Do I need a preamp with the UR44?

I’ve been recording music for about 6 years now as a part-time hobby but I haven’t gotten too far into the technical side of things. I was using a Boss BR-1600 and was pretty happy with the vocal quality for the most part. About a year ago I upgraded to a UR44 and started using Cubase and have found my vocals to be very thin and lame. As a result, I’ve been recording my vocals through the BR-1600 and outputting them into Cubase.

My question is: do I need a preamp for vocals (and bass guitar)? They always seem to sound so lackluster, despite me having spent quite a bit of money on this “upgraded” setup. If a preamp is not needed, what can I do to give my vocals a bit of flavour?

Hi Steig, welcome to the forum. It would be helpful for you to share your system specs, and also what you are using for a Microphone. Some dynamic mics may need to be run with the input quite hot to get decent levels, like the EV RE20 for example.

Weakest links in the chain are often the endpoints, I get good results with my 44.

I mainly use an AT-2020 for recording and I do need the gain on the UR44 to be set pretty hot indeed. I once opened a thread about this as well and the results were all over the place. Some said it to be too loud (?!?) while others like me need to said the gain at least 3/4 open. So I am iclined to think the microphone is the crux here.

Still, as Steinberg advertises with and used the same pre-amps as on more expensive models I expected them to be superb. They’re not bad but not great either. Btw. this is only for vocals as electric guitars are more than enough.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by specs. I’m running Windows 8.1 and Cubase Elements 8.

I’ve used Shure SM57’s and an Apex381. I never have a problem with levels when recording guitar, bass, keyboard, etc, but my vocals are always so quiet. I run them as hot as possible and I still have to force my voice in order to be heard, resulting in unnatural takes. I’ve had a similar problem while recording an upright piano, but recording two mics in stereo has seemed to give me just barely enough volume to be usable.

Perhaps the microphones are indeed the problem, as you guys have mentioned.

Invest in a better microphone, the preamps are great in the UR and MR line of interfaces, but while they are pretty clean they don’t have a massive amount of gain. Any LD condenser microphone should have more than enough output to record even
the quietest of singing.

There are other less expensive options, I am not sure if Elements can do this, but simply open the waveform, select all, right click, change Gain and increase it 4-6 D db and see how you like it. You can fiddle with that to get the optimal gain. Its an extra step, but might be all you need to do. There are also soft preamps you can place in the chain, not sure if elements has input strips however… I recall older versions of Cubase I had before I went full had this limitation.

I looked at this http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/line_up.html but it does not clearly state if there are insert slots on your inputs in elements. If there are, you can add a preamp in there. lots of free plugins that would work.

Yep, that covers it mostly… a lot of folks will build this into a forum signature (see below). Any luck with increasing the gain?

Indeed just go into the hardware channel strip and add a bunch of gain. Done.

That said I had pretty good results (adding colour) using a dbx minipre, they cost peanuts. I did put a higher quality valve in too, but that didn’t change the sound much. Now I tend to lightly compress with the Art vlaII on the way in to add colour if I want it.

That said, with any of my condenser mics there’s plenty of gain, it’s only the ribbon mic I have to bump up.