SHADOW HILLS REVIEW....
Old 29th June 2005
  #1
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
SHADOW HILLS REVIEW....

hi folks....

a lot of people have been very curious and asking me about the shadow hills GAMA. im going to start this thread and add to it as i record more projects. im hoping more people who get the GAMA will add to it later. since it looks like i have the only unit at this point, i find it my duty to report....

the easiest and most obvious way to help describe the sound is by comparing it to the api stuff. even though i think it has its own distict "sound", i do believe its a descendant of the api lineage in terms of sound and design. it as all the qualities we've come to love from api. very tight low end, etched mid-range and crisp/open top end. is it in the same league as api? in my opinion,,,,definately.

i don't have all the experience in the world with api stuff, but i've recorded records on two classic api desks in los angeles and also rented a 70's api sidecar for two months recording a band in their practice space. i also have extensive experience with the brent averill stuff. (which i love......). i've also used some of the newer api products. (2500 channel strip ect.....).

the GAMA is very reminiscant of the 70's stuff. especially in the nickle position. i'd say the steel position is more like the BA 312. its almost impossible to put into words, but all i can say is that the GAMA just has the "vibe" or "mojo" or whatever the hell you want to call it that the newer api products just don't have in my opinion. (i havent heard the osa, so i cant compare....). i hate to use such a cliche phrase, but the pres are just plain "BADASS".

think sunset sound (exile on mainstreet). think neil youngs "zuma or "on the beach" or creedence or even thelonious monks "underground" i threw up some mics on some drums the other day and thought i was listening to a 70's stevie wonder album. you can really "feel" the music through the speakers. even at low volumes you feel the music in your chest. see, i love these albums and i love that sound. i guess because i grew up in the 70's.

i guess another way to describe the sound is in terms of color. like i said, the GAMA stuff is on par with the classic api stuff i've used, but with a little more depth in color. if api is black and dark blue, the GAMA has shades of deep purple and dark greens with copper mixed in. neve might be deep browns and reds and tube might be bronze. think of a mark rothko painting.......sorry to get so abstract......

well anyway,,,i'll report as i use it more. so far ive done some singer songwriter stuff, a live jazz piano trio and a classic rock band and love them on everything. could i make records using the shadow hills stuff alone? absolutely. do i still want to mix in some different colors with my recordings like neve or inward connections? of course. with the singer songwriter stuff i ended up using my inward on the vocals and the GAMA on the acoustic guitar. in the jazz trio i ended up using the tube stuff on the acoustic bass and the GAMA on the piano and drums.

for me, its the perfect 8 channel box i've been looking for. great coverage and extremely flexible. to be honest, i wouldnt trade these for anything and its the first piece of gear ive bought that i know i will absolutely never sell. its also the first thing that i've bought that i knew was brilliant in the first 5 seconds. (it usually takes me a lot of time to really get to know and understand a product. im still trying to figure out my 1176.......).

and the price.....under 3500 bux? like i said, i wouldn't trade these for ANYTHING. im not saying they're better or worse than anything else, but for my tastes they're perfect. they just have the sound and vibe that i've been looking for. for anyone who is looking for that rich 70's vibe and more , id implore you to buy these while that price lasts. i have no idea where the price is going, but id be surprised if he could keep that price point. they're hand built for cristsakes....as far as all the technical stuff goes, contact shadow hills or vintage king audio and they would be happy to explain the differences in the transformers and specs ect.....i really don't care much for that information, i just know what i like.....

hope this helps a little.......best
Old 29th June 2005
  #2
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
nice



i'd like to see their monitoring unit online somewhere ... any ideas?
Old 30th June 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
kevinc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unseen hand

hope this helps a little......

It definately helps a lot ! Thanks ! thumbsup

The way you described it is very refreshing compared to some of the "reviews" around here that allmost look like something out of Mix or EQ magazine with all the goofy catch phrases.

I`m seriously interested in this piece especially at it`s current price point.

How can you go wrong ?

8 pres for the price of 4 !



Would you say that there is a good amount of difference between the Nickle, Steel and Discrete settings. Also is the the discrete setting really on the cleaner side like a Hardy or GML or something ?

The reason I ask is 8 channels (or maybe even 4) of the same thing might be overkill for me right now when theres so many cool preamps out there. If the 3 options were different enough though I could be sold.

You mentioned the APIness of it several times and I`ve actually got a Brent Averill 312 that I could sell towards it if it had that type of sound nailed good enough. I`m sure it`s not exactly like it but it could justify the cost a bit more if I got rid of something to buy it.
Old 30th June 2005
  #4
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 

I'll have the comp over here in a couple days
Old 30th June 2005
  #5
Gear Head
 
morgan's Avatar
 

many thanks for the review !!

Looking forward to hearing some other first impressions ...especially with the neve style transformer option .....? anyone?
Old 30th June 2005
  #6
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Old 30th June 2005
  #7
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blaugruen7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge

that site does not display correctly on my mac.
using safari and w. exporer as browsers.
i even have no chance to report this to shadow hills.
Old 30th June 2005
  #8
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
""""Would you say that there is a good amount of difference between the Nickle, Steel and Discrete settings. Also is the the discrete setting really on the cleaner side like a Hardy or GML or something ?

The reason I ask is 8 channels (or maybe even 4) of the same thing might be overkill for me right now when theres so many cool preamps out there. If the 3 options were different enough though I could be sold.

You mentioned the APIness of it several times and I`ve actually got a Brent Averill 312 that I could sell towards it if it had that type of sound nailed good enough. I`m sure it`s not exactly like it but it could justify the cost a bit more if I got rid of something to buy it. """""


these are really good questions. your situation is pretty much exactly what mine was.

your first question.....to be honest, i havent used the discrete setting much yet. its definately a lot cleaner then the nickle and steel setting. the gain is lower in the discrete setting and probably needs a good condenser for very quiet sources. as far as the differences in the sound of the nickle and steel goes, they're definately different sides of the same coin. my ears aren't yet finely tuned to the subtle differences which may seem more apparent with more use, but the flavors are in the same ballpark. when i compared them to my inward connections pres i recognized the differences immediately as you would with vintech or neve or ua stuff.....they seem to take on different tones with different uses too which is interesting. for instance, on acoustic guitar the nickle seemed a little more open with slightly more detail in the high end, so i figured that the nickle would work good on my voice, but the steel actually had a little more detail on my voice...go figure.

your last question is tough. i havent a/b'd the brent averill stuff with the GAMA, but i do know that the brent averill stuff is top notch. id definately put the shadow hills on par with the brent averill stuff. i cant say its better or worse. i was in the same boat. i sold a pair of telefunken 672's to get the shadow hills. i miss those telefunkens and wish i didn't sell them, but in the end i feel like i made the right decision. i knew i wanted an 8 channel side car. i like to have a few flavors (2 or 3 is enough). i like the feel of records made on desks instead of different flavors for every application. the shadow hills definately gives me enough flexibility too with the different colors (nickle,steel). i think shadow hills can make a 2 channel version for about 2 grand. still a good deal for the quality, but why not have 8 or a little more money. i've been thinking of getting 8 more channels and calling it quits for a while.

hope this helps

best
Old 30th June 2005
  #9
bee
Lives for gear
 
bee's Avatar
 

UMMM...Whats up with the shadow hills website. I can't read about any of the products. Is it just me?

-bee
Old 2nd July 2005
  #10
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kevinc's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unseen hand
""""Would you say that there is a good amount of difference between the Nickle, Steel and Discrete settings. Also is the the discrete setting really on the cleaner side like a Hardy or GML or something ?

The reason I ask is 8 channels (or maybe even 4) of the same thing might be overkill for me right now when theres so many cool preamps out there. If the 3 options were different enough though I could be sold.

You mentioned the APIness of it several times and I`ve actually got a Brent Averill 312 that I could sell towards it if it had that type of sound nailed good enough. I`m sure it`s not exactly like it but it could justify the cost a bit more if I got rid of something to buy it. """""


these are really good questions. your situation is pretty much exactly what mine was.

your first question.....to be honest, i havent used the discrete setting much yet. its definately a lot cleaner then the nickle and steel setting. the gain is lower in the discrete setting and probably needs a good condenser for very quiet sources. as far as the differences in the sound of the nickle and steel goes, they're definately different sides of the same coin. my ears aren't yet finely tuned to the subtle differences which may seem more apparent with more use, but the flavors are in the same ballpark. when i compared them to my inward connections pres i recognized the differences immediately as you would with vintech or neve or ua stuff.....they seem to take on different tones with different uses too which is interesting. for instance, on acoustic guitar the nickle seemed a little more open with slightly more detail in the high end, so i figured that the nickle would work good on my voice, but the steel actually had a little more detail on my voice...go figure.

your last question is tough. i havent a/b'd the brent averill stuff with the GAMA, but i do know that the brent averill stuff is top notch. id definately put the shadow hills on par with the brent averill stuff. i cant say its better or worse. i was in the same boat. i sold a pair of telefunken 672's to get the shadow hills. i miss those telefunkens and wish i didn't sell them, but in the end i feel like i made the right decision. i knew i wanted an 8 channel side car. i like to have a few flavors (2 or 3 is enough). i like the feel of records made on desks instead of different flavors for every application. the shadow hills definately gives me enough flexibility too with the different colors (nickle,steel). i think shadow hills can make a 2 channel version for about 2 grand. still a good deal for the quality, but why not have 8 or a little more money. i've been thinking of getting 8 more channels and calling it quits for a while.

hope this helps

best


Thanks Dude !

It`s allways a tossup with me because I`ve been hanging out at Gearslutz for too long. Part of me wants to buy a V78 from TAB Funkenworks + a Flamingo + a GML or Hardy + whatever and part of me wants to throw out all my pres and just pick up a cool console wth everything included and be done with it. That`s kind of what I` like about the Shadow Hills. It`s just one unit with some different flavors involved but you could basically just rack up that pre and go record whatever with it. Kind of simplifies everything + makes you get a lot better at utilizing what you`ve got instead of trying to apply 16 different sounds to whatever your trying to pick up and pretending you`ve got it all optimized for your different sounds.


Or something like that....
Old 4th July 2005
  #11
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i have contacted them.
the emailadress didnt work and my mail bounced back to me...
Old 4th July 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blaugruen7
i have contacted them.
the emailadress didnt work and my mail bounced back to me...
I think they're in the process of updating their site...it had a totally different look even a week ago.
Old 4th July 2005
  #13
Gear Head
 
Shadow Hills's Avatar
 

Old 8th July 2005
  #14
Gear nut
 
FilmDingo's Avatar
 

Hi all - long time lurker, first time poster...

Any comments on the cumulative sound of say 16 tracks of this in a mix? Is there a noticeable vibe during the mix or is this negated by the different transformer settings?

I sold my Joemeek and my A&H Mixwiz because I could not stand the kneedeep mush after about 10 tracks and was looking for a better way to build up a lot of small parts into a whole and still have a larger sound. Am I looking in the right direction?

I do just enough band tracks/demos that I cant spend all my $$ on just 2 ch, but of course 70% of things are 2tk stereo - so this looked like a cost effective way to get into a more decent set of pres and still have a couple of sonic choices.

Thanks for any response.

D.C. Patterson
Old 8th July 2005
  #15
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 

DC...
Selling the JM is a step in the right direction..
theres loads of great 2 CH pres out there.
Do a search for "mic Pre"..
Pick a specific pre and do some more searches..
that 'll get you started in the right direction
The Shadow Hills stuff won't turn up whole a lot in the searches yet, as it's such a new product ..but there's other cool stuff worth checking out as well:
Chandler
Neve AMS
" Portico
Great River
Pendulum
API
Daking
OSA
Wunder
Aurora
Cranesong
Buzz audio
Manley/Langevin
Tab/funkenwerk
Even guys like Lavry, Little labs make Pre's
Hell... My Mama should make Pre's!
and the list goes on and on...
Old 8th July 2005
  #16
Gear nut
 
FilmDingo's Avatar
 

Thanks for the quick reply Roundbadge. Very encouraging.

I have looked into OSA (nice guys to talk to), UA's new 8ch 3 mode thingy, and the Portico. The GAMA is by far the least expensive and most versatile option for a bunch of pre's. Probably the only other thing I can think of that's cheaper is the Presonus M80 with that IDSS knob for a 'tube (read: darkness)' control, but my gut says the GAMA is going to have a better sound with a few tracks mixed together.

I'm sure many of you have experienced the deflation one gets when your song gets played on the radio and it just doesn't sound clean and punchy like the other stuff - so I'm back to the beginning and trying to start with the best possible signal upfront with a bit of that 'fattness/magic' built in. (yes, thanks, I know about mastering, compression, and the whole recording chain...I still think you have to start with a great cohesive sound)

Actually, I found my early mixes murky and lumpy. Great for porridge, crapola for a radio debut. Maybe I should start a new thread about how salesguys will sell you a bunch of stuff that just doesn't sound good together (or good alone in the first place). Yep - use your ears, not your phone to order stuff.

Hell, my biggest gripe was that after 5 vocal comps form the meek, I couldn't tell if it was my SM57 or the AT4050 we'd tracked with - being a complete newbie I wondered why the crap I had spent so much on a condenser when no one could tell in the finished song.

The very patient guys at OSA explained that a decent pre would make the SM57 sound great and a better mic...Hell, Bono still uses a '58, I quickly got the point.

" i like the feel of records made on desks instead of different flavors for every application. - Unseen Hand"

Sounds like a great approach. Might even help to get that cohesive mix with a lot less effort.

All your thoughts/pearls before swine are greatly appreciated.
Old 8th July 2005
  #17
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 

Just Remember..there is no one magic piece of gear that's going to make stuff
"Radio Ready".
Lot's of people chasing the "Radio Ready" dragon["If i just get a Smart C2/Blah,blah,blah.., MY mixes will sound like"......]
aside from the obvious songwriting/engineering skills/good sources/rooms..
Many factors include :
mic's
converters[great pre's don't fix shitty converters,sad but true..A rude awakening for guys who spend 2-3 g's on pre's into a Digi 002 and it still doesn't sound like the records they're referencing to]
Monitors/room treatment[big weak link for a lot of us]
Pre's
ITB/OTB mixing/processing approaches[whole can o' worms ]
Plug in's VS. hardware outboard stuff
Mastering,
ETC....
It's all a big sum of all the various parts[sometimes very expensive parts]

I can't tell you how many times I,ve heard some sales tool expound on how this one piece of gear will bring "the Magic" to your setup[believe me Ive been just as guilty as the next guy..when it comes to Hype..although I'm getting a lot more careful now on the impulse purchases this last year] and wanting to believe it so bad to the point of rationalizing the purchase well beyond my means..
Old 5th August 2005
  #18
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

anyone else got one in yet?
Old 10th August 2005
  #19
Gear maniac
 

GAMA

on its way.. ...will touch back upon use
Old 11th August 2005
  #20
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Tetness's Avatar
My Shadow Hills monitoring console is the bomb. I highly reccomend it. So far, I'm blown away by Reardon's work. Looking forward to getting my stereo compressor from him. The only thing that sucks is the wait time. But, that's what you get when you want custom, ultra high end gear.
Old 11th August 2005
  #21
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I just looked at the Shadow Hills site. The mic pre weighs 34 pounds! Ho cool is that?
Old 10th September 2005
  #22
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinc
Thanks Dude !

It`Kind of simplifies everything + makes you get a lot better at utilizing what you`ve got instead of trying to apply 16 different sounds to whatever your trying to pick up and pretending you`ve got it all optimized for your different sounds.


Or something like that....
hell yeah...
that's the essence
Old 10th September 2005
  #23
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kevinc's Avatar
 

Good. Glad somebody can relate to my mumblings.

I still freak out everytime I look at the Gama. It`s a work of art.

The ones that fit in the API slots look really cool as well but I think I`m gonna have to get the full 8 channel monster.
Old 16th September 2005
  #24
Gear interested
 

Anyone else had a chance to scope out the Shadow Hills GAMA ? I'm interested in a review of how the "Transparent" setting sounds, and also the new option with the (Neve like) St. Ives transformer.

I believe the transparent setting doens't provide much gain, but does it still sound Clean n Huge ? Is it John Hardy like ? Or more GML like ?

I believe the transparent setting completely bypasses the transformer.

-sunrck
Old 17th September 2005
  #25
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Peter is currently building me a custom 8 channel GAMA with the St. Ives Transformers on each channel, as well as a few more goodies: My version will have a 5 position switch and will have the additional options of UTC, Quad 8 and Western Electric transformers split over the 8 channels.....7 different options split over the 8 channels! It will be on display at AES and I hope everyone who is coming will have a chance to see it. We are trying to set up a listening session for it. The AES floor is never a good place to listen to gear.
Old 17th September 2005
  #26
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That sounds really cool Jomo.

Many different options.
Old 17th September 2005
  #27
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I'll post a full and detailed review as soon as I get my slutty hands on it!!!
Old 17th September 2005
  #28
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 

Gonna hear the new comp on sunday!
Old 17th September 2005
  #29
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jomo1234's Avatar
 

The new comp looks AMAZING.....so much control!! Please give us a full review. I'm sure it will be up to Peter's extremely high standards. I actually have dreams about Shadow Hills gear.
Old 17th September 2005
  #30
Gear Head
 
morgan's Avatar
 

"I actually have dreams about Shadow Hills gear."

Its not healthy....Im reading shadow hill posts in the morning like a junky !
Is there some sort of support group for this sort of thing ?
Maybe jules should set up a new GA forum....
Hi my names ....... and ive been a gear addict since i joined a punk band back in....
etc etc......

Gearslutz has a lot to answer for !!


... er....any chance of some sound clips of the the SH comp Roundbadge?.......
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