Show 150 – Seventh Circle Audio Preamps Shootout and more

This week we compare various preamp kits from Seventh Circle Audio on a variety of sources.
In Rapid Fire we tackle: for effect: crap mic or good mic made to sound crappy?; Bottom snare mic?; Bounce to disk or record to track?
Joining us this week is Jason Miller @jasonmiller0607

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Jason Miller
Seventh Circle Audio

31 thoughts on “Show 150 – Seventh Circle Audio Preamps Shootout and more

  1. I recently found out about this podcast, and I gotta say I definitely love what you guys are doing! Super informative, tons of great tips or bits of advice on techniques, gear reviews etc. I’ve already gained so much in the week or so I’ve been listening to your shows. I’m converting to Reaper 4 as we speak, with the Valhalla Room, Transient Monster and 12 Gauge Mics (probably 2 of each) all on the way. Definitely appreciate what you guys are doing, a tip and support from here on out is coming your way!

    Now for my actual comment:

    I’ve been eyeing SCA pres for such a long time, and I gotta say Im disappointed with how miniscule the differences between each model is. I could hear a slight difference between the N72 and the J99 or A12 (the latter two usually being almost identical to each other in most cases) but that’s about it.

    To me, the biggest difference was between the A12 and actual API 512, and I ended up preferring the A12. I never really liked the sound of the T15, it seemed kinda bland or boring. The difference between the Pre73 and N72 wasn’t all the obvious but, correct me if I’m wrong, the N72 is cheaper, and would make sense if you were already buying the SCA chassis anyways.

    Im sure any of them would sound BETTER than the stock pre amps on budget interfaces, but I was really hoping to hear more of a difference, that “AH-HA” kinda moment. Perhaps my search for different flavours of preamp should head in the direction of opamp or tube based models, as you I believe Jon suggested towards the end of the show.

    Anyways, I very much appreciated this shootout. This actually put to rest many sleepless nights of staring at the ceiling and wondering what they would sound like on what source and what configuration I would go for.

    Thanks a bunch!

    Joel, a recent Canadian fanboy.

  2. Ha! the ‘hot dog knob.’ I’m still trying to find the suck knob, now i gotta find the hot dog knob… I dig the munching in the back ground. It gives the show a much more approachable feel. but not like the approachable feel when you hear the drunken hussy scream ‘im drunk,’ Its more like ‘i built my mic stand out of legos and these guys would think its cool’ kinda feel. (the nerd is strong with this one)

    as far as mac v pc… open source pwns and will be the only OS that survives the software holocaust when skynet becomes self aware. If your platform does what you need it to do, go for it, but there is a reason the pros use mac and its not just to do with marketing. Personally i’m a mac agnostic and love open source and only use Microsoft… I live in a world of shame that can only be matched by the depths of a televangelists spank bank.

    As far as puns: Arm the track, Hunt for the sound, these mics are loaded with value, they might work well when used with shotgun mics, best bang for your buck, performs well in shoot outs, Britney spears (that one was really wasn’t good but she is always good for a laugh)

    On a more serious note, preamp coloration is still a bit sketchy to me. I do find my self with preamp preferences how ever i’m not sure if its due to one amps apparent loudness over others or an actually pleasing aural tone. It happens to me all the time that i choose what i think sounds pleasing only to not like it later. Are these distinctions something that is only gained through listening to thousands of preamps or is there something I should be listening for?

    Thanks for another great show.

  3. Oh no, the Apple vs PC war!

    After owning both, I actually prefer neither (Linux fan, Mint lately), but that said, I personally am not a fan of OSX aesthetic or the pricing of Apple’s pro desktop machines so I stick with Windows. Yes, the iMac is a good deal, but ultimately it is laptop guts built into a (nice)desktop monitor, literally, and lacks a lot of ports I use on a regular basis (PCI, SATA).

    I have use and own both (in my University we used iMacs in all the labs and I had an Apple Macbook Pro), and to be honest, I simply don’t understand where people have so many problems with Windows. Windows 7 has worked just fine for me and I am planning on sticking with it on my project studio build out simply because it offers me a lot more hardware flexibility, at much better prices. Maybe I have been lucky, but in all my years of computing (beginning with the IBM 5150 when I was about 5 years old) I have never had a virus or issue with malware on any platform. I have had just as many kernel panics and spinning beach balls on Mac OS’s as I have blue screens of death on Windows (which both = 0 over the last 4-5 years). My feeling is pretty straightforward and matches my thoughts on DAWs, they can all get the job done – just go with what works best for you, or makes the most sense for you.

    They are just tools, and for me they get the job done the same in the end. I hear a lot of horror stories about Windows (generally from Apple users), but if OSX were really so superior, it would have more than 10% worldwide market share, and higher than 3% worldwide enterprise market share. I think the whole argument is just overblown. Both have upsides and downsides.

    But enough about that, my point is ‘just use whatever works for you.’

    As for the SCA shootout, I was a little surprised that the differences were not more substantial based on my own experience. I wasn’t expecting night and day differences by any means, but I seem to feel the differences are a little more noticeable when I use them. I own the A12, N72, J99 and T15’s. I have both the SC25 and SC10 opamp (quad-8 design) for the A12, which might account for more of a difference as I feel the SC10 has notably different highs than the SC25. It tends to break up a little more, and have more ‘grit’ to it, which is great for a lot of the distorted guitars I have been recording (it seems to make a wonderful match to my Sony F98 – thanks for that HRS!)

    That said, I really like all of the SCA preamps I have. For $1100, you can get a chassis and fill it with the T15 which is in my opinion the best value of preamps out there. The SCA power supply is excellent, and as we have heard over and over, power is IMPORTANT!, and often overlooked. The T15 share a similar design to the DAV BG series of preamps that David Gilmour famously uses, and I haven’t found any pre that comes close to matching it for the dollar.

    The N72 definitely do the Neve vibe well, and it’s much more apparent if you crank the gain and then use the fader knob to turn down the ouput. This gives you a lot more ‘iron’ in the tone and really starts to show the differences. I like doing this a lot on some vocals, snare and bass. The J99 has a similar Gain/Fader knob setup, and similarly I find the sound changes at higher gain levels. The result in doing it this way is that the preamp end up acting almost as an effect and can add a lot more of it’s own coloration. I felt you could hear a difference in the highs of the J99 in the samples that match my experience with them – they are fast and crisp and make things sound bigger than life. They are my go-to for overheads now. As mentioned on the show, the A12 uses a Gain/trim setup and not a Gain/Fader, so you can’t drive it the same way, unfortunately.

    I think you guys touched on it, but I think it can’t be understated that when tracking with these preamps, these minute differences we hear on a single track start to really build over the course of 30, 40 or more tracks on a song. That ‘barely noticeable’ difference of the N72 tone, multiplied by 30 times, may be part of the secret sauce that people are hearing when they hear an album tracked on a Neve console that has “that tone”. Maybe not, but it makes sense to me. Just food for thought.

    Had I the budget, I would have 3 racks of SCA pres (only have on full one so far, adding a second soon). One full of N72, one full of J99, and then a third with a mix of the C84 (which are similar to the super clean Millenia sound from what I have heard) and A12 with SC10 opamps. For the budget minded though, the T15 is really worth every penny.

    I won’t deny being an SCA fan, so take my thoughts for what they are: the rumblings of a fan. They also posted some prototypes on Gearslutz a while back that were pretty awesome from a technology standpoint, but also were intended to work with the 500 series stuff. That is definitely something I will be looking out for.

    Look forward to the compressor tests!

    Thanks again for the great show.


    ps: Oh damn, I wrote a book. Sorry!

  4. The mac vs windows debate doesn’t worth more tears than defending whether or not you’re an audio ‘engineer’. Then again, there were people who wept when Kim Jong Il died.

  5. IMHO, Windows works great (especially Windows 7, they finally “Got It”). The trick to having success with Windows is being a conscious consumer: knowing what is safe and not safe to install/download. I totally get why many prefer Macs because it doesn’t require nearly the same attention – BUT when the D112 DOES hit the fan, there’s a lot more you can do to solve it in Windows than on a Mac.

    On a less controversial note, let’s debate politics…just kidding.

    You mentioned that there is a podcaster round table in the works – can I humbly submit an agenda item (especially if Dezz Asante will be involved)? Can you all agree on a volume standard? I listened to your show and after switched to TechMuze – practically had a heart attack and crashed my car with the volume change!

    No worries, I will keep listening regardless, just thought I’d put it out there…

  6. I ran across an article at a different site talking about using parametric EQs to shape the sound of each instrument in your mix to create more space and keep the instruments from fighting for the same frequencies. I found this very interesting. The article alluded to each instrument having an optimal range where maybe you boost a touch and roll off some other frequencies that free up space. I did a search to see if you had a show about the topic and could not locate one. Have you covered this topic before? By the way, I have not found your search function to be that stellar, I have donated in the hopes of improved functionality…2 dollars enough? 😉

    Also, I would be interested in some basic stereo field placement ideas for a standard rock band setup.

    You guys really rock, I enjoy listening each week.

  7. I’ve been looking at the SCA pre’s recently as well. I really want to pull the trigger. The differences were subtle, but a lot of times it’s difficult for me to hear preamp differences if I’m not renting an expensive mic. The “lower resolution” of a sub-$500 mic just isn’t built to capture the detail that something in the $3k-$5k range is.

    Maybe a good analogy would be putting racing fuel in your Toyota Corolla? – it’s probably gonna be a bit more peppy, but you won’t see anywhere near the improvement that you would in your Corvette.

    That kick sounded like crap regardless of which pre you used so I found myself thinking “Hmm…which pre really imparts the detail and characteristics of the crap sounding kick?” What goes IN to the pre matters.

    I heard the biggest differences in acoustic guitar. The N72 was my favorite overall. But the T-series stuff sure sounded nice and neutral, I’ll probably add those in my order. Great pricepoint!

    Thanks for doing this guys, by all means keep monitoring my internet searches and do shootouts on gear I’m researching. It’s really helpful. 😉

  8. Love this show. Love these pre-amps. Love my upcoming tax return to acquire one or two of these pres.

    Off topic question: Last night, I recorded vocals with two mics: a SM58 (he was “whisper singing” and the proximity affect served to my favor) and a AT3035. The cables I used were exactly the same, both in model and length. The 58 was about 18 inches closer than the 3035 and where both plugged directly into the DAW (no pres… hence the aforementioned love).

    Turns out, the SM58 was 20 samples slower to be recorded than the 3035 although it was closer to the source. I’m guessing it’s because the 3035 is a condenser mic and the 58 is a dynamic mic, but I have no clue why. Any ideas?

    Much Love,


  9. Were to begin????? Jason: I have no idea who you know or what PC’s they are using but your comments were so ridiculously biased and so inaccurate they actually shed doubt on their credibility, regardless of where you have or do work. I have to respond. And let me begin by saying as to “my” credentials, first, being 55, I am probably at least 20-25 years older than all of you which doesn’t necessarily mean anything by itself and certainly doesn’t mean I know everything or am always right, but it does suggest I certainly have more than a little experience. I started playing music in third grade and was classically trained. I played drums for almost 40 and I ran sound/lights/etc. for many of those years as well as started recording at home and otherwise when I was 14. I currently run both a home studio and a multi track mobile recording company. I am not trying to brag, but we know your credentials Jason. I am just trying to establish mine.

    1. I have a 6 year old Dell Dimension 3000 with a 2.80GHZ. Pentium 4 processor running XP that I upped from 512 to 2GB of RAM quite some time ago. Outside of exchanging the original 80GB hard drive for a 320GB hard drive a year and a half ago, again for size, not because the original showed any signs of wear and tear. That computer has been in almost continuous use for 6 years, stays online unless I am recording because I shut down all processes and apps I can, yet it can still run Sonar X-1….sort of. But it will run Cubease 5 and Sonar 8.5 producer. Anyway, it has never given me any problems, never had a virus, and maybe suffered two or three blue screens of death during area wide power shortages, but I didn’t lose anything. Oh, and all those “weird drivers it has to install”, you do realize MAC’s have to use the same drivers. They just install and/or update in the background without asking you. Yes, MAC’s skip a few steps, but PC’s couldn’t be that difficult because if they were, PC’s wouldn’t rule the market as they have for decades. Virus and other such issues on PC’s have always been more of a problem because people either don’t use “protection” or they go to nasty web sites, etc.which will easily infect Apple/MAcs too. Regardless, it is the MAC that must have thumb drives, external drives and such “unplugged” before they are removed. And virtually EVERY firewire device out there recommends. you not hot swap yet with a PC you can set devices to either be unplugged for quick disconnect or read and write cache with activated disconnect. Vista, I could care less. But the point is, PC’s are no where near as problematic as you make them out to be.

    But on to my newest box. I refer you to my other post where I described it. Again, it is fully 64BIt and with Windows 7 which I admit is a lot like OS but that is a negative???? I will put my PC against any similarly equipped MAC, including Jon’s. Oh, and so far, no problems at all and I don’t keep it online because there is no need to. But all it takes is pushing a single button and I’m connected. my computer is blindingly fast and can run 37 tracks though 15 busses with over 45 plugins and all channels using Pro Channel and it does it all using a mere 9% to 11% of my CPU, and about 3% of my RAM. I can record at least 24 tracks (have never tried to do more) simultaneously and not get much above 24% CPU and that does start getting into the RAM, but as soon as I add 6 more of the 48 GB total capacity this machine has, I doubt I will need much more for a while. I’d be more than happy to share some acoustic guitar and fiddle tracks I have recorded here because as you know, they are two of the hardest to get right. So I have to say, not denying they don’t happen, but I have never had any of the problems you describe. Oh, and just for the record, I started on MAC’s by the way, going all the way back to the Apple II E my best friend bought when they first came out.

    2. Yes. MAC’s allow you to be a bit lazy, doing some things for you but they also have their problems, especially running Pro Tools. I can refer you to the eminently qualified folks at who have reported about MAC crashes, and especially problems with Pro Tools. Even Jon and Ryan complain about Pro Tools. As to your comment regarding Sonar’s Price and Pro Tools, exactly where do you shop???? I went from SonarLE to Sonar LE 8.5 to Sonar Studio 8.5 to X-1 studio to Sonar X-1 Producer expanded with the gate/expander for a grand total of $249. Not only is Pro Tools much more (try about $600 to $800), it IS NOT 64bit, it just got delay compensation, it has limited tracks capabilities, and Sonar not only has far more features, more than even Jon’s Reaper, it comes with a complement of VST’s and VSTi’s including mastering grade plugins that cost a fortune to add to Pro Tools. To me, Pro Tools would be a downgrade. As to whether any Pro’s use Window’s, well again, one of SonicState’s regular’s is a Grammy winning composer and engineer as well as being an accomplished song writer. I could name many, many others, but the guys at Sonic State are about as good and qualified as it gets and it is sort of ‘1 stop shopping”.

    3. Now, the newer MAC’s are in fact vulnerable to viruses. The only reason they weren’t before is not because they were necessarily so naturally resistant as it was they had such a small market share it was practical to write virus code. Nowadays, even the APPLE store recommends antivirus security for MAC’s.

    And then there is the issue of newer releases of MAC OS are not always compatible with the old versions requiring all new software. And if you are going to upgrade to the new Pro Tools cards, say good bye to all that expensive TDM stuff as it will not be compatible with 10 after this release. Oh, and I have NEVER gotten emails from all my audio software/peripherals manufacturers warning me not to upgrade to the newest version of Windows as has been going on with Lion. At worst there was a driver issue with Vista because it was released too soon. but Apple has also released the last few versions of their OS early and a bit buggy”. So again, your comments were so completely biased and out of touch with reality or current PC’s, they really do cast sincere and legitimate doubt your objectivity.

    You like MAC’s, fine. They are great computers. But they are neither perfect nor are they really any better than PC’s at this point. And they simply charge a premium because of the name on the box. ITunes software is the most bloated, horrific piece of trash software i know of. yet if you own ANY Apple device, you HAVE to sync to it. Guaranteed sales! Oh, and how about that 30% take of every app sold? Can you say greedy???? So if you prefer MAC’s. wonderful, but your comments on both MAC’s and PC’s are frankly so unfounded and so incredibly and blindingly biased and unrealistic, the total lack of objectivity strips them of any real credence as well as making you appear a MAC fanboy more than anything.

    But what do I know, as Oscar Wilde once said “I’m not young enough to know anything”…..

  10. Jon and Ryan, sorry about the length, but Jason made so many erroneous comments in his diatribe against PC’s in the interest of your listeners getting a more rational and objective and accurate knowledge base to draw from, I had to address them. If you don’t agree, fine, that is your prerogative, but I would like to think you both are intelligent enough and savvy enough to realize Jason’s comments are so one sided, so out of date, they are totally lacking any objectivity that might give them value.

  11. Where do I start? Well, first, guys, thanks for the great show – you put in a lot of time and effort that obviously does a whole lot of good for everyone

    This is my first time commenting – I couldn’t hold back any longer after I saw the post from the last commenter … correction, last three posts.

    First, I’d like to commend both you guys for going beyond the call of normal patience with this commenter and his seemingly incessant flow of “ideas”. (…the kind of flow that reminds me of a bad case of the runs).

    I have to voice that, although Jason’s comments on the Mac vs PC debate may have been flippant, there were some truths in what he said.

    PC’s CAN work and you can achieve exactly the same result as you can with Macs. And yes, Macs can crash just as ungracefully as PC’s. And yes, there have been viruses infecting Macs.

    However, e_scarab (why someone would choose a nickname based upon a dung-beetle is beyond me…) does make some erroneous remarks. You can find them if you filter through the grand-standing and allusions to self-importance.

    – PC’s ruling the market… yes, Windows machines have a healthy share of the market because of a number of factors. The big factor is that their capital cost outlay cheaper… initially. This short-sighted initial price comparison got corporations and money-conscious consumers to choose on PC’s. The higher market share of PC”s is not the because of a better product, but rather the illusion of apples-to-apples (pardon the obvious pun) price comparison.

    However, when factoring in TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), it has been consistently shown that Mac’s, over the long run, are in cheaper to own than PC’s – they last longer, and they require less support ( (

    “Never” got emails from vendors about upgrading? Are you kidding? Did beetle-boy not live through the switch-overs from XP to Vista to 7? There were warnings all over the place about various peripherals not working properly with EVERY single upgrade of Windows.

    Finally, “simply charging a premium because of the name on the box” – what a load of BS! It’s a premium, because it’s a controlled, closed system for the hardware, operating system and software – and it’s done that way to ensure that IT WORKS.

    With a PC, you’re going to get what essentially boils down to a consortium vendors pieced together based upon the lowest-common-denominator testing protocols. Because Apple has control over the hardware, OS and some software, they’re able to make sure that their products work end-to-end – THAT’s the reason for the premium. Why do you think that machines from ADK or Sonica have a premium price – they’re essentially doing the same thing that Apple does and what other PC manufacturers aren’t doing – piecing together premium components and thoroughly testing them to ensure that they work.

    e_scarab, I’m sorry that Jon and Ryan and other commenters are too polite to say this, but PLEASE stop using this fabulous resource as your personal rambling soap-box. I, nor do I think the hosts and other listeners, care how old you are, how many microphones (and brands) you own or anything else you feel compelled to spew out to make yourself feel good. Frankly, your arguments sound like immature school-yard my-dad-is-better-than-yours pissing matches.

    If you want to get your thoughts out, please do so in a concise manner and respect the hosts and other listeners. If you find that you can’t do that, then do your own podcast and let us enjoy the show and the comments here.

    Thank you.

  12. Hey McDuff, if you were half as aware as you think, you would have noticed that I referred to Windows Vista and I said it was a flop. But then again, that was about drivers for hardware peripherals. it wasn’t about software that isn’t compatible like the problems with OS lion as well as the fact that often when Apple has an operating system upgrade, older software and legacy software doesn’t work, requiring you to by new software, just like Pro Tools. Again, had you actually read what I wrote (something many of the people that respond to comments often fail to do) you would have realized the same.

    But more to your point about politeness, where do you get off even talking about being polite with your comments, ill informed as they are? Again, had you actually read what I wrote, you would have realized how pointless many of your comments are. I never said PC’s were the best nor did I say MAC’s suck. What I DID do was point the ridiculously one sided and invalid nature of Jason’s comments. Had you half the knowledge you think you have, you would have noticed that. As for amateurish, well again, considering your comments seem bereft of addressing the actual points I made and the nature of them, you really aren’t in a position to be making such “evaluations”. And as far as it goes, like I said but you somehow missed, I gave some of my experience because when I counter someones argument, I like to as I stated, establish MY credentials as I have quite a few myself. Speaking of credentials, why should anyone listen to you? Amateurish? The very fact you also take a completely one sided and unrealistic attitude towards the PC vs. MAC to the point you completely missed the actual nature of my comments is exactly what I was talking about.

    I was trying to provide a balanced and objective comment on the subject, something Jason’s commentary lacked entirely, as does yours. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but as far as it goes, MAC’s are not inherently any better than PC’s and vice versa. Grandstanding??? The only one grandstanding was Jason with his completely nonobjective rant. All I did was point it out.

    As for you, I could care less what you think. And as far as it goes, who are you to tell me what to do and how to respond anyway???? It isn’t your place to do so. That is reserved for Jon and Ryan, and frankly, they agreed with most all of what I said outside of the PC/MAC thing and in all the time I have been writing, they have never asked me to stop or to shorten my comments. Politeness has nothing to do with it. If they didn’t want me posting they could easily delete them. But then again, with the length of your vapid preaching, I am once again at a loss to understand why you think you are in a position to make such a criticism to begin with.

    Now as far as the name thing goes, besides you seeming to lack any sense of humor, with a name like McDuff (gee, sounds a lot like McGruff….bow wow), again, you really aren’t in much of a position to be criticizing…not that a screen name means anything or has any relevance to this podcast or the subject to begin with….try and stay focused!

    If you disagree with me, that is your prerogative. However, if you are going to refute my comments, then perhaps having the comprehension skills to discern the nature and point of my comments and then making comments actually relevant to same would serve you far better than a bunch of juvenile and petty personal insults. Again, what I did was point out the ridiculously and completely one sided and heavily biased nature of Jason’s comments. If you have a problem with that, then by all means, make an argument why you think his comments were not completely one sided and biased instead of making specious and petty personal insults directed at me.

    And one final comment to you: this is a public podcast and forum. If you don’t like what I write or how long it is, then don’t read it. But the nature of such public forums and podcasts is the hosts are opening themselves up for comments, whether they be fanboy gushing or serious criticisms and for you to suggest I take my comments elsewhere not only shows your self absorbed and overly developed sense of self worth, it also shows a lack of understanding how this process works. Once again you make my point for me.

  13. Jon and Ryan, I am curious about the design of pre amp “shootout”. I am surprised you were using bass drum and snare hits as well as heavily distorted guitar because as you guys mentioned, they aren’t really the best ways to evaluate differences between mics or pre amps. Even the clean guitar had tremolo. As you are aware, all these things add “color” and can affect how the mic or pre responds. To truly be able to discern the differences, especially if they are subtle to begin with, using a dry vocal and/or acoustic guitar or violin track will allow more of the subtle differences to be heard. With all the delay and distortion on the guitar, it becomes difficult to tell what is coloring the sound more, the pre amp or the guitar sound. Even the tremolo by nature of the vibrato it induces makes it difficult to really tell what is coloring the sound. Drums are not the best for this purpose for the very reasons you pointed out.

    I am not trying to criticize you as I am pretty sure you realize this as you sort of touched on it in your comments. I just couldn’t understand why you would use the sources you did in a comparison. It just seems to me that doing a podcast like yours where you are trying to offer tips, advice, you know, sort of “instructional” stuff to many of your listeners, sometimes the way the shootouts are designed actually make it harder to tell what you are trying to show. I’m just offering a suggestion that would help make it easier for some of your more inexperienced listeners to be able to hear what you are trying to show them.

    PS: Please correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Great River pre that lost a rather extensive and heavily answered shoot out to the ART MP studio pre? Not saying it isn’t an excellent pre, but why does it not surprise me that Jason is a big fan? He pretty much said pre amps don’t matter to him, which i do agree with in principle. You Ame the most and best with what you’ve got and use what works for you. By the way, I thought it fascinating that me pointing out how unrealistic and heavily biased Jason’s comments were regarding BOTH MAC’s and PC’s was misinterpreted as being some sort of attempt to reignite the PC/MAC war. If you remember, the comment he was responding to was actually about Sonar X-1 and the MAC/PC thing was secondary and all I actually said was that they are both pretty much equal these days, which they are. As I stated, I started on Apples and MAC’s and switched to PC’s because I could get far more computing power for my dollar. And yes, I do prefer Sonar to Ableton, Cubease, and ACID because it works best for me as well as offering a very complete package for a very reasonable price and/or upgrade path. And no, I have never used Pro Tools, but considering how little it can do relative to Sonar or Cubase, including STILL not being 64bit compatible (what is the point of having a 64bit MAC if Pro Tools is only 32 bit?????), and considering the unjustified cost relative to function and features (I have no idea why Jason thinks Sonar costs as much as Pro Tools but even if it did, it would still be a bargain relative to features and cost compared to Pro Tools), why would I want to? The main point is use what works best for you because they are all capable. Again, that also seems to have gone over the heads of some who seem to respond in an almost Pavlovian way to defend their unrealistic and heavily biased opinions regarding the MAC/PC debate. I was merely trying to bring some objectivity and reality to those kinds of arguments.

    I will say find me a MAC that is truly 64bit compatible. Go do a search of MAC 64bit compatibility. You will find that Snow Leopard boots to 32bit by default and has to be hacked to get it to boot in 64bit mode. And contrary to McGruff’s comments stating MAC’s don’t charge a premium for the name, they even have OS 10 “fixed” so it can’t boot in 64bit mode to “Furthermore, it appears that although subsequently released MacBook, MacBook Air, and pre-“Mid-2010” Mac mini models all are equipped with “Core 2 Duo” 64-bit processors and 64-bit EFIs, Apple has blocked these “consumer-targeted” Macs from booting in 64-bit mode. iMac and MacBook Pro models released in 2007 with 64-bit EFIs seem to have been blocked as well.

    It isn’t yet clear if this block is simply an effort to keep consumers — who are less likely to need to boot in 64-bit mode for the time-being — from running into possible kernal extension compatibility issues or rather a “forced” (albeit blurry) product differentiation between “consumer” and “professional” product lines. Previously, Apple has blocked hardware capabilities in software — external display support on iBook models, for example — in an effort to protect the profit margins of higher-end systems. Regardless, clever hackers have figured out ways around the EFI block.”

    Again, these comments are in no way intended to say PC’s are better, rather they are intended to add to what I originally stated, MAC’s have their own issues and are not inherently “better” than PC’s. It all comes down to what works for you. That being said, I fully enjoy the incredible headroom and sound quality I get when processing or rendering in Sonar in 64bit mode. And although there are no devices or converters capable of playing back at 64bit…yet….so it is a luxury that really is unneeded because it requires down converting and dithering to 32 or 24 bit, I can and have recorded in full 64bit mode because I can with Sonar and my PC. MAC’s and Pro Tools are still stuck with 32bit fixed processing and 24 bit recording.

  14. I have a feeling that half of next episode’s going to be on mac-vs-windows. An analog purist can come in and say he does everything old school and uses tape over anything digital because of the sound. Would someone have a faster workflow and more powerful editing capabilities by using a DAW? Most likely, yes. But he can also argue the superior sonic benefits when he uses 100% analog that he can’t get with digital, unless going through emulations to get close. So which one’s *BETTER*? Foo Fighters (even though I don’t like their music) insisted that their recent album would be done 100% analog. Yeah, now let’s start an analog-vs-digital discussion. Suck me sideways.

  15. Hey guys, this is part-question, part-comment. I was recently watching an episode of Pensado’s Place where he’s talking about clearing out the middle of the mix. I am a huge fan of LCR panning for this reason, and use it on most of my mixes. When I’m not wetting down the tracks with things like reverb, LCR usually ensures a wide, spacious mix. However, when the track calls for some heavier use of reverb, I find that having multiple stereo reverbs will really take up space in the middle, and start to cloud my panning decisions.
    Pensado showed a tip where instead of using one stereo reverb, he creates two instances of the same reverb (with very slight differences), and hard pans them Left/Right. It seems to work pretty well and I’m experimenting with it. How do you guys like to deal with reverbs taking up space in the middle of the mix?

  16. Another quick question – a friend wants to set up a mac for recording. What budget interface would you recommend? He wants to spend around $300. Generally he’s tracking one instrument at at time, or maybe a couple of mics.

  17. Wow, the Mac vs PC thing is a bit ridiculous guys. I suggest Ryan and Jon just skip all those comments really. If anyone cares just let them wade through all that D112 on the site…

    By the way, love the show. 🙂

  18. Got a question: what are your most used plugins for chorus, reverb, delay, compression, distortion, and amp simulation? How about your favorite plugin that doesn’t fit in any of those catagories?


  19. Another awesome show guys. Since were comparing several different things in this show I have a lengthy question. Since you guys have a collection of amps and guitars, I’m trying to assemble a work horse of guitars and guitar speakers. The purpose of this is if a band comes in with crappy gear I need to compensate for that, so by your general knowledge what would be the best workhorse guitars for recording i.e. a tele, a strat, a gibson, and a hollow body guitar, for bass I’m going to default to the fender jazz bass and either a ampeg amp/cab and/or a nice active DI for bass. Now the next question is what kind of speakers, I would like something that is neutral and transparent for sound in sizes 6in, 8in, 10in, and 12in, and then mount them in a neutral sounding 4×12(and adjusting for the size difference) cab with separate inputs for each speaker, hopefully I will be able to accomplish this in the next year or two, I already have the Epi Valve Jr. Hope to hear your ninja wisdom soon.

    Brandon Cooksey

    • Pretty late to this comment but I just listened to the reply to this comment, which mentioned my guitar with a pickup upgrade, and thought I would weigh in on a versatile guitar and bass setup. I have an Ibanez Artcore AS73 and swapped the pickups for Seymour Duncans – a ’59 in the neck and a Pearly Gates in the bridge. I blind tested a ton of clips from their site and settled on these two. They blend well in middle position, sound absolutely great on this guitar and allow me to go from a smooth tone to a very high gain driven tone.

      As for basses, I play bass in a jazz/funk/rock band and use the Squier VM jazz bass (certainly the best sounding Squier I’ve ever heard) and a Sterling by MusicMan Ray 4. The Squier is fretless and between the two basses I can get just about any tone I need for gigs or in the studio. The Squier is mellow with a rich bottom and the Ray 4 has a great bright spanky tone. All three of these axes can be found under $300 and provide a great platform for upgrading electronics and pickups to make them even better over time. My next purchase in guitars will be one of the Michael Kelly Patriots – I’ve been eyeing the Limited but they stopped making it so you have to hunt for it used. It has a great feeling neck, amazing sustain and would fill in the gap for a Les Paul-ish tone. It comes with push/pull pickup switching and allows you to switch over to a great Strat/Tele tone. I shot this out against the similar priced Epiphone and Ibanez LP clones and it blew them both away.

      The reason I was compelled to share all this a year after the fact is that I did quite a few years of research to find these inexpensive gems and knowing that a lot of the audience here is also hunting for low priced diamonds in the rough I highly recommend any of these great guitars. I feel once I finish out my collection with the Patriot and a more versatile amp I will be able to nail any tone necessary. If Ryan and Jon read comments this far back maybe they can weigh in again as well :).

  20. PS: if PC’s are such crap, why is it virtually all supercomputers are PC based using things like the PowerPC chip? Both MAC’s and PC’s have their peculiarities and quirks. However, these days the PC has in fact caught up to the MAC, especially with the advent of Windows 7. The whole point It would seem those that are still making the same tired old arguments to belittle the PC while speaking of the MAC as if it were the almighty god of computing is a very reactionary view. If you like MAC OS great! However, you have to accept that every few updates your old software will be obsolete and you will have to purchase new. It’s called built in obsolescence and is a mater of fact of the closed system nature of the Apple. I have found a single windows program I have and/or use that won’t run on 7. I have old DOS stuff that runs on 7. And if you don’t think Apple is charging a premium for their name, you either don’t understand Steve Jobs and/or are extremely naive…..remember the price of the IPhone when it first came out? And how about those two substantial drops in price as sales were waning and critics were deriding the cost. Jobs new there was a hard core base of people who would pay the price to be the first to get new products and in effect they became the beta testers often. But the fact remains the IPod was never the “best” fidelity wise mp3 type player and their compressed format for years was only 128kbs. The IPhone has never been the best phone and has had its own issues. And yes, PC’s have caught up and are pretty equal these days, although they are less expensive for equal capabilities, etc. But Apple continues to make really nice products that are very easy to use and are heavily marketed based on their style and “panache” as well as their functionality.

    PC’s used to require a little bit more knowledge and work to get the most out of them, but as some one else mentioned, if you took a little time to learn, it opens up all lot of possibilities and allows for a lot of customization and there is far more extremely good free stuff available for the PC because of the open nature of its design. And because of that it will always be a step ahead in terms of newest technology because of the open nature of the system and how many people develop for it. Yes, Windows used to be problematic, but XP works pretty good and while Vista was a rushed to market flop, 7 is very, very nice and does rival MAC in ease of use. As far as it goes, PC’s were really only vulnerable to viruses and such because people either didn’t bother with security and/or they went places they perhaps shouldn’t have gone. The PC is not perfect either, but unless you have really tried Windows 7 on a multi core system, the old arguments just aren’t valid anymore.

    Pro Tools and MACs became the default for most studios because Apple was the leader in audio development for personal computers and Pro Tools has been there since the beginning too. However, just as Jon and many other Pro Tools users are leaving for Reaper or other DAWS, Pro Tools has now gone native because they had too. And boy will it cost you. My cousin is bemoaning the fact he is going to have to shell out over $10,000 to “upgrade” his studio to Pro Tools 10 and the new cards. And Firewire (as predicted several years ago) is being phased out for USB or hybrid configurations because it turns out it is just as fast and maybe faster than Firewire but also is far less problematic than firewire has turned out to be. The day of the MAC/Pro Tools only studios is fading and the cost of the new Pro Tools systems are going to accelerate that status. Remember, a lot of people ended up buying MAC’s when they could also run Windows on it. If you like Pro Tools and MAC’s, great! But there really is no reason to think that somehow makes you more “professional” or a PC based studio somehow isn’t. It is a matter of personal preference, not performance these days and when people make one sided rants suggesting otherwise really aren’t up on PC’s and would seem to lack any real objectivity.

  21. I did find all the talk about PC vs Mac entertaining. Just to add to it, there was a comment on the show that Mac’s “just work”…and I think that is true. I am a PC/Sonar user and I like building my computer and geeking out getting it all running. Maybe the lost art of the computer geek is why I still prefer PCs. I have had Macs in the past, they are ok. I am typing this on my iPad, which is useful…but I do not find Mac to be any more “intuitive” than a PC. I find them frustrating, until I figure out how to work it and then I go “oh, yeah that makes sense”…

  22. I have an Seventh circle rack with 2 each of the J99, N72, A12 (with API 2520 op amps) and A12 with SC10 op amps. There is a definite difference in sound between these that you will need to hear by 1.Plugging in a good microphone, 2. using a quality source (Voice, grand piano, acoustic guitar), 3. Cranking up the gain to get some transformer coloration. When you do this, you will find some of the pres will sound great on your voice, and some will not. 1 or 2 may sound phenomenal (U87 into N72 into an LA2A compressor). The J99 is so clean, it sounds bad on my voice, but it sounds great on a Grand Piano (there is a reason Sony uses a Twin Servo Design pre to record classical orchestras), also the supply and DOA voltages are 15 to 24 volts, so the headroom is phenomenal compare to your typical 5 volt IC based op amp.
    I don’t think testing these on a snare or tremolo’d guitar amp is going to show much difference. You would be ok using a lot of different pres on these, but it wont bring out the true beauty of these on a great source with great mics.

  23. I have a rack of the Seventh Circle pres and I must say if you use a good, or great mic and a great source (voice, grand piano, Martin guitar) and you crank them up to get transformer coloration, the difference in these preamps will be very apparent. They are the best pre amps I have ever owned, each of them (J99, N72, A12, and A12 with SC10) sound quite a bit different to me, and I usually find one of the four is terrible on one source, and absolutely stellar on another. For instance, the J99 stinks on my voice (U87 mic) but the N72 sounds great on my voice, and the A12 with SC10 sounds great on my voice with an AT4033 mic. On the other hand the J99 is the cleanest, best acoustic guitar pre I have with inexpensive SDC (AKG clone) mics. The A12 with original API 2520 op amps has a band limited midrange accentuation that instantly says 1973 on some sources, and sounds like mud on others.
    I also have an RNP pre amp, Presonus Digimax FS, and A and H mixing board and none of the pres in those comes close to these in terms of character and flexibility. On the other hand, if costs a lot of Benjamins and takes a lot of time to put one of these together, and you may be better served with a cheaper Neve knock off or a tube or solid state Universal pre.

  24. The other thing I have to say about these is that every time I use them, I think about the fun I had waking up at 5 am on Saturday morning before the wife and kids and soldering these little puppies together, one at a time. And the first time I turned each module on, and plugged in a mic and tried to discover the character and why the API was considered the defacto drum pre or the Neve the de facto electric guitar pre-etc. And pooling my cash so I could buy the next module, one every few months, until I filled the rack up with 8 of these. I just found it so much more fulfilling than pulling out my credit card and picking up a Great River or Vintec from Sweetwater.

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