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Microphone preamplifiers - can *YOU* hear the difference? (with audio)

A post by David Mellor
Sunday January 08, 2006
Three mic preamps, one costing over $1500, another mid-price, another that cost just $5. Can *you* hear the difference?
Microphone preamplifiers - can *YOU* hear the difference? (with audio)

Three mic preamps, one costing over $1500, another mid-price, another that cost just $5. Can you hear the difference? I'll admit straight away that this isn't a scientific test. It just kind of happened on the spur of the moment, hence the air conditioning noise in the background of these recordings. However, I think you will find the recordings interesting. Three different microphone preamplifiers were used. One has a list price of well over $1500, another costs around $200, the third costs less than $5. Yes, five dollars.

The obvious question is, can you tell which is which?

I made three recordings using each preamp in turn, then three more similar recordings with a different microphone at a greater distance, allowing more reverberation to be picked up. Let's label the mics A and B, the preamplifiers 1, 2 and 3. So here are the recordings, all in 16-bit .WAV format... (You should download the files and load them into your DAW for close listening).

A1 - A2 - A3 - B1 - B2 - B3

(Notice that the preamps are in the same order for both A and B mics.)

Questions:

  1. Which is the most expensive preamplifier? 1, 2 or 3?
  2. Which is the least expensive preamplifier? 1, 2 or 3?
  3. Optional comments on the sound qualities you perceive.

Please post your answers in the comments section below. (If you're at all worried about getting the answers wrong, then you'd better give your name as 'anonymous'!)

UPDATE: This challenge is now closed. You can see the answers here...

A post by David Mellor
Sunday January 08, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)
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