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The Sontec 432 - The Holy Grail EQ - Price
Old 25th March 2016
  #1
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The Sontec 432 - The Holy Grail EQ - Price

The legend of the Sontec 432. Created by the co-inventor of the parametric EQ Burgess Macneal. According to him, 430/432 units since being introduced in the late 60s early 70s, have been used on more hit records than any other outboard mastering EQ. Mastering engineers think it's only for them just because of it has recallable switches, but I'll use for mixing. But is it worth the close to $15,000 being asked for in the following auction?

The Sontec 432 - The Holy Grail EQ - PriceVintage Sontec MES432C Mastering EQ Fully Serviced Free Shipping Included | eBay
Old 25th March 2016
  #2
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Regarding the price in you're question..

It wouldn't take very long for an established mastering house
to make it's money back after purchasing for that price and it wouldn't really
devalue. Much like buying old Neve boards etc.. You're just putting
the money somewhere to profit from without the equipment really devaluing..
Old 27th March 2016
  #3
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hell no. the price is way out. the thing can be easily diyed without making a compromise. nothing fancy in there.
Old 27th March 2016
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack P View Post
Regarding the price in you're question..

It wouldn't take very long for an established mastering house
to make it's money back after purchasing for that price and it wouldn't really
devalue. Much like buying old Neve boards etc.. You're just putting
the money somewhere to profit from without the equipment really devaluing..
This ^^

The unit is a staple in mastering consoles and probably the most well known mastering EQ out there. The beauty in buying high end second hand gear is that you are not really losing money, as Jack has pointed out.
Old 27th March 2016
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gt_jumper View Post
This ^^

The unit is a staple in mastering consoles and probably the most well known mastering EQ out there. The beauty in buying high end second hand gear is that you are not really losing money, as Jack has pointed out.
at 15k no loss?
Old 27th March 2016
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by salomonander View Post
at 15k no loss?
I have never bought one, but i have read this is what they can go for depending on condition. Where are you situated, i hope you are aware of the differing dollar values depending on location...
Old 27th March 2016
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by salomonander View Post
at 15k no loss?
please view the last paragraph FYI

ITI AUDIO MES-432C/9 | AudioTechnology Magazine
Old 27th March 2016
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gt_jumper View Post
please view the last paragraph FYI

ITI AUDIO MES-432C/9 | AudioTechnology Magazine
That's a very good article about the Sontec MES-432. Most my knowledge of the Sontecs comes from speaking with Burgess himself, besides hearing them being used on my own records. I agree with the article that the 432 should be considered the Holy Grail of Equalizers, but I was shocked that the last paragraph did indeed say that prices have gone as high as $15,000 for a used unit. I believe that price of $15,000, which is several thousand more than a new one, is a combination of the fact that some older units might be trusted more than others as component manufacturing is not always the same over the years, and some 90s units have had a impeccable track record for being reliable and without the need for much maintenance. Then there is the scarcity factor and how few of these units come to the market. I believe several years passed before I saw one on eBay. And the wait for a new one is a year and a half to two years or more. Burgess simply does not make enough of these. Only a few per yer cannot possibly keep up with the demand. And I think he takes care of former clients first, or "established" engineers first. That's just my impression. Don't get me wrong, Burgess is a very nice man, but if you were a client of his before, I think you've got a leg up on getting anything from him. (However the 250EX is much more common). Then there is the prestige factor. The "I've got one and you don't" factor. Boasting rights etc.!

Last edited by SharpKillerCable; 27th March 2016 at 05:10 AM..
Old 27th March 2016
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
is it worth the close to $15,000 being asked for in the following auction?
It hasn't sold in a week, so maybe not..

I like how it says "Located in the U.S." and then "Ships from Japan"
Old 27th March 2016
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering View Post
It hasn't sold in a week, so maybe not..

I like how it says "Located in the U.S." and then "Ships from Japan"
It probably is in Japan. While I don't know them personally, I have heard the Japanese mix engineers and mastering engineers there absolutely love the Sontec 432.
Old 28th March 2016
  #11
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There is no piece of gear in existence that guarantees hit records. Otherwise we'd all buy one.

Agreed?

The Sontec is probably amazing, but hardly the one eq that can produce great music. IMHO there are plenty of other fantastic eqs that will suffice and cost far less.

Any established mastering house shouldn't need one of these, if they are established then they already have great engineers. The Sontec might help them, but it is far less important.

My 2 cents...
Old 28th March 2016
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weepit View Post
The Sontec is probably amazing, but hardly the one eq that can produce great music. IMHO there are plenty of other fantastic eqs that will suffice and cost far less.

Any established mastering house shouldn't need one of these, if they are established then they already have great engineers. The Sontec might help them, but it is far less important.

My 2 cents...
Established mastering houses don't need to buy them because they already have them! Sterling Mastering in New York, Masterdisk Mastering, Capitol Mastering, Warner Music Mastering, and too many other great Mastering houses use the Sontec 432 or the earlier 430.

And I beg to disagree. There is quite simply nothing as great sounding as altering the balance of track with a great EQ like the Sontecs. For me they make everything sound a touch bigger! More huge sounding!
Old 28th March 2016
  #13
For 15 grand it better come with a stash of replacement opamps. I've seen these in several rooms over the years but everyone of them was busted. Others have claimed it took way too long for repairs as well.

Buyer beware.
Old 28th March 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
For 15 grand it better come with a stash of replacement opamps. I've seen these in several rooms over the years but everyone of them was busted. Others have claimed it took way too long for repairs as well.

Buyer beware.
Jim, funny you should mention that. When last I spoke with Burgess years ago I asked him what could be done if an opamp goes out. He said you can take the opamps from the much cheaper 250EX as they are the same parts! I suppose that is not known by everyone. But perhaps could be the reason many 432 users also have a 250EX!

Also, I've seen many of these in Sterling Mastering and Masterdisk in New York, and none of them were as you put it "busted", but rather in quite nice shape and being used on the latest major label releases.
Old 28th March 2016
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Established mastering houses don't need to buy them because they already have them! Sterling Mastering in New York, Masterdisk Mastering, Capitol Mastering, Warner Music Mastering, and too many other great Mastering houses use the Sontec 432 or the earlier 430.
SharpKillerCable, I have mastered an album a few years ago with Tony Cousins at Metropolis Studios London.
He increasingly used the Sontec MES432C Mastering EQ.

How should I put it? Wonderful, marvellous, gigantic.
One or two dB and you hear exactly what you want.
Very sweet and musically tone.
Since there, I love that unit.

Hope this helps!

R.
Old 30th March 2016
  #16
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You can always just use the plugin.
Old 30th March 2016
  #17
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Why not try the SONTEC MEP-250EX.Its $3100 new, currently in production and truely sounds fantastic.

Oh and it also lives on joe barresi's mix buss along with a few other big name mixers
Old 30th March 2016
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davehall6162 View Post
Why not try the SONTEC MEP-250EX.Its $3100 new, currently in production and truely sounds fantastic.

Oh and it also lives on joe barresi's mix buss along with a few other big name mixers
Where does one buy one?
Old 1st April 2016
  #19
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How does the older (original) MEP-230 compare to the 250? Anyone work with both units?
Old 1st April 2016
  #20
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Jim, funny you should mention that. When last I spoke with Burgess years ago I asked him what could be done if an opamp goes out. He said you can take the opamps from the much cheaper 250EX as they are the same parts! I suppose that is not known by everyone. But perhaps could be the reason many 432 users also have a 250EX!

Also, I've seen many of these in Sterling Mastering and Masterdisk in New York, and none of them were as you put it "busted", but rather in quite nice shape and being used on the latest major label releases.
Most people do know that actually. The op amps are hard to come by unless Burgess happens to have them in stock, which is not often. And Sontecs can break down. Jim is right about the amount of Sontec carcasses lying around. You may see some working ones at Sterling, but you don't see the ones in the back room that were salvaged for parts. Make sure you have a tech that can fix it if it goes down, or at least that it has 2 extra op amps. I just sold one that was overhauled and it should work for years, but unless Burgess or Chris Muth worked on this one there are no guarantees.

FYI, the main sonic difference between the 15k one you are looking at and the cheaper 250-ex is that the 430 has 1 extra op amp that deals with the shelves. So it sounds a little bit bigger. I don't know if it sounds 12k bigger though.
Old 1st April 2016
  #21
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Before you drop 15k too, you should head over to the "I'm shooting out mastering eqs" thread in the mastering forum. You can hear the same song put through virtually every mastering eq in history, including multiple revisions of Sontecs. They do sound great, but so does the Knif and the (modified) Buzz.
Old 1st April 2016
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Before you drop 15k too, you should head over to the "I'm shooting out mastering eqs" thread in the mastering forum. You can hear the same song put through virtually every mastering eq in history, including multiple revisions of Sontecs. They do sound great, but so does the Knif and the (modified) Buzz.
I have been GASing for the buzz REQ2.2, It is $10k but i honestly think it will be a better investment.
Old 1st April 2016
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Most people do know that actually. The op amps are hard to come by unless Burgess happens to have them in stock, which is not often. And Sontecs can break down. Jim is right about the amount of Sontec carcasses lying around. You may see some working ones at Sterling, but you don't see the ones in the back room that were salvaged for parts. Make sure you have a tech that can fix it if it goes down, or at least that it has 2 extra op amps. I just sold one that was overhauled and it should work for years, but unless Burgess or Chris Muth worked on this one there are no guarantees.

FYI, the main sonic difference between the 15k one you are looking at and the cheaper 250-ex is that the 430 has 1 extra op amp that deals with the shelves. So it sounds a little bit bigger. I don't know if it sounds 12k bigger though.
Actually in my last conversation with Burgess he said that the difference in sound between a 432 and a 250ex was more than an additional board.
Old 1st April 2016
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Before you drop 15k too, you should head over to the "I'm shooting out mastering eqs" thread in the mastering forum. You can hear the same song put through virtually every mastering eq in history, including multiple revisions of Sontecs. They do sound great, but so does the Knif and the (modified) Buzz.
Thermos, as you suggested, I read through the "I'm shooting out mastering eqs" thread but didn't get much at all from it. Most links to files were long dead and no Sontec 432 samples that I could find. So I just listened to some records we did at Sterling, and said to myself "Yes that's the sound." Also, I took another listen to a Buzz sample, (it had been a while since I listened to a Buzz) and heard some similarities in my head to how I pictured the Sontec handling a particular track, but I did hear some issues with the way it handles (or doesn't handle) bass. I can see why some users have opted for some type of Bass mod with the Buzz.
Old 1st April 2016
  #25
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gt_jumper View Post
I have been GASing for the buzz REQ2.2, It is $10k but i honestly think it will be a better investment.
More like 5.5-6.5k used. Check the classifieds.
Old 1st April 2016
  #26
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Thermos, as you suggested, I read through the "I'm shooting out mastering eqs" thread but didn't get much at all from it. Most links to files were long dead and no Sontec 432 samples that I could find. So I just listened to some records we did at Sterling, and said to myself "Yes that's the sound." Also, I took another listen to a Buzz sample, (it had been a while since I listened to a Buzz) and heard some similarities in my head to how I pictured the Sontec handling a particular track, but I did hear some issues with the way it handles (or doesn't handle) bass. I can see why some users have opted for some type of Bass mod with the Buzz.
I wouldn't say its necessarily that simple in terms of Sterling Sound= Sontec. I know Calbi isn't using one anymore (he's using a Buzz). Also its generally 1 part of a chain of 3-4 pieces including much more colorful pieces potentially. And the 430 and 432 sound quite different. Anyway, the 432 is a great eq no question, just trying to warn you about what you might be buying.
Old 1st April 2016
  #27
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Actually in my last conversation with Burgess he said that the difference in sound between a 432 and a 250ex was more than an additional board.
Good to know.
Old 1st April 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
I wouldn't say its necessarily that simple in terms of Sterling Sound= Sontec. I know Calbi isn't using one anymore (he's using a Buzz). Also its generally 1 part of a chain of 3-4 pieces including much more colorful pieces potentially. And the 430 and 432 sound quite different. Anyway, the 432 is a great eq no question, just trying to warn you about what you might be buying.
Thermos, it is my understanding that Ted Jensen is still a Sontec user over at Sterling, I don't know what Calbi uses, I've never worked with him. Also, I've had music mastered on both 430, and 432 and I felt they were particularly close in sound, I liked the 432 more.
The Buzz looks great and I have heard it in a mastering suite but why do so many engineers complain about its bass?
Old 1st April 2016
  #29
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpKillerCable View Post
Thermos, it is my understanding that Ted Jensen is still a Sontec user over at Sterling, I don't know what Calbi uses, I've never worked with him. Also, I've had music mastered on both 430, and 432 and I felt they were particularly close in sound, I liked the 432 more.
The Buzz looks great and I have heard it in a mastering suite but why do so many engineers complain about its bass?
432 is a bit faster, 430 more fluid or something. They are both great.

Buzz low end problems were solved with the new LF cards. To be honest even then I don't think it bests a Sontec. However with the regulator mod (another thread that has been locked) I do think it bests a Sontec. Still comes in at about 1/2 $ of what that auction is asking for the Sontec.
Old 1st April 2016
  #30
Maybe a tech can explain why those opamps fail so often. I had a few offered to me to fix but I passed.
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