What DIY designs stand up to the big boys?
bicasaur
Thread Starter
#1
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #1
Gear addict
 
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Thread Starter
What DIY designs stand up to the big boys?

I was looking at kits on a DIY website, and I saw a handful of projects that I like the looks of, but I'm mot enough of a techie to get a feel for the quality of these kits. I have always gone to GS to get ideas for equipment buys, and it's always nice if there's a strong opinion pool on a piece, either for or against. But outside of CAPI, I'm not seeing much talk at all.

So what DIY gear do you have that you feel brings the quality like the big brands do? What about it do you love? Again, I love the differing opinions, so please feel free to say you dislike something that someone else loves; what about it do you dislike?

And for that matter, How about DIY projects that really disapointed you (for sound in a good build, not because the build failed)?

Thanks!


EDIT:

As much as possible, please reference specific designs. I'm sure many places have one or two magical designs and other designs that are good but not great.

Also for the sake of this discussion, how closely a clone replicates the original is certainly relevant since that's part of what it is supposed to do, but probably more important is to discuss the merits of a unit in it's own right.
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#2
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 
therock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicasaur View Post
I was looking at kits on a DIY website, and I saw a handful of projects that I like the looks of, but I'm mot enough of a techie to get a feel for the quality of these kits. I have always gone to GS to get ideas for equipment buys, and it's always nice if there's a strong opinion pool on a piece, either for or against. But outside of CAPI, I'm not seeing much talk at all.

So what DIY gear do you have that you feel brings the quality like the big brands do? What about it do you love? Again, I love the differing opinions, so please feel free to say you dislike something that someone else loves; what about it do you dislike?

And for that matter, How about DIY projects that really disapointed you (for sound in a good build, not because the build failed)?

Thanks!


IMO, DIY pres of the usual suspects like Neve and API are really not the best route.
You are better off buying real raw API 312 cards and some vintage neve trannys and 283 cards and assembling/packaging your own. They will sound like the real thing because they are the real thing and they will $$appreciate$$.

But SCA are probably the best if you have to go DIY
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1
#3
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
IMO, DIY pres off the usual suspects like Neve and API are really not the best route.
You are better off buying real raw API 312 cards and some vintage neve trannys and 283 cards and assembling/packaging your own. They will sound like the real thing because they are the real thing and they will $$appreciate$$.

But SCA are probably the best if you have to go DIY
Sorry but that is such an incorrect statement. The diy old is so vast with so many amazing projects - half the manufactures come from a diy background way back when.
Capi indeed apparently makes some amazing api pres - aml for neve style pres. Google ez1073 - the kit is about 350£ but that gives you an entire 1073 pre and eq. Same transformers as ams neve. Colin the designer used to work for neve - you can source a faceplate and put it in a case and you'll have the most genuine 1073 diy or other. It's amazing to think how many gloss over diy - say 40 years ago if you where an engineer in music you'd have to be able to build be mic pre or eq or whatever - it'd be part of your vocabulary. Take wade from chandler - he started repairing old neve modules, then started racking them up, then bringing them out under his own name........
If you want a bunch of the best gear you can build it yourself, save a bunch and learn a heap. All you have to do is exchange he your time.
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3
#4
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 

And if your into synths look at mutable Instruments. Shruthi-1 is as good or better - control wise much much better in fact. Hybrid analog mono synth with digital control but analog vca, vca,vcf and dco. Sounds complicated but its not. Then anrushi which is a mono synth with a unique 8 bit drum machine and sequencer - based on 101 mc202 but with its own twists. There's midipal for ultimate midi control, and the new ambika poly analog.
Mind you these range in price from 125 or something for the shruthi-1, 200€ for the anrushi and the ambika is different but Bout 700.
This company is a perfect example of the power of diy. He's now branching out to euro rack with his non kit modules. Just listen to all the demos.
#5
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #5
Gear addict
 
mynaemisjonas's Avatar
 

this thread is not as far along as I had hoped. I'll come back when there's a bunch of links to sweet DIY projects I can do =P
#6
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #6
Gear maniac
 

On the topic of DIY, has anyone her assembled a Pultec EQ clone using Drip Audio's PCB??? . I've built a few 1176's and I want to build one of these soon..
#7
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
therock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogma View Post
Sorry but that is such an incorrect statement. The diy old is so vast with so many amazing projects - half the manufactures come from a diy background way back when.
Capi indeed apparently makes some amazing api pres - aml for neve style pres. Google ez1073 - the kit is about 350£ but that gives you an entire 1073 pre and eq. Same transformers as ams neve. Colin the designer used to work for neve - you can source a faceplate and put it in a case and you'll have the most genuine 1073 diy or other. It's amazing to think how many gloss over diy - say 40 years ago if you where an engineer in music you'd have to be able to build be mic pre or eq or whatever - it'd be part of your vocabulary. Take wade from chandler - he started repairing old neve modules, then started racking them up, then bringing them out under his own name........
If you want a bunch of the best gear you can build it yourself, save a bunch and learn a heap. All you have to do is exchange he your time.
I never used CAPI but they don't use real 2520 Huntington or Melville opamps.
Your best best like I said is to buy some nice vintage 312 cards for $300-$350 ea. and rack them up. They have the real deal opamps and transformers. If you want to go a step further you can find melcor based cards with jensens and some other neat transformers. You can also find 325 cards for $200, add the input transformer and some misc. components and you are good to go.

For Neve you can buy vintage marinair transformers and real 283/183 cards. Buy some nice Elma switches and rack them up. There are a few vendors that
have some gain stage mods for these as well as 1272. You can get out for under $500 a unit. That's only slightly more than the DIY stuff you are referring to except what you would have would be real not just a bunch of aftermarket parts. Those Carnhill transformers are very nice sounding indeed but they are not what's in the old original 1066 and 1073s from the very early 70s.

If you want to learn about Neve or API you won't learn it from cloning a clone
or soldering a bunch of no name parts. You will learn it from working with the original parts and circuits themselves. Cloning a clone isn't really all that much fun nor will you really learn anything in the process. And most disappointing, they will not sound like the originals.

If you like the sound of clones that's fine. by all means in the grand scale of recording they more than do the job, but they are not accurate to the originals if that's what you are really after. In addition, most if not all the DIY clones are not going to go up in value like ones made from real vintage parts.

Regarding Chandler, I may be mistaken but I recall seeing some of the original LTD preamps/eq that came with real 1073 amp and inductor/eq cards. On the newer units with his homemade DIY cards, you can swap them for originals. Though I'm not 100% sure.
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1
#8
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #8
Gear nut
 

You won't learn about a neve by building a clone? I find that very hard to believe. Just because you don't have access to original parts doesn't mean you can't learn a great deal by exploring the classic circuits.

I agree that clones don't increase in value like the real deal but in many cases they can rival or exceed the real deal if you are talking about sound alone. Obviously there are some impossible to replicate parts but most of these you can buy as NOS and the majority of the other components can be replaced or improved upon with modern parts.

Have you heard an La2a built with an NOS T4B and tubes? Or a U47 with an EF14 tube and a genuine neumann capsule?

DIY teaches you an immense amount about the secret sauce in the classic pieces and can give you incredible sound (and satisfaction) at an excellent price point (depending on how you value your time I guess...)
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1
#9
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #9
Gear nut
 

I don't think AML still offer the 500 series EZ1073 as a kit anymore. Anyone confirm that? Not listed on the website now from what I can see.
#10
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #10
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mynaemisjonas View Post
this thread is not as far along as I had hoped. I'll come back when there's a bunch of links to sweet DIY projects I can do =P
D.I.Y. Recording Equipment | DIY Microphones, Preamps, Compressors, etc.

This site catalogues all the major DIY projects and is normally pretty up to date. It's helpful for drooling at least.
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2
#11
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #11
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 

https://pcbgrinder.com

There are classics in the DIY world that have been built by a lot of people, and generally, the standard for DIY units is high.

If you are into more than a kit, the "Just the PCB" fan contains single PCBs where you might have to know something about electronics to get it working, but you will also be able to source the cheapest possible parts and modify to your taste.

Gustav
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#12
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #12
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Moatl's Avatar
 

I agree with dogma and have to say it seems like the rock unfortunately has no clue of the DIY world...it is indeed H-U-G-E!!!
You can build almost everything.
Like EVERYTHING depending on your skills and the patience to source the parts.

And I'm not talking CAPI or SCA - this is only absolutely beginner level.
The best would be to check GroupDIY.com to get a slight idea of what's possible - and even that is not all
But it's not like pressing a button to order a kit most of the time.

Because someone asked about DRIP - their stuff is premium! And they follow the original layouts like spot on.
The cool thing is they come with a great build manual that not only explains how to build it but also what the parts contribute to the sound and what parts with other values would do and so on.
I built a couple of their LA2As already (after doing point-to-point clones) and I could always use the original schematics from a vintage unit while working with the drip pcbs - exactly the same circuit!

The same goes for their Pultecs,Fairchild...

I built a lot of stuff already - different revisions 1176, Pultec EQP1-A, LA2A, LA3A, UA175b, SSL 4K Bus comp etc...

And e.g. for the 1176s if you stick to the original components (not like just ordering the BOM at Hairballaudio.com) the clones beat the reissues by a long shot!
Not only sound-wise but in terms of build quality.

I built a blue-stripe Rev A 1176 for a friend and then he suddenly called me after a couple of months telling me he had a Rev D reissue in the studio and he was so disappointed with the build quality of the UA reissue compared to my clone

And the greatest thing about DIY is if you know what you're doing you can always tweak and modify everything.
e.g. changing the limiting depth of an LA2A in "limiter" mode is only changing ONE resistor value...
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#13
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Demonslave's Avatar
 

This forum is laughable. I wish that the old school guys would chime in on this. There should be some sort of rules on credible posts. I mean its like 50/50 because there is too much good info and too much bad info, but no real SOLID info. Lets be less lazy guys and update our profiles with names and websites, at least. I don't even respond to people that don't post even the most BASIC info!!!! Research WHO you're responding to! Don't let trolls rattle your bones!
Cheers!
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#14
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #14
Gear addict
 
Lolo22's Avatar
 

Capi gear is amazing
#15
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #15
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ddageek's Avatar
 

The other day a guy had a pair of "vintage 312 cards", they sounded a lot less like a real API than my CAPIs. That might be because one Had a faulty Melcor the other a Modern 2520, the transformers were replaced at different times.
Decent 312s with decenet components are a limited resource, and like their Neve Cousins are getting harder and more expensive as time goes by.
Of course if you had ever seen one of Jeff's modules you would know that you could plug in a Melcor or Hunington or like many who have real API Consoles a Lieber or some other modern recreation of the fore mentioned DOAs and Vintage Iron!

Drip, PCBgrinder, CAPI Vintage Microphone PCBs and many others offer some great Boards and support for anybody interested in trying to roll their own.
Anybody who's been around this industry for any significant amount of time knows that even the "classics" have some design compromises, it's a fact of life . When one chooses to go the DIY route they get to decide what compromises are made!
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#16
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #16
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therock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddageek View Post
The other day a guy had a pair of "vintage 312 cards", they sounded a lot less like a real API than my CAPIs.
#17
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #17
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therock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moatl View Post
I agree with dogma and have to say it seems like the rock unfortunately has no clue of the DIY world...it is indeed H-U-G-E!!!
.

umm yeah, clueless, yeah I am no doubt. Howevrrrr
This OP asked about CAPI, so my clueless comments were in reference to that.

If you had a chance to buy a real vintage 312 cards that needed to be racked for $400 but instead bought a zipklock baggie of CAPI parts for $400 that needed to be soldered and racked, who would be clueless at that point?

yours truly
-Clueless
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1
#18
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #18
#19
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #19
Gear interested
 

DIY changed everything at my studio.

A band came through a few years back and the guitar player had a BYOC Tone Bender. I'm sitting at the console and I hear this dude playing leads through a vintage Fender Bassman. It caught my attention immediately and I had to ask about his fuzz tone. He told me about BYOC, I bought a kit, then 3 more. They all killed! (I did buy a Reverb pedal from BYOC that I didn't like that much.)

I came into a pair of NS-10s so I asked my tech about designing a 4 way passive monitor selector. He designed it and we built at his shop. Works perfect, saved $500 or more, and now I can switch between 4 sets of monitors and have a handy monitor mute. (Genelec 1031a, NS-10, Auratone, and a boombox)

500 series interested me mostly due to cost. I started investigating some options for colored mic pres and VP26 kept surfacing. I bought a pair of CAPI VP 26 w gar2520. This is two years ago and they still get daily use. I bought pair of VP 28's last April and again, I'm blown away. Having a line input kicks ass and so do the filters. They completely stand up to the more expensive pres at our studio (Tube Tech, Daking, Chandler, Vintech, Manley) They're just different in an API sort of way.

The Mnats/ Hairball 1176 rev D was my next project. I have never owned a vintage Urei 1176 but I rented one from Eclipse Audio (RIP) here in Atlanta a lot. I loved it. I've used the UA reissues in other studios and I liked those too. The one time I used a Purple MC77 I thought it sounded good. What I'm saying is, I like 1176 style compression . My Mnats 1176 does the same job and It rules! Building this saved us $1000 compared to a UA reissue and somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 compared to an original. Our Mnats sounds as expected, like a 1176. I don't know if it sounds identical to an original. It might, it might not, and I don't care. I use it everyday along side the more expensive compressors at our studio (Distressor, Manley Vari Mu, Langevin Optical, DBX). I'm going to build a Rev A next.


DIY has given me access to classic designs that I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. I now know how to read schematics. I can fix our console and tape machine a lot more often than before. More things get fixed by me at the studio, and that rules. If you're going to record music for a living, these are REALLY helpful skills to have. Nothing is worse than the console going down with a band waiting to track, especially when you've got to beg a tech to make an emergency visit. It's a helpless feeling and it cost $.

Other DIY projects that interest me are the IOaudio MK47, Tab Funkenwerk C12, AMI Pultecs, CAPI Lc53a and some sort of SSL style compressor

Today I have more tools and my studio is a better place to make records than it was a few years back. I chalk a lot of that up to DIY.
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6
#20
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #20
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardrawls View Post
DIY changed everything at my studio.

A band came through a few years back and the guitar player had a BYOC Tone Bender. I'm sitting at the console and I hear this dude playing leads through a vintage Fender Bassman. It caught my attention immediately and I had to ask about his fuzz tone. He told me about BYOC, I bought a kit, then 3 more. They all killed! (I did buy a Reverb pedal from BYOC that I didn't like that much.)

I came into a pair of NS-10s so I asked my tech about designing a 4 way passive monitor selector. He designed it and we built at his shop. Works perfect, saved $500 or more, and now I can switch between 4 sets of monitors and have a handy monitor mute. (Genelec 1031a, NS-10, Auratone, and a boombox)

500 series interested me mostly due to cost. I started investigating some options for colored mic pres and VP26 kept surfacing. I bought a pair of CAPI VP 26 w gar2520. This is two years ago and they still get daily use. I bought pair of VP 28's last April and again, I'm blown away. Having a line input kicks ass and so do the filters. They completely stand up to the more expensive pres at our studio (Tube Tech, Daking, Chandler, Vintech, Manley) They're just different in an API sort of way.

The Mnats/ Hairball 1176 rev D was my next project. I have never owned a vintage Urei 1176 but I rented one from Eclipse Audio (RIP) here in Atlanta a lot. I loved it. I've used the UA reissues in other studios and I liked those too. The one time I used a Purple MC77 I thought it sounded good. What I'm saying is, I like 1176 style compression . My Mnats 1176 does the same job and It rules! Building this saved us $1000 compared to a UA reissue and somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 compared to an original. Our Mnats sounds as expected, like a 1176. I don't know if it sounds identical to an original. It might, it might not, and I don't care. I use it everyday along side the more expensive compressors at our studio (Distressor, Manley Vari Mu, Langevin Optical, DBX). I'm going to build a Rev A next.


DIY has given me access to classic designs that I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. I now know how to read schematics. I can fix our console and tape machine a lot more often than before. More things get fixed by me at the studio, and that rules. If you're going to record music for a living, these are REALLY helpful skills to have. Nothing is worse than the console going down with a band waiting to track, especially when you've got to beg a tech to make an emergency visit. It's a helpless feeling and it cost $.

Other DIY projects that interest me are the IOaudio MK47, Tab Funkenwerk C12, AMI Pultecs, CAPI Lc53a and some sort of SSL style compressor

Today I have more tools and my studio is a better place to make records than it was a few years back. I chalk a lot of that up to DIY.
Did you have any previous small electronics repair experience before you started. I'm in Atlanta as well, and I want to try this; but I'm a novice @ soldering.
#21
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demonslave View Post
I wish that the old school guys would chime in on this.
I don't know if I'm old enough for you, but here we go:
D.I.Y. Recording Equipment | DIY Microphones, Preamps, Compressors, etc.

And yes, there's a lot of DIY stuff that is as good as the classics. IF the classics are in good shape. Which a lot of that stuff isn't, because it is as old or older than me... and I am not in the best shape anymore. Now get off my lawn, kids!!!! But wait, maybe you babies are gullible enough to buy my ancient trash if I call it "vintage".
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1
#22
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #22
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by djbrough View Post
Did you have any previous small electronics repair experience before you started. I'm in Atlanta as well, and I want to try this; but I'm a novice @ soldering.

Very little. Just basic cable wiring.
bicasaur
Thread Starter
#23
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #23
Gear addict
 
bicasaur's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by therock View Post
IMO, DIY pres of the usual suspects like Neve and API are really not the best route.
You are better off buying real raw API 312 cards and some vintage neve trannys and 283 cards and assembling/packaging your own. They will sound like the real thing because they are the real thing and they will $$appreciate$$.

But SCA are probably the best if you have to go DIY
I think its a valid DIY project to repackage vintage gear, and one that hadn't ocurred to me for some reason. I suppose it's not a lot different than sourcing nos parts; more a matter of how much of the project is going to be vintage.

As for which is better between vintage and an all modern parts clone, I think you caprobably get closer to the vintage with a kit than with the modern equivalent from the real company. Like the CAPI guys all say (I have the vp26 but no comparritive experience) the CAPI clones are closer to the vintage API desk sound than a bank of 512C's, and that the red dot DOAs sound more like the vintage than their modern counterparts. Either way, CAPI and SCA have a ton of fans, so their stuff must sound pretty darn good regardless of cloning accuracy.
#24
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #24
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therock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicasaur View Post
I think its a valid DIY project to repackage vintage gear, and one that hadn't ocurred to me for some reason. I suppose it's not a lot different than sourcing nos parts; more a matter of how much of the project is going to be vintage.

As for which is better between vintage and an all modern parts clone, I think you caprobably get closer to the vintage with a kit than with the modern equivalent from the real company. Like the CAPI guys all say (I have the vp26 but no comparritive experience) the CAPI clones are closer to the vintage API desk sound than a bank of 512C's, and that the red dot DOAs sound more like the vintage than their modern counterparts. Either way, CAPI and SCA have a ton of fans, so their stuff must sound pretty darn good regardless of cloning accuracy.

If you want vintage API sound your best bet is to buy vintage APIs

API 312 Mic Pre Card (Vintage) - Used + Vintage Preamps - Used + Vintage - Vintage King Audio

I have some SCA a12s they sound great. But why bother? when you can buy real vintage API cards for essentially the same money. Seems pointless to me to buy CAPI for $400 when you can buy real vintage APIs for $400. Although in the case of the a12s they are much cleaner than my vintage 312s. So they do have a purpose. They are nice.

I love the real 312 sound. I have used all the cloner opamps and transformers. Nothing is a warm and punchy as the older Melville and Huntingtons with the original 70s transformers. Melcor opamps are off the charts good too.

The parts they used back then have a certain sound. People have reverse engineered 2520 opamps for years, there are some nice ones, but arguably the components inside those old ones have a certain quality and sound to them not available with new components. You have to get the tolerances just right. Opamps are tricky in the sense that you want them fast but you don't want them too clean by way of brand new components. There is a fine line. Of course this could be just mystique, regardless this philosophy would still apply to clones if you buy into the theory.

But in my experience the older components have a certain magic. I'm not claiming they can't be reproduced but why bother trying to? when you can buy the real ones for the same money as the clones.

Neve is a little different. You could buy carnhills and it would cost you say $250 for the 2 input transformers and the output. Where their vintage counterparts would run you in the $500 range. 283 cards are about $125 on the used market. Where if you built a card with ratshack parts you could do it for maybe like $15.
#25
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Vintageidiot's Avatar
 

I love the AMI Tabfunkenwerks U47 kit. Many want it to pale in comparison to an original because most builds don't utilize the vf14, but the reality is, this mic kit smokes! I would not be afraid to shootout with an original and most attempts to line up a shoot out have been shunned by original owners......
bicasaur
Thread Starter
#26
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #26
Gear addict
 
bicasaur's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
You asked which are good/bad. That's a weird question considering that most projects are clones of highly exalted equipment.
Many, but not all. I was looking at the DBDawg CEQ, which is "based off of a Calrec 1549 equalizer". I don't know this unit, but it certainly isn't as legendary as a Pultec, Neve 10xx, Trident, SSL, or API eq. Plus, a great many clones have circuit modifications or are "based on" rather than a real clone. Certainly there have to be some real winners and losers among the DIY Neve pre assortment. Maybe it's more a matter of sourcing better parts in some cases, but everybody probably has a slightly different way of fitting an 1176 into a 500 series module, and they obviously will sound different.
#27
14th August 2013
Old 14th August 2013
  #27
Gear addict
 

I've built a lot of clones of guitar pedals, and some tube and solid state mic and guitar preamps too. Sometimes sourcing original components, sometimes trying newer alternatives. There's nothing very mystical about a lot of the great sounding gear, it's fairly easily reproducible.
#28
15th August 2013
Old 15th August 2013
  #28
Gear maniac
 
Moatl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardrawls View Post
DIY changed everything at my studio.

A band came through a few years back and the guitar player had a BYOC Tone Bender. I'm sitting at the console and I hear this dude playing leads through a vintage Fender Bassman. It caught my attention immediately and I had to ask about his fuzz tone. He told me about BYOC, I bought a kit, then 3 more. They all killed! (I did buy a Reverb pedal from BYOC that I didn't like that much.)

I came into a pair of NS-10s so I asked my tech about designing a 4 way passive monitor selector. He designed it and we built at his shop. Works perfect, saved $500 or more, and now I can switch between 4 sets of monitors and have a handy monitor mute. (Genelec 1031a, NS-10, Auratone, and a boombox)

500 series interested me mostly due to cost. I started investigating some options for colored mic pres and VP26 kept surfacing. I bought a pair of CAPI VP 26 w gar2520. This is two years ago and they still get daily use. I bought pair of VP 28's last April and again, I'm blown away. Having a line input kicks ass and so do the filters. They completely stand up to the more expensive pres at our studio (Tube Tech, Daking, Chandler, Vintech, Manley) They're just different in an API sort of way.

The Mnats/ Hairball 1176 rev D was my next project. I have never owned a vintage Urei 1176 but I rented one from Eclipse Audio (RIP) here in Atlanta a lot. I loved it. I've used the UA reissues in other studios and I liked those too. The one time I used a Purple MC77 I thought it sounded good. What I'm saying is, I like 1176 style compression . My Mnats 1176 does the same job and It rules! Building this saved us $1000 compared to a UA reissue and somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 compared to an original. Our Mnats sounds as expected, like a 1176. I don't know if it sounds identical to an original. It might, it might not, and I don't care. I use it everyday along side the more expensive compressors at our studio (Distressor, Manley Vari Mu, Langevin Optical, DBX). I'm going to build a Rev A next.


DIY has given me access to classic designs that I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. I now know how to read schematics. I can fix our console and tape machine a lot more often than before. More things get fixed by me at the studio, and that rules. If you're going to record music for a living, these are REALLY helpful skills to have. Nothing is worse than the console going down with a band waiting to track, especially when you've got to beg a tech to make an emergency visit. It's a helpless feeling and it cost $.

Other DIY projects that interest me are the IOaudio MK47, Tab Funkenwerk C12, AMI Pultecs, CAPI Lc53a and some sort of SSL style compressor

Today I have more tools and my studio is a better place to make records than it was a few years back. I chalk a lot of that up to DIY.
WORD!!
#29
15th August 2013
Old 15th August 2013
  #29
Lives for gear
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
"Buy vintage," yeah if you're rich. That's for rock stars and name producers/busy commercial studios. Or blokes with trust funds or professional 9-5 incomes. A lot of us DIY'ers can't afford that stuff, or even the reissues, like the 1176 mentioned above. Your "prices" are out of whack also. There's not a place to buy these mythical vintage API preamps for pennies that I know of. What does a vintage LA2A cost? OK then. Moving right along.

I really like the point of fixing most of your own things that break, that's huge. As well, "getting the most" from all your equipment through tweaking, modding, building. That's also huge. Or, "getting exactly what you want" in terms of things being truly custom. I do this all the time in my DIY work. I've even got a baseline of original and original-enough designs at this point to do some commercial building if I so want. Guitar pedals, mics, preamps.

Regarding the original question, I really like the

CAPI VP312. Except I HATE the EA 2622. I customize with Cinemag CMMI-8-PCA and some other mods. After my tweaks, I actually like these even better than the API 3124+ I used to own. I love the GAR2520 op amp in either of these. Economically speaking, I can get about 10 channels of "VP512" for the API money's 4. That's huge, in my world. I am not a "working pro."

I really do like the SCA N72 and plan on more of these. It's good. The T15 is excellent also, I plan to have 3 or 4 of those. Easily compares to Sytek, quality wise, might be "the best value in pro audio" did somebody say that? It's a good value. The Dantimax THAT pre is even cheaper but there's chassis work required for that one. I like Tim Ryan's DC offset servo and burr brown op amp buffer in the T15, so I'll stick with those.

I am so happy with my "WAC 12" pair, which is what I call my heavily modified Apex 460. They sound gorgeous, easily on par with my 2247 SE Peluso in terms of realistic fidelity. Among the finest mics I own. Can't wait to try some of the DIY Neumann clones that are out now. With enough care, DIY microphones can really kick ass.

I plan on building a ribbon mic from scratch. So far I've just messed with MXL R40s, which are nice when tensioned right, and with a good transformer. Those were a rewarding project--great mics.

Bob Schwenkler sells the Hybrid 312 PCB, they are in preorder right now. I'm excited about these because I can build a 4-banger "M-1" for CAPI money. I plan to use the real Jensen inputs. I might DIY the 990s with the Hairball kits.

I've built dozens of guitar effects I never would have owned otherwise, this is really where I got deep into DIY. Many of my pedals are better than what I think you can buy, and some you just can't at all.

I'm getting close to being done with two custom Telecasters from scratch, but I can't comment on them because they're not done yet. The luthiery, wood work, is so zen and wonderful though, I've been rewarded already. The bodies are beautiful but the necks are far from finished.

I haven't done any rack compressors or EQ yet but I see that coming down the line. I've repaired and modified a few.

I've been really successful with tube amp mods, to get what I want from them.

I love my phono preamp, and Monotribe mods, you can read about on my DIY blog in my signature.

I paid for half of a vacation by building and selling a VP26.

DIY for me, no reservations, still growing at it and still enjoying and benefiting from it.
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#30
15th August 2013
Old 15th August 2013
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicasaur View Post
Many, but not all. I was looking at the DBDawg CEQ, which is "based off of a Calrec 1549 equalizer". I don't know this unit, but it certainly isn't as legendary as a Pultec, Neve 10xx, Trident, SSL, or API eq. Plus, a great many clones have circuit modifications or are "based on" rather than a real clone. Certainly there have to be some real winners and losers among the DIY Neve pre assortment. Maybe it's more a matter of sourcing better parts in some cases, but everybody probably has a slightly different way of fitting an 1176 into a 500 series module, and they obviously will sound different.
Calrec is top quality.

Better parts help, but sometimes have diminishing returns past a certain price point. These days good parts are fairly inexpensive, such as Xicon metal film resistors, Panasonic FR/FM/FC electrolytics, and Wima film caps. These have become fairly standard in many cases.
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