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Why should I bother purchasing an API 3124?

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Kaotic Studios, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. Kaotic Studios

    Kaotic Studios New Metal Member

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    Tell me why I should spend the extra $1k to get the API 3124 when people like Brian Hood (Sworn In, Erra, Gideon) can make killer albums with the Focusrite ISA series for a whole lot less. Doesn't this prove that at this level of product, it's more about experience and talent instead of gear? Perhaps it's just a prestige issue but for me and my little studio, I can't justify the expense.
     
  2. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    if you can't justify it then don't buy it. good gear won't transform you into a good engineer, and likewise being a good engineer is getting the most out of what's available.

    what works for one person might not work for you and there is usually much to gain from high end gear, aside from better quality components.
     
  3. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    I agree. If you don't have a deficiency then don't worry about it.
    The three potential benefits I see to new/great gear are:
    1. Sound (obviously) - however: source > mic > preamp > converter IME
    2. Presentation (For better or worse, some clients know enough to have brands they acknowledge as "pro")
    3. Excitement (new gear can inspire you to experiment, practice and ultimately improve).

    What isn't going to happen:
    Magic. (If you aren't making good records with average gear then you aren't going to make good records with great gear.)
     
  4. Kaotic Studios

    Kaotic Studios New Metal Member

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    I believe that I have gone as far as I can with the intro level equipment I've been on these last 8 years (Presonus Firestudio) and it's time to upgrade my Preamps and then my converters. My ONLY reason for upgrading is sound quality. Just trying to justify the extra expense and make sure I'm getting a return on my investment. Without the ability to A/B these pres, I'm forced to rely on people who have actually used the gear.
     
  5. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    Gotcha. Well, I'm personally not a huge focusrite fan but they make good, clean pres. The API's sound absolutely killer but often require a pad bc they're so hot. Additionally, I think for anything but guitars (where 57s are king) your money is better spent on mics than pres bc the difference is so much greater. YMMV.
     
  6. Kaotic Studios

    Kaotic Studios New Metal Member

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    I've got great guitars, drums, rooms, and mics. The next step is to upgrade my pres and converters. So many different responses from people on this subject. Some say the Focusrites are absolute garbage and don't waste my money on what real studios wouldn't buy. And some people say its all in the engineer. I'm so utterly lost at this point. I can't wait to start the debate regarding the converters. Ugh.
     
  7. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    Focusrite aren't garbage. They're just sort of Ho-hum IMO and certainly not en vogue with the gearslutz crowd. The ISA series is fine though and is no doubt better than what you have. If the question is whether they're better than what you'd get on an apogee, UA, or RME interface my response would be "not much."
    I'd probably start by identifying what you actually want out of a pre. Pretty much anything aftermarket is going to be generically "better" than the fire studio but the question is what is the actual deficiency from your perspective. Do you want more color? Less color? Cleaner transients? Smoother transients? All of those needs will point you to different pres but all are dealing in degrees of minutiae. There are tons of preamp shootouts that should give you some insight into which pres have the qualities you like.
     
  8. Kaotic Studios

    Kaotic Studios New Metal Member

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    Good point you've got there. Till this point, I've only identified that I wanted a "better" pre than what I have. I'm sure anything would be better than what I have now. I'm not looking to attract new clients with any prestigious gear, just want something that sounds good. Guess I need to dig into the shootouts then.
     
  9. Jarkko Mattheiszen

    Jarkko Mattheiszen The FU guy.

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    The 3124's are great preamps, and I love working with them. I've done records with nothing but those, and they work great with pretty much everything. That being said, no, you absolute don't need any 3124's or any other high end gear to make a killer record. Anything that sounds clean enough and provides enough gain will get you there.

    I might get a bit of hate for saying this, but in my opinion, you can get away with a lot more if you mostly work on modern metal than, say, acoustic music or retro rock. If you think about it, you usually have hugely saturated guitars, distorted bass, digital synths and drums that often have samples at least layered on there. As long as your preamps are clean and give you enough headroom, the little nuances from "coloured" units are much less apparent than with material where you're listening to a more natural, unaltered sources. Not saying you won't benefit from a good arsenal of API preamps when tracking a metalcore album, but you know, the benefits might not justify the cost.
     
  10. Manicompression

    Manicompression doing it for the kids

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    I agree with what Jarrko is saying. It's nice to have a nice preamp for tracking, but if your only planning on doing metal and heavy rock the benefits of having really high end preamps are diminishing gains at best.


    I will say that I've got a couple decent pres and some hardware compression. Tracking vocals and getting things a little more gelled going in makes me happier than just recording dry and applying saturation and compression later, also the singer usually performs better and their is no headache with monitor effects. As far as instruments go, I really enjoy having variable impedance on my preamps, there is a world of color in a SM57 that you would never know without it.
     
  11. Kaotic Studios

    Kaotic Studios New Metal Member

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    Voices of reason!!! Thank you. And I produce nearly 75% metal material. I still use real Cymbals and Amps and Vox, but the rest get replaced via samples/MIDI. I was hoping an upgrade could give me just a tad more warmth and clarity to my screaming vox and high gain guitars, nothing more.
     
  12. Jarkko Mattheiszen

    Jarkko Mattheiszen The FU guy.

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    For that, you could look into a 500-series Lunchbox setup. You can get a 6-slot Lunchbox, a single API 512C preamp and a decent compressor for vocal tracking for less than half the price of a 3124 unit, and you'll still have 4 slots for future expansions if you want more preamps or, say, an SSL mix bus compressor.
     

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