Trust Your Ears, Not Your Eyes
When you listen to pop music right from the 90s, know for sure that there is a difference between actual amplitude of the volume and its perceived amplitude. This happens when brickwall limiters and compression are overused. And there can be perceived a trend to narrow down dynamic range the reason why music is ever growing louder and louder.
Hence, countless articles are written on the competition going on to make music sound louder and louder. But the quality of audio sound is constantly on the wane.
As we know, what matters most in practice is good music. It should sound good to ears whether it is the artist himself or the audience listening to it. Technicalities do not matter much to them. And technicalities do not help in passing qualitative judgment. Whether it is loud or dynamically limited, it does not affect the sound quality, and, therefore, a listener’s joy is not compromised.
Neither does he care about whether the track he is listening to is having a crest factor of just 10 dB, nor can find out anything about the RMS level. He is completely a lay person when it comes to understanding the technical terms and measurements. Very often even audio engineers do not know all this. To a person who is listening to it, audio quality is all that matters.
As for the artists who choose to go in for mastering service, he too does not care much about crest factor, peak setting, dynamic variation, etc. All he cares for is that his vision is not compromised by mastering. He, and he alone, knows how hard he has worked on his project, making due adjustments in diverse musical and mixing elements. All that he leaves for the mastering engineer to do is decent packaging work, so to say, that does not harm the quality of the original. Mastering engineer only increases or decreases the amplitude of the tracks to preserve uniformity of volume among all. If need for limiters is felt, they can be used. And, if an artist finds that mastering work is done well, there is no reason why he should bother about what technicalities and what measures were involved in mastering. This simply does not mean that mastering promotes excessive use of limiters and volume maximizers.The gist of the matter is that what appears on the dynamic range meter is not so important as the sound that your ears can hear.
Why use an external preamp? Mainly because of the quality. Quality preamp, comes as a separate unit created solely for a specific purpose and not as part of a larger whole usually hear much better, shall be capable of high-frequency response, with sound clean and clear. Price, will be in accordance with the course.
No matter what technology works pre amp and although each of them produces a different sound, they all do the same job in the end. The pre amps dominated the music industry in the sixties and seventies did not produce more. They all claim they just sounded so much better. To date, even the most innovative equipment, still could not reproduce the same sound wonderful. Which is one reason they have a great demand.
Why did they sound so different? Probably the real reason is the components inside. Converters and inductors for example routinely used at that time, no longer useful today because of the relatively enormous size, weight and price. So why just do not make them like before? Few big companies and selling in trying, without success. Elements of the ancient amplifiers them just do not exist, and certainly not the companies that produced them. In addition, some components manually built and designed by experts and it seems no one is able to recover. There are a lot of innovative amplifiers good and even very good ones who do their work faithfully as a member of the Mackie XDR or Vt737sp Avalon eg company. Others focusing on trying imitate the sound of their predecessors and some familiar production focuses on clean and high quality sound.
Whether you manage to get a classic preamp second hand or from a broken mixer, and if you purchase one of the newer models, you should choose an external preamp and higher quality if your recording level is really important if your financial capability allows course.