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Millennia HV3 and Gordon mic preamps
Old 29th July 2005
  #1
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massimo's Avatar
 

Talking Millennia HV3 and Gordon mic preamps

Has anyone ever compared these? I have been a very happy Millennia HV3B user for nearly ten years now, doing acoustic music. As far as I can read, the Gordon lives in the same "super-clean" territory. Any comments?
thank you
Massimo
Old 29th July 2005
  #2
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I have performed live and recorded with the TD-1, which I believe has the HV3 preamp as I understand it. And I've done the same with Gordon Model 2 (old one) and Model 4 (new one). I have not recorded with Millennia and Gordon at the same time, but have compared reference recordings from the same sources and mics. This is mostly with vocals and acoustic music as well.

"Super-clean" might fit the Millennia, Grace, Midas, etc. that I've used/owned. I have great respect for those products and their designers. But that is not really the right term for Gordon. Holographic is the word I use. I bought 4 channels, and that's all I use now, except for some A Designs on BGV, etc. One of these days maybe I'll get a chance to organize and post some samples I made of Gordon, Pendulum, A Designs, Focusrite, Vintech, and Midas.

Nothing I've ever tried has come even close to the realism presented by Gordon. It goes way beyond clean IMHO. It is 3-dimensional musical purity - everything else, no matter how nice it sounded on its own, appears flat by direct comparison. No choice for me, once I heard this sound I couldn't go back. I think some folks think it's "clean" and don't want to go there. Don't know what they're missing, that's my take on it FWIW.

Steve
Old 29th July 2005
  #3
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massimo's Avatar
 

Steve
thank you very much, looks like you are happy indeed with theGordon!
I understand you also had direct experience with the Pendulum (MDP1 ?), which is my other candidate. Could you please further comment, if you have time, on how it fares against the two (Mill and Gord)?.
Thank you
ciao
Massimo
Old 29th July 2005
  #4
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mr.gefell's Avatar
 

Massimo get the gordon pre-amp!

if you don't like it , you can send it back to gordon audio.


Old 29th July 2005
  #5
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blaugruen7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegybug
But that is not really the right term for Gordon. Holographic is the word I use. I bought 4 channels, and that's all I use now, except for some A Designs on BGV, etc. One of these days maybe I'll get a chance to organize and post some samples I made of Gordon, Pendulum, A Designs, Focusrite, Vintech, and Midas.
please do it!
i am be the first who would like to listen
all the best,
gunnar
Old 29th July 2005
  #6
Lives for gear
 

it would be interesting to hear some tracks recorded exclusively w/ the gordons (which almost nobody has) compared to the millenia (which lots of people use)

they sure are expensive for a pre.
Old 29th July 2005
  #7
Has anyone been able to measure the specs on a Gordon yet? From what I've seen on the web site, there isn't a basic distortion spec presented. The lack of measurements and published specs is strange for such an expensive piece that claims technical superiority.

Inquiring minds want to know....

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 30th July 2005
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
Has anyone been able to measure the specs on a Gordon yet? From what I've seen on the web site, there isn't a basic distortion spec presented. The lack of measurements and published specs is strange for such an expensive piece that claims technical superiority.

Inquiring minds want to know....

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Jim, I built ultra-high-end consumer amps and preamps for several years. I've printed over 100 pages of info on Gordon preamps. This is a mad obsession indeed. But if you have any question about how those pieces are built, look hard at the innards of the model 2 or 3. Check out the resistors, caps, and mounting platforms--unheard-of at the prices. Grant considers his newer models to be major design improvements, yielding great performance at lower cost than before. (now around $1600/ch). I'm determined to hear one when I can afford it. His specs are pretty thorough. I think THD measurements for mic pres are hard to quantify without lots of conditions, but you may disagree. I'm also interested in *your* gear because I have seen a similar, holistic attention to detail which separates the great from the good. My friend Kurt Albershardt has your modded mics and a Gordon--perhaps he will comment. I attempted to attach a detailed pic of the model 3--hope it works. Best wishes, Sam
Attached Thumbnails
Millennia HV3 and Gordon mic preamps-gordon-model-3-inside.jpg  
Old 30th July 2005
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

This preamp has been climbing up the short list of things I'd like to pick up as the next studio upgrade, but one thing has been bothering me....

What are the chances of getting something like this repaired, if the original company (designer/builder) disappears? I can appreciate the design concept (discrete gain stages... wooot!). But could anyone else repair it, and keep it running? At first glance, this looks like trying to rebuild the Apollo moon program from scratch.

OTOH, if you get 10 years of great sound out of the thing, then I guess it doesn't matter!
Old 30th July 2005
  #10
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It's not something Jim can mod, doubt if he'd be interested...

If you are a tech head, you will understand the product.

If you're a hack, well, you won't.

Just get good help.

Craftsmanship is in, cheap **** should be out.

Grant is the craftsman's craftsman!
Old 30th July 2005
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by massimo
Steve
thank you very much, looks like you are happy indeed with theGordon!
I understand you also had direct experience with the Pendulum (MDP1 ?), which is my other candidate. Could you please further comment, if you have time, on how it fares against the two (Mill and Gord)?.
Thank you
ciao
Massimo
Prego Massimo -- I'm traveling in NY right now, can't get much time to follow up. If you don't mind maybe you could check on the 3daudio forum for my basic review posted there a few months ago. I did like the Pendulum very much, wonderful equipment for sure. It was the main alternative I was considering also, and I found I preferred the Gordon. As far as getting it repaired -- foldedpath I don't know that NASA could fix one, I think you might have to send it off-planet if Grant wasn't around

Steve
Old 30th July 2005
  #12
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robot gigante's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegybug
I have performed live and recorded with the TD-1, which I believe has the HV3 preamp as I understand it. And I've done the same with Gordon Model 2 (old one) and Model 4 (new one). I have not recorded with Millennia and Gordon at the same time, but have compared reference recordings from the same sources and mics. This is mostly with vocals and acoustic music as well.

"Super-clean" might fit the Millennia, Grace, Midas, etc. that I've used/owned. I have great respect for those products and their designers. But that is not really the right term for Gordon. Holographic is the word I use. I bought 4 channels, and that's all I use now, except for some A Designs on BGV, etc. One of these days maybe I'll get a chance to organize and post some samples I made of Gordon, Pendulum, A Designs, Focusrite, Vintech, and Midas.

Nothing I've ever tried has come even close to the realism presented by Gordon. It goes way beyond clean IMHO. It is 3-dimensional musical purity - everything else, no matter how nice it sounded on its own, appears flat by direct comparison. No choice for me, once I heard this sound I couldn't go back. I think some folks think it's "clean" and don't want to go there. Don't know what they're missing, that's my take on it FWIW.

Steve
Hey Steve, not to stray too far off topic but how would you say your A Designs and your Gordons compliment each other since those are the only ones you are using now?

I thought I was pretty well set with preamps but the Gordons are making me a bit curious. I own a MP2 and a Pacifica btw and love them.
Old 30th July 2005
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foldedpath
...What are the chances of getting something like this repaired, if the original company (designer/builder) disappears? I can appreciate the design concept (discrete gain stages... wooot!). But could anyone else repair it, and keep it running? At first glance, this looks like trying to rebuild the Apollo moon program from scratch...
To add to Steve's comments, you should know that Grant has had this business at least 25 years. (The Gordon Instruments name relates to Grant's family.) I meant to add a few other points: most pres have conductive plastic attenuators, good ones (generally) have switched attenuators, Gordons have switched gain sections. I have not seen such a perfectable topology before in either pro or consumer amplification. The per-channel prices are $1800 @ 1ch, $1450/ @ 2ch with remote control, and $1412.50 @ 4ch with remote control. For those interested in buying, I suggest communicating with Grant if you have questions. He was extremely generous, overly so, in speaking with me about the design. I must say the kind words by Dan Kennedy and Tim Farrant on Grant's work speak highly of the character of those esteemed designers. Best wishes, Sam
Old 30th July 2005
  #14
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blaugruen7's Avatar
just out of curiosity,
why do these units have no power on/off switch?
Old 31st July 2005
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blaugruen7
just out of curiosity,
why do these units have no power on/off switch?
Since the remote control, required by the 2ch units, has a mute, there isn't much need. The 1ch units can be operated without the remote, so they have the mute switch. And this way the mic pre is much likelier to be fully warmed before use. Since the preamps are placed close to the mics, in many cases fewer buttons near musicians are better. Still, there are times one would want a power switch, so...
Old 1st August 2005
  #16
Gear Addict
 

I'll take a Gordon pre over anything else, period. It's punchy, detailed and musical, without a trace of sterility.

Grant Carpenter has really created something special. Absolutely worth the money. thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup
Old 2nd August 2005
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel L. Lord
Jim, I built ultra-high-end consumer amps and preamps for several years. I've printed over 100 pages of info on Gordon preamps. This is a mad obsession indeed. But if you have any question about how those pieces are built, look hard at the innards of the model 2 or 3. Check out the resistors, caps, and mounting platforms--unheard-of at the prices. Grant considers his newer models to be major design improvements, yielding great performance at lower cost than before. (now around $1600/ch). I'm determined to hear one when I can afford it. His specs are pretty thorough. I think THD measurements for mic pres are hard to quantify without lots of conditions, but you may disagree. I'm also interested in *your* gear because I have seen a similar, holistic attention to detail which separates the great from the good. My friend Kurt Albershardt has your modded mics and a Gordon--perhaps he will comment. I attempted to attach a detailed pic of the model 3--hope it works. Best wishes, Sam

Very nice stuff, indeed. I like the Dale RN55 resistors and the "custom" Rel Caps. Bas Lin of Reliable Capacitor also makes my "custom" caps, but I prefer to leave the MIT MultiCap logos on them. Not so hot on delivering the juice through ribbon wires/connectors or the large number of resistor arrays. Then again, there would be a lot of discretes to match. It makes one even more curious about it's measured performance. I'm the first to admit sonics and specs don't necessarily match, but this unique topology deserves more discussion and exploration. If anyone would care to submit one, I would offer to run full Audio Precision tests on it.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 2nd August 2005
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
Very nice stuff, indeed. I like the Dale RN55 resistors and the "custom" Rel Caps. Bas Lin of Reliable Capacitor also makes my "custom" caps, but I prefer to leave the MIT MultiCap logos on them. Not so hot on delivering the juice through ribbon wires/connectors or the large number of resistor arrays. Then again, there would be a lot of discretes to match. It makes one even more curious about it's measured performance. I'm the first to admit sonics and specs don't necessarily match, but this unique topology deserves more discussion and exploration. If anyone would care to submit one, I would offer to run full Audio Precision tests on it.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Hi Jim,
Bas Lin has made some pretty exotic caps--at Essence we used to deal with him a lot. One thing the picture didn't reveal was that all the film/foil caps were RTXs (polystyrene). The RN55s resistors are good, but I was most impressed with the large banks of bulk foil units at over $5 apiece. Those are not series or parallel arrays but rather switched. I agree about ribbons. In an important path (here supplying DC power from the main filter caps) they are not ideal, partly because of the quality of wire and insulation but mostly because of the multiple fragile terminations. Even so, the ribbons on the model 3 were very short, well positioned, and had high-quality connectors. The new models (which cost about $300/ch less) eliminate the ribbons, as well as very fancy board material and the bulk foil resistors (greatly lowering cost). Very important connections, unseen from above, are still component-to-component, always the best method. Now there is a single board which uses relays instead of FET switches, which I expect helps performance. A hyper new version with more exotic innards is planned...

Regarding the topology, some (crazed?) audiophiles are so insistent on eliminating attenuators that they have built or ordered preamps with a *fixed* gain. They don't have the option of switching gain sections, unless Grant builds a line-level unit... On measurements, I think the noise, CMRR, separation, output power, and bandwidth numbers would suggest, though not prove, a very low THD figure. BTW, I like what I've seen of your mic upgrades. And I wish I had an Audio Precision rig myself.. : ( .
Best wishes, Sam
Old 4th August 2005
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante
Hey Steve, not to stray too far off topic but how would you say your A Designs and your Gordons compliment each other since those are the only ones you are using now?

I thought I was pretty well set with preamps but the Gordons are making me a bit curious. I own a MP2 and a Pacifica btw and love them.
robot -- Just now getting back to the world, sorry for the delay in replying. I don't want to beat dead horses here, but a few more comments on the comparison.

Yes your description of the A Designs and Gordon as complementing each other is accurate. The MP-2 is a very smooth tone, sounds good on almost any source, as I'm sure you know. It had become my favorite preamp over all the others I had used. I very much admire the design of Pete Montessi and his guys at A Designs, a straightforward tube/transformer mic pre with a huge sweet spot at any gain level. Just turn it on and turn it up. And of course, no one should be fooled by that "45 dB" rating -- the output of this piece is quite capable of driving ribbon and dynamic mics. And the variable output impedance is very useful for more tone shading.

The MP-2 was deceptive to me when I first got it, I would do some mix comparisons and my ear would first jump to the "sparkly" sound of other preamps. But after continued listening I almost always found I was preferring the gorgeous midrange character of the A Designs. It just sounds musical and pleasant.

I found it can be very mellow sometimes for acoustic strings. Although a really strong, full sound, I occasionally wanted a little more bite, and that is not its strongest point. And, I was becoming more interested in absolute realism; the MP2 can sometimes almost make things sound prettier than they really are, by subtle blending and harmonics. It's a great tone no doubt, but....

I got the Gordons in and discovered how incredibly easy it was to mic acoustic strings and rhythm and get them to fit anywhere I wanted in a mix. And the same with lead vocals -- everything just jumps right out of the speakers. If desired, I can process down an absolutely pure signal like this by using EQ, compression, delays, transformers, etc... but I can't go the other way -- the darker, smoother sounds can't always be lifted out of a mix to promote lead lines the way I want.

So I've been using the Gordons for almost everything, to capture all the realism I can. To me, the ultimate in-your-face sound is just that -- recording the mouth and throat and chest and eyelashes... all the purity of a live source. And if I've got someone in that prefers a little more distance from reality (that is, not quite a pro performer) then the A Designs can help with some of the cosmetic surgery. And as I mentioned, very nice for contrast in background harmonies or overdubs.

I'm fortunate to usually have excellent singers and musicians to work with, although I'm not doing this professionally full-time. The Gordons can get everything being offered, with a wide range of inexpensive mics too, another advantage IMO. I got rid of the exotic mics and just use pretty ordinary stuff anymore, although I might get one high-$ mic again some day. The other thing about the Gordon, it is unbelievable on live vocal mics. I put this thing in our live SR rig and it is phenomenal, you can just breathe in those Beta 87A mics and get perfect clarity. I can't even think about going back to any other preamp for this application.

Overall I see the contrast like this - the Gordons give me space in the mix. They reproduce exactly the tones and all the detail of the performance, they have incredible dynamics and never get cluttered. The A Designs tends to sort of fill up a mix, or blend between notes and phrases. It can be a fuller sound, working well for sparse arrangements and overall mood. And finally, I'm just twisted enough to appreciate having one preamp with a couple of capacitors and a few tubes and transformers that looks like it is fresh from my Granddad's workbench in the '50s... and a completely opposite design that looks like it could be used to land a Mars Rover....

BTW I bet that Pacifica is cool, if I wasn't broke now I might want to check one of those some day :o Tell us how it's working for you when you get a chance.

Steve
Old 9th October 2005
  #20
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Any more Gordon or Millenia HV-3 users? Would love to hear more comments....

Thanks!
Old 10th October 2005
  #21
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by squeegybug
Nothing I've ever tried has come even close to the realism presented by Gordon. It goes way beyond clean IMHO. It is 3-dimensional musical purity - everything else, no matter how nice it sounded on its own, appears flat by direct comparison.
Saturday at the AES show I mentioned to Grant Carpenter that his Gordon mic pres generate more effusive compliments than any other piece of gear I've ever come across. I mean, not just flattering "this stuff is the bomb" compliments; every single comment I have heard about the Gordon has the same kind of "this **** is light years ahead of any other mic pre out there" sense of wonder/disbelief as Squeegybug's quote.

Grant seemed almost taken aback, like he hadn't realized the Gordon's were generating any buzz, much less this Holy Grail perception. He basically said "if they sound so good it's because they're just getting out of the way so you can hear what the mic is really doing." Very nice & humble guy, he gave me a good 30 minute dog&pony show about everything he's doing inside these babies.

I *so* want one! Drool...
Old 10th October 2005
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross
Saturday at the AES show I mentioned to Grant Carpenter that his Gordon mic pres generate more effusive compliments than any other piece of gear I've ever come across. I mean, not just flattering "this stuff is the bomb" compliments; every single comment I have heard about the Gordon has the same kind of "this **** is light years ahead of any other mic pre out there" sense of wonder/disbelief as Squeegybug's quote.

Grant seemed almost taken aback, like he hadn't realized the Gordon's were generating any buzz, much less this Holy Grail perception. He basically said "if they sound so good it's because they're just getting out of the way so you can hear what the mic is really doing." Very nice & humble guy, he gave me a good 30 minute dog&pony show about everything he's doing inside these babies.

I *so* want one! Drool...
We sooooooo need more designers like Grant out there. Don't know about the rest of you, but the endless retreads of designs from the past is leaving me with this impression:

"I know I never met you, but I have a box that will make you sound better than you really are!"

Or how about this one:

"I don't know what you'll be using this on, but I have a better idea than you how it should sound."

Or my personal favorite:

"I'm not a musician and feel left out of the creative process, maybe I can put my sonic thumbprint on your record?"

Start your own band!

Kudos the Gordon!

I propose the new dynamic; freedom from the sonic pollution of gear designers so, well, just listen to Grant, maybe he can explain it better than I.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades

"If you're going to be a lemming, at least learn to swim" .... Jim Williams
Old 10th October 2005
  #23
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has anyone done any records using the gordons?

or just some A/B samples around here?
Old 10th October 2005
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit
has anyone done any records using the gordons?

or just some A/B samples around here?
Here's a blurb about Russ Long, who has around 8 channels and reviewed the Gorden Model 3 in in June 2003 PAR: (http://www.proaudioreview.com/june03...micpre.shtml):

"...Russ Long's engineering credits include Wilco, Mercy Me, Allison Moorer, Sixpence None the Richer, and many others..."

A few artists/musicians own Gordon mic pres, including (I believe) Trisha Yearwood.

Grant also co-designed the main mixing board at Mastermix, which probably gets some use...from time to time...see:

http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_mastermixmastervision/
Old 10th October 2005
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel L. Lord
Here's a blurb about Russ Long, who has around 8 channels and reviewed the Gorden Model 3 in in June 2003 PAR: (http://www.proaudioreview.com/june03...micpre.shtml):

"...Russ Long's engineering credits include Wilco, Mercy Me, Allison Moorer, Sixpence None the Richer, and many others..."

A few artists/musicians own Gordon mic pres, including (I believe) Trisha Yearwood.

Grant also co-designed the main mixing board at Mastermix, which probably gets some use...from time to time...see:

http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_mastermixmastervision/
that first link is dead....

btw i was NOT challenging how good these things are. i just would like to hear it in use...and compared to other pres. being the co-designer of what i'm sure is a great board that gets used daily is still not the same as just hearing the pre....

wish i had the $$ to find out....
Old 10th October 2005
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Red face

Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit
that first link is dead....

btw i was NOT challenging how good these things are. i just would like to hear it in use...and compared to other pres. being the co-designer of what i'm sure is a great board that gets used daily is still not the same as just hearing the pre....

wish i had the $$ to find out....
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound defensive and snotty; your post was absolutely proper! For the PAR review, try going to: http://www.proaudioreview.com/
then go to the left "reviews" menu, click on mic pres, and its maybe 20 lines down. BTW, Grant does offer a 2-week no-penalty trial period. I have no connection with the company. Best of luck, Sam
Old 10th October 2005
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel L. Lord
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound defensive and snotty; your post was absolutely proper! For the PAR review, try going to: http://www.proaudioreview.com/
then go to the left "reviews" menu, click on mic pres, and its maybe 20 lines down. BTW, Grant does offer a 2-week no-penalty trial period. I have no connection with the company. Best of luck, Sam

yeah, now that i read it i remember reading it when i was pre amp shopping last year...ended up finding a second daking on ebay for a nice discount so that's the stereo front end now. i couldn't afford 2 channels of the gordon at the time anyway.

kind of a positive gordon review to say the least....

perhaps when the $$ is available a stereo gordon front end to contrast w/ the "color"/transformer front end....
Old 10th October 2005
  #28
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel L. Lord
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound defensive and snotty; your post was absolutely proper! For the PAR review, try going to: http://www.proaudioreview.com/
then go to the left "reviews" menu, click on mic pres, and its maybe 20 lines down. BTW, Grant does offer a 2-week no-penalty trial period. I have no connection with the company. Best of luck, Sam
I read that review and then I looked at a few more, then a few more. Is there anything these guys don't like?

That said, the Gordon sounds like it would sound terrific.

-R
Old 10th October 2005
  #29
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gsharp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman
I read that review and then I looked at a few more, then a few more. Is there anything these guys don't like?
-R
Yeah, I've always thought the "Pro" in PAR meant 'positive'.
Old 11th October 2005
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eligit
has anyone done any records using the gordons?

or just some A/B samples around here?
Dave Sinko, chief engineer at Sound Emporium was an early Gordon user. He's recorded/mixed/mastered Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, Pat Flynn, Bela Fleck, Andrea Zonn, Stuart Duncan, Don Williams, Delbert McCinton, Trisha Yearwood, Joshua Bell, Sam Bush, Yo Yo Ma... pretty sure at least some of those have used Gordon preamps. Maybe email Dave and ask?

Here's an old review of his:

http://www.soundemporiumstudios.com/...ads/gordon.pdf


Unfortunately I no longer have any of the quick clips I did between Gordon and some other preamps I was comparing with. And I sold all those other pres to finance the Gordons, so don't have any way to record them again. One of these days maybe I'll hook up with some local folks who have Manley, Focusrite, Hardy, etc. and do some more A-B samples to post.

Sorry that's not much help, of course it's always nice to hear clips before committing $$. But if you're serious about buying one anyway, you've got to spend it eventually, you can always just buy one and if you don't like it get your money back.

Steve
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