The Fethead pre-amp - My new best friend
Problem - Dulcimers are quiet therefore you have to turn up the pre-amps when recording. I use a Zoom H4n which has noisy pre-amps when they are turned up high.
Solution - The Fetheads provide 20db of clean gain for your mic' before your pre-amp (a pre-preamp). They plug into either mic' or pre-amp/recording device and then the xlr lead plugs into them.
What do they do? Well they mean that I can turn down the record level on my Zoom and therefore reduce the hiss on my recordings. They also fatten up the mic' sound. The Fethead Phantom allows phantom power to pass through to the mic' so I can use a condenser mic'. The standard Fethead uses phantom power but does not pass it through to the mic' so it will work with dynamic and ribbon mic's.
What do I think? I've just had a quick trial with the Fethead phantom and it does what it says on the tin! The attached recording has been made using an AKG C3000 large diaphragm condenser mic' plugged into my Zoom H4n. The first clip is with no Fethead and the Zoom record level set to 45%; the second recording is with the Fethead plugged in and all other settings left exactly the same as the first recording (big jump in volume); The third recording is with the Zoom H4n turned up to 80% and the recoding 'normalised in Audacity (some hiss and a little thin); the fourth recording is the second recording (Fethead in and recording level set to 45%) that has been 'normalised' (fat and clean )
The FetHead range is made in the Neatherlands and come in around $100. It seems expensive but I have to say I have been trying to solve the problem of home recording for years - usually using a noise removal tool and a lot of careful mastering. The Fethead gives me a strong clean signal to work with meaning I need do far less manipulation during mastering - and that's worth a lot to me as my recordings will be more pure and just better to listen to.
Now I can start recording for that next CD