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API style rack questions

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by BobRogers, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    So I've been mulling over the possibility of getting a pair of new preamp channels in the $1K per channel range. My current thinking is to look at the style of pres in the neighborhood of the various API and Neve clones. This seems to fit the style of music I want to invest the most money in (folk, country, jazz, 60's style rock) and a lot of my favorite music was recorded on this style of preamp. (I know I post a lot about recording classical. I find it interesting, but I have yet to get paid for it. Might not do much of it after my daughter goes off to college.)

    Many of the preamps in this style are in the 500 series rack format. So that raises a lot of questions.
    1. Can some of you comment on the general approach. I realize that buying a rack doesn't commit you to buying only those units, but I'd guess that it would prejudice me in that direction. Is that a bad idea?
    2. Seems to be quite a few rack - power supply options out there. Can someone give advice about the options?
    3. I'd love the hear comments on the individual pres in this category: API, A Designs, Purple, Buzz, BAE.
    4. General comments on the strengths and weakness of API clones vs. Neve clones?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well Bob, I'm finally glad to hear that you have come to your nonmathematical, illogical senses! API, Neve, here comes the clones, send in the clones. Don't bother. We're there. At least you know the clones are built with timeless quality in mind. A sweet tone can usually be assured. Probably a higher reliability factor in comparison to older units that need restoration & constant maintenance. Like my old-timers.

    Of course, with a lunchbox, you have the option of other modules & devices that have been built for that form factor. But if it's just microphone preamps you are after, my 3124m's have been slammed around for almost 20 years. I have serial number 11 & serial number one half a.k.a. the second prototype. Of course, portability may be a factor and the other reason I have a truck, is to haul around my Neve. A big lunchbox. A 24,000 pound lunchbox. Don't try this at home.

    Is it soup yet?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the encouragement Remy. I think that if I were focused on API, I'd forget about the rack and just get a 3124+. Cheapest way to go per channel. But there are several clone options that only come as a 500 module, and several of them are very reasonably priced. So it's possible that starting with a rack could save money in the long run. I'll be interested to see what others experience is.

    And yes, 12 tons of lunchbox would be too much even for my appetite.
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It's a great approach! There are so many options available for the 500 series of racks, there's really no limiting factor. You want Neve flavor...it's available...API...no brainer...super clear...yup....so many flavors and varieties you just can't go wrong.

    Yes - not all racks are made equal. In fact, strangely enough, the API rack has less output capability than several of the aftermarket versions. The rack options from Atlas/OSA seem to have enough power to drive even the most hungry versions of 500 series units.

    I wish I could say that I've had experience with all of these...but I can't. The API is, well, an API. BAE has several different options - most if not all accurately emulating studio classics. The build quality is top notch. The Buzz unit is as clean as I could imagine (only based on my experience with their MA2.2TX to which the Elixir is similar). I've also had some limited experience with the Shadow Hills stuff. NICE. VERY NICE. Beefy but not bloated - perhaps the best preamp I've heard for HUGE drums.

    No comments to the negative. If the circuit designs are the same as the original (and most clones are) and the parts are quality, the units will be great. There are also some wonderful devices being made for 500 racks that aren't emulations but original creations.

    Honestly, if I were doing your kind of work - I would go for the 500 rack and never look back.
  5. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    a good API clone is good
    a good Neve clone is good

    " API clones vs. Neve clones "
    that's the same as asking API vs Neve

    again generally
    this is like trying to compare Gibson to Fender ... ???

    Generally when people say API they mean the simple Gain Circuit of a 312 card
    this is possibly the oldest internet schematic of the card
    most importantly is that it contains a 2520 opamp
    the 2520 is a Descrete Operational Amplifier ... DOA

    The 2520 is complicated but the 312 card is simple
    The API312 - Mic-pre has a specific character

    Generally when people say Neve they mean something that is related to anything from 1066 to 1081
    this is where generalizations get difficult.
    This can be like comparing Stratocaster to Telecaster ... and the various mods that can be done.

    I'll stop here because without getting specific to a single item Original or Clone ... it all gets too varied.

    very, very general
    API for pop/rock drums
    Neve ... classic vocals ... guitars
    the Neve can produce a progressive distorted sound as things get louder

    again I'll stop here because generalizations suck

    you need to gear and own both
    buy the API first ... then get a Neve
  6. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest


    Here's another option, based on the Quad Eight consoles,
    The punch of the API, and the color of Neve.


    Way under $1000.00 per channel.

    I have this one on order!!!
  7. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Oh, here's the Pacifica in a 500 series.

  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    It looked to me on the web site that they were only doing the rack in bundles. Anyone tried the OSA preamps. Vintage and Big Daddy looked like the most interesting to me.

    So you've gone with individual rack units rather than a 500 series rack. What's your take on the pros and cons of the two approaches.
  9. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    As I heard from Peter Montessi, the 500 series is not completely the same as the rack. Something about stuffing all those components in a 500 unit!!!
    But from reviews, it's hard to tell the difference.

    I now only need 2 voice over channels (I record VOs with a MKH416, and my TLM49 together, and then pick the one I like better in the mix)
    The rack makes more sense for me.

    Im from the vintage years, but I'm no longer into the vintage stuff!!!
    The Pacifica takes the Quad Eight into the 21st century, just as if you are looking for Neve'ish, Aurora takes Neve a step ahead.

    They keep the "Legacy" but modernize it.

    Sorry Remy
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    TVPostSound being in the Los Angeles area, do you remember Sphere consoles from Chatsworth California? Don McLaughlin owned Sphere and was one of the founding members of Electrodyne, which also spun off to Quad-Eight by former members of the previous two companies. The Sphere was a sweet sounding console. All Jensen Transformers and discrete Op-amps with LIGHTBULBS! Does anybody remember the lightbulbs? Quasi parametric & 9 band graphic, ferrite core inductor equalizer's. Quadraphonic with Allison 65k tape based automation. I'm really surprised none of us have yet seen any of those preamps & equalizer's racked up. I cut and mixed some killer tracks with those. Bring back the light bulbs! (Actually, they really didn't do anything except let you know which output transistor blew out. They never sunk enough current to even glow under heaviest output levels. But people always felt that it did help to warmup the sound. Maybe squeezing through those tiny filaments did the trick? I always thought that console sounded every bit as good as any of my Neve or API stuff. Which really means it just had the same vintage character.

    I love vintage sound
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Yes, I have had a few cool discussions with Wes Dooley regarding Electrodyne's lineage/offsprings, which I call the Hollywood Neves!!!

    Owners of Quad Eight , Electrodyne, Langevin, Sphere and Helios consoles, can always contact Ken Hirsch at
    http://www.quadeightelectronics.com/ for any help with their
    Ken also racks the Quad Eight pres for a moderate price.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Here's is a quick inventory of what I've found available. Anything obvious that I've missed?

    The OSA rack is no longer available separately according to the web site. They will bundle with Purple, Buzz, and OSA. I'll have to get in touch with them when I'll ready to empty Alice's college fund. I'm leaning more toward the OSA "Original" as a start. Seems to be more of a straight API clone (if I'm reading the code words correctly) and I think that's the style I want to go for my first pair.
  13. BigAL

    BigAL Guest

    I was thinking about getting a lunch box from API too. But I opted for the 3124 + I figure I can save rack space and have a sweet set of pres. It was more costly at first but I am happy with them. Good luck on your search.
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Actually, I don't think the 3124+ is really more costly at first. If you figure in the cost of the rack, you have to distribute its cost over 8-10 pres and buy the OSA clones to beat the cost per channel of the 3124+. It's only if you plan to buy some variety that the rack makes more sense. (Variety includes EQ and compressors, but I'm just looking at pres for now.) Buying a 3124 is still on the table depending on how things go over the next 2-3 months in terms of Alice's college choice, completing my book, selling gear, etc. If things go well - it's the rack, medium - a 3124, bad - selling all my gear and opening a falafel stand.
  15. BigAL

    BigAL Guest

    When I was looking at the pres I wasn't looking at filling the lunch box immediatley. Thats why it was more cost effective for me. If I where to buy the lunch box I would buy a pre here and a pre their. But you are right in that you can add Compressors and EQ's which is a cool thing.
  16. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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