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Neve 1073 DPA(D) - Gain / Trim balance - Setting correctly? 500 Series Preamps
Old 6th October 2010
  #1
Gear Head
 

Neve 1073 DPA(D) - Gain / Trim balance - Setting correctly?

Dear board members,

as the subject implies, this thread is about analyzing the AMS Neve 1073 DPA's Gain (1st gain stage) / Trim (2nd gain stage) balance. I've not found any detailed information in the manual and AMS did not respond my email either.

I remember reading a thread where Mr. Geoff Tanner suggested to generally set these kind of "double gain stage" preamps as (quoting most of these lines) "Trim/Output to maximum and then slowly increasing the stepped Gain control until you have the level you want. If you have the level pot at half rotation (for no good reason) then you throw away X dB of signal which means that the pre has to drive X dB harder to get the same relative level out as when the pot was at maximum. This would eat into the headroom unnecessarily (Mind you, there's nothing stopping you do this if you want to overdrive it from a guitar or whatever)".

The above information makes perfect sense for a microphone signal.

I wonder if this is too valid for a line level signal. What would be an ideal setting for the Line input when you want to have the same input line level on the Output? To my understanding, by adding a maximum Trim of +10 dB you have to decrease -10 dB on the Level gaining to match the exact input signal.

Or would be more appropriate to leave the Trim pot on 0 dB and set the Line level gain too on 0 dB? Which settings make sense using these units to achieve the best signal-to-noise ratio?

I'd welcome if you may want to share your insight and experiance - would be great to hear from you.

Cheers,
Branscobe
Old 7th October 2010
  #2
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Plush's Avatar
Trim is an attenuate and boost control on that unit. So you set the trim to the center and boost or cut the signal from the gain setting on the main red knob.
Old 7th October 2010
  #3
epp
Gear Nut
 

Personally I find signal to noise ratios to hardly ever have anything to do with nothing at all.

Gain staging has everything to do with getting a good sound, so the cliche that goes 'use your ears' is for once appropriate.

Plus finding the gain level that works with your other gear is of .. uhh importance.
Old 7th October 2010
  #4
Gear Head
 

@Plush: That's what I was assuming first. But I did not had any technical specs to be sure and Mr. Geoff Tanner's explanation was quite the opposite of that assumption. Thanks for sharing your knowledge as I assume that leaving the Trim on 0 dB creates a perfect condition for the headroom (and not eating into it like described in my 1st post).

@ebb: Sure, using your ears and technical knowledge in combination might offer you different colourations with the same gear attached plus optimize the headroom which is my intention.

Most of importance had the Line In = Line Out Level question without making the pre "adding more" (colour, drive or boost) than needed. So the channel should mainly be optimized for incoming Line Levels.

Thanks for the answers, I really appreciate guys. Feel free to comment.
Old 8th October 2010
  #5
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Hi

I stand by my quoted comment and have intervened on posts concerning Vintech and other pres where the user was whining about poor headroom but had the output level pot half way down... or whatever.

Most logarithmic/audio taper pots are 20dB down at half rotation. If you look at a P & G fader scale with 0dB at the top, the -20dB is around half way back.

So, if you had the output level pot at half way rotated, it would attenuate the signal from the pre 20dB and mean the pre amp would have to make up that gain to obtain unity gain out of the pre. This raises the signal level on the pre output by 20dB and chews into the input headroom.

Bottom line, the output pot should be kept at maximum or near to maximum and the gain adjusted on the input sensitivity switch.

If that switch has 5dB steps and you need the level lower, turn the gain down on the switch and adjust marginally with the output level control.

All this goes out of the window if you want to overdrive the pre.

PS I add a caveat that I have no clue how AMS-Neve wire the pot on their 1073 (1290) unit. My comments only apply where the unit is set so 0dB on gain switch and fully clockwise on the output level pot = unity gain.

heh
Old 8th October 2010
  #6
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Hi

Curiosity overtook me and I went to the AMS-Neve site. The 1073DPA/DPD do, indeed have a +/-10dB trim instead of an output level pot.

In practice, that pot is a 20dB attenuator and the output stage has 10dB extra gain.

The same rule applies if you run it at -10dB and crank the gain up 10dB. Your input headroom would go down proportionately.

Old 9th October 2010
  #7
Gear Head
 

Sorry to be a thicko but what is it you guys are advising? Keep the trim at full and only use the input step gain?
Old 9th October 2010
  #8
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Plush's Avatar
That control, as I mentioned earlier, is a cut and boost control.

Use the trim pot in the center "zero" position.

In this position you read what your actual gain is on the main red knob and then attenuate or boost your signal as required. This method offers you a clean signal.

To overdrive the mic signal, adding grit and distortion, turn up the gain on the main red knob and "overdrive" the input. Adjust the trim pot to match this overdriven sound output to the console or next processor device.
Old 9th October 2010
  #9
Gear Addict
 

TG2

Same thing on the Chandler TG2 except that unit's zero output gain seems to be zero at the minimum. DPA seems to go negative (left). Is that correct?
Old 12th February 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

GM, yes, at least it is displayed like this: On the left (min.) it states -10dB, 0dB on 12o'clock and +10 dB on the right (max).
Old 28th May 2011
  #11
Gear Head
 

Sorry for my late reply on this topic Mr. Tanner. So if I got you right and it really is a 20dB attenuator as you've suggested, then setting the trim to +10db would give the optimal headroom usage on the DPA/DPD units. Thanks for your answer in advance
Old 16th May 2012
  #12
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pmzilfo's Avatar
 

shame this thread ended just as the most important question had to be answered! Why does it always happen this way? Mr. Tanner says that the output pot is in practice a 20dB attenuator although the markings clearly say -10 to +10. So what is it? Should we have our trim set to +10 or not? Is +10 really just 0? and -10 actually -20?

Quote:
Originally Posted by branscobe View Post
Sorry for my late reply on this topic Mr. Tanner. So if I got you right and it really is a 20dB attenuator as you've suggested, then setting the trim to +10db would give the optimal headroom usage on the DPA/DPD units. Thanks for your answer in advance
Old 16th May 2012
  #13
Gear Head
 
Techone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmzilfo View Post
shame this thread ended just as the most important question had to be answered! Why does it always happen this way? Mr. Tanner says that the output pot is in practice a 20dB attenuator although the markings clearly say -10 to +10. So what is it? Should we have our trim set to +10 or not? Is +10 really just 0? and -10 actually -20?
It is a shame, I'm also very interested to know more about this. So please Mr Tanner your input would be greatly appreciated.
Old 16th May 2012
  #14
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hasbeen's Avatar
There is no output attenuation on the AML ez1073 or the Heritage either, which begs the question: Is there a time and place you want to overdrive a "1073 style" pre? If so, why was there no such attenuation on the original? How can one overdrive a pre such as the Heritage or AML in lieu of a knob?
Old 16th May 2012
  #15
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Hi

A +/-10db attenuator is a 20dB attenuator with a 10dB gain amplifier following it.

When these modules were fitted into a console, you pulled the channel fader back.

Now they are not in a console, you either put in a rack with an output level pot or you put a fixed attenuator, like a Shure, in line with the output.

Old 16th May 2012
  #16
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hasbeen's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff_T View Post
Hi

A +/-10db attenuator is a 20dB attenuator with a 10dB gain amplifier following it.

When these modules were fitted into a console, you pulled the channel fader back.

Now they are not in a console, you either put in a rack with an output level pot or you put a fixed attenuator, like a Shure, in line with the output.

Most of my confusion comes from the desire to achieve the original 1073 sound with any 1073 "clone" and no console. Without the console and faders etc factoring in I think there is confusion about how hard you need to drive the components to find that "sweet spot"

That is why you are hearing people with the ability to attenuate their preamps output (say the Vintech) say they like to crank the input gain and back off on the output trim.

Then we hear it is best to leave the output all the way up and simply adjust the gain going in. Doesn't that eliminate the possibility in some cases to overdrive in the search for some kind of mojo?
Old 16th May 2012
  #17
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Hi

If you have the output pot all the way up, you have the maximum headroom.

If an audio taper pot and you have it at half rotation, you have chewed 20dB off your input headroom as you have to run the preamp 20dB hotter to get the same output level.

So it depends what you want, and is achieved by the turn of the pot. I don't really see what the problem is... Except where no pot exists but there are ways around that I have already mentioned.

Posted from my iPhone
Old 21st July 2012
  #18
Gear Head
 

Sorry I must be an idiot but I can't seem to find a definitive answer here...

I will be renting a 1073 DPA + a U87 for a vocal recording next week.

Do I leave the TRIM at 0, or should I turn it all the way up to 10 for the best result??

And use the red knob to get the level I need going in DAW??

thanks in advance!

Last edited by twitter; 21st July 2012 at 07:56 PM.. Reason: forgot something
Old 21st July 2012
  #19
Gear Head
 

and should I use Hi-Z or Lo-Z?? (with U87)

thanks!
Old 21st July 2012
  #20
Lives for gear
Set the red knob at 30 on the side marked "mic" don't worry about trim, you can only adjust very little from there should you want to.

Try both HiZ and LoZ with the 87 you will hear one setting a little more scooped with less bass.
Old 21st July 2012
  #21
Gear Head
 

Ok here's the sort of answer I think you're looking for:

If you want the cleanest signal with the most headroom, set the output to maximum and use the input to get a good recording level.

If you'd like to introduce some "neve" color to the track, pull the output back a bit and the input up a bit to get that same recording level. The more extreme you are with this the more color you'll get.

Use your ears, whatever sounds best is right. It really is that simple.

Regarding the impedance option, again use your ears as mentioned above, if you'd rather set and forget with your U87 set it to the high z option, the low z option didn't often do good things to condensers.
Old 21st July 2012
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
How about if the unsure re-read the part where I suggest what to do from the AMS-Neve DPA / DPD manual. It says that you have a -10 / 0 / +10 variable output trim.

So if you want unity gain you set the trim at the detent (12 noon)--the zero position. Here, since no extra gain is added and there is no attenuation, you can read the amount of gain you are applying to the signal by reading the gain position of the red knob.

See where you are in your gain staging by looking at the input of your console or by checking what the input level is on your piece of gear next down the line from the Neve in the signal chain. If you have too much gain there, move first a click down with the red knob for less gain. Make your fine adjust with the trim control.

I do follow what Geoff suggests too. If you want the max. headroom and cleanest signal, start with the trim control all the way clockwise (+10). Adjust the red knob for proper gain. In this position, you have more input headroom because you are being conservative with your red knob input gain.

For the person that asked, impedance selection on this unit is entirely a preference item. Just select by listening.
Old 22nd July 2012
  #23
Gear Head
 

ok thanks! So if I understand correctly the TRIM button is a post pre fader in the form of a knob.

@Ziko ok I'll use the Hi-Z, I also read this advice on the Neumann site btw

thanks all
Old 22nd July 2012
  #24
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Tashez's Avatar
 

When I record my vocals using my BAE 1073 its gain cranked to at least 4 o'clock and the trim down . That's how I like it . Isn't that beauty of a 1073 ? Use your ears .If it sounds great does it matter where the knobs are .Is the BAE completely different to the other clones ?
Old 22nd July 2012
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
Astrain's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tashez View Post
Is the BAE completely different to the other clones ?
To my knowledge BAE makes one if not the most accurate 1073 replica, ...


About how to set the knobs to achieve maximum headroom,...taken from the BAE website:

Tips

Set the gain knob (red Marconi) around 20 on the dial and set the output (grey knob) fully clockwise. This gives you the highest headroom and cleanest signal path. Every click is in 5db increments so if one click is too hot, attenuate the output to get in between the 5db steps.


Im waiting for my BAE 1073mp to arrive next week, so it would be interesting to know how experienced engineers set the gain knobs for vocals, guitars, kick, snare, just to have some starting settings.
Old 22nd July 2012
  #26
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Hi

The correct way of setting any preamp up for maximum headroom is to first set the output level pot to maximum.

Then turn the input gain knob up until your source is amplified to an adequate level on your VU reference meters.

It matters not what the source is, you just follow the same procedure.

Posted from my iPhone
Old 23rd July 2012
  #27
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hasbeen's Avatar
I have been experimenting with this quandary. With the Vintech X73i, the Vintech 573, the SCA N72 and lately the AML ez1073. With the ez1073 I did as Geoff_T suggested and used an attenuator.

Put simply the bottom line is how you like the sound. I can tell you that these preamps sound GREAT no matter what. If I use a mic with more noise like a tube mic, naturally that noise will be amplified when I back off the output gain and crank the input. Simple right?

Ok, how noisy is your mic and how much noise can you live with? Well, in some songs I really liked the way cranking the input made the vocal sound. A bit more grainy, or in your face or more "compressed". Whichever way you want to describe it.

On the other hand, the sound of a beautiful preamp is just the ticket on some recordings, depending on the mic and how busy the song may be. The ez1073 is a delight with no EQ and just enough gain to hit the converter at the proper level.

How insane does it sound to take an 1176 and push all of the buttons in to get that overdriven tone? In terms of proper gain staging it seems just downright rude. The term headroom goes out the window in leu of an explosive sound.

Same thing here. There is no one with a report card telling you what to do. We can spend endless hours obsessing on what is technically correct and we can just do what sounds good to us. If it is horribly wrong I should hope you will notice it. If it sounds amazing you may have just discovered an "all button" trick of your own.

I remember seeing Janes Addiction in the late 80's and was shocked when I noticed a plethora of foot pedals on Perry Farrells mic. Hey he can't do that can he? Well nothing is shocking after all is it?
Old 16th November 2012
  #28
Gear Head
Gain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff_T View Post
Hi

The correct way of setting any preamp up for maximum headroom is to first set the output level pot to maximum.

Then turn the input gain knob up until your source is amplified to an adequate level on your VU reference meters.

It matters not what the source is, you just follow the same procedure.

Posted from my iPhone

This is my experience as well. .
Old 15th September 2013
  #29
Headroom Setting 18dB/26dB

Can Geoff pitch in regarding the 18dB / 26dB headroom setting switch on later models of 1073DPD? The DR of the unit is listed in the manual at the 26dB setting so I'm thinking a rule of thumb might be:-
  • Clean - output trim at maximum switch set to 26dB
  • Coloured - output trim down switch set to 18dB

Any opinions (especially Geoff's) welcome.
Old 15th September 2013
  #30
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E.rOk.stA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziko View Post
Ok here's the sort of answer I think you're looking for:

If you want the cleanest signal with the most headroom, set the output to maximum and use the input to get a good recording level.

If you'd like to introduce some "neve" color to the track, pull the output back a bit and the input up a bit to get that same recording level. The more extreme you are with this the more color you'll get.

Use your ears, whatever sounds best is right. It really is that simple.

Regarding the impedance option, again use your ears as mentioned above, if you'd rather set and forget with your U87 set it to the high z option, the low z option didn't often do good things to condensers.
What do you mean, Low Z didn't do good things to consensers? It's made almost every LDC mic I run through it come to life including 414's, Phanthera, Ref C and M149.
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