Telefunken V76... is it all that it's hyped up to be?

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Mystic Steamship Co.
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Telefunken V76... is it all that it's hyped up to be?

Post by Mystic Steamship Co. » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:58 am

I have an opportunity to buy a V76 that needs a little work for a very good price. I am currently trying to put together a 'freelance' rig or whatever you want to call it, of a few nice pre's, essential outboard and mics in a portable rack. I am seriously considering keeping the V76 because I know that they're highly regarded as sounding excellent. I've used V72's on a few occasions and thought they sounded really good. I'm really just wondering how much better the V76 really is compared to the V72's. The 76's are commanding pretty crazy prices these days on the vintage market, and for the price of my one V76 I could pretty easily get a pair of racked V72's.

Does anybody out there have experience with both, and can explain the differences? The chance that I'll be able to compare them side by side is slim. I could see having just one V76 being kind of a bummer, and I doubt i'll ever be able to find another for a reasonable price, so I'm thinking unless the V76 really is significantly better than the 72's or other tube pre's I'd probably sell it... but I'd really love to get a little input on somebody that's had experience with both.

I'm really torn, I'm getting a good deal on the thing and I know it will sound great which makes me want to keep it, but part of me thinks that the $3000+ the pre is worth could be better spent on other less esoteric gear that will sound just as good. I'm not a collector, I'm an engineer; I just care about the sound. If the V76 is something really special, it would be silly not to keep it; but is it really worth $3000 for a single pre amp?!?!?!? That just seems outrageous to me. I could build 4 api 312 type pre's and a hamptone tube pre for about $1600, and have money left to spend on other gear. I know I'll just have to listen and see...but I don't have it quite yet.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Last edited by Mystic Steamship Co. on Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by roscoenyc » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:51 am

I could answer your question but I'd be inclined to use a whole slew of the "Banned Gear Describing Adjectives" when a simple yes would do.

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Post by emrr » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:35 pm

Dunno that I'd buy into it. I've sold refurbished RCA and Gates at a fraction of that price to people who had V76's, and some ended up quickly selling their V76's. If you are concerned about the branding aspect, then you gotta have it. If you are concerned about resale, maybe it matters, maybe they are in the top of the appreciation curve already. If not, there are plenty of great choices out there.

I just had a pair of Western Electric 121A's pass through my hands (much more valuable than the V76), and put them to use on some sessions. They are great. But so are my many Collins, Gates, and RCA amps which are worth 1/10 to 1/20 of the WE or V76 value.
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Post by Mystic Steamship Co. » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:53 pm

I agree, a lot of gear these days just seems so incredibly over-hyped. I can understand why some of the classic vintage gear is revered, but there is s LOT of lesser known gear that is every bit as good, sometimes better. The more I learn about electronics and design the less willing I've become to buy into the whole status and allure of some gear, and just listen.

Doug on a side note.... Do you have a favorite tube pre for folky acoustic guitar/vocal kind of stuff? A lot of the music I record is in a similar vein as the Avett Brothers, and I really dig the acoustic/vocal tone on the records they recorded with you at EMRR.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:16 pm

The TAB-Funkenwerk V78M is a great sounding, affordable, tube preamp. Comes directly from the V7_ lineage, without the crazy "vintage" prices.

I use mine for all types of music, sources, with all types of mics, and it always sounds great.

Check 'er out http://tab-funkenwerk.com/
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Post by cgarges » Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:56 am

I have a pair of original V72s and they are ASTOUNDING. I've never used V76s, but a few of the people I know who have have a string opinion about the superiority of V76s. I find that hard to believe, just because the V72s are so awesome, I can't imagine there being soemthing THAT much better.

Doug (Williams) certainly knows vintage American electronics better than I do, but I've got a pair of RCA BC2Bs in the rack right below the V72s. Although the RCAs are cool, they're NOT the V72s. Hey Doug, since I'm not that knowledgeable about the differences in the American tube preamps, can you give us a brief rundown on a few of your preferred models?

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Post by roscoenyc » Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:31 pm

cgarges wrote:I have a pair of original V72s and they are ASTOUNDING. I've never used V76s, but a few of the people I know who have have a string opinion about the superiority of V76s. I find that hard to believe, just because the V72s are so awesome, I can't imagine there being soemthing THAT much better.
I've got a pair of V-72's that were restored and racked by Oliver years ago at TAB when he was still in Seatle. They are great sounding pres.
I don't own a V-76 but I've had one in studio side by side with my V-72's and it was that much better. V-72's are basically converted line amps that if converted and racked up right make a very good pre-amp. The V-76 is a different machine.

I bet you'd like a V-76 Ccarges.

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Post by cgarges » Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:41 pm

roscoenyc wrote:I bet you'd like a V-76 Ccarges.
If everything everyone says is true, I KNOW I would. The V72s are SO badass that anything cooler than a V72 woul dbe totally unstoppable.

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Post by emrr » Tue Jul 13, 2010 9:07 am

I'm a crayon guy; preferred models for what? What's the mic? What is the talent wanting? What is the talent doing wrong? What's the sonic context?

If you like the faster clearer, harder clipping sound I expect the V series stuff to have (lots of negative feedback) then you probably would like Collins 356A's, Altec 459A's, or Langevin 5116 or 5116-B's the best. None of those will show significant distortion, and exhibit less of the soft upper frequency roll-off of many others. Of those, the 356A and the 5116 are single ended types that will show more 2nd harmonic distortion. They are essentially the same basic circuit, as are the GE modules using 5879 tubes. The 459A and the 5116-B are push-pull types and will cancel most 2nd harmonic, and add more 3rd instead. The PP types also have a different sort of imaging; wider for lack of a better pseudo-sci term. The SE types are usually more narrow focused in sound. Those are all fixed gain types, with slightly more gain than a V72.

In high gain world, the RCA OP-6 is a favorite of many. I've never kept one around terribly long due to street value myself, but it is one of the few with variable gain. The awesome high gain adjustable Gates SA-134 appears on ebay about twice a week, and seems to sell anywhere from $80-$300. Put some restoration money into it and you come out way better and cheaper than many many other options.

The RCA BC-2 is one of the softer sounding RCA's; depends on what you are doing. I prefer the even-softer BA-2A over the BC-2, which has a bigger tone and variable gain; more practical all around.

Most people would hate a Collins 6Q or 6P on many things, but their enormous thick slow brownness is unequaled, when you want that sort of thing.

The Gates SA family pre's with UTC transformers are among the largest sounding and most aggressive tube pieces I've heard. Response as good as anything I've tested (great transformers), and very very forward. Yet, low feedback, so you can push them into really nice breakup that the faster ones I talked about above just can't do. They sound immediately clipped, where the Gates SA-70 can be used as a limiter on drum tracks. If you add variable volume control to it, the Collins 6Q has a long distortion knee; like 15-20 dB that you can hear, adjust, and play with.

So many other cool pieces, I have to stop and leave a bunch out. Lots of variations that are close to the ones I've mentioned. Plenty of pieces that I don't like and wouldn't keep too, that are fairly popular.

The Avett 'tone' in particular, in regards to preamps, is in many cases the Collins 356A on instruments, many cases feeding a Collins 26U limiter. The vocals many times are Gates SA-94's or SA-20's, which are mostly unobtainium high gain adjustable line amps.
Last edited by emrr on Sun May 19, 2013 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Recycled_Brains » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:31 pm

emrr wrote:I'm a crayon guy; preferred models for what? What's the mic? What is the talent wanting? What is the talent doing wrong? What's the sonic context?

If you like the faster clearer, harder clipping sound I expect the V series stuff to have (lots of negative feedback) then you probably would like Collins 356A's, Altec 459A's, or Langevin 5116 or 5116-B's the best. None of those will show significant distortion, and exhibit less of the soft upper frequency roll-off of many others. Of those, the 356A and the 5116 are single ended types that will show more 2nd harmonic distortion. They are essentially the same basic circuit, as are the GE modules using 5879 tubes. The 459A and the 5116-B are push-pull types and will cancel most 2nd harmonic, and add more 3rd instead. The PP types also have a different sort of imaging; wider for lack of a better pseudo-sci term. The SE types are usually more narrow focused in sound. Those are all fixed gain types, with slightly more gain than a V72.

In high gain world, the RCA OP-6 is a favorite of many. I've never kept one around terribly long due to street value myself, but it is one of the few with variable gain. The lesser known BN-2A is almost the same, but with extra inputs. The awesome high gain adjustable Gates SA-134 appears on ebay about twice a week, and seems to sell anywhere from $80-$300. Put some restoration money into it and you come out way better and cheaper than many many other options.

The RCA BC-2 is one of the softer sounding RCA's; depends on what you are doing. I prefer the even-softer BA-2A over the BC-2, which has a bigger tone and variable gain; more practical all around.

Most people would hate a Collins 6Q or 6P on many things, but their enormous thick slow brownness is unequaled, when you want that sort of thing.

The Gates SA family pre's with UTC transformers are among the largest sounding and most aggressive tube pieces I've heard. Response as good as anything I've tested (great transformers), and very very forward. Yet, low feedback, so you can push them into really nice breakup that the faster ones I talked about above just can't do. They sound immediately clipped, where the Gates SA-70 can be used as a limiter on drum tracks. If you add variable volume control to it, the Collins 6Q has a long distortion knee; like 15-20 dB that you can hear, adjust, and play with.

So many other cool pieces, I have to stop and leave a bunch out. Lots of variations that are close to the ones I've mentioned. Plenty of pieces that I don't like and wouldn't keep too, that are fairly popular.

The Avett 'tone' in particular, in regards to preamps, is in many cases the Collins 356A on instruments, many cases feeding a Collins 26U limiter. The vocals many times are Gates SA-94's or SA-20's, which are mostly unobtainium high gain adjustable line amps.
Wow, this is great info.! I've never heard of any of this stuff. Also got me to check out some of the Avett Brothers' stuff.... sounds awesome!
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Post by emrr » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:42 pm

It'd be smart to watch the market on this stuff for awhile before diving in. It used to all be cheap enough to try on a whim; little of it is anymore. The two Avett Gleam EP's would be most relevant to this discussion.
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Post by digitaldrummer » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:24 pm

and now that you've spilled the beans... 8)


but seriously, thanks for the cool rundown on these!
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Post by red cross » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:32 am

emrr wrote: If you like the faster clearer, harder clipping sound I expect the V series stuff to have (lots of negative feedback) then you probably would like Collins 356A's, Altec 459A's, or Langevin 5116 or 5116-B's the best. None of those will show significant distortion, and exhibit less of the soft upper frequency roll-off of many others. Of those, the 356A and the 5116 are single ended types that will show more 2nd harmonic distortion. They are essentially the same basic circuit, as are the GE modules using 5879 tubes. The 459A and the 5116-B are push-pull types and will cancel most 2nd harmonic, and add more 3rd instead. The PP types also have a different sort of imaging; wider for lack of a better pseudo-sci term. The SE types are usually more narrow focused in sound. Those are all fixed gain types, with slightly more gain than a V72.

In high gain world, the RCA OP-6 is a favorite of many. I've never kept one around terribly long due to street value myself, but it is one of the few with variable gain. The lesser known BN-2A is almost the same, but with extra inputs. The awesome high gain adjustable Gates SA-134 appears on ebay about twice a week, and seems to sell anywhere from $80-$300. Put some restoration money into it and you come out way better and cheaper than many many other options.

The RCA BC-2 is one of the softer sounding RCA's; depends on what you are doing. I prefer the even-softer BA-2A over the BC-2, which has a bigger tone and variable gain; more practical all around.

Most people would hate a Collins 6Q or 6P on many things, but their enormous thick slow brownness is unequaled, when you want that sort of thing.

The Gates SA family pre's with UTC transformers are among the largest sounding and most aggressive tube pieces I've heard. Response as good as anything I've tested (great transformers), and very very forward. Yet, low feedback, so you can push them into really nice breakup that the faster ones I talked about above just can't do. They sound immediately clipped, where the Gates SA-70 can be used as a limiter on drum tracks. If you add variable volume control to it, the Collins 6Q has a long distortion knee; like 15-20 dB that you can hear, adjust, and play with.

So many other cool pieces, I have to stop and leave a bunch out. Lots of variations that are close to the ones I've mentioned. Plenty of pieces that I don't like and wouldn't keep too, that are fairly popular.

The Avett 'tone' in particular, in regards to preamps, is in many cases the Collins 356A on instruments, many cases feeding a Collins 26U limiter. The vocals many times are Gates SA-94's or SA-20's, which are mostly unobtainium high gain adjustable line amps.
Any thoughts on those old Ampex 350/351/601 preamps that have been modded for standalone use? Always was curious about those...

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Post by emrr » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:09 am

Not a fan of chopping up tape machines. To me those things are all about the bling of a big meter, and they have always seemed overpriced to me, relative to all the other pieces that really were meant to be used as preamps. Seems many of the old-timers on the Ampex list recall doing everything they could to avoid using the preamps on the Ampex electronics.
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Post by Cojonesonasteek » Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:35 am

I've been a fan of the V76 for more than a decade, bought my first pair in early 2000 - a couple V76s model (studio) that came out of Deutsche Grammofon that I regretably traded for mixing services. Got my second pair a couple years later. When properly maintained (I had Oliver Archut refurb the last pair) there are very smooth, sweet and dimensional. Absolutely my favorite preamp for vocals, nice DI for bass (mine are in a Marquette rack). I have not A/B'ed them with V72s but I know I have read somewhere that there is some sonic difference.

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