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The Phoenix DRS-Q4 vs newer Neve clones
Old 15th March 2018
  #1
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The Phoenix DRS-Q4 vs newer Neve clones

I read through all threads on this forum all of which seem to be a bit older.

I wonder if anyone had both The Phoenix DRS-Q4 and newer Neve clones (Warm, Heritage, BAE etc.)?

I am interested how they compare, especially the eq, and what would you pick as the only preamp?
Old 15th March 2018
  #2
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Hi, that interrest me to. I have only DRS Q4 (2Ch older version) a I am VERY satisfied with this preamp. Nice 3d in OH, punch in snare, toms,bd (I think , DRS takes good from Neve and also API "world"...)
I use it also in master buss. I am going to buy Silver Bullet (LTLO) in this year , so than will be interresting to compare these units ...
Old 16th March 2018
  #3
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If you get the phoenix DRS Q4 hoping to get exactly a neve 1073 sound, you'll be disappointed, but if you try that preamp and EQ out with an open mind, you'll likely find that it's quite a great set of tools. I'm a huge fan of phoenix.
It's not quite as big and thick as a good 1073 clone, but it's more forward and focused than them while holding on to enough of that neve-ish heft to feel like it's still part of the family. As for the EQ specifically, I wouldn't be able to split the hairs so well. One big takeaway though, is that the phoenix is more of a modern reinterpretation of vintage neve sounds but it is NOT a 1073.
Old 16th March 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kobdzey View Post
Hi, that interrest me to. I have only DRS Q4 (2Ch older version) a I am VERY satisfied with this preamp. Nice 3d in OH, punch in snare, toms,bd (I think , DRS takes good from Neve and also API "world"...)
I use it also in master buss. I am going to buy Silver Bullet (LTLO) in this year , so than will be interresting to compare these units ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwood.Studio View Post
If you get the phoenix DRS Q4 hoping to get exactly a neve 1073 sound, you'll be disappointed, but if you try that preamp and EQ out with an open mind, you'll likely find that it's quite a great set of tools. I'm a huge fan of phoenix.
It's not quite as big and thick as a good 1073 clone, but it's more forward and focused than them while holding on to enough of that neve-ish heft to feel like it's still part of the family. As for the EQ specifically, I wouldn't be able to split the hairs so well. One big takeaway though, is that the phoenix is more of a modern reinterpretation of vintage neve sounds but it is NOT a 1073.
Thanks for your input.

I am not looking for the exact 1073 sound and I quite like the idea of this amp doing its own thing.

I read it is a bit more modern but maybe more coloured than Great River.

In the past I used DAV BG1 and GAP Pre73 DLX- the former I found too clean, the latter too muddy. I thought Phoenix would be a nice middle ground.

I heard a sample of Phoenix's DI and thought it was excellent.

I will give it a try. I guess the only caveat is that I am looking for one, do-it-all, preamp but from what I read I think this may fit the bill.
Old 16th March 2018
  #5
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I'd absolutely pin the phoenix as a useable sound on any source. It's very much a "great on many things, still good at everything else" type sound.
It's DEFINITELY not muddy like your GAP pre73.
Comparing it to the Great River, I'd say the phoenix is more forward and focused, with the G.R. being softer and smoother. Both are great sounds, but I've struggled with the bulky lowmids of the G.R. more than I've had to fight with any aspect of the phoenix's tone.
Old 16th March 2018
  #6
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another important thing is, that technical support od Phoenix Audio is really great, Robin is really nice guy
Old 16th March 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwood.Studio View Post
I'd absolutely pin the phoenix as a useable sound on any source. It's very much a "great on many things, still good at everything else" type sound.
It's DEFINITELY not muddy like your GAP pre73.
Comparing it to the Great River, I'd say the phoenix is more forward and focused, with the G.R. being softer and smoother. Both are great sounds, but I've struggled with the bulky lowmids of the G.R. more than I've had to fight with any aspect of the phoenix's tone.
I wonder if Phoenix will work with 1176 (Purple MC77) well- you say it is forward and focused and so is 1176... will that make it sound very precise and clear or will if go over the top?!
Old 17th March 2018
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It sounds really good and it works really well with the 1176!

Very smooth and detailed. I would not describe it as vintage-sounding, to my ears it sounds more modern yet it is very round without any brittleness.

EQ is very transparent, so unlike digital EQs, as you push frequencies there's no graininess or noise... it allows you to really place instruments in the mix.

Really cool piece of equipment!
Old 19th March 2018
  #9
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+1 for phoenix DRSQ4 with an 1176 or MC77. It's a great sound and that mc77 will bring even more depth and dimensionality to a vocal passed through the phoenix.
Old 27th February 2019
  #10
Slightly old thread, dunno if OP is still interested but maybe someone will find this useful regardless.

I did a little preamp shootout at my home with Phoenix drs q4 mkii vs Neve Portico 5012. Just acoustic guitar. I don't know how the 5012 compares to Neve clones by Warm and BAE etc. What I can tell you was that the 5012 had a noticeable low-mid emphasis compared to Phoenix. I can also tell you I'm selling the 5012 and getting 2 more channels of Phoenix, bringing me up to 8. I'm a fanboy. The Phoenix had more detail and clarity, and was more balanced tonally. It sounds quite present and bold so I suspect the upper mids might have some extra kind of coloration, but I'd really be hard pressed to say any freq area really was particularly pushed. I'd say beautifully balanced from bottom to top. And for my taste anyway it's just an ideal marriage of pristine detail with transformer 'size.' The Neve seemed a bit soft and cloudy by comparison. It's a very nice pre really but I preferred the Phoenix by some distance.

Side note, also in the shoot out were the much maligned SSL x rack preamps, the SuperAnalogue ones. Hate to say it but they were probably my favorite. They had a sparkle to them and just a hyper detail that was beautiful. I'm still getting more Phoenix though as they are really world class, and in other scenarios would doubtless be superior.
Old 28th February 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
Slightly old thread, dunno if OP is still interested but maybe someone will find this useful regardless.

I did a little preamp shootout at my home with Phoenix drs q4 mkii vs Neve Portico 5012. Just acoustic guitar. I don't know how the 5012 compares to Neve clones by Warm and BAE etc. What I can tell you was that the 5012 had a noticeable low-mid emphasis compared to Phoenix. I can also tell you I'm selling the 5012 and getting 2 more channels of Phoenix, bringing me up to 8. I'm a fanboy. The Phoenix had more detail and clarity, and was more balanced tonally. It sounds quite present and bold so I suspect the upper mids might have some extra kind of coloration, but I'd really be hard pressed to say any freq area really was particularly pushed. I'd say beautifully balanced from bottom to top. And for my taste anyway it's just an ideal marriage of pristine detail with transformer 'size.' The Neve seemed a bit soft and cloudy by comparison. It's a very nice pre really but I preferred the Phoenix by some distance.

Side note, also in the shoot out were the much maligned SSL x rack preamps, the SuperAnalogue ones. Hate to say it but they were probably my favorite. They had a sparkle to them and just a hyper detail that was beautiful. I'm still getting more Phoenix though as they are really world class, and in other scenarios would doubtless be superior.
I posted this almost a year ago when I was looking for a preamp. I was initially going to get a Heritage but was put off by them constantly moving their delivery date.

I went with the Phoenix in the end and I am so glad I did. Sounds superb, with very powerful eq, and top build quality. Wonderful piece of equipment.
Old 1st March 2019
  #12
Awesome, yeah I agree, there's not a lot to not love about them. I bought a DRS Q4 mkii when I saw they dropped the price to 1300$. They have the new improved model now so I guess they're just selling the old ones off. Well, I had it for 3 days and bought another. As soon as I patched it into my mixing rig the vivid tone just jumped right out of the speaker. And when I engaged the EQ and pushed it with some bass heavy stuff and heard it get all toasty and rich I nearly crapped myself. A month later I have 4 of them. Very psyched about this little sidecar. What is up with that EQ?? You can turn those dials a long way in either direction and still get a plausible sound, very forgiving. Digging the 1k6 band a lot, just a little more focus without abrasiveness and the low bands have some serious body to them. Great stuff.
Old 1st March 2019
  #13
Yea I've been eyeing these since I noticed the price drop... Problem is, I just don't really need a new pre
But, the eq def brings more versatility to the party...

Anyone compare these to Daking Mic/Pre Eq's?
Old 1st March 2019
  #14
The thing I couldn't resist was that 2 ch of pre + eq actually costs less than 2 ch of their 500 series eq. Or I guess they had a price drop too. Once I got one I felt like I had to get more before they sold these off and only the 2700$ version was available.

Man, I'm really curious about the tone of these vs the Daking as well. We could try reamping something with EQ in both. The other strip I'm curious about is the focusrite. The Phoenix definitely has the fewest EQ choices of all these. It's basically a tone re-shaper, it's nothing like using an SSL to really sculpt something. The tone out of the EQ is just lovely though, and it can give you a really ballsy 1073-esque sound if you get it to saturate. The lows and low mids that is. Otherwise it's just a slightly flattering tone betterer, that sounds very natural.
Old 1st March 2019
  #15
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The Phoenix stuff (I have a DRS-8) is simply fantastic. I want to say Geoff Tanner and some others are responsible for Phoenix Audio, but don't quote me on that, will do some research and post on that subject...

In any case, it feels very Neve, while also doing its own thing that is damn cool. You do not have the EQ options of a 1073, of course, but as a preamp, it's phenomenal. Definitely more weight to it than the 1073 I own, a modern AMS, which is also fantastic. By weight, I mean a low end response larger than that of the 1073 with EQ zeroed out, but somehow never seems to get muddy. Transient response is classic Neve, and with a built in "fader" to saturate to taste before entering your DAW. I met some of the guys at SXSW and I guess my rantings were enough to earn a T-Shirt...or maybe they just wanted me to go away! Really amazing pres. I am a modular hybrid guy, but if they ever built a console....
Old 1st March 2019
  #16
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Furthermore, I do not own any of their EQ's (I should). I can assure you the preamp is an absolute home run. Been using my unit for 5+ and it still blows me away.
Old 1st March 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OceanMan View Post
The Phoenix stuff (I have a DRS-8) is simply fantastic. I want to say Geoff Tanner and some others are responsible for Phoenix Audio, but don't quote me on that, will do some research and post on:
Incorrect Shaun Levique is Phoenix audio.

Agree that they’re farking amazing and my desert island pre
Old 1st March 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut View Post
Incorrect Shaun Levique is Phoenix audio.

Agree that they’re farking amazing and my desert island pre
Ah there we go. Thank you
Old 1st March 2019
  #19
I believe Geoff Tanner was briefly involved with them at the very start but left soon after to start his own company. Read that somewhere.

I'm very interested by that comment it has more weight and low end than a 1073. I found with acoustic guitar it did not have as much of a low mid bump as the Portico 5012. It sounded brighter and with more of an upper mid emphasis, basically lighter and more detailed. I was thinking it may be good for classical recording even. But then I've mixed through these and gotten the low end to saturate like a m********er and it's really impressive, gigantic and fabulous with harmonic richness.
Old 1st March 2019
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
I believe Geoff Tanner was briefly involved with them at the very start but left soon after to start his own company. Read that somewhere.

I'm very interested by that comment it has more weight and low end than a 1073. I found with acoustic guitar it did not have as much of a low mid bump as the Portico 5012. It sounded brighter and with more of an upper mid emphasis, basically lighter and more detailed. I was thinking it may be good for classical recording even. But then I've mixed through these and gotten the low end to saturate like a m********er and it's really impressive, gigantic and fabulous with harmonic richness.

Re: Geoff Tanner, I did some research, and it sounds like there was and earlier company called Phoenix Audio, founded by Geoff, that became Aurora Audio at some point in the 90's, and Phoenix Audio as we know it today is an entirely different company...not entire sure, but see this article:

Aurora Audio Sidecar |

Couldn't comment on the Phoenix stuff vs. a Portico 5012 as I haven't used any Portico stuff as of yet for some reason. I am very pleased with front end currently. Neve, API, Phoenix, and Audient seem to be a pretty complementary mix. But I'm always on the prowl I'm sure it kicks butt.
Old 1st March 2019
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
The thing I couldn't resist was that 2 ch of pre + eq actually costs less than 2 ch of their 500 series eq. Or I guess they had a price drop too. Once I got one I felt like I had to get more before they sold these off and only the 2700$ version was available.

Man, I'm really curious about the tone of these vs the Daking as well. We could try reamping something with EQ in both. The other strip I'm curious about is the focusrite. The Phoenix definitely has the fewest EQ choices of all these. It's basically a tone re-shaper, it's nothing like using an SSL to really sculpt something. The tone out of the EQ is just lovely though, and it can give you a really ballsy 1073-esque sound if you get it to saturate. The lows and low mids that is. Otherwise it's just a slightly flattering tone betterer, that sounds very natural.
Yea I'm just curious as to the daking comparison because both seem to be in that fast-transient/mid-forward/crisp kind of camp. I have one daking mic pre/eq now and am debating picking up a 2nd one for a stereo option, or the phoenix...

The price is pretty right for a 2 channel pre/eq, even though its is just a few freq points...
Old 1st March 2019
  #22
I don't think it's entirely a different company. From what I read David Rees and Geoff Tanner are both ex-Neve guys and the business originally started out servicing pre 90s Neve consoles. I can't say the history accurately, but one or both of them designed this output stage that could be fitted into older Neve modules as a replacement. And that's the output buffer in the DRS preamp. I believe Geoff left and all the designs are a collaboration between Rees and Leveque. And then the company went through some upheaval and moved shop from UK to California, but Tanner had left before that anyway. But it's very much the same company with the same designs, just they've improved the manufacturing process and it's under new leadership. Probably a bit like Tonelux being bought out but it's still the product that Wolff developed. And as far as I know, Rees, who designed the 2254 compressor for Neve, never left but is older now.
Old 2nd March 2019
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szyam View Post
Yea I'm just curious as to the daking comparison because both seem to be in that fast-transient/mid-forward/crisp kind of camp. I have one daking mic pre/eq now and am debating picking up a 2nd one for a stereo option, or the phoenix...

The price is pretty right for a 2 channel pre/eq, even though its is just a few freq points...
My first high end outboard EQ but I couldn’t be more pleased with a purchase than I am with my DRS-Q4 mkii. The EQ isn’t the most flexible, but the frequencies are well selected and it never sounds bad. For mono signals you can daisychain the channels. I’ve done that once when I wanted to boost at 6k and cut at 1.6k at the same time.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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Anyone have any thoughts on The Phoenix Audio DRS-Q4 Mk2 as compared to something like the WA Tonebeast? I know they are probably very different soundwise but just wondering if anyone has any experience with both of them? I'm looking at the the Phoenix Audio to compliment a VP28 but was also interested in getting something that I could easily manipulate tones with like the tonebeast. Thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recarcar View Post
Anyone have any thoughts on The Phoenix Audio DRS-Q4 Mk2 as compared to something like the WA Tonebeast? I know they are probably very different soundwise but just wondering if anyone has any experience with both of them? I'm looking at the the Phoenix Audio to compliment a VP28 but was also interested in getting something that I could easily manipulate tones with like the tonebeast. Thanks!
I haven’t used both but Phoenix is really, really good. I believe its EQ will allow you to shape sounds much more than varying colour of a preamp.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Phoenix pres are capable of a wide range of color, that's one of their strengths. Haven't tried a TB pre, it obviously seems designed to give different types of coloration. Something to keep in mind though, quality. I used to own a Neve 5012 pre. I thought between that, and the silk option, and then a Phoenix DRS which could be run, clean, subtly colored, or all out toasted, I'd have a ton of options. However when I got to know the Phoenix I discovered I just liked it so much better than the Neve that having those options no longer seemed appealing. I sold it to get another DRS Q4. My point though is you need to get something you really like and are jazzed about using. I like that I can get a wide range of sounds out of the DRS but what I like more is the fact that the sounds I do get make me so happy I don't wonder if I should try something else. YMMV. Better try them and see what YOU like. Typical GS advice but it's so true. There's nothing more important than plugging in and really getting off on the sound you're getting, and you won't know til you try it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_r View Post
I haven’t used both but Phoenix is really, really good. I believe its EQ will allow you to shape sounds much more than varying colour of a preamp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
Phoenix pres are capable of a wide range of color, that's one of their strengths. Haven't tried a TB pre, it obviously seems designed to give different types of coloration. Something to keep in mind though, quality. I used to own a Neve 5012 pre. I thought between that, and the silk option, and then a Phoenix DRS which could be run, clean, subtly colored, or all out toasted, I'd have a ton of options. However when I got to know the Phoenix I discovered I just liked it so much better than the Neve that having those options no longer seemed appealing. I sold it to get another DRS Q4. My point though is you need to get something you really like and are jazzed about using. I like that I can get a wide range of sounds out of the DRS but what I like more is the fact that the sounds I do get make me so happy I don't wonder if I should try something else. YMMV. Better try them and see what YOU like. Typical GS advice but it's so true. There's nothing more important than plugging in and really getting off on the sound you're getting, and you won't know til you try it.
Thank you! I am going to get the DRS Q4. I had the chance to borrow one for a few days and have liked almost all the results I have gotten from it! Thanks again for the advice!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Congrats, I think it's a pretty special sounding piece.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recarcar View Post
Anyone have any thoughts on The Phoenix Audio DRS-Q4 Mk2 as compared to something like the WA Tonebeast? I know they are probably very different soundwise but just wondering if anyone has any experience with both of them? I'm looking at the the Phoenix Audio to compliment a VP28 but was also interested in getting something that I could easily manipulate tones with like the tonebeast. Thanks!
I tested out both against my Metric Halo ULN8 pres (very clean). The Tonebeast ($425) sounded good and has a few more options for color over the DRS...but its one channel. I ended up keeping the DRS. The color of the DRS transformers sounded great plus you get 2 channels of really smooth tone shaping EQ for mixbus duties. Definitely a quality piece of gear. At $1000 its a no brainer. Only complaint is the red knobs on the DRS are hard to see (might get new knobs with better markings) and the mic/line button stays on all the time (weird).

Last edited by AudioKemestry; 1 week ago at 01:15 AM.. Reason: Typo
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