black lion bellari mp105 mod

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
User avatar
theinfamousfish
studio intern
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:44 pm

black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by theinfamousfish » Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:52 pm

I was told to ask here about this mod. Any opinions? I am looking for a pre to use for just vocals, and I have about a $150US price range/limit. I have had a few people on the n-track forum recommend this pre/mod as the best low cost solution around. Do other people who have used this mod have opinions? Also, exactly why do you have to "burn in' the ops, and what is involved in that? Also, are there other mods that can be done to improve this amp as well, or other amps that can be bought and modified for about 150?

thank you for your help,
fish
"If you're a rose, then I'm the thorn in your side."
-Switchfoot

"I get your point. You're so sharp."
-Television

choke3d
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 9:19 am
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by choke3d » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:18 pm

I have one, and did the mod. It is GREATLY improved, and to my ears does what I wanted it to. I have some "clean" pres on my mbox and a soundcraft board, the bellari with the mod has a slightly fatter sound, with a lot more coloration. Also, the mod seemed to remedy the problem I was having with the pad being noisy. I used the JJ Tesla tube, and like it a little more han the EH tube that is also mentioned in the mod instructions.

The "burning in" of the op-amps is really nothing, just leave the thing on for a few hours before using it with the new parts. I'm sure puffpastry will chime in here, he'll know a lot more about it than I can tell you. Just wanted to say that it definitely makes this much more of a "useable" pre.

User avatar
eeldip
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2139
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 5:10 pm
Location: NoPo

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by eeldip » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:23 pm

i have one and primarily use it for vocals. it does that very well. its slightly thick, has a smooth rolled off top. good for that sort of sound...

plus, if you saturate it (and it sure is easy to saturate) you get a nice amount of compression.

on the downsides, you have to be really careful about noise. you have to be careful about gain... the pots are utter crap. and it doesnt rack mount. it is very colored and not very versitile.

on the upside, if you play your cards right you can put it together for $75 or less and have a channel that far outshines that price.

oh, and the DI/line amp in it is good as well for the same reasons.

User avatar
greatmagnet
buyin' a studio
Posts: 913
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2003 2:10 pm
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by greatmagnet » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:33 pm

If I can be the bad cop and suggest that you spend the extra $50 and get the Bellari RP503 instead, I can give you an opinion on that mod instead as I have done it...

The RP503 is the channel strip one with semi-parametric and opto comp. Out of the box it actually sounds really great and I've gotten a lot of praise out of it...fat and warm. Really worth the dough. However, it is noisier than fuck and the EQ is a bit inneffective. The comp is less than extreme as well, although it is quite transparent.

The mod could not have been easier. You just yank out five little socketed op amps and replace them with the suggested ones, and then you yank out the tube and replace it with the suggested tube. Takes five minutes.

I bought a USED Telefunken 12au7 instead of a NOS one, as the difference in cost is $50 as compared to $150 (okay maybe this is getting more expensive). The op amps will run you about $18 total.

After I was done the thing sounded even a good deal sweeter yet, but the big difference was that it was DRAMATICALLY quieter. However I will say that contrary to the opinion of the guy who wrote the mod, the compressor became far LESS effective, so I will probably re-seat the original op amp on that segment.

Really worth doing...I'm sure the other unit would mod succesfully as well.
"All energy flows in accordance with the whims of the great Magnet"
?Raoul Duke
www.greatmagnetrecording.com

choke3d
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 9:19 am
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by choke3d » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:37 pm

yeah, I was wondering about the pots - thought it was just mine. I have to turn down my monitors when I adjust the pre because of the scratchiness. might be a good "second" mod to replace those bitches. I also wouldn't mind having them on the side or bottom, as it isn't somehing I want to display proudly on the desk at all times, but it does look cool tucked in a rack with the tube stickin' out...

at what point does cheap gear become over-modded? hmmmmm...

User avatar
eeldip
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2139
Joined: Fri May 02, 2003 5:10 pm
Location: NoPo

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by eeldip » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:59 pm

choke3d wrote:
at what point does cheap gear become over-modded? hmmmmm...
when you spend too much?

its the trick with the 105 mod. you gotta keep the costs down. its a cool pre at $75. but if you went out and got one unmodded for $80 (not unheard of) and put a $30 tube in there and the $10 opamps and some $5 pots.... throw in some money for shipping all this stuff to your house... then all of a sudden you are nearly spending as much per channel as a used RNP.

oh, another use for for 105 is reamping mono drum mixes thru them. crank the gain and enjoy.

User avatar
A.L.
buyin' a studio
Posts: 967
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 8:58 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by A.L. » Tue Aug 17, 2004 4:33 pm

eeldip wrote:on the upside, if you play your cards right you can put it together for $75 or less and have a channel that far outshines that price.
$40 on ebay all the time. Thatsa spicy meatball.
edit: except when threads like this pop up 'cause then everyone goes out looking for them. Hold your ground, original poster, then wait for the good deal.

trianglelines
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 10:22 am
Location: Sunny Seattle, WA
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by trianglelines » Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:49 pm

I did this mod with the OP amps... it took a couple of minutes and I left the SOVTEK tube in there....

I love it and use it for vox to disk all the time. Since I have just a home studio, I don't have to impress clients and it has proven to be a nice pre with a few good sweet spots including really nice overdriven compression when the gain is cranked. It took the serrated edge off vox tracked to disc, IMO. I've used it with a tube mic for acoustic and for electric as well. I just like it, but I'm no "pro" so I got nothing to prove!! ;-)

Watch at GC as they periodically go on clearance for $50 new. It never hurts to go there and just offer $50 for one... they want them GONE!

The OP amp thing can be pricey though, as there is a big pick-and-pack charge if you order them directly from Analog Devices (although the price is half that of the other place... digi-something). Six of one, half dozen the other, higher ship vs higher retail.

For one channel that is different sounding from a Sytek, this is a great way to go. The pots SUXXOR though. Noisy as Fuk.

-TimT

puffpastry
pushin' record
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 10:20 pm
Location: Uptown/St. Ben's
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by puffpastry » Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:49 pm

Man, I've gotten so much crap over the "burn-in" recommendation that I made for this mod. It's a recommendation that was based on my own experience with the way that the AD826 handles audio over a period of time.

And yes, those potentiometers do indeed suck. They're 500k PCB mount pots, and you can probably find a suitable replacement for them from Mouser. I'll divulge a little and tell you that I'm currently looking into 100k Clarostat 308NPC's (the kind used in the Avalon 737) as a replacement--but that's not set in stone, and it depends upon how well I can get the MP105's tubes to behave under an altered gain structure--the MP105's gain and volume control staging are somewhat unorthodox to say the least. A lower impedance in terms of volume control could do wonders for the 105's tonality, I think.

User avatar
kxlujc
audio school graduate
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2004 7:08 pm
Location: los angeles

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by kxlujc » Tue Aug 17, 2004 8:51 pm

i did this mod and it cost me all of five dollars. if you poke around the website black lion suggests for those opamps, you'll notice they offer free samples. (with free shipping, isn't that nice of them?) for the tube, i bought a shuguang 12ax7 for five bucks on ebay. don't laugh, if you read up on these chinese tubes, you'll find that they're the same tubes ruby uses, and they're more respected than the electroharmonix, tesla, or ei.

unfortunately, this preamp still sounds like ass.

it's just too noisy. i didn't notice it until i started using a focusrite, which is infinitely quieter and cleaner. my noise floor was audibly lower when i switched.

but the point is, if you're not up for spending a lot on a pre, this is a very passable alternative. good luck.

User avatar
sad iron
tinnitus
Posts: 1164
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 10:40 am
Location: Iowa City, Ia
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by sad iron » Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:12 pm

i just picked up one of these on ebay. showed up with a 9v power supply. talk about noisy!

hoping the seller can find the 12vac wart.

new tubes already here and op amps should be here soon. i'm excited
New music: www.sadironmusic.com

Studio site: www.sadironstudio.com

Novel website: www.sadironpress.com

User avatar
theinfamousfish
studio intern
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:44 pm

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by theinfamousfish » Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:26 pm

btw, how many tubes are there in this thing? if there was only one or two, I would be more inclined to spend the extra $ for a good tube than if there were like 6 or something. Just curious. Oh, and any other opinions of the other pre that was recommended?

fish
"If you're a rose, then I'm the thorn in your side."
-Switchfoot

"I get your point. You're so sharp."
-Television

User avatar
sad iron
tinnitus
Posts: 1164
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 10:40 am
Location: Iowa City, Ia
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by sad iron » Wed Aug 18, 2004 6:33 am

there's only one tube, but I got a couple tubes to see which on I like better
New music: www.sadironmusic.com

Studio site: www.sadironstudio.com

Novel website: www.sadironpress.com

User avatar
greatmagnet
buyin' a studio
Posts: 913
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2003 2:10 pm
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Contact:

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by greatmagnet » Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:23 am

The OP amp thing can be pricey though, as there is a big pick-and-pack charge if you order them directly from Analog Devices (although the price is half that of the other place... digi-something). Six of one, half dozen the other, higher ship vs higher retail.
That's Digi-Key you're thinkin' of...here's the link:
http://sales.digikey.com/scripts/sales. ... rce=search

The Burr-Browns (Burr-Brown has merged with Texas Instruments) I needed were about $4 a piece, and the other kind were half that.

I got my used Telefunken here:
http://www.vacuumtubes.com/12au7.html

Bob Widenhofer in Texas who did the original RP503 mod I mentioned also said that Digi-Key offers free sample parts to "developers" so I checked it out. What I discovered is that they do that if you have some kind of ordering track record with them generally and you are in their system. They didn't do it for me as I was a first-timer, but perhaps in the future they will?
"All energy flows in accordance with the whims of the great Magnet"
?Raoul Duke
www.greatmagnetrecording.com

brianb
gettin' sounds
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun May 30, 2004 12:08 pm

Re: black lion bellari mp105 mod

Post by brianb » Wed Aug 18, 2004 9:37 pm

I work with budget gear and did the mod on this thing and was amazed what it did on vocals using my SP C1. Eeldip talked me into doing the mod and he hit the nail on the head-much fuller sound. I'm comparing it to my vtb-1.

My only gripe is with the noise.

I was hoping to use it for a bass DI but to get the gain I need means that the noise level is way too high.

The sound of the bass through it is great though. I just re-recorded a bass part that I'd been working on and AB'd it with what I had and it was like night and day but man the noise. Any hints about how I could cut down on that would be appreciated.

Anyway my ,02.

Brian

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 42 guests