamp I reckon you should look at the new ART Valve Preamp... it is sexy and almost unbeatable for price.


Hey b7,

I have the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14, and I am also using the ISA One. I link in my ISA One through a line input and I get great, great, GREAT sound out of it. The Saffire preamps are also pretty sweet. I've been running a condenser through it when working on stereo acoustic guitar and I am pretty happy with how clear it is. The ISA is, of course, better, but I would feel very comfy taking my Saffire along to record, let's say, a string quartet with a pair of OH's using just the 2 Focusrite preamps on my interface.

Just make sure that when you run into the line input that you set up Mix Control so that the line input is on "low gain", which adds 0 dbs to the signal. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why I was getting hissing with so little gain on the ISA One, and upon troubleshooting, discovered that it had automatically set it up for high gain, which adds 30 dbs into the signal chain. Sigh... :lol:


Yep once again, line inputs :) It's the pre that colours the sound not the line input.

I'm doing this next year. I wanted an RME PciE interface but they don't offer any with pres, so I'm getting the Multiface II (only line ins) and running an ISA One into it as my first pre :)

Digital is the other option - like has been mentioned the ISA has an optional digital card. You'd then plug that into a digital input on the interface. That way you'd be using the ISA A/D rather than the interfaces A/D - using the interface strictly to get the signal to the computer and not change it in any way. In my case for example, I am certain the RME A/D will be better.

Thanks for the wealth of info guys, you've brought to my attention a couple things I hadn't thought about.

1. Quality of the A/D conversion
2. Routing options and line inputs vs pre's on an interface

I'm not totally set on focusrite stuff but I've heard very good things, and they offer many features at a great price point. I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for other options though.
 

Winspear

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Yeah I've heard great things too!
The ISA seemed a great choice for me because it also offers the DI input for guitar. Variable impedences are cool too! And it may be a single pre but you can record two signals at once (DI + Mic) into two line inputs which is cool :) The cue mix is a very nice feature too depending on your needs.

Another option you may want to look into is the Audient Mico. It was between that and the ISA for me.
 

Ryan-ZenGtr-

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Have a look at the results of some scientific tests, performed by a member at Gearslutz. the results are very surprising.

The Ultimate Converter DA/AD Loopback Shootout Thread! - Gearslutz.com

They looked for total added distortion to the input signal. Differences were collated and used to compare various low and high end interfaces. the Motu 828 mk 2 came off very well, especially for an older unit which can be found inexpensively on a certain auction site. :D
 

b7string

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Yeah I've heard great things too!
The ISA seemed a great choice for me because it also offers the DI input for guitar. Variable impedences are cool too! And it may be a single pre but you can record two signals at once (DI + Mic) into two line inputs which is cool :) The cue mix is a very nice feature too depending on your needs.

Another option you may want to look into is the Audient Mico. It was between that and the ISA for me.

Hmm this one looks very well suited to my needs, we planned on dual micing the speaker with a condenser and a 57, and this unit seems perfect (in this price point) for that application.

Have a look at the results of some scientific tests, performed by a member at Gearslutz. the results are very surprising.

The Ultimate Converter DA/AD Loopback Shootout Thread! - Gearslutz.com

They looked for total added distortion to the input signal. Differences were collated and used to compare various low and high end interfaces. the Motu 828 mk 2 came off very well, especially for an older unit which can be found inexpensively on a certain auction site. :D

Thanks for the link, cool thread, I'll definitely check out the MOTU interfaces in there. Very informative. Interesting to see how many brands and price points compare.
 


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