KAHAYAN 12K72 by Midas
It is not surprising that some of the equipment manufactured by Pablo Kahayan have been nominated for their innovation and design. If we should be proud of something in Europe and more specifically in Spain, it is to have a manufacturer which produces all its products by hand in the continent and which has a range of first level products at the height of any top world´s manufacturers. Since the 1990s, Pablo has maintained the manufacture and maintenance of recording studio equipment throughout the whole peninsula and Europe.
Therefore, Kahayan is a great connoisseur of most of the mixers and High End equipment that has been manufactured, its models have been meticulously designed and manufactured following the standards, tradition and concepts of the greatest references in terms of manufacturing recording studio equipment is concerned. The Kahayan 12K72 is a microphone preamp with class A topology and discrete transformer that recreates the sound of one of the best and classic preamps made in the 70´s.
Originally the Neve 1272 model was designed to work as a line signal amplifier, which in turn was used as a microphone preamplifier in the talkback section of the Neve mixers at the time. Later it was converted to the 1290 model as a preamplifier, sharing this exactly the same amplification section as the well-known and also classic Neve 1073 model. With the difference that it also incorporates an equalization section which the 1290 did not originally incorporate.
Available in two versions of one or two channels in the size of a rack unit. True to the original, it is built with the same basic circuit design and components equal to those of the classic module of the Neve 1272, which offers that classic thick tone per warm at the same time characteristic in the transformers used by Ruper Neve as the Carnhill, Marinair or St Ives.
This unit has an input attenuator, output level adjustment and the same and famous Carnhill input and output transformers present in the original Neve 1272 model. The convenient power supply is part of the main unit, it has custom power transformers of low noise level which add to the overall quality of the construction. On the front we have polarity inversion switch switches, phantom power with an activation LED and input selector to switch between microphone and line signal. We also have one or two line / instrument inputs depending on the version of the unit as well as an on / off switch for the unit.
On the back we have the connection to the power supply, xlr outputs balanced and unbalanced by 1/4 "Jack. There is also a fuse, something very practical which avoids having to disassemble the unit in order to replace it.
Just take the pre-box, and due to its weight, we can perfectly check the quality of the components with which the Kahayan 12K72 is manufactured. There are not many times which we can say that the equipments sound what they weigh, but in the case of 12K72 that theory could be confirmed. It is striking that its power supply is not included inside as if it happens in some other models of different manufacturers, which is something that always benefits the internal cooling of the equipment, improving and isolating in this way the conductivity of some of its internal components.
As you all know, all the parameters of the equipments usually interact with each other, so it is always the consumer's taste to find that optimal point in the adjustment of the equipment untill achieving the desired type of sound. Something that is interesting is to be able to use it in addition to the Epsilon 500-32 summing mixer of Kahayan. In the same way we can use to pass our mixes through it, as well as make recordings of instruments per line as if they were a D.I, being a luxury in that case. One of the things that also caught my attention was the high degree of heat dissipation by the power supply, something that after hours of use, it is maintained without acquiring temperature.
The 12K72 is an extremely versatile preamp, practically we would say that the Kahayan offers us the sound of different previous x3 in a single unit, since if we make the pertinent combinations between the gain of the input transformer and the output, we can obtain different timbral qualities of the preamplifier Therefore it could be said that this offers us three completely different sounds through a single unit.
If we adjust the input level of the gain under a minimum value and on the contrary we drastically increase the level of the output transformer of the output of the unit, we can obtain a more transparent sound and devoid of an excessive character, which does not stop being a at the same time, a solid and rich sound which reproduces the whole timbral tessitura. Therefore, in situations where we need to capture a more transparent and neutral sound, this combination would be the most appropriate for that purpose.
Engineers like Rafa Sardina and musicians like Paco de Lucia, Enrique Morente, Tomatito or Vicente Amigo have used the 12K72.
Another second combination which offers us another type of sound would be to excite the preamp by placing the input gain up to approximately half of its length (-35db / -40db) we would obtain a sound with some more character but the time remaining silky and warm, without becoming aggressive or "harsh".
This was the sound which Paco de Lucia used when recording his guitars, and for which the 12K72 it is employed by several of the best guitarist in the world of Flamenco to achieve that sound with character but at the same time velvety and warm so acclaimed in some of the models of previous Neve, which due to the darkness of the sound, did not finish being totally satisfied until they discovered the model 12K72 of Kahayan.
Finally, if we kindly excite the preamp´s input gain and on the contrary, we attenuate the transformer of the output at a value which does not distort or "clip" our converters, we could obtain an aggressive sound and with much character, sound which can be found in musical genres such as Rock or Pop. Really what surprises most of its sound is the claw and consistency in the mid-range range, while possessing a lot of definition and sharpness. Perhaps the difference between the original 1272 Neve and the Kahayan 12K72 is the adjustment of the values towards a sound perhaps with a little more air in the high frequencies with respect to the original model of Neve, but without becoming aggressive or strident as it happens with some other models from the English manufacturer. This would be a pragmatic point between the somewhat darker sound which has the original model and the most modern Neve with more treble model that exists. Therefore, Paul Kahayan seems to have studied meticulously all the models of the English manufacturer extrapolating the best of each series to apply it to his exclusive model of previous.
Few are the equipment which sounds to my ears as pleasantly and as musical as high-end valve equipment does. However, there are some previous models like the classic model of the Kahayan 12K72, which does not include tubes in its construction comes to sound with a richness, warmth and dimensional opening space very similar to that of some of the previous class A valves. In addition to being able to use the 1272 to record, this can also be used to improve the stereo mix. Once we have completed a complete mix, and want to add some life to the sterile digital world, taking out the signal through the outputs of the recording interface and entering them into the Kahayan 12K72 preamp, and then exiting the preamp to re-enter the recording interface and re-recording the signal to a new stereo track. Adding thickness, dimension and "Glue" to your mix in this way. Which makes it very interesting to acquire the x2 channels stereo version. If we take into account everything that this model of preamplifier offers us and how versatile the classic 12K72 from Kahayan is, its price is perhaps even more economical compared to some similar models launched to the market by other manufacturers.
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