The Nightingale
THERMIONIC
CULTURE
THE NIGHTINGALE
preamps & compressor
OPERATING MANUAL
WARNING
For your personal safety, please read this operating manual and
warning thoroughly before using the equipment.
This unit must be installed in such a manner that operator access
to the mains plug is maintained. Where the product is to be rack
mounted, this may be achieved by having access to the
disconnection device for the whole rack.
To reduce the risk of electric shock, it is essential that the unit is
disconnected from the mains supply before removing the cover.
Please also note that the power supply capacitors within this unit
can remain charged even after the mains supply has been
disconnected. It is essential that these capacitors are discharged
after the mains supply has been disconnected and the covers
have been removed.
In the event that this unit has been dropped or has suffered an
impact, an electrical safety test must be carried out before
reconnection to the mains supply.
This equipment is not intended for use in explosion hazard
environments. It must be used and stored in studio conditions,
such that the ambient relative humidity does not exceed 80%, nor
is the temperature to be allowed to drop to a level, which would
cause dew point to be reached.
Please ensure that adequate ventilation is provided and that the
ventilation slots are not obstructed. When rack mounting this
equipment, a fan may be required to provide sufficient airflow.
It is not advisable to operate this equipment if all valves are not in
place and working, as voltages will rise and components may
overheat and fail.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
1
CONTENTS
Section
Page
1
Introduction
3
2
Controls and Operation - Preamp A and B
5
2.1
Input Level
5
2.2
Gain
5
2.3
Top
5
2.4
Pres
5
2.5
Bass
5
2.6
HPF
6
2.7
Top Cut
6
2.8
Phase
6
2.9
Bass Cut
6
3
2.10 DI
7
2.11 48V
7
Controls and Operation - Compressor
8
3.1
Meter
8
3.2
Threshold
8
3.3
Release
8
3.4
Comp Gain
9
3.5
O/P Level
9
4
Controls and Operation - I/P Select
10
5
Operational Hints
12
6
Specification
13
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
2
1
Introduction
The Nightingale is one of a new line of products from
Thermionic Culture Ltd. These products all share the same
basic front panel size and casing design, which uses a half
rack 4U size and a detachable power supply. We have
selected this format specifically to increase the tactile feel of
the front panel controls and to allow us to create a modular
product range.
The Nightingale was originally made for Live use, where 2
vocal mics could be combined, with different eq if necessary,
into 1 Phoenix type compressor. This works really well due
to the type of soft knee compression and makes the
Nightingale perfect for this purpose.
The Nightingale uniquely comprises 3 different components.
There are 2 (A and B) mic. / line preamps which also have
EQ, filters, phase adjustment, 48V phantom power and a
front panel DI input.
There is one mono compressor that is a modified version of
the Phoenix, one of Thermionic Culture’s oldest and most
popular designs.
We have provided front panel switching to allow the user to
configure the Nightingale in different modes. The
components can all be used separately or they can be linked
and summed together internally via the front panel control.
Each preamp has a transformer balanced input, transformerless unbalanced output and uses 1 valve per channel. The
valve is an ECC832. The valves are run in a single ended
configuration, which we feel gives a good balance between
smoothness, clarity and harmonic distortion.
The EQ circuit is an active design, which is similar in
operation to that found in the Earlybird 2 mic. preamps.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
3
The mono compressor is a variation of the Phoenix design,
which uses a different input transformer and valve
complement. There is a different detector valve (5726),
compression valve (6AQ8) and output valve (5965). This
gives a harder type of compression curve, which ends up as
a 20:1 ratio at high compression levels. The combination of
new valves and transformers also gives the unit more
available gain. We find that these qualities suit what this unit
as a whole is capable of.
We feel that The Nightingale is a very versatile and unique
unit. The ability to take 2 different signals from DI, mic. or
line sources. Then be able to EQ, compress and internally
sum them together whilst retaining the ability to use all 3
components individually, or any combination in between, is a
very creative combination of features that can’t be found in
any other single unit of this size.
The quality of the circuit design means that the sound of the
unit stays open and natural even when applying extreme
amounts of processing. So full use of all the features can be
made without fear of seriously damaging the signal quality.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
4
2
Control and Operation - Preamp A and B
2.1
Input Level
This 3 way switch at the top of each preamp section
allows the user to run the preamp as a Line input, Hi
mic. level input or Lo mic. level input.
2.2
Gain
The rotary gain control is located at the top of each
preamp section. It allows the channel signal to be
attenuated at the input continuously. This gives a
channel gain between:-∞ to + 5 dB gain for the Line amp
-∞ to + 21 dB gain for the Hi mic. setting
-∞ to + 34 dB gain for the Lo mic. setting
2.3
Top
The rotary control allows the amount of top lift EQ to
be continuously adjusted between 0 and +12 dB. The
EQ starts as a gentle type curve and it reaches it’s
peak at 9.5 kHz.
2.4
Pres
The rotary control allows the amount of mid lift EQ to
be continuously adjusted from 0 to +11dB with a very
broad curve peaking at 2.8kHz.
2.5
Bass
The rotary control allows the amount of bass lift EQ to
be continuously adjusted between 0 and +11 dB. The
EQ has a 'varislope' type curve which is initially very
broad, reaching a small peak at 90Hz at a position of
'5' and then reaches it’s final peak at 40Hz when the
control is turned on full.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
5
2.6
HPF
The high pass filter switch gives the user a filter which
is 6dB down at either 30Hz or 80Hz and becomes
more severe as the frequency drops.
These frequencies and filter slope work very well in
conjunction with the Bass control. Effectively allowing
the user to simply remove problem frequencies from a
sound or to allow the bass frequencies to be
dramatically enhanced without any danger of
producing sub bass frequencies that interfere with the
action of loudspeakers.
2.7
Top Cut
The 3 position top cut switch gives 2 choices of filter at
high frequencies:Position 1 gives a flat response with no filter in circuit.
Position 2 gives a low pass filter 6dB down at 8 kHz
Position 3 gives a shelving type cut flattening out 8dB
down at 8 kHz
2.8
Phase
The phase switch is a 2 position switch and allows the
user to change the phase of the channel signal by
180º
2.9
Bass Cut
The bass cut switch is a 3 position switch which gives
2 choices of shelving filter at low frequencies. The
shelving filters are shallow types of bass cut and are
designed to interact with the bass lift to make a
simultaneous low mid cut and low bass lift possible.
Position 1 gives a flat response
Position 2 gives a shelving filter with a 3dB cut at
200Hz down to 7dB at 80 Hz
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
6
Position 3 gives a shelving fliter with a 3dB cut at
800Hz down to 6dB at 200Hz
2.10 DI
This is an unbalanced high impedance 1/4 ' jack
socket input on the front panel of the Nightingale and
is designed to be used with instruments such as
electric guitars and keyboards. It’s possible to use any
source with a 1/4 ' jack output lead.
2.11 48Vt
This control is a 2 position switch that applies 48V
phantom power to the XLR input sockets on the rear
of the Nightingale for both channels simultaneously.
The 48V supply is disabled when the input switch is at
'Line' mode.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
7
3
Controls and Operation - Compressor
3.1
Meter
This meter has the same function as the meters in a
standard Phoenix compressor. It allows the user to
read the amount of compression applied to the signal
in dBs. The ballistics of the meter are slower in action
than the actual compression in order for the user to
more easily see what level of compression is being
applied.
3.2
Threshold
This 4 way switch gives the user control over the
signal level at which compression begins. The 4
positions go from 'off' (no compression applied),
through 1,2 and 3. The position 3 is maximum
threshold and would be the equivalent of a setting of
'1' on the standard Phoenix. This gives maximum
possible compression.
3.3
Release
This 3 way switch controls the speed of recovery from
compression. The equivalent settings on a standard
Phoenix would be:Position F – setting of '1' - 60ms
Position M – setting of '3' - 150ms
Position S – setting of '7' - 500ms
It’s worth noting in this section that this compressor
has a fixed attack time.
This attack time is set at around the equivalent of a
setting of '4' on a standard Phoenix which gives a time
figure of 60ms.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
8
3.4
Comp Gain
This rotary indented control provides the adjustment
needed to the input gain of the compressor. This
version of the Phoenix circuit gives slightly more gain (
28 dB) than that found in the standard Phoenix
(26dB). This comes in useful when more gain may be
needed with a low mic. input signal level. The mic.
pre-amp may be sent to the compressor with the I/P
select switch and the compressor will add gain to the
mic. preamp giving a total gain of almost 60dB (3dB
less . in A+B mode).
3.5
O/P Level
This 5 way switch gives control over the final output
level of the compressor.
It acts as an attenuator at the final output of the unit.
So the cleanest signal possible can be obtained with
the switch set to 'MAX'. This gives zero signal
attenuation. The steps '3 , 2 , 1 and MIN' give
progressively more attenuation ( about 3.5 dB per
step) to the output signal should it be required.
The high pass filter switch gives the user a 12dB per
octave filter which is 8dB down at either 25Hz or
65Hz.
These frequencies and filter slope work very well in
conjunction with the 'Bass' control. This effectively
allows the user to simply remove problem frequencies
from a sound, or to allow the bass frequencies to be
enhanced dramatically, without any danger of
producing frequencies that interfere with the action of
loudspeakers.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
9
4
Controls and Operation - I/P Select
The 4 position 'I/P select' switch controls the most unique
feature of the Nightingale.
With 'I/P select' set to 'Line' the input to the compressor is
taken from the 'comp in' XLR socket located on the back of
the Nightingale.
With 'I/P select' set to 'A' the input to the compressor is taken
internally within the unit from the output of preamp A. The
preamp can be working at any setting and its signal will be
sent to the compressor.
The preamp signal will also continue to be sent to the
'preamp A output' XLR plug found on the back of the
Nightingale.
With 'I/P select' set to 'B' the input to the compressor is taken
from preamp B. This works exactly as described for preamp
A above.
With 'I/P select' set to 'A+B' the compressor takes its input
from an internally summed combination of outputs from
preamps A and B.
The mix between the 2 preamps can be adjusted by
changing their input gain settings. The 2 preamps can be set
in any configuration of mic, line or DI input. The signals from
the 2 preamps will still be sent to their respective XLR output
plugs. This makes it possible to use the unit for the following:
a) Individual use of 2 preamps and one compressor.
b) One preamp plus compression and one preamp with no
compression.
c) Summing any combination of 2 mic. , DI & line signals.
d) Recording 'clean' un-summed or compressed versions of
each preamp signal simultaneously to the processed
signal.
e) Parallel processing.
f) Extra mic. / DI signal gain.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
10
5
Operational Hints
You may find that the Nightingale can allow you to try any
combination of preamp, EQ and compression very quickly.
The following situations are some examples of where the
Nightingale is well suited to the task.
1) Snare drums and toms are often recorded with top and
bottom mics. This can result in many tracks getting recorded
which can clutter up a multitrack recording, especially when
working on tape or with limited numbers of A/D converters.
The Nightingale can be used with preamp A&B summed to
the compressor to present the user with a combined single
track, which may be compressed if desired. Don’t forget to
use the phase switch on the preamp for the underneath mic.
to reverse the phase!
2) A guitar amp, acoustic guitar or vocal is often mic’d with 2
mics for a combination of their sound qualities. This can be
EQ’d, summed and compressed on the spot. The individual
mics can still be recorded for safety.
3) It’s possible to record an instrument direct to multitrack
via one preamp and then combine the direct mic. with an
ambient mic, compressed heavily onto another track.
Panning these signals gives an unusual stereo effect where
the ambience is never overpowering the direct sound.
4) During mixing the Nightingale may be used to take 2 line
signals which may be EQ’d and compressed together. The
output from the pre- amps and compressor can be used in
parallel to make the most use out of the extreme
compression available in the unit.
5) A dynamic. signal that also has some ambience may be
fed into both preamps of the Nightingale. One preamp may
be put out of phase with the other and then both can be
summed into the compressor. Use of EQ can cause
differences between the signals to cause less than 180º
perfect cancellation, which can be compressed and this can
bring out some new dimensions to the existing sound.
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
11
6) In a Live situation where there are 2 vocalists The
Nightingale will blend the 2 together making them sound
warmer yet clearer and more cohesive. It improves the PA
sound. As soon as 1 vocalist starts singing the level of the
other mic. falls as well giving better separation and therefore
a cleaner band sound. ©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
12
6
Specification
Input Impedance
Mic Lo
Mic Hi
Line
Output Impedance
MOL (into 10kΩ)
Distortion (1kHz)
Frequency Response
+0/-1 dB
Total Noise (unweighted
30kHz filter) below MOL
Max Gain
Phantom Power
Preamps
A&B
Compressor
600Ω
1200Ω
10kΩ
<400Ω
+26dBu
0.1%
N/A
N/A
10kΩ
<600
+26dBu
0.02% *
<10-35kHz
13-80kHz
103dB
105dB
34dB
+48V
28dB
N/A
* Increases with compression to a typical figure of 0.2% with
6dB compression.
The Nightingale can be set to operate from either 230V or
115V 50/60 Hz AC. The appropriate mains input voltage can
be selected on the red switch located next to the mains inlet.
Note: Mains fuses must be replaced in accordance with the
following table.
Mains Voltage
230V
115V
©Thermionic Culture Ltd., December 2011
Fuse Rating
T315mA
T630mA
13
The Nightingale - Frequency Response Curves
15
10
Bass Cut 1
Bass Cut 2
Bass Lift
5
HPF 30Hz
Gain (dB)
HPF 80Hz
Presence
0
Top Cut 1
Top Cut 2
Top Lift
-5
Presence, Bass
Lift & Top Lift all
measured at Max.
-10
-15
0.01
0.1
1
Frequency (kHz)
10
25
The Nightingale - Compression
15
35
Output dB (no compression)
Output dB (max. compression)
Compression dB (max. compression)
30
5
25
0
20
-5
15
-10
10
-15
5
-20
0
-20
-15
-10
-5
0
Input Level
5
10
15
20
Compression dB
Output dB
10
Thermionic Culture Ltd., Harlow, Essex, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1279 414770 Fax: +44 (0)1279 412233
www.thermionicculture.com
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