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Best way to split synth signals to compare different preamps
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Best way to split synth signals to compare different preamps
mojodrums
Hi,

this is a technical question about passive splitting and high quality studio recording of modulars.

I figured that different preamps colour the output sound of my eurorack signals quite drastically.

So, to quickly compare different options my planned setup looks like:

Synth signal (Mono) -> Audio splitter/Multiple INPUT
Audio splitter/Multiple OUT 1 -> Preamp 1 -> DAW 1
Audio splitter/Multiple OUT 2 -> Preamp 2 -> DAW 2
Audio splitter/Multiple OUT 3 -> Preamp 3 -> DAW 3
Audio splitter/Multiple OUT 4 -> Direct -> DAW 4
...

I will route all preamp outputs to my DAW and can then quickly switch through the options and record the winner.

The MENG-QI Split looks very promising. https://www.schneidersladen.de/en/meng-qi-split.html

I read that outputs should never be connected in multiples. But in this case I use it correctly, since only the preamp inputs would be connected, right?

Is that something that works or can there a problem with impedance, grounding and stuff (which I dont know much about)??
And will the sound be unaltered except for a bit of volume loss (that I could re-adjust with the preamp gains).

Thanks for your help!
hsosdrum
If I wanted to compare how different preamps were sonically influencing my modular's output here's how I would do it:

1. Program a sequencer to run the modular's patch
2. Connect the modular's output through Preamp 1
3. Connect Preamp 1's output to my DAW's input
4. Run the sequence and record it in the DAW as Track 1.
5. Repeat Steps 2 — 4 for each Preamp, recording results of each in the DAW on a new track.
6. Time-align all the tracks in the DAW so the sequence begins at the same time on all of them.
7. Play the DAW file, soloing the tracks one at a time. Adjust for any volume differences as required.
8. Carefully compare the sound on each track and keep the Preamp that sounds the best to you.
mojodrums
Thanks for your answer. What you describe would mean a much slower workflow. I'm looking for a very quick and on-the-fly solution to compare preamps, before I even start recording.
Navs
mojodrums wrote:
... I read that outputs should never be connected in multiples. But in this case I use it correctly, since only the preamp inputs would be connected, right?

Is that something that works or can there a problem with impedance, grounding and stuff (which I dont know much about)??
And will the sound be unaltered except for a bit of volume loss (that I could re-adjust with the preamp gains).


In this case, you are using the multiple correctly: splitting one signal and sending it to several destinations, so no problem there.

If you are concerned about any interaction between the preamps, do what hsosdrum suggests and connect them individually. But you already know that they sound different, so maybe just try it and see if it's enough of an indicator.

That said, are you hearing a large difference in sound or are you comparing 'characterful' preamps that are supposed to colour your sound? If you want clean, wouldn't you go direct?
mojodrums
Thank you Navs.

Yes, I own character preamps (Neve, Api) and found that there's a small sound difference compared to going direct. 'Direct', by the way, also differs when using an output module (Vermona TAI4) vs. connecting the (attenuated) output of any other module directly into the converter.

So, of course we're talking subtle differences here, but they exist.

I always need a quick, intuitive workflow when producing (thats why I chose a modular synth hmmm..... ).

Like
1. Setup a sound
2. Quickly switch through different preamp options without having to patch cables.
3. Decide and record.

I will try with the MENG QI and see where it takes me.
Navs
Ah, now I understand - it's track by track, not that you have a couple of pre-amps and want to keep one and sell/send back the others.

Then, the deluxe version would be a router like the Toppobrillo Mixiplexer or Intellijel Planar. I wouldn't use the cheaper sequential switch options as these can carry a DC offset which might affect the audio. The Meng-Qi might also have an issue as it is multing via a passive potentiometer. You'll need to try this - you could do it without buying just by using a potentiometer or resistor in series with your output to see if the preamp reacts differently.
mojodrums
Cool, will do. Thanks for your advice!
mrerdat
Maybe something like this could help: http://www.radialeng.com/product/cherry-picker/
mojodrums
Thanks, great tip! Didn't know that something like this existed!
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