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Vintage Siemens / Telefunken / TAB preamps: worth the trouble?
Old 13th September 2010
  #1
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Vintage Siemens / Telefunken / TAB preamps: worth the trouble?

I've recently done some research on the vintage German V series preamps by Siemens, Telefunken and TAB (e.g. V72, V76, V276 etc.).

The pres themselves are not expensive on Ebay, but if you don't have a clue about electronics and need to have them mounted into a suitable 19" chassis you end up in the same price range as other high end pres:
*****h&e**** Studiotechnik**********

So do you think those pres really deliver something that current high end solid state and tube pres don't? (Think Pacifica, Great River, Thermionic etc.) Because if they don't I'd rather go with a current model that is easier to install and operate.

If yes, which models do you think are most outstanding? I hear the V72 is quite popular, but honestly, isn't 34 dB of fixed gain a bit limiting?
Old 13th September 2010
  #2
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Andi & Markus do outstanding work!!! Their stuff is all "top shelf". Whether or not it will work for your music / sense of aesthetic is something only you can answer, but if you're looking for this type of gear, H-E Studiotechnik is THE place to look.

Happy hunting.

Peace.
Old 13th September 2010
  #3
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Old 13th September 2010
  #4
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Oh, and both the V72 and the V276 are right up there with the best of the best in terms of sound quality. For instance, Neve and API are not "better" in any way. Just different sounding and of course more expensive.

Frankly, you wouldn't really need anything else.

The V72 is probably my most favourite preamp of them all. Thick, warm and lush sounding, yet very natural and not hyped at all. The V276 is a bit more open and forward sounding, a great complement.
Old 13th September 2010
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by bermudaben View Post
I've recently done some research on the vintage German V series preamps by Siemens, Telefunken and TAB (e.g. V72, V76, V276 etc.).

The pres themselves are not expensive on Ebay, but if you don't have a clue about electronics and need to have them mounted into a suitable 19" chassis you end up in the same price range as other high end pres
Great pre-amps. If you get the used ones, make sure they are in good condition:

"Today the V72 is still in demand, but most units are now at least 35 years old and need to be rebuilt or refurbished. The electrolytic caps of the power supply are dried out and need to be replaced. The silk-wire of the unit falls apart to the touch and in most cases this winds up shorting out the input and output transformers. The units also suffered when given phantom power. If a standard on/off phantom power supply was used, it would send an arc of electricity up to 2000V across the input transformer that would slowly burn the transformer’s insulation, thus destroying it. Most historic V72 units purchased second hand need to be completely refurbished (new caps, wiring, transformers and tubes) in order to operate at their designed specification."
Info:
Historic V72 Information
Old 13th September 2010
  #6
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How can you not be in love with stuff like this...










Old 13th September 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
How can you not be in love with stuff like this...
Yeah I get your point heh

But why is the V72 more popular than the other tube models (V77, V78) which offer way more gain? And did you modify yours somehow so it offers more gain than 34 dB?
Old 13th September 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
Oh, and both the V72 and the V276 are right up there with the best of the best in terms of sound quality. For instance, Neve and API are not "better" in any way. Just different sounding and of course more expensive.
Ok let's calculate: For how much do V276s go on Ebay Germany? 300 euros? That would be 2x 300 Euros + the housing 800 euros = 1400 euros for a 2-channel unit. That's about the same as for a used API 3124 or Chandler TG2 or A Designs Pacifica etc.

So yeah, maybe they are slightly cheaper than Neve but not cheaper than the other high end solid state pres. With the tube models it's probably the same thing.
Old 13th September 2010
  #9
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Very good thread. The question is if a nice telefunken/siemens preamp could be better than a modern but classic inspired preamp like pacifica, neve or chandler.
Old 14th September 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bermudaben View Post
But why is the V72 more popular than the other tube models (V77, V78) which offer way more gain? And did you modify yours somehow so it offers more gain than 34 dB?
I have only limited personal experience with the V77 and V78, but they all sound a bit different. All three amplifiers (V72, V77 and V78) are based on the same topology with some slight differences in the circuits. All models work with two EF804S pentodes, and the V72 and V77 even share the same choke coils and output transformers. The input transformers (perhaps the most crucial part to the sound) are different, though.
They all are step-up transformers (of course...) with disk windings, and they have different ratios. The V72 has 1:10 (I believe, from the top of my head), the V77 has 1:40 and the V78 has 1:20.

The V72 has pretty strong negative feedback, which also contributes to the sound. The other modules achieve more overall gain by reducing the negative feedback (amongst a couple other tricks), and this of course can alter the sonic behaviour as well.

Probably the V72 is the most popular of them, because it has been the most popular unit back in the day. It was the standard cassette for so many different applications - mic pre, make-up gain for passive EQs and console faders, buffer amp, etc.
Hence its name, "Universalverstärker", which translates as "universal amplifier".
I believe a staggering 25.000 or so of them have been made.

Furthermore, the V72 carries the EMI/Beatles heritage, since a special version (V72s) has been used inside the famous REDD.17 and REDD.37 desks as the standard channel amplifier. The V72s is not very different from the standard V72. It was modified for the 200 Ω standard of the EMI, and it provides 6 dB more output gain.

As a side note - there are some funny stories. For instance, the original designer of the REDD.17 desk, Peter Burkowitz, never knew that the Beatles have recorded through the REDD.37 console (that is nothing more but a slightly extended version of the REDD.17, and as far as I know its prototype has been built in Germany as well). He only found it out many years later when Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan got in touch with him when they did research for their book...

To answer your question - I did not modify my V72 cassettes. 34 dB gain is well enough for most applications, especially when you use it with a condenser mic. And if more gain is required, you can always add some additional clean 5-10 dB with something like a Pendulum Audio tube compressor behind the preamp.
But I hardly ever use 34 dB on the preamp. With most singers and mics it is more like some 20-24 dB, anyway.
Old 14th September 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lectric View Post
Very good thread. The question is if a nice telefunken/siemens preamp could be better than a modern but classic inspired preamp like pacifica, neve or chandler.
Please define the word "better"...
They all are different animals, but in this league units are not really better, just different.

What makes the V72 special though is this great combination of thickness and warmth that sounds very natural at the same time. Most other preamps sound either warm or natural, but not really both at the same time.
I do have some chandler preamps as well, but the V72 modules would be last I would part with...
Old 14th September 2010
  #12
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Some more eye candy - REDD.17 console with V72s modules.



Old 14th September 2010
  #13
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...and a VERY interesting desk that has been used by the Deutsche Grammophon for remote classical recordings.

A not very well known desk, but with an extremely visionary layout for its time (its from the late 50ties...).
Kind of a lost secret in the console history...



Old 14th September 2010
  #14
Gear Head
 

[QUOTE=airmate;5784978]...and a VERY interesting desk that has been used by the Deutsche Grammophon for remote classical recordings.

A not very well known desk, but with an extremely visionary layout for its time (its from the late 50ties...).
Kind of a lost secret in the console history...

Mhmmm, drool heh

There's a guy in my hometown that racked the V76 of a friend of mine in a
beautiful 50's style Siemens Lunchbox, I don't have a pic here right now but it looks & sounds stunning.

Right now I'm dreaming about this one :



There are 2 of those in a local Studio that is for sale at the moment,
I'd love to buy one but don't have the funds...

Best regards

Chris Doll
Old 14th September 2010
  #15
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thanks for posting the great photos.
I think the key is with these units is to get them serviced before pressing them into service. They sound very good, and are actually built well enough to out-survive most of todays gear, if treated well.
Old 14th September 2010
  #16
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The extreme of rarity. V71 Malotki. Andreas Grosser in Germany only see 2 himself in the last 10 years. I am very fortunate man to have a few. And I will take them to the grave. heh The last photo of the DIN racks filled are not mine. They belong to a friend in the USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bermudaben View Post
So do you think those pres really deliver something that current high end solid state and tube pres don't? (Think Pacifica, Great River, Thermionic etc.) Because if they don't I'd rather go with a current model that is easier to install and operate.

If yes, which models do you think are most outstanding? I hear the V72 is quite popular, but honestly, isn't 34 dB of fixed gain a bit limiting?

My answer for the OP, if it was worth it for the Beatles and hundreds of other top engineers in the world. I say its still worth it. And there is no modern pre that sound identical to the original vintage Tabs, Maihaks, Malotki, Siemens, EAD, Lorenz preamps.

I am huge fan thumbsup I think the Beatles should get some the credit for making the V72s and V76s so popular here in the USA , not just the quantity or availability. There records still sound kick azz! They supposedly also used V78s. There are many German tube models out there. East and West German. Some east German guys will bad mouth the west German gear. The West Germans will bad mouth East German gear. I am glad I am in the neutral zone! heh Lets me just say there is no best in these breeds. And I haven't found one yet, that I didn't like.

According to us Americans as a whole. The V76M was the best. But that is truly not a fact. What is a fact. Many Americans either don't know what else is out there in the old german vintage gear world or never heard some of the other species in this family of preamps.

And for HEstudiotechnik, they are the best at maintaining and racking these IMHO. They know all the ins and outs from doing it so long. You got a mysterious hum issue. They know what it is. Expensive, mostly due to the dollar being week against the Euro. But top notch german quality. thumbsupthumbsup They don't make gear like this no more. I wish I go back in time, and buy all this shxt new and bring it back.
Old 14th September 2010
  #17
What are the little sliding doors on the front for?
Old 14th September 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
What are the little sliding doors on the front for?
Those are mechanical levers. If you pull them, the module is being released and it can slide out of its frame.
Old 14th September 2010
  #19
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I always wondered that too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
What are the little sliding doors on the front for?
Old 14th September 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
I am huge fan thumbsup I think the Beatles should get some the credit for making the V72s and V76s so popular here in the USA , not just the quantity or availability. There records still sound kick azz! They supposedly also used V78s.
Great V71 pictures!

However, the V72 actually saw less use on Beatles productions than some people think (not assuming you, no offense here!). Their first record was done completely on the REDD.37, parts of their second one as well, but already in early 1964 the successor, the REDD.51 with British made line amps, was installed at the studios.

After that, the REDD.37 has only been used very occasionally on Beatles recordings, apart from Let it Be, which was cut half on the 37 and on the 51.
And then there was the TG desk for the Abbey Road album as well...

So the REDD.51 can be credited as the console they have used the most. According to "Recording the Beatles", some 85% of their music has been recorded through the REDD.51.

Bottom line: The Beatles have indeed used the V72, but it is not necessarily the mic preamp responsible for "the" Beatles sound.
Old 14th September 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
What are the little sliding doors on the front for?

you lost me on the "sliding doors". If you have said levers. I would be on it like an easter bonnet. thumbsup

Actually a very cool feature to pull out the cassette or module. No tools needs like 500 series. Also Better than Neves little thumb screws.
Old 14th September 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
Great V71 pictures!

However, the V72 actually saw less use on Beatles productions than some people think (not assuming you, no offense here!). Their first record was done completely on the REDD.37, parts of their second one as well, but already in early 1964 the successor, the REDD.51 with British made line amps, was installed at the studios.

After that, the REDD.37 has only been used very occasionally on Beatles recordings, apart from Let it Be, which was cut half on the 37 and on the 51.
And then there was the TG desk for the Abbey Road album as well...

So the REDD.51 can be credited as the console they have used the most. According to "Recording the Beatles", some 85% of their music has been recorded through the REDD.51.

Bottom line: The Beatles have indeed used the V72, but it is not necessarily the mic preamp responsible for "the" Beatles sound.
Cool info man and I love your pictures as well! thumbsup never seen the Redd.51 as of yet.. Would love to see some pictures of it. You wouldn't happen to have the schematic for the V71 malotki? I only got the V71A available.

Best D
Old 14th September 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
Cool info man and I love your pictures as well! thumbsup never seen the Redd.51 as of yet.. Would love to see some pictures of it. You wouldn't happen to have the schematic for the V71 malotki? I only got the V71A available.

Best D
Unfortunately I can't help you out with the schematics, as I do not have them.

However, I do have some pictures of the only REDD.51 known to still be in existence. I shot them a couple weeks ago, and I will upload two of them soon.
Old 14th September 2010
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
Unfortunately I can't help you out with the schematics, as I do not have them.

However, I do have some pictures of the only REDD.51 known to still be in existence. I shot them a couple weeks ago, and I will upload two of them soon.

Do you know who made the preamps for that Redd.51? Were they 100% developed by EMI? or ? I have read somewhere here that they were inferior to the modded for 200ohm, Tab V72s used in the REDD.37 console. Which was supposedly used by the Beatles up to the 'Hard Days Night' album.

Thanks for the uploads.
Old 14th September 2010
  #25
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Ok, just to make this complete, here's two pictures of the REDD.51.
It was discovered in a warehouse in italy, and it was used in the EMI studio in Milano back in the day. Recently it has been fully restored, and it now resides in a private studio in London.
As I already wrote, it is the only REDD.51 that has surfaced up to this date.




The second module from the left is a REDD.47 line amp, which is the successor to the V72 being used in the REDD.51 console.

Old 14th September 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
Do you know who made the preamps for that Redd.51? Were they 100% developed by EMI? or ? I have read somewhere here that they were inferior to the modded for 200ohm, Tab V72s used in the REDD.37 console. Which was supposedly used by the Beatles up to the 'Hard Days Night' album.

Thanks for the uploads.
They have been developed by EMI's REDD department (Record Engineering Development Department) in Hayes, just outside London. Afaik, that was one of several teams to design equipment for the EMI.

According to Brian Kehew's book again, the REDD.47 was deemed inferior to the V72 not from a sonical, but from a constructional point of view. The REDD.47 ran very hot, and it seemed to be far less reliable than the V72.
Old 14th September 2010
  #27
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Wow. Way cool brother. Man that is a sight. Thanks for the uploads. I would love to compare an original Redd47 preamp to my German tube preamps. Tabs, etc. . Just curious how similar they may be. I wonder how many Redd 47s were every made if they are still around. Love to have one. Someone wrote somewhere on this forum that the Redd47s were just EMI modified Tab V72s, I would like to know the truth about that. Thanks thumbsup

Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
Ok, just to make this complete, here's two pictures of the REDD.51.
It was discovered in a warehouse in italy, and it was used in the EMI studio in Milano back in the day. Recently it has been fully restored, and it now resides in a private studio in London.
As I already wrote, it is the only REDD.51 that has surfaced up to this date.




The second module from the left is a REDD.47 line amp, which is the succesor to the V72 being used in the REDD.51 console.

Old 14th September 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airmate View Post
They have been developed by EMI's REDD department (Record Engineering Development Department) in Hayes, just outside London. Afaik, that was one of several teams to design equipment for the EMI.

According to Brian Kehew's book again, the REDD.47 was deemed inferior to the V72 not from a sonical, but from a constructional point of view. The REDD.47 ran very hot, and it seemed to be far less reliable than the V72.
ahhh. I see. And us modern engineers complain about digital converters running too hot. heh I find it funny how history repeats itself. Thanks airmate
Old 14th September 2010
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
ahhh. I see. And us modern engineers complain about digital converters running too hot. heh I find it funny how history repeats itself. Thanks airmate
Well, here's another funny story from Brian's book. Apparently the engineers have stored their fish and chips inside the tube tape machines to keep them warm until lunch...
Old 14th September 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONNX View Post
Wow. Way cool brother. Man that is a sight. Thanks for the uploads. I would love to compare an original Redd47 preamp to my German tube preamps. Tabs, etc. . Just curious how similar they may be. I wonder how many Redd 47s were every made if they are still around. Love to have one. Someone wrote somewhere on this forum that the Redd47s were just EMI modified Tab V72s, I would like to know the truth about that. Thanks thumbsup
There is only very limited information available on the REDD.47. There are some people in the know, but for instance the authors of "Recording the Beatles" had to agree not to reveal all information they have had access to.

Abbey Road is very secretive regarding certain parts of their heritage. When I wrote the review of the RS124 plug-in for a German magazine, it was absolutely impossible to even get hold of the actual time constants of the unit. I was speaking to members of the Abbey Road staff, but they said this was their intellectual property and they would not wish to disclose any further details.

I reckon the REDD.47 is pretty different from the V72, but I do not have much special information. It is built around a different set of tubes, though. Whereas there are two EF804s pentodes inside the V72, the REDD.47 uses an EF86 pentode and an E88CC triode.

The technical departments of the EMI always wanted to build as much equipment as possible themselves, and they only ever acquired other gear when it was clear that it was far better than their own stuff.
This is why the German designers built the REDD.17 desk for them in the first place. Peter Burkowitz and his team worked for a German daughter of the EMI, and their console developments were considered superior to EMI's own designs.

After all, the V72 should not be replaced because they did not like its quality. The EMI simply wanted to have a cheaper substitute, because the amps were so expensive.
And from a technical/constructional standpoint, their own development was apparently inferior to the German predecessor. You can not beat German Engineering... heh

I strongly doubt there are many original REDD.47 modules floating around, as only a mere three (!) REDD.51 consoles have ever been built.
When the current owner of the REDD.51 acquired the console, two REDD.47 modules were missing. And I was told they really had a hard time finding them. And IIRC finally they did not find any REDD.47 modules, but this very pair that was pulled from this particular desk.
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