1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

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gravitychapters
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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by gravitychapters » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:15 am

I agree with you: compression might be a nicer add if I had to choose one. (Which is another way of saying, I'm less likely to make regrettable and intractable mistakes with compression than with EQ.)

After all of this useful and reasonable input, I think I'm about to make the financially unsound decision of buying the Shelford. My agreement with myself is that I'll at least return the SPX if the Shelford turns out to be that much better.

Mr. Neve is an inspiration. I hope to be as engaged and passionate when I'm 60 as he is at 94. What a legend.


drumsound wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 7:14 pm
I'm sure you would be fine sticking with what you have. It's already there, and paid for and that is also a bonus. The thing about the Shelford channel, from my point of view is the diode bridge compressor. I would rather have compression for tracking than EQ. I wish more makers made mic pre/comp channels instead of EQ, but that's me.

I do think it's amusing that Mr. Neve prefers his cleaner designs. I have a friend who works for RND and they had to really had to "convince" him to make some gear that is a nod to the classic Neve designs. He's 94, and still designs and comes to the office, which is super cool.

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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by gravitychapters » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:18 am

Yeah man, totally hear you on all of this. I think part of what I'm after is the experience you're having, where you hear playback and just can't believe what's happening. I just want to know what that feels like. I suppose that means my priorities are weird...
alexdingley wrote:
Tue Dec 29, 2020 10:34 pm
Oh... and just something that I think might be true, and it would be helpful to remember:

All of those great recordings, we all love... the ones made on the fancy-ass Neve desks in the 70's/80's/etc...

(a lot of the time, the following statements would have been true)
  • That artist could have sang/played into a tin-can and It would have rocked
  • The performance could have been recorded in a high-school cafeteria and still felt/sounded magical
  • That engineer could have been working on a much-less sophisticated console and gotten a great record
So often... we've been told to hold "the gear" up as "the answer" to how we'll get those sounds. And the reality is: we're probably NEVER gonna get those sounds. But if we stop worrying about our gear and listen, maybe we'll make some records that future gear-fiends will drool over.

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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by gravitychapters » Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:27 am

Thanks for the thought-provoking reply.

In my case, the psychosomatic part is maybe more powerful than the actual sonic part. And I'm ok with that. I'm ok knowing that I'm chasing an experience and a feeling as much as a sound. If my songs and my process feel more valid and legitimate because I'm recording through the Shelford Channel, then the songs are more valid and legitimate (at least to me). And, really, that might be my ultimate goal, just to feel like my work is as strong and inspired as it can be. It's not so much about an objective assessment of what sounds "better."

I don't know if I'm making any sense here.

The more we analyze this, the more I think that I'm really turned off by the power supply on the SPX. It bothers me tremendously that my iphone as a more solid (and more considered, more thoughtful) power supply than my Neve mic pre. I want to feel like someone really cared about the unit's creation and put endless thought into it. Which, obviously, brings up a really complex conversation about the nature of "clones."

You're right in saying that you added to my discomfort--but in a good way. This is helping me get to the bottom of what it is that's actually keeping me up at night.


Theo_Karon wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 9:12 am
I have used both and prefer the Shelford channel (which shouldn't be a surprise considering the difference in price). But I'd like to qualify that a bit - all of this crap is so goddamned psychosomatic, and the real head-twister is that it can be actual and psychosomatic at the same time. I have tracked vocals through the AMS and been perfectly happy with them. Does it sound the same as a vintage 1073 in an 80XX console? Do I care? Does the console preamp just sound different because some of the components are out of spec? Is that good or bad? It's certainly a similar flavor, and it certainly sounds good. It also falls into the trap of vanishingly small iterative cost-cuts in recapitulations of 'classic' equipment, and me wondering how much that actually matters. Can I really hear it if I squint intently at the knob while I've got nothing better to do? Probably. Do I care in the middle of a session? Not really. Is this whole pursuit a game of tiny increments that add up to something noticeable? Definitely, and that's the context in which this dilemma can be debated productively. As far as it causes that gut-churning anxiety that maybe you're sabotaging your entire project before it even begins by recording one second more of audio through this piece of junk, I think that all can be comfortably left behind. This preamp is perfectly adequate and then some.

Both make use of surface-mount components, a conversation which should have been packed in ages ago but still rises howlingly from the dead at every misbegotten opportunity. I know that the RND units make intelligent, well-considered use of SMD and I assume the same is true of AMS. The only difference you will experience there is that if you are a less-proficient tech (like me), simple repairs will be harder to perform yourself - any competent full-time tech will have no problem. It would be advisable to keep a stock of spares on hand, and future-proofing is another matter, but I struggle to imagine a world in which suitable replacements are truly impossible to find over time, barring a nuclear holocaust or some other unforseen disaster that handily obviates the need for any concern at all about the THD spec or headroom of vintage mic preamp clones. I will say that a modern design that seeks to incorporate some of the sonic signature of its designer's legacy while opening the door to a realm of shockingly modern, flattering fidelity sits better with me than yet another 'almost but not quite' vintage clone, but again, there's that price tag. The RND will probably hold more value over time than an nth-iteration 'budget' (speaking relatively here) clone, so that's also something to consider.

I fear I may only have added to your discomfort here! I hope that's not the case. Make something cool.

T

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alexdingley
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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by alexdingley » Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:48 pm

gravitychapters wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:27 am
The more we analyze this, the more I think that I'm really turned off by the power supply on the SPX.
...same! I don't know if it's just us, or if other folks are as deeply turned off by seeing a wall-wart/line-lump power supply on a high-end piece of gear... but yeah, it makes me feel all kinds of yucky about a unit.

On the flip-side, I get more than a little excited when I look at Focusrite Rednet units, and the dual power-supply feature on some of those interfaces.

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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by winky dinglehoffer » Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:13 pm

alexdingley wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:48 pm
gravitychapters wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:27 am
The more we analyze this, the more I think that I'm really turned off by the power supply on the SPX.
I assume it's an off-board switching power supply (haven't seen it)--I don't consider that a problem at all. A good switching mode supply should be quiet & will hold a steady voltage. You may not like the aesthetics of it, but it's not an issue in any other way (as long as it's a decent smps.)

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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by The Scum » Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:26 pm

A local university had a RND 5088 with the rack above with a bunch of EQs.

Behind the desk, there were a bunch of laptop-charger style power supplies...I think it was one per 4 EQ modules...

I'd rather see the audio designers designing audio circuits than reinventing the power supply wheel.
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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by Theo_Karon » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:49 pm

gravitychapters wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:27 am
It bothers me tremendously that my iphone as a more solid (and more considered, more thoughtful) power supply than my Neve mic pre. I want to feel like someone really cared about the unit's creation and put endless thought into it.
This speaks volumes - follow your heart!

T
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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by winky dinglehoffer » Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:52 pm

Theo_Karon wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:49 pm
gravitychapters wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:27 am
It bothers me tremendously that my iphone as a more solid (and more considered, more thoughtful) power supply than my Neve mic pre. I want to feel like someone really cared about the unit's creation and put endless thought into it.
This speaks volumes - follow your heart!
T
I respectfully disagree. I can tell you for a fact that numerous internal power supplies in various synths/pro audio gear are simply off-the-shelf power supplies that in function and design aren't really any different from the external power supply of the Neve. The only difference is that they're inside--which may suit your aesthetic sensibilities better, but generally makes them harder to replace if there's a problem.

Also, years ago I heard a synth designer point out that the last thing designers usually think about is the power supply. So the power supply is often the weakest part of the design. Better to have a well-designed off-the-shelf supply than something the gear designer simply slaps together at the last minute--as Scum has pretty much already said.

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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by vvv » Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:27 am

Also, I've read that wall-warts are often quieter ...
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Re: 1073 SPX pre versus Shelford Channel pre?

Post by digitaldrummer » Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:35 am

there are actually 2 different kinds of wall-warts that you'll see in use in Pro Audio today. Those that are simply AC step-down (and have an AC output) and those that are switching power supplies that output DC voltages. I won't claim to be an expert and there are pros and cons to both. DC switching power supplies can sometimes inject high frequency noise which has to be filtered out properly. but getting any transformers away from the audio circuitry certainly has some advantages. The more expensive solutions won't use a switching supply and you may even see a nice toroidal transformer inside the unit. But a linear power supply costs more and that is passed on to the buyer.
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