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Old June 24th, 2004, 02:33 PM   #1
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USB preamp with shotgun mic

I'm interested in finding a decent USB preamp for recording to a laptop. I would like to be able to attach a phantom powered shotgun (AT 4073a in my case) and have similar quality to when I use that mic with my DVX100A.

M-Audio makes a unit called Mobilepre that may work, but a review at http://www.mojopie.com/mobilepre.html indicates that it might not work so well for a phantom powered mic. Can anyone who has tried it comment on this?

Another option is the Tascam US-122. I'm not interested in the MIDI portion of this device, but would be happy to spend the extra $50 if it peformed better with a condenser mic.

If anyone has experience with either of these devices using a condenser, I would be interested to hear what works well and what doesn't. Are there other options in this price range (~$200) that I should consider?

thanks,
martin
Martin Weilmeier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 24th, 2004, 04:12 PM   #2
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I've used the m-audio duo, and found it to produce perfectly acceptable results, however its a PIA to monitor it in the field, because there is noticeable latency... that's just the nature of USB, but the duo with a typical condenser mic seems fine IMHO.
Rich Frankel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 24th, 2004, 05:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info, Rich. The Duo may be the way to go, but it is slightly different than the devices I mentioned because it requires a separate power supply. Devices that are powered by the USB connector might behave differently with regard to noise levels. Does anyone have experience with USB powered preamps driving condensers?

thanks,
martin
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Old June 25th, 2004, 03:20 AM   #4
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Hi Martin,

There's not a lot of choice in the $200 price range for computer audio interfaces with mic pre's that have phantom power. Aside from what's mentioned (the Duo), you might check out the Behringer BCA2000 (if it's shipping). It's a USB 2.0 audio interface with mixer-like controls and MIDI. On paper, it looks great, but I haven't heard neither here nor there about it.

You're right about the MobilePre in that it doesn't provide XLR jacks or phantom power (the two go hand-in-hand, really). From M-Audio, in that price range, you've only got the Duo.

I currently use the Tascam US-122 and have found it the preamps and ADC/DAC adequate for recording straight into my laptop. It's not a Grace preamp through an Apogee ADC, but it's clean, clear, and does the job well - at a fraction of the price. I've run my shotgun mics, studio condensors, and dynamics through it just fine. It's USB bus powered, so that means no wall warts. And, unlike the Duo, it has a direct monitoring, which means you can monitor the audio inputs without having to pass through the ADC-computer-DAC chain = effectively, zero latency monitoring. You can catch numerous reviews in the archives of audio rags. I remember it getting some coverage at the end of last year, going into early this year. I think the consensus is that it does a fine job for $200.

If you're willing to stretch your budget, your options begin to open up, but in the end, it just depends what you need it for, how much gear you're willing to lug around (if it'll be field use), and how much ya wanna spend before you cry 'uncle'. ;-)

BTW, a couple of little niggles with the US-122. First, my laptop hangs if I try to send it into Standby (via menu or closing the lid) with the US-122 plugged in. I haven't found a solution yet, so I just unplug it before going to standby. A minor pain, but otherwise I'm happy with the product. Also, the knobs are nice and large to grip, but feel like they could be sheared off if you throw it in a gig bag and rough it around too much. Not a problem for me, but I've read some complaints about that. Just thought I'd let you know.

Hope that helps some. Good luck with your search!
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Old June 25th, 2004, 02:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for your overview, Harris. That's great information on the US-122. One point of correction is that the Mobilepre does have XLR jacks and provides phantom power. The link I posted in the original message just indicated that the overall result with condenser mics was not very good. Thanks for your help and the positive review of the Tascam.

Does anyone have different experience or any other thoughts to add?

thanks,
martin
Martin Weilmeier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 25th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #6
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Ahhh.. thanks for the correction. I mixed it up with their Audiophile line.
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