Vintage Design DMP and CA73
Resolution 3.8 Nov/Dec 2004
10:25 PM
Page 36
Vintage Design DMP and CA73
These two units from Swedish classic aficionados Vintage Design offer a dual mic preamp and a single mic preamp with a 3-band EQ plus
filter. Having spent much of the year using different vintage Neve consoles with several different types of input module, they were of
particular interest to GEORGE SHILLING
OTH THE DMP and the CA73 are weighty 1u
boxes with characteristic vintage styling and
switchgear. This authenticity continues under
the bonnet with components such as Carnhill St Ives
transformers and ELMA switches. Vintage Design’s
Thomas Kristiansson has apparently devoted a great
deal of time to researching the history of these designs
and has made good use of that knowledge here.
The DMP (UK £1090 + VAT) features two mic
channels arranged side-by-side. The mic amps are a
two-stage design similar to the 1290 circuit used in the
classic Neve 1063/1073. Each channel features a
combi-type input socket on the front for instrument
(jack) or microphone (XLR) input, the latter paralleled
with additional rear panel XLR connections for the mic
inputs, alongside XLR line outputs.
There is also an intriguing jack socket on the rear
for each channel labelled EQ-18dB. This is a TRS
connection for inserting external EQ, running at a
nominal -18dB, that is operated by pressing the EQ
switch on the front of the unit. Unusually, power is
provided by a modern 24V AC wall-wart via a flimsy
round-pin connector, which rather spoils the ‘vintage’
feel, but seems to work perfectly well.
The red coloured coarse gain knobs have 5dB steps
and have a sensitivity range of +10dB to -80dB for the
mic input. Maximum gain, however, was roughly
similar to that of my Neve-inspired Phoenix DRS-2
(labelled as -70 at maximum). The smaller grey
continuous pot is akin to an output fader, cutting the
signal completely at full anticlockwise. You would
normally keep this fully to the right in most recording
situations but it is possible to drive the first stage by
turning this down and cranking the coarse gain.
Furthermore, the crib-sheet accompanying the unit
even suggests driving the output too, and using an
external pad!
The uncalibrated LED meter is before the output
knob, and seems to show only the last few dB of signal
before clipping — in normal operation this rarely lights
up but is a useful indicator of the available headroom.
A ‘Z’ button provides alternative input impedance
settings for Line and Mic, the XLRs switching between
300 and 1200ohms, and jumpers are provided for
matching different output load impedances — a circuit
compensates with high frequency EQ.
A set of four jumpers was taped to the back, these
are for internal adjustment of the HF EQ curve: original
1073s rolled off from around 10kHz with a drop of up
to 1dB at 20kHz. With the jumpers in place this is
counteracted with a boost of around +0.5dB at 20kHz
and a -3dB point at around 60kHz for some additional
‘air’. There are also additional jumpers for adding a
subtle treble lift if so desired. These EQ corrections are
fairly gentle, but nevertheless quite useful, and it
might have been better if they appeared as switches
instead of fiddly internal jumpers that are unlikely to
be changed once the unit is installed.
While the DMP recreates two 1063-style input
modules, the CA73 (UK £1150 + VAT) is, unsurprisingly,
similar to the 1073. The mic amp section is similar to
that on the DMP, although the coarse gain knob has a
slightly input transformer arrangement and therefore an
extended gain range. While all the authentic
components have been used, the CA73 enhances the
design of the 1073 by adding a few extra selectable EQ
frequencies and adding a variable frequency HF section.
This latter addition is most welcome. But it still sounds
like classic Neve to me, with a huge amount of power
and richness available in all frequency bands.
The bottom end is big and warm and the middle has
the vitality of a Neve console, while the High Pass filter
is extremely powerful. The lack of centre-detented gain
knobs is always mildly irritating, but, of course, the
frequency selectors all have an Off position.
The character of tone of the mic preamps is very
similar to my Neve inspired Phoenix Audio DRS-2,
although the warmth of a ribbon mic seemed
slightly more pronounced whatever the Z setting.
They undoubtedly capture the spirit of vintage
units without capturing the crackles and
unreliability of old examples, or indeed the price
tag of modern reissues.
These are both good value front end solutions
for lovers of the sound. The Instrument inputs on
the DMP sound great, somehow enhancing the
sound of an electric guitar with a pleasant slightly
squashy character that seems to make it sound
like one instrument, unlike the way some DIs
seems to separate the characteristics of the
individual strings. And it’s always fun to overdrive
it a bit. I did have some small concerns as there
was a slight legending error. However, despite
that, a great deal of attention to detail appears to
have gone into the design and construction, and
the sound quality easily lives up to expectations,
and they cost a fraction of reissues. ■
Europe, Golden Age Music, Sweden
Tel: : +46 322 66 50 50
Authentic sound; CA73’s enhanced EQ flexibility; impedance switching; gold-plated switches and
relays; great value.
Danger of sending 48V phantom to line sources.
Vintage Design's CL1 is a compressor-limiter built with the classic 2254 in mind with St Ives
transformers before and after the diodebridge and a transformer balanced Class-A output stage. The
signal path is said to be a mix from the 2254/2264. The sidechains are said to be modified and the unit
has separate controls for limiting and compression.
November/December 2004
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