some beard scratching we finally decided to drill two holes
in the side of the pre -73 case and mount the Carnill on its
side using its two fixing screws
then connected the correct pins to the points on the board using
short lengths of colour coded wire and replaced the original
capacitors with the tantalums
we replaced the knobs
with our favourite chunky retro knobs and stuck on the Carnhill
So I guess now you are thinking
"what did it actually sound like"?
|We tried the modded pre 73s in the studio on a number of different sources and our initial reaction just reinforced the fact that the stock pre 73 out of the box was just a fanatstic piece of kit for the money: We could hear an increased air at the top end particularly on bright sources like the acoustic guitar but we pretty much agreed that 99% of project studio owners simply wouldnt be able to hear any difference on a vocal recording. Further tests on drums reinforced our initial observations but we are a busy commercial studio and with so much work on at the moment it was hard for us to spend a lot of time setting up sessions to compare the pres. However we do know a man who has probably the best set of ears in the business and who lives not to far from us. Producer/ performer John Parr has worked at the highest levels of the music business with international artists like Meatloaf, Bryan Adams and tina Turner and is an old friend. John is just completing his fantastic new state of the art studio " Somewhere in Yorkshire" and has equipped it with the best gear that anyone can buy at the moment so he was pretty interested to try out our modded pre-73
Somewhere in Yorkshire: April 2010
For the sake of these test we will rely on all factual, technical and description data being a given.
NB: This test was only to make a direct comparison against the Neve 1073
The first test I carried out was on my vocal with 3 of my favourite mics which I know well: Neumann 87i, a Brauner
VM1 and a Marshall MXR. I have a number of mic pres but the obvious comparison to make was with and original Neve 1073 which made it quite an easy test.
Basically all 3 mic’s displayed their natural character sound through both the GA73 and the Neve 1073 with no obvious differences. However I felt that the Neve was somehow better - it just had a
little bit more bottom and overall size on all 3 mic’s. That being said the GA was certainly surprising and at £250 against the Neves £1800 it really is a great unit for the price and punched well above its weight. Ultimately I suspect if you didn’t have the Neve to measure it against you would be 100% satisfied with the Golden Age
Two mic’s were used in this test – The Brauner VM1 and the Neumann
87i and again the comparison Pre amp was the Neve 1073. For me this really is the acid test – a nice grand piano is a large beast to capture both from a mic and pre amp perspective. Once again the GA stood its ground well and we are talking maybe only 15% smaller in size and roundness than the actual Neve.
CARNHILL MODDED GC73
I’ll cut to the chase here. I can hear the difference. It’s not subjective –
there certainly is one. For me the Carnhill and the odd couple of
replaced capacitors bring the GC slightly closer to the Neve – How
close…? Maybe another 5% nearer than the un-modded GA Pre-73
but ultimately for the money both the stock unit or the modded version are a no brainer – It’s a pro mic pre for semi pro money.
I would add that all these tests were done with settings mirroring the
Neve settings – however the GC offers an interesting extra feature allowing you to
overdrive the transformer – thus offering massive or minimal color. As
the actual Neve 1073 does not have this feature we did not explore this