Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

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thefonz003
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Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by thefonz003 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:29 am

Hello! I want to record music using GarageBand but my synthesizers produce a large amount of feedback. I have a mic preamp that does little to reduce said feedback. What's a good (but not bank-breaking for a grad student) preamp that will reduce feedback from powerful old synths? (Current gear: Yamaha SY77, Korg DSS-1, Electrix Warp Factory, E-mu Mo'Phatt, ARP Tube MP Preamp, May 2009 MacBook with GarageBand '11).

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by Don T » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:10 am

thefonz003 wrote:Hello! I want to record music using GarageBand but my synthesizers produce a large amount of feedback. I have a mic preamp that does little to reduce said feedback. What's a good (but not bank-breaking for a grad student) preamp that will reduce feedback from powerful old synths? (Current gear: Yamaha SY77, Korg DSS-1, Electrix Warp Factory, E-mu Mo'Phatt, ARP Tube MP Preamp, May 2009 MacBook with GarageBand '11).
Are you getting feedback, or a ground-loop hum?
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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by pflosi » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:48 pm

It sounds like you have another problem, a preamp won't help anything here I guess? Can you post an audio example?

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by Zamise » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:58 pm

Your synths should already be putting out an amped signal through the line or headphones out for recording to your computer. Mic amps are for mics, they are for boosting really low, unpowered signals, they'll make your already amped signal sound like shiz. You just need to go directly in to your recording device, or I'd suggest using a mixer or can chain your synths which I don't recommend but is an option. I use a Yamaha MW10 which acts like a sound card through the usb and records through it too, just a single 10 channel mixdown to L&R, not for multi-channel recording, but it does the job for me was pretty cheap. You might find other mixers too that can do the same job, any amplification is done through gain and level knobs on the mixer. I don't know macs but many computers only have a mic or crappy stereo input, they usually suck too, should be using a usb mixer like the one I mention or install a nicer sound card of some sort on your computer.
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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by EmptySet » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:58 pm

Zamise wrote:Your synths should already be putting out an amped signal through the line or headphones out for recording to your computer. Mic amps are for mics, they are for boosting really low, unpowered signals, they'll make your already amped signal sound like shiz. You just need to go directly in to your recording device, or I'd suggest using a mixer or can chain your synths which I don't recommend but is an option. I use a Yamaha MW10 which acts like a sound card through the usb and records through it too, just a single 10 channel mixdown to L&R, not for multi-channel recording, but it does the job for me was pretty cheap. You might find other mixers too that can do the same job, any amplification is done through gain and level knobs on the mixer. I don't know macs but many computers only have a mic or crappy stereo input, they usually suck too, should be using a usb mixer like the one I mention or install a nicer sound card of some sort on your computer.
Au contraire. Many Macs now have dual purpose analog/digital inputs and outputs. I couldn't believe it when I heard about it, but it's true. No idea how they sound. And no idea what kind of freaky dongle you'd need, but they do have digital.

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by pflosi » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:38 pm

The inputs (not mic) on macs are actually not bad at all... Not compared to an Apogee of course, but a HUGE increase in quality compared to the common Windows mic inputs. That was not so hard though :lol:

Still wonder what the issue of the OP is... thefonz003, how exactly do you try to record the synths? What's the signal chain? Audio examples?

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by silikon » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:25 pm

IIRC, the Macbooks of late use the standard Intel HD Chipset found on quite a wide range of laptops. Depending on your exact model, I think it uses the Cirrus Logic Chipset. Either way, it should work for your purposes.

Regardless, if you're getting feedback in terms of audible squeal you will want to disable the internal mic and select something OTHER than that (line in?)

If the feedback you describe is just horrendous distortion and clipping, you'll have to monkey with the gain stages of each device (laptop input gain, preamp gain, synth gain) until you get something reasonable.
Also, if your preamp has switchable gain (mic,line,instrument) you'll want to adjust accordingly. Shut off any gain boost, back off the gain to half way, back the gain off at the synth, and also at the laptop's input in system preferences. You really shouldn't require additional hardware to get where you're trying to go.

I don't think we ever received clarification on what exactly the nature of the feedback is/was -- so I think we're all shooting sort of blind in a way...
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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by breckjay » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:38 pm

this is what i use and i must say it gives my little phatty and mopho a good nice boost when i record. Sure you can put the gain to 10 but then you have to worry about clipping and a little hot hiss. This gets the job done really well.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audi ... ube-preamp
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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by thefonz003 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:34 am

pflosi wrote:The inputs (not mic) on macs are actually not bad at all... Not compared to an Apogee of course, but a HUGE increase in quality compared to the common Windows mic inputs. That was not so hard though :lol:

Still wonder what the issue of the OP is... thefonz003, how exactly do you try to record the synths? What's the signal chain? Audio examples?
Sorry, should've included these details in my first post. I record via line in, with the cord generally coming straight from whichever synth I'm using at the moment. The settings give me the choice of using feedback protection or not. If protection is on, I'll very often be warned of feedback (the process of which kills the sound) within a few notes. If I turn protection off, I'll hear...well, I think it's feedback. Or distortion. Inappropriate frequencies that make me cringe. I hear it a bit on the Bose WaveRadio I use as my amp too. It occurs most often when I'm playing the SY77, generally either an electric piano patch or a pad. It doesn't usually happen unless I'm playing a chord, or at least more than one note at a time---and even then only in certain (medium-to-high) octaves, or at least stronger in certain octaves. It happens with my DSS-1 as well, to a lesser extent; I've even noticed something sounding not quite "right" when I've tried to record with the vocoder, running a pad from one synth or the other as the carrier. I don't think it's aliasing, because I've never heard of the SY77 suffering from that issue, and the DSS-1 is largely analog to begin with. But yeah, it's annoying. Thanks to you, pflosi, and everyone else as well, for feedback (the good kind). I'll try to get an audio example up within a few days as my schedule permits.

thefonz003

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by pflosi » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:06 am

Hmmm, that's strange. Make sure the mic (if your PC has an internal one) is not engaged, maybe that's the feedback source. Also, how do you monitor, with the PC speakers? If so, they might be so close to an internal mic that you get feedback...

An audio example to be sure whether it's actually feedback and not ground loops, hiss, distortion, clipping etc. would still be useful.

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:50 am

I doubt very much it's feedback, as feedback requires the sound to be coming back to the input from the output. This could happen if the mic was being used, but in that case you wouldn't be able to hear the synth plugged into the line in.

Sounds like you're just clipping the input because you're running your input too hot. Look at your input levels in whatever you're recording to and then turn the synth down so that the level never hits the top of the meter. The problem will now be gone.

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by thefonz003 » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:17 am

StabFrenzy, you were right. It was just the input being too high. I'm an idjit sometimes. :roll:

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Re: Nice cheap preamp for laptop recording?

Post by pflosi » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:53 am

And you realized that a year later? ;)

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