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DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:20 pm
by blanik
i just bought a good quality DI to record analog synths but while searching through posts on this site i found a lot of references to plugging the synth in a preamp?? what's the usual (traditional) way of recording analog synths?

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:27 pm
by Sir Ruff
blanik wrote:i just bought a good quality DI to record analog synths but while searching through posts on this site i found a lot of references to plugging the synth in a preamp?? what's the usual (traditional) way of recording analog synths?
the traditional way would be to mic the amp it is playing from! but really, there is no standard way... if you have a nice preamp, then it would make sense to use it, but I imagine a lot of people just do DI. The main thing is does it sound good or not?

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:11 pm
by blanik
i can do it anyway i want, i have mics, amps, a good soundcard with good pres, i can even borrow a friend's telefunken tube line preamp if i have serious work to do but i prefer to avoid miking an amp since i would loose low frequencies, so it,s mainly between DI and straight to preamp (although i prefer hearing it from an amp than monitors for sheer ambiance) so my plan was DIing to the soundcard and sending the DIs through to an amp...

the main reason for my question is about impedance, i read somewhere that i NEED to us a DI to correct the impedance before sending it to a pre or soundcard... :?:

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:15 pm
by GeneralBigbag
You can plug synths directly into a sound card - there's no impedance problems. A lot of people talking about getting a nice pre for their synths are getting a nice pre with a DI input, e.g., the Great River pre. The DI input on a preamp is set up for instrument level signals, and often bypasses the input transformer.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:58 am
by steveman
You shouldn't need a DI to record synths as most are line level. You only need a DI if you plan on going into a preamp to give it some character. Output of a DI intended for the Mic input of your Pre. You don't need a DI to go straight into your soundcard.
There's a lot of myths floating around DIs and 'reamping' about how you 'need these devices otherwise the impedances won't match and it'll ruin everything'. Myths generally spread by the companies selling these devices ;)

General rule, if the output impedance of your instrument is a lot lower than the input impedance of your mixer / soundcard, it's not an issue.
The only instruments where this is likely are the aforementioned electric stringed devices - these have pretty high output impedance (10 - 20K ohm). That's why DI inputs are usually 500k - 1M ohm impedance.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:31 am
by blanik
steveman wrote:You shouldn't need a DI to record synths as most are line level. You only need a DI if you plan on going into a preamp to give it some character. Output of a DI intended for the Mic input of your Pre. You don't need a DI to go straight into your soundcard.
There's a lot of myths floating around DIs and 'reamping' about how you 'need these devices otherwise the impedances won't match and it'll ruin everything'. Myths generally spread by the companies selling these devices ;)

General rule, if the output impedance of your instrument is a lot lower than the input impedance of your mixer / soundcard, it's not an issue.
The only instruments where this is likely are the aforementioned electric stringed devices - these have pretty high output impedance (10 - 20K ohm). That's why DI inputs are usually 500k - 1M ohm impedance.
thanks! the synths i have are a SH-09 and two Crumars (organ and strings), would those have a decent impedance for straight to card plunging? (although i initially bought the DI to be able to record the synth at the same time i'm blasting it through a fender :-)

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:42 am
by nvbrkr
I'm pretty sure the most common way these days is to use a mixer between the synth and the soundcard. You'll usually have an FX box of some sort there too.

Miking up synthesizers through an amp is unfortunately a lost trade. Wish people would be doing that more as its simply just one major part of the vintage sound, and actually does help the mixing process considerably if other sounds have been recorded the same way. When people complain about the newer analogs not sounding as good as the old analogs, I always have to wonder why this aspect isn't even taken into account in the usual argumentation.

When doubling up synth lines, I think it's worth trying to record one direct and other by miking it up. You can get "more bass" by other means as well, by the way (like trying to place the microphone at a different angle for starters, or you can just try to mike up a studio monitor instead). You should notice in the mixing stage that most analog synths tend to have too much bass that in a more dense mix will just not be a terribly desirable thing. Often you'll have to just cut it off anyway.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:35 pm
by madtheory
Your Roland and Crumars will have no problem at all driving a line input. No need for anything else in the signal path- if you want it clean go straight in to the soundcard line input.

However, there's a nice range of extra colours to be had using the wrong impedance such as with a DI box, or by miking up an amp. For example, if you've an Ampeg SVT tube amp, those are magic for synth bass. Even a plugin version is good.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:46 pm
by cornutt
nvbrkr wrote:Miking up synthesizers through an amp is unfortunately a lost trade. Wish people would be doing that more as its simply just one major part of the vintage sound, and actually does help the mixing process considerably if other sounds have been recorded the same way. When people complain about the newer analogs not sounding as good as the old analogs, I always have to wonder why this aspect isn't even taken into account in the usual argumentation.
I doubt that very many synths were miked up, even back in the day. I used to read a lot of the studio magazines in the '70s, and I hardly ever recall anyone saying that they miked up a synth, unless they did it to get a specific sound. Rhodes pianos were usually miked, and early Mk II Mellotrons had to be miked because they didn't have a line output. Synths, not usually.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:43 pm
by nvbrkr
cornutt wrote:
nvbrkr wrote:Miking up synthesizers through an amp is unfortunately a lost trade. Wish people would be doing that more as its simply just one major part of the vintage sound, and actually does help the mixing process considerably if other sounds have been recorded the same way. When people complain about the newer analogs not sounding as good as the old analogs, I always have to wonder why this aspect isn't even taken into account in the usual argumentation.
I doubt that very many synths were miked up, even back in the day. I used to read a lot of the studio magazines in the '70s, and I hardly ever recall anyone saying that they miked up a synth, unless they did it to get a specific sound. Rhodes pianos were usually miked, and early Mk II Mellotrons had to be miked because they didn't have a line output. Synths, not usually.
Well, this just broke my entire Weltanschaunung into pieces.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:41 pm
by Jinsai
It really depends on the record and the sound. Generally, you can tell when synths were recorded through an amp (because they sound midrangey, distorted, and don't have crisp high or low-end). It actually took until the early 80s before manufacturers even began offering synth-specific amplifiers.

Prior to this, synths were played through guitar or bass amps, Leslies, electric piano amps, and PAs. There are impedance issues with the synth's line level hitting the guitar/bass level input. There are also issues with the amp's speakers coloring the sound, etc.

But some people prefer those sounds.

Just do what you think sounds the best, balanced against what's easiest.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:56 pm
by nvbrkr
Oh yeah, and this must be emphasized: even if I myself speak about the benefits of miking up an amplifer - don't connect just about any synthesizer to any guitar amp. The speaker cannot necessarily handle the low end coming from synthesizers, and you might end up killing it.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:07 pm
by JSRockit
GeneralBigbag wrote:You can plug synths directly into a sound card - there's no impedance problems. A lot of people talking about getting a nice pre for their synths are getting a nice pre with a DI input, e.g., the Great River pre. The DI input on a preamp is set up for instrument level signals, and often bypasses the input transformer.
I use the great river ME-1NV but don't use the DI. I use a Radial JDI so I can go right into the Mic in. That said, this stuff makes an incremental difference (especially if your converters aren't top notch) and really, good synth programming and effects will give more character to your sound that a pre-amp. I'd say the preamp is the icing on the cake.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:27 am
by madtheory
cornutt wrote: I doubt that very many synths were miked up, even back in the day. I used to read a lot of the studio magazines in the '70s, and I hardly ever recall anyone saying that they miked up a synth...
Depends on which artist. Here's a good example- that killer bass sound on Thomas Dolby's She Blinded me with science. It's a Moog. But run through an Ampeg SVT.

Re: DI or preamp to record analog synths???

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:51 am
by futureworlder
madtheory wrote:
cornutt wrote: I doubt that very many synths were miked up, even back in the day. I used to read a lot of the studio magazines in the '70s, and I hardly ever recall anyone saying that they miked up a synth...
Depends on which artist. Here's a good example- that killer bass sound on Thomas Dolby's She Blinded me with science. It's a Moog. But run through an Ampeg SVT.
Yeah, I gotta plus one on this; I used to play my Juno 60 live through a vintage Ampeg VT-22 with a built-in spring reverb tank and loaded with NOS Jensen tubes & Celestion Greenbacks and the end result was a monstrous wall of synth- especially when pushed into soft clipping. When we recorded the parts in the studio and tried running it through a DI, then into a vintage Neve console, it just sounded too clean and 'modern'. That old amp was about as old as I was and gave the Juno a megaphone to scream through. So we ended up dragging the VT-22 into the studio and miking it up with a pair of SM-57's to achieve that raw 'live' sound.

Ladytron's latest album Velocifero was recorded this way as well and you can definitely hear the difference; if I'm not mistaken they recorded Mira's MS-20 through a Marshall stack. Rock & roll.