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    Voice over, do I need a preamp like the DBX 286s ?
    #1
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    I want to record voice over for a documentary. Untill now I did that with a focusrite scarlet 2i2 and a Rode NT2A microphone or direct into a Tascam DR-40 withe the NT2A

    I edit (compress, de-s, etc.) the sound in post wit Davinci Fairlight of audacity.

    2 have questions:
    what combination would be better? Focusrite 2i2 in combination with the Rode NT2A or Tascam DR-40 and Rode NT2A?

    Do I need a preamp like a DBX 286s and what would be the benefit of that (or not).

    Thanks


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    The NT2A and Focusrite interface should be plenty. The Focusrite preamp isn’t bad at all, and is better than anything a DR-40 has to offer. After that, it’s about having the mic in the right place, shielded from room reflections and other environmental issues.

    Just curious: have the results you’ve already gotten with the Focusrite and NT2A not been to your liking? What makes you think that you need to invest in another preamp?
    Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.

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    #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex H. View Post
    The NT2A and Focusrite interface should be plenty. The Focusrite preamp isn’t bad at all, and is better than anything a DR-40 has to offer. After that, it’s about having the mic in the right place, shielded from room reflections and other environmental issues.

    Just curious: have the results you’ve already gotten with the Focusrite and NT2A not been to your liking? What makes you think that you need to invest in another preamp?

    Thank you Alex,
    That is a good question. I am happy with the sound. But not being an expert I am easy to confuse. And that happened, a classic matter of information overflow kicked in. (I viewed an Youtube clip about recording voice over and started to doubt my gear.)


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    Yeah... there are tons of videos on YouTube about recording sound for various applications. A select few of them are actually useful.

    Yes, there are benefits for using a dedicated pre-amp/voice channel, but it’s not a necessary expense. You can get very close to the same results recording straight into the interface and using some select processing in post. Don’t spend the money until you can’t get the results you want without whatever gear it is you think you need.
    Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.

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    The Focusrite will probably have better preamps than the Tascam. I've used both but years apart so I can't say for sure. But I've found Focusrite preamps good across their budget ranges.

    Dedicated mic preamps seem to only have a noticeable quality increase at a certain price point. Under that the difference is barely noticeable. The DBX 286 in particular is the worst pre I've ever owned. The built in pres on the cheap Focusrite interface I had at that time were superior. All other budget preamps I tried weren't much better (The Grace 101 being the only exception). It was only when I passed a certain price point that they were suddenly remarkably better. My current setup is a SSL preamp going into an RME interface which gives pristine results.

    Furthermore, your Rode NT2s should be fine going straight into the interface preamps. Some mics, like Shure SM7, are more gain hungry and need the extra gain and headroom you'd get from a standalone pre.


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    I'd say your Focusrite is fine. I have one of their small Scarletts (the 2i4) right here. I'd say the order of things for you to work on to improve your VO tracks are:

    -Control of your voice.
    (if you're happy with that, great!)

    -Mastery of your software audio dynamics tools.

    -A different mic.


    Different voices benefit from being captured with different microphones. If you're happy with your Rode, cool. No need to change. But if you want to explore alternatives, the mic comparison is still a good place to start. The article is from 2005, and even though this comparison focuses on radio announce mics, and there are other mics in use these days, this comparison covers some of the classics and will give you a sense of how different types of mics capture different types of voices. It's good work:

    The Transom Studio Mic Shootout: Blindfold Test
    by Jeff Towne

    As part of an ongoing training initiative, AIR: The Association of Independents in Radio helped organize a mic shootout, seeking to compare a wide variety of announce mics in a neutral setting. In the large, quiet room of Studio A at indre Studios in Philadelphia, a few independent producers set up 17 mics side-by-side. The mics ranged in price from less than a hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars....
    https://transom.org/2005/transom-studio-mic-shootout/


    - Then maybe consider a new mic pre. Maybe. ;-)
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    Jim Feeley
    POV Media


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    #7
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    I pretty much agree wit Mr. Feely. However, I do have a great anecdote about a Focusrite Red two and a Neumann TLM 103. They do NOT mate well together.

    As always, ymmv.

    Regards,

    Ty Ford


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    #8
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    Hey Ty,

    Do you mean the Focusrite Red plugin?
    https://focusrite.com/red-plugin-suite

    Or is/was it a hardware issue? Was the problem ever resolved?

    Would love to know more...
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    Jim Feeley
    POV Media


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