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Neve 33115 on the inside Other Modular Audio Processors
Old 11th November 2018
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
There is a sonic difference in my experience, although I have not personally heard the difference in a 33115, I have heard it in other Neve stuff.

I was able to A/B discrete(BA440??) vs IC(BA640??) amp cards in a 33609J one time and slightly preferred the discrete. It was a small, but noticeable difference and to my ears the discrete amps sounded a little thicker and more alive. Not nearly as big as the difference between an original 33609 and the later versions though........

What I will also say is that Steve Butterworth(PAST) is a very smart guy with quite a history at Neve and his opinion carries a lot of weight with me. I used to own a pair of BAE racked 33122a(very similar to 33115). Steve built me a pair of his PAST PRE/EQ modules about a year ago and they absolutely blew my old 33122a's away.

The PAST PRE/EQ is aesthetically similar to a 31105, but electronically it is most like a 1095 (please correct me if I am wrong here Steve!).
It is built with original NOS Neve parts and sounds beautiful.
The pre amp is smoother and bigger sounding than a 33115/33122a and the EQ is one of the most powerful and musical EQs I have ever used.

Swapping discrete for IC will get you a small change in sound you may or may not prefer, but it wont be a significant upgrade in my experience. If you want the Neve sonics that a lot of people really like I would consider a 1066, 1073, 1081, 1084, 1095, 31105, etc...... Having owned 33122a's, I can say that the other modules I mentioned, while all a little different, are on another level in my opinion.

Steve, good to see you back on the forums!

Cheers.
Thanks, man. That is what I was looking for. I have modules with discrete and ic based here in studio. I believe it’s worth the time, money, and effort to switch the two over that I have. I like having spare amp cards also.

In anyones experience have you seen these amp cards go bad? I get an audible hum from one module with the eq engaged.
Old 11th November 2018
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
By whom? There are still lots of people around including me who got their start on old tube consoles with big Bakelite knobs and you won't find any reverence or nostalgia there.
You only have to leaf through the pages of GS to answer that question.

Cheers

Ian
Old 11th November 2018
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
You only have to leaf through the pages of GS to answer that question.

Cheers

Ian
Maybe so, in the pages of GS.

I "grew up" partly on radio consoles like Gates and RCA and such, and it would have been hard to imagine those things sounding good, even if they were brand new and in perfect shape. Which they weren't.

On the other hand, I've looked at your site and what you're doing, and it looks like that's a whole different thing. I'd love to be able to work with tube gear like that.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 11th November 2018 at 04:52 PM..
Old 11th November 2018
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
I did some mods to Pete Townsend's console at Eel Pie studios and he came back and asked us to design a replacement for Ramport Studios which I did.
Was that replacing the Helios?
Old 11th November 2018
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Was that replacing the Helios?
Yes, it was. I visited Ramport to discuss what they wanted and the Helios was still in the control room. I was surprised how compact it was compared to the average Neve of the time.

Cheers

Ian
Old 12th November 2018
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
Yes, it was. I visited Ramport to discuss what they wanted and the Helios was still in the control room. I was surprised how compact it was compared to the average Neve of the time.

Cheers

Ian
I have a couple faders from that Helios. Pete does seem to be partial to Neves, though.
Old 12th November 2018
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
I have a couple faders from that Helios. Pete does seem to be partial to Neves, though.
He does. I first met him at Eel Pie which had a Neve fitted with PPM meters. I was only 23 at the time. Neve didn't trust me to go on my own so I went with a senior (older ) engineer. He didn't even recognise Pete when we got there. Of course I was a big Who fan and we got on famously talking about music and his mixer. I talked him through adding a sidecar and how he wanted it to work. He must have been happy with what I said because a couple of days later he ordered it.

Cheers

Ian
Old 15th November 2018
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords;13623314
You have probably gathered by now that I [B
was[/B] there.
And there were lots of people like me at Neve, some very experienced in broadcast, others in live events. Somehow you managed to miss them all.
As one of the many positions that I held at Neve over the years was the job of USA Sales and Service Support, I think that highly unlikely?

I took over that Job from Geoff Watts, with whom I previously worked on other projects

Geoff designed some of the original Neve amplifiers and was principal in founding Rupert Neve Inc. the Neve base in Bethel NY, USA

I was therefore liaising with every department at Neve, especially Sales Engineering

I don't think that I missed anyone?

Very few Neve UK employees or management had permanent contact with, work experience or expertise in recording studios

In fact, at a later date, Neve made a deliberate effort to hire those with a studio background in order to be more 'in touch' with the industry

There was a definite bias towards broadcast expertise

I am not disputing your presence at Neve

Sure that you were there then, but many younger folks here were not there and would be assured, by taking a look at some magazine back issues, that the 70's was not entirely populated by those that didn't care about sound!

I also still believe that all of the Neve customers, that I was dealing with at least, did care about sound and bought Neve for the sound quality as well as the build quality

In order to get back on track

Broadcast companies generally bought equipment on specifications

However, specifications and sound are obviously related to some considerable extent

Although the circuit topography was similar and the amplifiers the same in many broadcast desks to those in the recording consoles, the design accent of the recording consoles and modules was more biased towards the sound and versatility for recording, tracking and mixing than on sweetening and reproduction

The early Neve Broadcast input modules were actually the same but later became simplified and smaller, narrower versions of the recording console modules

Broadcasters were of course very concerned with reliability and serviceability

If broadcasters were also concerned with longevity it was in fact not a top priority, and actually a bit stupid of them because most had proper maintenance departments and devalued, depreciated and replaced their equipment over only a few years

In contrast, some recording studios didn't maintain their equipment properly and subsequently devalued and depreciated THEMSELVES over only a few years!

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Last edited by PAST; 15th November 2018 at 06:23 PM.. Reason: Space
Old 16th November 2018
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
There is a sonic difference in my experience, although I have not personally heard the difference in a 33115, I have heard it in other Neve stuff.

I was able to A/B discrete(BA440??) vs IC(BA640??) amp cards in a 33609J one time and slightly preferred the discrete. It was a small, but noticeable difference and to my ears the discrete amps sounded a little thicker and more alive. Not nearly as big as the difference between an original 33609 and the later versions though........

What I will also say is that Steve Butterworth(PAST) is a very smart guy with quite a history at Neve and his opinion carries a lot of weight with me. I used to own a pair of BAE racked 33122a(very similar to 33115). Steve built me a pair of his PAST PRE/EQ modules about a year ago and they absolutely blew my old 33122a's away.

The PAST PRE/EQ is aesthetically similar to a 31105, but electronically it is most like a 1095 (please correct me if I am wrong here Steve!).
It is built with original NOS Neve parts and sounds beautiful.
The pre amp is smoother and bigger sounding than a 33115/33122a and the EQ is one of the most powerful and musical EQs I have ever used.

Swapping discrete for IC will get you a small change in sound you may or may not prefer, but it wont be a significant upgrade in my experience. If you want the Neve sonics that a lot of people really like I would consider a 1066, 1073, 1081, 1084, 1095, 31105, etc...... Having owned 33122a's, I can say that the other modules I mentioned, while all a little different, are on another level in my opinion.

Steve, good to see you back on the forums!

Cheers.
Hi Anthony

Yeah...I really agree with your philosophy on recording and love the fantastic recording results that you are achieving with your carefully sourced and assembled hybrid system...and those great mics!

It was great to finally get to hear you being interviewed in Nashville....

You are right about my PAST units

In my absence, Geoff Tanner did quite a good job describing my PAST Equaliser and Microphone Amplifier on eBay or here on Gearslutz or wherever....

Geoff, you almost got it right, but not quite...

I would have made these AFTER 1990 not in the 1970's !

This means there is 20 years less wear on those rotary and pushbutton switches!

Also Geoff, you say that they were based on the Neve 31105 modules

Nope, but close, and I understand why you were mistaken, as they do look more like 31 Series modules

They were actually based almost entirely on the Hansa Tonstudio console in Berlin

This console was formally famous for recording the David Bowie classics (the 'Berlin Trilogy')

The Bowie classics, Low, Heroes and Lodger were recorded there between 1977 and 1979

This was when they had the Neve 80 Series as the main tracking console

Others followed suit, including Depeche Mode, Marillion, Falco, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and I think U2

We spent a lot of time and money restoring and updating that Hansa Tonstudio console and it is now probably the most expensive customised Neve console in the world with over 104 automated inputs and huge amounts of my custom design architecture, which I make to provide facilities, reliability and quality to special consoles, so as not to alter the original vintage Neve sound

...kind of like having perfect new but vintage sound with updated modern switching facilities under logic control...if you need that

The best of both vintage and newish technology

Artists, especially guitarists like Brian May, Keith Richards and Joe Satriani as well as producers, singers, studios and people that that I was working with, who really knew what they wanted, craved that same sound but didn't have a million or so dollars going spare, so I made the PAST Equaliser and Microphone Amplifier for them as a special favour sort of thing

So, most went to musicians, top end studios, producers and people that really knew what they wanted

Also incorrect is the statement that they were made from ex Neve stock

All components apart from the knobs and caps, which I bought from Neve when I bought the stores, were purchased brand new from original Neve suppliers

I went to such care to source these components accurately that it even confused Geoff Tanner who believed they were from the Neve stores that I purchased

I did buy all of the Neve 80 series and earlier stock back in the early 1990's including all of the Marconi knobs and Neve knobs and caps, switches boards and metalwork etc.

I still use this original Neve stock to maintain, update and restore vintage Neve consoles today

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
Old 16th November 2018
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Very few Neve UK employees or management had permanent contact with, work experience or expertise in recording studios
Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
I am not going to go endlessly round this loop. Clearly your experience at Neve was different to mine. Nuff said.

Cheers

Ian
Old 19th December 2018
  #41
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For what it’s worth big difference on replacing my IC amp cards with all discrete. I have a few 33114b modules and 33115’s...the 4’s were IC based. Also, one of my 33115’s modules had one IC based card in the line amp side. Was sold as all discrete to me years ago. I guess they forgot to look to see if it really was a BA440...
Old 21st December 2018
  #42
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Some slight confusion here also....

The discrete version of these amplifier boards would be the earlier BA438 and BA440 amplifiers

Both are class AB

Neither the discrete or indiscrete versions of this amplifier are class A


Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

I was under the impression that the BA438 and BA406 were run in Class A and only the BA440 output amp was Class AB.

I’ve owned a pair of 33115’s with discrete amps that I got from Mercenary Audio back when they were still in business and Bill Clinton was still president. Although I wouldn't say that they are better than the Class A Neve modules, I have owned a few 1073’s over the years that have all come and gone while I’ve held on to the 33115’s. For whatever that’s worth.
Old 22nd December 2018
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRRec View Post
I was under the impression that the BA438 and BA406 were run in Class A and only the BA440 output amp was Class AB.

I’ve owned a pair of 33115’s with discrete amps that I got from Mercenary Audio back when they were still in business and Bill Clinton was still president. Although I wouldn't say that they are better than the Class A Neve modules, I have owned a few 1073’s over the years that have all come and gone while I’ve held on to the 33115’s. For whatever that’s worth.
Well I never....

I should have guessed that Bill Clinton was president of Mercenary Audio...that explains so much!

Youse Colonials are so full of tricks!

The BA440 is Class AB

It has two output transistors

The BA406 is a multiple simple emitter follower that can be used as inverting or non-inverting buffer amplifier stages

Class A amplifiers use only one output transistor

This is usually a power transistor and Class A is popular mainly due to the low signal distortion level and it is therefore one of the best sounding amplifier classes

Class A amplifiers have the highest linearity over other basic amplifier classes as they operate in the linear portion of the characteristics curve and carry the entire signal

Class AB amplifiers have two output transistors

Each transistor conducts only half of the time, either on the positive or negative half cycle of the input signal and both devices are allowed to conduct at the same time around the waveforms crossover point, somewhat reducing the crossover distortion problems of the class B amplifier

The 1073 was a relatively early channel amplifier that was extensively used in many custom Neve consoles and also as the primary option as an input module on the earliest standard Neve console the BCM10/2

The 1073 was popular even after the introduction of 4-Band equalisers but, as it was not as versatile, an improved version, the 1084 was designed with updates to the EQ

This was then again re-introduced, by popular demand, with mic input only, for the 8058 8068 and 8066 console range as the 31102

So, if you like...these were the HEAVY GUYS...the Class A and class AB 45 Series Modules for the big frame recording consoles

However, there were other markets...both in Radio and TV Broadcast consoles that required more compact frame width and also in smaller 'table top'...and it better be a strong table...Music Recording/Broadcast consoles that became standard consoles such as the Neve Melbourn and Kelso

Thus enter the 33115’s....

You are right the​ 33115 range is really a LIGHTWEIGHT slim version of the later 45 Series modules and have much in common with the more comprehensive large frame console modules and should not be sniffed at....especially if they have been on tour or used live by the Dead...

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Last edited by PAST; 22nd December 2018 at 03:31 PM.. Reason: Resolve confusing statement regarding amplifier
Old 22nd December 2018
  #44
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Well I never....

I should have guessed that Bill Clinton was president of Mercenary Audio...that explains so much!

Youse Colonials are so full of tricks!

The BA438 and BA440 are Class AB

They both have two output transistors

The BA406 is a multiple simple emitter follower that can be used as inverting or non-inverting buffer amplifier stages

Class A amplifiers use only one output transistor

This is usually a power transistor and Class A is popular mainly due to the low signal distortion level and it is therefore one of the best sounding amplifier classes

Class A amplifiers have the highest linearity over other basic amplifier classes as they operate in the linear portion of the characteristics curve and carry the entire signal

Class AB amplifiers have two output transistors

Each transistor conducts only half of the time, either on the positive or negative half cycle of the input signal and both devices are allowed to conduct at the same time around the waveforms crossover point, somewhat reducing the crossover distortion problems of the class B amplifier

The 1073 was a relatively early channel amplifier that was extensively used in many custom Neve consoles and also as the primary option as an input module on the earliest standard Neve console the BCM10/2

The 1073 was popular even after the introduction of 4-Band equalisers but, as it was not as versatile, an improved version, the 1084 was designed with updates to the EQ

This was then again re-introduced, by popular demand, with mic input only, for the 8058 8068 and 8066 console range as the 31102

So, if you like...these were the HEAVY GUYS...the Class A and class AB 45 Series Modules for the big frame recording consoles

However, there were other markets...both in Radio and TV Broadcast consoles that required more compact frame width and also in smaller 'table top'...and it better be a strong table...Music Recording/Broadcast consoles that became standard consoles such as the Neve Melbourn and Kelso

Thus enter the 33115’s....

You are right the​ 33115 range is really a LIGHTWEIGHT slim version of the later 45 Series modules and have much in common with the more comprehensive large frame console modules and should not be sniffed at....especially if they have been on tour or used live by the Dead...

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

I’m not sure if I fully understand your sense of humor (or is it humour?), but I was sincere in wanting to know if these modules were all Class AB, as I’ve been told by a few techs over the years that only the 440 output was.

Something that John Klett wrote on his old R/E/P tech forum gets to the heart of my question:
"The BA338 preamp (BA238/338/438) uses five transistors. This is a class A amplifier in that all devices are always conducting. One of the two output devices is a current source and the other is a current amplifier (or a follower). There is an inverting and non-inverting input but they are not configured in the traditional "long tail pair" you would find in most opamps and really can't be used, say, as a differential amplifier… both both pins are there so the EQ elements can feed back into to "-" input but other characteristics one would ascribe to general purpose operational amplifiers are not present here. "
My knowledge of discrete transistor design is limited, I'm just trying to learn.

Thank you

Last edited by LRRec; 22nd December 2018 at 05:43 AM..
Old 22nd December 2018
  #45
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Yes, I apologise...I over simplified​ in order to attempt to clarify the module generic types

I sometimes generalise in order to make interesting reading for all levels of interest

None of this is completely clear cut as in those days even the standard Neve consoles had quite drastically different options and there was continual engineering development

John is correct and that type of amplifier is known as a Quasi Operational Amplifier

As for my British sense of humour take it as Quasi Joking

For those interested in the technical detail of the electronics here is the full circuit description of the BA438

The BA438 is a quasi operational amplifier. There are two inputs, a non inverting at pin 1 and an inverting input at pin 2.

The signal is applied to the non inverting input at pin 1 via the isolating capacitor C1 to the base of TR1

The resistor chain R1 and R2 form a potential divider setting the voltage on TR1 base. The current taken by TR1 via the resistors R5 and R14 defines the quiescent voltage at the output pin 5.

The signal is applied to the base of TR2 which is in a common emitter configuration. R4 in parallel with TR2 forms the collector load of TR1.

TR2 drives TR3 with R6 forming the collector load of TR2

TR3 drives TR4 such that the TR3 and TR4 configuration has a gain of 4 times as defined by R8 and R10 feeding the unbalanced output at pin 5

The diode D3 protects TR4 from overloading by removing its base drive just before saturation

The capacitor C3 stabilises the TR3 and TR4 feedback loop

Feeding TR4 is a constant current source consisting of TR5, R11, R12 and R13 which contributes to low overall distortion

C6 is a decoupling capacitor

Hope this clarifies...

PS: In order to avoid confusion I will amend my above post...thank you for pointing this out...your knowledge of discrete transistor design is less limited than you admit!

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Last edited by PAST; 22nd December 2018 at 03:29 PM.. Reason: PS
Old 22nd December 2018
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
I was at Neve in the mid 70 when the now 'classic' Neve gear was made. I worked in Sales Engineering and talked to lots of prospective customers. Not one of them bought a Neve for the sound. They bought them because they were built like a tank, had all the facilities they needed and would last for donkeys years.

The 'Neve Sound' is a modern invention sought after by people who see it s a substitute for lack of talent.

Cheers

Ian
To turn around your own language, just because they are built like a tank doesn't mean they don't have a good sound. After hearing a lot of other stuff, it was a standalone Rupert Neve-designed preamp that first really impressed me with a sound that I found to be worth a premium price. Yeah and it's built like a tank, which precludes nothing.
Old 22nd December 2018
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post

Class A amplifiers use only one output transistor
Do you want to rethink that statement?

Cheers

Ian
Old 22nd December 2018
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philter View Post
To turn around your own language, just because they are built like a tank doesn't mean they don't have a good sound.
I agree. Build quality has little effect on many aspects of sound quality
Quote:
After hearing a lot of other stuff, it was a standalone Rupert Neve-designed preamp that first really impressed me with a sound that I found to be worth a premium price. Yeah and it's built like a tank, which precludes nothing.
As I have said several times here and elsewhere, I think the sound of the classic Neve designs is more to do with them being class A plus some subtleties of using transformers than anything else. As you say, (in today's market) being built like a tank is a happy bonus.

Cheers

Ian
Old 22nd December 2018
  #49
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Yes, I apologise...I over simplified​ in order to attempt to clarify the module generic types

I sometimes generalise in order to make interesting reading for all levels of interest

None of this is completely clear cut as in those days even the standard Neve consoles had quite drastically different options and there was continual engineering development

John is correct and that type of amplifier is known as a Quasi Operational Amplifier

As for my British sense of humour take it as Quasi Joking

For those interested in the technical detail of the electronics here is the full circuit description of the BA438

The BA438 is a quasi operational amplifier. There are two inputs, a non inverting at pin 1 and an inverting input at pin 2.

The signal is applied to the non inverting input at pin 1 via the isolating capacitor C1 to the base of TR1

The resistor chain R1 and R2 form a potential divider setting the voltage on TR1 base. The current taken by TR1 via the resistors R5 and R14 defines the quiescent voltage at the output pin 5.

The signal is applied to the base of TR2 which is in a common emitter configuration. R4 in parallel with TR2 forms the collector load of TR1.

TR2 drives TR3 with R6 forming the collector load of TR2

TR3 drives TR4 such that the TR3 and TR4 configuration has a gain of 4 times as defined by R8 and R10 feeding the unbalanced output at pin 5

The diode D3 protects TR4 from overloading by removing its base drive just before saturation

The capacitor C3 stabilises the TR3 and TR4 feedback loop

Feeding TR4 is a constant current source consisting of TR5, R11, R12 and R13 which contributes to low overall distortion

C6 is a decoupling capacitor

Hope this clarifies...

PS: In order to avoid confusion I will amend my above post...thank you for pointing this out...your knowledge of discrete transistor design is less limited than you admit!

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Thanks for the clarification and detailed explanation, it was extremely helpful.

Last edited by LRRec; 23rd December 2018 at 04:11 PM..
Old 23rd December 2018
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRRec View Post
Thanks for the clarification and detailed explanation, it was extremely helpful.
If you don’t mind, I have another question that’s been on my mind for some time. It concerns the line amps used in some of the latter Neve 80 consoles (8068, 8078). At some point Neve went to the 3415, which for all practical purposes looks like a 33115 minus the gain switch and eq section. As you mentioned above, Neve developed the 31102 for these consoles. Why would they use the 3415 as a mix amp and not a single-ended Class A amp if these modules (3415) were considered less desirable than their Class A counterparts. I understand the termination issues with the TO129 transformer (I’ve put a switch with a 1.2K resistor on the outputs of my 33115’s when not feeding a true 600ohm input), but outside of drive current would Neve sacrifice perceived audio quality for convenience or am I missing something? Or to put it more succinctly, how bad could the 3415 (and the 33115) really be?
Thanks again
Thank you for such an interesting question

In no way is the 3415 or the 33115 at all bad....

By way of introduction:

The 33415 was a Neve Series 3000 module

It was designed and developed as the 3415 Line Amplifier

I have some very early versions of something like this which are quite primitive in comparison design wise and even used different back connectors...so they do go back in time earlier than the mid 1970's when these modules were most commonly in use... but that is another story...the 3415 was however developed from these

Its primary function was to return the output level of a mix busbar to normal 'Line' level...hence the name

They were also known as Bus Amps

They were rarely ever used as microphone amplifiers except for the console talkback mic which was usually a Beyerdynamic

There was also a line level input only version the 3416 used for simple inputs and for buffering functions such as for output faders or whatever where there was no busbar

The performance of these modules is excellent

They will drive up to +26dBm into a 600R load

There is a fader insertion for a fader or level control and with the fader down the output noise is better than -96dBu

The input noise is better than -86dBu, overall distortion levels are better than 0.02% 100Hz to 10KHz and the frequency response better than +/- 0.5dB 20 Hz to 20 KHz...making them ideal for their purpose

Both input and output are transformer balanced and the output transformer is driven by a Class AB amplifier

So, to answer your question

At Neve these modules were not ever considered inferior to the earlier Class A bus amplifiers...only a necessary development

For instance, the Neve 8078 used these modules which was their 'flagship' recording console and so these modules were never considered less desirable than their Class A counterparts

These Line Amps were designed for several reasons, in part in order to reduce the module width for broadcast studio and smaller consoles such as the Melbourn or Kelso and...

At this time recording consoles were becoming much more complex with 24 track routing being the norm plus quad mix busses, more...and some stereo aux sends, monitor mixdown reduction juke box sections again with stereo aux sends and quad bussing all of which required busbars and bus amps plus external inputs and more comprehensive monitoring and cue sends...so the module quantity requirement became much higher...phew

So...space became an important consideration

The 8068 8058 and 8066 were 'in-line mixer' consoles with no separate mixdown section as in the earlier 80 Series music consoles which were the norm right up to and beyond the 8078

The in-line console width was therefore reduced in comparison to earlier consoles of equal number of channels and so again there was less room to pack in line amps, although more tracks and more facilities required more of these amplifiers

There are other considerations such as the power consumption of Class A amplifiers, which require more current even under no signal conditions and of course the cost

These modules were an early example of what we now call production engineering and they drastically reduced space requirements, labour costs and errors in manufacture as the components were all mounted directly onto a printed circuit board, rather than hand wired using edge connectors for the amplifier PCBs

There was also a leaning towards trying to reduce man/woman hours in hand wiring as each console was taking so long to wire

The wiring hours for an 8078 frame for instance...were staggering

At that time there was suddenly a lot of competition from other manufacturers and cost became more of a consideration with clients and orders being lost to other manufacturers with new console designs some of whom were using integrated circuits

Putting the Class A Mic/Line Input modules BACK into the 80 Series consoles was very much a marketing decision

Because of competition from other manufactures entering the market Neve had to look closely at its plus points as well as price competition

Neve had the edge regarding their reputation for producing one of the best sounding consoles ever out there

This reputation was rightly heavily based on the much loved 1073 and 1084 modules and so this module was effectively re-introduced by offering the modernised version of this early module as the 31102

I remember the debate at the time and many in the production area were asking, "why are we going back to these old modules?"

I believe that it was one of the best decisions made by Neve at that time

In my personal opinion the front end of a recording console, including the mic amp, input levels and eq, is where the​ art meets the electronics and is very much an important part of the creative process of music recording

This, as well as quality cue feeds and the ability to produce a decent rough mix is a feedback loop to the musicians and is of vital importance to the resulting music

I see it as effectively part of the same loop as the musicians are in with their instruments themselves, the amplifiers, the microphones et al which are all feedback to the muse

When we design a console we take into account many factors and as in all design, a compromise must be reached between the many aspects of physical reality and the theoretical ideal

The 33415 was never seen as a sacrifice
against a single-ended Class A amp when used as a bus amp

It was the Class A input modules that were put BACK into a new design

As a supplement you might find this thread of interest as I do look at some of the classic Neve consoles with regard to their amplifier Class as well as discuss the fact that it is by no means the only reason why these consoles sound so great

what makes the great sound in Neve console?

Leading up to my conclusion in Post 54
what makes the great sound in Neve console?

You see that there is not a simple answer like 'Class A is best' or 'it is in the transformers'....

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Last edited by PAST; 26th December 2018 at 04:52 PM..
Old 9th January 2019
  #51
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Thank you for such an interesting question

In no way is the 3415 or the 33115 at all bad....

By way of introduction:

The 33415 was a Neve Series 3000 module

It was designed and developed as the 3415 Line Amplifier

I have some very early versions of something like this which are quite primitive in comparison design wise and even used different back connectors...so they do go back in time earlier than the mid 1970's when these modules were most commonly in use... but that is another story...the 3415 was however developed from these

Its primary function was to return the output level of a mix busbar to normal 'Line' level...hence the name

They were also known as Bus Amps

They were rarely ever used as microphone amplifiers except for the console talkback mic which was usually a Beyerdynamic

There was also a line level input only version the 3416 used for simple inputs and for buffering functions such as for output faders or whatever where there was no busbar

The performance of these modules is excellent

They will drive up to +26dBm into a 600R load

There is a fader insertion for a fader or level control and with the fader down the output noise is better than -96dBu

The input noise is better than -86dBu, overall distortion levels are better than 0.02% 100Hz to 10KHz and the frequency response better than +/- 0.5dB 20 Hz to 20 KHz...making them ideal for their purpose

Both input and output are transformer balanced and the output transformer is driven by a Class AB amplifier

So, to answer your question

At Neve these modules were not ever considered inferior to the earlier Class A bus amplifiers...only a necessary development

For instance, the Neve 8078 used these modules which was their 'flagship' recording console and so these modules were never considered less desirable than their Class A counterparts

These Line Amps were designed for several reasons, in part in order to reduce the module width for broadcast studio and smaller consoles such as the Melbourn or Kelso and...

At this time recording consoles were becoming much more complex with 24 track routing being the norm plus quad mix busses, more...and some stereo aux sends, monitor mixdown reduction juke box sections again with stereo aux sends and quad bussing all of which required busbars and bus amps plus external inputs and more comprehensive monitoring and cue sends...so the module quantity requirement became much higher...phew

So...space became an important consideration

The 8068 8058 and 8066 were 'in-line mixer' consoles with no separate mixdown section as in the earlier 80 Series music consoles which were the norm right up to and beyond the 8078

The in-line console width was therefore reduced in comparison to earlier consoles of equal number of channels and so again there was less room to pack in line amps, although more tracks and more facilities required more of these amplifiers

There are other considerations such as the power consumption of Class A amplifiers, which require more current even under no signal conditions and of course the cost

These modules were an early example of what we now call production engineering and they drastically reduced space requirements, labour costs and errors in manufacture as the components were all mounted directly onto a printed circuit board, rather than hand wired using edge connectors for the amplifier PCBs

There was also a leaning towards trying to reduce man/woman hours in hand wiring as each console was taking so long to wire

The wiring hours for an 8078 frame for instance...were staggering

At that time there was suddenly a lot of competition from other manufacturers and cost became more of a consideration with clients and orders being lost to other manufacturers with new console designs some of whom were using integrated circuits

Putting the Class A Mic/Line Input modules BACK into the 80 Series consoles was very much a marketing decision

Because of competition from other manufactures entering the market Neve had to look closely at its plus points as well as price competition

Neve had the edge regarding their reputation for producing one of the best sounding consoles ever out there

This reputation was rightly heavily based on the much loved 1073 and 1084 modules and so this module was effectively re-introduced by offering the modernised version of this early module as the 31102

I remember the debate at the time and many in the production area were asking, "why are we going back to these old modules?"

I believe that it was one of the best decisions made by Neve at that time

In my personal opinion the front end of a recording console, including the mic amp, input levels and eq, is where the​ art meets the electronics and is very much an important part of the creative process of music recording

This, as well as quality cue feeds and the ability to produce a decent rough mix is a feedback loop to the musicians and is of vital importance to the resulting music

I see it as effectively part of the same loop as the musicians are in with their instruments themselves, the amplifiers, the microphones et al which are all feedback to the muse

When we design a console we take into account many factors and as in all design, a compromise must be reached between the many aspects of physical reality and the theoretical ideal

The 33415 was never seen as a sacrifice
against a single-ended Class A amp when used as a bus amp

It was the Class A input modules that were put BACK into a new design

As a supplement you might find this thread of interest as I do look at some of the classic Neve consoles with regard to their amplifier Class as well as discuss the fact that it is by no means the only reason why these consoles sound so great

what makes the great sound in Neve console?

Leading up to my conclusion in Post 54
what makes the great sound in Neve console?

You see that there is not a simple answer like 'Class A is best' or 'it is in the transformers'....

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Thanks for the reply.

Your posts are always interesting and enlightening.
Old 21st January 2019
  #52
Gear Nut
 
xlon's Avatar
 

Wow!
Rarely check in so I had missed what this thread became. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit I don’t know much about transformers, ic’s etc. though I do work daily on the 33115 this thread started with. In the bigger of the two studios I work on a 1084, very likely the one Ian sold to Abba.
It’s not even meaningful to compare these two Neve consoles. What is meaningful though is to plan what project to mix on which console, as they both sound fantastic but very different. In favor of the 33115 I must say that I love the pre’s presence and up in your faceness... They do that without any harshness.
Old 21st January 2019
  #53
Gear Nut
 
PAST's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xlon View Post
Wow!
Rarely check in so I had missed what this thread became. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit I don’t know much about transformers, ic’s etc. though I do work daily on the 33115 this thread started with. In the bigger of the two studios I work on a 1084, very likely the one Ian sold to Abba.
It’s not even meaningful to compare these two Neve consoles. What is meaningful though is to plan what project to mix on which console, as they both sound fantastic but very different. In favor of the 33115 I must say that I love the pre’s presence and up in your faceness... They do that without any harshness.
Hiya

Yes...modules designed for quite different consoles

I would like to tell you more but need a little further information on the Neve consoles that you work on especially the one in the bigger of the two studios?

If you look round the back of the console on the panel where the power supply cables plug in you will find a Neve serial number plate

You may need to have someone responsible for the studio carefully remove the external black cover cladding plate

Let me know the number beginning with A**** and I will try to tell you more about this console

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
Old 21st January 2019
  #54
Gear Nut
 
xlon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
Hiya

Yes...modules designed for quite different consoles

I would like to tell you more but need a little further information on the Neve consoles that you work on especially the one in the bigger of the two studios?

If you look round the back of the console on the panel where the power supply cables plug in you will find a Neve serial number plate

You may need to have someone responsible for the studio carefully remove the external black cover cladding plate

Let me know the number beginning with A**** and I will try to tell you more about this console

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology

Thanks Steve,
The cladding is already open as we sometimes need to jerk those cables a bit. Didn’t know about the serial no plate there but I’ll definitly check.
Best!
Old 21st January 2019
  #55
Gear Nut
 
PAST's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xlon View Post
Thanks Steve,
The cladding is already open as we sometimes need to jerk those cables a bit. Didn’t know about the serial no plate there but I’ll definitly check.
Best!
OK...but...ohhh dear...you mean that the power is intermittent?

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
Old 21st January 2019
  #56
Gear Nut
 
xlon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAST View Post
OK...but...ohhh dear...you mean that the power is intermittent?

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
No no, I don’t know why but on rare occasions one of the monitor mixers out in the studio goes off line and the only way I have found to get it back is to lift one of the amps besides the cables.
Old 21st January 2019
  #57
Gear Nut
 
PAST's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xlon View Post
No no, I don’t know why but on rare occasions one of the monitor mixers out in the studio goes off line and the only way I have found to get it back is to lift one of the amps besides the cables.
Well that's a relief...and good that you should easily be able to see the serial number plate

If it is one of the Neve Aux send output modules that is the problem it is probably just a loose back connector problem

I have sent you a PM and will tell you how to fix it

Steve Butterworth

PAST
Professional Audio System Technology
Old 24th January 2019
  #58
Here for the gear
 

I just love my 33115 & 4 modules. Best investment I’ve ever made. They are just so darn musical! I can imagine what a real Melbourne console must have sounded like. To have a piece of that to me, the history is a real blessing.

To top it off Steve is a real great guy and has helped me out quite a bit. Thanks again
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