Neve 1073 Shootout

History

The Neve 1073 is the most modeled and emulated piece of audio gear in history. Introduced in 1970, the Neve 1073 was found in consoles such as the Wessex A88 and 8014. This hallowed Class A transistor MIC/LINE amp with EQ epitomizes the beautiful Neve sound with clarity, sheen, and bite. To date, many software and hardware companies have modeled the 1073’s preamp and three-band EQ section. In this video we shootout a hardware “recreation” against UA’s emulation.

Opponents

According to Universal Audio, the UAD Neve 1073 this is the world’s “only authentic licensed plug-in emulation by Neve.” Thanks to UA’s Unison technology, the Neve 1073 plug-in offers all of the 1073 preamp’s impedance, gain staging, and circuit behaviors. With Unison, the Apollo preamp changes to the Neve 1073’s physical input impedance, allowing both “Lo” (300 Ω) and “Hi” (1200 Ω) impedance setting options. This provides the 1073’s full gain and tonal range to your personal mics.

The Vintech Audio X73i is also based on the Neve 1073 with all of the same eq parameters plus additional mid range frequencies. The X73i also offers selectable input impedance, 1/4 inch D.I. on front panel, transformer balanced mic and line inputs, phase reverse, phantom power switch, eq switch, 70db of gain, quality Grayhill rotary switches, custom machined aluminum knobs, plus many other features.

Signal Chain

For my performance, we recorded the voice using an Ehrlund EHR-M1. This is a glorified SM-57 performance microphone which I have considerable experience with using it live on stage. For my guitar, I’m using a Crafter acoustic guitar with LR Baggs pickups feeding the direct XLR output to the mic pre.

I first captured the performance going directly into the UA Apollo Twin mkII mic preamps using XLR for both the mic and the guitar. Then I adjusted the gain on the UA Neve 1073 plug-in to get a healthy signal into Pro Tools, recorded at 48kHz/24-bit. The ONLY EQ engaged was the 80Hz Hi-Pass filter, which I matched the settings on the Vintech X73i.

Once I was satisfied with my performance, I repeated the process feeding directly into the Vintech X73i and going LINE out to the Apollo Twin’s LINE in – with no additional processing from UA.

All Things Considered

This is NOT a demonstration to prove one better than the other, but simply a comparison of two separate preamps that claim to model the behavior of a classic Neve 1073. However, no two vintage Neve preamps are identical. More important than the mic pre comparison is going to be the 1.) performance and 2.) mic selection that matches the sound you’re after.

In making this statement, le’ts also consider the cost factor. A pair of Vintech X73i’s with the power supply can run you $3,200 whereas the Apollo Twin mkII comes in at $1,299 plus an additional $299 for the UA Neve 1073 plug-in.

My experience with analog hardware is that it requires maintenance. Eventually, the pots get corrosion or you lose connection in the circuit board. So it’s not 100% reliable. Inadvertently, software does not retain its value. If I were to pay full price for any software, I would immediately lose 30% when reselling. Also, you’re always dependent on the manufacturer to release updates.

On with the shootout!

Now that you know the backstory, let’s see if you can pick out the hardware vs the software. In this video, you will see “Recording Rig A” and Recording Rig B.” One of them is the Vintech X73i pair and the other is the UA Neve 1073 with Unison. Have at it! Cast your vote in the comments below!

 

Which one is the Hardware?

Which one is the Software?

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