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Neve clone experts...help needed

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Bhennies, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Hello all. Please excuse the long post.

    Here's my situation. I currently do most of my recording DI (keys, bass, rhodes piano, synths) but have recently started to use mic pres quite a bit more, as I'm now tracking drums (4 pres at a time). As I only currently have 1 mic pre (2 channel UA 2108), I'm often stuck using the DIGI 002r's pres which kind of suck.

    Up until this point, I've gotten along fine with my avalon u5 DI's for keys and such, but now that I'm getting into using mics more, the 2 channel UA pre is not gonna cut it as my only mic pre, as I don't think it stacks too well- a little too rich for 32 tracks.

    Basically, I want to sell the avalons (because I think a workhorse pre with Di inputs is a more pratical thing to own), and get a 2 channel pre to act as my main DI, as well as my "main" pre, with the UA reserved for jobs that need a little bit more color. The tone has to stack well in the mix, because everything, except for the tracks from the UA, will be going through it. I think that due to waht I've come across in my research, as well as being a big fan of the ISA110 and recordings I've heard through an API and great river, a NEVE clone might be the way I want to go (I know, I know, the focusrite isn't a neve clone technically, but still...).


    Which Neve clone would be the right one for me? I've heard so many people throw around different sonic opinions of API, vintech, Great River, etc, with some people describing different ones as warm, rich, clean, colored, mid-range growl, etc. etc. etc.

    So to cut through the confusion, I guess I'm looking for something really smooth, yet not too rich (I already have the 2108). Something that will stack well, and will really give keys and synths that extra something, in addition to duty on vox, drum OH and guitar amps. Remember, this is going to be my main front-end, so while I am not looking for something completely neutral, I certainly don't want something very colored.

    I've been hearing good stuff about the...

    seventh circle audio N72
    Great River

    As I cannot demo out these units, and know NOONE around me that owns one, do any of these jump out of the list for my application? If my post is misguided or I didn't post enough info about my specific situation (I doubt that :)), let me know.

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The GR NV is not really a Neve clone like others that are meant to be clones. It is a real gem as it retains a full clean tone but yet still has character that can be dialed to go in to the heavier Neve character if desired.

    The difference in sound between the Neve clones is smaller than most seem to make them out to be. The focusrite ISA or Red is good stuff, but does not have the same kind of old Neve character as the clones do which are more old school 1073/1081 based.

    From I'm reading and picking up you want both the GR NV and the API as they are both more what you seem to be after but yet are different enough to comliment each other perfectly. But if you could only go with one I'd suggest the API. You might even find the 3124 4-channel unt to suit your needs. Which ever one you get, your gonna want and need the other so you might as well just plan on getting both...

    P.S. Once you have obtained good, great and professional gear, NEVER SELL ANYTHING!
  3. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Thanks audiogaff. In a perfect world, I would like to keep the avalon's, but I don't think I can afford to if I want to drop 2 g's on a pre, especially now that they are not getting too much use. Maybe I can work it out so that I can.

    I've heard the API talked about as somewhat aggressive. Would you describe it that way? Also, if the Great River has a clean tone that can be sweetened up, would it possibly be a more versatile choice? Just asking.


    p.s. I've heard that the seventh circle stuff is cool, but in the archives, there are no good reviews or any real world tests. Have you checked those out?
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The API can be aggressive and is when driven hard. I find it is often more on the hard, full and in your face kind of tone compared to others and is even fuller/ronder sounding in tone that a lot tube gear.

    I guess I would have to say that the GR NV is a more overall verstale choice, but think that API is sweeter and more prefered by me in most cases for synth's, keys, samplers, bass, drums. I would say the API is more sweeter/softer than the 2108.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Someone should mention that an API and a Neve (clone or not) are completely different animals ... API uses an op amp style topology as does the Rupert Neve designed Focusrite Red range, where the original "Neve" design type of the 1081/1073 type is a discreet transistor design. The Amek/Neve 9098 is also a transistor op amp (without transformers) design.
  6. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Kurt, I know you're a huge fan of the API's, but how do you think the amek 9098 2 channel pre would stack up in my application? The price is right, and if I'm lucky, I may be able to arrange a rental. Just moved to Baltimore over a month ago and the gear situation is a little bit different than NYC for sure .
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    The 9098 is a decent mic pre. It's better than the less expensive Sytek or Grace types and is (like them) a comparatively neutral type of mic pre (as you know not what I like). I own a pair of System 9098's and I use them a lot when tracking, both the pres and the EQs. ... The eq in the System 9098 is very good and is a saving grace of the system when tracking... but if I were searching out just mic pre, I would likely look beyond the 9098 pre towards a true vintage Neve design.
  8. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Hey Kurt, if the Great River is transformer based design as well, what do you recommend as a "true vintage Neve design"? Something like the seventh circle audio N72? Also, from what I've researched, the Great River MP2 mercenary edition is based on similar circuitry to the 1073, but with a different transformer based design? HOw would you compare the Great river to as you quoted "a true neve" vintage sound? That seems to be the front runner in my quest, that's why I'm asking.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I do not recommend any of the 1272 / NV72 type pres. AudioGaff likes them but I don't "get it" when it comes to these pres. They are fine, certainly better than a RNP or Sytek but not as good as a true Neve type. Think of them as a Neve "lite".

    The difference between the N72's and real Neves is the N72's only employ 2 stages of amplification where the original designs had 3 stages. People who like the N72 based product say it sounds good to them and guys like me and Dan Kennedy (of Great River) think the 3rd stage makes a difference. To each his own ... The main thing about these "lite" pres is the N72 amp used in them was originally intended as a line driver for Neve consoles for summing buses and headphone amps ... Mr. Neve seems to think it's fine to use them in a pre amp configuration but it should be noted that it's not how he designed his pre amps. If this was really the way to go, I am sure he would have done it (I admit this is my assumption). The audio business is full of this kind of thing where different people are reticent to really level their criticisms at other prominent individuals or their products in the industry. It's like having a neighbor who does things you don't care for but you keep quiet because after all, you have to live next to them.

    Probably the closest "clone" things made to original Neve modules is the stuff from Vintech. They stay as close as possible to the original designs. Parts are sourced from original suppliers when possible. The X73 is a design that utilizes a circuit board thereby keeping the manufacturing cost down while staying true to the original circuit design. The X73 also has an equalizer section that is based on the eq from a 1081 module with some changes made to the hi and low freq sections. The mid sections are identical to the originals. The X81 is a all discreet point to point design based on the 1081 Neve pre module and eq.

    The Great River MP2NV can sound a lot like the original Neves when the mic pre amp is kept a lower settings. This is easy to do because it has an output as well as an input stage. When you push it harder, it starts to saturate in a pleasant way. It's everything you would want from a Neve type and more. It or either of the Vintechs will compliment your 2108 very well ...
  10. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Thanks Kurt. Learn something new every day :). Got some more research and a little financial jockeying to do.
  11. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    I have two 1073-clones from http:// and I´m very pleased with them. Very close to the originals with St Ives transformers and all. Far from neutral sounding but drums, guitars and vocals love these thingees. Me too.
  12. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Truth be told, the third gain stage of the 1073 is switched out of the circuit until you hit the 55db mark on the sensitivity switch. So if you're recording guitar amps, drums, bass, or rock vocals (all loud sources) you have no real difference between the 1290 mic amp in the 1073 and the 1272.
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I have heard this before and I asked Dan Kennedy about this very topic in prep for the MP2NV review. He said there was a difference. I tend to believe him as my ears have said the same thing to me since I first heard an early vintage parts BA 1272 in the mid 90's. ... You would have to ask Dan for the technical side of it as I am not an electronics tech type and a lot of what people say to me doesn't stick (as in this case).
  14. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    Kurt, as the older Neve designs are described as certainly "musical", would you describe the Great River (at less saturated settings) as versatile enough to be the front end when sessions get 16-32 tracks deep? I know that things tend to get a little muddy with my 2108 if I stack too much. Mecenary audio's write up about the mp2nv seems to imply that it's designed for that purpose specifically.

    I will certainly have to sell my avalon's to get this pre, and while I hate to do that, I won't hesitate if the great river will do all that they would (instrument and keys DI) and more.

    p.s. I am going to try and rent one. Anybody know where I can find a gear rental place in Baltimore or DC area? Also, a good place to buy one at a good price? I've bought from mercenary before but don't know if 2150 what they're usually going for.
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I would persoaly love to have a whole rack of MP2NVs if I could afford it. I don't fear the "stacking syndrome" .. I have done records on only consoles and had only one type of pre to work with many times. As long as the pre is good, to me it doesn't matter if I use it on everything or not. That's why god invented eq's and different mics ...

    If you listen to some of the records that Bill Putnam Sr. and Bruce Swedien did at Universal Recorders in Chicago and later (with Alan Sides) at Western / United in L.A. (think Sinatra, The Four Seasons, The Byrds, The Doors, Sonny & Cher, Nat "King" Cole, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie and a large part of the pop records in the early sixties out of LA) you can hear that this was not a problem for them either and they were using the UA 610 pres, much more colored than the 2108 is.

    The MP NV is an excellent direct path for electronic instruments bass and guitar. I am sure you will be very happy with it.

    As a mic pre, well it's just not gonna get much better. It might be as good or different but not much better. With impedance switching and loading selections as well as the ability to drive it easy or hard for tonal variations, a person who couldn't make a great recording using only MP NV's should probably just give up ....

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