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The Outboard Gear

High-end Mic Preamps architecture Mics, Line, and Instrument Direct Ins


Outboard Preamps Roles:

The MOTU mic preamps are very good for the price range of the MOTU 8pre-es: $1,195.00.

Sometimes you need a dedicated input module to manage your specialty microphones, especially if they are Ribbon mics.

Using the Reaper DAW Hardware outs 4, 5, & 6 each of the three preamps can be used as track processing hardware.

The primary microphones on the Stage amps are Royer ribbon mics and need precision gain management to deliver their premium sound.

The Avalon VT-737sp Channel Strip:

The Avalon VT-737sp channel strip is for Bass Guitar, Guitar Direct DAW inputs and external DAW track hardware processing.

When vocals or video dialog is required, it is a high-end condenser mic preamp channel for DAW recording.

It is also available for a Taylor acoustic guitar high-end condenser mic preamp channel or the Taylor and Seagull acoustic guitar DAW Direct input recording.

The Mike-e Channel Strip:

Empirical Labs EL-9 Mike-E Microphone Preamp & Compressor is paired with the Royer R-121 in the studio “go-to” pairing with a Shure SM 57 with the vintage boutique Kelley F.A.C.S. 30/60 driving the Scumback-BM75-LD speaker.

It is not possible to get the quality of one of eight preamps in the MOTU at the price point above with a preamp that costs $1,699.00 by itself.

Heritage Audio HA73EQ ELITE :

The Heritage Audio HA73EQ ELITE Microphone Preamp & EQ is paired with the Royer R-10 with a Shure SM Beta 57 for the modern Fender '65 Twin Reverb Neo 2x12" 85-watt Tube Combo Amp in “Wine Red”, a Sweetwater exclusive offering feeding the Celestion G12 Neo Creamback speakers. Once again, it is not possible to get the quality of one of eight preamps in the MOTU at the price point above with a preamp that costs $899.00 by itself.

Tracking the Five String Bass Guitars: Fender American Professional II Precision Bass V & the Ibanez BTB745:

When tracking either of the two Muse Cave studio bass guitars, the two preamps take on an entirely different set of roles.

The two devices are gained together to create a Preamp/Compressor/Saturator/ Neve 1073 harmonic finalizer with Neve-style 1073 EQ.

The Mike-e sets up the bass guitar signal for 1073 processing with its compression and harmonic saturation controlled with high frequency “Emphasis” management.

The HA-73 EQ uses Input Gain Staging and Output Input Level Matching for the MOTU 8pre-es line level preamp for the HA-73 EQ output signal. The iconic vintage EQ section offers a creative mix of 3 band EQ to finish the device pairing.

Although the Cave DAW uses track-level plugins sparingly, creating the best source material possible is always a Best Practice.

The term: “We will fix it in the mix” is BANNED in the Cave Studio. 😊


The Mike-e:

The Empirical Labs EL-9 Mike-e Microphone Preamp & Compressor

Empirical Labs’ Mike-E channel strip is a modern digitally controlled mic preamp. An extremely low-noise transformer on the input amplifier keeps the signal strong and clean.

The input section also features a high-performance DI for direct-input instruments such as guitar and bass.

Other features:
• Polarity Switch
• High-pass filter
• A 48V phantom power s
• The CompSat section
---- Saturator
---- Compressor
---- High Frequency Emphasis
---- Dry/Wet Mix Control

These four circuits come together in the Empirical Labs Mike-E to enhance your tracks with everything from classic knee compression and limiting to colorful vintage-style saturation.

Rear panel Mike-E features:
• Balanced and unbalanced I/O
• Sidechain input
• Stereo link jacks for linking two Mike-e for true stereo compression


The HA-1070 EQ:

Heritage Audio HA73EQ ELITE Microphone Preamp & EQ

Heritage Audio's value-packed Elite series leverages the expertise gleaned from years of making acclaimed vintage-inspired equipment.

The Heritage Audio HA73EQ Elite preamp/EQ packs your rack with a potent dose of vintage vibe. It's based on the iconic Neve 1073, amplifying any microphone or instrument with vibrant clarity and punch.

Drive the input harder to get rich, saturated sound like you would on a vintage console.

With 80dB of gain, you've got a preamp that's ready to bring out the best in any microphone — condenser, dynamic, or ribbon.

The EQ section of the HA73EQ Elite adheres to the classic Neve 1073 circuit topology.

The vintage Neve 1073 is the holy grail of EQ, and the Heritage Audio 73EQ JR nails its sonics and behavior, complete with its fabled harmonic distortion.

It's a three-band affair:
• ±16dB of fixed HF shelving
• ±18dB of fixed-Q mid-band peaking, with selectable center frequencies at:
---- 360Hz
---- 700Hz
---- 1.6kHz
---- 3.2kHz
---- 4.8kHz
---- 7.2kHz

• ±16dB of LF shelving with selectable at:
---- 35Hz
---- 60Hz
---- 110Hz
---- 220Hz

• A high-pass filter with selectable frequencies at:
---- 50Hz
---- 80Hz
---- 160Hz
---- 300Hz

The high-pass filter lets you trim your signals of unwanted low end.


The VT-737sp:
The Avalon VT-737sp is a high-resolution vacuum tube triode channel strip design offering a Class A preamp with mic, DI, and line-level input selections; a minimum-signal-path opto-compressor with stereo linking; and a 4-band discrete, Class A passive-filter EQ with two sweepable, switchable-Q mid bands.

Avalon packed the VT-737sp with the fruits of their considerable engineering expertise: high-voltage circuits for generous headroom, a discrete internal toroidal transformer-coupled power supply, a soft-start tube life extension feature, a retro-cool oval VU meter for monitoring compressor gain reduction and output level, and more.

With its quiet -92dB noise floor, ultra-wide frequency response (10Hz-120kHz, -2.5dB), and impressive build quality (as evidenced by its sealed silver relays for signal routing), the Avalon VT-737sp is an audiophile-grade channel strip that will elevate your sound.

Avalon VT-737sp Channel Strip at a Glance:
• Class A preamp design with three input selections
• Opto-compressor with minimum signal path
• Sweepable EQ and hardwired bypass

Class A preamp design with three input selections:
The VT-737sp has three input selections:
1. It features a higher-performance microphone input transformer with 48-volt phantom selection.
2. The VT-737sp offers an instrument DI high-source input with a jack located on front panel.
3. The VT-737sp includes a balanced line input with discrete high-level Class A circuitry.

Other Key Features:
• The Class A preamplifier utilizes two cascaded dual vacuum tube triodes configured with minimum negative feedback.
• A high-gain switch boosts the overall gain of the preamplifier.
• The four high-quality tubes are configured as singled-ended anode coupled followers
• A passive/variable high-pass filter
• Hardwired relay bypass completing the VT-737sp's input signal conditioning
• A phase reverse relay is available on all three inputs

The Opto-compressor with minimum signal path:

The VT-737sp's opto-compressor features a minimum signal path design with twin Class A vacuum tube triodes for gain matching.
The optical attenuator acts as a simple passive level controller.

Full dynamic control from soft compression to hard- knee limiting can be achieved with:
• Threshold
• Ratio-compression
• Attack and release controls
• Gain reduction selection on the large VU meter.

Special spectral control, including de-essing, is available with the dual sweep mid EQ to side-chain switch.

The VT-737sp's EQ section can be flipped pre or post the opto-compressor via a front-panel switch for alternate effects and tone shaping.

Two VT-737sps can be linked via a rear panel link cable for stereo tracking.

The compressor bypass is a sealed silver relay for the most direct signal path.

Sweepable EQ and hardwired bypass:
The VT-737sp equalizer utilizes 100% discrete, Class A-high-voltage transistors for optimum sonic performance.

The high- and low-frequency bands provide the smooth characteristics of an all-passive design, while the dual mid bands include variable frequency and switched Q-width selection.

The enhanced range of the VT-737sp's mid bands is extended into the high and low bands by the use of X10 frequency multipliers.

The bypass switch also incorporates a sealed silver relay for the most direct signal path.

Dual sweep mid EQ to side-chain switch:
• The dual sweep mid frequency band controls are used to increase the mid frequency “Sensitivity” for the compressor’s threshold: De-essing for example
• The high-low EQ remains in the audio path for "tone enhancement” and is in the signal path
• The dual mid bands EQ settings only affect the Side Chain signal and is not in the signal path

The output amplifier utilizes another dual triode vacuum tube driving a 100% discrete, Class A, high-current, balanced and DC coupled low noise output amplifier.

The output level control provides a variable control of the overall signal path.

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