Friday, February 5, 2016

Aphex Channel Preamp & DBX 2031 EQ

Hello Everyone! and welcome to my blog. This is the first time I write in English Language on my blog. If you would notice some or many grammatical error on my writing, I am truly sorry for this. The reason I write in English is because I would like to share some of my experience in pro audio system and how I make the connection between the outboard gear I have and make them work together. Well, it does sounds big doesn't it? But in this case I'm using a mic preamp by Aphex and EQ by DBX. It may not sound so big, but hey I think maybe I could help you out to better understand this simple connection between them.

All right, in my studio I have a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 which is the audio interface, Aphex Channel  Preamp, DBX 2031 Equalizer, PCM81 for Multi FX Processor, PCM91 for Reverb and whole bunch of outboard gear which I don't have to mention here. Seems the list keep going on and on but hey..Scarlett 18i20 only have 8 analog channel and how would you think I connect them all together? No..not enough analog connection could establish with all that said equipment. But since I'm mentioning How to use SEND & RETURN connection on your preamp, that means I'm going to show you guys how I make connection between my preamp to my DBX Equalizer using SEND & RETURN port on the rear panel of Aphex Channel.

Well, to help you better understand the big picture, I'm mostly use Scarlett 18i20 for voice over recording. The mic I use in the studio is a condenser mic, Neumann TLM 193 and Audio Technica AT4033/CL. Both of the mic cost different in price and spec. But maybe a lot of you guys would think what the heck for Neumann TLM 193 do in my studio for voice over recording anyway? It's not like I'm recording a record label artist anyway. Yes..I'm going into that direction now! I'm sorry guys, I'm not the guy from a Management level who can decide what brand of outboard piece you could buy. I'm just a supporting staff kind of guy who receive orders from them. Yeahh..not my own studio, but my Department where I work for the University. you get the picture right? ;)

Okay here it is..I really don't like the sound produce by 18i20 if using a direct connection, plug in a mic to Scarlett 18i20. They sound so dull with no color and weak in signal although I have crank the gain up to 3pm. This sound were very I'm looking for an answer as to how to enhance the sound and having the good tone like the pros did it. And yes they did mention to bought another piece of equipment which is a preamp. Although I already have another preamp, Behringer Ultragain Mic 2200 which cost around a hundred buck, but you can get the crappy sound from it. WYSIWYG. But you know what although the crappiness of sound produced from the unit, but it had served well at helping me record a voice over through a year with Behringer (I'm using Digi 003 with Behringer Ultragain Mic 2200 back then). But plenty of tweak and adjusment in the post pro process to have the kind of tone that I want. So I write to my Boss, I would so much like to have another preamp to make my work sound Amazing in hope of producing much better result than before. So I did it! My Boss approved my permission! We bought other piece of equipment too like DJI Phantom 3, Dell Desktop Computers, Yamaha HS8, Audio Technica AT4033/CL and few other stuff. They cost a lot people! Yeeshh..but on my side, Audio Equipment System are the upgrades I need the most. Other than that, its coming from office mate of mine.

The Setup
Once I received the unit (Aphex Channel), I quickly make the mic connection from the Mic IN XLR port at rear panel of Aphex to Audio Technica AT4033/CL mic. This was done by using XLR cable. And send the signal back in to Scarlett 18i20 Input 1 using the Output XLR port at the rear panel of Aphex. Make few tweaks on the front panel of Aphex e.g. turning on the phantom 48V, turn on the Compressor button, adjust the release knob, turning on the BB/EQ/AX button and I heard a very good tone after tweaking some of the knobs there. This is a good starting point! Furthermore I'm using a brand new HS8 monitor. ;)

This is indeed a good starting point to pave the road to success ahead! So for a few days later I receive another voice over job as usual and this time I'm going to use Aphex Channel preamp with me. This is it! I mean this is the time I could polish a quality sound and tone enhancement with Aphex, I'm pretty glad I did it. So another day pass by, I was thinking of hooking up DBX EQ to my interface. And it worked too! FYI, DBX 2031, Reverberator, Multi FX processor and other outboard gear I didn't mention, were in the Audio Editing Room before I permanently sat in that room. Do you get the picture? No one touches the equipment there as it was like a strange room in there. So before I make decision to move into the Audio Editing Room, I was teamed up with other guys as well and we work together producing multimedia educational videos. It was fun and adventurous! You don't feel stress if you love your work or what you do! ;) And someone need to take care of the equipment there.

But I think something is quite wrong at some point. What I mean is, when you hooking up an EQ to your mixer/interface it is the best practice not to plug them in the analog channel of your interface. Why you wanna plug them in your analog channel anyway? So I read the manual once again and I found that at the rear panel on Aphex there was a connection called "EFFECTS" with SEND and RETURN port for TRS jack connection. What the heck SEND and RETURN mean anyway for a noob like me? And the manual gave me the answer;

So now I understand how this EFFECTS SEND and RETURN work. It says there to plug in either a Compressor or an EQ unit. So let's get them plugged in.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. Audio interface with 18 in and 20 out. You will have to bought another preamp as extension to to use all 18 input and 20 output. For example Focusrite Octopre MK II Dynamic. Plug them by using ADAT lightpipe (fiber optic cable).

APHEX Channel Preamp. A single channel preamp with lots of FX adjustment. You know what, I wish for another 4 channels of Mic Preamp. They really pump up your voices! the Solid State Logic Alpha VHD, Universal Audio4-710D or Avalon AD2022 dual mono pure Class A Preamp. They all sounded great! And of course additional 2 condenser mic in the future.

DBX 2031 rear panel. Pretty straight forward instruction.

So to summarize what I wrote here, this is a simple diagram of how I make the connection between Scarlett 18i20, Aphex Preamp and DBX EQ. They were pretty straightforward and not so technical.

After I make all the connection, its time to turn on these 3 unit and make some adjustment. For example I'm using input 3 on my audio interface. You don't have to turn on the phantom power 48V on Scarlett 18i20 because we do that on Aphex Channel Preamp.

- I set the gain on 18i20 almost at 12 noon
- I set the gain on Aphex Channel at 1pm
- I set the input level on DBX EQ almost at 12 noon (you have to tweak the 31 band EQ to suite your sounding need)
- This need practice to make your output sounded good.

You know why I said that? Because on the Aphex Channel itself has plenty of FX there. De-Esser, Gating, Big Bottom, EQ, Aural Exciter. It's a combination of FX to make your sound the way you want. I also use PCM91 Reverb with Scarlett 18i20 by hook them up using SPDIF cable.

So I do hope you guys out there get the picture with these simple connection between the 3 unit. Maybe you and I have different audio interface, preamp or EQ but the connection should be similar. If not consult your manual for more information.

Jeffri Rahman
Multimedia Producer | Cinematographer | Editor | Blogger



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