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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a 2 channels mic preamp to connect to my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6. I never needed more than 2 inputs/pre but since I'm playing with a band and we're recording our jams, I hit the limits very fast.

I've found the Presonus BlueTube DP, seems cool but I wonder if there's some cheaper alternatives?

Thanks for the help!

:)
 

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My advice - if you do not have 1K to spend, do not get a tube preamp. The cheapest decent tube preamp worth having is the Peavey VMP-2 (not even the single channel TMP-1 - totally different animal). If you do you will just get something with a single 12AX7 in it (not really a tube pre so much as hybrid); half for each channel and probably starved plate to boot. To get 'the tube sound' you need multiple cascaded gain stages per channel and quality in/out transformers. I've had/used a few in my time; they all disappoint compared to the real deal (I have 4 channels of 60s Ampex PR10 preamps, and the aforementionned Peavey; have used others).

On a budget go solid state; you'll get a better preamp. That said the Presonus Bluetube is pretty cheap AND you can take the tube out of the circuit by just not using the 'tube drive' function, and sticking with the solid state part of the preamp.

What is a nice (neutralish vs coloured) preamp is the Orban 526a (actually a De-esser aka Dynamic Sibilance Controller, but the 526a single channel version, NOT the 2 or 3 channel versions which have a different model number, have a rather good preamp built in - Beyer input transformer; first gain stage discrete and output stage opamp based). I used to get these for US$100 on ebay, but the price has probably gone up since then (damn the Flower Pot Guy !). The de-esser (compressor-based) can be cool on really trebly guitars (to reign them in or just as an effect) or to take the edge off of harsh cymbals.

Other than that I can't help much as I am not interested in much in the price range. The cheapest thing that comes to mind is the Golden Age Project Pre-73 (or the Jr version which is smaller/cheaper) - a bit more then the Presonous (about same price but single channel so would need 2), but miles better... can probably get a better deal on these used.

Another thing to consider is if you think you will expand the number of channels you have over time, then it might be worth it to get a 500 series lunchbox, and fill it with modules slowly as needed and funds allow.

If you are handy with a soldering iron then Seventh Circle Audio sells DIY kits of VERY high quality mic amps (some clones of coloured classics like Neve., API and Jensen Twin Servo/John Hardy are a bit expensive, but their simpler more neutral sounding designs like the T15 are very cheap - from US$100 per channel but you'd also need the chassis and power supply which holds up to 8 channels - still cheaper per channel than the Presonous - they also have a good compressor and DI modules).
 

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Another option is to look for a small, used mixer (Mackie or Yamaha) to supplement your interface. The mic pres in a $200 1202VLZ or 1402VLZ are as good as anything you are going to get in a 2 channel stand-a-lone preamp for the same money, and usually easier to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Another option is to look for a small, used mixer (Mackie or Yamaha) to supplement your interface. The mic pres in a $200 1202VLZ or 1402VLZ are as good as anything you are going to get in a 2 channel stand-a-lone preamp for the same money, and usually easier to find.
Will I be able to record seperates tracks with a mixer since there is only one output on it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My advice - if you do not have 1K to spend, do not get a tube preamp. The cheapest decent tube preamp worth having is the Peavey VMP-2 (not even the single channel TMP-1 - totally different animal). If you do you will just get something with a single 12AX7 in it (not really a tube pre so much as hybrid); half for each channel and probably starved plate to boot. To get 'the tube sound' you need multiple cascaded gain stages per channel and quality in/out transformers. I've had/used a few in my time; they all disappoint compared to the real deal (I have 4 channels of 60s Ampex PR10 preamps, and the aforementionned Peavey; have used others).

On a budget go solid state; you'll get a better preamp. That said the Presonus Bluetube is pretty cheap AND you can take the tube out of the circuit by just not using the 'tube drive' function, and sticking with the solid state part of the preamp.

What is a nice (neutralish vs coloured) preamp is the Orban 526a (actually a De-esser aka Dynamic Sibilance Controller, but the 526a single channel version, NOT the 2 or 3 channel versions which have a different model number, have a rather good preamp built in - Beyer input transformer; first gain stage discrete and output stage opamp based). I used to get these for US$100 on ebay, but the price has probably gone up since then (damn the Flower Pot Guy !). The de-esser (compressor-based) can be cool on really trebly guitars (to reign them in or just as an effect) or to take the edge off of harsh cymbals.

Other than that I can't help much as I am not interested in much in the price range. The cheapest thing that comes to mind is the Golden Age Project Pre-73 (or the Jr version which is smaller/cheaper) - a bit more then the Presonous (about same price but single channel so would need 2), but miles better... can probably get a better deal on these used.

Another thing to consider is if you think you will expand the number of channels you have over time, then it might be worth it to get a 500 series lunchbox, and fill it with modules slowly as needed and funds allow.

If you are handy with a soldering iron then Seventh Circle Audio sells DIY kits of VERY high quality mic amps (some clones of coloured classics like Neve., API and Jensen Twin Servo/John Hardy are a bit expensive, but their simpler more neutral sounding designs like the T15 are very cheap - from US$100 per channel but you'd also need the chassis and power supply which holds up to 8 channels - still cheaper per channel than the Presonous - they also have a good compressor and DI modules).
Oh wow, thanks for the very informative answer!

I don't think I need tubes pre since it is only for fun and even the pre in my Scarlett is enough.
The bluetube was the only easy buy I found. Almost every music shop have it. The other is the behringer mic2200 but reviews are mixed.

I will try to investigate a little bit more, thanks for the infos!
 

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Will I be able to record seperates tracks with a mixer since there is only one output on it?
Yes, you can route many channels out by using direct mic outs, aux outs, main outs etc.

The 6i6 is limited to receiving 4 analogue channels (2 mic preamps and 2 line inputs) and 2 digital channels via SPDIF. This will be the bottleneck in your system.
 

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Yep, what RonMac said there.

Replace the Scarlett with the RME Babyface Pro.
How does that help though - still only has 2 preamps (as does his current Scalett) and all the additional inputs are digital only, so he'd need a more expensive preamp or a set of stand alone converters (the scarlet has 2 additional analog line ins) and it's certainly not cheap (even though RME stuff is really great; satisfied decade-long Multiface user over here).

The RNC is a good option I forgot about. Good call @Chito. Plenty avail used and only $100 more than the Presonous new.
 
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Yep, what RonMac said there.



How does that help though - still only has 2 preamps (as does his current Scalett) and all the additional inputs are digital only, so he'd need a more expensive preamp or a set of stand alone converters (the scarlet has 2 additional analog line ins) and it's certainly not cheap (even though RME stuff is really great; satisfied decade-long Multiface user over here).

The RNC is a good option I forgot about. Good call @Chito. Plenty avail used and only $100 more than the Presonous new.
I thought he just wanted to upgrade the 2 pre's he has. If it's just to record jams maybe a used Presonus Firepod?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I thought he just wanted to upgrade the 2 pre's he has. If it's just to record jams maybe a used Presonus Firepod?
In fact, I want to add some pre to existing input. The Scarlett is a nice little unit for the hobbist I am. The baby seems nice but way out my budget! ;)
 

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Huh, I have an old (vintage is a stretch for these, but kinda) and larger format Studiomaster - I never use the preamps on it, just mix through the line inputs (the EQs are nice). Yes, this is an option, but, you're not going to get very good preamps on a budget mixer like that (not even a Mackie; and forget Behringer; which I am not saying snobbishly, but from experience). Basically, any stand alone preamp will beat the pants off of the preamps in any low end mixer that costs less (new - there maybe some better options when it comes to used).

What might be a good idea is something like a used Soundcraft Spirit Folio or something - they have tiny 4 channel ones. That Studiomaster might be ok (never used it) but I am going to have to be very skeptical at that price point (that really is cheap - might buy it just to have as a utility mixer - for monitoring and other non-critical applications).
 

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Basically, any stand alone preamp will beat the pants off of the preamps in any low end mixer that costs less (new - there maybe some better options when it comes to used).
We will have to disagree on that point, I am afraid.

For the OP's budget and intended use, adding another couple of channels for a quick jam recording, I don't think the difference between similarly priced preamps is going to be anything to be concerned about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Ti-Ron I have a Presonus Blue DP V1 in here. Would you be interested in it?
Thanks for the offer Chito, I made an offer on a FMR Audio - RNP on Reverb. I'm waiting for the seller to answer it.
If it fails, I'll contact you! :)

@ronmac @Granny Gremlin I never though my question would bring such a large discussion about recording gear, I bet you have your share of experiences and equipment! :) Thanks for your help!
 

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I'd leave that to the OP to decide regarding the cost/benefit. I would argue it still does matter; life it too short for garbage preamps (it's not like I'm trying to sell him on a Millenia or something).

But seriously, some low end mixers are really bad (not just the preamps, but also the crosstalk - you can't isolate e.g. mic 1 from mic 2 on seperate auxes or groups/alt busses if using more than the 2 main outputs as discussed above - that was the nail in the coffin for my old Behringer ). Unless you have actually used that Studiomaster I really can't believe you would recomend it so adamently. To that end I offerred up an alternative, which I have used and know passes a basic level of quality (and is actually cheaper still, used on ebay). I would argue it is a waste of money to spend less on something that will frustrate you vs spending a little more (still in budget) for something that is better and will satisfy you in the long term..

Just because someone is on a budget doesn't mean that rock bottom (price), regardless of quality, is the best recommendation.
 

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I have no dog in this fight, other than to offer some options for the OP to consider. It was clearly stated that I had no experience with the linked mixer.

Price is not always a good indicator of quality or utility. I have used small Mackie mixers as sub-mixers and utility pres since the original 1202 and currently use a Onyx1220 as a Swiss Army Knife solution when warranted. Is it as good as my Sound Devices, RME, Focusrtite pres? No, but still worthy of having to solve problems (KB sum mixer for an artist who wants to get a quick mix going or have their own control, Headphone mixer for overdubs, etc.).

For the price I paid ($200 used) it is miles ahead, in quality and utility, of several lower priced preamps I have encountered.

I hope the deal with the FMR works out. They make nice gear at a decent price.
 

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Fair enuf. A Mackie is gonna be better than most budget mixers though.
 
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A used Firepod costs between $100-$200 and gives 8 pres, 10 channels, midi and optical connecting. Add that to the existing, or sell the existing and use just the Firepod. (or another similar used interface)
 
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