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Unscientific Guess-the-Preamp Comparo: Demeter, Monique, Genz (with others later).

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MarkA, Apr 11, 2015.


  1. Mark, The effect of the LF Extend and HF Attack filters was very apparent. I suspect that the HF Attack would be useful when using a cab. I think subtleties like 'feel', responsiveness and compression would be much more apparent to the player. I did not think there was anything in your recordings with enough level to cause compression (or audible harmonic distortion).

    At this point I kind of favor the Zephyr because of its flexible EQ and minimal voicing when adjusted flat - I like to make my own EQ adjustments - no need for voicing. Along those lines I would be curious to know if the other pre's can be EQ'ed to sound like the DTI?
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  2. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    As a clarification, the voicing filters are foot switchable so they are to help a player who needs to change the voicing while playing to do so rather than just to use them for setting the benchmark tone (which is without the filters). Each filter is foot switchable independently so that the benchmark sound can be any combination of filters on and others switched as needed.
     
  3. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    With questions about levels and worries that I was recording irresponsibly, after I got home the other night, I plugged in and made the following recordings:





    To me, the GBE does indeed sound better recorded at line level. However, even with the input gain on the interface (Focusrite Scarlett 2i4) dialed all the way down, anything harder than moderate fingerstyle play (well, you have to give it a good little dig) lights up the clipping indicators on the interface. Any slap-style playing, for instance, at line level, requires the input pad on the 2i4 to be engaged. With the pad engaged and the gain on the 2i4 dialed down, slapping produced healthy-but-within-bounds levels. Hard strumming got the clip indicators (colored LEDS that light Green, then Orange, then Red) to flash into the orange and red a bit. How exactly those colors correspond to dB I don't know, but the peaks of the strummed part of the waveform appear flattened out to me (to be fair, I was trying to see if I could clip it there, at the end).

    I'm playing a passive four-string with low-ish output pickups. I had the FET channel Gain on the GBE dialed up pretty high, but no so high that its (the GBE's) clip indicator came on at all.

    I recorded a bit through the Demmie and Zephyr as well, and noticed that their D.I. signal levels correspond more closely to the GBE's set to MIC level -- LINE level on the GBE was much hotter. The Demmie doesn't have a level-selectable D.I. The Zephyr has a continuously variable level control on the front. Maxed out, it's hotter than MIC level on the GBE, but still nowhere near LINE level. Will have to try the Walkabout and Monique to see how they compare, level-wise.

    When I've had the GBE out, I've just asked whoever's running the board whether they wanted MIC or LINE level. When I have the Walkabout out, I'll start with the D.I. level at noon and turn the knob until I get a thumbs-up from the person at the board.

    Are most people (talking live sound) expecting MIC or LINE level from an amp's D.I.?

    As far as the recordings in this thread go, it's possible that the ones I made months ago were made with the GBE at MIC level -- I was doing some slapping there and, if I was clipping the interface at LINE level, would have probably set the D.I. to mic level.
     
  4. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    What bid the rated input sensitivity of the recording interface? Pad in may be required for line level.
     
  5. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Regarding my comment about recording these most recent clips "hotter than I usually do", I'll typically set recording levels for my little homemade sketches so that I'm clipping the input with a hard strum, then back it off a bit, so that there's almost no chance of clipping, no matter what I do. When I was making the first round of clips, with a variety of techniques employed, maybe that made sense. Thought it might be overly conservative, just playing moderate fingerstyle, here. Maybe I'm more conservative with recording level, generally, than I need to be (not my area of expertise), but I'm not trying to make up 30 dB digitally in normalizing (perhaps I misunderstand your comment about bit depth, though). With the GBE's D.I. set to MIC level, I dialed up the Gain on the interface so that the overall level was similar to that of the other pres, when I was making comparison recordings with those, and similar to the LINE level output of the GBE, when I made the recordings posted just now.

    I think I dialed back the HF Attack in these clips a bit -- not sure. It was up 8 "clicks" in the other clip. I messed around with it at 4 or 5 "clicks" (barely on), but can't remember if I recorded it that way. LF and HF filters are both engaged, though, with EQ unchanged from last time.

    EQ... Too tired to say anything intelligent about that at the moment!

    The GBE does indeed come with a potentially very handy footswitch, but I think I've only used it live once, maybe twice. I can see how it would be useful to lots of people, though. On a perhaps related note, I find now that I prefer the sound of the FET and TUBE channels on their own, where I used to like mixing them (lows from the FET side, slightly overdriven highs from the TUBE side).

    I'm doing my best to represent the amps/preamps as fairly as I can, but don't want to turn this thread into a referendum on any one amp or its features. I do appreciate the discussion, though, and am happy to learn by it, so thanks, everyone, for your input!

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  6. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Will have to look that up. Didn't see it on the product web page. I usually try to avoid pads on amps, but this might be different.
     
  7. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Specifications | Focusrite

    Okay, looks like the pad cuts 10 dB. There are figures given for "Gain Range" and "Max input level". Not sure how to interpret those.
     
  8. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    (from 2i4 specs page)

    Analogue Input Performance

    Mic

    Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.1 dB
    THD+N < 0.002% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    Equivalent Input Noise (EIN) < -120dB: measured at 55dB of gain with 150Ω termination (20Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    Gain Range +10dB to +55dB (0dB to +45dB when pad is engaged)
    Max Input Level +3.5dBu

    Line
    Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.1dB
    THD+N < 0.01% (‘A’ weighted measured with +16dB input gain -1dBFS at output and 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    Noise -90 dBu (22 Hz/22KHz bandpass filter)
    Signal to Noise Ratio > 100dB
    Gain Range -10dB to +35dB (-20dB to +25dB when pad is engaged)
    Max Input Level +26dBu (at 1% THD+N)

    Instrument
    Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.1dB
    THD+N 0.0025% (‘A’ weighted measured with 16dB input gain, -1dBFS at output and 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    Noise -87dBu (22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)
    Gain Range +10dB to +55dB (0dB to +45dB when pad is engaged)
    Max Input Level +3dBu (+13dBu pad in)
     
  9. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Think I see where I might be making a mistake. Gonna try something with the interface and report back.
     
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    From the interface specs, with the line level position on the amp, I would suggest line input with the pad off. If you use the mic input, it is almost certain that the pad needs to be on.
     
  11. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    My hunch was wrong. Thought the LINE/INST switch on each of the 2i4's input channels might function as a mic/line level selector for the XLR inputs, but they had no effect, on either channel, when running an XLR cable from the amp's D.I. output. Marked effect when running the bass directly into the interface via 1/4" cable.

    Downloaded the manual, which adds, to the +3.5 dBu spec for max mic input level, above, "at minimum gain for 0dBFS, no pad."

    Looked up "dBFS", which means what I figured it would. ;) I will presume (and the manual seems to say as much) that the XLR input only functions within the "mic level" range, above. Can I also presume that the 10 dB pad means that I can hit it with +13.5 dB? That would seem logical.

    Practical effect, so far, seems to be that line level with the GBE sounds better (cleaner, more dynamic) to me and that, for a lot of fingerstyle, I can record that way without the pad. For more aggressive play, I'll need to engage the pad, but should be okay. This with my Fender, this interface, and the amp settings I seem to favor currently. Using effects or a hotter bass, maybe I'll need to set the DI to "mic".
     
  12. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Was typing while you posted - from what I can tell, XLR input will always be "mic level" with this interface. Perhaps I'm missing something, though. So far, though, it seems that the best default for recording with the GBE will be LINE at the amp, pad engaged at the interface, gain at interface fully down or close to it. With the DI level set to MIC, gain at interface had to be dialed up just past noon. ~10:30-1:00 seems to be the range to use with the other pres, so far.

    EDIT: Assuming I'm using an XLR cable and that I'm not missing some way to switch the XLR input to line level.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
  13. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Have to say, messing about with all this has been a bit of a pain, but I appreciate being pushed to look into it. Feel I have a little better understanding of my gear and how to use it, now, at least in this context.

    I still don't know how to convert a spec like "+3.5 dBu max input level" to a voltage sensitivity -- don't even know if it's the same thing.
     
  14. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Yes. XLR input with pad will match up almost exactly to the GBE line level out.
     
  15. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks for taking the time to confirm this. Appreciate it.
     
  16. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Yep! Love that 201!
     
  17. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    File the following (recorded yesterday) under "It's all starting to sound the same to me." In a sense, maybe that's the point, here. I EQed everything and set the Gain with pretty much the same sonic goal in mind. Listening back on headphones, it's not perfect -- in some cases I could rein in the Presence or Treble a bit, rein in the bass a bit, better match the feel in the mids -- but it's close, I think. Closer than I'd have expected in some cases.

    Astrosonic mentioned trying to match the DTI (direct-to-interface) sound and I thought, "That sounds like a lot of work." I didn't start out with that in mind -- I EQed things how I wanted to hear them through my cab, then, when I had the phones on, later, made small tweaks (dialed back the Presence/Treble a hair on a couple, goosed the bass and the mids a bit on one) to some of the amps. Some of the clips were recorded at different times of day. After I'd recorded all of them, I realized I hadn't recorded the bass directly, for reference. Added that as an afterthought -- the tracks through the pres were not recorded with that reference tone in mind. That in mind, you can decide for yourself how close you think they come to that. (And what the implications of that are, if any.)

    I think this will be it for me, for a while at least, with recording clips. (Don't know that I could handle any more right now!) If I do anything more, I'll either make an explicit effort to match the DTI tone/flat, or go the other way and try to accentuate the differences of the amps, or mic the cab, or... something different.

    Below clips are all on the neck pickup -- I recorded neck, then both, then bridge (you can hear me switch the pickup selector right at the end of some of the clips), but that seemed like a bit much -- strained my attention span -- and I'm using up all my time on Soundcloud with these clips.

    Figure I'll make it a bit of a game again -- no pressure. I'll reveal what's what eventually.

    In no particular order, we have:
    • Zephyr, with Bass and Treble boosts engaged.
    • Zephyr, as above, with the addition of the Mid boost engaged
    • Monique
    • Walkabout, EQed as pictured (coming)
    • Walkabout, as above but with Bass at noon and a hair more Treble
    • Demeter 201
    • GBE 1200 FET channel
    • GBE 1200 TUBE channel
    • Bass, recorded direct into 2i4
    GBE was recorded with the D.I. set to line-level and the 10 dB pad on the interface engaged. Everything else was recorded without the pad engaged. Gain at the interface was set to get overall levels as close as I could (not perfect). Beyond that, I believe that Soundcloud normalizes the files on upload. As always, no effects, no EQ at the computer.

    EDIT: GBE is using a short plate JJ 12AX7 (83S). Walkabout is using the same in V1 and the "gold pin" version of the same in V2 (which I find to be more solid and clear up top and bottom, but a bit scooped and less detailed in the mids relative to the "regular" version), this time around.









     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
  18. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Settings used:

    IMG_20151126_174659_zps37ase2tk.
    IMG_20151126_174559_zpsoqnn6z3t. IMG_20151126_174442_zps8512htkk.
     
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Been there, done that.
     



  20. They are just slightly different flavors of excellence, for those who desire what they have to offer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015

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