PROREC.COM'S Rip Rowan Picks The TRUE SYSTEMS PRECISION 8 MIC PRE-AMP Over All The Rest
OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT: Members of the pro audio community will recognize Rip Rowan as the uncomromising editor-in-chief of the popular online pro audio magazine, prorec.com. Prorec.com's inception in 1998 marked yet another branch in the multi-career path of the ever-busy Mr. Rowan. Rowan, who has worn many hats from rock band musician to sound designer, and theatrical music score composer to recording engineer, now splits his days between his prorec.com duties and the operation of his new Dallas, Texas recording studio, Pleasantry Lane. Recent music projects include scoring with composer/recording artist Rhett Miller for the ABC-TV sitcom "I'm With Her," a new CD by European fave, Salim Nourallah, and a new Deathray Davies opus on Idol Records.
When Rowan planned Pleasantry Lane Studios he conceptualized a control room without the central focus of the traditional large console. "I wanted it mixer less - really a low footprint design. And I wanted minimal rack gear, because I've been trying to move away from using that equipment altogether. As opposed to a large mixing console or even a control surface, I wanted to center the entire workspace around the computer DAW and a single musical instrument keyboard because I'm very comfortable with this working arrangement," Rowan says.
Microphone pre-amps have to be a part of any studio and the True Systems Precision 8 came into use at Pleasantry Lane in a unique way. Rowan continues: "I've got a small collection of outboard mic pre-amps I could have used, but when you are running mixer less you really need a good utilitarian, multi-channel mic pre-amp always at the ready for any and all recording tasks. I wanted a unit with a good price to performance ratio and, more importantly, a good clean, transparent, uncolored and natural sound. I require it to be sonically out of the way."
The True Systems Precision 8 has eight channels of transformerless mic preamps each with five-segment level indicators and a selectable peak-hold feature. Two channels are fitted with direct instrument inputs while channels one and two also function as a dedicated M/S (mid/side) stereo pair with the touch of single button. Designed for use with today's modular digital multi-track units and hard disk recording systems, the Precision 8 can easily be connected to TASCAM or Mackie digital products via a DB25 connector. The True System's Precision 8 microphone preamplifier is available through authorized Neumann dealers at a suggested retail price of $2,850.
Rowan's well-known editorial bent for careful scrutiny when reviewing products at prorec.com came into play when he auditioned a number of eight-channel pre-amps in the P8's price range. "All things considered and after hours of A/Bs, I liked the P8 best. It's very quiet, interacted nicely with the mics in my collection, and it sounded like there wasn't a pre-amp at all - like a straight wire with gain," comments Rowan. Even compared to the close "second choice" eight-channel pre-amp, Rowan says: "The P8 had great transient response with an extended but not overly bright top end - transparent with non-existent noise and wide imaging - most noticeable with drum overhead recording."
Rowan's P8 is his utility pre-amp for recording everything from drums to vocals to quiet acoustic instruments. Rowan continues: "Unless I'm looking for a certain coloration from a mic pre-amp, the P8 continues to be my workhorse. I especially like to use the M/S decode feature when doing a minimalist drum kit recording or just recording a stereo room track. I use my pair of Audio-Technica AT-4050s for this and get great results." Other features beyond good sound also factored into Rowan's purchase decision of the P8. Rowan goes on to say: "Using the P8 with my DAW is a pleasure since you can calibrate the metering on the unit with the DAW's meters - peaks and overloads will correspond exactly where you want them on the computer's metering. This way you always have accurate metering no matter what screen(s) you have up on the computer interface. I also like running the P8 with lots of headroom left in the unit. With a low-noise, high-headroom preamp like the P8 paired with a modern 24-bit converter set, it is now possible to make very high-resolution digital recordings that maintain maximum headroom throughout the signal chain. Thanks to the P8, my digital recordings never sounded so good."
The Precision 8 is designed and built by Sunrise Engineering, a design and build manufacturer located in Tucson, Arizona. Neumann distributes True Systems in the U.S.
Neumann's award-winning line of microphones has set the standard in the industry since 1928. In 1999, Neumann received the prestigious Technical Grammy(r) for their 70 years of innovation in microphone design and contribution to the music industry. A continuing commitment to provide innovative, technically refined products and engineering solutions of proven quality ensures that Neumann's stature will remain unassailable. Neumann USA is owned and distributed in the U.S. and Latin America by Sennheiser Electronic Corporation based in Old Lyme, Connecticut.