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Stam Audio - SA4000 MK2
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1021
Quote:
Originally Posted by McWreckinBall View Post
I HOPE mines defective. I would love for the transformer mod to be at the same volume.
Double check the balanced/unbalanced issue that somebody else mentioned. I have some unbalanced (but still +4) line ins on my console, and it's always sort of a grab bag how balanced stuff is going to interact with it, and depends often on whether I use balanced or unbalanced cables in the patch. In my chain with the SA-4000 I am definitely going out of it into a balanced input, and hear zero gain change with the transformers engaged.

Alright, just to get to the bottom of this, I tried inserting it on the unbalanced 2 bus inserts on the console, and yup, the transformers bump the gain when engaged. So yes, the output has to go into a balanced input with balanced cables to avoid this.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1022
Gear Maniac
 
McWreckinBall's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by evoltap View Post
Double check the balanced/unbalanced issue that somebody else mentioned. I have some unbalanced (but still +4) line ins on my console, and it's always sort of a grab bag how balanced stuff is going to interact with it, and depends often on whether I use balanced or unbalanced cables in the patch. In my chain with the SA-4000 I am definitely going out of it into a balanced input, and hear zero gain change with the transformers engaged.

Alright, just to get to the bottom of this, I tried inserting it on the unbalanced 2 bus inserts on the console, and yup, the transformers bump the gain when engaged. So yes, the output has to go into a balanced input with balanced cables to avoid this.
I'm going in to a patchbay with TRS-XLR cables and TRS-TRS cables going into the line ins/outs of an Apollo x8. When I get some time I'll pull the x8 out of the rack and isolate it with the SA4000 just to remove any variables. But I don't have any gear in my studio that's unbalanced (except for guitar related stuff), and certainly nothing in the rack is unbalanced. I also tried multiple patch points, which should've ruled out faulty cables.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1023
Quote:
Originally Posted by McWreckinBall View Post
I'm going in to a patchbay with TRS-XLR cables and TRS-TRS cables going into the line ins/outs of an Apollo x8. When I get some time I'll pull the x8 out of the rack and isolate it with the SA4000 just to remove any variables. But I don't have any gear in my studio that's unbalanced (except for guitar related stuff), and certainly nothing in the rack is unbalanced. I also tried multiple patch points, which should've ruled out faulty cables.
Maybe the bay is unbalanced. I'm a huge fan of the little Behringer cable tester for sniffing out stuff like this.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1024
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by McWreckinBall View Post
I HOPE mines defective. I would love for the transformer mod to be at the same volume.
My Transformer mod does not be have like that. No audible volume difference here.

The mix knob behavior is normal for these units i believe.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1025
Gear Addict
 
SHIRK's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by McWreckinBall View Post
Usability is honestly the worst part of this compressor for me. I'll start first with the threshold. I have a really really really hard time getting a signal to go out LOW enough for this compressor. Most of the time the threshold is all the way down, and I've still got to send a mix out 25db below unity to not trigger any compression. And they're not mastered or even particularly hot mixes either. I see other bus compressors out there that have an extra 5db of play in their thresholds and I honestly really wish this had it. If anyone knows someone that can mod it that way I'd be very interested.
I find the range of the threshold to be an issue as well. With mixes fed from the 2 bus of my vintage Sphere console (At pretty normal levels) I'm finding that I have to keep the SA-4000 threshold almost all the way up with the knob near +15. I don't want a ton of compression on the 2 mix...just a couple dB. I emailed with a Stam tech about this and was told that this is normal and they modeled the SA-4000 mkII to be exactly he same as their original SSL bus comp. Kind of weird behavior in my opinion. Would love to learn about a mod for this.

I also find the VU meter to be really bouncy. Unlike any vu meter in my other gear (API 2500, ADR Compex, UREI, etc) Online research tells me this has something to do with the VU meter buffer circuit design. I know we are supposed to use our ears but sometimes a visual representation is helpful.

Sonics of the unit are fantastic. The Neve mod that I have maybe adds a touch of girth and density but it's not a big difference. Very subtle. Wondering if this has to do with the Neve output card being a simple IC driving the Carnhill output transformer instead of a discrete Output card like orginal Neve gear. Perhaps this was a cost saving measure. For the price paid for one of these SA-4000 mkII's, I'm not upset. It's an excellent sounding compressor with or without the output transformer mod.
Old 1 week ago
  #1026
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHIRK View Post
I find the range of the threshold to be an issue as well. With mixes fed from the 2 bus of my vintage Sphere console (At pretty normal levels) I'm finding that I have to keep the SA-4000 threshold almost all the way up with the knob near +15. I don't want a ton of compression on the 2 mix...just a couple dB. I emailed with a Stam tech about this and was told that this is normal and they modeled the SA-4000 mkII to be exactly he same as their original SSL bus comp. Kind of weird behavior in my opinion. Would love to learn about a mod for this.

I also find the VU meter to be really bouncy. Unlike any vu meter in my other gear (API 2500, ADR Compex, UREI, etc) Online research tells me this has something to do with the VU meter buffer circuit design. I know we are supposed to use our ears but sometimes a visual representation is helpful.

Sonics of the unit are fantastic. The Neve mod that I have maybe adds a touch of girth and density but it's not a big difference. Very subtle. Wondering if this has to do with the Neve output card being a simple IC driving the Carnhill output transformer instead of a discrete Output card like orginal Neve gear. Perhaps this was a cost saving measure. For the price paid for one of these SA-4000 mkII's, I'm not upset. It's an excellent sounding compressor with or without the output transformer mod.
I made the decision purely based on how it sounded vs the BA283 card.

Adding a BA283 card is not expensive (a few dollars) and the price on the gapped transformers from Carnhill is also the same. I tried it and it degraded the sound in a way I did not like for mixbus operation, the non gapped version suited this unit much better.

I guess the American MOD having two 2520 op amps and two low nickel output transformers will be more drastic.

Thank you for your feedback and review
Old 1 week ago
  #1027
Here for the gear
 
strat96's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHIRK View Post
The Neve mod that I have maybe adds a touch of girth and density but it's not a big difference. Very subtle. Wondering if this has to do with the Neve output card being a simple IC driving the Carnhill output transformer instead of a discrete Output card like orginal Neve gear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuanaconda View Post
I guess the American MOD having two 2520 op amps and two low nickel output transformers will be more drastic.

Thank you for your feedback and review

I thought the Neve Mod was a card with discrete transistors?

It sounds like Joshua went the extra mile to ensure that these mods were pleasing. This video compares NEVE and API amps. These aren't part of the SA4000MKIIs so results may vary.


Blind test:

https://youtu.be/jX1AeDYlmwc

Results:

https://youtu.be/4t8jnAnUTNU


Surprisingly, I ended up liking what ended up being the API because it just sounded 'sweeter' to me. I pre-ordered the Neve because of the records that I like the sound of tend to have British origins; of course Neve is neither Trident, SSL, or Helios. The other part of this decision was just my own bias of preferring transistors over integrated circuits. However, at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the sound we are looking for.

In these videos Toni does say the difference between the amps are very minute. Definitely do more listening comparisons if you might be trying to make a decision.

I hope this helps you all out. If anyone comes up with anymore comparisons I would love to hear them, and I would especially love to hear the SA4000MKII on program material with both mods.
Old 1 week ago
  #1028
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuanaconda View Post
I made the decision...
In looking at product pictures on your site, I see both Phillips and Hex-head fasteners used - I would be curious to know the circumstances that would dictate which was used.

I prefer hex- or torx-head fasteners as I'm always afraid the Phillips bit will jump out and possibly scratch the surface. I'm surprised to see so many Phillips fasteners used in audio equipment (looking at p/u bezels on my Gibson right now...).
Old 1 week ago
  #1029
Here for the gear
Has anyone else's got bouncy needles? I was hoping mine would be like the one in George's video: https://youtu.be/TbIjIsBt4fI?t=456 but mine seems to behave more like the Audioscape needles, very bouncy...... anyone else?
Old 1 week ago
  #1030
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality Model View Post
Has anyone else's got bouncy needles? I was hoping mine would be like the one in George's video: https://youtu.be/TbIjIsBt4fI?t=456 but mine seems to behave more like the Audioscape needles, very bouncy...... anyone else?
Mine is bouncy like the Audioscape on the video
Old 1 week ago
  #1031
Lives for gear
 
no genre's Avatar
Mine arrived. I haven't had the opportunity to get it connected yet, but physically everything appears to be fine. It may be a couple more days before I get it connected and can turn it on and turn it up. Looking forward to that.
Old 4 days ago
  #1032
Gear Addict
 
withintheflux's Avatar
Finally received my 4000 with API mod today! It's been a long while.

Sounding good so far. I'm new to the SSL compressor (besides messing with plugins), so I've still got to get acquainted before giving much feedback. But first impressions, FWIW:

-Build quality is really great.
-The "Mix Blend" being additive rather than gain compensated is kindof a bummer, imo. I've gotten really used to the way plugins deal with mix blend. IT's much easier to assess what you're doing when the output is properly compensated. Not a deal breaker tho.
-The API transformer didn't have the specific tone I expected. I own a couple CAPI VP28s and they are very aggressive sounding. Engaging the 4000s transformer button seems to have a softening effect, mellowing the highs. I'll have to mess with it a bit more. For some reason I was expecting it to make things sound more aggressive. It's quite subtle.

Happy to finally get the unit and can definitely vouch for the tone as well as the terrific quality of the build.


(**erased previous comment about mismatched output levels. I believe it was user error. Somehow using an unbalanced ptach cable on my patch bay led to a volume disparity**)

Blake

Last edited by withintheflux; 3 days ago at 05:35 AM..
Old 3 days ago
  #1033
Somebody with good electronics knowledge needs to chime in here about the blend knob. The two pieces of gear that I own with a blend knob are the SA4000mkII and the Lindell 17Xs fet compressor. Both add gain the more you blend.

I think because we have all used plugins with gain compensation and are used to that, but my guess is that it would not be so easy to implement this into hardware without some level of digital brain that's calculating everything. You would probably have to have to have pot itself be a DCA. All this would add cost, and be potentially a sacrifice in the signal.

For the price of these units, it's great there is the addition of the blend knob at all. If you were doing it on a console, you would experience the same thing.
Old 3 days ago
  #1034
Old 3 days ago
  #1035
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by evoltap View Post
Somebody with good electronics knowledge needs to chime in here about the blend knob. The two pieces of gear that I own with a blend knob are the SA4000mkII and the Lindell 17Xs fet compressor. Both add gain the more you blend.
Theres is a muddling of terminology, so much so, that I have recently delivered a custom unit with a blend knob, functioning as a mix knob, while the client actually wanted a crossfader - so we had to take care of that. What I saying is, I would not consider construcing a blend knob as a mix function as an error per se, and its just a matter of getting expectations to match reality.

The typical blend circuit is like a mix circuit, and it functions, so that if you have 100% uncorrelated material, the center actually does not bump the center at all, and all/any correlated material gives a rise in amplitude (typically 6dB for fully correlated, like a pan pot). For this function, we have quite a bit of correlation, so you get the bump.

It can be done with special taper laws, or by replacing the two gang pot that now pans between the two signals for left and right respectively, with a 4 gang, so each pot controls its own function L-clean, R-clean, L-processed, R-processed. It will also require a small modification on the circuit to make this work, and of course, clean has to be wired reverse of processed, to make them interact correctly.

Hope that helps

Gustav
Old 2 days ago
  #1036
Quote:
Originally Posted by Labs View Post
Theres is a muddling of terminology, so much so, that I have recently delivered a custom unit with a blend knob, functioning as a mix knob, while the client actually wanted a crossfader - so we had to take care of that. What I saying is, I would not consider construcing a blend knob as a mix function as an error per se, and its just a matter of getting expectations to match reality.

The typical blend circuit is like a mix circuit, and it functions, so that if you have 100% uncorrelated material, the center actually does not bump the center at all, and all/any correlated material gives a rise in amplitude (typically 6dB for fully correlated, like a pan pot). For this function, we have quite a bit of correlation, so you get the bump.

It can be done with special taper laws, or by replacing the two gang pot that now pans between the two signals for left and right respectively, with a 4 gang, so each pot controls its own function L-clean, R-clean, L-processed, R-processed. It will also require a small modification on the circuit to make this work, and of course, clean has to be wired reverse of processed, to make them interact correctly.

Hope that helps

Gustav
Thanks, that does help. So would this be a significantly higher cost to implement?
Old 2 days ago
  #1037
Village Idiot
 
Labs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by evoltap View Post
Thanks, that does help. So would this be a significantly higher cost to implement?
Youll need a 4 gang pot (or switch) - cost depends on how much you spend on it.

Gustav
Old 1 day ago
  #1038
Gear Addict
 
01010110's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by withintheflux View Post
-The API transformer didn't have the specific tone I expected. I own a couple CAPI VP28s and they are very aggressive sounding. Engaging the 4000s transformer button seems to have a softening effect, mellowing the highs. I'll have to mess with it a bit more. For some reason I was expecting it to make things sound more aggressive. It's quite subtle.
Nice to hear that it is subtle, I wouldn't like it any other way. But I would also think that it should make it sound a bit more aggressive instead of softer. Has anyone else received their comp with API mod? Thoughts on the sound of this mod?
Old 1 day ago
  #1039
Gear Addict
 
withintheflux's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 01010110 View Post
Nice to hear that it is subtle, I wouldn't like it any other way. But I would also think that it should make it sound a bit more aggressive instead of softer. Has anyone else received their comp with API mod? Thoughts on the sound of this mod?

Hey there.

After a bit more time with it I'd still contend that the API transformer is fairly subtle but "softer" wouldn't be my choice of words to describe it. It's more harmonically rich with the transformer on and therefore less clean but not necessarily softer. Just a bit more saturated.
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