The First Annual Invitational 3D Audio
(Preamp Listening Party)
"Can YOU Hear the
The 3D PRE CD is the easiest way
to hear $75,000 worth of preamps in your own studio. Volume 1
includes 34 preamp paths with female vocal and over 30 stereo samples
recorded with a McPherson acoustic guitar. Volume 2 includes Male
vocal and snare drum samples.
your copy of the 3D Pre CD, Volumes 1 or
2, click here.
(You want to see what $75,000 worth of preamps
Click here to see the scrapbook
of pictures from the Pre-LP.)
To order your copy of the 3D Pre CD,
Volume 1, click here.
Here's the List
of Pre's That We Auditioned at the 3D
On April 1
& 2, 2000, 3D Audio Inc. hosted the 3D Pre-LP (Preamp Listening
Party) at Classic Recording in Franklin TN. We gathered as many mic
preamps as we could fit into one room and listened to them all with a
range of musical sources. We enlisted mic pres ranging in price from
$130 to $8000 per stereo pair. Our goal was to determine how great a
difference a mic preamp makes in the quality of a recording. Not only
did we listen to 33 preamps side by side, but all the results were
recorded and compiled onto a CD that allows engineers around the
globe to decide for themselves whether they can hear any differences
among these pres.
This was a very thorough evaluation
with each mic preamp level-matched to within .02 dB and
polarity-matched to insure that the preamps were accurately and
equally represented. (For a complete description of the testing
setup, click here.) The listening
evaluation was completely blind. All preamps were identified by
number only until the listening was complete. None of the listeners
had any idea which preamp they were hearing. Each preamp's identity
was revealed only AFTER the listeners stated their opinion of what
they heard. The sources were male and female voice, snare drum and
stereo acoustic guitar. The microphones ranged from an SM-57 on snare
to a Manley Reference microphone on female vocal. A modified
C-414B-ULS (from Jim Williams, of Audio Upgrades) was used on male
vocal and a Neumann KM-84 and Audio-Technica 4033 were used on
acoustic guitar. The 3D Pre CD, Vol. 1, features individually ID'd
cuts of the female vocal and acoustic guitar. Volume 2 will feature
snare and male vocal.
Technical evaluation procedures for the Pre-LP were established after consulting with
designers Dan Kennedy of Great River, George Massenburg of GML, John
LaGrou of Millennia Media, Greg Mackie of Mackie Systems, and Tim
Farrant of Buzz Audio, NZ. Dan Kennedy of Great River assisted in
supervising the testing and level matching the units. We kept the
signal path as short as possible to minimize external circuit
colorations. George Massenburg contributed his GML 3500 to the tests.
John LaGrou of Millennia Media sent two preamps, solid-state and
tube. EveAnna Manley agreed to loan us her Manley and Langevin
designs. Other manufacturers who sent units were Grace, dbx, Great
River, Earthworks, Aphex, Buzz Audio-NZ, Amek, Presonus, Audio
Upgrades, DW Fearn and Crane Song. The balance of the preamps were on
loan from engineers all over the US.
This was an historic event. Never has
any preamp evaluation of this scope and depth been undertaken in the
history of recording. Writers and editors from Audio Media, EQ,
ProSound News and Tape Op are all covering this unique event.
(Read some of what's been written so far. There are
more stories in the works.)
Representatives from AudioMedia magazine and ProSound News were on
hand at the Pre-LP. The whole event was videotaped, but may never be
seen due to the embarassingly stark honesty of the participants as
they critiqued the preamps without knowing which was
The explosive sales of inexpensive
digital recorders and home recording has created an enormous market
of people that want high quality recordings, but are sometimes
confused about how to accomplish that, due to lack of experience and
equipment. According to 3D Audio's owner Lynn Fuston, "I am
frequently asked, both in person and on my web bulletin board
3D Audio, 'what stage of recording makes
the greatest difference in the sound?' All engineers want to know
which preamp sounds 'better, richer, fuller, brighter.' There is no
way to adequately describe with words what a preamp can contribute to
the recorded sound. So after 20 years of evaluating preamps on
different instruments and vocalists myself, I decided it would be
very valuable to come up with a way for other people, who don't have
the luxury of having 5 or 10 preamps in the same room, to be able to
hear the differences for themselves. That is what this listening
exercise will hopefully accomplish. Can YOU hear the difference
between a $65 preamp and $4000 preamp? Now you can get the 3D Pre CD
and decide for yourself, in your own studio on your own monitors."
Pre CD Ordering Info |
Testing Setup |
Pre-LP Page |
Shootout Sample |
Discuss Preamps-Your $.02
Interest in acquiring a
copy of the Pre-LP CD is already very strong. The list of those who
have expressed interest ranges from engineers like Ed
"Geeez, you certainly
have your work cut out for you. It sounds like it could take a week
to hook up 30 plus mic pre's.....let alone finding an objective way
to log your preferences. I hope you let us know what your
observations and preferences are."
and designer Greg Mackie ("the man who
has made and sold more preamps than anyone else in the world" by his
own account) all the way to non-engineers like music producers,
studio musicians and programmers.
"I sure wish I could be
a part of this test! I can't tell you how important I think these
kind of tests are for me personally; I regularly test mics and
compressors this way, but I seldom have the wonderful collage that
you've rounded up for the preamp shoot-out. If done properly, this
will be great information!"
said Paul Grove of Summit Audio.
"Your preamp 'shootout'
is an EXCELLENT idea. I am one of those newbie project studio owners
that you describe on your 3D
website. I buy preamps on
faith. It's impossible to try and evaluate preamps in music stores
(like G___r Center). Your plan is the best system I've heard of for
this evaluation to take place in a fair arena. Please let me know
when this is available. Thank you."
writes Doug Czajkowski. And Dan @
"PLEASE let me know
when the CD is ready! Whooho! My own preamp auditioning
To order your copy of the 3D Pre CD,
Volume 1, click here.
Manufacturers who have preamps that
they would like to submit for the Second Annual Preamp Listening
Party, please contact Lynn Fuston at 3D Audio via email at
If you want to talk
preamps, ask questions, or share your opinions about different
preamps, then check out 3D
Audio's Bulletin Board (3DBB)
Want to read about a typical mic and
preamp shootout on a great singer? Here's
how we do it.
The 3D PRE CD-The easiest way to
hear $75,000 worth of preamps in your own studio.
your copy of the 3D Pre CD, Volumes 1 and
2, click here.
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updated 12:00AM CST on 1.1.2002
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1996-2002 by 3D Audio Inc.