Tech Tuesday—How To Create Great Tones Using Mic Preamp Distortion

How To Get Great Tones Using Preamp Distortion



In this week’s episode of Tech Tuesday, Steve Lamm, Instructor at Dark Horse Institute talks to you about how to create great tones using microphone preamp distortion.

Gain staging with mic preamps ensures that the signal is not distorting, but has enough gain to be recorded. Some of the fun and best tones come from using distortion. There aren’t a lot of controls on most preamps, usually an input gain and output control of some type. So how can you make it distort?

Using a Klark Teknik DI, Brent Averill 1073 PreAmp, SSL 6000 analog console, and a Paul Reed Smith guitar, Steve demonstrate different techniques that can be used to achieve proper gain staging. He covers input gain vs. output gain settings to increase distortion and create great tones without overdriving your digital audio workstation (DAW) or tape.

So back to our earlier question, how can you make it distort? Just turn up the preamp or input too much right? The problem there is you can end up sending too much signal to your recording device. The result is causing it to distort, and that is rarely the kind of distortion you want, especially with DAWs. You need to turn the preamp output volume down, so the nicely distorted input comes out at just the right level for your tape machine, Protools or other DAW. Remember, the goal is to get an excellent signal going to your recorder, without clipping and while preserving the killer distortion you created from your microphone preamp.

Don’t forget each mic pre will be different, just a little bit of distortion can be the thing that adds warmth to the tone without being full on distorted or fuzzy sounding. Experiment so that you can find some cool sounds but remember, a preamp is the first step after your mic. Whatever you do there will get recorded, and you’ll have to live with it.

If you found this video helpful then don’t forget to check out other Dark Horse Institute Tech Tuesday videos for more tips and tricks on mastering your music production skills. Interested in How to choose the right preamp for bass, kick, snare and vocal? ? We will show you how in minutes!

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