Hi! I am looking for a decent preamp that would be used mainly for ADR recording and also for some voiceovers. The films that need some ADR are usually shot by MKH 416. It is important to be able to match the sound of the location and the ADR so what I need is a preamp that isnt colorizing too much. Any suggestions? Thanks

9 Answers 9



I work for a London Film sound post facility with 3 ADR stages. we use the Millenia HV-3 and it does sound great, but the gain pots are stepped. meaning it cant be ridden during a take.

we favour the Focusright ISA428. Clean and neutral with unstepped gain and VU needle meters per strip with the option to add a digital A/D card.


Both great sounding pre's, just depends on your recording style.


The sound devices mixpre would be a nice choice i think. It's pretty clear sounding, it's very likely to match production sound, AND you can use it for field recording as well as it runs on AA batteries. I'm getting one very soon and i'm looking forward to compare it to our API 3124

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    it seems to be a good idea, because they use it on the field so it would be very smililar sound but I need a rack-mounted one specially for studio use only Jan 27, 2011 at 17:27
  • I second Filipe's suggestion. If you need to match the field as close as possible this is what I would do as well. As for rackmounting, it would not be difficult to buy a rack shelf and mount the MixPre to the shelf then into the rack. Another thought, there is now a MixPre D which also has digital outs, this may be a great solution for your ADR studio.
    – Si Charles
    May 29, 2011 at 11:03

I like to use a preamp which has a little bit of character when driven, like a valve preamp, or using a transistor preamp with a valve microphone. The reason I do this is because it makes a relatively soft microphone sound a bit like a 416.

I also think it is a bit too difficult for me to work with a shotgun microphone like the 416 in an ADR situation, where I cannot actively control the position of the microphone (unless I can afford a boom operator for the ADR - which never happens on my films). So I use a cardiod microphone like the MKH-50 in order to have a decent pickup pattern. The only exception is when I work in a very large ADR studio, where I can get the mic more than a meter away from the actor.

The most precious part of dialogue is life, the little errors, the sense of movement. I think you lose that when forcing the actors to stand too still. You need these "errors" if you want the ADR dialogue to match the production sound. It is a lot easier to make the ADR work in the mix by matching up different types of microphones, than it is to make a stiff ADR acting performance work with a vivid on set performance.

When matching up the ADR to the production sound, I use speakerphone quite a lot. Especially the mic modelling, where you can degrade the microphone. I also use altiverb. I usually make a copy of the sound on another track and audiosuite the copy, in order to get a mono version with a credible reverb, because I need quite a lot of reverb to match the natural reverb of the production sound.

I can then mix the clean and the processed track until it sounds close to the production sound. I also EQ the ADR dialogue until it matches the production sound.

I send all of the dialogue, ADR and production sound, to a reverb (at least stereo, sometimes 5.1) which ties it all together (like Lebovski's rug).

  • You must be British or from Europe!
    – Utopia
    Jan 28, 2011 at 2:45
  • Ha ha, yes, from Denmark. Jan 28, 2011 at 8:13
  • @Morten I will defenetly try speakerphone`s mic modeling but the main promblem in my opinion is that the distance and the direction is constantly changing in the location takes. Also there are always reflection that are pretty hard to model (eg. tables, windows) Jan 28, 2011 at 9:47
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    Yes, the reflections are very hard to model, because they are always changing. But if I am going to match up the production sound to the ADR, I always use reverb, so both types of dialogue get to share som of the same type of reflections. It kind of blurs the difference in sound. You can also make some small jittery volume automations on the ADR, to make it sound a little less static. The other way around you can try to make the production sound sound as much like the ADR as possible, by compressing by hand or by using a bit of noise reduction. Jan 28, 2011 at 14:25
  • Morten, this is great, thorough advice. Thanks!
    – lucafusi
    May 29, 2011 at 19:50

Millenia HV-3 is about as flat, low noise, and uncolored as you can get. It would work well for ADR, but most voiceovers are recorded with a preamp with more color.


We cut with john hardy M1s that have integrated metering. Flat and clean is what you're after. I'm sure lots of the sound devices pres would work out well too.


Millenia HV-3C is perfect. You will be able to compress, if necessary afterwards as it has a decent dynamic range with a low noise floor.


The chain we use to track both ADR and dialog/VO is a u87 through an Avalon. That chain is somewhat of an industry standard in both game and film work. The Avalon does color the sound a bit (but in a way we like!) so if you really want the most transparent preamp the aforementioned Millenia is a great way to go. The noise floor is so low it's also great for foley. As posted before the gain pots are stepped but that's the only real concern. There are more budget friendly ways to go but you can't miss with this type of chain and good Mic's and Pre's don't really lose their value the way cpu based devices do so they are great long term investments.


The Grace 101 and SSL Alpha Channel are both good for clean, relatively transparent sound, and a lot cheaper than Millenia. The SSL is a lot more versatile and less "sterile" sounding than the Grace.


Some great recommendations here, I know the Focusrite 428 very well, very nice.

The Sound Devices Mixpre-D mentioned above is fantastic too for ADR, we used a couple of these recently - one in the UK and the other in Germany on a project sending parts back and forward and they're incredible, as someone mentioned above, a great portable mixer and perfect for laptop/DAW - But it's a good idea to buy a power adapter for it, rather than go from batteries when using it with your DAW/ NLE, however the sound devices branded Hirose AC adapter in the UK is around £120.00, which is pretty steep.

I asked our I.T. department for an old HP Laptop AC adapter and sent Sound Devices an email asking if the HP adapter spec was suitable as it was around 18.5v (over the 17v SD spec), they tested and said no problem just buy the Hirose adapter and put it on the end, gotta love the Sound Devices crew!

I sent the HP adapter to www.designacable.com (awesome company) who have made me loads of pro cables, anyway Adam at Designacable supplied the Hirose, connected/soldered it tested etc and couriered it back to me for £19! which is great considering the Hirose connector alone costs over £20 here anyway.

So if you do go the MixPre-D route for your ADR or VO and want to save some money on batteries give Adam at designacable a facebook message/call etc - awesome company for specialist quality "Sound" custom cables and great prices/free return post, he cooks using the best quality ingredients - neutrik,switchcraft,van damme etc.

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