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Seventh Circle Audio in pro situations.....holy cow!! Condenser Microphones
Old 21st March 2010
  #1
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Mr. Light's Avatar
Seventh Circle Audio in pro situations.....holy cow!!

A lot has been said about these preamps and I've I yet to hear a negative review. I purchased and assembled a kit because of the raves they get and also affordability.

First off, I had VERY little soldering experience before this and no equipment. I went out and spent good money on a great solder gun as opposed to trying it with the $10 radio shack special. I can't convey enough how good of a decision that was.

The assembly looks like a beast but the instructions and pictures are so thorough I was able to assemble 4 N72's without a single glitch. I had a couple questions throughout the assembly process, I'd send an email to Tim and always had a reply by the end of the day. The first couple pre's took a long time but the rest were fairly quick. At the end of a few weeks (working in my spare time) I had an 8 channel pre with 4 N72s and 4 A12s.

In use: I got this thing for the N72s because that's what most people rave about. People love their Neve's (and copies). My big surprise was the A12s. I can't believe how good they sound. The 72 sounds good but the A12 sounds insane. I've been in the business professionally for the last 15 years, been in and around numerous professional recordings and worked in literally the best LA studios. That being said, friends and colleagues soil themselves when they hear the recordings that come out of my home studio. I'm not tooting my own horn here, no pants were soiled before I put the SCA's in action. I now keep a roll of toilet paper next to the monitors

Back to the pre's.......I run through different combinations of mics and pres every time I set up for a session. The A12 gets the job 95% of the time. I can't put the sound into words, only describe the feeling it gives me.....it's beyond satisfying. It's beautiful.

I'm currently finishing up an "unplugged" record for a professional band that's sold 5 million records in their existence. The entire thing has been tracked in a studio that cost less than $30k, gear and Protools rig included. Granted it's going to be mixed by a multi-million $ studio but point is, Seventh Circle Audio is an INCREDIBLE bargain. You can't go wrong here, though I lean heavily towards the A12. I will be assembling another unit full of them and a couple J99's.

Sorry for adding another thread but I want people to understand the value of these kits, not to mention the satisfaction of building it yourself.
Old 21st March 2010
  #2
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Slikjmuzik's Avatar
 

That's awesome!! My experiences with a soldering gun are limited, but the times I've made cable or helped put together a patch bay or installed a fan on a pc board of some kind...I feel like I've done a great job....looking at the intructions online I feel like I could get through it, but hearing you say it was pretty easy, again puts the optimism for getting some of these into my mind again. I've always had my eye on them being that Neve, API and Hardy style pres are some of the best all-around pres known to man, so it doesn't hurt to just buy another one and put it together when you need another channel ya know? I might just need to go this direction next...
Old 21st March 2010
  #3
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Soldering gun? Do yourself a favor and get a soldering pencil.

Quote:
friends and colleagues soil themselves when they hear the recordings that come out of my home studio.
They have a pill for that now.
Old 21st March 2010
  #4
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Cookie's Avatar
agreed, I have both n72's and a12's. Rockin!!
Old 22nd March 2010
  #5
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Mr. Light's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris319 View Post
Soldering gun? Do yourself a favor and get a soldering pencil.

They have a pill for that now.
Errr....yes.....that's what I meant. Sorry man
Old 22nd March 2010
  #6
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packagebear's Avatar
 

yes they are awesome.. the J99's are great as well. Just ordered one more j99 an n72 to complete my 2nd rack.. I almost like building them more than using them.... almost.
Old 15th April 2010
  #7
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What opamp did you use in the A12?
Old 16th April 2010
  #8
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mamm7215's Avatar
And have you done the J99's yet? I've got 2 N72's and was looking at 2 J99's for mixing through...
Old 16th April 2010
  #9
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Mr. Light's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalfwayCompetent View Post
What opamp did you use in the A12?
I used the SC25. Haven't tried anything else in there, been happy enough as it is.

I haven't gotten to the J99's yet. Haven't had the time to build nor the money to buy yet .........*looking around the studio for gear to sell off*
Old 16th April 2010
  #10
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redrue's Avatar
 

The SCA product is stellar... across the board.

When I ordered my first N72 I also had no prior electronics experience.
Learned to solder first on a cheap electronics kit from a local
supply store, built a C84, then went on to the N72. I've since
built around 20 kits... mostly for other people.

The N72 is my fave... I love that saturated transformer sound
through the Carnhill.

Great value, great experience.
Old 18th April 2010
  #11
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Mr. Light's Avatar
I recorded a Yamaha B grand yesterday and the N72 sounded better for that application than the A12's.....finally! I used a pair of Rode K2's side by side, facing the sides, under the hood and a Soundelux Ifet7 5ft or so in front. The K2's tend to be a tad bright, so does the piano, the N72 created a very warm, soft sound. Oh yeah, the Rodes ran through a pair of Distressors in Opto mode, tracked in a nice big a$$ room w/ vaulted ceiling. I'm super happy with the sound, a true grand would have been nice but this was free as opposed to $600 a day for a studio (we kicked my friend's parents out of their house for the day

When I'm done with this project I'll post the results.
Old 18th April 2010
  #12
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vicenzajay's Avatar
 

Love my...

N72's.....they never fail to impress. I have used them on bass, vocals, piano (both baby and full grand), Celtic harp, guitars (electric) and drums.

Always fit the bill given the correct choice of mic.

I really need to try the A12's. The only thing holding me back is getting a pair built for me in a separate enclosure (like my two N72's). I only need two channels of API'ish character preamplification, and I don't have the need or space to do the full 8 unit SCA lunchbox thing.

+1 to your thread, in any case - great units.
Old 18th April 2010
  #13
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rocksure's Avatar
Anyone out there built and compared these to the jlmaudio preamp kits?
Old 18th April 2010
  #14
Gear Maniac
Funny how I bumped into this... I was looking at their website yesterday and was wondering... Might just get a pair of both! Thanks for the thread!
Old 19th April 2010
  #15
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Nothing but raves for the SCA stuff from me, but I find I tend to prefer the N72 more often, so I have 4 of them and 2 A12s. But its a big world, and to each their own, I could still be happy with just A12s.
Old 19th April 2010
  #16
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dandeurloo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisrockh View Post
I used the SC25. Haven't tried anything else in there, been happy enough as it is.

I haven't gotten to the J99's yet. Haven't had the time to build nor the money to buy yet .........*looking around the studio for gear to sell off*

Put SL - 2520 red dots in your A12's. I loved it after I did that. Honestly i love the SCA stuff but I think the SC25 is one of the worst sounding opamps I ve heard in the API.

The 99's are great as well. They are a little tricky to build compared to the others. Get them with the john hardy 990 op amp as well! They will make you smile as well.

Congrats on the new pres!
Old 19th April 2010
  #17
N72's are my fave for utility and toms!
Old 20th April 2010
  #18
I cant help but to agree with you on those A12's! I've got every pre except the JJ99, and I can tell you that the A12' and the N72's see the most action!
Old 20th April 2010
  #19
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The dman's Avatar
 

I have N72's and all I can say is those bad boys seriously rock thumbsup
Old 7th June 2010
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Can anyone post an audio file of the N72 or A12 or both?

Thanks guys
Old 7th June 2010
  #21
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Delta Sigma's Avatar
 

I had planned on buying pairs of N72s, J99s, C84s and singles of D11 and A12 for my home studio. With the money I had to start with, I bought one each of N72, J99, A12 and D11. I am so impressed with these that I'll be building a separate chassis for my DI so I can buy another A12.

I can't say I have a favourite but right now the N72 is in heavy rotation since the project I'm working on calls for that saturated sound the Carnhills give.

I just picked up a 414B-XLS matched pair (good deal used) and I was worried since the last time I used 414s I found them too bright. Through the J99 they still sound bright they seem to shine in situations where they were mediocre the last time I used them.

If you're not confident with a soldering iron, the assembled units are a pretty good deal. Actually, even if you're good with a soldering iron and your time is worth money (I work with electronics for a living and these kits still took me a considerable amount of time) the assembled units would be worth it. For me, I did a lot of the tedious tasks (clipping leads, etc) while watching the Olympics so it wasn't too bad...
Old 19th June 2010
  #22
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vicenzajay View Post
N72's.....they never fail to impress. I have used them on bass, vocals, piano (both baby and full grand), Celtic harp, guitars (electric) and drums.

Always fit the bill given the correct choice of mic.

I really need to try the A12's. The only thing holding me back is getting a pair built for me in a separate enclosure (like my two N72's). I only need two channels of API'ish character preamplification, and I don't have the need or space to do the full 8 unit SCA lunchbox thing.

+1 to your thread, in any case - great units.
wouldn't it make sense to put 2 and 2 into an SCA rack? 2RU total, vs two separate 1 RU, for a package cost (when ordered with a pre kit) of only $320 or so. Unless your custom racking is cheaper than that.



It's great to see some current excitement for SCA on here. I've just gotten into it myself after years (!) of being on the fence, mostly because of lack of confidence in my ability to finish the kits, and partly due to the distinct lack of buzzy marketing from SCA... their kit names, website, the look of the stuff is all SO BLAND! BUT! after getting a few kits up and running (N72 and C84) I have to say that I'm convinced on all counts now. These things sound great! Nothing bland about the sound at all. The N72 has a really nice color, but it's also plenty "fast", nothing slow or dark about it. The C84 I've only just begun to test, but there's no obvious lack of tonality there, either. Right now I plan to eventually fill up two SCA racks, if I don't change my mind along the way (will be a several season project). I'm also doing the Classic Audio Products of Illinois kits and have my eye on the tube Hamptone.

I had some trouble with some of my modules but Tim was very quick to help, and I've gotten most of my issues sorted out very quickly. You really do have to be flawless in your construction for the thing to work properly, but the thorough instructions, and kit layout (resistors taped together in order of assembly) helps out the odds a lot. In the event of problems, barring any horrible mistakes that you shouldn't really make if you're careful, most issues are pretty easy to figure out if you just try at it a bit with your thinking cap on, and don't panic (I messed up a PCB by getting in a rush).

On the initial lack of construction confidence issue, after doing a few of the SCA kits, really they're not worlds apart in difficulty, or required understanding, from building a chorus effects pedal or something. (I would recommend guitar effects pedals as a good starting point.) In fact, it's been very educational to me to sort of see the inner workings of a microphone preamplifier, the general format and structure of the circuits. Some demystification took place... "hey, these XX gear with $2000 price tags are relatively simple circuits built from readily available commonplace components" not some magic mojo boxes that no person like me could ever understand, or assemble. Well...they still are magic mojo boxes, that hasn't changed but now I get to say, "I built them!"
Old 1st August 2010
  #23
Here for the gear
Hello all,

For those of you who want to know what the SCA preamps sound like there are two links below to the preamps in action. I use these preamps all the time and I'm very happy with them. I highly recommend them!

The first is some of the music from a film score I just finished. It's a quirky comedy/horror set in the early 70's about a monster baby, so the music is a little wacky. A few different types of SCA preamps are in use, and although it's not a shoot-out you can hear the sound quality and get an idea of what might be possible in your own studios.

I'll detail the signal path and preamps for you a little bit. I tracked through a MOTU HD 192 interface clocked by Big Ben, so the A/D conversion was solid. I was initially at 48k because it was a video project. The mp3 is a high quality 256k file. It's big (about 11 MB) so be patient.

Room mics for everything but piano:
AKG C1000
C84 preamps

Violins
AKG C414 stereo pair
C84 preamps

Viola
AKG C414
C84 preamps

Cello
AT 4060
N72 preamps (low gain, therefore lower coloration)

Grand Piano
AKG C414 stereo pair, mics 9" from dampers for bright sound
A12 preamps (for even brighter sound)

Tuba
AKG C414, 2 feet away, pointed at edge of bell not center.
N72 preamp

Trombones (only in the last 30 seconds of the recording)
AKG C414, 1 foot away, directly into bell
N72 preamp

All other instruments you hear in the recording are synth.

In hindsight the AT 4060 tube mic probably would have been nice on the brass, but it's too late now. =-)

The recording:
http://www.jeremyborum.com/audio/JeremyBorum_BugbabySuite.mp3

My website, for those who care:
Film Composer and Orchestrator in Los Angeles Jeremy Borum.




And for total contrast, here is a piano/vocal cover of the Dave Matthew's song Crash Into Me. I used the same A/D converters with the following setup:

Grand Piano
AKG C414 stereo pair, 1 foot from strings
A12 preamps (for a bright pop sound)

Vocals
AT 4060 tube mic
C84 preamps (the mic provides the color, the preamp is basically neutral)

This was performed all in one take without any baffling, so there is some bleed between the piano and vocal mics.

http://www.jeremyborum.com/audio/Jer...rashIntoMe.mp3
Old 1st August 2010
  #24
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LDH45ACP's Avatar
 

If this is not new to you, forgive me, but the Op-Amps have a major influence on the mic preamp. The great thing about the SCA kits is you can use others if you don't want to use theirs.
Old 2nd August 2010
  #25
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TheLoud1Please's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HalfwayCompetent View Post
What opamp did you use in the A12?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Light View Post
I used the SC25. Haven't tried anything else in there, been happy enough as it is.

I haven't gotten to the J99's yet. Haven't had the time to build nor the money to buy yet .........*looking around the studio for gear to sell off*
After another electric, and some mics, I plan to build an SCA rack with at least one A12 (because of the cinemags) with ADK op amps. I was listening to The Listening Sessions - Session 9 and that is a HUGE sounding combination. Next best is probably a Portico 5012.

When you order an A12 (or any other kit that uses one) they include the SC25, right? Because I see they also sell them separately.
Old 2nd August 2010
  #26
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vicenzajay's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
wouldn't it make sense to put 2 and 2 into an SCA rack? 2RU total, vs two separate 1 RU, for a package cost (when ordered with a pre kit) of only $320 or so. Unless your custom racking is cheaper than that.
While it would seem so - this wouldn't help me.

I have my N72's in a separate case (built as a whole) that is not a rackable form-factor. I do not have two available rack spaces as my hybrid mixing rig is almost complete (and I am done buying racks). What I'd like to find is someone to do the same thing that was done for me with the N72s - the separate small form-factor case for two channels is really nice for on location recording with just a few preamps - It would be nice to add a pair of A12s for the same purpose.
Old 2nd August 2010
  #27
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Mr. Light's Avatar
[QUOTE=When you order an A12 (or any other kit that uses one) they include the SC25, right? Because I see they also sell them separately.[/QUOTE]

You have to order them separately. I believe this is because many people do choose to use a different OP-Amp (why charge them for something they're not going to use).




I've been happy enough with the SCA op amp, would different one really make that much of a difference?
Old 2nd August 2010
  #28
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TheLoud1Please's Avatar
 

OK, that's cool the JH 990s are under $50... not sure about the ADK's, but compared to $79 for the SCA's that's cool.
Old 2nd August 2010
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Seventh Circle Audio - FAQ

If you order an SC25 at the same time as the A12 the SC25 is discounted to $40 for a total of $329.
Old 2nd August 2010
  #30
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TheLoud1Please's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeventhCircle View Post
Seventh Circle Audio - FAQ

If you order an SC25 at the same time as the A12 the SC25 is discounted to $40 for a total of $329.
Sorry, but thanks for tipping me off to that FAQ. The different shades of tan on the ordering page should have been enough of a clue... One more questions: Are you ever going to put up a page for the DI kit, and the transformer upgrades (info, tasting notes, etc.)?
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