Which Grace?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by John Stafford, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if there's a difference in the sound quality between the Grace amps. I know that there are differences between the 101 and the others, but it this significant from an audio perspective?

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    The 201 and the 801 are the exact same modules. The 101 is a slightly lower end version, but still very good. The sonic differences are quite minimal. As well, the Lunatec V3 is similar to the 101, but from what Mr. Grace has told me, it's just a tad better than the 101.

  3. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    The 201 & 801 use higher rail voltages (and thus have higher maximum output levels) than either the V3 or the 101 do.

    The V3 is nearly all SMT inside. The shorter trace lengths and reduced number of dissimilar metal junctions has the potential to change the sound (some think for the better) as compared with a traditional through-hole design. The biggest problem with most SMT construction is that the manufacturers move to smaller, cheaper parts--not that it is SMT per se. Film caps and larger geometry metal film resistors are available in SMT but are not commonly used (and usually have to be special ordered.)
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    For me part of the issue to be considered is future servicing.

    Through the hole is much more repairable in the field than surface mount technology ...

    If a manufacturer discontinues a product line, with through the hole construction it is a matter of just replacing a defective part. With SMT, replacement of the sub assembly is usually cheaper than just replacing the bad part, because specialized jigs are required to hold the SM part while it is being re attached to the PCB. In the end with SMT, if a device has gone out of production, repair can be impossible or at least cost prohibitive.

    To me with a quality mic pre which should last a lifetime, service in the future is a consideration to be taken in account.
  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your very helpful replies. I'm considering other pres as well, such as Amek 9098, DAV BG-1 and maybe even Millennia or Avalon M5, or the transparent Great River (although I'd like to have NV to play with!)

    Maybe I should have bought that V3 after all (instead of the Apogee Mini-Me). I should have listened to you Jeremy!

    I have to have three pots replaced on the Mini-Me, so I assume the pots they use are abysmal crap. I don't want to have to send it back to America, but they'll send the pots to me here.

    Recordista, I assume this is a case of SMT bringing the price down so they use crappy parts to shave a little more off the price.

    Kurt, my brother fixes old Marshall valve amps, and the sturdy design is wonderful. Everything is so easy to get at, and you can just pull bits out and replace them very easily. On top of all that, there's no need for proprietary parts. In my current predicament I'm dealing with a unit where I'm afraid to go near it with a soldering iron, so replacing pots is going to be a nightmare.

    Anyway I've learned my lesson!

    Thanks again gentlemen

  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    If you go with the Grace, the 201 will most likely be better constructed than the 101 with less SMT and it's a sure thing the power supply of the 201 is the better of the 2.

    BTW, the original GR pre is still a transformer coupled input ...and is really more of a true Neve clone than the MPNV, which is a hot rodded version of a Neve, designed with the input of Fletcher, hence the "Mercenary Version" moniker.
  7. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    True--and usually a transformer-coupled output as well.

    The MP-2/MP-4 is really it's own design--one which bears more resemblance to a Jensen Twin-Servo than to a Neve.
  8. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Thanks again gentlemen.

    As far as the GRs go, the MP1NV is something I would buy after I get something more transparent. The price is great, and I want to get to experiment with a more coloured pre on vocals.

    There are so many pieces of gear out there, so any info is greatly appreciated!

  9. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    If you're looking for transparent, you owe it to yourself to audition a Great River MP2/MP4 along with the other options.

    If your budget is bigger (about twice as big) you really ought to spend some time with a Gordon Audio preamp. I don't recommend doing this unless you think you might actually afford one--it seriously screwed up my plans WRT other preamps and delayed me getting my 'good' preamps for over a year :D
  10. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Have you any idea the pain you're inflicting on my poor credit card?

    I don't know which is harder: refraining from using up my remaining credit, or refraining from clicking on apply for credit limit increase any time I check my balance online :wink:

    Seriously though, thanks for the info -one more potential entry on my lust-list.

  11. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    You can read a little about our listening sessions here.
  12. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    Great link :cool:
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    But questionable methodology. I agree with much of what is said there about testing / comparing but it should be pointed out that even 1 dB can make a big difference. It is imperative that levels be matched exactly. people will perceive the louder of the two as better every time.

    I also use the dual mic method when doing comparisons and I have been criticized for this. It has been pointed out that even 1" makes a large difference. I cannot argue against that.

    John Hardys site has a very good article in the links section on doing mic pre comparisons.

  14. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    The original Gordon track was one of the lower level files.

    I took the files home, normalized their RMS values to less than 0.1 dB and ran them through an ABX comparator. I can pick out the differences 8/10 times on speakers (but only 5-6 on headphones.)

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