Audio Microphones preamps Production Tech

Review: Simply Sound SS-1 pre-preamp, like elevator shoes for dynamic mics by Allan Tépper

Review: Simply Sound SS-1 pre-preamp, like elevator shoes for dynamic mics by Allan Tépper

This can be a assessment of the SS-1 pre-preamp from The Simply Sound Firm from Salt Lake Metropolis (Utah, United States), which graciously despatched me a unit to assessment. Like elevator shoes, excessive heels or a step stool, PRE-PREAMPS like the SS-1 assist dynamic microphones carry out higher, particularly when used with weaker, imperfect preamps. Another individuals name this kind of gadget an ACTIVATOR or BOOSTER, however I like calling it a PRE-PREAMP. The market demand for them have to be rising, since there are extra producers providing them now. Though I’ve talked about them earlier than, that is the primary formal assessment I’m doing of a PRE-PREAMP. This text additionally consists of GAIN MATH utilizing a dynamic microphone, the Zoom H5 recorder and the RØDECaster Professional —with and with out an SS-1, and a components so you are able to do the identical calculation with any set of kit, together with examples with the RØDECaster Professional, although it is probably not needed to make use of a PRE-PREAMP in that case. I’ll even be clarifying the SS-1’s current form-factor enchancment, which now makes it usable with a single XLR cable, coupled on to the microphone.

When is it applicable to make use of a pre-preamp like the SS-1?

It’s most applicable to make use of a pre-preamp like the SS-1 whenever you use a dynamic microphone which isn’t doing its greatest together with your present preamp in your present system, and buying the pre-preamp doesn’t value near the worth of upgrading your present gadget to at least one with a a lot better preamp. Then again, when you don’t but personal the system, the identical guidelines apply by including the worth of the 2 units.

Different elements embrace:

  • What number of microphones have to be boosted. For instance, if you have to increase Four dynamic mics, you need to multiply the price of the pre-preamp by Four when evaluating the worth of a Four-input mic mixer or interface with stronger preamps. Nevertheless, if there are fewer dynamic mics to be boosted, the funding will possible favor the pre-preamp, particularly one so reasonably priced because the SS-1 (Amazon — instantly from The Simply Sound Firm).
  • The system the place chances are you’ll need to join it might be distinctive and irreplaceable. Listed here are 2 examples of that state of affairs:

  • When Curtis Judd reviewed the Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR (proven above and under, Amazon — B&H) interface for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 (see article together with his video evaluate right here), Curtiss found that the preamp within the DMW-XLR1 was weak for dynamic mics. There’s actually no various to the DMW-XLR1 if you wish to report 24-bit audio inside the GH5 or GH5s, so that is an software the place a pre-preamp like the SS-1 would actually be the one answer to make use of a dynamic microphone optimally. The identical state of affairs in all probability applies to different skilled cameras with XLR inputs: In case you are utterly proud of the visible high quality, quite than changing a whole digital camera which doubtless value hundreds of dollars or euros, you possibly can merely buy a pre-preamp like the SS-1.

  • An audio mixer might have distinctive, built-in options which might be unavailable in another system even at double or triple the worth. For instance the Tascam MiNiSTUDIO CREATOR US-42 with 2 XLR mic inputs (proven above, Amazon — B&H) has built-in results, digital carts and compression, as does the just lately launched —a lot greater finish— US$599 RØDECaster Professional with Four XLR mic inputs (proven under, coated in a number of articles, with digital carts, Four channels of APHEX processing, built-in standalone recording and foolproof on the spot mix-minus, B&H hyperlink).

Learn how to do achieve math with (or with out) a pre-preamp

Calculating the achieve math with a pre-amp requires 4 totally different values:

  1. The native sensitivity spec of the dynamic microphone.
  2. The fastened clear achieve of the pre-preamp.
  3. The utmost achieve of the preamp in your goal system, be it knowledgeable digital camera, interface or mixer.
  4. The specified digital recording degree.

First I’ll clarify every one, after which present you the method.

The native sensitivity spec of the dynamic microphone

Many dynamic microphones have a printed sensitivity spec in dB. Others publish it in mV/Pa, and have to be pre-calculated. Here’s a listing of examples I ready, alphabetically by model.

  • Audio Technica BP40 (proven above, reviewed right here) -48 dB (That is the “loudest” of this record, which means it has the very best output degree, so it wants the least quantity of achieve.)
  • Electro-Voice RE20 -56 dB (calculated and rounded from the revealed spec of 1.5 mV/Pa)
  • Heil PR40 -53.9 dB
  • Pyle PDMIC78 (reviewed right here) -54 dB (the one used for the check recordings on this evaluate)
  • RØDE PodMic -57 dB (proven under, simply being launched in January 2019)

  • Senal ENG-18RL (reviewed right here, ) -53 db (calculated and rounded from the revealed spec of two.2 mV/Pa.)
  • Shure SM7B -59 db (proven under, the “quietest” microphone on this record, so it wants probably the most quantity of achieve.)

The legendary SM7B (proven above) is the favourite microphone of business leaders and content material producers like Bandrew of Podcastage, Jimmy Dore and Rob Greenlee. The SM7B was used by Michael Jackson to document Thriller. Nevertheless, it’s the “quietest” microphone on this record, so it wants probably the most quantity of achieve.

The fastened pre-gain of the pre-preamp

  • Cloudlifter CL-1 +25 dB
  • Fethead +27 dB
  • SS-1 (coated on this article) +27 dB

The utmost achieve of the preamp in your goal system

Your goal system could be a skilled digital camera, interface or mixer. I need to make clear that two totally different classes of pre-preamps can be utilized with units that use an unbalanced microphone enter (i.e. the iRig Pre, which requires a battery inside and terminates in an unbalanced TRRS plug) or balanced inputs, like the Cloudlifter, Fethead and SS-1 (that are all powered by 48-volt phantom energy and subsequently can solely be used with balanced inputs).

Listed here are some examples of the revealed most achieve of a number of goal units which all have balanced XLR enter and supply elective phantom energy, in alphabetical order:

  • Audio Tecnica AT-MX351a automated mixer (reviewed right here) +73 dB
  • iRig Pre HD (reviewed right here) +60 dB (This most achieve worth isn’t revealed by iRig, however was independently estimated by each me and by Bandrew of Podcastage to be about +60 dB in utterly totally different geographical places.)
  • RØDECaster Professional mixer/recorder/manufacturing middle (a number of articles) +50 dB
  • Sound Units MixPre-Three recorder/mixer/interface (reviewed right here) + 76 dB (the strongest preamp listed on this article)
  • Tascam US-2×2 interface (reviewed right here) +57 dB
  • Zoom H4n Professional recorder/interface +43 dB (the weakest preamp listed on this article)
  • Zoom H5 recorder/interface (reviewed right here as a part of a system) +52 dB
  • Zoom H6 recorder/interface +55.5 dB

The specified digital recording degree

Once I make a uncooked digital recording at 24 bit (see Understanding 24-bit vs 16-bit audio manufacturing & distribution), I usually set my document degree to have peaks round -12 dB to have a security ceiling in case something will get unexpectedly loud, to stop clipping (which is deadly in digital until you could have iZotope RX). The 24-bit uncooked recording provides us 16,777,216 discreet values for loudness ranges (versus solely 65,536 discrete values with 16-bit uncooked recording), which signifies that even after normalization to our desired distribution audio degree, there are fewer or no noticeable artifacts by having the unique 24-bit recording. Some colleagues are much less conservative than I’m and document hotter, whereas others like to document much more conservatively at -18 dB and even decrease.

Now, right here comes the formulation and an instance calculation:

  • Take the microphone’s native sensitivity (a unfavourable quantity in dB, or —in some instances— a calculated quantity in dB calculated from the revealed mV/Pa worth)
  • Add the fastened pre-gain quantity of the pre-preamplifier to get the web boosted sensitivity
  • Examine that sum with the system’s most achieve, making an allowance for the specified recording degree

Instance with the Pyle PDMIC78, the SS-1 and the Zoom H5 recorder

  • PDMIC78 -54 dB + 27dB from the SS-1 = a internet sensitivity of -27 dB
  • If we needed to report at zero dB (which we don’t!), the H5’s +52 db most achieve would give us 25 dB of headroom, however since we need to report at -12 dB, we even have 37 dB of headroom, so we will have the potentiometer set a lot decrease. The truth is, we’ll see that in apply forward on this article.

With out the SS-1, we might solely have 10 dB of headroom to report at -12 dB. That is necessary with the H5 recorder, since it’s recognized for not being so clear close to its most achieve.

Instance with the Shure SM7B, the SS-1 and the Zoom H5 recorder

  • SM7B -59 dB + 27dB from the SS-1 = a internet sensitivity of -32 dB
  • If we needed to report at zero dB (which we don’t!), the H5’s +52 db most achieve would give us 20 dB of headroom, however since we need to report at -12 dB, we even have 32 dB of headroom, so we will have the potentiometer set a lot decrease.

With out the SS-1, we might solely have 5 dB of headroom to report at -12 dB. That is essential with the H5 recorder, since it’s recognized for not being so clear close to its most achieve.

Instance with the Pyle PDMIC78, the SS-1 and the RØDECaster Professional

  • PDMIC78 -54 dB + 27dB from the SS-1 = a internet sensitivity of -27 dB
  • If we needed to report at zero dB (which we don’t!), the RØDECaster Professional’s +50 db most achieve would give us 23 dB of headroom, however since we need to report at -12 dB, we even have 35 dB of headroom, so we will have the digital potentiometer within the menu set a lot decrease (see illustration within the subsequent subsection).

With out the SS-1, we might solely have eight dB of headroom to document at -12 dB. Though I haven’t but examined the RØDECaster Professional personally (it ought to be arriving quickly), if its preamps are something like the RØDE AI–1 interface when it comes to cleanliness (it was launched in January 2018), then it’s more likely to be equally as clear as a whistle even on the most achieve setting, and the utmost on the AI-1 is simply +45 dB, in comparison with +50 dB with the RØDECaster Professional.

Instance with the Shure SM7B, the SS-1 and the RØDECaster Professional

Within the above screenshot from a RØDE educational video, Ryan is adjusting the extent of the brand new PodMic (which is rated at -57 dB sensitivity) on the RØDECaster Professional. RØDE has not indicated whether or not Ryan was utilizing any pre-preamplifier, however I sincerely doubt it, since RØDE producers each the microphone and the RØDECaster Professional. I think that the indicated “sweet spot” on display might be a variety of -12 to -18 dB.
  • SM7B -59 dB + 27dB from the SS-1 = a internet sensitivity of -32 dB
  • If we needed to report at zero dB (which we don’t!), the RØDECaster Professional’s +50 db most achieve would give us 18 dB of headroom, however since we need to document at -12 dB, we even have 30 dB of headroom, so we will have the digital potentiometer within the menu set that a lot decrease.

With out the SS-1, we might solely have Three dB of headroom to document at -12 dB. Though I haven’t but examined the RØDECaster Professional personally (it ought to be arriving quickly), if its preamps are something like the RØDE AI–1 interface when it comes to cleanliness (it was launched in January 2018), then it’s more likely to be equally as clear as a whistle even on the most achieve setting, and the utmost on the AI-1 is simply +45 dB, in comparison with +50 dB with the RØDECaster Professional.

New type think about SS-1 permits direct coupling and use of a single XLR cable

In contrast to its prior model, the brand new model of the SS-1 now permits direct coupling to a microphone, so a single XLR cable is required, moderately than two.

To my information, this manner issue was solely out there beforehand with the Fethead, which is made in Holland.

Official comparability chart from The Easy Sound Firm

The pricing listed above is in US$ (US dollars). In Europe, the Fethead prices €69 (euros) which —at in the present day’s conversion price is about US$78.63, however (for US readers) that’s earlier than delivery from Holland, importation and reseller margin. After being imported to the US, the present worth is about US$90 when bought by a US supplier like B&H.

Two check recordings and the way they have been made

I made the recordings for this evaluation utilizing the Pyle PDMIC78 (illustrated above, reviewed right here, Amazon — B&H) dynamic microphone and the big presidential Shure A81WS windscreen (Amazon • B&H).

Direct connection of mic to recorder. That is an uncompressed WAV file at 48 kHz, normalized. Please use your greatest headphones and WiFi, until you could have unmetered cellular knowledge.

https://www.provideocoalition.com/app/uploads/PDMIC78-direct-H5-r_nivelado.wav

For the primary recording (above), the Pyle PDMIC78 was related on to XLR enter 1 of my Zoom H5 recorder, and I made the unique recordings as mono WAV recording at 48 kHz/24-bit. Phantom energy on the H5 was off.

Mic related by way of the SS-1 pre-preamp to the recorder. That is an uncompressed WAV file at 48 kHz, normalized. Please use your greatest headphones and WiFi, until you will have unmetered cellular knowledge.

https://www.provideocoalition.com/app/uploads/PDMIC78-SS-1-H5_nivelado.wav

For the second recording (above), the Pyle PDMIC78 was related to XLR enter 1 of my Zoom H5 recorder by way of the SS-1 from The Easy Sound Firm. Phantom energy on the H5 was on to energy the SS-1. (The SS-1 doesn’t ship any phantom energy to the microphone.)

Each recordings have been trimmed and normalized with Hindenburg Journalist Professional, my favourite multitrack software program for Mac for audio storytellers (additionally out there for Home windows). After that, I exported them as mono 48 kHz 16 bit WAV. See my associated Hindenburg Journalist Professional articles… All audio manufacturing & distribution ought to go 48 kHz and in addition Understanding 24-bit vs 16-bit audio manufacturing & distribution. Use this hyperlink for a free trial adopted by an enormous low cost on Hindenburg Journalist Professional.

Conclusions

Please observe that the weaker (or the noisier close to the utmost achieve) the preamp on the goal gadget, the extra you’ll discover the development of using a pre-preamp, and in addition, the gain-hungrier the dynamic microphone. To provide you some examples, you’d discover it far more with a Shure SM7B microphone, along with unique Zoom H4 recorder than with the H5, much less with an H6, and doubtless under no circumstances with the MixPre Three from Sound Units (reviewed right here).

The higher the preamp in your goal system and/or the upper output the dynamic microphone, the much less you’ll want a pre-preamp. The quantity of the voice being spoken can also be an element: It takes much more achieve to seize a whisper and/or somebody removed from the microphone. There, the acoustic signal-to-noise ratio turns into much more necessary than the electrical system signal-to-noise ratio. This text is usually concerning the electrical system signal-to-noise ratio, not the acoustic signal-to-noise ratio, however each necessary.

I’m very glad to see a US producer providing a pre-preamp with the sleekness and good construct high quality of the SS-1 (Amazon — immediately from The Simply Sound Firm). I like that the SS-1 may be mounted immediately onto a microphone, with out requiring any additional cable. The one minor beauty change I might like to see is to make all of it black, together with the feminine XLR connector. That approach, the connector wouldn’t be so noticeable when coupling it to a black microphone, and it will look extra like a single system. No hurt would happen if an all-black SS-1 have been related to a non-black microphone.

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