4 Channels of Portable Mic Preamps
DC Power that averages a little over 380ma , at 12 volts in use ( Phantom power will increase the draw a bit )
Cool form factor , and if you have Cable making skills it is Baggable .
Looks Very Cool . But Are looks what really matter ? No .
Lets get to the Critique shall we ?
#1 Know your Mics , Seriously you must know what your mic sounds like in different preamps before you can make an accurate assessment of anything to do with recording .
I have several Stereo Mics , And I KNOW what they sound like in different devices , Sony ECM-999 , ECM-MS957 , Audiotechnica AT-822 with adapters for XLR input .
In My Fostex FR2le , The ECM-999 makes a fantastic sound gathering tool very open sounding , clear distinct , if even a little too much , sudden loud sounds really go over the top if your gain is high .
Same Mic in the RME Quadmic 2 , was Quiet enough to be used in most environments , BUT in a really quiet room I have to really turn up the Gain to get sound levels out of it . Thereby introducing noise . With the Gain on 2 channels turned almost all the way up , feeding the outputs to a Sound Devices USB Pre2 , and the Laptop . I recorded Outside sounds with wind , birds in the distance , and then brought the mic in to record my Wife making Curry in the Kitchen ( as I have a Kitchen scene to record in the near future for a film )
Outside , the Sound was not quite as Spacious as I would have liked , but It was definitely useable sound , I think for a great many ambient and outdoor sounds that have a lot going on this preamp will be just fine with that mic .
In the Kitchen I wasn’t getting that OPEN airy big sound I was looking for from this mic , but I did get good stereo separation and closing my eyes listening I was able to follow my wife around the room in what she was doing with decent placement of left and right . But I could wish for a little cleaner gain .
On to the next Mic the ECM-MS957 which was actually and surprisingly a little Better sounding ( we are talking about a 400 dollar difference between these mics . I was actually liking what I heard in the room and outside both with the 957 , Still not the Big Air, or Open sound but nice . This preamp has a more focused sound to it . Lots of low end , ( I really had to use the Low cut filter )
The ECM-MS957 with the Tascam DR70D , or the Fostex FR2le is a fun mic , Not completely noise free but really decent sensitivity and open enough on sound and separation . In the Quadmic Preamp It is a More Closed sound with tighter focus but clean enough for me to use in a great many situations with satisfaction .
My AT-822 with XLR adapters , I know what this mic sounds like , on My Camera it gives me exactly what I want ( There will be a Video soon about the Tokyo Yamathon and ALL the sound was from the AT-822 )
But I wasnt exactly thrilled with the combination of the Quadmic Preamp and my AT-822 . It Left me lacking somewhat . Impedance issue maybe ?? Most likely .
THAT though is the main point , The Quadmic has serious levels of headroom , Your not easily going to clip this preamp , As example I took out a RODE NTG2 , ( also have the NTG3) , But the NTG2 being less gain than the NTG3 , I thought would be a good test, and so at Arms length speaking into the mic I bring up the Gain , and More gain and MORE gain to the point of No more room to go and wasnt even getting the signal light to light up much less the clip light , so I bring the mic right up to me 2 inches from my mouth talking at good solid volume , kind of pushing it actually and FINALLY got it to clip with the gain practically wide open . ( your never going to record like that )
It Has Headroom .
OKTAVA MK-012 set with Cardioid capsules on , ……. Very agreeable sound indeed . Plenty of gain , and even in a quiet room , I could seriously use that combination on a film set with no hesitation at all . Focused, Solid , Round , Crispy , yes indeed .
You have to remember this is a Portable Preamp running on LOW Power consumption so Expectations also have to be adjusted . Is it a Sound Devices 442 or Kamesan/Sigma 442 ?
In a word , No . But it sounds better than the Recorders inputs in many cases , Equal to in other cases , More closed and focused in most cases , So why did I get it ?
Level control , 4 Channels of Level control that I didn’t have and That it WILL give me quite nicely . But the unexpected level of Headroom this preamp has means that with Gain balancing between my Recorder and the Quadmic preamp I will have a REALLY wide range of stuff I can record with good quality . From a Quiet room setting of two actors/actresses talking in low tones , To Explosive TAIKO drums without Clipping ( THIS IS a BIG deal ) I actually feel after testing this preamp out even though it doesn’t have Limiters like Sound Devices , I can get away with a LOT more that I would have before .
You see Digital Recorders , that say they have Limiters usually have the Limiter AFTER the A/D converter Hence the reason for having a Sound Mixer that Has Analogue Limiters well BEFORE the Recorders A/D converters .
Here is the Difference though , Limiters if Improperly used will Crunch your sound or Squeeze it and you hear it , it will detract from what your doing .
The Quadmic 2 Has enough Headroom that I can play with the gain well before going to the recorder and then maximise my gains in the recorder without clipping getting a really solid sound in Bigger scenes and situations . ( IE Car Crash , Drums , Explosions etc ) as long as I set it up ahead of time , I will get an Uncompressed Big Sound that doesnt lose it’s dynamics because of a overshoot into a brickwall limiter that goes crunch .
So , All In All do I feel like it is a worthy purchase ? I do . Yes . …Is it a perfectly Quiet preamp , No it isn’t , It is also a little picky about what Mics are plugged into it . Some mics will be that Big Quiet open sound your looking for , Some mics will not , Mostly due to a non variable impedance of the Preamp .
Learn what Mics work well with it , And it will reward you . Simple . But dont expect a Rupert NEVE , API , or SSL sound out of it .
It is Better than a Mackie Mixer by far . But not Quite Sound Devices or Sigma . Close but not quite . So I use the gain in the recorder to match up and it will be quite enough to work with .
It is the Blue Jean chick in Tennis Shoes who will will go hiking with you at a moments notice , It isn’t the Fairy Princess going to the Ball in a Flowing Sequin Dress / Gown
It Runs on my small Lithium 4 amp 12 volt battery ,…. I have an even bigger Multivoltage Lithium 16 amp 12/16/19 volts selectable for laptop and other power needs . That will give me ALL WEEK power with this preamp out in the Wild or on Documentary sets , without worry .
I give the RME Quadmic 2 a sonic B+ , A- and am quite content to use it without fear of a directors discontentment , They would never know , Only a true Sound Professional or Audiophile listening to the Isolated sound might want for a bit more , But in the Mix of a Sound track for a Film You will never ever notice it . It is that good at least .
I would ( and WILL) record Baroque , Classical , Trios and Quartets with this . Using agreeable mics with it . That is sensitive material HUGE dynamic range needed From very Delicate sounds , to Big Forte sounds , The Quadmic 2 has the room for it . I have used Preamps that Did not , and Recorders that Balk at the level differences . You setup to capture the delicate and blow the Loud because the A/D gets overloaded .
The Quadmic 2 preamp wont do that . I can setup for the delicate and use the LINE input on the Recorder giving me Way more headroom .
I am pretty confident , that I will have happy Clients with this preamp .
But as an Audio Guy , My Gear quest never ends …….